I was a huge fan of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart; it was smart, insightful and hilarious. Change is hard for me. I didn’t think a South African native would be the best choice for such a political show. But I decided to give him a chance. His insight into American politics from a South African perspective was fascinating. He lived through apartheid. He knew first had how dictators manipulate their population. He was explaining it to a country who only ever knew democracy,what was coming. He made it less scary.
I then listened to him on NPR’s Fresh Air. Trevor Noah discussed his book ( although the host is the most is biased and judgemental presenter, I enjoyed how he came back at her with intelligent and thoughtful commentary) and he had me hooked because the man loves his mama.
His life story (he is only 32) was terrifying for a white girl who grew up in socialist Canada where the government looks after lot of things for you. This is not the case for a coloured boy – his words not mine ( which must be prefaced because I am white) growing up during a time that I read about but did not understand until he gave me an account of his life. I could not relate to anything he spoke of which reiterated the fact that I needed to read it. I learned about perspective.
I knew a girl in elementary school who arrived from South Africa and enrolled into my class. She was white, and spoke of her black servants. Telling me everything about south Africa was better because you had servants. Black Servants no less. I met her while North America was watching Roots every night, I knew about slavery and I knew it was wrong. She was trying to tell me servants were not slaves, they were there because they wanted to be there. I didn’t by it. Even at that age, I knew what white privilege was. I had been to school in the Arctic, I was one of a handful of white kids and I knew my white teacher treated me differently. I didn’t understand why my First Nation peers didn’t look me in the eye, now here I was back in Sherwood Park – a white suburb of my Province’s Capital talking to a girl who is telling me the servants chose their life? What? Who chose’s to be a servant? That is a class issue. I bet they wanted to have their own business, go to University became professionals but were not allowed to. She told me I was wrong and I called her a liar. We were never friends. Her name was Susan. Through no fault of her own, she grew up in a situation that clashed with my values and I couldn’t accept her as an equal.
Moving forward, I try to read books that give me someone else’s perspective. I want to understand how other people think given their circumstances. Noah explains his life in a way that is obviously normal to him, completely unbelievable for me. But it helped understand what was going on during apartheid. He spoke of something I think I knew but didn’t recognize it until he spoke about it. Language is a bigger barrier than race. He is fluent in several languages. He used this to his advantage to fit into different groups and tribes because although he looked different, he spoke their language. This confused people but allowed a fast acceptance into their social group. He may not look like us but he understands us, therefore he is one of us.
I think this is an important read for people who are struggling with today’s political climate and racism. Give it a read.
I didn’t finish any books this week aside from further reading in Managing Projects in Organizations by J.D. Frame…you guessed it, one of my University reading. I also started Running on Empty by a runner dude who’s name escapes me currently. But in keeping with the book theme, Canada Writes posed an interested question:
What does your bookshelf say about your personality?
What can we tell about you just by looking at how you arrange your books? Here are some personality types we have discovered by peering into our friends’ and families’ bookshelves. Hover over the question mark in each photo to see if any of them are you.
Well this is what my book shelf looks like – sort of – It isn’t really my shelf, it is a WordPress version of my shelf, one of many. My ibooks library has tidied up my life because apparently, I use to be an Anarchist, now I am a digitally organized gal who carries with her about 500 books, 70 pdfs, and several Textbooks all in my handy-dandy iPad.
When I read paper books, all my books were stacked – some still are. I didn’t love them like I love my eReader shelf. My eReader has a shelf for books I am reading, books I want to read, books I read (why can I just not delete books I have already read? I have no idea…it feels wrong) University PDFs and Text books (all arranged according to class). I have 2 different running sections, one for running books, and one for running maps and articles. I have my piano music on one shelf and cooks books on another. I read WAY MORE than I use to. Yet I love to browse books stores.
I don’t get it. Perhaps it is because the world is in transition from paper books to digital copies. Either way, I love books…Which reader are you?
