Weekend Reading: September 2017

Weekend Reading: September 2017

It’s Friday! As usual, we’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month for you to enjoy over the weekend.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmonson and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative learning engineer Bror Saxberg make an emphatic case in the McKinsey Quarterly for prioritizing lifelong learning in the business world. With the rise of AI and robotics, they write, the complex cognitive and emotional skills that make us human are more crucial than ever.

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Reading Mindfully: Charles Bukowski’s “Bluebird”

Reading Mindfully: Charles Bukowski’s “Bluebird”

Charles Bukowski was a renowned and prolific poet, short story writer and novelist who struggled throughout his lifetime with alcoholism and depression. Drawing on his experience growing up and living in Los Angeles, his work paints a portrait of downtrodden urban life and masculinity in America. In the San Francisco Review of Books, Stephen Kessler wrote, “Bukowski writes with no apologies from the frayed edge of society.”

As you read his poem “Bluebird,” published in 1992, consider if there has been a situation in your own life where you’ve put on a tough exterior.

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Revisiting Required Reading

Revisiting Required Reading

Surprise and joy in revisiting required reading from school years is a reaction we hear quite a bit. It’s common sense: putting a book on a required reading list makes it feel like an arduous task to be completed. It’s normal to associate authors like John Steinbeck, Willa Cather and F. Scott Fitzgerald with memories of deadlines and tests rather than the connection we felt to the literature. But revisiting Steinbeck’s The Long Valley as an adult in a Books@Work session puts the book in an entirely different context; you’re there by choice, and you’re there with others who want to read the book too. It’s liberating.

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Weekend Reading: August 2017

Weekend Reading: August 2017

Abigail Williams’ new book “The Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the Eighteenth-Century Home” explores the “history of sociable reading,” shedding light on a time when volumes of verse and prose were read aloud “in many homes as a familiar assortment of readable extracts to while away an afternoon or evening in company.” What’s the difference between reading alone and reading with others?

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Exploring Our Personal Stories: Professor Brock Spencer on Books@Work

Exploring Our Personal Stories: Professor Brock Spencer on Books@Work

We recently had the chance to speak with Brock Spencer, who recently retired as the Kohnstamm Professor of Chemistry at Beloit College where he taught environmental and interdisciplinary courses in addition to a range of chemistry courses. Brock has been involved nationally in NSF-funded projects to develop and disseminate an inquiry-based approach and instructional materials to better engage students in their introductory chemistry courses.

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Who Reads Shakespeare?

Who Reads Shakespeare?

This American Life’s “Act V” tells the story of “one of the most evocative productions of Shakespeare done anywhere in 2002,” not on Broadway or the West End, but at a high-security prison in eastern Missouri. Arranged by an organization called Prison Performing Arts, the prison staged one act of Hamlet every six months. “Act V” portrays the prisoners’ preparation for and production of Hamlet’s final climactic act.

So how can prison inmates, many of whom have never finished high school, stage a production of one of Shakespeare’s most philosophical plays?

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Weekend Reading: July 2017

Weekend Reading: July 2017

In the Harvard Business Review, novelist and advisor to technology entrepreneurs and investors Eliot Peper argues that business leaders should be reading science fiction – and shows us why “companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple have brought in science fiction writers as consultants.” What makes a genre that we so often associate with futuristic worlds or spaceships so useful to someone in the C-suite?

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Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Recent research leaves little doubt that open, connected and inclusive organizations consistently outperform peers in employee wellbeing, innovation and workplace productivity. But the culture required to maintain openness and inclusion assumes an authentically collective mindset – a mindset that differs considerably from the individual focus that dominates Western society. How do we override centuries of Western thinking and open ourselves up to new philosophies of human relationships at work?

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Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl” appeared in the New Yorker in 1978 and later went on to become one of the most anthologized short stories of all time. Brief and powerful, “Girl” reads as a “how-to” list for living relayed from mother to daughter in a mere 650 words.

As you read, consider: Do the expectations of parents or family members help or hinder you? Or both?

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