I came across this book because Jim Parkinson came to our school last year to talk about and make students aware of the death march of the Bataan soldiers during WWII and sparked the interest of myself and another English teacher concerning getting our whole school on board with this book. Parkinson is a delightful man who may actually drink more Diet Coke than I do (I know - shocking), was one of the prosecuting attorneys in a multi-million dollar tobacco settlement, is an avid golfer who plays with TaylorMade clubs (if you are a golfer, you know why the brand is important) and he writes very well.
This short book is about how people in general can improve their lives through turning themselves into an autodidactic - someone who is self taught. He explains that he coasted through high school and did what needed to be done in order to have success, but didn't really care. It was his immersion in a foreign country and the necessity to learn to communicate that changed his perspective on learning, and he decided that if he wanted to have success in life, he needed to ensure he had success in life.
Parkinson describes how he became an avid reader, struggled through the writing process to learn how to write well, and dedicated his life to being smarter every single day. This really is a book that everyone needs to read, and at $5.00 a book, it's very reasonable. It has rekindled in me a desire to be better read, improve my writing and expand my vocabulary. I am recommitted to my own intelligence after reading this book.
As a side note, our principal graciously agreed to purchase one of these books for every single CHS student next year, and we are launching the literacy program with Mr. Parkinson teaching for two solid days, as well as writing lesson plans to continue his ideas through the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted on how that goes :)