I am discovering the delights of a short story. When I was in school, it was mandatory to ready them for comprehension tests and literary examinations. I loved O.Henry, J.D Salinger, and Washington Irving but somewhere along the way I stopped reading them. Then I became that old fuddy duddy who read Reader’s Digest out of desperation while waiting copious amounts of time at a friends cabin. I found old mouldy copies in a box in the corner and began reading short stories again. Then I discovered the delights of Maeve Binchy, W.P. Kinsella and Alice Munro. Stories so masterfully told that I would think about the characters long after the 30 minutes was up. I still can fondly recall characters years after I put the story down. Short story authors have a magical way of developing characters in an instant and telling a story about a brief moment in time that sticks with you.
My son is currently studying Canadian Short Story Authors and is not enjoying it. I suspect it has to do with the language usage. Older English reads differently than the contemporary literature he currently is enjoys. If you ever read Mark Twain or L.M. Montgomery, then you understand what I mean. I am not referring to Shakespeare, but rather the turn of the 20th Century where language was more formal and slang used in that era is lost on my 17-year-old. I could see him struggling. He suspects he is ADHD, I suspect the content doesn’t interest him. When I was his age, I had a great-aunt who came to live with us for about 6 months. She sat with me and helped me understand the poetry that I despised. While I am still not a great fan, I do know how to make sense of prose because of her. I sat with my son and together we read and analyzed his short story.
Paul’s Case by Willa Cather I rate this story 4 stars out of 5. My son gives it a 2.
You can find the entire text here. The story takes place in modern times for the author, 1904, in Pittsburgh and New York. It is the story of a boy who doesn’t fit into society. Although it doesn’t say it, I suspect the author writes the boy as a homosexual. This is not unusual for this time period, Virginia Wolf also wrote about lesbian attractions although for the times, it was discrete and not obvious to the unaware.
Paul was unable to feel normal in his surroundings but found peace and excitement in the theater and arts. He fantasized about a life of luxury and had a distaste for the mundane. His mother had died when he was young, and his father worked hard to provide a stable life for Paul and his sisters, yet Paul felt his father was stingy with the money. He thought he deserved a more luxurious lifestyle. His choices and movements were self-absorbed and ultimately changed his life forever.
Symbols are a huge part of short stories and I had forgotten that when I did a first read through of this story. I recognized consistencies and was reminded of the prominence of the symbols, the red carnation, money, and the snow.
I could not relate to the main character himself, although I could empathize with him. My son couldn’t believe how narcissistic he was.
Take a quick read and let me know how you view it.
My son and I were having a conversation yesterday about books. He is in his senior year and is frustrated that every book he reads for English must be analyzed, it can’t be read for pure enjoyment. That’s true, I didn’t like that part of English 30 either. I liked the novel choices even less. I remember my English teacher saying things like “poor tragic Catherine” From Wuthering Heights or her hands making the motion for “out out damn spot” from MacBeth. For me it was the fact that I HAD to read the book. I confess to buying the Coles notes version of both books and it wasn’t until much later that I read Wuthering Heights for – gulp – fun. My son gets to read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Poor old tragic Willy Loman. I remember reading it and can’t remember why or for which class. I remember think Biff was an ungrateful slug, but now that years have changed me, I think a little differently. It takes courage to pursue your own dream and not the dream of your parents. I will look forward to that discussing with my son, although we already had a version of that topic. The big “What should I take in university?” question. We sorted that out and came to the decision that school is an opportunity to learn more than you knew the day before. Take courses that interest you and if you are lucky, you can follow a career path in that direction. Too many people get caught up in something because they perceive they are making their parents happy, then they turn 43 and go back to school to take something that interests them instead. The pursuit of the dream is a powerful thing. If you have never done it I highly recommend it.
I read Dean Karnazes 50/50 and I rate it 3.5 out of 5. In case you don’t know, Karnazes is an amazing athlete who discovered during a midlife crisis that he is indeed a runner. Not just a 5km runner, he is the kind of fellow who packs his credit card and goes, often without a plan and 31 miles later, calls for pizza take out to be delivered to some street corner so he can eat on the run. This guy is an amazing human specimen. As with many runners, he had a dream. He wanted to run a marathon in every state with his family driving a RV and meeting up with him at various destinations.
