Heather Russino By Heather Russino • January 17, 2017

6 Essential Books Every Adult Learner Should Read Right Now

The start of a new year is always an exciting time to reflect on the previous year and think about the highlights; it is also the perfect opportunity to set new goals as another chapter begins. As an avid reader, I am interested in finding books that either help me to understand a different viewpoint or offer valuable advice I can apply directly to my life. If you are a reader in search of a new title or someone that hasn't read something new in awhile, a new year is the perfect time to consider picking up a good book!

As adult learners, many of you are juggling full-time jobs, multiple responsibilities and even the demands of raising a family all while attending school, so books targeting some of these themes and challenges may be of interest. Here is a list of titles including a brief synopsis of my favorites that have helped me; some of these books are meant to inspire, some are to help define a purpose and others are geared toward simplifying your routine - making time management and organization work for you and your busy lifestyle.

1. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, PhD

Lesson: Explore the paradoxes of courage.

Brené Brown is a highly respected research professor and author of several books. Her work in the field of social work in the last decade has inspired thousands. In this book, she shows how vulnerability is a true measure of courage, especially in a world when we may feel unworthy or not "good enough.” Brené inspires us to dare greatly by stepping out of our comfort zone to let ourselves truly be seen. Whether you are looking for the nerve to start a new relationship, lead a powerful meeting, speak during an interview or initiate a difficult conversation - whether it’s applied to work, school or relationships/parenting at home, this book will provide the insight needed for personal growth and ways to help you reveal your authentic self.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com

2. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Lesson: Find your passion and purpose.

The authors are well known for their work at Stanford University, and this book has been described as the “prototype for a happy life.” It contains powerful tools to assist you in evaluating where you are in your life and helps you to reframe exactly what you want; essentially, the book does what is says – it helps you to think like a designer. The book provides context and meaning, leaving you with many ideas to think about long after you have finished reading it. The book also contains exercises to work through that can be applied directly to your life right now. It's a great resource for those who are looking for a change, for getting unstuck or for those who want to be motivated and inspired.

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com 

3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Lesson: Focus on what is essential – a new perspective on time management.

“Less is more” is a major takeaway of this book. If you live a busy lifestyle and feel overwhelmed, this is an important book to read. Essentialism teaches you how to figure out what is essential in your life; it helps you to identify the things you must commit to and focus on and how to limit “opportunities” or list items that do not require your attention, but seem to monopolize much of your time. The book teaches you how to foster the important work and how to let go of the nonessentials – it’s not about getting more done in less time, it’s about getting the “right” things done. If you're looking for a new perspective on time management, this is the one to read.

Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com

4. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Lesson: Declutter, organize and simplify your life.

Better known in the blogging world as Miss Minimalist, author Francine Jay has been a trailblazer for the simple living movement. If you are looking to declutter a room in your home or simply get more organized, this is the book for you. Francine shows you how to make any space more functional and organized. Whether you want to declutter an office space, kitchen area or place in your bedroom – consider making a “study area” conducive to reading, writing and getting your work done. It’s amazing what a little organization can do, and Francine will give you the tips and tools needed to turn any space into an organized, presentable and functional space you’ll be happy with.

Joy of Less by Francine Jay via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com

5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Lesson: Find your meaning of life.

As Dr. Paul Kalanithi faces his own mortality, he is forced to forge a new path, one far different than the one he thought he was going to travel. In a matter of months, the 36-year-old went from a distinguished neurosurgeon and scientist who dealt with death on a daily basis to a patient diagnosed with terminal cancer. This memoir  written by Kalanithi, a brilliant writer whose words transcend time as he narrates his journey – is one of those books I will keep on my bookshelf and reread for years to come. Kalanithi's words are a gift; it’s the kind of book that once you read it, you’ll want to share it with family and friends.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com 

6. The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Lesson: Become a better writer.

Hailed as a classic, this book is the one resource every college student should own. I couldn't agree more with this sentiment since it is an essential tool for all writers and has been on my bookshelf since I was a student. It's the kind of reference book you will refer to time and time again and for many years to come - it's a timeless resource that will never go out of style.

ElementsofStyle by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White via Amazon.comImage via Amazon.com 

Have you picked up a good book lately? Share with us in the comments or connect with us via social using #TESUreads.

Heather Russino

Written by Heather Russino

Heather Russino is an instructional designer in The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology, an innovative and trailblazing learning environment center that serves self-directed students through the use of current and emerging technology and outcomes-driven curriculum design. A Columbia University graduate and educator for over 20 years, Russino enjoys writing about her areas of expertise in teaching, learning and course design.

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