Category Archives: Not A Book Review

Poll: Classroom Must-Haves

This week I went to sign my contract for my new job and fulfill some county training. While I did totally pay attention and no one can claim otherwise, I will admit that my brain was constantly thinking of items that I need to get for my classroom. While we were instructed about the hazards of overloading and outlets, I noted that I need like four power strips. While being told to be cautious about securing cleaning solutions out of student reach, I jotted down a desperate need for an endless supply of Clorox wipes.

It made me think about all the many things I may not realize that I need. Whether these are things for a brand new classroom that I’ll need to stock to levels of functioning, or if they’re just secret tools of the trade which are known only to seasoned veterans, I need to know about them! So let’s think about what all I know I need and then I can “poll the audience” to see what I’m missing!

The Bare Necessities

Let’s talk logistics. My classroom is a rectangle of four walls (obvs), but they’re made of plaster (god only knows why), which poses a problem in terms of being allowed to hang things. The “front” wall has the smart board and two white boards plus some empty wall space on either end, the “back” wall is all windows, and the two small walls are empty space. I’m restricted to painter’s tape should I want to hang anything, so I need that. Each of the four walls has one outlet station (with two or four outlets each, I forget). That’s right. ONE outlet spot per wall. So obviously, power strips are a necessity in the highest. Also, I’ll have 5 classes with at least 32 students in each, so I’ll see over 150 kids every day. This means clorox wipes, kleenex, hand sanitizer, and all other germ deterrents are mucho necessito. I’m fortunate in that my school will provide most basic classroom supplies (pencils, paper, index cards, post-its, etc.), but one thing I consider to be a basic necessity, which isn’t usually provided by the school, is a set of anchor charts with sticky adhesive on each page. They’re like giant post-its and are as versatile as their smaller counterparts. NEED!!

Personal Necessities

I am cold-natured. I get cold easily and often. The blessed thing about schools is that they keep the temperature low in order to deter the spreading of diseases, a courtesy for which I am most grateful. However, that means that I am FREAKING COLD for at least 40 hours a week, a fact which I cannot abide. Long story short: I need a space heater for my little tootsies. Similarly, I like a warm drink in the morning as my good-for-you-for-getting-up-so-early reward. Thus, I need a(nother) candle warmer (I already have one but it must stay home for my weekend tea). Has anyone else realized that those things keep your drink at the perfect temperature?!?! Lastly, I simply must have plants in my classroom. Back in the dark ages when I worked as an accountant, my cubicle resembled Fern Gully in the best possible way and I intend to continue that trend in my classroom. Must have Pothos!!

Personal “Luxuries”

I am going to try to avoid fluorescent lights. Thus, I need some good cheap lamps. I found a couple at Goodwill yesterday and they were bulbous and baby pink with dusty, gross shades, but they were $5 each so I got them and bought some new shades and spray paint. They’re in the midst of a renovation. I’m also looking for cheap, comfy chairs so that I can include some alternative seating options in the classroom. Now, this is year one so I’m not going balls-to-the-walls by making everything about my classroom an “alternative option,” but I would like to go ahead and start a collection so I can incorporate it slowly over time. I’m also way into book talks, so I got some small book easels on Amazon so I can feature new or relevant books each week.

I spent the past few days obsessing over my classroom library. I realized that the time off that I have now will be a thing of the past in a few short weeks, so I need to get done as many things as possible so that my transition into the classroom is fluid. Thus, I took down all my books (totaling over 150 at this point, and always growing), entered each ISBN into my Classroom Booksource account, stamped each with the embosser Hannah gave me, wrote my name on the top of each book, listed each (categorized by genre) on a master Google Doc., made colored genre labels, and put the corresponding colored sticker on each book. If it isn’t clear, this took days to complete and it messed up my living room, but with the hubby away, the wifey will organize/label/categorize/inventory. That’s the old saying, right?

library

So, here is my question to you: what am I missing? What did I forget or overlook? Maybe you’re a teacher and you see a glaring error in my preparation. Or perhaps you aren’t a teacher, but you remember something a teacher has done that stuck out in your memory. Did you play games that made your learning fun? Was there one poster that captured your attention? Or maybe on the other end of things, was there something that was highly distracting or discouraging for you, the student? Any insights won’t just help me, they’ll help my students! Thanks and looking forward to what everyone has to say!

