Gift Guide: Top 24++ Books for the Educated Deviant (or the Deviantly Educated)

Originally, while writing this post, I was going to make a Top 10 gift list that encompassed all sorts of different things for those who love learning differently. However, just the book list became a major list on their own. I may make the others into their own list, but let’s do it in chunks.

It is the holiday season after all, and there’s bound to be a few lifelong learners on your list. Educated deviants are voracious readers, and books make an excellent gift for any holiday or celebration. Here is our mixed bag of recommendations for:

EducateDeviate’s Top 24++ Books for the Educated Deviant

Delaying The Real World by Colleen Kinder and Lonely Planet Gap Year Book

Burnt out by years in school or work? Want a change? Both books provide plenty of resources, ideas, and personal anecdotes about taking time off to do something else. Whether it be interning at a newspaper in Cambodia, or scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, both books give you great ideas on how to get your gap year (or life!) on.

Anything by Free Spirit Publishing, New Society Publishers, or Princeton Architectural Press

Here’s where the “++” come in. These three publishers release plenty of excellent books about education (The Teenager’s Guide to School Outside the Box), activism (The Troublemaker’s Teaparty), and design (D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself). There’s surely something for everyone in their catalogues.

The Artist’s Way (and workbook) by Julia Cameron and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (and workbook) by Betty Edwards

Everyone is creative, but once in a while we all need some support in rediscovering our creativity. The Artist’s Way is a 12-week course that takes you step by step to rediscovering yourself, your talents, and your passions. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, on the other hand, isn’t just a lesson in visual art: it also trains your brain to notice and think things differently. Besides, scribbling and painting are relaxing.

Be Bold

This new book by Echoing Green highlights the trials and achievements of a number of its Fellows in their quest to make a difference. From a former drug addict who started a recovery program for prisoners with addictions, to a human rights activist campaigning for the rights of people with mental illnesses, the twelve profiles are bound to inspire you to act. There is also a resource list as well as journal pages for you to reflect on how you too can be bold.

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton and Banker for the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

In the past couple of years, innovative philanthropy has taken the world by storm, particularly with the Nobel win of Muhammad Yunus and Grameen, as well as the increase in micro-credit programs. Bill Clinton’s book suggests many different ways people can give back to society (not just financially), while Banker to the Poor chonicles Yunus’s life and his journey to developing Grameen to where it is today.

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide by Michelle Goodman and The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Tired of the typical rat race? Want to define work your own way? Goodman’s and Ferriss’s books describe different options to have a life and make a living, from going freelance to setting up passive income. Both Goodman and Ferriss have blogs, so if you’re hungry for more, subscribe and keep up.

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto and Doing School by Denise Clark Pope

How could I have a list of books for the deviantly educated and not have any books on changing education? These two books, while written many years apart, show the dire need for change in today’s education system. Gatto discusses how schools are no more than just employee factories that don’t encourage creativity and innovation, while Pope follows five high-schoolers as they rush and stress in the race to get into top universities. These books will DEFINITELY make you rethink the school system.

The Tipping Point and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida

The past couple of years has seen a massive rise in nonfiction books that tackle certain topics in innovative ways. Not quite history, not quite politics, not quite philosophy, not quite academic; one bookstore I’ve seen denotes that section as “learn something new every day”. These four books, in my view, started this genre off. Gladwell reexamines how decisions can be made and how they’re influenced, while the Freakonomics duo proposes clever economic causes and effects for seemingly unrelated phenomena. Meanwhile, Florida studies how increasing numbers of people involved in the creative industries can really make an impact in business, communities, and the world.

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was and Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher

Interested in a hundred things at once? Don’t worry, that makes you a typical educated deviant. Barbara Sher calls people like us “Scanners”, and she says that there is absolutely no reason why we can’t be passionate about many different things and explore all those passions. Her books provide a plan for working out those passions, and then arranging time for them effectively. She also has a lot of other books about achieving your goals and passions.

What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson and Roadtrip Nation

Along similar lines as Barbara Sher’s books, both Bronson and the Roadtrip Nation crew went out to interview people from all walks of life about their passions and how they got into the path they’re in. The Roadtrip Nation interviews, originally a TV series are a little more career-focused, but they do show how anyone can succeed from any starting point no matter what. Bronson’s interviews, on the other hand, are more heartfelt, and not everyone in his book has necessarily achieved grand success with their passions or even found their passion – but are learning a lot from the process.

Girlosophy: Real Girls’ Stories by Anthea Paul

The female educated deviants in your life will certainly be inspired by the girls profiled in Paul’s book. From a British girl who works as a faerie, to a pair of Sri Lankans facing the prospect of civil strife, and a lot of surfers (Paul supports organizations for young women surfers), each girl tells first-hand her story, her opinions, and her dreams for life. The innovative use of layout for each story is also a great draw. This book is part of the Girlosophy series, which encourages and supports young women to be themselves and live their best lives.

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

The version I’m promoting here is actually retitled, in some places, Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It, which contains updated information and an entire chapter on climate change. Branson has built his entire life (since he was a teenager) on just acting on ideas instead of waiting for permission. While not all of his ideas worked, most have been great successes, mainly because Branson is willing to take risks and do what it takes to stand out. Here he outlines his basic principles for success (including many stories about balloon rides) and, in the final chapter, urges corporations to take climate change into account.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I find it harder to recommend fiction because tastes tend to be more subjective. However, I found The Alchemist absolutely inspiring to those who dream of exploring and learning more about the world. This tale of a young boy driven to adventure by his (literal) dreams beautifully depicts the importance of paying attention and of following our heart no matter what. It’s a magical fable that will definitely charm any deviant.

Whew! That was a long list. More gift guides might come soon, if I have enough energy to do them. In the meantime, if you have any more recommendations for books, please feel free to share in the comments.

Happy Holidays!

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2 Responses

  1. I may take a look at some of your suggestions. There is a quote in The Alchemist that hangs over my desk.

    “What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.

    It’s this: “That at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That is the world’s greatest lie.”

    All the best

  2. hello!
    I’m a big Paulo Coelho’s fan and I don’t know if you heard about his blog
    http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com
    I’ve started as a fan and now I’m collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
    Check the blog.
    if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
    http://www.warriorofthelight.com/engl/index.html
    You’ll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.

    QUOTE OF THE DAY:

    A Warrior of Light needs love. (Warrior of Light)

    See u there and have a great day!

    Aart

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