Tag Archives: Books

Summer 2015

13 Jun

My summer vacation time doesn’t start for another ten days, but I’m SO ready for it now. Every summer I get a big stack of books ready so there won’t be a lack of choices. Today I just finished reading Revival by Stephen King. I’m not a big King fan, but I loved this one. So now, I want something a little less intense and I’m looking to my stack to make my next choice.


Besides the stack of 17 books you see here, I have the following eReads waiting for me
Things I Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Longbourne by Jo Baker

Honestly, if I read 8-10 of the 25 before school starts again in the fall, I’ll be happy. So, which one should I start with?



30 Jun

Today I finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. This is the first YA book I’ve read since reading The Hunger Games over March Break. I liked The Hunger Games, but I LOVED Divergent! Tris, the protagonist, is easy to relate to. I like how the author lets you into her mind without giving away everything she’s thinking.

When I went to see if I could find I photo of the cover, I discovered that the book is being made into a movie due to hit theatres in 2015. That’s exciting, but entirely too long a wait. I’m glad I’ve still got Insugent to read, and even though that wasn’t on my summer reading list, I’ll probably read it next while I’m still excited about Divergent. Many of my adult friends read and enjoyed The Hunger Games, and if that was you, you MUST read Divergent. In its own way it is equally violent and it has that same element of ethical delimma. I kept finding myself thinking how I would react in similar situatios.

For me, this was one of those reads that I just couldn’t put down. I took it with me everywhere, and spent over an hour and a half in the tub with this book on Wednesday. If I didn’t already have book two, I’d be sad that it was over. Now, it’s onto Roth’s Insurgent.

Day 43 – National Book Lover’s Day

9 Aug

Today is National Book Lover’s Day in the U.S., but, like any other American holiday, I’ll celebrate it if I want to. Today I celebrated by carrying my book, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, with me in my purse. I took Seldon and a friend to the movies. I had a few errands to run, but finished before the movie was over. So, while I was waiting, I went to Starbucks, got a strong cup of mediocre coffee and settled into a comfy couch and read while I waited. Okay, to be honest, I did all this before I even realized it was National Book Lover’s Day. I did it because I wanted to.

But, what a perfect opportunity to write about the books I love. My all time favourite book is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. If you haven’t read this book, and you like historical fiction, it’s a must read. It’s an epic novel that spans generations of a church builder and a monk and their families and how their paths and lives intersect. I know, that doesn’t sound interesting, but I promise if you read the prologue, you’ll be hooked.

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson is another book that I always recommend to others, especially female readers. It is the book that convinced my mother-in-law at the age of 76, now an avid reader at 83, that reading really was for her. I loved it; many of my female students loved it. My daughter, mother and husband all loved it, and it actually got my husband reading too. It’s one of those can’t-put-down books. If you’ve read any of Patterson’s Alex Cross books or his murder-mystery stuff, it’s nothing like those. It is uncharacteristic of most of his work.

Another Patterson title that’s uncharacteristic of his writing is The Jester, a novel he co-authored with Andrew Gross. Before reading The Pillars of the Earth, I would have listed The Jester as my all-time favourite. It’s another great historical fiction read.

Those are a few of my favourites, but I have many others that I love. I’m going to leave you with a few lists of books and authors I recommend.

My last four book club reads:

Four just for fun summer reads:

Four of my favourite authors:

Four of my favourite dead authors:

Four of my favourite poets:

“Suddenly I felt the precise body of your poems beneath me,
like a raft, I felt words as something portable again…”
~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Happy National Book Lover’s Day!

Dancing and Cheering

26 Nov

In one of my masters courses I had to write about myself as a literate individual. This piece of writing ended up being very personal. It’s perhaps the piece I’m most proud of. I’m including large chunks of it here, but I won’t bore you with the whole paper. It’s kind of long, so if you don’t want to (or don’t have time to) read it all, just read the quote and first paragraph. I did a little dance after that first paragraph I was so happy with it. I cheer for books, and my own writing makes me dance sometimes; what can I say?

“Because sometimes I live in a hurricane of words

and not one of them can save me.

Your poems come in like a raft, logs tied together,

they float.”

~ from “You Know Who You Are” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Like hearing the first line of a well-loved song from the glory days of my adolescence, or the smell of my mother’s apple crumble wafting through the house as it bakes, a book that captivates me from beginning to end read in a comfy spot in the summer sun takes me back to a place in my childhood that will forever be engraved in my heart and mind. Reading something I choose to read for no other reason except that I want to read it while relaxing outdoors is one of the greatest indulgences I allow myself. It reminds me of lying on the rusty old hammock that hung between the two huge maple trees behind my grandparents’ lakeside cottage, getting lost in a book. I have so little time for pleasure reading that when I get time to do it I feel like I’m giving myself a treat. I can relate so easily to Nye’s poem that was written as a tribute to well-known American poet William Stafford. She feels like she is constantly barraged with words, but the comforting words of a well-loved poet can keep us afloat during the pressures of life’s storms. The reading I do for pleasure is my most valued literate practice, it sustains my soul.

I often read fiction to experience things that I would never otherwise be able to experience. With a good book I can become deaf, blind and mute and learn to be literate. I can be an orphan who teaches my new adoptive parents patience, love and laughter. I can be a serial killer who targets a specific demographic or the hot-shot detective that hunts him down. I can be a talking pig who takes over a farm. I can be a regular teenage girl who finds herself suddenly head over heals in love with a vampire. I can be a young star-crossed lover who commits suicide to eternally be with her lover, AND live to tell about it.

