Tag Archives: summer reading

Day 61 – And my summer is done

24 Aug

wpid-20140713_085103.jpgSixty-one days is a long time to not be working. I don’t say vacation because my job is such that I get paid for the work I do ten months a year and that pay gets spread over twelve months. When I’m not working in the summer, I’m actually not paid for that time, but it sure feels like vacation and I love it. I consider it one of the many perks of my job. To anyone who begrudges me that summer ‘vacation’, you too could have been a teacher. I don’t apologize one bit for enjoying every bit of that time. Tomorrow I officially go back to work for the 2014-15 school year.

When I started my daily blogging on day one, I mused about how blogging every day might affect my enjoyment of the summer. In fact, I was pretty certain that 2011, the last summer I blogged every day, was an excellent summer in part because of the blogging. Now I know that I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad summer, but I don’t think blogging made it what it was. I usually enjoyed the time spent writing. I’m proud of myself for posting every single day and I’m a bit tired of posting every single day. This summer was good. Nothing bad happened but I wouldn’t call it fantastic, as I did in 2011.

I had big plans to read lots this summer! On day two (no I won’t recap every day) I shared my summer reading list. I read five of the eleven books on my list, well I’m almost finished number five. Of the five, I recommend three booksof them. The first book I read was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It was okay,  lagged in the middle and was a long story, long enough to be epic, but fell short. It was far less interesting than its title suggests. Then I read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. This was a great YA read that I’d recommend to most of my female friends and my students. It deals with poverty, abuse, bullying and young love. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness was my favourite read of the summer. It was the third in her Discovery of Witches trilogy and I almost never read sequels. This was a most excellent exception. If you like fantasy and historical fiction, this trilogy is for you. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a light and easy read and it was downright funny. Glenn’s reading it now. I’d recommend this one to anyone who reads; its appeal and target audience is that wide. Right now, I’ve been reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby for a few weeks because I had a difficult time getting into it and I had to slug through the second part of it. With about 60 pages left to read I finally want to know how it ends. What drew me to this book was the premise: four strangers meet for the first time on New Year’s Eve on the roof of a tall building with the intention of jumping to their deaths. They don’t jump and the rest of the book is about how they navigate through life and their newfound unlikely and unofficial support group. It’s less interesting than it sounds. I’ll see it through.

I have learned a lot about myself as a writer this summer. While I won’t delve into that too much I’d like to recap my top five posts ICYMI.

  1. Day 14 – Letting Go I wrote about my daughter’s daring summer adventureswpid-img_0301.png
  2. Day 20 – Ten ideas for stories exactly what the title suggests
  3. Day 28 – Namaste was about my path to yoga and what makes it right for me
  4. Day 29 – The end of an era was about the new subdivision being built behind my home
  5. Day 42 – BBQ Meatballs is a family favourite recipe

Each of these have been viewed by over a hundred different readers, so clearly these have proven to be the most interesting posts. Even though each post is dramatically different from the others, they have one thing in common. None of them are about my day, nor are they poetry. Those type of posts got the least traffic. I enjoy writing poetry and will keep doing so. In fact, if you didn’t see my blackout poetry, check it out. I really had fun with it and can’t wait to try it with my students. I always felt like writing about my day was  a bit narcissistic and definitely a cop-out when I wasn’t sure what else to write about, especially when the day wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Now that my 61 days are over, I plan to continue blogging from time-to-time. Now that the summer is over, I’m looking forward to going back to work. I might as well look forward to it and go in with a positive outlook because it’s going to happen either way. It’ll certainly make it more enjoyable.

