Around mid-way through 2018 I realized something: I wasn’t making time to read. I don’t just mean reading academic texts, I mean reading of any kind.
So I decided to make time to read (partially by cutting out other things, like scrolling through Facebook on my phone, partially by listening to books on Audible during kid-running).
I thought you might enjoy my five must-read books for 2019. Happy reading!
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1. Finish by Jon Acuff
If you only read ONE non-academic book this year, read Finish! Seriously, this was a game-changer for anyone who has had trouble finishing anything (hello, almost-done articles!). Learn to goal-set, achieve your goals, and be kind to yourself. GO READ IT RIGHT NOW!
2. Deep Work by Cal Newport
I think that most of us got into academia because, well, we like to think about stuff! But once we really started down this academic road, we realized that deep thinking is not what we are doing for hours every day. Writing is deep work, and if you want to get some done, you need to read Cal Newport’s book. He gives lots of how-to’s — real, concrete techniques — for doing deep work. It has changed my writing practice completely!
3. The Slow Professor by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber
This book had me at the title. I mean, how appealing is it to think about slowing down? What it is really about though, is applying the values of the Slow Food Movement to academia (anti-corporate, local). The authors argue that the only way to stop the corporatization of higher education is to push-back at the professor level. This book makes you feel like you are not alone, or crazy. The frazzled day-to-day life we experience is part of this middle-management heavy beast that the university has become. This book is only 100 pages long–easily read in an afternoon–and the chapter on time management is priceless.
4. Mama, PhD edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant
Feeling alone? Just pick up one of the wonderfully-written essays in this book and you are sure to relate. Or feel horrified. Yes, there are stories of feminist advisors who fire pregnant graduate students, but hearing how mamas fought their way through will both inspire you and challenge you to do better.
5. The Battle for Paradise by Naomi Klein
I have to include this book because (1) it is so well written, and (2) everyone who cares about Puerto Rico should read it. I care about Puerto Rico, a lot. It has been my home for almost 15 years. It is where my children were born and will be raised. There is truly no place else on earth that I would rather live. Experiencing Hurricane Maria here actually solidified that feeling more for me. But it’s not easy working for a public university in a colony, in a country in financial crisis that is worsened by those who claim to “take care of” (eyeroll) Puerto Rico. Understand the current situation of Puerto Rico in this lovely 60-page long-essay-in-booklet-form by Naomi Klein. Please. It would mean a lot to me.