Welcome to my bookshelf

I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Holding Strong

Currently Reading: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

It is still awesome! The paper had a kinda dull review about it. It is not nearly as action packed as the second book of the series, dealing more with political intrigue. This is right up my alley so I don't mind, but I can see why people reading it for the hype would be disappointed. I think something similar happened with The DaVinci Code. Many of the people who read it did so only because it was talked about and popular. Not because they are stalwart readers. This latest installment of "The Girl..." series is a book for readers, not trend seekers. It is definitely worth the read, but be prepared to think.

I will be out of town for a bit, so no posts for awhile. I know everyone is terribly upset, but never fear, I will return.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two for one

Currently Reading: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Hooray! The day has finally come and the trilogy is complete. It is fantastic so far and I am glad that I will finally get some closure. Obviously I have just started and so I will discuss the book I read previously, Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott. This one was a tale of woe for the most part, but also about how someone is coping with all the badness in her life. She is divorced, but still sleeping with her ex. Her mom is doing senile and so she has to deal with all the emotions that come with that. She also has a tenuous romantic encounter and discovers a brother due to her father's pedophile acts. I know, it seems like a lot, but Lamott deals with each just enough that you don't feel overwhelmed. I really felt for the main character, Mattie, and found it comforting to join her on her journey to find inner peace amongst the chaos. I too am at a tumultuous time in my life where I feel bombarded by many things and cannot find that sense of calm. I have no anchor on which to depend. I am trapped in destructive patterns. Mattie relies on God and her church a lot, and while this works a bit for her, I can't find the solace that so many people get from religion. It seems to add more questions and ambiguity to life (at least in my case). What I need is something real and tangible. I'm still trying to find something to define myself. Mattie is lost as well and so I could really relate to her. She doesn't find complete happiness at the end, but does at least find serenity. She knows that she needs to take what life throws at her and find the truth and beauty in all things. I will try to emulate some of her thoughts and acts and maybe I too will find acceptance. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The time is now

Currently Reading: Trace

Back to fluff, but one passage really spoke to me and my issues. There is a character who suffers from so much anxiety that he has to remain at home when the garbage men come and collect his trash. He even turns down a meeting with the governor because it would interfere with his schedule. This is something I do all the time because of my adherence to a routine. No I'm not meeting with the governor (thank god that's not the case in this state), but I am still not being a productive and social human being. This is what I need to focus on fixing now. Any ideas? What can I force myself to participate in? How can I get myself to shuck the routine? I am trying a few different things, but still feel happiest when at home and thinking about the clock.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why? Because he's Asian of course.

Currently Reading: Outliers

So awesome. This nonfiction book explains why certain people excel and why others never reach their full potential. It is very appropriate for me as a teacher, especially as a math teacher. It seems that it is more about giving people the opportunity to shine and less about their innate abilities. Of course that makes sense when you think about it, but all too often we say we can't do something or certain people are better at something because we just don't have the aptitude to achieve in that area. Often though, it is that we never had the opportunity to show our skills in that area. From hockey players born in certain years, to the availability of computers in your area, the oddest things cause certain people to shine above the rest. I have taught several honors course which of course are full of Asian students. I always hear kids talking about how Asians are just better at math and you can totally see that their grades are typically much higher than the white students. However, this has less to do with their genes as it has to do with how they were raised. Who works harder and asks more questions? Who always completes their homework and double checks their tests? Who tires new things and focuses on academics rather than social things? Why it's the Asian students. So their IQs may not be higher, they are just harder workers and more persistent. My school and really entire city could be a case study in this book. So what should us poor white kiddos do? Work at bit harder, try a bit harder, and stop giving up because we don't always have rice for dinner. I will definitely share this with students next time I hear "of course he did good, he's Asian".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surprise! She's dead.

Currently Reading: Without Evil

I know, I know. More fluff, but I needed a break from the drama that is young adulthood. I haven't posted in a bit, so I felt I needed to give an update. This book is quick and easy to read. I'm almost done, but one of the main characters was just killed off. Totally uncharacteristic of a book like this since she was the "love interest" of the main guy, but also a driving force behind a lot of the action. Way to weird. I have some tantalizing books on tap next so look forward to more posts when the reading gets more exciting. I am feeling a bit off tonight.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wish I may...