And thus, without a wing,
or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.
                       ~ Emily Dickinson


Day 31 – Friday solution

25 Jul

Since I’ve started this daily blogging, writing my blog on Friday nights has been the most difficult part. For some reason, at the end of the week, writing that blog has been so incredibly difficult. That isn’t the only problem I’ve encountered while blogging. When you force yourself to write, and post every day, some blog posts turn out better than others. After three or four weeks of blogging I began to notice a pattern, one that is supported by evidence when I look at the statistics of my blog. The writing that I like the best, almost always gets the most traffic to my blog. I know when I’ve written something good. The opposite is also true. I know when I’ve written something mediocre or blah and this shows up in the stats as well. I’m an astute judge of my own writing. Whenever I write about the ordinary happenings of that day, I bore myself. So here is my solution, don’t allow myself to cop-out by writing “today we did this..” until Friday night and then I’ll use lots of photos to tell the story of my week. That’s my solution for my struggle to write my blog posts on Fridays.wpid-20140720_122938.jpg

This photo of Savanna was from last Sunday. She stopped to chat with me for a minute before she left for work. Then she went out into the garage and I heard her say to Glenn, “Nope, she didn’t notice.” Then she came back in a minute later and said, “Look at my shirt.” It was Glenn’s sweat shirt from his time in Royal Rangers; it must be thirty years old. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Glenn wear it, but she has claimed it now. Every time I ask my kids to let me take their photo they have to do this, well not this exactly–an awkward pose, make a face, give me a stern look or a double chin. I can never get just a simple smile or pleasant look. wpid-20140721_104247.jpg

Glenn’s mom has been with us for three weeks, and she’s going to be with us for another three. This is the kind of thing she does on a daily basis. She’ll see something she thinks needs to be done and she does it. Monday it was cleaning the BBQ grill. It looks almost as good as it did the day we bought it. Another day she cleaned the sliding glass door and track; another day it was the little windows in the double doors between our office and living room. She also ironed all of Glenn’s shirts. She’ll find something to putter away at, then she sits and reads, does her Sudoku and Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal and Dr. Phil have become more regularly watched in our household.wpid-20140721_211149.jpg

Monday night was the perfect night for a trip to Tingley’s. Is it even still called that? Maybe just by the people who know better, but the kids working there were all wearing shirts that said Dundonald Dairy Bar. Pfft. It’ll always be Tingley’s to me. Even ZuZu came along and enjoyed a little ice cream. Here we have Seldon making his stern face. Why? Why must my children do this? It’s not like I was one of those mothers constantly chasing them with a camera.

When we were at Beulah Seldon ended up needing stitches. He was playing a game of man hunt, or wpid-20140722_142024.jpgsomething with the youth and he took of his shoes. He sliced his big toe open on a sharp rock. We went last Thursday to get them out and the doctor said they needed to stay in longer. It was a long 12 summer days that he could not swim or long board. Tuesday afternoon we went back to the doctor’s office and nurse Debbie was finally able to remove his stitches and she gave him the green light to return to the fun stuff of summer. Wednesday he started volunteering at the pool with Savanna, helping with swimming lessons. The main reason is to help an autistic boy who is taking lessons, but he stays all morning helping with all of the classes and he’s really enjoying it. I think we have another lifeguard in the making.

wpid-20140722_195726.jpgOn Tuesday night, Sadie, Glenn, ZuZu and I went to the Kathleen Gorey-McSorley concert in Officer’s Square. I love her style of folksy celtic and musical story telling. She’s a talented young woman. There were three little girls, maybe three or four years old, dancing and running back and forth in front of the stage. They were half the show. ZuZu loves being around so many people. She kept creeping behind our chairs to get belly rubs from the women sitting behind us. Then, the baby who was sitting with his mother in front of us started crying and ZuZu pulled on her leash to get a closer look and managed to distract the baby from his crying, so Glenn took her to meet the baby. Is there anything cuter than babies and dogs together?

Iwpid-20140723_141427.jpgt was so hot outside on Wednesday! I spent some time outside in the morning with my book, but once it got very hot I retreated inside, into the air conditioning. The highlight of my day was the hour I spent with my book in the tub. I rarely use the whirlpool tub in our master bath and for that reason I think it was not a good idea to have it put in. However, when I do actually allow myself to take that luxurious time to use it, I love it.

wpid-20140723_210022.jpgWe had mom and dad over for supper on Wednesday night and mom brought me some of her homemade soft molasses cookies. How could I not share one with ZuZu when she gives me this look? You know what happened.

