What's on Dean Dorrie Fontaine's bedside table?
I love reading a variety of books all at the same time—maybe it’s my short attention span? I re-read When Breath Becomes Air, by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, before his wife Lucy delivered our Bice Lecture last winter, along with The Bright Hour, an amazing book about living and dying with breast cancer.
Now I’m reading Joan Halifax’s Standing at the Edge, as well as Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover, on my Nook, a horrifying story about resilience that I can only take in tiny doses. It came recommended by my friend and coach Dr. Richard Frankel from the Regenstreif Institute who is helping me focus on what’s important as I step down, and how to leave a lasting legacy.
I also keep Wait, What? on my bedside table, by UVA President Jim Ryan—it has so much wisdom. I often wonder, “Which one of those questions is he really asking me today?”
"I love reading a variety of books all at the same time - maybe it's my short attention span?"Dorrie K. Fontaine, on what's on her bedside table
FAVORITE BOOK TO ASSIGN
Atul Gawande’s Better—especially the last chapter on becoming a “positive deviant.” CNL’s love this.
BEST LEADERSHIP BOOK
A tie between two: Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson, and Jill Ker Conway’s A Woman’s Education, about life as president of Smith College.
Anything by Lianne Moriarty—her latest book is Nine Perfect Strangers—is great distraction therapy. I also got 30/30 last summer at Chautauqua for winning a Hemingway trivia contest. I’d taken a week long course on Hemingway’s short stories with 15 other adults—all the men in the class looked just like Ernest Hemingway!
BOOK WITH THE BIGGEST PERSONAL IMPACT
There are two, without a doubt: Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness, and Real Happiness at Work.
I’ll spend a month this winter on a Semester at Sea ship that will go through the Panama Canal, and plan to read David McCullough’s Path Between the Seas, a book I’ve owned for 40 years, but never read. My lab puppy chewed the cover years ago, but it’s still readable.