 

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Re-reading Things Because I Must: “The Odyssey”

I had the opportunity to teach [excerpts of] The Odyssey to two separate classes this past school year, so I had plenty of opportunities to experiment with secondary sources and supplemental texts. One text I want to go right ahead and endorse is Gareth Hinds’s graphic novel of the epic poem. It can be difficult to teach from a text when you don’t have one-to-one copies for all students, so I could only scan the chapters we read and project them as we read along with the poem. It wasn’t ideal, but it often helps striving readers to have visuals (besides the 90’s movie we watched), and it’s just a more modern medium. I adore this adaptation!

As with the previous units, I focused on an overall idea or theme, this time being “heroes;” the texts and discussions included in the unit led students to question the traits and actions that typically lead to the title of “hero,” as well as challenge whether someone can still be a hero if s/he occasionally acts in ways that go against those traits/actions. Odysseus is a perfect character upon which to focus these questions, since he is generally considered one of literature’s great heroes, but also does a great many things that challenge that title.

My main goal in this unit was to present the students with materials and questions that would force them to practice looking at events and actions through various perspectives and determine whether that perspective change affects heroic status. As with all my units, I want this to make sense on a literary level (obviously), but I also want it to make sense in the everyday lives of my students. I want them to practice seeing things from various perspectives. I want them to understand how those perspectives lead people to have different opinions of who is heroic and who is not. We live in difficult times. The more we equip the future generations to be compassionate, understanding individuals, the better our chances of creating a society in which we all treat each others with kindness and respect, and one way to gain respect for others is by making the effort to see his/her perspective.

savI challenged the students to begin by attempting to assume how the perspectives might have varied between the Greeks and the Trojans during the Trojan Horse episode, as a bit of background. To Greeks, it was a witty and brave action to infiltrate the walls and capture the city, thereby winning the war. To Trojans, though, the same actions look more like being tricked and massacred by an invading army. Similarly, students challenged Odysseus’ actions on the isle of the Cyclopes and his interactions with Polyphemus. Using a chart, students recorded the moments in which Odysseus acted civilized vs. when he acted savage, as well as when Polyphemus acted civilized vs. when he acted savage. The result was that both parties were clearly to blame for the death of Odysseus’ men and the delay in his return to Ithaca.

circeWe continued the challenge on perspective by pairing modern works with the ancient poem. Margaret Atwood is a pioneer of feminist perspective and often writes accounts of historical stories from the point of view of a minor character. After completing Book 10 and discussing Odysseus’ account of his time spent with Circe, we read and excerpt of Atwood’s “Circe/Mud Poems,” in which we get an interpretation of Circe’s negative opinion on Odysseus’ year-long visit. Students spent time reflecting on how this perspective conflicted with Odysseus’ account and in what ways the change in perspective affected Odysseus’ status as a hero in this particular Book.

pennyOur final perspective challenge was that of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope. Since women’s points of view were rarely included in ancient texts, Atwood takes the liberty to give voice to the voiceless, daring to reveal that Penelope might not be as chill about Odysseus’ 20-year absence and multiple affairs as Odysseus would have us believe. Since The Penelopiad is a full-sized novel, I gave students a handout containing the intro (from a dead and pissed Penelope) and first chorus (from the maids Odysseus slaughtered for “befriending” the suitors), and were again given time to reflect on how these perspectives challenge Odysseus’ account and his status as a hero.

Unsurprisingly, these brilliant students picked right up on the fact that the point of view was pivotal to heroic status. Most students finished the unit with powerful and passionate opinions on Odysseus’ heroic status, opinions which they argued and defended in final persuasive essays. We ended the unit by re-addressing the status of “hero,” as well as by briefly analyzing two antiheroes (Sir Ballaster Blackheart from the graphic novel Nimona and Dr. Horrible from “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”) who often act more heroically than the heroes they fight. Going forward, if I get the chance to teach The Odyssey again, I’d love to spend more time with each of these, really digging into why the heroes in these accounts fail to to actually be as heroic as the “villains,” as well as what that means and how it applies to real life.

I truly hope that I get to teach The Odyssey again. As old as it is, I have no doubt that this unit was the most interesting and the most relevant for my students. I’d love to hear what others have done to teach it, or just what anyone thinks might help make it more meaningful and fun for 9th graders!

