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Brain Food for All Ages

Here is a list of favorite books, movies, and links online that have helped educate, entertain, and enlighten us. We hope you enjoy them as well.

Table of Contents

  1. Movies

  2. Books

  3. Videos


  1. Peaceful Warrior is a 2006 American film, starring Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte and Amy Smart. Released on June 2, 2006, it is based on the novel Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Director Victor Salva first became familiar with the work while in prison for child molestation, and he credits it with being "a story that changed my life."

  2. John Adams is an Emmy Award-winning 2008 American television miniseries directed by Tom Hooper. The screenplay by Kirk Ellis is based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first fifty years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO. The first episode aired on March 16 and the final episode aired on April 20.

  3. Wall-E is a 2008 computer-animated-science fiction-romance film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The film was directed by Andrew Stanton. It follows the story of a robot named WALL-E who is designed to clean up a polluted Earth. He eventually falls in love with another robot named EVE, and follows her into outer space on an adventure.

  4. Pay it Forward is a 2000 American dramatic film based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of third party beneficiary in which a creditor who offers the debtor the option of "paying" the debt forward by lending it to a third person instead of paying it back to the original creditor. The concept of paying it forward was first described by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784: “I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”

  5. Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams was given on September 18, 2007 by Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch who delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. It became an Internet sensation viewed by millions, an international media story, and a best-selling book that has been published in 35 languages. To this day, people everywhere continue to talk about Randy, share his message and put his life lessons into action in their own lives. Randy died July 25, 2008, at the age of 47.

  6. The Great Debaters is set in Marshall, Texas, the last city to surrender after the Civil War, and the home to Wiley College. In 1935-36, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and his clandestine work as a union organizer, Professor Melvin Tolson coaches the debate team to a nearly-undefeated season that sees the first debate between U.S. students from white and Negro colleges and ends with an invitation to face Harvard University's national champions. The team of four, which includes a female student and a very young James Farmer, is tested in a crucible heated by Jim Crow, sexism, a lynch mob, an arrest and near riot, a love affair, jealousy, and a national radio audience.


  1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Benjamin Franklin was not only one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a leading writer, publisher, inventor, diplomat, scientist, and philosopher. He is well-known for his experiments with electricity and lightning, and for publishing "Poor Richard's Almanac" and the Pennsylvania Gazette. He served as Postmaster General under the Continental Congress, and later became a prominent abolitionist. He is credited with inventing the lightning rod, the Franklin Stove, and bifocals. A year after Benjamin Franklin's death, his autobiography, entitled "Memoires De La Vie Privee," was published in Paris in March of 1791. The first English translation, "The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D. Originally Written By Himself, And Now Translated From The French," was published in London in 1793. The work portrays a fascinating picture of life in Philadelphia, as well as Franklin's shrewd observations on the literature, philosophy and religion of America's Colonial and Revolutionary periods. Franklin wrote the first five chapters of his autobiography in England in 1771, resumed again thirteen years later (1784-85) in Paris and later in 1788 when he returned to the United States. Franklin ends the account of his life in 1757 when he was 51 years old.

  2. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey: The first two habits are being proactive and beginning with the end in mind. Being proactive emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow. Covey also argues that man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self; think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him: It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about stimulus and response. Between stimulus and response, we have the power of free will to choose our response. Beginning with the end in mind is about setting long-term goals based on "true north" principles. Covey recommends formulating a "Personal Mission Statement" to document one's perception of one's own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed.

  3. “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment" by Tal Ben-Shahar: This book approaches happiness with foundations based on research, peer-reviewed psychology publications, and observational logic. It is very well-written and uplifting, without being simplistic. It uses concepts from Csikszentmihalyi, Seligman, Jung, Campbell, Goleman, Branden, Gardner, Persig, and Kahneman, among others. The sections on happiness in education and in the workplace suggest focusing less on financial rewards.

  4. “George Washington Carver: The Man Who Overcame” by Lawrence Elliott: George was a celebrated botanist and inventor at a time when it was still rare for African-Americans to reach those heights. The son of a Missouri slave, Carver grew up to attend Iowa State University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1894 and a master's in 1896. He then joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. His attempts to find crop alternatives to cotton led him to the peanut; eventually he created more than 325 products from the humble legume, helping to create demand for the plant and establish it as a major American crop. Carver also worked with sweet potatoes, soybeans and pecans, among other plants, and is often credited with changing the face of agriculture in the American south.

  5. “Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker: Many of the recipes that are included in this gift come from this fantastic cookbook. Joy of Cooking is one of the United States' most-published cookbooks, having been in print continuously since 1936 and with more than 18 million copies sold.

  6. “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” by Mark Gungor: Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage is a wildly entertaining and informative book that is designed to bring hope and positive change to your marriage, improve communication, and other marriage related topics. Lulu and I bought the book after seeing the video called the “Tail of Two Brains” that is listed in the videos section of this gift.

  7. “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living”: A groundbreaking collaboration between His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and Howard C. Cutler, M.D., a Phoenix-based psychiatrist. Beginning with a small first printing in 1998 the book rapidly spread by word of mouth to become a classic manual on human happiness that has sold over 1.5 million copies in the US alone. The book remained on The New York Times bestseller list for almost two years, and has become a source of help and inspiration to millions of readers throughout the world. Responding to the requests by readers, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Cutler followed this book with another volume in 2003, their second New York Times bestseller, titled The Art of Happiness at Work. The Art of Happiness is based on a few basic premises:


Note: Many of these descriptions are copy pasted directly from the source website.


  • Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness –- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

  • Tony Robbins discusses the "invisible forces" that motivate everyone's actions -- and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.


  • Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

  • A humorous explanation of how male and female brains are different by Mark Gungor.

  • A humorous explanation of the male sex drive by Mark Gungor.


  • Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

  • Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

  • Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measurement of national economic success.


Please share your own favorite movies, books, and links videos!