Currently Reading: Wishin' and Hopin'

Hooray for another Wally Lamb book! We have to wait far to long for another of his fantastic tales, although I must say that this one is not the epic that his others have been. It's kinda a fun little story about a boy and all his experiences in Catholic school. Man, makes me glad I went to public school. Those nuns can be tough.

The book I read before this was Looking for Alaska, another young adult book. It was really good until the very end. The kids plan this kick butt prank in memory of a deceased friend and when they actually pull it off, it kinda sucked. I mean, I could have thought of something better than they did. But I guess we can't all be geniuses (not that I am one). The whole book is about these outcasts that ban together at a private school and are all against the man. I liked that part, as I can relate to those who don't fit in. I have never been one of the gang. I see these types of kids each day and work and while part of me feels sorry for them, high school is all about how many friends you have, I also celebrate the fact that they have found themselves and are cool with who they are. I wish more kids could be content with who they are and what they like. There are so many hurt feelings and sadness wrapped up with trying to fit in and be popular. It is a shame that this idea continues even after high school, as mentioned when talking about Man in Full. I'm 26 and a lot of the people my age are still trying to fit in and be "cool". They go to clubs and get drunk and act obnoxiously. It can last for ages and is so time consuming. I feel like I have found myself for the most part, but still have issues. It's not so much about making others love me as much as it is about making myself love me. Why am I always coming back to this idea? I guess because it is consuming my life at the moment. One day I hope to be completely content will all aspects of myself. Cross your fingers and keep "wishin' and hopin'".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I was right

Currently Reading: The Wednesday Wars

So yes this is a young adult book, but it is fabulous and deals with some pretty interesting topics. The main character is so lovable because of his flaws and inner thoughts. He had a neat insight on what Shakespeare was trying to say with Romeo and Juliet. At first he assumed that the Bard was saying that you'd better be careful about who you trust. Romeo should not have trusted Juliet, but then he amends his thoughts. Maybe Shakespeare was really saying that it is hard to care about two things at once. I love this quote "If Romeo had never met Juliet,maybe they both would have still been alive, but what would they have been alive for is the question that Shakespeare wants us to answer". How cool. What are we living for? What is our true reason for continuing on? This is something I have been struggling with lately. As someone who is battling an eating disorder, I find that I have been living solely for the disease. If I had some other reason behind my actions, maybe the routine and weight and whatnot wouldn't matter so much. I would be focused on something else. I am truly passionate about my work, but there still needs to be something more. At the moment it is the Cleavland Cavaliers' chances at making the finals. It is not looking good. But more seriously, why do I keep going? Why am I here? I really need to find this answer and soon. Or I may not be here much longer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That's it...seriously?

Currently Reading: Everything Changes

So this is the second book by Jonathan Tropper that I have read. I heard good things about him, but have so far been disappointed. Everything is just too scripted and all ends well for everyone. He learns his lesson, but still gets the girl. He quits his stupid job and goes into business with a friend. Peachy keen. Yuck. Where's the real drama? Or at least a substantial plot line? I don't mind when things end well. In fact, it is nice. But at least have a meaty plot and deal with unique topics or issues. Not just dissatisfied thirty-somethings. They are annoying. Ugg yuppies. This is one of the things I love about Jodi Piccoult's stuff. The topics are always controversial and she looks at all sides of the story. Of course now I am going to read a young adult book (it's due soon at the school library). We'll see if this gives me something more to gnaw on. It's sad, but sometimes these are better written than the adult stuff. Well, maybe that's not sad. Some people give kids the credit they deserve. I think that if I were to write a book, it would be geared towards this age group. Generally, the kids that age that are reading are reading because they want to and are fairly intellecual folks. Through my years of working with teens, I have seen more thoughtfulness and unique perspectives than I ever see when dealing with adults. One of the things I love about teaching high school.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And the moral of the story is...

