Book Club

Suggested reading from the Victor Stanley library.



By Karin Bojs
My European Family is a non-fiction book by Karin Bojs, a Swedish journalist and author. The book tells the story of Bojs’ own DNA testing and research into her family history, tracing her ancestors back to the earliest humans in Europe. The book covers a wide range of topics, including human migration, genetics, archaeology, and history. Bojs’ research leads her to conclude that we are all connected to each other through our shared ancestry, and that despite our differences, we are all members of the same extended human family. Overall, My European Family is a fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of our shared history and the origins of the human race.


By Simon Sinek
The book is based on Carse’s distinction between two types of games: finite games and infinite games. As Sinek explains, finite games (e.g. chess and football) are played with the goal of getting to the end of the game and winning, while following static rules. Every game has a final winner who is distinctly recognizable. In contrast, infinite games (e.g. business and politics) are played for the purpose of continuing play rather than to win. Sinek claims that leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, aligned with infinite play, will build stronger, more innovative, inspiring, resilient organizations, though these benefits may accrue over larger timescales than benefits associated with a finite mindset. This book was picked in honor of our two founders, Stan and Jerry Skalka, who always play an infinite game and continuously prioritize the safety and well-being of their employees.

BLINK: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

By Malcolm Gladwell
In an effort to counteract the heavy topics Victor Stanley’s books have covered over the years, we chose “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”. Emma presented it at the 2019 ASLA annual meeting in San Diego starting with a quick quiz from Hans Rosling’s book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World, and Why Things Are Better Than You Think”. In Blink, the author explores the psychology of snap decisions and quick thinking. “Thin slicing” is introduced—the process of using little slivers of information about a person to form a larger opinion. This method can be effective among strangers but it breaks down in intimate relationships, such as marriage. He illuminates how our subconscious biases (such as racial or socioeconomic) affect the way we think, behave, and what language we use to describe groups of people.


By Astrid Karlsen Scott, Tore Haug
Chosen and presented by Stan. It tells an incredible true-life story of heroism and a man’s unbreakable will to live. After a failed anti-Nazi sabotage mission leaves his eleven comrades dead, Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud finds himself on the run from the Gestapo through the Arctic reaches of Scandinavia. It’s a harrowing journey across unforgiving, frozen wilderness that will stretch on for months — and force Jan to take extreme action in order to survive.


By Daniel Quinn
Given to Emma by Andrew. It was presented by Emma at the ASLA annual meeting in Philadelphia. The narrator finds himself both disgruntled and intrigued by a personal ad. The ad indicates that a teacher is looking for a student interested in saving the world.


By Saroo Brierley, Larry Buttrose
Chosen by the sales department and presented by Emma for the 2017 ASLA annual meeting in Los Angeles. An inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. Emma used the story to emphasize why it is important that Landscape Architects are included on Smart City projects from the beginning or our future cities can easily be based on zeroes and ones.


By Richard Louv
Chosen by Emma for the National ASLA Design Awards in New Orleans. The book documents how decreased exposure of children to nature in American society harms children and society.


By Mario Livio
Chosen by the Victor Stanley Sales Department for the 2016 ASLA annual meeting in New Orleans. Emma tied the story to celebrating where she grew up, what Swedes value in open space and how their environment is reflected in the Swedish culture, including surviving blunders such as the aftermath of Chernobyl.


By Dava Sobel
Chosen by Stan and presented by Emma at the 2015 ASLA annual meeting in Chicago. It took many attempts and failures for John Harrison to create the first chronometer used to determine longitude at sea. She relates the story to when she made a humbling mistake.


By Randy Pausch
Chosen by Emma for Maryland ASLA’s awards. A professor at Carnegie Melon who is dying of cancer, gives one last lecture at the school. This time, he won’t be teaching computer science to students, but the life lessons that he finds the most important to his young children to remember him after he passed. Emma used the book to share life lessons, that she most values, from her dad before he passed away.


By Malcolm Gladwell
Chosen by Emma for the National ASLA Design Awards in Chicago. Multiple theories on why some people are outliers from a performance point of view.


By Ben Macintyre
Chosen by Stan for the ASLA annual meeting in Denver. During World War II, the allies used a body with false identification and misleading information to trick the Germans into thinking D-Day was to take place in a different location on a different date.


By Alfred Lansing
Chosen by Stan for the ASLA annual meeting in Boston. Leadership that is most likely unmatched, Shackleton failed the mission he set out on, but ended up in world history because of the leadership and determination he displayed in getting his men home.


By Jeremy Schaap
Chosen by Stan for the 2012 ASLA annual meeting in Phoenix. Stan talks about immigration and being a minority, using the story of his father and grandchild immigrating to this country.


By Thomas L. Friedman
Chosen by Emma for the annual AAPQ meeting in Montreal. It describes the dilemma of a growing global middle class and its impact on the world. A translation of Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat,” re-written into “Hot, Flat and Crowded.”


By Thomas L. Friedman
Chosen by Stan. It describes the dilemma of a growing global middle class and its correlation with climate change. It not only relates to landscape architecture, but to anything and everything related to science, political science and climate change.


By David Bodanis
Chosen by Stan for the National ASLA meeting in San Diego. Einstein was already aware of all the variables. It wasn’t until he put them together that a brilliant equation occurred. The same can be said of landscape architecture: we typically know all the variables, but it is how we use them that we can create something unique.


By Patricia Dempsey
This book is provided to our factory tour guests when they arrive. It provides a look into the rich history of our hometown Annapolis.


By James L. Swanson
Our first book, shared at the annual ASLA meeting in Washington DC, in lieu of a product catalog. Stan chose this book because it tells a true story that took place blocks from the convention center.

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