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Harry Potter Tag

bannerhptag

We were nominated by the lovely Carrianne at Cuppa n’ Critiques. If you aren’t already following her, do so now; she’s a delight. Thanks for the nom, Carrianne! We are certifiably obsessed with all things Harry Potter, so this has been a real treat!

Apparently, the only rule for this tag is that you don’t use HP books as your answers, which is a solid rule, since I answer all questions with HP references. Leh go!

flagrate

A book where you found the theme interesting , but you’d like to rewrite it.

I actually answered all the other questions before this one, since I was having a hard time thinking of one, but now I know my answer. And I Darken by Kiersten White was just not at all as good as it could have been with a few tweaks. A little more Dracula here (I know, I know), a little fewer feelings there, and it could’ve been good!

alohomora

The first book in a series that got you hooked.

I’m trying really hard not to answer this one as Red Rising, since my love affair with that series is more than clear by now. Hmmm… what else? Illuminae, of course! My original review is linked here, but suffice it to say that I am fully invested and Gemina was also a home run!

accio

A book you wish you could have right now.

See below for answers that will surprise exactly 0% of readers.

avadakedavra

A killer book. Both senses. Take it as you like.

OMG I so wish that there was a book version of “Forensic Files.” Every chapter is a new murder mystery?! Please. Gimmie. Since I don’t know of such a book, I think I’ll list Grasshopper Jungle. Don’t worry, no spoilers, but it is indeed KILLER! Original review here.

confundo

A book that you found really confusing.

The story of Kullervo has been sitting on my nightstand for months. I started it and immediately got confused since, and I kept count, there are (so far) seven names being used for the same character. Tolkien is just plugging along and then all of a sudden, Kullervo is called Sakehoto, then Saki, then Sari, then Kullervo Kalervanpoika… and did I mention that that count is only 16 pages in?

epectopatronum

Your spirit animal book.

This sounds ridiculous, but I’m a ridiculous person, so no shame. Honestly, I think SWEET has been the most recent, non-HP or Red Rising book that has spoken to my heart. It is absurd and comical, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it has important things to say, just like me. Original review here.

spetumsemtra

A dark, twisted book.

Oh my GOD, I love dark & twisted! Hannah and I both love everything creepy, so imagine my surprise when I have to look back pages and pages on my Goodreads before I find an adequately creep-tastic book. For that reason, I’m listing books that I plan to read in order to get live life always in the Halloween spirit.

adaasd

A book that surprised you in a great way, reveals to be more than it is.

I think this one only surprised me because I had little to no expectations and it was just an utter delight. Profound, challenging, uplifting, and enlightening, Kids of Appetite was one of those books that just sticks with you, you know?

nominees

Now for the nominations! Please excuse us if any of you have already completed this tag. We just want to spread the Harry Potter love!!

Sissy Lu @ Book Savvy Reviews

DrAwkto @ The Inky Awkto

Emily Rose @ Rose Read

Heather @ Bits & Books

Louise @ geniereads

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Summer Reading List

Much like Dobby, Lindsay is free! I’ve graduated from my Master’s program; I’ve been offered a teaching position (about which I am jazzed); I have a summer job in the meantime. Currently, I have no homework, no “I should be working on *insert school task here.*” I don’t remember the last time I had my life together to this degree and I just needed a moment to bask and brag. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the books I plan to devour this summer!

My Goodreads challenge goal was to complete 52 books this year, or roughly one per week. I’m currently making slow progress on a rather voluptuous tome, so the progress is slow-going at the moment, but I hope to complete at least 10 books in the 12ish weeks of summer. This list is not a promise, but more so a projection; thus, it is subject to change if a more enticing option presents itself, but I will try at least to maintain (some) variety.

