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Over the past 20 weeks I have addressed many issues of the legislative session in my weekly column, and over the next 30 I will be detailing many more important and complex policy topics. With graduation celebrations and the approach of Memorial Day, the official start to summer is just around the corner. In addition to my responsibilities in Lincoln and throughout the district, I will be representing District 38 and Nebraska at several forums this summer. I have been invited to participate as one of ten legislators at a biotechnology policy roundtable in June at the Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention. The State Legislative Leaders Foundation selected me as one of 48 legislators from around the country to participate in leadership training at the Emerging Leaders Program, hosted by the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia in July. Aapresid, a Farm Organization in Argentina, has invited me to address their annual congress in August, discussing Right to Farm policy and support of science-based policy for agriculture.
In preparation for travel, family vacations, and longer days allowing more time in our outdoor spaces, many Nebraskans are looking for a summer reading list to relax and unwind. I am an unapologetic bookworm, and have often found summer a great time to catch up on reading for pleasure. With the demands of my legislative duties, my free time to read a dog-eared paperback is rare. However, technology has enabled me to keep up on many current titles. Personally, I use a digital audio app on my phone and portable devices that automatically syncs with my tablet to allow me to listen while driving, mowing and baling hay, doing summer yard work, and during travel.
In honor of the start of summer, I am going to address a lighter topic this week and share what books are on my recommended summer reading list. The titles reflect both my personal interests as well as important policy topics I am thinking about this summer.
My current book is The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley. Her comprehensive look at the characteristics of the best education systems in the world has great insight for parents, educators, and policymakers. For an interesting take on innovation, Adam Grant’s Originals is both engaging and thought provoking.
If you only have time for one piece of fiction this summer, I highly recommend The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve read it once already and will likely read it again during my summer flights. Tattoos On The Heart, by Father Gregory Boyle, is a moving account of the challenges of urban ministry.
The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley, looks toward the prosperity of the future through the lens of the historical development of civil society. In The End of Average, author Tim Rose challenges the assumptions that averages are adequate to describe populations and their value in decision making. Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s latest book, Dealing with China, looks at the rise of China as an economic superpower and the implications for local and global economies. Finally, The Gene by Pulitzer Prize winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee examines the history and future of the science of genetics, including the social implications of reading our own genetic code.
If you are looking for additional ideas, the Nebraska 150 Reading Challenge, developed in recognition of Nebraska’s sesquicentennial, has a list of Nebraska authors for all interests. The list can be found at nebraska150books.org.