9 Reading Books For Your Summer Bookshelf

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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?

Reading books on the move is perfect for people with busy lives. Here are a selection of audiobooks I’ve been reading in 2020…

Since lockdown on 23rd March, I’ve been at home for 103 days, adapting to a new way of living and working. To keep a sense of reality, I’ve managed to walk my dog once a day and listen to many audiobooks on the move. Here are a range of books I’m currently reading or have just completed.

The Brain

My latest adventure on memory was reading this book, The Brain by David Eagleman, who explains a complex world of decision-making that takes place inside our brains, exploring human behaviour from empathy to genocide and neuroscience in a bid to help the reader understanding human nature.

Eagleman explains how a deeper understanding can “enhance our wellbeing, boost our cognitive skills and even forge a more just society, and ultimately a better future for everyone.”

I’ve read several books on memory over the last few months of lockdown and my belief is now that memory is a social justice issue and the number one thing all teachers should learn (other than mastering behaviour management and their subject knowledge).

Read what I learned about London’s cab drivers.


The Cyber Effect

How does our behaviour change online, and what kind of internet do we want for the future?

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.

This book has been a must-read for part of my doctoral research and I do believe it is a critical read for teachers who are active on social media.

How did we get to a place where online cyberbullying outweighs physical bullying? If you wish to play your part in protecting young people from the dangers of the dark web, this book will blow your mind.

You can read my review of Mary’s book and also listen to our podcast.



I’ve been dipping in and out of Afua Hirsch’s book for a few months, increasingly more since the tragic death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matters movement.

I am really enjoying the stories of growing up in London and the evolution of race and how this has evolved across the United Kingdom.

It’s a challenging topic for everyone who has not yet had that conversation with themselves about privilege, identity and unconscious bias. I’m keeping an open mind, but academically, I am struggling with one or two generalisations offered which is making it slow progress for me to complete.

I am curious to learn what Hirsch has to say to better understand race and identity.


Never Split The Difference

I’ve just started this book. I’m keen to learn how the author, who has an FBI background, has used his negotiation skills in countless hostage situations has adopted these same skills in the field of business.

I have already learned several tips for my own negotiations when agreeing on a fee for my teacher training with schools – something I’m still relatively new to. I should follow Voss’ first tip more carefully.

1) Separate the emotion from the person. 2) Don’t get wrapped up in the other side’s position. Focus on ‘Why?’ not ‘What?’. 3) Agree on some win-win situations/solutions and then 4) Evaluate against these solutions.

This seems like excellent advice we can all apply around the meeting table.



I am reading this to help me with my doctoral studies. I’m already starting to explore social media network analysis and in this book, I’m keen to learn more about how our data is being used by social media organisations.

“Cambridge Analytica combined psychological research with private Facebook data to make an invisible weapon with the power to change what voters perceived as real.”

I’m keen to learn how this data was used for not only political reasons, but how everyday-algorithms use our online behaviours to predict ‘things to buy’ which friends to ‘follow’ and more importantly, how our online habits are used and exploited.

I suspect I will report back on this book.


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 audio recording isn’t high-quality, but you only notice this because the pitch isn’t right which is something you take for granted with most other books.



We should all be curious about how we ended up on planet Earth.

Published in 2015, I am slow to this one, but how many of us actually keep up with all the world’s most popular books?

Over 16,000 Amazon ratings suggest how incredible this book must be, but that’s not the reason why I purchased a copy. I’m fascinated by the world around us. How did we get here? What lies behind our atmosphere and those types of questions we all daydream on…

I really enjoyed reading Stephen Hawking’s, The Theory of Everything in 2008, so I am expecting something fascinating from Prof Yuval Noah Harari…



I’ve read a couple of books now by Daniel Pink, particularly To Sell Is Human; my blog post summary argues that teachers, despite their apparent ‘frustration with sales pitches’ are very much selling their own commodities in their everyday work and life. You may find that blog an interesting read.

I enjoy most-things psychology and education, so To Sell Is Human doesn’t disappoint and this one is already offering me some new ways of thinking.

Pink asks ‘How best to live, work and succeed?’, ‘When to take a break?’ and ‘What leads to better test scores?’

We should all be asking questions about our everyday lives in order to develop ourselves. And if I’ve learned anything from my short time researching teacher-autonomy, is that we must keep asking the difficult questions.


Just Great Teaching

Oh, and if you do fancy a book about education, don’t forget you can listen to my audiobook, Just Great Teaching if you are keen to learn what I’ve discovered about the successes and challenges all UK schools are facing today.

I had some fun recording the book locked inside a studio for 4 days. I’ve managed to complete two new books throughout lockdown too. Imagine how many books I could have recorded?

One recent school leader said, “A brilliant lockdown read that has transformed the way I think about all aspects of teaching, from cementing a research-based culture to the CPD we provide at school.”

Despite the challenges we have all faced this year, what books are you reading this summer to unwind?

I hope you get some downtime whatever you are doing. Keep safe and keep reading…

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