On the occasion of our birthday this year, my birthday buddies Justin Bieber and Lupita Nyong'o and I would like to offer you a list of our favorite books on getting older.*
When Brooks was 50, he set out to determine how to make the rest of his life a story of progress. After seven years of research, he wrote this book to share insights gleaned from all sorts of disciplines.
The book is beautifully written and often narrative. I am grateful especially for its treatments of success addiction and workaholism.
Gracefully -- yes, that sounds good! 🙂 A collection of thought-provoking essays.
If you think the Dave Stuart's of the world don't ponder their slipping relevance as the years go by, you're wrong 🙂 As the list of teachers who have taught at my school for longer than I have shrinks and the list of folks new since me baloons, Chip Conley gives me a welcome chance for meditation and excitement. As he shares his experience of being new at age 52, he touches on our present tendencies toward ageism and argues that experience is on the brink of a comeback.
This one's very unlikely to draw you into an existential journey and supremely likely to fascinate you within a page or two of where you turn in it. No matter where I drop into this book, I get engrossed. Curry gives detailed glimpses into the routines of history's creatives -- on one page, I'm learning about Nathaniel Hawthorne's inability to write during the warmer months; on another, I'm hearing about B. F. Skinner's behavioralist approach to getting himself to write -- complete with a buzzing timer and self-kept graphs of daily writing hours and words produced.
The book gives me a chance to age vicariously, in 100s of ways.
The fascinating story of how human beings doubled life expectancy in the developed world over in just one hundred years. Plus: what this unequally distributed achievement means for the future.
Nice for listening!
A searing rebuke, white-hot with love, at our society's obsession with early achievement. If you've ever worried about your students or children not meeting this year's "standards," let Rich Karlgaard calm you down and deepen your hope.
Levitin takes what he did in An Organized Mind and does it for aging. The result is a tome of what cutting edge neuroscience says about aging.
My favorite concept so far: shifting our focus from life span to health span.
"Aging is not a reason for despair," Nouwen and Gaffney argue, "but a basis of hope, not a slow decaying, but a gradual maturing, not a fate to be undergone but a chance to be embraced." The book is filled with renowned spiritual thinker Henri Nouwen's deep and simply prose, and it's thoughts and photographs serve as a potent counter-argument to Silicon Valley's obsession with staying alive forever.
I'm used to having Dan Pink make me think. But in this book, Dan makes me FEEL. It's poignant, smart, empathetic, kinds, and empowering. I love this book.
This is a book about the deep wisdom of giving one's labors to things bigger than oneself. In other words, it's a brilliant book for teachers. But Synek is realistic -- he acknowledges that maintaining a long-term ("infinite") view of work and life takes hard work.
But look: no matter what the standards documents or edu-policies say, education is an infinite game.
*All right, all right — so far, Lupita and Justin and I haven't been able to actually meet, but that's mostly a nationality thing. He's Canadian, she's Mexican-Kenya, and I'm a Michigander. It's hard to coordinate schedules, you know?
De Portola Middle School says
Happy bday, Dave! Thanks for helping me fundamentally shift my goals for my students from Friday to the future, for helping me reflect on my teacher moves, for writing your awesome best seller, and for your wise words couched in humor that make my soul happy. Multiplied blessings to you and your fam! Love from Carmen San Diego
Dave Stuart Jr. says
Carmen San Diego you are a hero in our home 😉
I can’t wait to meet you someday in person Carmen. Preferably when SD is gorgeous (always) and West Michigan is… cold and gray (Jan-Feb). 🙂 Thank you!
These books are great, but I didn’t see one female author. Hmmm, I know those books are out there.
Robin Rendon says
I am going to order one of the books from a local bookseller. I am doing my best to avoid using Amazon.
Dave Stuart Jr. says
Very cool, Robin!
Dave, thank you for another book list. 🙂 I’m adding a few to my growing list to read “when I have time” (hoping that’s summer 2022). I’m making my way through Francis Su’s “Mathematics for Human Flourishing” and LOVING it. The fact that I’m having to read it slowly probably is allowing me to digest it more thoroughly – it’s shifting how I think about and interact with my students of all levels. Thank you for that recommendation at Christmas.
In other news, I made a stirring apologetic for mathematical thinking and problem solving in two of my classes. Even some of my students seemed moved. 🙂
Dave Stuart Jr. says
Caroline, I am so jealous that I wasn’t there to soak up the goodness right alongside your students!!!
This is the perfect post since I just had my 50th birthday! Thank you, Dave!
HaPpY BeLaTeD BiRtHdAy, DAVE!
I will be choosing one of these for my evening reading, soon. I am surely a few years ahead of you, and I wilt when folks inquire about how much longer I will teach. I have more both to give to and to get from this profession.
Celebrate every day and thank you for putting your thoughts out to us, your colleagues.