"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Monday, July 21, 2014

TTT: Deserted island companion

Top Ten Tuesday topic: Name literary characters I would want with me on a deserted island.
(My answers are based on who I think would help me survive the ordeal!)

1. Ayla in Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel---Ayla had to survive a whole winter on her own when her people banished her. She was an expert on finding plants and herbs for food and medicine.

2. Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins---she survived the Hunger Games, twice. Need I say more?

3. Pi in The Life of Pi by Yann Martel--- Pi survived 227 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean with a tiger aboard his raft.

4. Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling---She could carry her beaded purse that has the undetectable extension charm full of survival supplies.

5. All the characters in Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank---they survived a nuclear holocaust and had to figure out how to do everything without any machinery.

6. The girl in the Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell---she survived alone on a deserted island for four years. She should have the skill set to help others also trapped on an island.

7. Mau in Nation by Terry Pratchett---Mau is deserted on an island, has lost everything, until he finds the ghost girl.

8. Sergeant Mike Flanigan in Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman---Sergeant Mike's skill set might not be for deserted island life but he was extremely handy.

9. Robinson Crusoe in Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe---he survived on a deserted island for 24 years. He learned to make a canoes and bread.

10. Cassie in 5th Wave by Rick Yancey--- If Cassie could survive an Alien invasion, she could be pretty handy on a deserted island.

This was a lot harder to make than I thought it would be.  Can you think of some other characters who would be helpful on a deserted island?

E. Lockhart's WE WERE LIARS is masterful

"A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, 
political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth."

(From the We Were Liars book jacket)

Cady Eastman is the oldest grandchild in the Sinclair family, a family that has wealth and the stature to pull it off. Every summer Harris, the family patriarch, his three daughters, and their families vacation together on an island off Massachusetts, Beachwood. The three sisters fight and bicker over the family fortune and try to involve their children in their greedy schemes. The oldest children---Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and his friend, Gat---call themselves "The Liars" and they want nothing to do with the adult schemes.  During Cady's fifteenth year, she calls it Summer 15, there is a horrible accident in which she bangs her head. Afterwards she suffers from debilitating migraines and amnesia. Summer 17 Cady returns to the island hoping to find answers and relief from her symptoms as she interacts with her cousins and her family members. What she discovers isn't what she expects, or what the reader expects, either.

Half way through this short book I still wasn't sure if this story was a romance, an adventure, a mystery, a fairy tale, or perhaps a horror story. The story unfolded bit by bit until the surprising and shocking ending. No spoilers here, you will have to read the book to find out what happened.

“E. Lockhart is one of our most important novelists, and she has given us her best book yet. Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable.” –John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

“Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose. . . Lockhart’s latest is unlike anything she’s done before….We Were Liars is poised to be big.” — Booklist, starred review

This is truly a book that could and should be read in one sitting. I hope we add it to our Mock Printz list for the Fall.  Though the main character and narrator is female I think there is enough adventure and mystery in the book to attract male readers.

(Quotes are from Emily Lockhart's webpage.)

30 books this Summer Reading Challenge

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Salon...July 20, Home from Nashville

View inside the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, Nashville
Weather: overcast and cool. The weather report is for rain. It was raining in Nashville yesterday when we left.

SREB High Schools that Work Conference: Nashville was host to this huge educational conference and I was so honored to be one of five people from my school to attend it this year. This three-day conference offers over 600 sessions from which to choose, so that teams of educators can attend workshops on topics that will benefit their school/situation. I got really excited about several of the workshops and hope to take back some of what I learned to my school in the fall.

Nashville: is such a fun town, just stuffed full of country music venues. Twice we went in to town for dinner and we walked in and out of bars and restaurants, all of them hosting live bands, some had three live bands on different levels of the establishment. In between the venues with live bands were stores selling boots, specifically cowboy boots. One store advertised 'Buy one, get two free' cowboy boots.
Street musician playing to raise money for animal spay/neuter programs

Opryland Hotel: was the host site for the conference and it is a destination site in itself. This hotel and conference center is amazing and huge. It was very easy to get lost in it, too. When one session ended we had fifteen minutes to find the next room. It was actually funny to see 5000+ educators running around looking for their next room. The center part of the hotel is like a huge, inside conservatory. It has many rare and exotic plants.  Really lovely.

Flight home: the district person that purchased our plane tickets must have been concerned with cost, not the route.  Going to Nashville we were routed through LAX, not a fun airport to get trapped in. On the way home we were routed through Houston. Houston! Nashville to Seattle is 2,389 miles; Houston to Seattle is 2,341 miles. So in our two hour flight we gained 48 miles toward our goal of getting home. The travel day was unbelievably long and tedious.

