‘The Year of Lear’ an interesting story about conflict and the connection between history and art
“Shackleton’s Way” a great story a
<i>Editor’s note: This week’s Page Turner reader interview is with John Houser, principal of Wayne High School. </i><br>
“As a principal, I read more nonfiction because of my desire to be a better leader, to be a leader of change. But I did read a wonderful book I saw in Barnes & Noble and thought I wanted to read it as I did when I was a classroom teacher. It’s ‘The Year of Lear’ and was written by James Shapiro. It’s about Shakespeare and England and is set in 1606 when the new king, James I, replaced Elizabeth I on the throne. There was conflict and tension – the throne was now occupied by a Scot, and the question was, ‘Can we trust these Scots? They’re not like us.’ So Shakespeare created ‘Macbeth’ and ‘King Lear’ in the same year.
“I’m always interested in conflict and in showing a connection between history and art. I began reading this over the holiday when I had time; mostly I read to help with my daily job. Now I’m learning about Shakespeare and his plays – why he wrote these two in one year. Was Shakespeare in favor with the king? It’s a neat story.
“One of the books I read that gave me information and helped me be a better leader is Howard Schultz’s ‘Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul.’ I wanted to read about a guy who knew he was going against the culture and was creating a new reason for success of his company. It was time for a change. And I’m a change guy – a professional learner, and professional learning never ends. Excellence only occurs when attention is paid to fundamentals.
“Ernest Shackleton was another of those men who tried unsuccessfully to get to the South Pole. He never made it. Most of the others lost their ships. Shackleton asked, ‘How do I keep this crew alive?’ Well, he kept everyone alive. The book is ‘Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer,’ and it tells the story. It explains why his leadership was different, how it took the right demeanor, how he took on the challenges. This is one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. I’m looking forward to reading more during spring break and during the summer.”