Helpful Books

On Careers and Building a Fruitful Life

Although my path may appear linear, I’ve loved the interdisciplinary nature of my work as a student and now as a professor and believe that more “generalist” approaches are the future of knowledge work. A recent book that advocates for this idea is Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized world by David Epstein. Consider reading Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You along side it: So Good They Can’t Ignore You focuses on building up “career capital,” which is important for everyone but especially people with a lot of different interests.1 People interested in interdisciplinary work (including students graduating from liberal arts or other general programs) might seem “behind” at first, but with time to develop career capital these graduates can outpace their more specialist peers.

On Perfectionism

Trying to not procrastinate finding the perfect book to address perfectionism is a real challenge. My recommendation for this is When perfect isn’t good enough: Strategies for coping with perfectionism by Martin M. Anthony and Richard P. Swinson. Do the exercises.

On Communication and Feedback

My number one recommendation for academics and anyone who needs to receive a lot of feedback in the course of their work is Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. It will teach you to cherish the (sometimes rare in academia) moments you receive feedback and become a better personal and professional for it. I also recommend Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.


  1. I especially enjoyed this conversation between David Epstein and Cal Newport, the authors of the two books. 

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