I have to admit, this idea intrigues me. I love destination races, I love the variety of new routes and I love the concept of having a’crew’ to take care of things so the athlete can just run. It takes some real influential conversation to convince someone that driving behind them at 8 miles/hour will be fun. It also takes some convincing that living in a RV for 50 days driving from race to race will also be fun. The crew worries about food, first aid – have you ever seen a runners foot? At best it is ugly, at worse the skin hangs like rags from blisters gone bad. It isn’t pleasant ever. Then there is the moaning and groaning of muscles that seize up, not to mention the amount of food that needs to be consumed so the runner doesn’t lose so much weight that they can’t hold their body upright. Convincing someone to be the crew is a big deal. Particularly when you want to run a marathon every day for the summer.
Karnazes’ wife Julie, was on it. She supports him in all his adventure so she was planning this trip. He went to find sponsors to help fund it. He was already sponsored by NorthFace and thought they would help him out. That was when the planning went sideways. NorthFace planed a 50/50 tour. 50 consecutive marathons in 50 States. First off, the travel is nuts, second, there isn’t time for proper muscle recovery, third, his family couldn’t come. His point was not so much the 50 marathons, but the holiday with his family.
He goes on to explain details from every single race that include the good, the bad and the hideous. Karnazes appears super human. I enjoyed the beginning of the books and loved some of the details but his advice for beginning runners when starting out made me laugh. Run 18 minutes to start? HA! Listen pal, that is assuming new runners have a level of fitness that allows the to do that. most new runners are 40 and are getting in shape for the first time in their life. Is diet tips are kooky too. But the man understands the beauty of the Ultra. This reason alone is worth the read. He is simply amazing in his athletic ability. The guy ran 24 hours on a treadmill and didn’t slit his wrists! That alone is amazing!
This 50/50 provided me with some much needed inspiration and concept ideas for a project I am working on.
Did you ever do something risky or foolish when you were younger and lived to regret it? Not me…well, I never did anything illegal, I did you risky and foolish things. My grandfather always said that the reason everyone isn’t dead by the age of 5 is because our Guardian Angels work over time. This is mine, she works pretty hard and I do not pay her enough:
Sure I made bad choices, but I learned from them. Sometimes it took me several passes at the same mistake…Hello Man Choices! But eventually I got my life sorted out.
I read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I couldn’t put this book down. I am rating it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Most people have seen the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. I watched one episode and it bothered me SO MUCH that is was different from the book I could watch any more episodes. Why? Because I loved the book that much. Why are characters names changed? Why are plot lines different? Why can’t I over look that?
At any rate, for those of you who haven’t seen the show – or even if you have, read the book. It was somewhat akin to rubber necking at a horrific accident and you just can’t look away.
Piper Kerman had a reckless lesbian youth where she was a drug mule and did money laundering because she was in love with a women who convinced her to follow her around the world. By the time Kerman snapped out of this infatuation, she realized she needed to move on, change her life and live according to some of the morals and values that she was brought up with. She gets back to the states and meets a guy, moves ahead by locking up her past.
Fast forward several years into the future and her former lover rats her out. Piper Kerman has to confess to her family and fiance about her past because she is about to go to prison for her crimes.
What I loved about this book was her honest raw account of prison details. How dignity was left at the door and how she met people on the inside who she never would have been friends with in Manhattan, yet they bonded. Through her experience, you could tell that she made the connection between her crime and how it affected these people. To Piper it was just a fun kick..to the women in prison, it was a way of life. A life with limited choices. That hit hard.
Although it is hard for us to make the right choice in the moment without life experience to guide us, I love that the possibility of changing or learning from these moments are possible at any time during our life time. Thanks goodness for my Guardian Angel. I obviously go more out of the book than a story.
Perhaps you will too. Read it. It is different from the series…and better.
