Friday, October 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
-Desiderius Erasmus, philosopher, humanist, and theologian (28 Oct 1466-1536)
Thank you for public libraries! :) 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

After the 9/11 attacks, the airspace over the United States was closed which meant that dozens of planes were diverted to other airports to land. A total of 38 planes with 6,000+ passengers were ordered to land in Gander, Newfoundland, a tiny city of about 10,000 people. How the residents of Gander handled these thousands of visitors is so heartwarming. They turned on their hospitality and invited strangers into their homes, offered food, showers, toiletries, clothes, hugs, and internet access.

If you’re feeling discouraged about the goodness of people, consider checking out this book.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Are You My Mother? A Cosmic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Are You My Mother? is a graphic novel memoir. Neat! Bechdel writes and draws about her mother and her relationship with her mother while including what she's learning about in therapy (she cites psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott a lot).

Fascinating. Note: Mature content.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Football for Dummies by Howie Long

I have memories of sitting next to my dad at Candlestick Park, eating chocolate malt ice cream, and watching the 49ers play. This was the 80s, so they were probably winning as well. Now there's no more Candlestick Park, and no more 49ers winning games. So we're left with chocolate malt ice cream.

I've always had a general understanding of how the game of football worked, but I decided this football season to actually study the game. Hence, the reading of this book and the studying of the game.

By studying the game, I am talking about watching a lot of football, both college and professional. We're talking about six games last weekend (three college and three professional). That's a lot of football!

I came downstairs last Saturday and asked Boomer, "Who's playing today?" Boomer responded, "Do you know how many men in America would love it if their wives wanted to watch football all weekend?" Well, I even watched more than Boomer. During the third college football game, he gave up and went to do other things around the house.

I can't watch the 49ers though. I have to watch games in which I have no skin in the game. So college ball it is along with whoever else is playing on Sunday.

Anyway, this book is a great introduction to the game of football. I now understand the positions and what to look for at the line of scrimmage and during a play. Watching is way more fun now that I know what to look for. There's still much more for me to learn, but there's still a lot more of the season to go!

By the way, my study of football has been a great conversation starter as well. I was at the bank this morning taking care of some business and the banker guy asked me if I had any plans for the weekend. I said, "College football." And boy did he light up! He started telling me about plays that I would only see in college football and started describing the triple option to me, diagrams and all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Check this out: College Podcast

Going along with this week's theme of College, here is a new podcast that I recently started listening to. It's hosted by Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford and author of How To Raise an Adult (which I have not yet read). She will follow a group of high school seniors as they apply for college. She also has a team of experts weighing in on questions asked by students and parents about the college admissions process.

Listen to the first episode here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni

There is a local private school around here called Stratford. A mom friend told me that her son goes to school there. Then she clarified, "He goes to Stratford, not Stanford." You know, in case I thought that her five-year-old was attending university classes at that other local private school down the road. I'm glad she clarified, I was confused for a moment! Oh, but how many parents dream of one day casually but proudly saying, "My son goes to Stanford."

Did you say you went to Stratford? Or Stanford?
The pressure is great these days for kids to go to a prestigious school. This book argues, using both statistics and stories, that it's not so much about where you go as what you do with your time in college. Some students are much better off at "second-tier" or lesser known schools where they can receive more attention from professors and have more opportunities to study or research what they'd like.

This book should be required reading for all high school freshmen and their parents. Or maybe parents of preschoolers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Defense of a Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria

"When you hear someone extol the benefits of a liberal education, you will probably hear him or her say that 'it teaches you how to think.' I'm sure that's true. But for me, the central virtue of a liberal education is that it teaches you how to write, and writing makes you think. Whatever you do in life, the ability to write clearly, cleanly, and reasonable quickly will prove to be an invaluable skill." --Fareed Zakaria
We live in a time when studying the STEM subjects is highly encouraged and all other subjects are relegated to the side. So if you want to feel better about that Art History or English degree you have, this is the book for you! It made me feel better about my History degree. Actually, I don't feel bad about my History degree. I loved each history class I took (my emphasis was Pre-Industrial Europe!) and I loved all of the reading and writing.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coming Up: College Week

 Last week, I found myself reading a couple of books about college and listening to a podcast about college admissions, so next week is College Week on this blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

Kimball was a writer living in New York City when she was assigned to write about a young farmer guy. Yes, she falls in love, quits her job, and starts a farm with him.

A pleasant read that made me realize just how much non-stop work is involved in the running of a farm.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller

I've been a fan on Donald Miller's writing because he is up-front and real. Scary Close is no different. Miller finds himself wanting to impress people and gain their approval, but also lacking in any kind of long-term relationship. He takes a break from dating to figure out how to be in a relationship, and that meant learning to be okay with being himself.

This book includes talk about God and spirituality, so if that's not your thing, you probably won't like this book. But if you don't mind that, I recommend this as an easy read that is challenging and engaging.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Cody and Meg were best friends growing up and they had big plans to move to Seattle together after high school. But then Meg ends up going to a small school in Tacoma, and Cody stays back home to attend the community college and make money cleaning houses. And then Meg commits suicide. Meg's parents ask Cody to go and gather Meg's belongings at school, and Cody starts investigating the real reasons behind Meg's death.

A so-so book with a not very like-able main character. Still, I read it pretty quickly, but really, just a so-so book for me. I do appreciate that it sheds some light on mental health and suicidal ideation though.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

On her way into London on the train each morning, Rachel catches a glimpse of a happy couple that she calls Jess and Jason. She thinks they much live a perfect life until one day she sees Jess kissing another man. Jess goes missing soon after.

The story is told from three sides: Rachel, Jess (actually her name is Megan), and Anna (Rachel's ex-husband's new wife who lives on the same street as Jess/Megan).

This book consumed me for an entire day. It's kinda like Gone Girl, but I liked it much, much better.