Tag Archives: Not a Book Review

Holidays: Gimme Dem Books

I remember many many moons ago when my sister (two years my senior) started asking for books for Christmas and I was so disappointed in her. You. So. Boring. And then, as with all the other trends she got into (clothes, cookware, decor, etc.), there I was, her shadow on a two-year-delay, asking for books for Christmas.

Now, I have two literary degrees and teach ELA, so books and book-related things have become a staple in my Christmas list. I always work in a few books I want, but I usually also ask for a few book-related items, especially clothes. I love seeing other people sporting symbols or phrases that reference books we have in common so, understandably, I also get a kick out of wearing my own references, especially when someone gets it and mentions it. 

So, without further ado, here are my Christmas requests:

Out Of Print Clothing has so many things I want. I got a Gatsby sweatshirt for Christmas a few years ago and it is still my favorite thing to wear in the winter. It’s survived many washes and even more wears and is so warm, so now that I know that the quality is top notch, I’m asking for more.

One of the books I want is a journal. I’m not much for journaling and I can’t imagine when or whether I’ll find time for this, but I’ve been feeling strangely negative lately and I’m trying to focus on things that will remind me of all the many reasons I have to be blissfully happy. I’ve been writing down two positive interactions I have with students each day, I’m wanting to re-start doing the “daily thankfulness notes” my husband and I did for while, and I think this journal would help, too. It gives a space for morning gratitude and hopefulness, as well as nightly ruminations and determination.

I’ve read all of Dan Brown’s books. I don’t know why, but for some reason, to admit that I enjoy Dan Brown feels a bit cheap, like when someone says their favorite books are the mass-produced, non-imaginative, “change a few details and crank out another sub-par thriller novel” books that fly off the shelves at libraries. Yes, Brown’s books have similar vibes, but that’s because they focus on the same protagonist. Yes, they have been turned into blockbuster films with my main man, Tom Hanks, which means they’re mainstream. Yes, some “facts” are fudged or completely fake. SO WHAT?? Every time I read a Brown novel , you can just color me entertained.

I want these for obvious reasons. One awesome thing we did last year was finish the school year with a research unit where students present on a hero of their choosing. I am so blessed to have some beautiful, brilliant independent young women in my classes and I think these would be a delight for me to read, but even more of a delight to pass along to the right young reader (male or female).

So, what did you ask for for this holiday season? Any other book-related requests out there? I love seeing what others ask for, especially since I’ll probably add them all to my wish list for future years!

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Me, Myself, and I: DIY

I’m getting ready to embark on a HUGE project. As I mentioned in a recent post about my distracted mindset, my hubby and I bought a house in October. She’s a beaut and I adore her in every way, but let me be quite clear that she’s a work in progress. Since we moved in over my school’s Thanksgiving Break with Winter Break quickly to follow, there was a lot of time at the onset for our amateur renovations. We managed to sand, paint, screw, and redecorate our way through renovations of the kitchen and hallway bathroom. We LOVE these renovations and, while our style choices may not appeal to everyone, we can’t be bothered to care, because they appeal greatly to us!

kitchenreno

Wood on wood on wood.

bathroomreno

Can you tell that gray + white is our jam?

Anyway, like I said, all our improvements happened right after move in and for the last few months, we’ve made additional plans for other aspirations. The one we’ve decided to try to tackle over Spring Break is updating the exterior of our home. Red Brick is the style for most people on our street, but I cannot claim to like red brick. I know the value of it and I appreciate the low-maintenance upkeep and durability, but I just don’t like red. I reached out to my aunt for help with the landscaping plans, so before I pay trillions and break my back planting beautiful, green things, we’re giving the red brick a makeover via German Smear.

front2

 

Now, first things first, I know this has nothing to do with books. So what? My blog.

I looked up a lot of websites about the process and most of them seemed helpful but I’m worried my experience will reveal some hidden truths. So, in the interest of authenticity, I decided that I will relate my thoughts on this endeavor by doing multiple installments of my thoughts and experiences: pre-, mid-, and post-project.

PRE-EFFORT AMBITIONS:

The original plan was to Limewash, not German Smear. However, despite how many true crime podcasts I listen to, I didn’t know that the purchase of lime is strictly monitored due to its common use in quick decomposition, so it turns out that lime is relatively inaccessible and expensive (compared to the $30 cost we expected based on the LIES Pinterest tells me). So, the plan has changed to German Smear, largely supported by some promising how-to blogs and the all-knowing Bob Vila.

I have no delusions about what a large endeavor this will be for the hubby and me to do ourselves. However, we are die-hard DIY-ers and we’re painfully cheap, so we’ve committed our last 3 days of Spring Break to completing this project. Let the fun begin!


MID-PROCESS LESSONS/IMPRESSIONS:

Future Lindsay, here. I’ve now spent several hours over the last few days working on our Smearing. My back is killing me and my right arm is full-on throbbing. Oh well.

Because I didn’t want to dive in and do my “learning” on the house exterior itself, I started in our sunken sun-room. This room was added onto the house and is home to a brick-encased gas fireplace. I used this as my trial space, as well as the brick wall that used to be the exterior wall but now is the adjoining wall. Since this was my first attempt at it, it was slow-going. I was hopeful that the process would quicken once I got outside and was able to be less cautious about floors/trims.

smear1

den

Formerly black brick now white

Upon finishing the fireplace and interior wall on Friday, I spent Saturday starting on the exterior of our home. We’re starting in the back so that we can work as slowly as our schedules allow without having a partially complete look visible to the road.