I read a lot. Everything from memoirs and fiction to text books and journals. I try to keep current with news but news is boring unless is is actual REAL news, like the stuff going on in Syria or the way the Americans are talking about sending troops to Syria when they have a huge pile of mess in their own backyard and no money to fix anything…but I digress.
I have been on a memoir kick recently and am in the middle of some great running books. I am currently trying to gobble up any and all information about extreme running events. Things that the crew or people have to do to support the runner in their quest. I go through obsessive phases. I will read everything I can about a subject and then move on. Running currently is my obsessive focus, but I sprinkle other books into that mix.
I have 3 books on the go right now. I had 4, but just finished one. Then I will finish my running book. I have a book on my phone that I will save for appointments and such. The last book on the go is fiction. I am not in the head space right now for fiction. Maybe when it gets colder and I will snuggle under my down comforter with my nose peeking out while I read, that to me is a fiction kind of night.
The latest book I read was Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son by Lori Duron.
4 stars out of 5
I would have given this 5 stars except I am a regular reader of her blog. She started it a few years ago as a way to talk about what was going on for her and her family and by doing so, was hoping there were others out there to connect with. We all want to feel like we belong and are accepted when we know we are different from the norm. Some of the stories in Duron’s book are right from her blog. It felt repetitive for me but to her credit, she went into a depth that was not previously seen on her blog. I am fascinated with this family and have been for years. Not in that creepy way of staking someone, but in that empathetic and understanding way. I like knowing there are other moms out there who will move heaven and earth to protect their child while trying to find that balance to raise a healthy and loved child. Parenting is tricky and damn hard. It’s not like there is a set of instructions that come with the baby. We all are doing the best we can with the skills and knowledge we have. The Duron Family is no different, except they have a child who is gender non-conforming.
So what does that mean?
Sex is in your pants, gender is in the brain. Her little fellow knows he is a boy. He is physically a boy. He likes all the girly stuff that has ever been created. He appears to be transitioning into a girl through clothing and hair change. I think it takes courage to be the parent who supports your child’s choices no matter what. This book is full of courage because it is written about fear. The Duron’s fear and love is evident throughout this book. The choices they make may not have been the choices I made but I will never really know because MY children are different. Every family has it’s own challenges. Every parent tries their best to figure out how to meet these challenges. The Duron’s are no different. I like that. I like that she seems normal, as if we would have been friends. I can respect her choices. I can’t say I can respect everyone’s choices because I think families need to put the well being of their minor children first. But that is a personal value of mine and I understand that everyone’s values are different.
I loved the way this book would make me smile. Its a good day when you are reading with a twinkly in your eye and a smile on your lips. I loved having an insight to the LGTBQ community. I have friends who belong to this community but they are guarded, and rightly so, the world is a tough place and is currently not very kind to this community, HELLO RUSSIA I am looking at YOU! It is moms like Lori Duron who are changing the world one corner at a time.
For the first time this century, I will not be going back to school as a teacher. I will however, be going back to school as a student. I enrolled in my final class before I graduate December 13 and am waiting for my book list so I can spend the last of my dollars on school text books.
Not that I mind, I love books. I have books shelves full of them. They are my favorite gift to give. I have written authors asking to purchase one of their books but asking them to sign it so I can give it away as a gift. Occasionally the author will offer to do it for free if I make a donation to their charity. More often than not, I find authors to be just flattered that someone likes their work enough to share it. That surprised me. I thought authors might be along the lines of Divas, the kind of people who expect accolades and fame. But that has not been my experience. In fact, the more authors I meet, the more humble I find that breed of humans to be. This makes my heart happy.
I had a summer of interesting interactions. I was approached by a couple of authors to read their work and review it on Goodreads. I am not a professional reviewer so I was flattered, but then I realized I don’t want to spend my time reading a book and reviewing if the book does not interest me. My reading time is precious to me, I read enough University Journals for papers that when I read on my own time, I want it to be for fun. If I like the book, then I want to share with friends or others who read who I think might enjoy it. Lately I find myself pursuing memoir type genres. I am particularly fascinated with running memoirs but I have enjoyed bizarre life moment reads as well. Mondays are going to my regular book review days for those of interested in knowing what books I am enjoying. I have decided to write about books that I enjoy. I no longer will slog through a book I find dull or boring. My time is too precious for that. My ereader is filled with books that I can’t wait to read so why would I waist time on books I don’t want to read? Right? Tell me I am right!