Winger – Andrew Smith: I made a promise that I will read this one at some point this year on my New Year’s Recommendations post. It feels like all my MAT cohort-mates have read it and loved it, and I need to get more “bro books” under my belt. Feels like a summer read to me!
Tags: YA, realistic fiction, contemporary, 1st in series

Babylon’s Ashes – James S. A. Corey: No surprise here. I remain obsessed with the Expanse Series and, whereas all my other copies are paperbacks, I recently broke down and bought the hardcover copy of Book 6 cuz I NEEDS IT NOW!! Needless to say, starting with this one.
Tags: Adult fiction, scifi/fantasy, “space opera,” mid-series

Sons of Ares – Pierce Brown: Again, hold your surprise. Wherever Pierce goes, I go. This one is a comic book, so it is proving to be allusive and I will ultimately have to order it online since none of my local book stores or comic shops have it. Wassup with that??
Tags: Comic, fiction, scifi/fantasy, prequel

Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer: Krakauer is another author I’ll follow to the ends of the Earth. I need to get more nonfiction under my belt, and I already know I like Krakauer’s style and the subject matter sounds fascinating, so count me in.
Tags: Adult historical nonfiction, mystery/true crime, religion

Meddling Kids – Edgar Cantero: From what I can tell, this one is a spin off of Scooby-Doo, which was my lifeblood as a kid (and still today). This one could have been written FOR ME or could be the most insulting thing I’ve ever read. I have high hopes, since I found it in my endless search for scary books. Like, I want some real horror! Is that so much to ask?! It’ll be published in July, so I have time to psyche myself up for some good ol’ Mystery Gang fun.
Tags: Adult fiction, horror, mystery, fantasy

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch: The hubby read this one recently (which means BONUS, we already own it!) and liked it. I know there has been a lot of buzz about it and I missed the initial gravy train, but I’m happy to jump on to the caboose. Hopefully, it’ll be a nice thriller? I actually know nothing about it…
Tags: Adult fiction, scifi, thriller, mystery

Waking Gods – Sylvain Neuvel: This is the sequal to Sleeping Giants, which I read around this time last year and really enjoyed. We all know I’m a scifi junkie, so this one is purely for my enjoyment and I cannot wait. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go grab a copy today so the motivation to read it can propel me through Babylon’s Ashes even faster!
Tags: Adult fiction, scifi/fantasy, 2nd is series

Rise of the Rocket Girls – Nathalia Holt: Again, my attempt to intake more nonfiction leads me to this text. It sounds remarkably similar to Hidden Figures but I’ve heard that Hidden Figures is actually rather boring (I haven’t read it, so this is just hearsay), so I think I’ll give this one a try. Sounds empowering!
Tags: Adult historical nonfiction, feminism, science/space

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak: I assume it will surprise everyone that I haven’t read this. I’m known to devour WWII literature and this one had its hayday recently when it became a movie. I didn’t see that either, so I’m blissfully ignorant of the details and will now consume it.
Tags: YA, historical fiction, WWII/war

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury: I don’t know how I went this long without reading this, but I need to now. I love Bradbury, so I’m optimistic. Classics revival!
Tags: Adult fiction, classics, dystopian

I’d love to know what everyone else is reading this summer. Any thoughts on my choices? Replacement options? Comment or link so I can see what everyone is up to and maybe even make some swaps.

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Re-reading Things Because I Must: “Jekyll & Hyde”

I went back and looked; I wrote four papers with four different arguments on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think my attraction to Gothic literature meant I was already inclined to like the story, but I also assume that dissecting it in order to argue those various points forced a familiarity with the text that borders on friendship.

When I realized I would be teaching it this year, I immediately began wondering what overall “unit idea” I could apply to J&H so that I could start planning supplementary texts. “Gothic lit” was an obvious choice, but so what? Like with the Brutality unit, I wanted an idea that would matter on a larger scale; thus, this unit became the Unreliable Narrator unit. As always, the goal is not only that students learn from and analyze the text in ways that prepare them for tests and cultural references (after all, J&H has been adapted over 100 times), but I also want to ensure that students find larger meaning that applies to their lives and places within society. It was easier to lead them to find relevance with the brutality unit, but I had to work harder with the Unreliable Narrator unit.

Like with the Brutality unit, I had one mandatory primary text, but could weave in assorted secondary short stories. We started with Truman Capote’s “Miriam,” but they read it on their own time and had to include annotations. The intention was that they annotate on the first reading, postulating on what will happen and then after they read the big surprise ending, go back and re-read, annotating again, but this time noting the moments that foreshadow or reveal who or what Miriam is. We finished that work with a Socratic Seminar, which lead to some awesome conversations from the class. At the end, I asked what made the narrator unreliable, if anything. Unanimously, the students agreed that they weren’t sure what it was, but something about Mrs. Miller that isn’t quite right or trustworthy. Mental Illness of some sort was the ultimate popular vote.

