Recommendations from the Staff


I recommend the book Neon Angel by Cherie Currie, published in august 23rd, 1989. This book was written by the lead singer of the band The Runaways, who was only 15 years old at the time. At this age she and her bandmates were heavily involved with drugs and alcohol, not to mention a ruthless manager who never gave them a break and also, none of the money they earned. The book follows Cherie’s life before, during and after the runaways. This book truly shows how Cherie’s time as a runaway was not glamorous like it seemed to be. She nearly killed herself trying to live the life she agreed to live. Her story is truly inspiring and moving.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, published 2011.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.


O:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, published in 1998 by the son of author Stephen Covey. ” applies the timeless principles of the 7 Habits to teens and the tough issues and life-changing decisions they face. In an entertaining style, Covey provides a step-by-step guide to help teens improve self-image, build friendships, resist peer pressure, achieve their goals, get along with their parents, and much more. In addition, this book is stuffed with cartoons, clever ideas, great quotes, and incredible stories about real teens from all over the world.”


Olivia & The D.I.V.A.S.:

Published in 2004, The Diva Principle by Michelle Mckinney Hammond, jacket blurb: Divine Inspiration for a Victorious Attitude… In her newest offering, bestselling author Michelle McKinney Hammond serves up all the details on how to get and keep a victorious attitude that will set readers apart and give them their own unique style. With her tell-it-like-it-is approach, Michelle helps women explore the beauty and power of their inner self with expert tips on how to… get their act together–emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically be the queen of their domain make a man sit up and take notice Drawing examples from some of the Bible’s great divas such as Deborah, and translating them into everyday practical principles for living, Michelle shows readers how to excel in every area of life whether young or old, single or married by mastering the art of diva-tude!

Teenage Brain
The Teenage Brain, F.E. Jensen,MD 2015 HarperCollins
One of the two or three most dramatic and salient findings is the fact that melatonin uptake and expression is different in adolescence (13 -24yrs) than in adults or children. It expresses two hours later at night and dissipates an hour later in the morning. Upon this finding two school districts in Minnesota and Kentucky did a three month test of setting back the school day an hour (from 730 to 840am start, the other from 8am to 9am start). The results were so dramatically positive and immediate that they’ve both since adopted the later schedule permanently and the states are considering it for statewide implementation. Since teens need 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep for processing learning (and emotion and experience)–organization, prioritization, pruning in slow wave sleep and then review in REM sleep, the results impacted academics significantly. Higher test scores, less depression reported, and the logistical concerns did not prove warranted; after-school sports and competitive clubs reported improved outcomes and after-school employers reported better, more engaged employees. Teen driving accidents were also significantly lower despite a rise in other parts of the two test states. Chapters on Decision Making Deficiencies, Learning Efficacies, Endocrinology. Chapters on Learning, Sleep, Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs, Gender, Risk Taking, Sports, Mental Illness, et alter. knowledge is potential power.

Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; Daniel Pink 2009RiverHead
Written mainly to business and corporate leaders, it has only one chapter devoted to Educators & Parents, but the implications are obvious and universal. The main assertion is that modern motivation is based upon Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose—these intrinsic values rather than Industrial Age extrinsic rewards (and punishments) like grades, graduation, salary, careers, kudos, and awards. Pink is not a scientist but a scientific journalist. The finding is that traditional extrinsic rewards (and punishments) actually undermine motivation. Does education beginning in K and culminating in 11 & 12, undermine the biological learning machines we call children by increasingly restricting them physically, emotionally and intellectually? Neurology shows that learning begins with excitatory neurotransmitters docking in excitatory receptors (children and teens have more of both than they have inhibitory while adults have a balance), sine quo non the electrochemical cascade which creates emotion from the amygdala which becomes motivation in the cerebellum.


What Should I Do With My Life: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question, by Po Bronson Published 2005 Random House. Inspirational true stories of people who have asked themselves that great question.

