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A Recommendation Gone Wrong


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I committed an absolute no-no. I included a book on my "must read" list to my PD attendees without first reading it. And I'm not talking maybe 10-15 people saw this list. Hundreds. Maybe a thousand. I suggested a "must read" book to hundreds of educators (teachers and administrators) that, as soon as I finally read Chapter 1, knew it could taint my reputation. If someone looks at my list and decides to read this book, they might immediately say, "Why on earth would Sandra ever recommend this book?" "If this book reflects how Sandra operates, I'm not sure we want to work with her."

So what possessed me to recommend a book I had never read? When every teacher knows NEVER to show a video in its entirety to a class without first previewing all of it (admittedly, though, we've ALL done it at least once), why oh why on earth would I dare recommend a book in its entirety without reading it?

Well, I was reading Jennifer Casa-Todd's Social LEADia: Moving Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership (I cannot recommend this book highly enough - and yes, I've read EVERY page), and one sentence she wrote took me down the rabbit hole of exploring the culture of Book Tubers (see previous blog post) and I came across Ariel Bisset's channel. She has 154K followers and creates almost weekly videos reviewing books she has read. I was stuck on her channel for hours listening to her discuss books I taught in senior English classes, outline Magic Realism better than I ever did, and was captivated by her delivery and intimate knowledge of literature.

I then watched her review of a book titled, So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson which struck a sense of familiarity with me as I had experienced my own public shaming when I lived in Saudi Arabia (see previous blog post). I put it on my private list of Must Read books.

Some months later, after I had still not read the book, I stumbled upon a fabulous TEDTalk by Jon Ronson titled When Shaming Goes too Far (I highly recommend - and yes, I've watched every minute) where he explores the Justine Sacco fiasco when she tweeted out, just as she boarded a plane to South Africa, a racially charged statement about her not getting AIDS because she's white, and then turned off her phone. She arrived in South Africa to find out she was trending world wide, people were spewing all manner of heinous accusations and desired consequences, and she had been fired from her job mid-flight.

That was it. The book went on my public Must Read list.

Where could I go wrong recommending a book with such a glowing review from a woman who reads hundreds of books a year? Where could I