We read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” in class. This one was difficult for them. The language is old and elevated, so we listened to an audio version (alleviating the risk of round-robin mispronunciations or listening to my man voice the whole time) and I frequently paused it in order to deconstruct some of the more confusing moments. This just reminded me that my love for Poe is not universal and maybe (definitely) it would be beneficial to spend a day going through Poe’s language, giving examples and having them break them down into current translations, as is often beneficial with Shakespeare. I think if we had been able to lessen the intensity of the language, they would have liked it way more. In order to impress upon them how much perspective changes the story, I had the class complete a worksheet that would analyze how certain moments would change if told from Fortunato’s perspective instead of Montresor’s. This actually ended up being more difficult for this 9th Honors group than I had thought it would be, but I think that could be alleviated with more practice within more works.

They all agreed that Montresor was unreliable since he showed clear bias, was blinded by revenge, and might also be mentally unstable. Perf. That’s when I hit them with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I didn’t have hard copies and I didn’t want to murder a million trees, so we utilized ActivelyLearn.com. This was my first time using this website and I really liked it. They offer a lot of the classics for free and you just set up a class, import some notes, links, and questions (some works come with them already), and assign it. They read at their own pace, answering questions as they went along, and I was able to see all their answers, give feedback, or prompt them to think harder and re-answer, as well as grade quickly and easily.

Everybody felt strongly about this text, but in what way varied. Some didn’t understand it and were frustrated by it. Some appreciated the articles and questions about women’s roles that I embedded, and were similarly frustrated. Others loved the evident downward spiral of the narrator’s sanity and enjoyed it thoroughly. I enjoyed being able to track their understanding of the narrator’s reliability through their answers to my questions. Some read the story at face value, believing the claims that the room was a nursery, despite the fleeting mentions of bars on the windows, rings in the walls, and the bed being nailed to the floor. That’s fine. We never truly know otherwise. But through discussion, they were able to identify why the narrator’s assumptions might not be reliable and what the other evidence might imply.

Artifact 5Actively Learn #2

The unreliability of Gilman’s narrator was obvious. But what about J&H? Mr. Utterson narrates a large portion of the tale and his mental capacity is never called into question. However, when I opened this question to the class, they pointed out that the point of view meant that the events were being delivered from an outsider’s perspective. We only know what Utterson knows about Jekyll and Hyde, so we see it as he sees it. Some information is missing due to that simple fact. These kids are so smart.

Ultimately, I got to the end of the unit and asked, “ok, so what? Why talk about this? How does your understanding of the narrator affect the overall story?”

I was stared at for a very pregnant pause (something I’m learning to allow, since it benefits no one for me to ask a question and then answer it myself since they’re taking too long). Eventually, students began to propose answers to the question: some suggested that they read these works in order to better understand others’ perspectives; another postulated that I wanted them to consider how a person’s experiences may affect his or her point of view and, thus, the story; ultimately, I finished by encouraging them to question everything, taking in all the details from all the perspectives in order to form their own educated opinions. Each of these overall lessons shows me that these students finished the unit more thoughtful and understanding than they began it. In and of itself, that is a tremendous success. Yes, they can pass the tests. Yes, they’ll understand that calling someone “Mr. Hyde” is a literary insult. Yes, they’ll identify the good side vs. evil side trope in popular culture. But they’ll also, hopefully, think for themselves and do their research before just believing something they’re told. It’s an all-around success.

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Small Space Bookcase

This week has been an emotional one. I’m less than 2 weeks away from having my Master’s, I’m applying for jobs (as in like, the real deal), and my hubby and I had a big shift in perspective about our futures.

We have never been… conventional. That’s not to knock conventional! Things usually become the norm for good reason. However, we have been thinking about buying a home for years and something has always held us back. Yes, that “something” has generally been our existing lease, but even when we talked and planned, it felt like we were discussing compromises more than opportunities. I’ll be up front with you all, we’re going to have a humble budget. And as we should! At the end of the day, I’m a teacher and the hubs will eventually get his nursing degree, so we have no delusions of grandeur. I’ve always imagined myself living in a small cottage (with Hannah and a million puppies, but I digress), so when my husband suggested that we guy land and construct a yurt, it was one of those EUREKA (*insert mental image of a light bulb lighting up*) moments.