Books read this week:

  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart---all the pieces of this mystery come together in a breath-catching finale. I finished this book on the flight to LAX.
  • My Stroke of Insight: a Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor---a book club selection about what happens to the brain during and after a stroke. I finished this book on the flight from LAX to Nashville.

Currently reading:

  • The Story of Owen (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, #1) by EK Johnston---a modern story with one major difference: there are dragons in the world. Very clever.
"Kids raised in poverty are more likely to lack—and need—a caring, dependable adult in their lives, and often it's teachers to whom children look for that support."---Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind

Friday, July 18, 2014

Snapshot Saturday...July 19th

I am currently in Nashville at the SREB High Schools that Work Conference at the Opryland Hotel and Conference Center, just a short walk away is The Grand Ole Opry. I attempted to get tickets to see the show tonight (Friday) but it is sold out so I had to appease myself with just a few photos in front of GOO. What a fun town!  (Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Friday Posts, July 18th

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. I'm reading:

Book: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Book Beginnings:
"I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will keep us from doing stupid things in the future. But even though we dutifully archived elaborate records of everything we've done, we always managed to keep on doing dumber and dumber shit."
Friday 56:
"The black thing in the globe pulsed and twitched like a beating heart. It seemed to become more animated the longer we stared at it. It was almost like a gelatinous cauliflower. Here and there on its velvet surface, a mound would rise up, like a mosquito bite, a black pimple, and then burst open at its peak."
My thoughts:
Well, this book should be fun, basing my judgement on these two quotes.

Throwback Thursday...Ten years ago

Ten years ago I was on summer vacation from my high school teaching job and I was finishing up my course work which prepared me to be a teen librarian.  My husband was serving duty with the Washington Army National Guard in Iraq for 15 months. My daughters were in junior and senior high school. I was recovering from a hysterectomy. And apparently, I was into reading nonfiction. Here are three of the books I read during the summer of 2004 with the short reviews I wrote at the time:

Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
"George, a son of slaves, learned to read at age 98. This is the remarkable story of his life. Inspiring. Nonfiction."- read July 2004.

I had forgotten completely about this book until I looked back in reading log that I kept back then. This was an amazing book. Can you imagine now determined this man was to learn to read at the age of 98? He experienced so much racism in his life, too.  Though we still have a long way to go, things are much better than they were. The book was published in 2000. Dawson died in 2001 when he was 103 after earning his GED earlier that year.

Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
"Oh my gosh. How can America allow the inequality of wealth to exist and continue? An excellent statement of where we are as a nation. Disturbing and revealing. Nonfiction" -read August 2004.

This is one of those books that has really stuck with me. I can't believe that I read it ten years ago since it is so fresh in my mind. Ehrenreich conducted an experiment to see if she could live on minimum wage.  She reported her experiences and how hard she had to work to barely exist. If you get a chance to read this do. Though some of the information would obviously be dated now, I highly recommend you read it as you consider all the current legislation about raising the minimum wage in America.

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
"Seierstad, a Norwegian author, lived with the bookseller's family for several months in order to get an accurate account of what it is like to live in Afghanistan today. She said she has never felt as angry and argued as much as during the time she spent with this family. Much of her frustration stemmed from the horrible treatment of women in Islamic cultures. The bookseller, though progressive in many definitions of the word, ruled his family, especially the women, with an iron fist. Everyone seemed miserable. The book opened my eyes to the tremendous cultural differences we face with Islamic countries. Nonfiction."- read August 2004

I was especially interested in this book since my husband was in Iraq at the time I read it. After reading I wasn't sure that there was any way that we (America) were going to be able to have much impact on this country because it is obvious that we don't think about the world the same way. I should say that Ann Marlowe, writing for Salon.com in 2003, didn't like this book and thought it was inaccurate.  Take a look.

What were you reading ten years ago? Can you remember? It was really fun for me to take a look back and recall what was going on in my life at that moment and what I thought of the books I was reading.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why reading is good for relationships

Earlier this week my daughter shared an article with me called "Why Readers, Scientifically, Are the Best People to Fall In Love With" by Lauren Martin at Elite Daily. I knew it to be true in my heart but now I have some facts to back it up. Here is a summary of the article.  (Of course it would be best if you went to the link and read the original.)