Last week I went to visit my old comrades. I popped into their classrooms while they were preparing for this new school year. It was so great to see everyone, but I have to tell you, I am very happy I am going back to University and not waiting for the new charges to come to me. Sure I will miss their funny stories and perspectives, and I will miss telling them great stories and reading to them. That was my favorite part of being a teacher, story telling and reading. Sharing my favorite books with new generations of littles.
As a tribute to my favourite preschool authors, I am starting off my Reading Monday series with my personal selection of favorite stories for young ones – the PreK to grade 3 set. The kind of stories that demand a cuddle on the couch and conversation to talk about new vocabulary words and what ifs. Here we go with the list in no particular order:
1. Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
Pete has new shoes and loves them. But like all young cats, he gets them dirty. Yet as dirty as they get, he loves them still. This book is great for rhythmic repetition to create full engagement of the reader. LOVE THIS BOOK!
2. The Big Red Bus by Judy Hindley
This Bus gets stuck and needs the cooperation of many people to help keep it moving on its way. I love how children with very little language become fascinated with STOP and worry about the bus’s welfare. This book is light on text and big on pictures yet the meaning is obvious to all who read it. A great book to act out as well.
3. Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gillman
Gillman is a favorite author of mine, from Jillian Gigs to the Balloon Tree, so picking just one of her books was tough. Her illustrations are captivating and I love how the boy’s Grandpa is loving and understanding about the need for this blanket to always be in this boys life until he he ready to let it go on his own. Both my children had a blanket attachment and I love how it was honored in this story. A great read for families.
4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Max was me as a kid, huge imagination and often using it to amuse myself when in situations that were boring, like stuck in my room as punishment. I love the scary Wild Things and the way Max was in charge. This light text and the beautiful illustrations keeps everyone captivated until the end, when he discovers his mom still loves him. All children can relate.
5. The Cow that went Oink by Bernard Most
This was the first book that helped me explain bilingualism to children. It is done in such a charming way with the cow and pig teaching each other to speak their first language. My students laughed as the animals struggled with new words, because they could relate. This is a fun story.
6. Grandpa Dan’s Toboggan Ride by Suzan Reid
Not every one gets to toboggan, but chances are if you live in Canada you have or will at some point. Not every book is meant for a bedtime story. This is not a quite and calm book, this is an interactive, fun and crazy book that makes you want to run out and slide down a mountain. It always brought up lots of conversation about snow crashes which is a rite of passage for many young Canadians.
6. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
I read this story every-night for a year to my son before he turned 1. This was his favorite story because he loved naming objects and saying good night. He loved the predictability of the story and knew what came next. It is important to read WITH your children and not TO your children so they can develop the critical thinking skills and can have conversations about what the see and predictability skills. I have a special soft spot in my heart and book shelf for this book, I often gift it to new babies and can’t wait to give it to a future grandchild.
7. No David by David Shannon
This is obviously a biography by David Shannon who had adults tell him NO all his life. Kids laugh because it is real, silly and shocking. They love to yell NO DAVID every time he brakes a rule. This was my daughter’s favorite book, perhaps because she grew up being ADHD herself and was a lot like David.
8. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
I loved this book as a child. I didn’t need an adult to read it to me because I would get caught up in the imagination of Harold and the things he could draw. It matched my favorite TV show, Simon’s chalk drawings. Give me a box of crayons and plank piece of paper and the world was at my disposal.
9. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
This book is for those little girls who are brave and smart and self reliant. If they aren’t these things, then read them this book so they can be.
10. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
I don’t know which I enjoy more, the book or the movie. Both are delightful and fun. I love the concept of magical dreams and extraordinary fun.