We have the most delightful covered porch, which was where I started. Once I was past that porch, I needed help from the brave, ladder-ready, high-reaching hubby. I left that last corner to him. This seemingly small section of brick took 3 hours of solo effort (while listening to back-to-back episodes of “My Favorite Murder,” so it was a pleasure). Sunday was spent similarly, working on the other side of the sun-room. Again, hours of work spent on precious little space.

smear5

smear6

All of the brick on the back of the house is done!

Lessons Learned and Henceforth Shared:

  1. There’s no way in the fiery depths of Hell we’ll be done this weekend. Or next. Maybe even the next. The hubs has been navigating his own stuff lately, what with his own school and a night job, so I did all the work this weekend by myself. I spent several hours each day and feel like I made NO PROGRESS, but that’s just because I’m dramatic. I made plenty of progress and will make more when one becomes two.
  2. Go into it knowing what look you want. I know most people associate German Smear with that one episode of “Fixer Upper,” but that is NOT the look we want. We want almost full coverage with lots of texture; we’re lucky we have a variety of brick colors already, since we LOVE GRAY and the gray bricks add variety. We have no plans to scrub off or expose any of the brick after smearing.
  3. Only make as much mortar wash as you can use in one “session.” Nobody on any of the how-to sites mentioned that this stuff is technically cement. I should have put this together, no doubt, but I did not. I almost lost my bucket and stirrer thing to hardened smear I hoped to be able to use the next day. Alas, it was wasted. Now we make less at a time or just work until we finish the bucket.
  4. Add the mortar to the water. I tried it the other way around and it was just like clumpy cake mix that never fully integrates.
  5. A natural bristle broom head is my weapon of choice. Others use a mortar brush or a mortar sponge, or even just their gloved hands. We have brick that is more porous and textured than usual, so I’ve found that my hands are taking quite the beating; I reserve my gloved hands for small spaces, edges, and corners. Otherwise, I use the broom head. Works like a charm. Also durable elbow-length gloves are my VIP. Honorable Mention goes out to the mixer/stirrer attachment for my drill. Without you, I’d be lost.
  6. A “honey” texture is too high maintenance. That’s what I used on the fireplace in the above pictures, and you can see how thick the coverage is. As I’m working, I’ve decided that “batter” is better. This all depends on the finish you want, of course, but the thicker the mixture, the less it spreads, so not only does it take twice as long to apply, but it also uses twice as much smear and is twice as thick in terms of coverage. We want light coverage, meaning we can still see the variance in brick colors but without any shades of red, so “batter” is better for us.
  7. It may be too early to say, but pressure-washing and wetting the brick before smearing isn’t, like, THE most important thing. The hubs pressure-washed the back wall and it hasn’t really done much to help. Similarly, I saw a lot of people say you *MUST* wet the brick before applying the mortar wash. I’ve forgotten over big swaths of wall and see literally no difference, as of yet.

So, I’m going to get back to work and Future Lindsay will update you soon with the end results!


POST-LABOR REFLECTIONS:

Way Future Lindsay, here and HOLY. GUAC. AMOLE.

That took forever, y’all. This is not hyperbole, but I literally spent HOURS on this *ish* and I’m so over it! In fact, there is still one small, unfinished side of the house that isn’t visible to anyone other than one neighbor and I’m in no rush to finish it because it looks finished from where I’m standing, ifyaknowwhatImean?!?!?

In all honesty, I’ve spent over 22 collective hours (plus 3 to 5 expected on that DARNED unfinished portion) German Smearing my home and don’t forget to add more hours for painting trim, shutters, doors, et al. I mentioned earlier that I started over Spring Break, which was in early March, and it is now the end of May, so take that as you will. All of the lessons I mentioned above are important, no doubt, but I think the most important lesson is LOOK AT YOUR BRICK! NOT ALL BRICK IS CREATED EQUALLY! Okay, I knew the brick on my home was fugly, but its true uniqueness didn’t really hit home until it was way too late to turn back. Our brick is not only ugly because of the wild variations in color, but also because of the wild texture. This is not smooth brick; this brick has many a nook and cranny, which made each smear a genuine arm workout.

mid3

My bis and tris are truly gettin’ at it these days. I also got a friction blister on the tip of my thumb and let this be a PSA that you need to appreciate the tip of your thumb before you lose it, okay?!

We wore down (to little stumps) three natural-bristle brushes (again, the texture of our brick is unparalleled) and went through at least 4 or 5 bags of mortar. This means that everything Pinterest says is a lie and you can’t trust anyone, including me! What do I know?!? Anyway, our property and belongings are spattered with drops of cement, meaning that our stepladder has barnacle-like permanent accumulations on the steps and handle and we’re thankful that we’re re-doing our landscaping because our shrubs are lazy with cement droplets.

Now, what we’ve all been waiting for, AFTER PICTURES!!

compare

None of the pictures I take give enough credit to how bright the front door is. Our visitors have commented on the awesome door color, and I have to give that credit to Brice.

after2

The shutters and trim are a nice Olive Green and all rust-colored trim is now dark gray. Thus, unintentionally, the gray/white obsession evident in our kitchen and bathroom continues! A few neighbors have stopped by while we’re outside working to tell us how good it looks and I must say that I agree. We still need to paint the rust-colored addition and porch in the back, but the front looks done enough for me to be happy and proud of us!

 

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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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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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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