Why 100?

Last year I set out to read 100 books, but I ran out of time and only read 75. So this year, I will read one hundred books. And you're my witness :) The only thing stopping me this year is 9 seasons' worth of Seinfeld episodes- wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

31.... a classic

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
is really a phenomenal read.  it is meant for children, but there are so many things that i didn't get when i read it in fourth grade that it was definitely worth picking up again.  I tried telling my advising teacher that i am observing and he seemed really uninterested.  in fact, he always seems slightly uninterested in whatever comes out of my mouth.  a lot of people i have had the pleasure of talking to lately seem to have this problem.  am i boring?  what's the deal?  why won't anybody listen to meeeee?  there are a select few who do actually stop talking long enough to listen to what i have to say about life and i really appreciate them.  i realize most of my life is filled with trivial crap that is completely irrelevent to 99.9% of the population, but it is important to me, just like everyone else has trivial crap that is important to them.  so you know what? i am going to vent a little right here, right now.  i am currently skipping class because i had a mini-meltdown and decided not to go sit and brew over it in the middle of a classroom.  so i headed home (which involved the longest wait for a bus that i have had in quite some time) after my phone died, in the middle of a deep and importnat conversation that i was having with my mom.  we aren't as close as we once were- and i'm not sure if i want that or not.  there is one thing that is wedging between us and that is the ever-present relationship that i have taken up..... and it isn't the fact that i am in this relationship that is wedging between us, but the fact that i cannot tell her about this HUGE new part of my life until i have deemed that the time is right (or until they find out some how and i am forced to tell her).  i wouldn't mind suffering the consequences for telling my parents about this relationship, but i don't want to tell them until everything is right.  the question begs, 'will it ever be right?'  i dont know.  but i do know that i'm freaking out and this is the least of my worries at the moment.  i'm worried about the weather for driving, my final projects and papers that are due every single fucking day, the fact that i cannot sleep very well at night, the fact that i have headaches every morning when i wake up, the fact that i don't know what/where i'm going to work this summer........ ugh it's giving me a headache right now.  and i don't have any money left to buy any ibuprofen.  (just kidding on that last one.... well sort of).  i hope no one has actually taken the time to read through this, hoping in vain that i would have a deep philosophical point at the end, because i sure don't.  mostly i just needed to bitch a bit.  and i'm not going to apologize for this because no one is forcing you to read this.  but i hope you are having a lovely day. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

30! a book to coincide with a first sunburn of the year

In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
Book Number 30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
yay! how exciting is that??
In A Sunburned Country was stunningly interesting- how many facts and truths does Bill Bryson know??  for instance, did you know that one of australia's prime ministers disappeared on a beach and was never found again?  or that there is a phenomena of tourist/local sights involving giant versions of fruit or animals (like the "Big Banana" or the "Big Lobster") made into gift shop/restaraunt combos in the middle of nowhere??  these were actually a few of the least entertaining facts from the book- i am certainly not doing it justice, but i don't want to skew the facts that mr. bryson presents, nor do i want to spoil this amazing book for anyone.  yes, it is a little dense and it is not a ficticious, fast-paced drama, it is true stories strung together by a really entertaining author about his travels in a giant continent that gets little to no attention on a worldwide spectrum.  why? im not sure, and neither is he, but it is really an interesting thought.  his writing is so funny because he somehow finds a way to write truthful statements in a beautifully strange fashion.  he was caught in a cloud of nosy flies, for instance, and found that he had slapped himself with "startling violence" on several accounts.  im still not sure why this statement is so hilarious to me, but it really is and it is a great example of why i keep going back to his books.  all in all, i definitely recommend this book- it's amazingly fantastic, and while it didn't make me want to actually go and explore australia (there are a rediculous amount of poisonous/killer/disgusting/frightening/disarming creatures (aka ways to die horribly) there), but i do want to google some photos of the various regions he visited- they sound absolutely gorgeous and unlike any other place on earth.  i will travel with mr. bryson any day.  (if you are reading this, please invite me and teach me how to write, bill!!!!!!)
g'day, my readers! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

29. Reading Native American Literature

Reading Native American Literature by Bruce A. Goebel

Does this one really need too much explanation?  I don't think so..... basically it is three or four lesson plans revolving around native american literature explained in great detail. again- great read, if you are going to be a teacher, for when you are actually a teacher, trying to do as the book suggests.  how many more times do you think i will say that sentence in the next year?? ha ha

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

28, The Treasure

The Treasure by Iris Johansen

ah how i love mass produced romance novel/adventure stories!  they really are great- corny where you need them to be (the sex and romance scenes- duh!) and somehow, this one had a little substance to it.... some nice messages about being with the one you love and keeping sacred things close.  some little tidbits of wisdom found in a $4.49 paperback from costco- here's a few:
"But possibilities must be faced before they became realities that caught you by suprise."
"One must always smile or weep.  Smiling is better."
these quotes prove one thing that i've always suspected- there are good messages hiding in the strangest places, waiting to make themselves available to you. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

