18 July 2014

May and June 2014 Reads

Now that we're half way through July, I'm finally taking time to write about my May and June Reads. I've been traveling for work and pleasure, and reading up a storm but have been taking less time to write. Hopefully, now that I'm home for several weeks I'll get back into my regular writing routine. I'm on a nonfiction reading roll again (if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you won't be surprised). As I have said many times before, I do enjoy fiction and poetry, but I read more nonfiction than I do fiction.

Though biography/memoir nonfiction encompassed a large chunk of what I've read for the past two months, I've also taken the time to read two more professional books. In May, I read a book by my current boss who enjoys empowering women (something I, too, believe is important).  I read the e-version of Become Your Own Great and Powerful: A Woman's Guide to Living Your Real, Big Life by Barbara Bellissimo.  I especially enjoyed the vignettes in each section of the book because they offered a chance for me to learn about real women encountering real problems and coming up with real solutions in their lives--inspiring!

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink had been on my Goodreads to-read bookshelf for several months, and since it was forever on hold for the paper copy of the book at the public library, I ended up reading an e-book version on my I-pad.  I appreciated the journalistic research and writing and found myself always questioning both sides of the ongoing arguments presented throughout the book. Issues of medical ethics are increasingly interesting to me as I grow older.

Things a Little Bird Told Me:  Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone was a quick and easy read, and I enjoyed the business tidbits presented, especially since there was a focus on humanity. Fortunately, the public library had a hard back copy of this on the newly released shelf. You can read my entire post on the book (link above) to know more thoughts about this one.

Several months ago I read an article in The New York Times by Amanda Lindhout about her kidnapping and 15 months in captivity in Somalia. Since reading that article, her book had been on my to-read list.  A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett was heart wrenching, but it also provided hope because of the way Lindout was able to forgive and understand that the people who kidnapped her were just boys who had grown up in a violent country. In some of her darkest hours of captivity when experiencing pain and abuse, she imagined herself in a house in the sky. The hope from the book also comes from knowing Lindhout went on to establish a foundation where she gives back to women and children and regularly advocates for and speaks about social responsibility and women's rights.


My growing and ongoing interest in culture and life in other parts of the world brought me to  My Accidental Jihad:  A Love Story. Krista Bremer's memoir of her marriage to a man from Lybia and her experimentation with Islam was fascinating. Fortunately, our public library had a copy of this book, so I checked it out and read it in a single day while flying out west for work. The fact that the book involved different locations was perfect for my own insatiable need to travel. Starting with Bremer surfing in California, moving to North Carolina, and visiting her husband's home country of Lybia, there are plenty of interesting cultural situations and geographical locales. 

While following stories of nonsensical violence in the news, I was reminded of the Congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head at a public event, so I picked up a copy of Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly from my local library and read it within a few days. You can read more about my thoughts on this book at the link above.

For years I have enjoyed reading about women (and men) who overcome great feats because of their determination, persistence, and desire to prove to themselves they can accomplish their dreams, so when we were discussing an education summit my workplace will organize in the fall, someone brought up Tori Murden McClure from Louisville, KY. As I researched this woman, I learned that she was the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Even though she failed on her first attempt, she persisted, tried again, and accomplished her goal. The story was inspiring because of the good reminder that we might not accomplish something the first time we try, but we absolutely must try again. We learn through our failures. It took me only a few days to read McClure's book, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean.


Feeling empowered after reading McClure's book, I decided to re-read the e-version of Trusting Teachers with School Success by Kim Ferris-Berg, Edward J Dirkswager, and Amy Junge. One of my professional goals in life is to be part of opening a teacher-powered school in Kentucky. I've been thinking about it and researching the possibilities for several years now, and most recently, I've met other teachers who are also interested. It's just a matter of time (and a ton of work ahead) now, but I'm ready.

My interest in the ocean and survival stories led me to Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan which I also read in e-version. Only after I read the book and was telling a colleague about it did I learn that Steven Callahan served as a consultant for The Life of Pi  (a movie I never did see). What I enjoy about books like this are the author/survivor's drive to live and survive under the most dire circumstances with little food and water and with the dangers of the ocean always present.

Goodreads has been a perfect application for me to explore books that interest me, so when Rebecca Solnit's book  The Faraway Nearby popped up as a recommendation for me based on my nonfiction reading interests I immediately checked it out from the library and spent a week reading this series of essays about stories and life. I found myself using post-its to mark passages about empathy, loss, and humanity. After reading the series of essays, I started back at the beginning of the book to read the one entire essay written in ticker fashion at the bottom of each page, and I loved the uniqueness of that essay format.

I'm already well into my July reads, so stay tuned.  Happy reading.