Friday, February 7, 2014

January Reads

Like the last several months,  I'm continuing to keep track of the books I'm reading this year, with a goal of at least 30 books to match the 30 books I expect my students to read this year... might as well lead by example! This past month I reached the halfway point of the goal which is perfect because we're halfway through the school year. 

14. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I picked this book because it came up on my Overdrive Media app and looked interesting. About a chapter in I discovered it's actually based on Earnest Hemingway and his first wife; how they met, their courtship and their marriage. It's told from her perspective and chronicles the early years of his writing career. Hemingway is desperately trying to make it as a writer. Living in Paris, he rubs shoulders with all the greats of the time period... before they made it big. While he's focused on his career, his wife, Hadley, is focused on being a wife and mother, and figuring out who she is in this new life.

I didn't know much about Hemingway prior to reading this book... I think I read something by him in college, but I'm not even sure of that. What I loved about this book was the dysfunctional relationship. I wanted to shake Hadley sometimes for letting things be that way, but at the same time you knew that she loved him too much to leave. After reading the book I discovered how accurate it was to events in their lives. I'm impressed by how McLain incorporated the historical facts with a compelling story. A great read and one I highly recommend. 

15. Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

I read another book by Joshilyn Jackson this summer and absolutely loved her writing style and the heart-wrenching stories she tells. This absolutely didn't disappoint. Nonny Frett was born to a teenage Crabtree and secretly adopted by the Fretts...families that have feuded with each other since before Nonny was born. Nonny is torn between the two families, and things get ugly when a random act of violence fuels the fire that has been burning between the Crabtrees and Fretts. 

What I love about Joshilyn Jackson's books is the way she weaves the stories of her characters and develops them. I'm currently reading another book by her that I'm absolutely loving. 

16. My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

Fynn's babysitter was reading this one day when I went to pick her up. She said it was one of the saddest stories she had ever read. I had remembered the story of Elizabeth Smart back when it happened, and was curious to hear her take on what happened to her. When D finished, she loaned it to me. I read this book in about a week, I just couldn't put it down. Elizabeth describes what it felt like to be taken from your bed in the middle of night at knife point. How she never lost hope even while cabled to a tree up in the mountains with a psychotic "prophet" who raped her daily and his wife who resented Elizabeth for taking away her husband's attention. I'm amazed by how Elizabeth has dealt with her ordeal. While she claims to be fine despite never getting professional counseling, there's a part of me that is skeptical. How do you recover from 9 months of starvation, rape, torture and captivity? How do you ever trust anyone again? How do you sleep? How do you move on? This book was inspirational and heart-breaking at the same time.

17. Classroom Motivation by Eric M. Anderman and Lynley Hicks Anderman

Clearly this is a book for my grad school class. It's all about motivational theory and practice that can be adopted in your classroom to increase student motivation and better meet student needs. I like most of this book. The motivational theory piece is interesting, but what I really like are the concrete examples and suggestions. I've taken a lot from this book and am using some of the ideas in my classroom. 

What have you been reading lately? Any suggestions? 


  1. I loved The paris wife! It was so interesting about Ernest Hemingway's first wife! Great choices, I think I might read the between Georgia now, looks interesting, thanks for the awesome post!

  2. I really want to read Elizabeth Smart's story. She's just a little older than me and I remember all the craziness when she was kidnapped and then later found. What a harrowing story!


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