UVA Darden Professor Shane Dikolli on Must Reads and the Importance of Curiosity

24 January 2019

By Jay Hodgkins

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Shane Dikolli joined the Accounting faculty at the start of the academic year, bringing a stellar reputation from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, where he won eight “teacher of the  year” awards across three different categories.

Dikolli showcased the breadth of his interests in a recent Q&A with The Reading Lists, in which he discussed his reading interests — including what he’s reading now, which books he’s read multiple times, and which books he thinks are most important for young people to read as well as for people on  his career path.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading Grit by Angela Duckworth.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

First grade of primary school, Dick and Dora and Nip and Fluff series of books.

If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be and why?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It helped me understand the importance of independence and curiosity. The brilliant storytelling is also full of inspiration.

What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path and why?

The book I’m currently reading: Grit by Angela Duckworth. In fact, I plan to give a presentation to new Accounting faculty this winter about an Accounting academic career path and the frameworks and quizzes in the book provide excellent reading materials for individuals who are interested in self-assessing their grit. Academia provides a range of rejection sources, from students who might not like my teaching methods, to journal editors who don’t like my submitted manuscripts, to referees or research audience members who don’t agree with my research findings. In my opinion, the single most important personal trait to have in an accounting academic career is grit, which allows an individual to keep moving forward in the face of these repeated rejections, in search of the thrill of discovery.

Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

I’ve read many, many children’s books more than once. I revisited them because my young children at the time loved them. The ones I would revisit most often were the ones with rhythmic words, such as Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown or Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. I particularly love Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge because the theme of the book is not obvious on a first reading and there is a reference in the book to how Wilfrid viewed his “footy” like it was gold – it chokes me up every time I read it because I loved to play Australian Rules football as a kid. As for novels, I read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving more than once. I revisited it because it was just so stunningly written, and the storylines were deep and complex. On second reading it seemed to have other layers of stories that I didn’t appreciate the first time through. Last, I’ve read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch several times. It’s just beautiful stuff.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

Although I live in the USA, many of my friends and family live in Western Australia. I don’t think there’s a Western Australian who hasn’t heard of Wally Foreman. As a result, I’ve recommended The Legend from Bruce Rock: The Story of Wally Foreman by Glen Foreman, Wally’s son.  For anyone who grew up in Western Australia, it’s just a great story and brings back many childhood memories. The book I’ve recommended the most to American friends is either In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson or My Place by Sally Morgan. Both contain fascinating insights about what it is like to live and grow up in Australia.

Read the full Q&A on The Reading Lists.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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