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Professional Creep: How Work Can Take Over Your Life (and Your Book List)

By Megan M. Allen — August 01, 2017 3 min read

Thank you to my mentor, Sue Creekmore, for pointing this out in her wonderfully, sassy, and wise way.

The Teacher Leader Dementor Returns! Professional Creep

I have a confession.

I haven’t read a book for pleasure in years.

Not that the books I read aren’t fun or enjoyable, but they all connect to work. Teacher leadership, social science, brain research...fascinating, but all chosen to help me learn, stretch, and grow into a better professional educator. I love these reads, but I don’t think they ever give my brain any time off from thinking about improving education. I don’t know if I ever take a break from work, even when I’m reading.

I don’t think I realized it until I started packing for our vacation a few days ago. I wanted books to read by the lakeside in North Carolina, so I picked up two books on grant writing for nonprofits. Express delivery, of course, so I could have them for the 15-hour drive down south. I planned on adding them to this stack:

Then I thought about how I used to feel about books. I couldn’t put them down. I longed to be whisked away into worlds of vampires, to be drawn into places that were far away from my own reality. To lose myself in the pages of a book and become so enraptured that I couldn’t bear to peel myself off the couch. To really escape from the pressures of work, so when I finally closed the covers of my book, my energy bucket was refilled.

Isn’t it funny and wonderful that in education, you can get so obsessed with your work that it takes over all parts of your life? This “professional creep” can take away your nights out with friends, cause you to be late to dinner with your loved ones, and even trickle onto your reading lists, toppling over the pile of escapist reads and replacing them with education-related non-fiction.

So I posted a plea on Facebook, and so many beautiful reads appeared thanks to recommendations of colleagues far and wide. I’m almost done with my first one, and it’s complete and utter mindlessness. It’s pure delight.

Though I do love the education profession, I have realized that I must attend to all parts of my life. I hit pause on the education button and put the spotlight on Megan. I need to fan the flames of my personal life, including revisiting my love of those beautiful, escapist fictional reads that used to tower beside my bed.

My advice: Don’t let “profession creep” take over your life in a way that’s detrimental to your health. Tell it to creep on back over the line, and that you’ll get to it when you can.

For right now, I’m cracking open a book. And unless the three main characters from Big Little Lies are talking about guided reading and leadership development of teachers from their drama-filled town of Monterey, Calif., it’s a book for pure enjoyment only.

In case you are interested in the books that were recommended to me, here’s what was recommended. Thanks to the friends and colleagues who helped me create this list!

Reads for educators who are too busy to read and need escapist reads to lure them back in to reading for leisure:


  • The Night Circus
  • The Perfect Stranger
  • Big Little Lies (my first read!)
  • The One-in-a-Million Boy
  • The Nightingale (this will be my second)
  • Americanah
  • The Light Between Oceans
  • Man of Legends
  • Stillhouse Lake
  • The Hundredth Queen
  • Demon Moon
  • Split Second
  • I am Number Four
  • Everything We Keep
  • I am the Messenger
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • Another Brooklyn
  • The Kitchen House
  • Yellow Crocus
  • Sarah’s Key
  • The Art of Fielding
  • A Man Called Ove
  • The Goldfinch
  • Beautiful Ruins
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
  • Me Before You
  • The Nest
  • Congo
  • City of Thieves
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (tried to buy, not in paperback yet)
  • Eleanor and Park
  • The Hate You Give
  • All the Bright Places
  • I’ll Give you the Sun
  • Orbiting Jupiter
  • Out of My Mind (one of my favs to use with kids)
  • Anything by Jodi Picoult
  • Trying to Float
  • Girl on the Train
  • All the Light We Cannot See (note, read this and NOT uplifting)
  • What Alice Forgot
  • The Rosie Project
  • Caleb’s Crossing
  • Everything I Never Told You
  • The Color of Water
  • The Paris Wife
  • My Friend Dahmer
  • The Book Thief (LOVE this!)
  • The Janet Evanovich series
  • The God of Small Things (bought this—it’s read #3!)
  • All-American Boys
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
  • Loved A Monster Calls
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
  • Underground Railroad
  • Anything by Kate Morton
  • Glass Castle
  • America’s First Daughter
  • Wolf Hall
  • Tiny Beautiful Things (one of my favorites)

The opinions expressed in An Edugeek’s Guide to K-12 Practice and Policy are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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