"Readers are nicer and smarter than the average person." I am not sure about the nicer part of that statement but I am sure that they are smarter.  Think of the smartest people you know and I bet they are all readers. My husband, who usually only finishes three or four fiction books every year reads the newspaper from cover to cover everyday. I'm lucky if I peruse the headlines. He is one of the smartest and well-spoken people I know.

"...those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and the 'theory of mind' which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs, and interests apart from their own." I think that this empathy is a critical attribute in today's society. The ability to walk a mile in someone else's shoes is something that readers do all the time through their books. They can view the world through "other frames of reference."

"The more stories that children have read to them, the keener their 'theory of mind.'" What parent wouldn't want their child to be understanding, wise, and adaptable?  Reading also "provides a vocabulary lesson that children could never attain by schooling." When my daughter was in elementary school her teacher said she could tell that I read to her because her vocabulary was better than other children her age and she had the ability to imagine worlds beyond her own experience. I have treasured this comment since then and took it as an edict to continue reading to my children long beyond when I could have stopped.

Dating a reader is a way to expand your world.
Finding someone who reads is like dating a thousand souls. It’s gaining the experience they've gained from everything they've ever read and the wisdom that comes with those experiences. It’s like dating a professor, a romantic, and an explorer. 
In addition this person will have more empathy, will have a better vocabulary in which to express their feelings toward you, and may be more intelligent, but not in a pretentious way. Who wouldn't want to date a guy/gal like that?

And to think it is all because of reading.

Monday, July 14, 2014

TTT: Favorite movies made from books

Broke and Bookish
I am not much of a movie-goer so my list may not seem very current. But here are few movies that I enjoyed. All of them were books first and I've read the books. (List is in random order, but as they came to my mind.)

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell---by today's standards this movie is long but both it and the book are so, so good. Rent it and watch it at home some winter evening. Give yourself plenty of time.

2. Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King---The novella is actually called "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" and it is published in the book Different Seasons.

3. Schindler's List by Tom Kenneally---Spielberg did a masterful job with this movie and the book is a must-read.

4. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel---the book is so strange and wonderful I didn't think it was possible to make a movie to even half way math up to it, but it was very, very good...quite magical.

5. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling---we just finished the Harry Potter marathon at our house this weekend. All the movies are good. Of course, they leave out some of the good stuff but nonetheless, they are excellent.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen---I like the Keira Knightley version of the movie but the BBC series with Colin Firth is better. I actually should place all movies made from Austen's book here. I love them all.

7. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien---both of the recent movies, The Unexpected Journey and the Desolation of Smaug were very good.

8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis (also Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)--- this is a pet peeve of mine:  The books are meant to be read in the order they were published. Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first and The Magician's Nephew sixth! Fortunately the movie producers got them in the right order.

9. One Day by David Nicholls---OK, probably not a favorite favorite but I just watched the movie yesterday after finishing the book earlier in the day.

10. Hunger Games/Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins---I actually quite like the movies made from these awesome books. Well done.

OK, this list wasn't as hard to make as I thought and I am sure that I am leaving off some real favorites but these ten are the first ones I thought of. I hope to see the Fault in Our Stars with my daughters today so maybe I will come back and amend my list afterwards.

11.  Just back from The Fault in Our Stars movie with my daughters. It was very true to the book. The three of us wept our way through it. What would I do if I had sons instead of daughters who will go to such movies with me?

What about you? What are your favorite movies made from books/ short stories?

It is Monday, July 14th, and I am reading...

Book Journey
Teach Mentor Texts

Currently Reading:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

      I can't tell, and I'm have way through, if this is just a simple love story or a complicated horror/mystery story. It is getting good reviews so I continue to hold out hope that I will figure it out soon. I'm on pg. 121 of 225

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by EK Johnston

     I am not much of a dragon/fantasy reading gal but this book also has great reviews and I do have students who love fantasy stories so I shall read it to see if the reviewers are right. I'm not very far on page 20 of 312.

Recently finished:

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green. A reread for me. Here it the review.
  • One Day by David Nicholls. I also rewatched the DVD. A funny/sad love story.
  • Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed  What We Eat by Gail Jarrows. About the discovery of the vitamin niacin and the cure for pellagra. Here's the review.
  • The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe. Written in poetic prose. My review.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Another reread. Here's what I had to say about it.

Up next (or what I will be taking with me on my trip to Nashville):
  • My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor. a book club selection.
  • Going Over by Beth Kephart. About the Berlin Wall.
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Has anyone read this? It is supposed to be funny.
What's on your reading list this week?