Recently, I read two YA novels that I continue to think about and that I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read them yet. Good YA literature often tackles difficult subjects in thought-provoking and fresh ways. The Hate U Give and An Ember in the Ashes do just that. Though very different, these two novels surprisingly share common themes and one problematic issue that has stuck with me. Continue reading
It’s officially summer break, and as always, I have big plans and goals. One of those goals is to maintain a more consistent writing schedule here on the blog and for another project I have started working on.
The spring semester was rough for me, and I can’t quite put my finger on the problem. I wasn’t teaching as many classes and wasn’t quite as busy as I was in the fall, but I dealt with a lot of anxiety that affected me physically. Hence, very little writing.
For my first post of the summer, I had planned to write about two YA novels I read recently. I have lots of feelings and thoughts about them, but this week has been a little crazy. My husband and I have been trying to renovate our 1920s house for years, but haven’t made much progress because the most significant and costly problem was the foundation. But, this week, a foundation repair crew is working under the house, hopefully resolving the issues that have prevented us from moving forward. Having a crew at the house means that my house has become very loud, and my schedule is completely off. Every time I sit down to write, I get distracted and can’t concentrate. So, instead of beating myself up about not writing the post I intended to write (I promise I will soon), I decided to begin with some updates, some e-book deals that you can’t miss, and what I’m reading now. Continue reading
I will get caught up. I will get caught up. I will get caught up.
That has been my mantra this year. I never seemed to get caught up, however. In my last post (in October! gasp!), I mentioned some of the busyness and teaching difficulties I was dealing with. Just when things seemed to be settling down at the beginning of November, I was asked to take over an ENG 102 class when the instructor had to take a leave of absence. With only six weeks left, I had to teach a crash course in research writing to a group of tired and overwhelmed students. We all survived (and some really good things came out of the class), but my blogging, reading, and writing came to a halt. Now that I can breathe a little, I decided a good place to start back would be with a year end review of my favorite books this year.
Before I begin, I need to provide a few caveats.
- I have a love/hate relationship with end-of-the-year lists. I love to read them, to see what books other readers enjoyed, to affirm my own loves of the year, and to add to my ever-growing TBR. But, I also hate when books are overlooked, and I find it so difficult to come up with a list.
- I don’t read books that I don’t enjoy. If I don’t like it, I stop reading (there will be a post about this in 2017). The result is that my list of books at the end of the year is a list of books I loved–or at least liked–which makes narrowing the list really difficult.
- I challenged myself this year to read more diversely. I wanted to expand the genres I read, the authors I read, the places, experiences, and cultures represented in the books I read. In some areas, I succeeded. I read more creative nonfiction and debut novels (categories severely lacking in my previous reading lists). In others, I still need more work.
- Although I still don’t feel like it’s enough, I read more this year than I have the last three years. I’ve enjoyed something about every book that I read. The books that follow, though, are ones that have stuck with me the most.
Yesterday, I noticed that leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and pecans are on the ground. And on our evening walks, the cicadas loudly announce the dog days of summer. The fall semester begins on Wednesday, so even though it is still unbearably hot and humid, I know that summer has officially come to an end. Fall–my favorite time of year–is around the corner. In the south, we have to wait longer for cooler weather, but our autumn is a much-deserved reward for enduring the summer. In the fall, the air is crisp, leaves crunch underfoot, the sun often shines, and the world is full of color.
The fall season also means a busy semester and not quite as much time to read. Rather, I catch up on reading in the summer and over winter breaks. So, I thought the best way to wrap up my season and prepare to move into another is to recap my favorite books of the summer. Continue reading
“In life one rarely knows which remarks of the hundreds uttered in the course of a day will turn out to be auspicious. In fiction, foreshadowing is planted and flagged in some (hopefully or desperately) subtle way, drama demands it.”
In July, I joined the Book of the Month Club, and I’m so glad I did. Each month, BOTM judges choose five books from which members can choose. Members receive one book as part of their membership, but they can also add additional books for $9.99. BOTM has allowed me to explore new titles that I maybe wouldn’t have purchased in hard cover, and so far, I have enjoyed both of the books I’ve chosen. Siracusa by Delia Ephron was my choice for August, and it has been moved to the top of the list of the best books I’ve read this summer–possibly this year (joining Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi).
For those unfamiliar with Delia Ephron, she is a prolific and talented writer who is responsible for numerous plays, movies (including You’ve Got Mail and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), and books (like Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog and The Lion is in).
Siracusa recounts two couples’ travels in Italy and the disastrous consequences when secrets and betrayals are unveiled. Michael and Lizzie are writers from NYC. He is famous and award-winning and desperately trying to complete a novel that will reaffirm his talent. She is a not-so-successful journalist looking for the next big story. They are joined on the trip by Lizzie’s college boyfriend, Finn, and his wife, Taylor. Snow, their pre-teen daughter, further complicates the awkward dynamics of the group. Continue reading
I intended to write and publish this post yesterday, but it was a Monday. And it brought with it all those typical Monday interruptions and a beginning-of-the-week to-do list that seemed to never end.
As I mentioned in previous posts here and here, I participated in my first readathon this weekend. I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be. I’m a competitive, Type A person, and I expected to complete all twenty-four hours. I only made it for sixteen. However, I read and completed two novels, made it half-way through another, started one more, and listened to four hours of an audiobook.
Though I didn’t reach my goal, I had fun with a bookish community on Litsy and learned a lot that will help me to be more successful next time–cause I’m definitely doing it again.
Here are five things I learned from my first readathon: Continue reading
Summer is coming to a close for me…much too quickly. I’m already in the midst of creating curriculum and dealing with pre-semester administrative tasks. And I haven’t read all of the books I wanted to before school is back in session. So, I thought this weekend would be a perfect time for me to try something I’ve always wanted to do: a readathon. Continue reading
One of the projects I’ve been working on this summer is organizing all of my books. It’s a task that I deal with every couple of years. I’ve tried alphabetizing books by author and by title. Then, I reorganized them by genre. And as I run out of room and can no longer find books I want, I start all over again. It’s an overwhelming process because I don’t have a large house, and I literally have books in almost every room.
This year, I bought a new bookcase and have painstakingly gotten rid of at least five, large bags of books to make the process a little easier. But, it’s still slow going.
One of the good things about pulling all of my books out from shelves, tables, closets, etc. is that I rediscover books I forgot I had. Amidst stacks of books and lingering dust, I squeal and hug my long-lost friends–and I’m sure I look crazy, but that’s okay with me. That’s exactly what I did when I found some copies of The Babysitter’s Club series.
Most educators, especially those teaching English, have at least one teacher that inspired them to learn, to read, and to follow in their footsteps. For me, that person was my seventh grade English teacher. She was warm, passionate, kind, and engaging. And her love for life and literature was contagious. Continue reading