OF COURSE!! Land and privacy have always trumped square footage for me, plus it would give us the space and opportunity to work with solar panels, composting, and other “off the grid” tools. Needless to say, literally from that moment on, I have functioned in society while dedicating a (sometimes small, other times large) portion of my thoughts to yurt life. I won’t go into detail about all the many things we’ve had to consider since this is a book blog, but you can probably see where this going. Reducing my living space risks book space! I won’t lie to you; this was a huge consideration for me. Although the prospect of getting rid of needless items thrills me, books are not needless. I cannot live in a space that does not afford space for the wellsprings of my life. Thus, an obsession was born: the tiny space bookcase.

One thing you have to plan for with small spaces is that every inch of that space needs to be considered for utility, storage, or both. Things like staircases to the loft should never just be stairs. That’s a perfect space to allow for maximized usage.

Don’t forget about wall space. Now, a yurt will have roof studs for hanging shelving and lattice walls that won’t support much weight. That space still needs to be used, though, so leaning or standing shelves can serve the purpose.

We’ll have a few walls that will separate the bad and bath areas, so there will be precious small room for hanging things. This means bookcases and shelves need to be able to hold books, pictures, and potted plants (I aim for our home to look like Fern Gully always). There are sets like this one that you can buy online, but you only have to be moderately skilled with a screwdriver to buy the materials and do it yourself.

One thing that excites me is that the rolling ladder as seen in Beauty and the Beast is a distinct possibility. A 30′ yurt will allow for a pretty sizable loft space and we want a ladder for accessing it. If we use the wall built for the aforementioned bed/bath, we can create shelving across the whole wall with a rolling ladder so we can access books on the living side and dishes in the kitchen area. It’s not only possible, but practical!

Another consideration for having a tiny space, be it a yurt, a “tiny home” construction, or even a converted storage container, is security. Of course, whatever structure we choose will be secured and monitored, but you can never be too sure that your most valued possessions are safe. I found this idea on Pinterest and it would be a great addition to our small space, or any home!

Is anyone else rocking a small space bookcase? Let’s have a look!

 

 

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2016: What Would You Recommend…?

I’m seeing a lot of Year End Summary posts, and they’re really making my TBR explode with all the texts I now feel inclined to read! I thought about reviewing the best and worst reading experiences of 2016, but I feel that I need to exercise my recommendation muscles more urgently than I need to say what I liked and disliked.

I hear you asking me ,”Why?” As a future teacher, I understand that my likes and dislikes actually mean very little to teenage readers who, believe it or not, will not think I’m even moderately cool. It doesn’t matter whether I like or dislike a book; it just matters that students are exposed to as many texts as possible so that, among the masses, each kid can find something that appeals to his/her interests. One way to increase exposure to texts is through Book Talks; another way is to recommend a text based on that individual’s interests, not my own interests!

SO!! Today, we’re trying something new and I’m calling it a Challenge! My rules for myself are very simple: when recommending a book, you must do one of the following:

  • Recommend a book that you read in 2016.
  • If you know of a book that suits the reader but haven’t yet read it, hereby vow to read it in 2017.

The point is that, at least for me as a teacher, every year needs to be filled with diverse texts so that I am better equipped to make recommendations. If there is a category or type that I didn’t fulfill throughout all of 2016, that is a problem that I can easily fix in 2017! This makes me a more well-rounded member of society and a way better teacher of diverse little humans. Win-win! So, without further ado…

What Would You Recommend To:

Peter:
Age: 14.
Interests: Video games, technology, virtual reality, outer space, scifi, D&D
Books He LikedEnder’s Game, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
RecommendationReady Player One is the obvious option, although I feel like this kid would have found that one and devoured it already. I might also suggest Eragon. I, personally, didn’t care for it but it’s akin to Le Guinn’s work & gauging his reaction can help with future recommendations.

Matilda:
Age: 17.
Interests: Writing, reading, feminist culture, the arts, deep conversations about touchy issues.
Books She LikedWar and Peace, The Handmaid’s Tale, anything Jane Austen.
Recommendation: Definitely The Bell Jar. Definitely.

