Reading, Teaching, Learning

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week.  I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books.
I haven't posted a #IMWAYR in over a month, so here are some highlights of my reading over these past few weeks:
Fish In A Tree
So sweet! Thank God for teachers like Mr. Daniels! I also loved Ally's big brother, Travis, and her friends, Keisha and Albert. This reminded me a lot of Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost, which I loved in 2014. It was interesting that Patricia Polacco was mentioned (for being a gifted writer with dyslexia) because I was thinking beforehand that Thank You, Mr. Falker was present in this story. Hunt reminds us that everyone learns differently and has something to offer, teachers are incredible influences in children's lives, and reading is the key to the world. Great minds DON'T think alike!
All the Bright Places
This book is so, so heartbreaking. I was half sick while reading it, dreading the inevitable, helplessly rooting for Finch, the tragic hero. I also felt angry (at parents, counselors, and yes, even Finch at times), sad (at the pain and stigma of mental illness), and hopeful (that Violet would forgive herself and learn to live again). I don't teach high school, but if I did, I would give this to my whole staff to read. Besides being a riveting story, this book is important - for understanding the seriousness of the teenage condition, the dangers of mental illness, and the need for involved, present, and fearless adults in the lives of young people. This book was boldly written, and it deserves to be read and talked about in an honest way.  Caution: it is not to be carelessly passed around.  Read it first before you put it in a library or a teen's hands.
I listened to this compelling story on audio, and I have to say, I always looked forward to getting into the car to follow Darcy Patel (her own story) and Lizzie (the protagonist in the  YA book Darcy wrote). In alternating chapters, we hear about Darcy's quick success within the YA writing world, prompting her to put off college and move to NYC, and the paranormal romance/thriller she wrote, complete with terrorists, serial killers, and ghosts. It's definitely not the most realistic author story, I'm sure - Darcy enjoys some pretty lucky breaks as a teen writer and seems to live without too much trouble as an 18-year-old in NYC - but the two novels in one make this a captivating read.
Yes Please
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I'm glad I listened to Poehler's memoir instead of reading the print version; her voice and performance kept me interested. I laughed aloud and appreciated some of her insights on self esteem, winning, and aging. I also enjoyed the references to an era I, too, lived through, even though she is a little younger than me. I'm not sure she is as "nice" as she claims, however.  I do admire her success and creativity, though, in a man's world of comedy. She IS funny, and I'm glad I listened to her story. I'd like to listen to Bossypants by Tina Fey, also. 
  Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
I enjoyed this memoir of Eben Alexander's journey to Heaven while he was in a coma. This miraculous story is made even more interesting because Alexander believed in science, not God, before his trip to the afterlife. His main message is that God is love, and He loves us unconditionally.
My family loves to read, too!
Libby (21)
Libby is taking a children's literature course, so she is enjoying lots of kidlit!  She is also taking a women's studies class.  Here are some titles she's been enjoying:
How I Discovered Poetry
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim


  1. Many good books here, Holly. Fish In A Tree- wonderful. All The Bright Places-traveling around my class, haven't got it back yet. And Afterwards-put it on my list. Have a great week! Glad you had fun at the Dublin Conference!

    1. Linda - All the Bright Places has a really tough message. Be careful about who reads it and how they may handle it.

  2. Nice assortment of books. I really liked Afterworlds. I have been seeing All the Bright Places around and had a chance to review it but couldn't fit it in my calendar. It sounds excellent. You can see my week here. Happy reading!

  3. Going to try to get to All the Bright Places this week. I've heard such fabulous things. How I Discovered Poetry is so lovely and moving.

  4. I liked Fish in a Tree more than I thought I would, but I'm boycotting All the Bright Places. Not helpful; it's a good warning that teachers and librarians really need to read this before circulating it.

    1. I understand how you feel about ATBP. I had to process it for awhile and really think about what I wanted to say about it.

  5. Your review is making me want to pick up All the Bright Places right now! Though it does sound very intense. I will need something light and sweet as a chaser afterwards! How neat that your daughter is taking a Children's Lit class in college. I love teaching Children's Lit--especially since I stopped requiring any reading and let students choose everything they read. (Though we do read The One and Only Ivan together.)

  6. You've got a great list of books here. I've got a copy of All the Bright Places. Your review makes me almost desperate to read it. I finished How I discovered Poetry a week or so ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  7. Amy Poehler and David Sedaris are amazing! Great choices here. I hear All the Bright Places is amazing, too. Unfortunately, Proof of Heaven is getting pulled from bookstores (or maybe just not being published anymore? not sure), because the kid came out about how he made up his trip to Heaven up. His letter about it is sad to read.

    1. Julianne,
      The book you're referring to is a book called The Boy Who Wen to Heaven, not Proof of Heaven. Proof of Heaven is written by a neurosurgeon.

  8. I feel so far behind that I haven't read All the Bright Places yet. I'm really looking forward to that book!

  9. Fish in a Tree! So love this book. All the Bright Places went straight from my Amazon box into student hands - perhaps I'll get it back one day soon and have the pleasure of reading it.

  10. Such variety in your reading list - Thank you for sharing all of these titles. Fish in a Tree is a book we won't forget for a long time. It is such a powerful story.

  11. I really want to read All the Bright Places. I am hearing so many things about this title. And of course I can't wait to read Fish in A Tree!

  12. I also enjoyed Yes, Please as an audiobook... hoping to steal time in the future and listen to it again... I loved both Fish in a Tree and All the bright places, good warning for the second one... Happy reading week to you!

  13. I've been reading so much about Fish in a Tree - now I can't wait to find it. How I Discovered Poetry sounds like a must-read, will hunt this one down from our public library.

  14. Many titles to check out! Thank you!