The President's Bookshelf
Welcome to my bookshelf! This page will be updated with my recommended readings to campus; a collection of nonfiction titles thoughtfully chosen to inspire personal and professional growth.
Take a look at the selection and choose a book! Thumb through its pages when you have downtime and let yourself grow.
— Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, President
Bittersweetness is a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world. It recognizes that light and dark, birth and death--bitter and sweet--are forever paired.
If you've ever wondered why you like sad music . . .
If you find comfort or inspiration in a rainy day . . .
If you react intensely to music, art, nature, and beauty . . .
Then you probably identify with the bittersweet state of mind.
Cain shows how a bittersweet state of mind is the quiet force that helps us transcend our personal and collective pain. If we don't acknowledge our own heartache, she says, we can end up inflicting it on others via abuse, domination, or neglect. But if we realize that all humans know--or will know--loss and suffering, we can turn toward one another.
Atlas of the Heart
In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and lays out an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances - a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heart-breaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.
Over the past two decades, Brown's extensive research into the experiences that make us who we are has shaped the cultural conversation and helped define what it means to be courageous with our lives. Atlas of the Heart draws on this research, as well as Brown's singular skills as a researcher/storyteller, to lay out an invaluable, research-based framework that shows us that naming an experience doesn't give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding, meaning and choice.
The Weirdest People in the World
Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’re rather psychologically peculiar.
Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves—their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations—over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?
In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich draws on cutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition—laying the foundation for the modern world.
Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details, The WEIRDest People in the World explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, and explains what this means for both our most personal sense of who we are as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, and economic forces that drive human history.
Let's Be Reasonable
Not so long ago, conservative intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr. believed universities were worth fighting for. Today, conservatives seem more inclined to burn them down. In Let's Be Reasonable, conservative political theorist and professor Jonathan Marks finds in liberal education an antidote to this despair, arguing that the true purpose of college is to encourage people to be reasonable.
Drawing on the ideas of John Locke and other thinkers, Marks presents the case for why, now more than ever, conservatives must not give up on higher education. He recognizes that professors and administrators frequently adopt the language of the left, but he explains why conservative nightmare visions of liberal persecution and indoctrination bear little resemblance to what actually goes on in college classrooms. Marks examines why advocates for liberal education struggle to offer a coherent defense of themselves against their critics, and demonstrates why such a defense must rest on the cultivation of reason and of pride in being reasonable.
More than just a campus battlefield guide, Let's Be Reasonable recovers what is truly liberal about liberal education - the ability to reason for oneself and with others - and shows why the liberally educated person considers reason to be more than just a tool for scoring political points.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know
Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We think too much like preachers defending our sacred beliefs, prosecutors proving the other side wrong, and politicians campaigning for approval--and too little like scientists searching for truth. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people's minds--and our own. As Wharton's top-rated professor and the bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, he makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. You'll learn how an international debate champion wins arguments, a Black musician persuades white supremacists to abandon hate, a vaccine whisperer convinces concerned parents to immunize their children, and Adam has coaxed Yankees fans to root for the Red Sox. Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.
In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.
Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an Immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.
"Grit" by Angela Duckworth
Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, students, and businesspeople - both seasoned and new - that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called "grit". Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur "genius" Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial, such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments. Winningly personal, insightful, and even life changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down and how that - not talent or luck - makes all the difference.
"The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle
Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing? In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world's most successful organizations and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind... Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrate what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture.
"A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix" by Edwin H. Friedman
Failure of Nerve is essential reading for all leaders, be they parents or presidents, corporate executives or educators, religious superiors or coaches, healers or generals, managers or clergy. Friedman's insights about our regressed, seatbelt society, oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today.
Suspicious of the quick fixes and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, he argues for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership.
"Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown
Leadership is not about titles, status and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and has the courage to develop that potential.
When we dare to lead, we don't pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don't see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don't avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it's necessary to do good work.
"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.
"Range" by David Epstein
Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.