I have no photo evidence that the last two days even happened. But that’s okay, right? We were too busy living to document life. Sadie went to the Senior’s center on Thursday for crafts and again today for a lunch time potluck. My mom is in Augusta for a few days with her quilting buddies on a shopping/Quilting Show trip, so dad came over for pizza tonight. Between trips to the pool, driving Seldon to his friends houses, taking Sadie to hair appointments and the senior’s center, I’m reading every chance I get, sneaking a chapter in here and there. Because after all, that’s what summer’s all about.




Day 27 – Eleanor & Park

21 Jul

Last Wednesday my good friend Joanie and I met for coffee because our pre-ordered copies of Deborah Harkness’s The Book of Life wpid-20140716_092139.jpgcame in. This is the first time I ever remember pre-ordering a book and waiting with excitement for a release date. Back in February she bought tickets for us to go to the school’s production of Fame and I bought/pre-ordered the books. When I woke up on Wednesday morning and came downstairs to the Amazon box on the kitchen counter, I messaged her. I sent her the photo with the caption. “Want to meet for coffee today?” Like I needed to ask!

The Book of Life is the third in her riveting trilogy and most of our book club members love, love, love it! In fact, we’ve decided that we won’t meeting in August and we’re extending our next meeting. Usually the person hosting our book club picks the book for that month. The Book of Life was everyone’s pick, so we’re meeting at a restaurant on September 6th to discuss it. So, when I met with Joanie, to hand off her copy, I shared my dilemma. I had just started reading Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. I was liking it, but come on, this was THE book we have eleanor and parkbeen waiting for. Now, I have to admit, even though I teach high school English AND have a masters in Literacy Education, I am a slow reader. Following Joanie’s advice, I did keep reading Eleanor & Park and I finished it today. I’m glad I did.

I have a difficult time writing book reviews because I find it difficult to say what I like about it without giving too much away. So what I’ve decided to do is write a list of the top ten things I LOVE about this book without getting too much into the plot.

  1. Eleanor is such a strong young woman. I’m thrilled to read about a protagonist that comes from poverty and despair. Even though most of my students don’t have it as bad as Eleanor does, I know there are parts of her life to which they’ll be able to relate.
  2. The setting is in 1986 Omaha. So many things about it take me back to my own adolescence, not least of all the art of the mixed tape.
  3. Mr. Stessman, Eleanor’s English teacher, is awesome. He works the room and makes Eleanor embarrassed for him, a man after my own heart. I’ll use part of chapter five in my own classroom.
  4. Park’s mom is perfect. I love how I can hear her accent on the page and how she and Park’s dad challenge and love each other.
  5. Eleanor and Park are the unlikeliest of couples and that’s what makes their relationship so special.
  6. I love how the story is constantly changing point-of-view, back and forth between Eleanor and Park. Both characters are unique and well-developed. I love how you can see how they’re both self-conscious.
  7. When I finished reading I wondered when the movie will be made. Then I googled it, the movie is a thing that looks like it is going happening.
  8. I loved all of the pop culture references, music, movies and television.
  9. I like how both families spend time together in the living room watching tv on the only television the family owns. I think my kids would love to do this. As if.
  10. Although the ending wasn’t one that I was hoping for, I do believe the author knows best. My ending would have been a disaster and she concluded their story in the most authentic way possible.

I’m going to recommend Eleanor & Park to my students, but I would recommend it to anyone under 45 as well. John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars, says that “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”

Now on to The Book of Life. Man I love summer!

Day 17 – Summer reading list update

11 Jul

In the last 17 days I’ve read two books. Yesterday I finished reading Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and today I finished Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. At this rate, I won’t finish my entire list, but that’s okay.

the interestingsAlthough The Interestings was good, it’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone. It was an epic read following a group of young people from the beginning of their friendship well into their adult life. They meet at a summer camp for artistic adolescents and the reader gets to follow them and find out who realizes their dreams and which characters have to set more realistic expectations for themselves. I remember both going to and working at a summer camp during my own teen years. I remember making friends there that I thought I’d be close with forever. When you’re in a situation where you’re away from home for the first time and with a group of people who are your age and have similar interests, you tend to build strong bonds quickly. Even though many of the situations seemed so ordinary and it was the ordinary scenes that made this a slow read for me, the idea that the group of characters that remain close friends do so for 30 years after the camp is over is not quite believable. Even though it really hasn’t been my experience, I could see keeping one or maybe two close friends, but no more. The reason I stuck it out is because of the depth of characters, moral dilemmas explored and to satisfy my curiosity as to how the conflicts would be resolved. I was not disappointed.

