Saturday, June 29, 2013


#15 is also a reread. I continued the end of 2012's endeavor by continuing the Harry Potter series with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by, none other, than J.K. Rowling.

I am not going to review each of these as I read them, but can I just say: I have such a new found appreciation for Azkaban. It was never one of my favorites in the series, but it is so important to all the subsequent books in the series and gets really compelling toward the end, even reading it for the sixth time!

(I will also note here that, according to my Goodreads profile, I am not only on track for my goal, but I am A BOOK AHEAD! YAYAYAYAYA!!!)

I have been reading the series while also reading new books, however, so stay tuned.

TFiOS Magic

Book #14 is a reread from last year.

I can't give The Fault in Our Stars by John Green enough praise, but for the sake of avoiding redundancy, I will redirect you to my original review here.

I reread it for a Speech piece for two of my students and I am SUPER excited to see what comes out of it!

Books in Birmingham

Last week I joined our national qualified students and a fellow coach to the Speech and Debate national tournament (through the National Forensic League) in Birmingham! It was a blast, and I am proud to have had students competing in such a prestigious academic contest.

During the small amount of down time I had alone in my own hotel room and between competition rounds that I judged, I was able to work on my thirteenth book of 2013:

This one was recommended to me by a friend and, after having read the description, it was one I knew I'd enjoy. I had no idea it was used in the high school curricula of so many schools. In fact, many other judges at the tournament commented on the book I was reading with high praise (they also complimented the my Catcher in the Rye "Holden Caulfield thinks you're a phony" shirt, which you can buy here).

I understand their praise! It so accurately highlighted the struggles and characteristics of an individual with autism (though, now that I think of it, it was never actually stated that the protagonist has autism... interesting), while also providing a compelling story.

Anyway, four stars!

Pride and Prejudice... and Progress

It seems as though I am a bit behind in reviewing my 2013 literary experience. I'll start with what was my twelfth book this year:

I have really enjoyed reading many "classics" that I would have read sooner had I been an English major (lucky English majors!) and Pride and Prejudice was a continuation of that endeavor. I bought the book a few years ago, but in typical me fashion, it was among a pile of purchased books left to plow through that eventually got forgotten after I bought a new stack to read.

This one (and Jane Austen novels in general) has been highly recommended by a friend for quite a while. Honestly, this type of genre is not typically my favorite, but as was the case with Gone With the Wind I knew I'd enjoy it once I finally finished it.

It always boggles my mind what people lived for during this time period. Like, it's crazy how a successful marriage meant one that included wealth and status (even if it meant marrying your first cousin). Older novels tend to remind me of the differences in societal norms between my world in the here and now and that of the worlds of other times and places. This one was no exception! Yay, classics!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


11 books and still going strong! I'm really hoping I'll be able to make 30 this year.

For book #11, I read the last John Green novel I hadn't read yet, which I borrowed from a friend.

Katherines, like all John Green books, was a pretty quick read. I read it in one sitting. I wasn't super impressed. Like, it was a John Green book, so it was good and I liked it. But it's definitely the least enjoyable of all his books. It was cute and it was funny, but it didn't yield the emotional connection that Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars or even Paper Towns did.

So now that I've read all of his books, I can rank them from best to least good (I don't like to say "worst" in this case because that seems to imply that John Green has bad novels).

1) The Fault in Our Stars. By far!
2) Looking for Alaska
3) Paper Towns
4) An Abundance of Katherines
5) If you can count this one because it was only half written by John: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

This book is fantastic and one of the best nonfictions I've ever read (though, admittedly, I rarely read nonfiction).

There's a lot of technical and research-based discussion, of course (which is very thorough), but as a whole it reminded me of how much pressure was thrust upon me as a child to "be more outgoing," "participate more in class," and "speak up." I can't help but wonder how different my early education and entire childhood could have been if teachers and other adults had learned to value quiet leadership, thoughtfulness, and independent work. Susan Cain actually answers much of this and I won't spoil all the details for you. But I will give you a hint: The Extrovert Ideal. Another hint: it's not a thing in Asia....

Cain doesn't advocate for everyone to become introverts. That's not good for society and also not possible (also explained at length in Quiet). What she advocates for is balance, and I agree that a balance of the two within a person and within a society can do great things.

I highly recommend this book to anyone really. Extroverts will understand their friends, families, and coworkers much better (after all, 1/3 to 1/2 of all people are introverts), and introverts will learn to embrace their tendencies and use them for good.

Here's a comprehensive and fantastic TED talk with Susan Cain:

I'll leave you with an awesome "Manifesto for Introverts" that is in the front cover:

1) There's a word for "people who are in their heads too much": thinkers.
2) Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
3) The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
4) Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later.
5) But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.
6) One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
7) It's OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
8) "Quiet leadership" is not an oxymoron.
9) Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
10) "In a gentle way, you can shake the world."- Mahatma Gandhi