David Flink was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at age nine. Though he struggled academically for a time, he ultimately excelled, and today Flink holds a bachelor's degree in education and psychology from Brown University and a master's degree in disability studies in education from Columbia University. In 1998, he co-founded Eye to Eye, a national mentoring organization for students with learning disabilities, where he holds the title of CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer). In Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities (Morrow, August 26, 2014), Flink focuses on how to arm students with learning disabilities (and their parents) with essential skills, advice and tools to address the challenges they face.
On your nightstand now:
Like many Malcolm Gladwell fans, I excitedly await every new book that comes from him. I plan accordingly to the publication date and cancel all of my commitments in order to free my time, devouring his new book once released. I did the same routine with his most recent book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, but have kept it on my nightstand since. I keep rereading a wonderful chapter in the book on dyslexia and its "advantages of disadvantages" that has illuminated my thinking on what it means to be someone with dyslexia. I have a complicated relationship with books, and the irony of what it means to be a writer with dyslexia is not lost on me--which indeed qualifies me as a "misfit."
Favorite book when you were a child:
As a kid, I loved having But No Elephants by Jerry Smath read to me by my mother. Something about the hero being this goofy elephant who ultimately brings his whole menagerie (and one cute old lady) out of a snowy winter and to a beach seemed exactly the way life should be. We just have to be willing to let goofy elephants into our lives.
Your top five authors:
Michael Chabon, Steven Johnson, Daniel H. Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Jonathan Safran Foer. In no particular order, these authors are my top five by far and all have given me gifts through their words in one way or another. By sharing their storytelling talents and helping me see the world differently or more deeply, they've touched my craft and spirit in powerful ways.
Book you've faked reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce was assigned to me in college. I somehow did well in the class, but I am still not sure I can say I understand the book.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Big Citizenship by Alan Khazei is a book every person should read. Every time I read it, I'm reminded what it means to be a citizen and how we all can and must participate in a call to service.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. It has a Magic 8 Ball on the cover and explains how we make decisions.
Book that changed your life:
I recently read Paul Tough's How Children Succeed and found it captivating. I loved getting a better insight into how our sense of self and our social-emotional learning play such huge roles in how we ultimately find success.
Favorite line from a book:
"America's greatest natural resource has always been its people." --Alan Khazei, Big Citizenship
Which character you most relate to:
Jonathan Safran Foer opens Eating Animals with a story of his Jewish grandmother. Near starvation, she is running from the Germans during the war. At the end of the story, she is offered some pork, but refuses to eat it as it as it breaks her religious value of keeping kosher. When asked why, she replies, "If nothing matters, there's nothing to save." While she is a relatively minor character in his food manifesto, I felt her [presence] throughout his book and I have related strongly to her ever since. My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and I am deeply aware of my values and the gift of having a life of meaning. She embodies that in her short turn of phrase and represents why I choose to fight for learning rights every day.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
On a trip to Costa Rica, I met author Alison Smith by chance. She was celebrating the publication of her first book, Name All the Animals. We discovered we lived in the same neighborhood and traded information to connect once back in New York City, on which neither of us followed up. Months afterward, I decided to read Name All the Animals and could not put it down. A year or so later, she was seated next to me at a favorite Brooklyn eatery and I gushed to her how powerful her book was and how I wished I could read it again for the first time.