The Velveteen Rabbit
Publication Date: 1958-01-06
At age eight, Jeff appeared on a PBS program when a local actress read this classic story to a group of kids and he's also shared it with his children. From Amazon: "A stuffed toy rabbit (with real thread whiskers) comes to life in Margery Williams's timeless tale of the transformative power of love...This sentimental classic--perfect for any child who's ever thought that maybe, just maybe, his or her toys have feelings--has been charming children since its first publication in 1922."
The Catcher in the Rye
Publication Date: 1991-05-01
This is the book that Jeff remembers from adolescence, identifying with the protagonist as so many of us have done which is exactly why this book has endured for years after its initial publication in the 1950s. From Amazon: "Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists."
Legacy of Ashes
Publication Date: 2008-05-20
Jeff pointed to this book as a good example of his current reading phase. It makes sense when you remember that he's interested in how our history changes based on new information. From Publisher's Weekly: "Is the Central Intelligence Agency a bulwark of freedom against dangerous foes, or a malevolent conspiracy to spread American imperialism? A little of both, according to this absorbing study, but, the author concludes, it is mainly a reservoir of incompetence and delusions that serves no one's interests well."
Sometimes we aren't happy with film adaptations but Jeff said that he was glad he had seen the movie prior to reading this book. From The New Yorker: "Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel."
Publication Date: 2002-10-17
Jeff often finds books by browsing the aisles of Half Price Books and this one got his attention when he was lookng for a survival story. And don't those kinds of reads help us put our own problems in perspective? From School Library Journal, "in a single-handed Mini-Transat race from Spain to Antigua, Callahan was west of the Canary Islands when he realized that his sailboat was sinking. He managed to grab the life raft, a knife, his emergency duffel bag, a piece of mains'l, and a sleeping bag. These items became his home and sole possessions for 76 days."
Publication Date: 2008-05-27
As a college psychology teacher, Jeff has used excerpts from this book in his classes for some pretty terrifying examples. From Amazon: "With access to formerly classified documentation and interviews from the CIA, U.S. Army, MI5, MI6, and British Intelligence Corps, Dominic Streatfeild traces the evolution of mind control from its origins in the Cold War to the height of today's war on terror. Vivid and disturbing, Brainwash is essential insight into the modern practice of interrogation and torture."
Publication Date: 2011-06-07
A fan of Malcolm Gladwell, Jeff selected this book as a good example of what that author has to offer. From Publishers Weekly: "Outliers begins with a provocative look at why certain five-year-old boys enjoy an advantage in ice hockey, and how these advantages accumulate over time. We learn what Bill Gates, the Beatles and Mozart had in common: along with talent and ambition, each enjoyed an unusual opportunity to intensively cultivate a skill that allowed them to rise above their peers."
The End of Education
Publication Date: 1996-10-29
Neil Postman was among the list of authors in educational theory that Jeff values and others include Jonathan Kozol, George Siemens and Dr Richard Paul. From Library Journal: "Sharp, witty, and frequently quotable, he [Postman] demolishes many leading popular themes as lacking in meaning. Education without spiritual content or, as he puts it, without a myth or narrative to sustain and motivate, is education without a purpose. That purpose used to be democracy and could still be, if only we were willing to look for the elements that unite rather than separate.
The Time Machine
Publication Date: 2013-05-07
While talking about reading aloud with children, Jeff said that this was the last book he shared in that way with his two boys (they both loved it and it scared them - it was probably those creepy Morlocks!). From Amazon: "The novel is considered one of the earliest works of science fiction and the progenitor of the "time travel" subgenre. Wells advanced his social and political ideas in this narrative of a nameless Time Traveller who is hurtled into the year 802,701 by his elaborate ivory, crystal, and brass contraption."