Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly. — Sir Francis Bacon
As a teacher, you’ve already read more books than you care to remember and I dare say there are several from your undergraduate studies you’re doing your level best to forget.
I’m willing to bet that many of those books you’ve devoured during your teaching career have been focused on education topics. Some of them have been great and have helped you break through to new heights in the classroom. Some have been a waste of time (just being honest, folks).
And some have become dear friends that you return to year after year, providing you with new perspectives each time you dive into the pages.
I won’t provide you with a list of books here that I’m sure you’re either already read or heard spoken of by so many other teachers that you feel like you’ve read them yourself. Instead, I’ll offer you a few books that have become important to me personally that have helped bring fresh perspectives to teaching and leadership in schools.
Of course, this list is not comprehensive and I’ll likely share more in the future but it’s good to have a starting point.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Written initially for the aspiring writer, The War of Art is essential reading for anyone who creates anything. Teachers are some of the most creative people I know, even though they may not be creative in the ways most familiar to society.
The War of Art is about the inner war we face between our creativity and resistance. It’s a battle that rages inside every creative person, each with their own personal battlefield (in this case being school).
The War of Art is a great read because it’s short and accessible. It really highlights the crucial struggle between resistance and creativity, which any teacher will find helpful at some point in their teaching career.
This book is perfect for any teacher who creates content of any type. And yes, that includes your daily lessons.
The War of Art can help you start, stick with it, or get past that mental block that’s been stopping you from writing for years. Pressfield has some great advice on how to overcome writer’s (or teacher’s) block as well as procrastination, something I’m sure you’ve dealt with many times over your career as a teacher.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The collected personal memoirs of the last of the “Five Good Emperors”, Marcus Aurelius, Meditations was initially written for Marcus himself. This book is one of the earliest examples of self-improvement work.
Especially when you consider the author was working on himself as he wrote!
Meditations is chock full of wisdom that will make you a better teacher. A lot of the time, we have to navigate difficult situations and confront our own mistakes or shortcomings. This book can help us do just that with a healthy dose of perspective.
A Calendar of Wisdom by Tolstoy
This book is a collection of quotes from all over the world, organized by month. Tolstoy was an incredible writer with many novels to his name but he also had this little gem in him!
For example, in the month of March: “It’s not what you’ve got that matters most; it’s who you are.”
As a teacher, you often face daily obstacles that can be overwhelming. Having a copy of this book on your desk, your phone, or your Kindle can give you a brief moment of inspiration when you need it most.
Make it a part of your daily reading habit, whether first thing in the morning or right before bed. The wisdom in this book can help you remain focused and brighten any dark day.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Facing numerous challenges since March of 2020 when the world shut down and schools closed, I believe every teacher needs to read this book.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday is a quick and powerful read that can be finished in an afternoon. This book will teach you how to use ancient Stoic philosophy to change your thoughts, overcome any obstacle, or achieve success against all odds.
The obstacles placed in front of teachers in the past year have caused many of us to rethink everything we’ve done in education. Some things we hated, some things we liked.
But we did them all to get through to our students in whatever way possible.
When faced with an obstacle, you need to find the right way through it without compromising your principles or goals.
The Obstacle Is The Way should be read by all teachers who want a practical guide on how to bounce back from adversity and make an impact in their careers.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Road is a post-apocalyptic novel set in America after an unnamed cataclysm.
The book tells the story of The Man who is traveling with his son across the wasteland of what was once America. It’s not easy and it’s often dangerous.
But it’s worth the struggle because they have each other.
This is a book about the power of love and hope in an otherwise hopeless world.
Sometimes, as teachers, all we have to keep us going is love and hope. So, we “carry the fire” for our students, especially when they can’t carry it for themselves.
What books would you recommend for teachers that don’t necessarily fall in the “education” category? Leave your thoughts below!
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