The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How the Science of Astrobiology Charts the Ultimate Fate of Our World by Peter Ward & Donald Brownlee. Published 2002 Macmillan. Astrobiologists Ward & Brownlee chart the past, present and future of the Earth, its life forms both plant and animal and how they will die. Fascinating if not upbeat reading.

Our KidsO:
Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis; Putnam 2015Simon&Schuster
“A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. ”

Predictably Irrational
Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely 2008Cialdini
“the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, [wherein] Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.”


O: Why We Get Fat: and what to do about it by Gary Taubes  2010Penguin/Random House.  A science writer, Taubes, looks at all the evidence, studies, writers and nutritional data from the last one hundred years to shed light on how it’s the introduction of simple to refined carbohydrates into the human diet, beginning with the agricultural revolution and ending in today’s sugary food supply, which wreaks deadly havoc with our insulin response, resulting in insulin resistance known as the Western Disease: obesity, diabetes and cardio-pulmonary distress.  A less technical follow-up to his book Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Vegan for Life

O: Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris, RD and Virginia Messina, MPH/RD.  Published 2011 Da Capo Press, provides extensive information and rationale for maintaining health on a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet free of animal products and animal proteins.  How to stay healthy without animal high-density nutrition.

Paleo Code

O: Your Personal PALEO CODE: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life by Chris Kresser.  Published 2013 Little, Brown and Company, lays out the rationale, benefits and diets behind the Paleo movement, including lifestyle.  How to live informed by the way our ancestors did on whole animal and plant nutrient-dense nutrition free of preservatives and pesticides, and free of grains and legumes.  Mankind took hundreds of thousands of years to adapt to a paleo diet and lifestyle, less than ten thousand to adapt to agriculture and civilizations, and only about sixty years to come to terms with the modern nutrient-weak and energy-dense diet.  Proceeds from the point of view of the modern western diseases Diabesity, cardio-pulminary disease, and insulin resistance.


O: The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne, Phd.  Published 2014 Victory Belt Publishing, Balantyne is a biophysicist who comes from the primary perspective of autoimmune disease, and digestive & gut-barrier health.  Lays out the biochemical perspective of nutrition, anti-nutrients in grains, legumes, industrial seed oils, nuts and seeds.


O: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Stephen Pinker, an MIT researcher into language acquisition in infants and toddlers is a fascinating look behind the veil of language. First published in 1994, in it he posits and supports the theory that language capacity is unique to humans and is an innate ability to acquire the skill, hard-wired into the human brain the way flight is hard-wired into birds and the use of a trunk is hard-wired in elephants; and he debunks the various failed attempts over the decades to teach language to other primates.


O: Mohammed and Charlemagne is the last work by revered French historian Henri Pirenne. Published posthumously in 1937 by his son and his widow, and prepared for publication by his protegé, the second half of this book is a fascinating look at the shaping of the western world. His main premise is that it was the rise of Islam which isolated the Western ruins of the late Roman Empire from the East: Byzantium/Constantinople/Greece, and created the necessity in the Franks, Germans, Italians, Gaels, Irish, Angles, Saxons and Britons (and later Picts & Scots) for the self-sustaining world which became Europe.


O: ok,so not a book, no book companion to this documentary, but it’s good. The Punk Singer from 2013 is a film about Kathleen Hanna. Offers a never never-before-seen view into the life of the Bikini Kill and Julie Ruin frontwoman, feminist, and riot grrrl icon.



Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front, published 2010, is not only a historical rockument of the revolutionary 90s counterculture Riot Grrrl movement, which birthed the DIY feminist punk scene, but also a rousing inspiration for a new generation of empowered rebel girls to strap on guitars and stick it to The Man.


O: BULLY, the documentary from 2012 by filmmaker Lee Hirsch.  Very moving and enlightening.  Everyone should see it at least once.


O: Maidentrip, an impossibly good documentary 2013 about “14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.”


