Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below!

I'm forehead-deep in essay grading, baby-wrangling, dinner-cooking right now, so my riveting factoids will have to wait for next week. Two pieces of good news, though: the semester ends in less than 48 hours AND I have the winner of The Novel Cure giveaway! Christine, blogger at Buckling Bookshelves, is our big winner! If you could leave a message with your email (I emailed you, but I'm not sure if it was the right email) we can get the ball rolling. 

Hope everyone is getting their shopping done and taking time to enjoy the season. I'll be back soon with lots of posts! Hooray for vacation!


The Best of 2014*

Hey there! Wait! Did you enter my giveaway yet? Super easy- leave a quick comment on this post and have a chance to win the awesome book The Novel Cure. Please and thank you!


Oh, 2014. You were quite the year. Before I get all nostalgic (and bitter), let's recap what book were best (of those I read this year, not necessarily published):

1. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got There by Amanda Ripley-  I don't generally read books about education, but I was fascinated by the international perspective. What are we doing wrong? What are they doing right?

2. The Snow Child be Eowyn Ivey- Simple, beautiful, and full of magical realism.

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood- I'm not usually a sci-fi reader, but Atwood wins me over every time.

4. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink- The ethical questions delivered by this fascinating nonfiction piece about a hospital post-Katrina are profound.

5. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp- I remember reading this book while very pregnant, walking up very steep hills, very slowly on the treadmill. There were a lot of really great tips in this book that helped me during the first few weeks with Sawyer.

6. The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen- This was a reread for book club, but I'll always love the quirkiness.

7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt- This book was so much better than I expected it to be! The story and the writing were both to-notch.

8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston- Another reread for work, it was still one of the best book I read this year.

9. The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez- I actually just finished this last month and appreciated the perspective on the struggles Latin American immigrants face in the US (plus, it reminded me of one of my favorites, The Tortilla Curtain).

10. The Round House by Louise Erdrich- Book club books are apparently popular with me (maybe because I've helped pick some of them, haha). This murder mystery is well-written and a page-turner.

*This may change, since there are two whole more weeks left. You never know. I just wanted to participate in The Broke and the Bookish's TTT this week

Giveaway: The Novel Cure

I don't have to tell book lovers that reading is often the best medicine for the body and soul. Getting lost between the pages of a good book can at least temporarily soothe a broken heart, distract from the throbs of a toothache, or stave off the urge to transgress. The writers behind The Novel Cure, Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, capitalize on just that.

Grieving the death of a loved one? Try Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer or Here is Where We Meet by John Berger. Have a speech impediment? Read Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. Experiencing some generic turmoil? Home by Marilyn Robinson. Plagued with an episode of vanity? Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is for you. Are you in a cult? Philip Roth's American Pastoral will help you out. Do you feel like an idiot? You guessed it- Fydor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot should be added to your list. Besides 751 book "prescriptions," there are also several lists that will help when you are "locked out," needing "audiobooks for road rage," or "trying to turn your partner onto fiction." There are also dedicated sections for reading ailments, including having too many books, losing those you lend out, and not being able to finish what you start. 

The book perfectly mixes the serious (miscarriage, cancer, death, unemployment) with the humorous (being too short, hemorrhoids, not having enough sex/having too much sex). There are also some great tongue-in-cheek jabs ("homophobia" is a in need of cure, and if you find being a traffic cop something that ails you then you can see also "nobody likes you"). Whether you sit down and read it front to back, use it for reference, or give it as a gift this book is perfect for book lovers. And if anything, it will most definitely increase the size of your book wish list. 

The nice folks at Penguin provided me with a copy and are also willing to send one lucky US resident (sorry!) a book of their own. I don't usually do giveaways, but I really love this book... and they're willing to do the mailing (I hate the post office, what can I say?). To enter this giveaway leave a comment below describing a book that you think can cure a particular ailment (or just tell me what you're reading right now if you can't think of anything). I'll pick a winner at random next Wednesday, so watch out. Good kharma points if you tweet the link or mention it in your post. Thanks for playing!

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[literary Christmas ornaments- a classroom tradition]

Link up below!

1. I hate it when people say things like "I'm not trying to make you feel guilty," "I'm not trying to insult you" or "I'm not trying to be rude." 

2. I'm doing a giveaway soon! I turn down ones all the time, but this one I'm excited about.

3. I'm I the only one that "saves" new clothes for "special occasions" and then realizes, eventually, that months and months have gone by and I'm wearing the same old shit and the new things have only been worn once or twice? No more. YOLO (--> said in an ironic, tongue in cheek sort of way in case you couldn't tell). 

4. Per usual, I'm way behind on the book club selection and the meeting is on Wednesday. Procrastination is motivation (I'm learning from my students, apparently).

5. I should have bought Frye boots last year when by big fat pregnant gut was telling me too. The must cheaper boots I bought are already falling apart.

