Sunday, August 23, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

I squeezed in one more book before my students come back to school tomorrow, appropriately the YA novel Every Day by David Levithan. More on my opinion of it later this week, but I can say I found a few good quotes that stood out. Things I felt were universal truths, I guess you could say. So here are two of them, enjoy your week!

"I know from experience that beneath every peripheral girl is a central truth. She's hiding hers away, but at the same time she wants me to see it." 

"She's being kind. Which is much more a sign of character than mere niceness. Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen." 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Started reading David Levithan's book Every Day because I needed a break from my formal reading. And I'm impressed with some insightful quotes, like the one below. When I read it, I glanced back to reread because I instantly thought, "Yes, that's it."

"And as we drift off to sleep, I feel something I've never felt before. A closeness that isn't merely physical. A connection that defies the fact that we've only just met. A sensation that can only come from the most euphoric of feelings: belonging." Every Day, David Levithan

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I'm still here...

So, the course of my summer and chances to read should be evident in the number and type of posts I've made each month since June. Some of the lack of reading was intentional because, as I'd posted before, there were a lot of things going on with those around me and I wanted to be a part of it. On the other hand, it was a weird summer, period. Reading opportunities are not going to get better any time soon, as school starts for me next week and students come the week after. I've been reading this month, but it has been books I need to start my school year and such.

But...this gives me a chance to use this post to put a few things out there. Sometime between August and September, I will be taking my blog self-hosted! A scary move for me, but I have a most trusted friend who does this for a living and I trust her capabilities.

Also, I am hoping to continue with Student Spotlight again this year, where my students will be posting their work to my blog. I am looking forward to doing this better this year and incorporating it into my class more.

And last, but not least, I have a couple pics of my kids I took last month. We were waiting in the car for my oldest to finish her piano lesson and it seemed really quiet. I turned around in my seat to see both of my kids huddled down, reading. Enough to make this bibliophile split into a grin and even feel emotional. Haha, I'm a mess right now people. A mess.

But, as one of my favorite American greats once wrote, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

As summer comes to a close (this is my last week), I find myself wrapped up in some reading for my classes and my mind on lesson plans already. Looks like the year will be starting with Fahrenheit 451 for the Sophomores and Of Mice and Men for Honors 11. AP Literature will be discussing summer reading before moving on to learn Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" from The Hero with a Thousand Faces, among other analytical basics. Figuring out what to do is half the battle I guess.

So Sunday Sentence today is from Outlander, looking back at a great summer read and hoping that I'll be united with book two - Dragonfly in Amber - by late September. A girl can dream, can't she?

"For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough." 

Until we meet again Jamie Fraser...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

The day we have all waited for has come and gone. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee's companion novel to To Kill a Mockingbird, came out Tuesday, July 14th. Unsure how many copies bookstores would receive or how fast copies would sell, I preordered through Barnes & Noble online. Although I would've preferred the experience of buying in the store (where I'd also receive my Educator's Discount), Barnes & Noble did an excellent job of express shipping the night before (without me asking or paying for that typical?), so the book arrived on my doorstep the day of publication. Not all online sellers pulled this off, so bravo B&N.

I started the book with ambivalence thanks to the crazy spoilers that came out from those with advance copies. (Where the heck did they sign up for that ARC anyway?!) At one point before it arrived, I feared reading it. Luckily, a trusted book/teacher friend read the entire book the day after publication and gave it five stars on Goodreads, easing my mind enough to pick it up and start.

Although written within the same few years in the 1950's as To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman's setting takes place twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird, with Atticus at age 72 and Jean Louise (Scout) at age 26. Jean Louise is on her way home to visit her father, reminiscing all the way. But the Maycomb she returns to is not the one she clearly remembers as a child. Stepping into the civil rights era, race relations are buzzing around Maycomb and the greater South. Jean Louise faces the fact that although her father was a fair man, it wasn't necessarily about equal rights between the races.