When it comes to what others are reading, I’m nosey. I’ll interrupt complete strangers in an airport to ask what they’re reading. Or, if I see someone reading I book I loved, a conversation must happen. I’ve experienced that literacy is social. I love to share my love for literature. I share what I love reading with my family, friends, colleague, students and online acquaintances. It gives me pleasure to introduce someone else to an author they end up loving, or a book that they go on to introduce others to. Living out my literacy means wanting to make connections around text both in my classroom and in my lifeworld.

Personally, connections are extremely important to me. I based many of my choices of text on the recommendations of other readers I trust. But, in order to grab, maintain and sustain my interest I must also connect to what I’m reading. The stronger the connections the easier it is for me to understand and enjoy what I’m reading. As I write this I’m reminded of the idea of Donald Murray’s that “writing is thinking”. I’m having an epiphany like reminder of the importance of connections for readers and writers alike. Personally, as a literate individual, I value reading and writing to which I make strong connections. It doesn’t mean my repertoire is limited to one or two genres or forms, but it means that I have a tendency to read and write to my own diverse and growing interests.

I value literacy that challenges my beliefs and expands my thinking. I often search for text to answer a question or help me solve a problem. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to value the reading I do for educational purposes, but this was not an innate practice. Even in this kind of reading, I must make connections. I must be permitted, no, I must be encouraged to highlight and write in the margins. I need to be able to “talk” back to the author as I read. I like to take what published authors have to say and use that to reframe my own ideas about similar topics. Although I love to write, I read much more than I write.

I’ve recently started to blog. Since childhood I’ve had a romantic notion of keeping a diary or journal. Maybe I thought something interesting would happen to me and my diaries would be published after my untimely death. But, journaling was something I just couldn’t seem to stick with. Since then, I’ve learned that the monotonies of my day are usually not worth writing about, and certainly would never be worth publishing. But, I’ve recently started to blog. I’ve learned to use those same monotonies to express myself through humor and to grab onto a small part of a conversation or something I noted or read and use it as a jumping off point to get my creativity flowing.

Now, I blog about personal goals, people I love, memories both funny and precious, the humor I find in life and I share my own creativity through art and poetry. Just as with my reading, the writing I do because I want to and because I use it as a form of self-expression is one of my most valued literate practices.

Technology has had a huge impact on me as a writer and is also beginning to impact the way I read. I write for various purposes, but most of it is not without the aid of technology. I write to communicate usually by email; I write to model for my students, through the use of technology; I blog, which allows me to self-publish through the aid of technology. All of my professional and educational writing is generated and kept digitally. Technology allows and encourages me to write more than I would ever write with pen and paper. It makes writing more enjoyable and seems less like tedious work. Yet, due to its limited availability at school, my students rarely use technology to produce their own writing for school.

As a reader, technology is creeping in and I cannot ignore its impact. Because I blog, I’m beginning to take an interest in the blogs of others. I link the blogs I read to the blog I’m writing.

‘N’ word, to read or not to read?

7 Nov

I’m going to be reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee with my tenth grade students for the first time in four years. I personally love the book, but stopped reading whole class novels believing other methods to be ‘best practice’. But author Kelly Gallagher, in his latest book, Readicide, convinced me that it is an important part of cultural literacy for students to be exposed to the traditional common classic texts. He specifically mentioned reading Mockingbird in tenth grade.

When I taught the book last, I’d simply explain to my students that the book had language I’d never use but would go ahead and read aloud. I believe that I should read it as it is written. I think that fifteen year olds are mature enough to realize the difference between me saying the word and the fictional and historical context in which it is written. But I must recognize that the last time I taught Mockingbird, I was dealing with a mostly racially homogeneous group of Anglo-Saxon maritime Canadians. Now I have a bit more racially diverse group.

When I announced that we would be reading To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my black students piped up and said, “That’s a racist book.” Instead of dealing with it at that time, I simply looked directly at him and repeated myself. But, now that I’m about to begin with it, I’m wondering how to approach the racist language. I realize the content that deals with racism is far more complex than the use of the ‘N’ word, but I’m looking forward to the discussion that will open up. But, the use of the ‘N’ word has me a bit troubled. I don’t think my short, we’re going to read it “because that is how the author wrote it fifty years ago” speech will do.

I found a great article dealing with the use of the word, “No Defense for Webster’s ‘N’ Word“, that I think I’ll read with my students. Then I plan on having a conversation where I hope my students will tell me how we should deal with the word when we encounter it in the text while reading aloud. Does that sound like a good plan?

That’s exactly what I’m going to do, but I’d still like to know what blogdom thinks. ‘N’ word, to read (aloud) or not to read? That’s my question to you.


5 Nov

A few days ago one of my students stood up in the middle of silent reading time and blurted out, “Mrs. G, can I get Wasted?” She was referring to a book titled Wasted from the shelf, but that didn’t matter. I had a room full of fifteen year olds; it was all out laughter. She wanted to read the book after discussing it with her classmate who had been reading it.

My students have been reading books in groups and today the presented with their groups to the rest of the class about their book. They’ve been reading some really interesting stuff, many of the books are memoirs. We are also writing memoirs. One group read a memoir called Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant. Other groups read Playing With Fire, Theo Fluery’s memoir; Night by Elie Wiesel; A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah; and, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher.

It is interesting to see my students’ passion for these books that allow them a glimpse into a life of another. It’s a glimpse into a life so vastly different from their own that it allows them to learn from the author’s mistakes, poor decisions and misfortune. This is the first time I’ve encouraged my students to read non-fiction of any substantial length, and I’m really glad I did. I think it has piqued the interest of students who might not necessarily enjoy fiction so much. It is awesome to see teenagers get excited about books.


14 Jan



Have you ever heard of transmediation? I had to look it up. According to wikipedia.org “transmediation is the process of recreating the meaning of a text from one medium to another. (e.g. from a novel to a film).  


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