Head of School’s Reading List: Fall 2022

by Aimee Yllanes

This is the latest installment of Jeff Leahy’s suggested reading list. You can look back through previous blog posts for other suggestions.

A nice variety of choices for your fall reading pleasure, with something for every type of reader. The subject matter ranges from science to science fiction and includes practical innovations in leadership thinking and the fictional conflict between crime families. You will note that two works are from El Akkad; both are good but very different in subject matter and narrative scope.

Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree inspired the very popular and award-winning book The Overstory. Simard’s story charts how she becomes the leading forest ecologist and how her research forever changes how we view our forests and the interrelationship between the trees, fungi, fauna, and insects. I prefer it over to The Overstory and recommend it for its logical, humane, and scientific insights.  You can watch an interview here.

Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise won the 2021 Giller Prize. This Canadian author’s work of political fiction is a compelling, fast read.  We all have memories of the immigrant crises and the tragic photos of some washing ashore. El Akkad’s story, on the surface, is a child’s quest across an island to a destination that will save the young Amir. Immigrants’ tragic and inhumane treatment is a deeper and more unsettling issue. This is a quick and valuable read.

Omar El Akkad’s American War. Another award-winning book by Akkad! If you like dystopian novels, this work of fiction will be right up your alley.  Akkad imagines an America that is coming out of a second Civil War between the North and the South. The origins of this second conflict are rooted in the oil industry, and the beliefs that divide the nation are far less clear. Akkad’s future America is believable, frightening, and worth your attention.

Jane McGonigal’s Imaginable is part of a futurist thinking movement that is applied to the workspace, schools, and our lives. McGonigal’s work will be valuable to those preparing for strategic planning or initiatives and will be of interest to people trying to reset their personal lives after a lengthy pandemic. There are other books that I would go to before this one, but I found some of the topics and the approach new and refreshing.

Don Winslow’s City on Fire depends on whether you like the type of stories he writes which generally focus on cartels and mobs as they work through their problems via violence. Winslow is considered by many to be an outstanding storyteller with a capacity to craft compelling characters and situations. This recent effort brings us to Rhode Island, where the Italian and Irish compete for slices of the business.

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Academics, Head of School

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