It’s been a crazy spring. It was 90+ degrees back in February. We had snow and freezing temperatures into May. There’s been travel to different parts of the country. The Kansas City Royals led their division for the first time in years. I hit a wild turkey with my car, left my iPad on a plane, and witnessed my first high school spring formal promenade.

I’m ready for summer.

Most teachers are. And there are those who are suggesting year-round school. I understand some of the thinking behind the idea. But all of us need the opportunity for personal professional growth and summer is a great time to kick back, recharge the batteries, learn new stuff, and read some great books.

And I am so ready with my 2013 summer reading list.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve created a list of books that I plan to read between the end of summer and start of school. Working at ESSDACK makes it a bit more difficult to find the time but I’m always optimistic. This year I will get to all of the books on my list and finish every one.


This year? I’ve got a fun list and a work list.

Work list first:

The Republic of Nature

Mark Fiege “reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation’s past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred.” He basically tells the story of the United States through an environmental lens, very cool stuff. I started on this last fall and want to get through this by June when Fiege shows up for a TAH grant presentation he’s doing for us.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Jonah Berger uses current research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious. Curious how this applies to school. Can his ideas help us engage kids? Can I use them as part of my presentations and training? I’ll let you know.

100 thingsdesign for learn

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Design for How People Learn
Here at ESSDACK, we’re in the middle of a sea change – working to find ways to create and share products that other people need. It’s a different way of thinking than a bunch of educators are used to. I’m hoping these two books can give some guidance for shaping the look and feel of the products we create.

on the map
On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

You know I love maps. I love books about maps almost as much. This looks very good. I started it just enough to know I need to finish it. It asks some interesting questions. How would we imagine the world without maps? How would we travel? Could we own land? What would men and women argue about in cars? It’s a history of maps from the early explorers to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones.

My fun list:


Okay. Loved The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons not bad. The Lost Symbol. Meh. I’m giving Dan Brown one more chance. We’ll see.

80 days
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-making Race Around the World

I’ve already started this one and am enjoying the combining of late 1800s history with a great adventure story. Two female journalists set out to break the record of Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg by leaving the US in opposite directions. In 1889. Alone.

malice fortune
The Malice of Fortune

I never get finished with my list. I run across new books that catch my eye or the books I start with are not as good as I hoped. This one is already on my JV list and will be the first to go if I find something better. It looks good – historical facts revolving around Machiavelli and other events of the Italian Renaissance, murder and gratuitous violence, art, science and Leonardo da Vinci. We’ll see.

What’s on your list this summer? What are you reading as part of your personal professional growth?