6. I downloaded the stupid Timehop Ap- it's sort of embarrassing. I said what? Really? Shudder. But it's kind of neat, too.

7. Sawyer is starting to eat more solid foods- it's fun. Last night he tried some potato and we've also done bananas and refried beans. He also loves those stupid little Puff things too (which at 25 calories for 60 I think I'm going to make them my new favorite snack too).

8. I love the tack Christmas decorations that are popping up throughout the neighborhood. The blow up ones are getting even larger and are adding more and more movable parts. Not to mention how attractive they look during the day. I seriously do not understand the appeal.

9. The pins on Pinterest suggesting "gifts for teachers" kill me. Honestly? We do not want wreaths made of crayons, coffee mugs, or any sorts of crafts made by your kids. Instead? Gifts for Bevmo (since bringing bottles of wine on campus is illegal), gifts cards for pedicures or massages, snacks for our desks, and Costco sized bottles of Tylenol for the headaches your kids give us (kidding, kidding). Or nothing. Or even better? Tell your kid to be on his/her best behavior for a solid day.*

10. I am sitting down with every single student this week for six minutes of one-on-one time to talk about the books they read for their 700 page requirement. I went into it with dread, but am actually loving it. Some didn't finish the assignment, but we still talk about what they do read (and I'm not giving them too much grief so that the rest of the time goes well). I've been keeping a list a of books to add to my TBR list, so that part has been an added bonus. 

*This is of course all a joke. I would never, ever want a parent to spend a substantial amount of money on me. I actually prefer cards- in this digital age it's becoming a lost art. 

'Bout this Blogger

Notebook Sisters is rebranding as Paper Fury and came up with this fun little survey to help get the word out about their new site (and ourselves, since that why we blog... good old self-promotion). It's a slow Friday night over here (I'm literally laying on the ground, watching Sawyer roll around). So, here we go:

1. Why did you start blogging?

Honestly, I started the summer I received my first pink slip (several years ago California threatened to lay off teachers for a few years). I knew that I needed something to distract me and a project to focus on, so that I could maybe obsesses slightly less about potentially being unemployed. I was luckily rehired and didn't have any real lapse in employment, but did lean that I really enjoyed blogging. Choosing to have a book theme was a given.

2. What's the story behind your blog's name?

I just thought of it. I know, super interesting.

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging?

This is my second- I update maybe a year and a half or two years ago. The first one was a Blogger template, while this is one I paid to have customized for me (worth every penny). This one is much cleaner, sleeker, and more "me."

4. Have you ever switched blog platforms?

I have not, I've always been through Blogger. I say this with some embarrassment, honestly. I know it's the newbie platform, so I feel lazy. I tried Wordpress when I first started and quit after approximately twenty minutes. Someday I'd like to flip over, but for now I'm good. 

5. How long does it take you to write a post? What is your process like?

It depends on the post and how many times I'm interrupted! For Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts (play along with us Wednesday night) I keep a running list of things to add all week, so that one is less than an hour. I'd say most take between thirty minutes and an hour and a half. Part of the problem is finding, uploading, and crediting pictures. For posts that are a little more technical, sensitive, or involved, I may take longer.

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post?

I wrote one once defending "the smart kids" and initially linked it to my personal Facebook page and then took it down two minutes later because I didn't want to offend any of my fellow teachers (including ones that teach special ed). Long story short, I get frustrated that the kids that are motivated or naturally gifted often get pushed aside, in terms of money, time, and other important resources.

7. Do you have a blogging schedule?

Not really. I try to post three or four times a week. One post is always Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts, another has been my Diary of an Unmotivated Writer, and then I do a few more other ones. With the baby it just comes down to doing it when I have time.

8. Do you tell people in-real-life about your blog? What are their reactions?

I used to link posts on occasion to my personal Facebook page but have stopped doing that (maybe once every two months). I figure those that want to read do so anyway. Plus I've befriended more and more colleagues lately and I'm not in a huge rush for them to become readers. I despise talking about the blog with people, even if they know. And now some of my students know, which I'm less than thrilled about. But, it is the Internet. Nothing is sacred. 

Reactions range from positive to not caring. I don't think my mother has ever read it, while my younger brother surprised the hell out of me once by talking about some posts I had written. My husband doesn't read (so he says, anyway), but many friends do. My philosophy is basically that I won't post anything I wouldn't talk about in my classroom or the dinner table with family. 

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most:

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?

Where do I begin? I'd blog more consistently, with more posts of sustenance. I'd interact with the blogging community more. I'd respond to comments. I'd learn Wordpress. I'd take better/more pictures. I'd collaborate with other bloggers (I'd like to do guest posts on other sites!). I'd like to put on my big girl pants and do some vlogs (I'd be more likely if I didn't know any of my readers in real life). And this just scratching the surface.