Alex:
Age: 21.
Interests: reading, creative writing, poetry, LGBTQ issues, social activism, gender anonymity, identity exploration, politics
Books She LikedThe Lord of the Rings Series, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Ask the Passengers
Recommendation: Alex is exploring her own identity indiviually, meaning that it is a private experience into which I do not wish to intrude. Some Assembly Required would NOT be a book that I openly recommend, but rather would introduce through book talks, making it available but not overt.

Mike:
Age: 12
Interests: Adult cartoons (not like “adult” but just cartoons for adults), comic books, graphic novels, superheroes, origin stories, action, Star Wars
Books He Liked: all Marvel & DC comics, Archie comics, Percy Jackson books
Recommendation: This kid gets a graphic novel, for sure. Unfortunately, the only one I read in 2016 was Nimona, which I loved, but feels a little too on the nose. I got a copy of Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel of The Odyssey from my beautiful butterfly of a professor and I hereby add it to my list, since I’m hoping this will be the perfect segue from his existing interests into heavier mythology (always the ultimate goal!).

Taylor:
Age: 28
Interests: Series works, Scifi/Fantasy, outer space, environmental science, outdoor activities, non-fiction medical/scientific literature
Books He LikedA Game of Thrones Series, The Martian, Expanse Series, The Mechanical
Recommendation: This one is based on my husband; we’ve introduced each other to some great fandoms over the years and I think this one is next. I read Sleeping Giants this year in the midst of my X-Files mania and I think it’s right up his alley.

Adam:
Age: 17
Interests: team sports, chicks, weight lifting, writing, sports books & magazines, his yellow lab, college scholarship (sports and academics), reading
Books He Liked: Grasshopper Jungle, The Shining, Fight Club, the Dexter Series
Recommendation: My 2016 reading list was largely a product of my interests, so 2017 needs to involve a lot more of what I’m calling “dude-books.” Male protagonists, male problems, male thoughts, and the like. So far, I’m recommending Winger to this stereotypical teen and also to myself.

Katie:
Age: 14
Interests: Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, love stories, scifi/fantasy, mythical/magical creatures, magazines, writing fan fiction, pop culture
Books She Liked: The Selection Series, the Twilight Series, Cinder, the Divergent Series
Recommendation: I can fully support a bit of brain floss, but I think the best recommendation for this impressionable young woman would be SWEET. Increase independence, self-confidence, and expectations for a healthy relationship, decrease celebrity obsessions.

Daniel:
Age: 18
Interests: social and political justice activism, urban art, spoken word poetry, basketball, soccer, live music concerts
Books He LikedBooked, Between the World and Me, I am Malala,
Recommendation: Add this to my 2017 promises! Recommending All American Boys for this imaginary kid and myself!

Silas:
Age: 18
Interests: Hunting (!!), the great outdoors, fishing, baseball, adventure.
Books He Liked: The Hunger Games Series, The Maze RunnerThe Lord of the Flies
Recommendation: OBVIOUSLY!!! No, but seriously, this is based on a real former student and I made him promise to read this book and then come talk about it with me.

Lynn:
Age: 45
Interests: Gardening, animals, family time, reading, bird-watching, outdoor activities, country life
Books He Liked: The Secret Garden, A Christmas Carol, Little House on the Prairie
Recommendation: So, this one is loosely based on my mom; she always asks for recommendations and I never know what to say! We have different likes and dislikes, so I don’t think my recommendations can be trusted! I’m making her read the Harry Potter Series (obvs!), but otherwise…?? She has a gentle soul and doesn’t like for her books to cause her stress. HELP, follow readers!!

Please keep in mind that I’m making up these profiles based on my imagination embellishing actual readers in my life. I am still striving to read outside of my preferred genre so I can recommend books to those with interests different from my own, but I welcome suggestions, feedback, and others picking up this post and doing their own version. If you do so, please link back to this post so I can see your selections! When it comes to exposure to diverse texts, I can never get enough!

Don’t forget to follow me on Goodreads to make sure I uphold my promises (LindsayC-T). Happy New Year, everyone, and best of luck in your 2017 reads!

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Filed under Book Challenge, Lindsay, Love This? Try This!, Not A Book Review