11 Reading Books For The Holiday Season

Reading time: 5
Reading Books


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What books are you reading?

Listening to books on the move allows individuals to read more content on the go, or simply lying down!

As I walk the dog or travel to and from various teacher training destinations, here are a set of non-educational books (ish) I’m reading (or technically ‘listening to’) on Audible. I’m always surprised how many of them actually thread back into my day-to-day work. I wonder if there are any titles which grab your interest?

Unlocking Potential

To get the best from others, you need to be more than a manager. You need to be a coach.

Coaching has totally transformed how I work with other teachers and I’m always reading and learning new skills – this book is on my list.

Michael K. Simpson has spent more than twenty-five years training executives to become effective coaches, mentoring and guiding leaders and managers to encourage and develop the talent of their people—the most important asset in any organisation.

All school leaders should know more about coaching and make it their priority!


The Chimp Paradox

Well-known and dating back to 2012, I’ve yet to read this, but it’s on my Audible list.

The Chimp Paradox is an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person.

Professor Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life so you can recognise how your mind is working, understand and manage your emotions and thoughts as well as manage yourself and become the person you would like to be.

Imagine what we could achieve if we all knew more about how our brains work?


The Book of Coaching

This is not just a technical manual or a motivational manifesto. It’s a practical, actionable guide you can come back to again and again.

The book includes specific structures, techniques, and tools you can consistently use to establish your reputation as an extraordinary coach and create a highly successful coaching practice.

I’ve been coaching other teachers for years, but you’re never too wise to learn from others.

Is it time for you to learn some new strategies?


The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being.

Engaging and anecdotal, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

How could fewer choices improve the way we work?


The Cyber Effect

Mary Aiken, the world’s leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology, offers a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping development and behaviour, societal norms and values, children, safety, privacy, and our perception of the world.

Drawing on her own research and extensive experience with law enforcement, Aiken covers a wide range of subjects, from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive behaviours online – this is a must-read for part of my doctoral research.

Do we really know what impact technology is having on our lives, for the better and worse?


The Marshmallow Test

Another book/theory you may know, but have you read the research?

Walter Mischel’s now iconic ‘marshmallow test,’ one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope with painful emotions.

But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? Mischel draws on decades of research to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life…


This is Marketing

Seth Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, timeless package. I’ve read several of his books and there is always something useful to learn.

This is Marketing shows you how to do work you’re proud of, whether you’re a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation – something I’ve found to be considering more and more in my entrepreneurial life.

For years I’ve observed how teachers are self-branding themselves online, promoting their ideas, blogs, books and now, teacher training events. I wonder if any of them consider the fact that ‘to sell, is human.‘ Meaning, teachers are in the business of business!


Mental Models: How to Build a Better Brain

In Mental Models you will find notions and models easily usable in everyday life: work, personal relationships, conversations.

It’s a book for both beginners and experts, which can be adapted to all individuals. I’m hoping to learn more about how I can work better, as well as share some of the knowledge with the teachers I work with…

When we think about the rise of teaching metacognition, ‘Why has it taken us so long to teach our young people how to think?’


The Talent Code

In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle draws on research to reveal that, far from being some abstract mystical power fixed at birth, ability really can be created and nurtured.

He explains what is really going on when apparently unremarkable people suddenly make a major leap forward. He reveals why some teaching methods are so much more effective than others. Above all, he shows how all of us can achieve our full potential if we set about training our brains in the right way.

What I’d like to know, is are his views useful from a teaching perspective? I’ll report back…


Entrepreneurs Always Drive On Empty

Benjamin Bonetti’s book Entrepreneur’s Always Drive On Empty is based on his own entrepreneurial experiences and business start-up challenges. I feel this is something I need to write about, explaining my journey as a teacher-blogger to a self-employed company.

Bonetti outlines the most important business start-up rules and offers “proven” quality advice on how to overcome and move on. I’ve got through most of the book, but I’m finding the audio paniful as well as the content. There are some things to learn, but I wonder if it’s a sense of ‘where I’m at’ in my entrepreneurial life.

I’d recommend this book for teachers who are stepping into business.



In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.

This is not a book I would normally read, but I’ve bought it to challenge my perceptions (of leadership in particular) and learn from one of the most inspiring women in modern history.

I’m also curious to learn more about her role of working alongside Barak Obama.


What books do you read outside of your working life, that are not necessarily to do with your day-to-day work, but definitely feedback into how you conduct your professional life?

5 thoughts on “11 Reading Books For The Holiday Season

  1. Sorry to be critical Ross but, for someone so concerned about teacher workload, the last thing they need from you is to be advised to read hoards of books on education in the Christmas holidays. Please firmly recommend that teachers shut off altogether and have fun with their families instead.

    1. No criticism taken, however, this blog is deliberately sharing non-teaching books for those who like reading over the holidays to relax. Did you read the book titles? Plus, you have forgotten to acknowledge that my website audience is worldwide and that some teachers do not have a Christmas holiday, or indeed celebrate it. They are indeed in schools, teaching. For example, teachers who follow from the Middle East and/or who are not Christian and work outside of the British curriculum. I am of course conscious of what I write and share online to support wellbeing for English teachers during the holidays, but you cannot please all readers because everyone has different working patterns, and preferences. Myself, including 100s of others do like reading books about teaching, and after 10 years of being ‘tagged’ into teachers reading education books over the Christmas period, this is clearly not the case. Some people find this the best time to get lost into some deep reading. Here is one example, and another one… and another. Don’t get me started on ‘How many teachers are reading the TT website on Xmas day?’…

      Best wishes and I hope you log off too…

  2. No one is being ‘forced’ to read Ross’ suggestions but I might download one or two to fall asleep with over the break.

    Personally, I would have liked a few fiction suggestions too. Geoff Barton at ACSL has some good ideas for those.

    Ho ho ho to all!

  3. Great article. And some great books. Teachers need to unwind in their holidays and I’m grateful for the suggestions. Hopefully I can get some of them sent out to China.

    Merry Christmas 😀

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