Here's where people started reviewing in a rage about racist Atticus. But reading through Atticus's explanation, as well as Uncle Jack's, I'm not positive it's a racist Atticus we are seeing, as much as an old man set in his ways and fearful of change. First, both men implore Jean Louise to understand how a sudden change would throw the South into chaos. At age 72 a changing world is a very scary thing and very hard to handle, whether it is for the better or not. So, I understood this stance. Atticus does say a few things that can definitely be racist, namely his concern for how the African Americans would ever survive with all those rights after what's been done to them. At the same time, knowing Atticus's kind and just nature, you can see how he would think his thoughts and words are nothing but concern for the African Americans involved.  Uncle Jack especially makes this point when he tells Jean Louise she will have to move home and stand for her belief in equality because eventually the other side will begin to die down and die out and the town will need someone who loves it and believes better to lead the way. Uncle Jack knows he and Atticus are simply a product of their time and things will soon change.

So, I guess all in all, I didn't see the crazy racist Atticus everyone had their panties in a bunch over. "Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth" (Isaiah 21:6)...thank God the ARC reviewers don't have to be my watchman, cause they seeth a mess where there isn't one. Although I took note of a number of good quotes, the writing wasn't up to To Kill a Mockingbird par; it's my understanding Lee didn't do any editing though. I thought characterization stayed consistent, Jean Louise a spitfire as ever, Aunt Alexandria obnoxious, and Uncle Jack level headed and firm. And Atticus...well nothing can ever touch Atticus in my mind. Finding a fault within him only makes him more human to me, especially when it seems to me that he thinks he's doing right and is such a good man at heart.

As for the people asking for refunds for their copies of Go Set a Watchman and the bookstore giving them? Go get a life. That's not how this works. Hardly anyone went into this blind to the possibilities of disappointment. And if you did, how is this different from any other book you might read and not like? A dangerous precedent to set if you ask me.

LIFE magazine special on Harper Lee
was full of extra details about the books,
Lee, and the movie making of TKAM

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Begin the Week with Words


I read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman and was delighted that a few good quotes hit me. I'll be writing a review later this week, but for now, some wise words (in no particular order) from Harper Lee, including the back cover pictured above:

"...the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise. They don't need you when they're right -" 

"Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends." 

"When you get past all the boa feathers, every woman born in this world wants a strong man who knows her like a book, who's not only her lover but he who keepeth Israel. Stupid, isn't it?" 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have

Well, the summer months have not ceased to throw stones, so to speak, but there have been moments and events in between the crazy to buoy my spirit and I'm thankful for that. Mostly, it's been fun and conversation with family and close friends that has uplifted me. What would we do without friends? And yet, friendship is a tough topic. If you've been around my blog for a longer period of time, you'll know I've spent the past couple of years seeking wisdom on the making of good, healthy friendships. There's nothing I've longed for more than a couple close friends who know me absolutely and in whose friendship I am confident. I've read and reviewed books of every related topic possible. So, I was very excited when a friend brought the Christian title Heart Sisters, by Natalie Chambers Snapp, to my attention.

Snapp's term Heart Sisters is defined as "the women you want to be around during your own major milestones. They will hold you up when you’re falling but will also rejoice with you when there’s rejoicing to be done." Looking at the Table of Contents alone presents Snapp's book as one that will discuss the hardest things about being a friend and how to handle them in the best way possible. She tackles topics such as:

Handling conflict
Setting boundaries
Digital Etiquette
What Heart Sisters do and don't do

Seems intense, maybe. But think of all the issues and regrets that have popped up in friendships. Plus, Snapp isn't talking about just any friendship, she's talking about the closest of friends. We all have circles of friends, who vary in closeness. Snapp's book refers to that small, intimate grouping of women who "we need to share in our laughter. Sometimes we need a good cry with a sister by our side. Other times, we need her to carry us because we simply don’t think we can put one foot in front of the other on our own. We need Heart Sisters" (emphasis mine).

This is among the best books on friendship I've read, as the advice is applicable to forming all kinds of friendships. I've always dreamed of having close friends, but comparing real life to the movie versions, doubted it was possible. Heart Sisters not only shows close friendship is possible, but gives the healthy, realistic parameters in which to form them.