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At Hugo, we embrace lifelong learning and love to read as much as we can. Many of our favorite books fall under the fields of social science or education but we also love reading great novels or books of poetry.

We hope you'll browse our shelves, and see if anything inspires you.

Deep Work
Cal Newport

Turn off your phone before it destroys your brain! In this insightful book, productivity expert and Georgetown computer science professor, Cal Newport, describes the optimal process for “deep work” and why it’s so important.

This book will make you rethink your relationship to distraction, turn off the beeps and notifications, and the (re)discover the reward and pleasure of concentration.

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life
Shawn Achor

We often think that our success will make us happy--if we just win the big game, ace the test or get into the right college, we’ll find the positive outlook we crave. Harvard psychologist, Shawn Achor, shows us that the opposite is true: when we are happy and positive, we create the conditions that invite success.

This book includes practical advice for getting and staying in a good mood and highlights the importance of a gratitude practice. A must-read for stressed out high school students (and their parents!).

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Greg McKeown

Who among us hasn’t said yes to one thing, and then another, and another...until we find ourselves completely overwhelmed and not doing anything well? Greg McKeown shows us why essentialism--being ruthlessly disciplined about what we agree to pursue--is so important. Learning how to say no is one of the best things you can do to guarantee success.

This book includes tools and exercises to help you figure out what essential things you want to say yes to and how to block out the rest.

Fat Envelope Frenzy
Joie Jager-Hyman

Written by one of Hugo’s Founders, this book explores the personal journey of five students who dream of going to Havard. Each of the students brings something different to the table--from an Olympic-level skater balancing school and sports to the daughter of undocumented grocery store workers who envies her wealthy classmates, and the science/music prodigy whose entire community is rooting for him.

Their journey is not just a quest for admission to Harvard, it is really the story of the American dream.

Great At Work: The Hidden Habits of Top Performers
Morten T. Hansen

Based on the results of a five-year study with over 5,000 managers and employees, Hansen identifies “Seven Work Smarter Practices” that anyone can use to improve their performance. At Hugo, we especially love the chapter on matching purpose and passion, which gives tangible advice on how to find purpose in what you do by creating value, finding meaning and cultivating a social mission (i.e. giving back).

Again and again, this book illuminates how learning through relationships can help us become rockstars.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. 
Whole Hearts
Angela Duckworth

“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential,” Brown writes in this must-read book. We all have the potential to lead if we stop letting feelings like fear or arrogance get in the way. Brown’s combination of story-telling and scholarship have made her one of the most sought-after authors and thought experts of our generation.

The Hugo team loves her work because it truly empowers others to be bold and execute their vision.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth

Duckworth’s seminal work illustrates how grit helps us overcome obstacles, master a subject and find a passion.

This is required reading for students who want to understand what it takes to really succeed in school and why we learn more from setbacks than we do from easy success.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
Ta-Nehisi Coates

These are the seminal essays by one of the best writers and social critics of our time. Coates observes and contextualizes the tragedy of race in America in a way that few writers can. His Atlantic article making the case for reparations, which is reprinted in this book, became a viral sensation and he continues to write honestly about how the legacy of slavery and violent racism in America continues to manifest itself today.

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the gap between our ideals and the reality often experienced by people of color in the U.S.

Dog Songs: Poems
Mary Oliver

It’s hard to choose a “favorite” collection of Mary Oliver poems, but Dog Songs might just be it. In its pages, this book contains the secrets to the good life: creativity, family, nature, learning, and loving oneself and others. We recommend keeping this book close at all times so that you can pick it up when you need to remember the world’s beauty.

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America
Paul Tough

Journalist Paul Tough chronicles the leadership journey of one of America’s greatest educators, Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone. Canada’s out-the-box, holistic approach to school reform was a groundbreaking attempt at creating a programmatic intervention that did not just meet the academic needs of students, but also addresses the underlying systemic reasons that so many children born into poverty are destined to remain impoverished.

This book will speak to anyone who refuses to accept the injustice around them--and give them a roadmap for how to break old paradigms to create new paths forward.

Tara Westover

Growing up in rural Idaho in a family that was suspicious of all government institutions--including schools and hospitals--Westover had to overcome tremendous odds to get an education. Her story reminds us all why education is a privilege--and it also shows us how much life has to teach us outside of school

Thinking Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

In this seminal work, Kahneman explains the complexity of the human mind--and why we should not always trust our instincts--with surprising narrative ease. Readers will learn about System 1 and System 2--the “fast” and “slow” ways we process information. These systems are usually quite effective--until they aren’t.

This book provides insight into human fallibility that will help you make better decisions.

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