Monday, November 28, 2011

The Future of Us

The Future of UsThe Future of Us by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up The Future of Us Sunday morning and finished it before I went to bed.  While the overall exposition of the story didn’t stay as strong as it began, I loved the premise from beginning to end. I found myself lost in thought all day yesterday and today over what it would be like for my sixteen-year-old self to see my current Facebook profile. What would I have changed then so that I could change my now?

Asher’s ingenuity in young adult fiction is fantastic. I trust his judgment implicitly when he recommends other authors, and I trust his own creative work. Read it. The concept alone is worth your time.

November's Flying Days

November’s days flew by, and I chose to fill my time with all sorts of things unrelated to blogging despite my promise to Jenessa (sorry J3)….

I got back into reading again. I journaled more often than I normally do. I pinned a few too many things on Pinterest. Family was in town. I went with some of my best friends to Tahoe. I graded, planned, and graded some more. I curled up on friends’ couches and in restaurant booths and talked for hours. I went to Lorraine’s final wedding dress fitting with Courtney and sat in awe at the chance to watch one of my oldest friends find the love of her life.  I wrote letters. I watched Greys. I practiced the piano. I played games. And now we’re two days from December.

I may not have blogged, but I had a chance to revel in the many blessings God has given me. I get to choose how I spend my time. I have a job I love. I am blessed with great family and friends.  Mine is truly a wonderful life.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary LifeEncyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I usually am anti- people in their 30s writing memoirs, but I cannot stop talking about this book. I’ve read portions to all my classes and to anyone I can get to listen. The format and construction of this book is brilliant. So while all passages may not resonate, the overall tone and style do.

I love that Rosenthal takes the profound and packages it next to the mundane. I love that she hones in on aspects of our lives where we could stand to aspire for more and pokes fun at her own idiosyncrasies. Is the book perfect? No. Did I care about every inclusion in her encyclopedia? Of course not. Am I still mildly obsessed? Yes, very much so.

Read it. I think you’ll love it.

have a little faith

Have a Little Faith: The Story of a Last RequestHave a Little Faith: The Story of a Last Request by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading a Mitch Albom book is akin to the feeling you get curled up on a couch in front of a fire. You just feel better after you’re finished. His writing isn’t the most eloquent, but it’s relatable and engaging. Albom doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. He simply offers aphorisms that make me want to be better.

Having read all of Albom’s books now, I find that I like his non-fiction more than his fiction. The only real downside to this book was that it made me tear up in a public place. Otherwise, it was a good read. Were there half stars, this would be a 3.5. Because I’ve thought about it so much since I finished, I’m giving it the 4.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plain and simple, I love John Steinbeck. I love the way he gives voice to men and women who are flawed and who are honest. He should be read and read often. I’m glad for the opportunity to delve into his works each school year.

The Crucible (again)

The CrucibleThe Crucible by Arthur Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know it’s strange to review books I teach in school, but I get lost in these books for weeks at a time. During this read through, I gained a new appreciation for Reverend Hale. He is Javert from Les Miserables when he arrives in Salem. He believes he is on God’s errand and is there to eradicate any sign of witchcraft. But Rev. Hale turns out to be a better man than Javert. He is willing to believe a flawed man and willing to believe that man’s construction of religion is not the same as following God.

That may not make any sense, but the short version is that I love The Crucible. I think Arthur Miller is a masterful writer, which makes it much easier to return to the same play multiple times a year. (November 2011)

Paper Towns

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished Paper Towns six weeks ago which means, of course, that the specific thoughts I had formulated about this book have disappeared into thoughts about Christmas and the stack of papers I have yet to grade.

The long and short of it is that while I didn’t love the plot line of Paper Towns, I did love Green’s writing. There were parts that I wanted to read aloud to someone right as I was reading it. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of high schoolers I’ve read, which actually may be a deterrent for some readers for how inappropriate the content can be. The concepts in the book are powerful and led to great discussion.

The idea that keeps coming to me weeks after finishing comes from a character named Radar talking to the protagonist. He says, “You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves.” I love how simply profound that is.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am completely baffled as to how it is November already. Perhaps I've inhaled too many dry erase markers or spent too much time pretending to grade, but I have lost at least three weeks. Now the grading stacks are GINORMOUS (which by the way shows up as a word in my Mac dictionary even though it sounds totally made up), my red pens are almost dead, and I think my neck may actually stay permanently bent over like I'm looking at a desk or computer keyboard. Oh life--

Good news is that the end of the quarter is this Friday and grades are due by next Tuesday, so like it or not, my grading will be DONE by Monday night.

As for all the things that I have not blogged about - c'est le vie. Yes, I went to Alabama for my cousin Eric's wedding to the beautiful Whitney. Yes, I went to Apple Hill with Tracy, David, and Seth and had a marvelous time (and ate way too much). Yes, Ryan visited the Bay Area and was funnier than he's ever been. And yes, I discovered that my bad hair MONTHS have been almost entirely fixable - my part was in the wrong place. (You'd think I would have more seriously considered this possibility and messed around more but no. I kept thinking it was the Brazilian Blowout.) (I promise I'm not an idiot.) But you know what, I'm not going backwards - just forwards. So it's been a great (slightly insane) October. I'm ready for November, for turkey, for Jenessa to come home, for a girls' weekend in Tahoe, for crisp night air, for an extra hour of sleep courtesy of Daylight Savings, and for an excuse to talk about all the things I'm thankful for-- including you.