Recent books I’ve learned from (Fall 2020)

In my previous job (at Andover), I created a list of a few books every term that we would offer to the faculty as “community reads” on what we called the Head of School’s Bookshelf. We set up a bookshelf in the HOS office and distributed as many copies as faculty would like to read. I’d post that list here on this blog. In a new job (at MacArthur Foundation) and during this pandemic, I realized I missed that tradition. It had the effect of making me reflect on a few of the books I’d read recently.

In the same spirit as the old HOS Bookshelf, as of Fall 2020 in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, here are a few books from the last few months that I particularly got something from:

Ronald Deibert, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society (House of Anansi, 2020) — broad reflections on the present and future of networked technologies, social media, and civil society from the director of the Citizen Lab and professor of political science at University of Toronto (built off Prof. Deibert’s CBC Massey Lectures)

Howard Gardner, A Synthesizing Mind: A Memoir from the Creator of the Multiple Intelligences Theory (MIT Press, 2020) — a personal account of the life of the mind of a major Harvard professor and public intellectual (a former MacArthur Foundation fellow)

Cecilia Muñoz, More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You . . . and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise (Seal Press, 2020) — a moving, inspiring memoir from one of America’s top policy experts (also a MacArthur Foundation fellow)

Allissa Richardson, Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, & the New Protest #Journalism (Oxford University Press, 2020) — a scholarly overview of some of the critical issues related to race, social justice, and movement-building that sets a frame for better understanding today’s politics and media landscape, from professor and journalist now based at USC Annenberg

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Random House, 2020) — an important, timely reflection on race, economics, and other forms of hierarchy mostly about America and slavery but told through the broad lens of three cultures — described in NYT Book Review as “the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far” and “an instant American classic”

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