Looking for your next great read?
by Nicole Dyson & the team at Future Anything
This time last year in her blog “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…” Future Anything’s Nicole Dyson compiled a list of some of her most recommended books – and crowdsourced a bunch of great educational reading (and watching) from some of her favourite educators.
This year, as a team here at Future Anything, we have ushered in the holidays with a compilation of some of the reads we’ve enjoyed most during 2023.
So, if you’re looking for your next great read, we hope you find it below, and that you enjoy it over a well-deserved holiday break.
Nic’s Great Reads 2023
Nic is CEO & Founder of Future Anything
- The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – If you enjoyed Towles’ other masterpiece, A Gentleman in Moscow, then you might also love this one. Set in the 50’s, the story begins with eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson being driven home to Nebraska after serving a year for involuntary manslaughter. Spanning just ten days, and told from multiple points of view, it’s a sprawling narrative that explores family, friendship, and the way our lives are just the collision of a bunch of decisions we make in moments.
- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin – Full disclosure, I don’t play video games and when I do, I’m really bad at them. My family will attest to the fact that I drive Mario Kart with the same level of finesse as a toddler learning to walk. But I was totally absorbed by this book. It reminded me a little of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life – or at least, the same feeling of melancholy. Be warned, this book tends to polarise people; you either love it or hate it. I loved it.
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus – I saw this book everywhere in 2022, so I was late to read it when I did earlier this year. Set in the 60’s, protagonist Elizabeth Zott goes from Chemist to reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show. It’s an easy and fun read, with lots to unpack around gender roles, particularly of the time (but maybe sadly not just of the time).
- Limberlost by Robbie Arnott “In the heat of a long summer, Ned hunts rabbits in a river valley hoping the pelts will earn him enough money to buy a small boat.” Unfolding over decades, we explore how Ned’s decisions over this one hot summer in rural Tasmania during WWII come to shape the course of his whole life This one got me right in the feels.
- Be. 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0) by James C Collins – I’m a big fan of Jim Collins’ books, and this one is a remarkable compilation of the genius that sits across many of them. I found the processes outlined really actionable and used some of the vision and value activities within our recent FA Calibration Week.
- The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin – This one might also polarise people. It’s a beautiful book physically and contains a stream of (not necessarily connected) consciousness around where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, and how we can foster more of it in our lives. I found myself taking photos of some of the pages as a reminder to my future self of the sentiment shared.
- Dopamine Detox by Thibaut Meurisse – This is a VERY short read but had some really tangible takeaways that I implemented straight after I finished. One was the difference between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ tasks, and the benefit of tackling ‘closed’ tasks first up in the day to avoid getting lost in an open (unending) task like your inbox.
- Thursday Murder Club Series by Richard Osman – Finally, if you haven’t read this series of books by Osman, I recommend them as light and fun holiday reads. Set in a nursing home, each book in the series chronicles a wily ‘gang’ of senior citizens solving local murders. The latest book (released this year) “The Last Devil to Die’ was a real tearjerker.
Gen’s Great Reads 2023
Gen is one of Future Anything's awesome workshop facilitators
- I Am A Cat by Natsume Sōseki – It was written in a different era, and it’s the author’s first book, so reading the introduction first is helpful. But it is packed full of splendid, hilarious observations on human nature – from the perspective of a cat. I also thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the evolution of the writer’s voice as the chapters progressed.
- Position Doubtful by Kim Mahood – This beautifully written book provides a window into the soul of some of Australia’s most remote landscapes and makes the aesthetic world comprehensible to the non-artists among us. It also, importantly, presents an entry point to understanding the beauty and logic of the art of the Aboriginal peoples of the Tanami Desert. A must-read for every Australian.
- The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Littleken – Harrowing, painful, devastating. A deeply moving exploration of the human experience of the hugely traumatic Holodomor. Don’t read it if you don’t want to cry.
Breanna’s Great Reads 2023
Breanna is Future Anything's Operations Officer
- The Dry by Jane Harper – I found this book in a holiday home at Stradbroke Island a few years ago, I was keen for a beach read and The Dry did not disappoint. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day (and totally neglected my family!). The movie was great too.
- Blood Work – by Michael Connolly – Your typical crime novel by Michael Connolly with an epic twist. I was traveling through Morocco with a group of 20 on the back of a truck, we were all fighting over who would read it next because it was so good. An oldie but a goodie.
- What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Tamanda & illustrated by Mae Beson – One for the kids! The perfect stocking stuffer for our lower primary babes to foster and spark their enterprising minds.
Kate’s Great Reads 2023
Kate is Head of Curriculum & Partnerships at Future Anything
- The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle – The book is all about the secrets of successful teams and features interesting and insightful examples from Pixar to Google to Zappos. I loved the relatable stories and found it was packed with practical tips and strategies that were easily applicable in the education space.
