Want to spend your summer vacation getting inspired, smarter, healthier--or just want to be swept away by an amazing story of adventure or love? Do you want fun and crowd-pleasing recipes for summer entertaining, art books that make ideal gifts, or stories you can read to your child that will both educate and entertain?
The folks at TED have got you covered. TED just released its recommendations for 101 books for you to read this summer. The list, based on recommendations by dozens of the most compelling TED speakers, covers a spectrum of categories, from can't-put-them-down novels to health and nutrition, to books that will help you be more successful and productive at work.
As the folks at TED say, "No matter your mood, preference or occasion, we've got you covered." You can find their full list of recommendations here. Meantime, here are a few of their most appealing picks:
1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck
This book was written by one TED speaker, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck (The power of believing that you can improve) and recommended by another TED speaker, Eduardo Briceño (How to get better at the things you care about). Dweck's groundbreaking discovery is that what we believe about our abilities, and whether we can improve them, becomes reality. And so, by changing our mindset, we can vastly expand our own potential. This book, Briceño says, "started a movement in education, parenting, business and beyond."
2. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
This book was eye-opening and inspirational when I first read it and as TED speaker Sofia Jawed-Wessel (The lies we tell pregnant women) notes, it's just as relevant, and just as inspirational, today. Love it or hate it, Virginia Woolf's fiction isn't always easy reading, but this very short book, drawn from lectures she gave to women students at Cambridge University, is refreshingly straightforward compared with Woolf's other writing. What was striking about it to me, even as a feminist born in the latter 20th century, was how it made clear the many subtle and mostly unconscious ways women are treated--and treat ourselves--as second-class citizens in our society.
Jawed-Wessel says, "Woolf's intended audience in this book is women writers, but it's just as relevant to social scientists or anyone looking to examine patriarchal culture. Her observations and insights are just as meaningful now, nearly a century later, as they were when she first wrote this extended essay, unfortunately."
3. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way, by Amanda Ripley
There are some nations in the world, such as Finland and South Korea, where educational improvements and changes made over the past few years have produced students with amazing abilities to solve complex problems and express their thoughts in a clear, compelling, and well-argued way. Time magazine writer Amanda Ripley follows three American students "embedded" in these other cultures to figure out what they're doing, and what lessons American teachers and parents can learn from other educational systems.
TED speaker Karim Abouelnaga (A summer school kids actually want to attend) says, "This book is a timeless read for anyone with children in their lives. Ripley breaks down different educational systems and a lot of the myths we perceive about what society calls genius."
4. A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
This is the first book in Libba Bray's young-adult trilogy about Gemma Doyle, a Victorian-era teenager who must leave her former life in India for a proper boarding school in England. It features clairvoyance, girls being mean to each other, and a mysterious man watching Gemma, and some unexpected plot twists. TED speaker and college student Alix Generous (How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger's) enjoyed this book, and you probably will too.
5. Overconfidence and War: The Havoc and Glory of Positive Illusions, by Dominic D. P. Johnson
This book by Dominic D.P. Johnson is recommended by TED speaker Martin Reeves (How to build a business that lasts 100 years). Human beings have a well-known tendency toward "optimism bias"--the belief that they are smarter or stronger or less likely to encounter a negative outcome than anyone else. Our tendency to believe in our own abilities, including our ability to control our own futures, has real consequences, Reeves says. "In geopolitics, self-deception can lead to war; in business, it can lead to strategic blunders or worse." This book helps readers--and possibly their companies--with guidance on how to recognize our own biases and more accurately calculate risk.
6. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, by Ken Robinson
The author of this book, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, is also a TED speaker (How to escape education's death valley). It's recommended by a different TED speaker, Andrés Ruzo (The boiling river of the Amazon). Ruzo always enjoyed Robinson's TED talks and views, which inspired him to read this book. "Frankly, I wish I'd picked it up sooner," he says. "It presents a series of well-studied case studies about finding your 'element.' It was a really effortless read, and as always with Sir Ken, you are left laughing--and thinking."
7. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
Couldn't get tickets to the Broadway mega-hit? Try reading Ron Chernow's compelling biography, which started it all. This is another recommendation from Briceño, who says. "I found Hamilton's life to be inspiring, and was struck by how influential he was in shaping the U.S." Plus, there's a duel to the death. What more could you ask for?