27. "The Airborne Toxic Event"

White Noise by Don DeLillo

This book brings up a lot of interesting questions.  Especially when you are reading it for a second time in order to create a project as a pair book for an ENT class.  don't ask- busy work and reading.  but i'm glad i got a chance to revisit White Noise.  No, it isn't the basis for the movie.... it is actually about a small, indescript town, and a family.  the narrator is the father of this family, an assembled modern day brady family.... kids and parents from a bunch of different marriages and such, all cohabitating in one odd household.  the father is the professor who chaired Hitler Studies department at the town college.  this is a key example of the strange but hilarious humor in this book.  then a tanker spills near the town and a "Toxic Airborne Event" occurs, leaving them to travel from shelter to shelter and ponder death for the duration of the middle of the book.  Then come the after-effects.  they discuss death a lot in this book but it is quite poignant- on the one hand, truly terrifying, but on the other, satisfying and thought-provoking in a good way.  the book also discusses the role that technology plays on our lives, seen most prominently in the random TV or radio quotes written in random sections.  just one line at a time about some sort of consumer product, cooking tip or Discovery show fact, inserted into the strange and amazing line up of words that make up White Noise.  fantastic.  really fantastic.  again.  if you want a philosophical book that is humorous and not scarily deep, but very thought provoking i insist that you read this.  if i have time later, i will post some of the more thoughtful quotes (that i have flagged in the book, for my pair book project.  so there!)  anyway, i hope you are having a lovely evening, or day, or whatever it is doing when you are reading this right here, right now.  even though 'now' has already passed by the time you were finished reading the word 'now.'  ha! think about that for a few minutes- i dare you :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

kid lit- #26

Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key, by Jack Gantos
I don't have much to say about this piece of fiction, other than that i am terribly sorry for the children and parents that have to deal with children with developmental issues.  this book was written from joey's point of view, and i'm pretty sure his condition is adhd, but it never comes out and says it for sure.  i suppose they do this so that every child that reads the book can properly relate to joey, even if they have a different problem, and also so that every hypochondriac in the making won't go home to their parents and claim that they have joey's affliction.  (i know i might have done this- in fact, as i was reading it, i was thinking about my own hyperactivity as a child during time tables, but i'm a bit of a melodramatic over-emphasizer, so pretend i didn't just say that).  anywho, this book is written from the perspective of this kid with adhd or whatever it may be, so it jumps around a lot, and to be honest, it kind of gave me a head-ache.  but it was good because it helped me to step into the shoes of someone with this sort of learning disability.  thank God i am able to step out of it at the end of the day and relax without zipping around the room, getting made fun of by my peers.  books like these make me realize just how lucky i am and have been.  they also scare me into thinking that my teaching career will involve children running with scissors and accidently lopping off somebody's nose, but i think that is an entirely different matter altogether.

#25.... who are you?

thank God for good books and familiar sitcoms- something ANYthing that i can cozy up to in this horrendous weather.  and to think- just one week ago i was day-dreaming about summer weddings and going to the beach.  now what do i get for doing that in march?  horrifying april weather.  take this blizzard for example.  luckily, i have just finished an affair with a de-LIGHT-ful little book, filled with nice british wit and observations. 
The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne
is a great book.  if the blue and pink cover doesn't lure you in, the idea of putting on a wig and transforming yourself into an alter ego named "Honey" to snap bachelors into shape will.  melissa, our protagonist, is a meek doormat that is constantly walked all over by her "Daddy," a british judge of some sort, her boyfriends and her sisters and other girly acquaintances.  when faced with an economic slump, she transforms herself into Honey, a vivacious, sexy blonde to help otherwise helpless men to get the right haircut, buy presents for their mothers, or get rid of horribly bossy girlfriends. 
this got me thinking about alter egos in general (when i wasn't swooning over the predictable love interests in the book).  who would i be?  why would i change?  to play girlfriend to the hapless fellow to impress his co-workers?  or would i change to become some sort of super hero for myself?  don't we already change every time we are with somebody?  one friend of mine gets confident, advice-giving molly, while another gets emotional, and easily-frightened molly.  my parents get good molly, the girl who never fails to write a thank-you note, and my boyfriend gets the girl who loves to don high heels and short skirts and frolic around.  so who am i?  who are you?  is the definition of who you are static or is it ever-changing?  what kind of wig (real or imaginary) do you put on for people? 
i would like to think that my alter ego's name is some saucy, hispanic looking woman, who flaunts her curves in flitty red dresses and has a throaty laugh.  i would also like to think of this other me as someone who has no problem yelling and gesturing wildly when necessary.... this may be a bit of a stereotype though.  do forgive me.  the only issue i have with this alter ego?  it isn't me.  and more importantly, what is her name?  what is your name?