therosieprojectThe Rosie Project is a book for everyone. If you have, or know anyone who has, Asperger’s you might enjoy it even more. It is outright funny and I laughed aloud. I read it in a day and a half which is highly unusual for me. We’re talking about it at book club tomorrow, so I had some added motivation, but I would have finished it quickly otherwise. If you choose to read it, you’ll end up loving the protagonist and be pleasantly surprised at some of the unexpected twists. I can’t wait to discuss it at book club tomorrow!

I’m so grateful that I have 44 more days of summer reading left!


Summer Reading

26 Jun

Summer Reading

I do this every summer. It serves as a visual goal for me. I never read every single one, but I always add more. They’re piled here in the order they looked the best, not the order I want to read them. Right now I’m finishing THE HOUSE GIRL by Tara Conklin and I highly recommend it. Next, I’m going to read ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE. You’ll notice that I have some adult and some YA fiction in the pile. As a high school English teacher I like to read good YA fiction so I can authentically recommend it to my students. What are you reading this summer?

Back in Familiar Territory

25 Jun

Last summer I blogged every day. When school started again, I just stopped, quite abruptly. I did that with the gym too. I went five times a week all summer and I paid for the gym for five months after I stopped going. So, this summer I’m going to try something a bit different. I don’t plan on going back to the gym, but I’m going to check out a yoga studio and plan on doing lap swims. Last summer, I forced myself to blog every day. This summer I’m going to force myself to write every day, but it might not always be a blog entry.

Summer 2011My summer just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have a stack of books waiting for me. Last year, this was my stack. There were seven on my list and I read five of them. The two I didn’t read are When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Ophelia. Neither of them made it into my stack this summer, which is much bigger this year. My book club book for July is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I read this months ago, and I highly recommend it! Having read it will allow me to delve into the stack of books that I already have set aside.

Summer 2012So here’s my 2012 summer reading list:

1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
2. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
3. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
4. One Summer by David Baldacci
5. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
6. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
8. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
9. Divergent by Veronica Roth
10. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
11. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

There’s a lot of YA fiction there, but that goes with the territory of being a high school English teacher. So many books and only 61 days of summer vacation. Good thing I already read my book club book. Now, if I only knew which book I should start with.

Day 56 – My summer reading list

22 Aug

Fifty-six days ago I began blogging with the intent of writing every day. I’ve missed two (more on that later). My first blog was my summer reading list. Here it is again:

  1. Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
  2. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  3. Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka
  4. Ophelia by Lisa Klein
  5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  6. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  7. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
  8. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  9. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

I’ve read four of these, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 7, and I am almost finished another that wasn’t on the list. I’m three quarters of the way through Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It wasn’t on the original list because it’s for book club and we didn’t choose it until the end of July. I’m absolutely loving Still Alice and recommend it to any of my female friends 30 years-old or older. Or, if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you need to read this book.

Pleasure reading usually slows down for me throughout the school year. I’m hoping that I can change that this year, or at least read more than the two novels I read last school year. I’m going to ask my students to keep their own reading lists and I’m going to keep one of my own. Many of my students will put me to shame with the sheer number of books they read. But, if I’m going to ask them to challenge what they think is possible, I need to do the same. So, I’m going to add to my list. Here is the updated version:

  1. Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
  2. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  3. Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka
  4. Ophelia by Lisa Klein
  5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  6. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  7. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
  8. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  9. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  10. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  11. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  12. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  13. Sold by Patricia McCormick
  14. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  15. Anglea’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  16. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  17. My next book club selection 😉

There is too much to read, and too little time. I’ll have to obtain copies of the rest of the books on my list and take a new photo. There’s something satisfying about a photo of a stack of books I intend to read. I wonder how I’ll do that when some of them exist on my kindle. Maybe I’ll borrow from the library long enough to snap a pic. Maybe I’ll even get my students to photograph their stack of ‘to read next’ books. Do you think that would go over well? Sometimes my idea of fun doesn’t resonate with teenagers.

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