This month gave me less reading time than I thought it would, and much of my planned reading was replaced with nursing care. Nevertheless, I have some gems to tell you about.
The Best of Connie Willis (Connie Willis)
If you’ve read my book reviews in the past, you know I am a huge Connie Willis fan. This book had two new-to-me stories and many of my favorites, including “Even the Queen” and “All Seat on the Ground.” I have several copies of “Even the Queen” but tend to lend them out, so it’s been a long time since I’ve read it. (It was time.)
Willis’ stories span the gamut from hilarious to thought provoking to deeply touching. This collection was a perfect hospital companion.
The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
I couldn’t put this book down. The Power of Habit covers the cue-routine-reward cycle that defines habit, how we can change our habits as individuals, how habit can be exploited to build willpower, and how corporations exploit our habits for their benefit. I found his research on Starbucks and Target as fascinating as his analysis of AA and a US Army major’s experiment in Kufa, Iraq. I have several pages of notes I will be using in my own life, and I am hopeful this book will make me more helpful to my patients. Highly recommended.
Make It Stick (Peter C. Brown)
I picked this book off the “just returned” shelf at the library and have been making notes left and right. There are many theories about learning, and as a home schooler I feel so much pressure to “teach toward their learning styles” and avoid over-testing. This little book goes through the evidence on both. Surprise! The studies refute much of the conventional wisdom about how we learn, including the benefits of learning that feels hard, and the benefits of frequent no-stakes testing.
As I read, I kept hearing Charlotte Mason in my head. She wrote over 100 years ago and yet much of the modern research backs up what she found in her own experience. From Make It Stick: Rather than drilling a task over and over, we should interleave it with other subjects. Or, as Charlotte Mason said: intersperse short lessons on a variety of topics instead of drilling one until mastery is achieved. From Make It Stick: Practicing retrieval after a first reading is more effective at promoting recall than cramming or rereading. Or, from Miss Mason: require a narration immediately to teach the habit of attention, and the reading will stay with the student.
Highly recommended, whether you teach others or are a life-long learner yourself.