After reading Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad in June, we are plunging into nonfiction this July.
Which book will we read?
That’s where you come in. The Talks with Teachers Summer Book Club has always been about choice, and we let you decide. Here are the three book we are considering next month.
To be a part of it all, join the group (a sign-up option is at the end of this post) and vote for the one you want to read in our private Facebook group.
In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.
After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers.
Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before.
In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.
With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to “be so good they can’t ignore you,” Cal Newport’s clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love.
SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.
Publisher’s Weekly says:
Wharton professor, Adam Grant (Give and Take), considers himself a huge fan of innovation—yet, as he confides in this solid business guide, he passed up the opportunity to invest in eyeglass brand Warby Parker in its infancy, the “worst decision” he ever made. He goes on to propose that the trouble with how innovation is currently viewed in contemporary society is that both consumers and investors undervalue anything that is less of a game-changer than the new iPhone. In fact, inventors don’t need to be cliff diving risk takers, and originality is far more common than is generally thought. Emphasizing the human tendency to take the default action, the book shows that it takes real verve to overcome that inertia and seek out the better option. Grant’s topics include the need for patience while publicizing an idea, the disadvantage of being the first in with a new idea, and the importance of creating and supporting fans and evangelists. He also discusses nurturing originality in young people and avoiding the pitfalls of close-knit corporate cultures. His approach is mainly descriptive, but does include some concrete steps for would-be innovators to develop their ideas, and for business leaders to support them.
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
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