Currently Reading: A Man in Full

As promised, here is more on this tome. It was like a Gone With the Wind type epic, but for dudes. Societal critiques abound. I really enjoyed it and it brought up a lot of thoughts about what we do to fit in. We lie, cheat, steal, and really end up losing ourselves in a quest for others to find ourselves. In the end, the main character realizes that he has just been kidding himself for ages and finally accepts life as it comes. It is funny because he learns all this after talking with what he would once have considered a nobody. Just a regular guy who actually had once worked in this guy's warehouse. They both start out lying to each other, but once the truth comes out, they are able to learn from each other and grow to become friends. I know that sounds trite, but the way Wolfe builds the relationship, it is actually meaningful and believable. Will the main character ever really accept himself and others as they are? Probably not, but in the mean time we got a good story out of it. Now I am off to start accepting myself and stop expecting acceptance from others.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To each his own

Currently Reading: A Man in Full

Pg 223: "What ever happened to voluptuous?"

Seriously, why should we all be sticks. We should be hale and hearty like Venus goddesses. And yet, still, we strive to be sticks. I am a stick and stuck as a stick even though I don't care about attracting a man.

Now this book is not about women only, but the quote kinda describes all the various things that are brought up in the book. It is interesting and not necessarially something I would normally think of as my type of book. Tycoons in Atalanta in the late 1990s. Black men of all types in Atlanta. Just about every type of person you could think of is described and followed in this book. Which brings me to the quote. So many of the people want what they have always wanted, but instead try to fit in and go with the times and forget about what works best in their lives. The tycoon is all messed up because he is out of touch, but trying way to hard to keep in touch. The black lawyer doesn't fit in with his fellow black men and yet tries to emulate them in many ways. He is well mannered, a suave dresser and heartily employed, and yet not considered one of the boys. They treat him like a traitor. Why can't we focus on making ourselves happy? If we are happy, then typically those around us will be more happy as well.

This is a terribly long book and so I will definitely post more before I'm done. Look forward to more updates. Will he get to keep the plane? Will he win the case? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sexual frustrations

Currently Reading: The Abstinence Teacher

This author always deals with controversial sex topics. This one combines sex and religion. The two main characters are a woman who teaches sex ed and a father who is a born-again type Christian and recovering addict. It is interesting to hear each side of the story, but I so relate more to the teacher, who wants to equip her students with all the knowledge she can so that they can protect themselves regardless of their sexual decisions. As a high school teacher, I see the results of ill-informed sexual animals running amok. Sure we'd all like to believe that they don't do it, but unfortunately, they do. I live in a state where abstinence is the line taken and it is not working at all. I don't understand what is wrong with keeping kids informed. It's not like telling kids about condoms is telling them to start mating like rabbits. Isn't it better to ensure a safe and comfortable environment in which people can talk about and make clear headed decisions regarding sex? Often times, kids do things simply because they are forbidden. It's like the whole poisoned apple thing, to bring the bible into it. Very frusterating. We can't talk about procreation, evolution, or anything else that treds on the major religious beliefs of this lovely state. It is very stifling. And sad. It seems like those in charge would like us to remain stupid and ignorant. It's time we started standing up for ourselves and asserting our rights. Us sheep are intelligent big guys! Whether you believe your brain was created or evolved, you still deserve the right to use it for yourself.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Brooding Beauties

Currently Reading: In the Company of the Courtesan

Well it is over and it was bad. I read another book by Sarah Dunant, The Birth of Venus, and liked it quite a bit, so I was terribly disappointed with this one. Maybe it was the characters or maybe I just wasn't in the mood. This one is told from the perspective of a dwarf who is basically the pimp for a courtesan in Venice during the mid 1500s. They spend all this time worrying about being beautiful and winning patrons and it was just annoying. I suppose if your beauty is what pays the bills, it's important to keep up with it, but still, a whole book about it? Not necessary. I didn't feel any connection with the characters and really could care less about what happened to them. Of course in the end, they learn to love a wee little orphan and take her in, but who knows what the future holds for her. She'll probably become a whore too. Sorry I'm being so negative. It's just frustrating when you spend so much time on nothing. Fluff at least provides entertainment. Next on tab is Little Bee so I suppose I'll get some more substance from that. Hopefully.