September 6, 2022

What Our Edtech Leadership Team is Reading

EdTech Leadership Team Book Recommendations On Shelf

“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book – that string of confused, alien ciphers – shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”

If you have a love for learning and reading, this quote, from Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading, likely stirs emotions of nostalgia and wonder. The lucky may remember that moment. But even if you don’t recall when reading first clicked, you know now that books, whether hard copy or digital, can benefit you in many ways. Reading can take you to faraway places or help you solve everyday problems. It can be an escape from everyday life or help you reach your goals by learning valuable skills.

While the average time spent reading per day in the United States is just shy of 20 minutes a day, reading, even a little bit each day, can have many positive effects on the life of the reader, including increases in:

  • Verbal and creative skills
  • Vocabulary and comprehension
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Brain strength and connectivity
  • Concentration and memory

At Cengage Group, we have an acute understanding of the power reading has to shape the future of learners by opening up new worlds and opportunities. We’re proud to provide content and education technology that helps millions of learners improve their lives and achieve their dreams.

For National Read a Book Day (September 6), we asked our edtech leadership team about their favorite books and what they’re reading right now. To help you decide on your next read, see if you can guess who has which favorite book and browse their responses:


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What’s Your Favorite Book and Why?

Most recently, “An Ugly Truth,” which highlights the power technology has in today's world and the responsibility leaders have to understand that power and manage it accordingly.

Jim Chilton, Chief Information Officer and General Manager, Infosec

My favorite book is “100 years" by Joshua Prager. I appreciate the short selections that reflect a human’s experience at each year of their life from 0-100 years old. As different and diverse and unique as we all are, humans do share common emotions and expectations for experiences — I find this commonality fascinating.

Brooke Carey, Chief Communications Officer

“Stalingrad” by Anthony Beevor. I am an avid reader of history. I view this as somewhat of a benchmark of military history literature – it’s objective and authoritative, and at same time really draws the reader in – it’s a real page turner! 

- Bob Munro, Chief Financial Officer

“A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. I love the stories about the personalities behind the history of modern scientific thought.

Kermit Cook, Chief Operating Officer

“Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss because it gives practical advice in any negotiation. 

Michael Hansen, Chief Executive Officer

“Midnight's Children” by Salman Rushdie. A really magical/surreal tale that allows you to suspend disbelief and dive into his most beautiful use of language.

– Balraj Kalsi, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cengage Work

I’m not sure if I have a favorite book, but the one that comes to mind is “Blindness” by Jose Saramago. This was one of the books that earned Saramago the Nobel Prize for Literature. I read it when I was teenager, and it has stuck with me since as a reminder of not taking things for granted and also of the importance of being resilient and adaptable.

Nhaim Khoury, Executive Vice President and Co-General Manager, Cengage Academic

“The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer.  It’s a really funny and touching portrayal of how people form their lives and friends over the years, and what it means to find happiness as an adult.

Morgan Wolbe, Executive Vice President and Co-General Manager, Cengage Academic

“Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf. This is a book I read over and over (and over) when my children were little. It’s a great story about a bull who looks like he should be a great fighter but prefers to smell flowers.

Laura Stevens, General Counsel

“Der Zauberberg” (The Magic Mountain) by German Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann. It’s an epic novel, written in 1924, about the formation of the major characters of the story that takes place on a Swiss mountain resort the weeks prior to the outbreak of World War I.

Alexander Broich, President of Cengage Select, General Manager for English Language Teaching


Tell Us About One of the Most Inspiring Books You’ve Read?

Two actually! “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christensen. This book creates a perspective to better understand yourself and what really matters in life. The second is “5 Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman. This is a simple book that explains how similar yet different we each are in how we give and receive love, and how to have meaningful relationships with every member of your family.  

– Jim

“The Giving Tree” - This children’s book is chock full of metaphors that I just love. Selflessness, balancing needs in a friendship or relationship, the power of caring for others. I feel humbled when I read this book.

– Brooke

“A Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela - No explanation needed, I hope!

– Bob

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. It’s the story of the founding of Nike. I was inspired by the persistence and tenacity that led to the success of Nike. He didn’t have a grand plan to start out, but kept taking risks, working hard and learning from mistakes along the way.

– Kermit

“Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

– Michael

“The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli finds his way with the help of many.

   – Balraj   

"The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz. While this is a 'business' book on its surface, for me it was a story of personal and team resilience, self-awareness, the right amount of humility, and humor under pressure. A great read.

– Morgan

“Dark Side of the Light Chasers” by Debbie Ford. It helped me to understand that reactions to others should prompt you to look within yourself for the source of your reaction and not to the other person.

– Laura

“Being Digital” by Nicholas Negroponte. When I read this book when it was published in 1995, the internet what still in its early stages. It completely changed my view of the analog and digital world and made me change my job from the car industry (the “analog” world) to media/publishing (the to-be-digital world).

– Alexander


What Are You Currently Reading?

I prefer listening - right now I’m wrapped up in the INFOSEC podcast and YouTube channel. Absolutely recommend a listen. This content helps everyone understand the world of cybersecurity. I also recently re-read Daniel Pink’s “DRIVE.” I absolutely recommend it. This book explains that people need autonomy, mastery and purpose, and argues that when they have these things, amazing results follow.  

– Jim

Right now, I’m reading “Growing Up Getty.” I love stories about other peoples’ experiences and the family and history that shaped them and the eventual generations to come. 

– Brooke

“Slaying the Badger” by Richard Moore - This isn’t for everyone, and just to provide some context “the badger” in this case is the great French cyclist Bernard Hinault. Having said that I would certainly recommend this to sport and cycling enthusiasts – a great re-telling of the epic 1986 Tour de France battle between LeMond and Hinault.

– Bob

“Iron War” by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s about the 1989 Iron Man World Championship race between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. I definitely recommend it for anyone who is an endurance athlete or enjoys amazing competition. It’s an incredible story.

– Kermit

“The Industry of Politics” by Michael Porter and Catherine Gehl.

– Michael

“How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates. I would recommend it. I think we'll only make a difference together.

– Balraj

I just finished reading “The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success” by William Thorndike, Jr. I found its simple premise for driving company performance very provocative. I also appreciated the humble and frugal nature of the eight CEOs profiled in the book. I would definitely recommend this book to others who want to get to know about successful leaders who are not usually profiled in most business media.

– Nhaim

“More Than I Love My Life” by David Grossman. It’s a story of intergenerational trauma and relationships, parent-child reconciliation and obligations to our families. A very sad but riveting read that moves quickly.

– Morgan

“Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” – Yes, I would recommend it. It provides an interesting reflection on how data is measured, categorized and tracked and how that impacts the many critical facets of women’s lives.

– Laura

“Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. I read this book for the first time when it was published in 2001 and started it again as I saw the obituary for Ehrenreich in the New York Times this weekend. It’s a gripping document on “How to (not) get by in America” (subtitle of the book). I highly recommend it to (nonfiction) readers who are interested in socioeconomics in modern America – written as a narrative from the perspective of low-wage worker.

– Alexander


Connect With Our Edtech Leadership Team

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