These are by no means the only books I love, but they were the ones that popped into my head without thinking too hard. Tell me what YOU would ad to the list!
Apparently I live on a different planet than most geekdom fans. Although, I can tell you all about the Disney Star Wars sequels and the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, I had NO IDEA THIS HAPPENED! Why did no one tell me???
This apparently came out in 2008 and I was… hmmm… I was… I have no idea what I was doing but it wasn’t reading the prequel to Harry Potter, that’s for sure because NO ONE TOLD ME! I am pretty sure I wasn’t on Facebook yet and my kids were still young-ish. Had I known, I would have read it immediately. Why you ask? Because Sirius Black is a delicious male character. Not Gary Oldman from the movie because the same sex appeal is just not there. But Sirius Black from the books? Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
He is the ultimate bad boy with a good heart. Every girl’s dream when I she isn’t dreaming about George Clooney or Mark Messier or Doctors or Mr. Big or Mr. Darcy… anyways….
This prequel was too short, but so smart-ass fantastic, just like you’d expect James and Sirius to be. Only 6 pages long, it left me wishing for more. The worst of it? J.K. Rowling writes a note ” Not the prequel I am working on, but this was fun!’
DUDE! Ouch! I am sure it would be WAY better than A Casual Vacancy, that was just boring. At any rate, I had a taste of what I had been missing for a while. Now back to my regularly scheduled book Solar by Ian McEwan – with a little Pride and Prejudiced on the side.
I have a real problem right now. My day started out bad – I mean reaally bad. So bad that I thought about staying in bed with the covers over my head and reading trashy novels bad.
I reached over to the nightstand and picked up a trashy novel that I am suppose to review – and it is bad too. It doesn’t make me feel excited, or caught up in the story…it is bad. An honest to goodness poorly written story that was more boring than Shades of Grey. That’s right, SHADE OF GREY IS A POORLY WRITTEN BOOK AND ITS BORING! You want to read trashy erotica, don’t succumb to media pressure and pay for that book – it truly isn’t worth it. Download it for free somewhere – do not give that author a penny of your money because she may think she has a career in writing.
Apparently I am not the only one who is outraged that this author has normalized abuse of women and sensationalized it and worse…it is compared with great literature. I read this Times article and agreed whole heartily. The worst of this is, a WOMAN wrote this book and betrayed us all. We need to rely on each other to stay smart, secure and self-confident.
What is the deal with smart women who buy into this kind of sensationalistic drivel? Why do we (women as a species) do this to ourselves?
I am guilty of not trusting my instincts and getting hurt so badly I am pretty sure you could hear my hear break from New York. Thankfully, that is in the past. I have learned from that mistake and have taken precautions. Where is it in the MAN Book that says it is okay to treat women in this manner, then walk away? Is it the Moms who do not teach respect? Is it the Dads who do not lead by example? Is it the English teacher who failed to teach vocabulary and plot? I am not simply talking about abuse, I think there is a deeper meaning here. One of self worth.
Do you think you are self-worthy of respect and honor? Yes? Then why do you let the media and people in general treat you this way? Why?
I have no idea. Guilty as charged. I close a chapter, and it gets reopened only apparently it is ME who doesn’t understand and I get hurt. Whaaaat? Excuse me, I am very quick on the uptake. I am pretty sure I was following the program as written.
The worst part? We do this to each other. We can’t even provide a united front. How can we expect the world to change if we cannot respect each other?
I have no answer. All I know is I am tired of women making stupid choices. I am one of them. I can’t tell you why I made the choices I did. I have no clue, other than I was dazzled by illusion. Perhaps that is the problem with fairy tales. They dazzle us with illusion and we set ourselves up for a fall. It isn’t enough to be smart, successful, kind, supportive, loving and human. Well, that is a lie. It is enough.Be yourself.
Throw away your copy of Shades of Grey and go buy The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. It is a story about a princess who rescues her prince. He abuses her so she dumps him and lives happily ever after. They way it should be.