Best Books for New Faculty?

Used book shop

Heaven - I mean, a used book shop

We’ve previously asked for your recommendations for the best books for undergraduates (which had a tremendous response) and best books for graduate students (who must be harder to shop for). Thus, it only makes sense for me to ask:

What are the best books for new faculty?

If you need help getting started, here are a few categories:

  • Practical advice books
  • Books to take your theology and spiritual life to the next level
  • Books on “culture making” (there’s a leading category!), education, or other aspects of faculty life
  • Comfort or counsel for those who are facing disappointment with their career
  • Books about building relationships

Any suggestions?

Photo: Parnassus Book Services, Cape Cod, MA, by Lochaven via Flickr. Click for a larger image.

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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    Alissa commented on March 1, 2010 Reply

    This is not a book, exactly, but I have found to be immensely useful in my first year of teaching.

    Miller commented on March 2, 2010 Reply

    Perhaps some new faculty haven’t read “Life Together.”… It’s time for me to read it again…. So much wisdom and practical help for faculty who are in an unusual community.

    Here are a couple quotes from readers of Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together.”

    The entire world was embroiled in a battle for the existence of the human race. Where was God? Several sharp minds wrestled with that most difficult part of faith where the rubber meets the road. One of those was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In this short, but extremely profound, work, he wrestles with the Christian’s relationship to the Christian community. I’ll throw out a couple of my favorite quotes from this book. If you find them challenging, buy the entire book and get a lot more like them:

    “LET HIM WHO CANNOT BE ALONE BEWARE OF COMMUNITY. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God.”

    “LET HIM WHO IS NOT IN COMMUNITY BEWARE OF BEING ALONE. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ.”

    If anyone’s earned the right to be heard, it’s Bonhoeffer. I’ve read this book twice now and it’s better the second time. This would be a great book to read as a married couple or a family. Bonhoeffer writes about living in community from both his own experience and from an incredibly biblical perspective. And, typical of his writing, you’ll probably have to stop after a page or two to absorb all the truth he packs into each line!

  • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on March 2, 2010 Reply

    Miller, Thank-you for reminding us of this classic work. A few years ago Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate Christian Fellowship read “Life Together,” They found it a great encouragement as a witnessing community seeking direction from academics who had come before us, living out their faith no matter the cost.

    While on the topic of “The Cost of Discipleship,” Christian Audio is offering this classic Bonhoeffer piece for free download, visit Note: John Piper’s “50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die” is also available for free this month. For more on Bonhoeffer swing by http//

  • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on March 2, 2010 Reply

    Passed along to me via email by a friend serving as a business faculty. …

    -Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker

    -Thomas Merton, Seven Story Mountain

    -Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

    -Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers & Other Servants (The most practical book I’ve encountered for surviving as a faculty)

    -Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

    -careful study of: Moses (entire life and career), Daniel (life and career), Jesus (methods – since he ran a lab with 12 post-docs, 70 grad students, and a multitude of undergraduates…), Paul (highly cited public intellectual), and Nehemiah (methods – his leadership and project management techniques are critical).

    -Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do … Very very very good book about how to be a good teacher – and lessons are useful for “research faculty” (i.e. they can be acted on without spending 40 hours a week on teaching).

    Updated 3/3/2010

  • Kevin K. Birth commented on March 2, 2010 Reply

    I remember as a new faculty member feeling like I did not have enough time. So here are my suggestions for thinking about the bigger picture of time rather than the next class or deadline:

    Abraham Joshua Heschel–The Sabbath
    Dorothy Bass–Receiving the Day
    Augustine of Hippo–The Confessions (particularly book 11)

    Mike Austin commented on March 3, 2010 Reply

    I would suggest the following 2 books:

    Creation Regained, by Albert M. Wolters
    The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar, eds. William Lane Craig and Paul M. Gould

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