Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

In this engaging book, the author, a psychologist, demonstrates that the secret to success may not be intelligence or natural talent, but grit. Develop a passion, have a goal, and work hard. The author interviewed Jeff Bezos’ mother and the coaches of the Seattle Seahawks football team, estimated which cadets would succeed in their first year at West Point, and found what habits and attitudes help Spelling Bee contestants reach the finals. Learning to work and succeed at something hard, such as music lessons, sports, or ballet may make it more likely that a student will succeed in the future. For parents, she suggests that participating in an extracurricular activity (or two) for at least one year and preferably two may help them succeed in college. There is a quiz to find out how gritty you are, and assurances that you can build grit, as well as intelligence. Many interesting examples make for a good readalike for Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.