Sunday, April 26, 2009

Okay! I finished reading two more books over break!
I read "Search for Bliss" and " Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" but I am way too exhausted from racking to write about either right now....
but I will soon!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Well, I finished reading "The Way of a Ship" by Derek Lundy. I don't think I can ever truly understand the adventure that rounding the Horn of South America in a wind-driven ship must have felt like, but this book did a pretty good job of taking me right into the action.

Based partly on his own experiences as a deep-water sailor, and family history and lore, Lundy researched the history and trends of wind-driven four-masted barques, bring the past and the present together in a well written read.

If you want to round the Horn without risk of limb or life, this book is a great read!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh Boy!
It is Educator Appreciation Week at Barnes and Noble! That means teachers get a 25% discount on all of their purchases...oh...wonderful!

I met up with my fave collection of co teachers for shopping and lunch (KVD, DM, and CH, plus my own two captive children...who are also on break). We had a blast, and were very supportive about our purchases, but we are so similar in how we approach books, we all like to own our own copy! So even if I had a copy to lend or give of a particular title, others in the group still wanted to buy their own! It was quite a scene, piles of books and the fast happy patter of readers in lust with titles and covers. I am pretty well read, so it was fun to chat about books that others might enjoy, and it made me remember how wonderful it was to read some of those titles, fave authors, genres, etc. Delightful!

Here is what I purchased today:

The Writer's Toolbox by Jamie Cat Callan. This little box contains all sorts of cards and devices designed to end writer's block. It is a delightful toolbox that I cannot wait to put into practice in my own classroom.

Teaching Writing That Matters: Tools and Projects That Motivate Adolescent Writers by Chris W. Gallagher and Amy Lee. Here is a book designed by teachers for teachers all about the teaching and study of the craft of writing. Not prompts t get the kids to write, but ideas and tools and tips to have kids become better writers, writers who understand the process of writing, not just the product.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. KVD recommended this title to all of us today, and all three of us, CH, DM and me bought our "own copy", and have turned it into our April Break read. This novel has a subtitle of "One grump's search for the happiest places in the world." Sounds wonderful, silly, and truly profound.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective by Kate Summerscale. True crime just makes me shiver. I love to read about real people, and what they are capable of. This title refers to a brutal murder in 1860 in Victorian England. The Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Jonathan Whicher is credited with being the creator of forensic science, and the character of Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins' novel The Moonstone, the first of the detective genre novels, was based on him. I love nothing better to escape into than a brutal crime the crime has already been committed, I feel safe!

The Dalai Lama's Little Book of Wisdom by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. I seek wisdom, comfort, reassurance in my chaotic and unbalanced life regularly. The Dalai Lama allows me a chance to reaffirm my feelings and faith, without committing to organised religious practice, something I am not interested in any longer. I am also attending his teaching seminar in NYC this May, so I don't want to enter into my learning space with a master, without having an understanding of his teachings. This is the second title of his that I have delved into in the last couple of months. I am building an understanding, one page at a time.

That's what has been added to the reading pile! I will report out on titles as I read them!
Keep reading!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Okay, I am going to focus this blog on what I always intended it to be: my thoughts on books, since reading has always been the most important skill that I have ever learned and embraced in my life. Reading is one of my main passions and it has has given me the life I have today, and I cannot envision a life without books.

Here is a list of what I have been reading recently:

The Monsters of Templeton by Laura Groff
Beautifully written with strong characters and strange plot twists, Templeton is based on the town of Cooperstown, NY. James Fenimore Cooper and baseball, as well as a Loch Ness monster all appear in this well crafted and enjoyable novel that combines truth with fiction.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
This book was suggested to our staff at the high school during a teacher workshop presentation.
Dealing with skills that translate into success in the future, it is sold as a "business" book, but is easy to read and isn't focused on tips for the "bottom line", instead the premise is about how "right-brainers" , artistic and creative thinkers are truly the wave of the future. I found it wonderfully reassuring, as a right-brain thinker, to recognise that I bring a workable set of skills to my job that might not be instantly recognizable as skills.

The Way of a Ship by Derek Lundy
This fascinating book is a must read for any and all armchair sailors. Part family memoir, part nautical history, this book allows landlubber the chance to be part of a Square-Rigger crew in the sunset of wind-driven ships. Square-Riggers are four masted ships that hauled coal and other supplies around the world in the late 19th century, rounding the Horn and bringing much needed supplies from the Old World to the new.

So many books, so little time!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I am weirdly happy right now. I think it has a lot to do with seasonal change, Winter's back has finally been broken and Spring is right around the corner. The yard is filling up with chipmunks and squirrels sizing each other up, and the skunks have been digging holes in the lawn, looking for tasty grubs. The birds have rediscovered the birdseed mess under the feeders, which has been covered by snow. I heard raccoons thumping around the suet feeders last night, so bears are sure to follow.
I took the shrink-a-dink plastic off one set of sliders today, as the cats had already ripped a huge hole in it in January. I swept away a seasons worth of cat hair, and rearranged the floor plant jungle, and let the sun shine in. It felt great to just shift a few items and see a room differently.
I am trying to achieve balance in so many aspects of my life that I feel like I am slipping and sliding off a tin roof....rusted! If all it takes to set me on a happy path is a splot of sunshine and the promise of spring...bring it on!
Haven't seen the robins yet, but I am sure they will be here soon, perhaps this week!
Happy to all!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I am returning to my "other life" tomorrow: my classroom, and all of my teenagers. I have been home sick for the last four school days (six days total) and I am now a full week behind in my teaching plans. I am not very happy about this, but it is the nature of the beast sometimes. I am still wondering if there is ever a day when I won't feel guilty about not being in the classroom for my students, but I doubt it!

My life at home has been a mixture of not being able to do anything but lay in bed and try not to cough too hard, and a healthy desire to clean the house and put the world in order. I have managed to keep up with the laundry piles, and have wiped down the kitchen and bathroom, but not much else. My teenage son has been home with the flu for the last couple of days, which leaves my husband and daughter fending for themselves...they have managed!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I guess that I wanted to create a blog that reflected my personal connection to books, and I wanted to write reviews of some of my fave titles. Like so many good ideas, it has taken more of my already fractured time than I was willing or able to commit to.

I have discovered that there is a simplicity in many of the blogs I have viewed, a bit of text here, a lovely photo there, and lots and lots of "stream-of-consciousness" blurbs. There is something freeing in writing openly, without the habit of revision, something I am interested in tapping into.

I have been on FB for a while now, and am used to writing short little blurbs to my friends etc, and posting my status frequently. I enjoy looking at what others in my life are up to, with a quick glance at the status feed...voyeuristic and impersonal but habit forming.
I have also enjoyed tweeting way on Twitter, learning how to express myself in 140 characters has been challenging but informing. Finding people to follow has been even more fun than need to ask permission, just click and follow. Right now my new best friends who tweet the most have been PDiddy (who knew), Perez Hilton, Scott Simon of NPR, Cooper Anderson, and Reduced Shakespeare!

I think that I am going to be able to blurb more if I just "let go" of my desire to produce well crafted writings...I just need to write, and I will! I plan on mentioning books a lot, but not always!