- West Side Honey by Claire Christian – This is the second book I’ve read by this excellent Brisbane-based author, and I love her ability to create real characters and relatable situations. This book focuses on a mum trying to balance a small business, a precarious co-parenting situation, and a complicated love life. It was a great easy read with lots of laughs and a few tears for good measure.
- The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna – A delightfully warm and uplifting book, I devoured in a single day and loved every minute of it. It follows Mika Moon, a modern-day witch who has been taught to hide her gifts at all costs until an unexpected message arrives begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. Easy, lovely, magical.
Jarred’s Great Reads 2023
Jarred is a Program Manager at Future Anything
- Perfume: The Story of a Murdered by Patrick Suskind – A completely insane rags-to-riches story with the most vivid descriptions of scent you can find.
- The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson – The story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s chicken server, and his love for a mysterious woman from Venice with webbed feet. It’s sublimely written, with many intelligent ruminations on love, war, free will, and fate. If you haven’t been to Venice, this book will make you want to go.
- The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath – Plath’s wry sense of humour creates the ultimate, darkly comic coming-of-age novel. Honest, feminist, and undeniably sharp commentary on the shortcomings of the 1950s.
Kirstene’s Great Reads 2023
Kirstene is one of Future Anything's brilliant workshop facilitators
- Stolen Focus by Johann Hari – Think Future Anything’s Root Cause Tree (one of our core classroom activities we use to help your people identify and unpack a real-life problem that matters to them) with “Our Deteriorating Attention Span” as the problem in the middle – this book gives you a super engaging exploration of all the obvious and not-so-obvious causes of this problem.
- Lost Connections by Johann Hari – Think the Root Cause Tree with “Depression/Anxiety” as the problem in the middle and then, an exploration of all the obvious and not-so-obvious causes of this problem (hint: they have to do with how we’ve lost a variety of connections!). P.S. Johann Hari has an incredible way of absorbing so much research and sharing it in such an engaging and digestible way!
- Showing Up by Nedd Brockmann – The story of a purpose-driven 24-year-old who ran 50 marathons in 50 days (whilst still working as an electrician every day!) in 2020, running over 4000km from Cottesloe Beach, Perth to Bondi Beach, Sydney. He is living proof that when we challenge ourselves in a way that is aligned with our intrinsic motivators, the positive ripple effect is far bigger than we can anticipate!
Jess’s Great Reads 2023
Jess is Director of Operations at Future Anything
- Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – A gripping novel inspired by early female aviators. The heroic Marian Graves is just one of a cast of super-compelling characters in this epic story of determination and adventure.
- People Person by Candice Carty-Williams – An enjoyable follow-up to Queenie, following five characterful half-siblings as they navigate their new-found relationships with each other and their wayward father (and his gold Jeep).
- The Wires That Bind: Electrification & Community Renewal by Saul Griffith – In his Quarterly Essay, Griffith powerfully combines warm tales of a road trip with his mum through regional Australia with an accessible, practical, and empowering discourse unpacking how we can all be part of the transition to energy that is cheaper, cleaner, more reliable and secure for all. Spoiler alert: yes, money and policy matter, but so do democracy, women, and community.
- Mad Honey by Jodie Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan – The story of a murder told via two storylines with twists and secrets revealed along the way. A suspenseful read; perfect for a long plane journey.
- The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds – by Peter, Pat & Raoul Slater – Sits on my desk and is thumbed through almost daily as a new screech echoes through the valley or a bright flash of unidentified feathers streaks past the window.
Jen’s Great Reads 2023
Jen is Future Anything's Program Director (Engagement)
- Changing Australian Education: Why policy is taking us backwards and what can be done about it by Alan Reid – Back in 2018, Alan Reid wrote, “Beyond Certainty: A Process for thinking about Futures for Australian Education”, and I was hooked. In his 2019 book Changing Australian Education, Reid outlines his views about why a new direction for Australian education is needed.
- The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change by Siobhan McHale – this is my recommended read for helping to understand and identify patterns of behaviour in our schools, instead of focusing on individual behaviours. An easy-to-read book with great examples to illustrate key points.
- Generation Alpha by Mark McCrindle & Ashely Fell – Packed with great insights for us to better understand young people born between 2010 to 2024 and how best to support this generation to thrive.
- Before we say goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – Time travel with a twist! The fourth book in this series. Grab a coffee (though drink it before it gets cold) and go on a journey with an eclectic group of characters.
- The Book Binder of Jericho by Pip Williams – A glimpse into life in London in the First World War, beautifully told from a woman’s perspective.
- Mrs Winterbottom Takes a Gap Year by Joanna Nell – a fun read for the holidays – reminding us to live for the now and grab firmly at life with both hands.