O: Dinosaur 13, a documentary on the greatest paleontological find of all time, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found, including the politics, theft, greed, violations of the law, and governmental shenanigans which led to its removal from its death home in South Dakota to its final home in Chicago’s Field Museum.  A film in the recent tradition of great documentaries like The Cove, Blackfish, and Project Nim.


O: Flight of Passage by Rinker Buck published in 1997, from the sleeve: Summer of 1966 Rinker & Kern Buck, two teenaged schoolboys from New Jersey, bought a dilapidated Piper Cub for $300, rebuilt it in their barn and took off on the journey of a lifteime—a daring flight across the Rockies to California. they became the youngest aviators on record to fly America coast to coast, and their thirst for adventure, and the simple audacity of their trip, mirrored the innocence of the times. Because they couldn’t afford one, they navigated all the way to California without a radio.


O: Swimming to Anatarctica: Tales of a Long Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox, published in 2004, from the sleeve: The memoir of the most extraordinary long-distance swimmer in the world. At 14, Lynne Cox swam 27 miles from Catalina Island to the California mainland; at 15 and 16, she broke the men’s and women’s world records for swimming the English Channel; at 18, she swam the 20-mile Cook Strait in new Zealand; she was the first to swim the Strait of Magellan, the most treacherous 3-mile stretch of water in the world; she was first to swim the Bering Strait from Alaska to Siberia during the Cold War; And finally, she is the first person to have swum a mile in zer0-degree water in Antarctica.


O: The People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck -first published in 1983. “one of the most significant new works in recent memory.” From the flap: Dr. Peck utilizes the same approach [psychiatric training] to probe brilliantly the essence of human evil. People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these People of the Lie work in the lives of those around them. …unforgettably vivid incidents of evil in everyday life. This disturbing, fascinating book offers a strikingly original approach to the age-old problem of human evil.


O: Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand is one of the most finely-written and thoroughly-researched books ever penned. Published in 2001, it is the finest of the three great horse books which include Dorothy Ours’ Man O’War published in 2000, and racing journalist Bill Nack’s first-hand account Secretariat: the Making of a Champion from 1975.
Undeniably the laziest, ugliest, losing-est and quirkiest champion of all time, Seabiscuit went on to become one of the three greatest and most beloved thouroughbred champions in American history. A grandson of Man O’War, he defeated the great War Admiral, his nemesis and also his uncle, a son of Man O’War. He is responsible for creating, almost single-handedly, West Coast thoroughbred racing and, as a hardluck character made-good, revived the spirits of the American public during the Great Depression.


O: The origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

One of the most fascinating books ever written, a tour-de-force by psychologist Julian Jaynes first published in 1976 and hugely popular, it is a two part tome whose main premise is that ancient peoples were not conscious until somewhere around the Hittite or Hyksos civilizations, and that, in fact, consciousness “turned on like a lightbulb” in the brains of pre-conscious peoples.  The first half is a study of the neurology of his theory while the second half surveys ancient history for the evidence.  The implications of his theory are boggling as he surmises that newly conscious people were the most vicious and inhumane peoples in history and went on to take over the world, while the pre-conscious interplay between the two lobes of the brain explains the concept of God and the supernatural.  The first chapter What Is Consciousness? which examines first what it isn’t and then what it might be, is worth reading over and over again.  It really makes you think about a subject we all, humans, take hugely for granted.

O: Programming the Universe by Seth Lloyd
Published in 2006 by Knopf, written by Quantum Computer scientist Seth Lloyd this book is a good overview and synopsis of the research coming out of MIT on computational physics. It lays out the case for a computational view of the universe, which has ramifications for traditional physics, philosophy and even theology. Purports to show how information as the basic bit or unit can replace or co-inhabit with energy as the basic unit in classical physics.  In this view, every elementary particle functions as a bit and every interaction as a computation.  And making this book and its topic a very wide-ranging food for thought and consideration.

Link to our first Book Recommendation page:  Share Your Book Recommendations


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Categories: Editorial


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