*Honey Blenerheskett
(from The Little Lady Agency, in case you missed that fact earlier)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You are what you eat, and I am what i watch (apparently)

Alright, I will be honest with you.  I haven't read this book word-for-word, cover to cover.  but i have skimmed, and gotten the most nutritional value that i could from it (ha ha ha ha) 
You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith
is an excellent guide to eating like a healthy person- 80% of the time. this isn't a diet book, it is an 'eat better so you don't perish and die of obesity and countless other health problems by age 42' book.  she claims that you can eat as much of the foods on "The Abundant Food List" (a.k.a. healthy, tasty-in-an-i'm-eating-healthy-and-feel-great kind of way).

While i was reading about nutrition and the care for your body, i had to wonder how we are supposed to care for our hearts and souls.  i just told my habibi that he was the one.  where did i get this from?  who told me that this was an important way to exercise my emotional heart health?  why aren't there studies based on real facts that can tell us what to do and say for a surefire way to stay happy and in love?  i think this is why we rely on television series and magazines so much for guidance.  i wonder if me telling him that he was the one instead of some other sappy saying was a subconscious throwback carrie and big.  "carrie, you're the one."  it makes me weep for joy for these pretend people every single time.  EVERY TIME.  there is no exaggeration there.  but these are fictional characters.  so why do i imitate them?  because they appear happy?  big goes all the way to paris to tell carrie that she is the one, and to start their lives together anew.  will i go all the way to the middle east?  does art imitate life, or does life imitate art in order to gain a sense of order and peace that is impossibe for us to navigate on our own?  even as i write this, pursuing my dream of becoming a professional writer, i have to notice that i am definitely emulating the sex and the city column.  where does this leave me?  this can't be healthy to follow something else so closely without even trying.  so does our reliance on others, specifically fictional, grandiose others, lead the way to healthier emotions, or are we parrotting them without the benefit of the reality?
questions, questions......

numero 23.... in a flash of violence

Split Second  by David Baldacci

Here is the summary on the back, because my own explanation of the plot would be incredibly long winded:
             The world can change forever in a single...
                                              SPLIT SECOND
Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service.  Against her instincts, she let a presidential cnadidate out of her sight for the briefest moment, and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air.  Sean King knows how the younger agent feels.  Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second.  And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes.  Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.
Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the 2 discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making - and are a long way from over...

Okay, so their description was a little long-winded as well, but that about sums it up.  It was interesting to see why and by whom these crimes are done by.  It is also interesting (and a little disquieting) to see how many seemingly innocent people are slaughtered all in the name of these psycho-killers' causes.  Having recently watched the first half of Scarface, I realized that i am certainly not accustomed to these instances of violence.  I cannot watch or read about these things without taking them with me to bed, to the shower, to the grocery store.... the image of Tony Montana's friend being chain-sawed to death in a south beach hotel bath tub will not only stay with me everywhere, it will continue to horrify me and haunt my sweet dreams.  The same is true for these sorts of novels (although not so much with Split Second).  To bring back the doozy that is known as The Road, i will forever picture the naked, starving, rotting people in the basement, screaming for help from the man and the boy.  um, no thank you.  i donl't need to see this.  if it is somehting i can help with, or that i can learn from, for instance, Holocaust pieces, I will do what i need to do by reading/watching what i need to read/watch.  but these things are just unneccesary.  too much violence in our forms of escapism may lead to more violence or de-sensitization to horrible real violence all around us in the world that we actually live in.  so no more for me.  unless it is school sanctioned- then pile it on so i can vomit it back up for an essay (or now, a lesson plan!).  hooray!
i wish you reader, whoever you may be, a safe and happy day! 
just once pretend you are me or pretend you are with some impressionable young child and turn off the heinous crime.  just once today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

#22- Ed Department Strikes Back

Really???? On Spring Break?????  i guess this is what i get for putting off homework and/or doing it a month before it is actually due.  this is how i operate.  i'm not sure why.  right now i am writing because i am a strange mix of emotions- im "trapped in a glass case of" them, if you will (and you should).  its this strange and diabolical mix of angry, sad, confused, excited, and lovey dovey.  (i told you it was a weird mix).  but that has absolutely nothing to do with this book i just read:
Classics in the Classroom: Designing Accessible Literature Lessons
by Carol Jago- that's Mrs. Jago to you

Alright, well, this is going to be a short one.  i have to do my nails, and typing isn't exactly the best activity to accompany wet nails.  basically i have the same review for this education guide as i do for all the others i have read...... useful if i were actually in the classroom, trying to pull together activities for lesson plans for these particular classics, but as of right now- not so much.  blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. 
i'm out.