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Time: // 5: 43 a.m. Tuesday morning. Everyone is asleep and the house is so quiet. It’s such a rare thing to experience.

The scene: // I’ve been trying for the past two days to write a post, but to no avail. Two of the kids have been sick with various things, I had a killer migraine, and there were countless errands and chores to do around the house. Now that all of that is out the way, I can sit here quietly and gather my thoughts.

This weekend: // my city had their first annual Beach Streets event, where they closed down a major street to cars and opened it up to bikes, pedestrians, skateboards. . . almost anything that moved. I took my kids and sisters to this fun event that lasted most of the day. It’s funny how the idea of closing down a street to let people walk and ride could be so much fun. It was one of the best events my city has ever hosted.

Last week I read: // a ton of children’s books and Syllabus by Lynda Barry. The thing I’ve come to understand about Barry is that in each work of hers, there’s always a question that she needs to explore. In Syllabus she brings together several questions that she’s had about art and images, but also how can keeping a daily notebook help us transfer the things we think about, that are inside us to something more solid on paper and to others.

The book’s form is so unique. It’s like a composition notebook with so much color and images on each page. There’s also a lot of inspiration to be found. I don’t think I’m going to buy a copy of Syllabus, but I can see why so many people want to. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Next up is: // a ton of books! There’s so much that I want to read. My boys are reluctant readers, so I’m trying to find fantastic middle grade books that I can share with the two of them this summer. This week I’m trying to read and finish:

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  • Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
  • The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. It has such a creepy cover and it has to do with creatures from Carribean fairy tales.
    How often can a reader say that?
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I’m probably one of the few people who haven’t read this book yet. If you haven’t picked up the Lumberjanes yet, you need to change that.
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

I’m looking forward to reading all five books this week. Most of them have already been named a favorite book of the year by various sources I follow. And it’s only June!

Thinking about: // The Worst Kind of Groundhog Day: Let’s Talk (Again) About Diversity in Publishing by Roxanne Gay. Just.Read.It.

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee.

How’s your Tuesday morning going? What are you looking forward to today?

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Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

22318578The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Marie Kondo
Translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
213 pages
Published in 2014 by Ten Speed Press
Source: I bought it

English artist William Morris once famously said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering has rewritten that quote stating that everything in your house should bring you joy and be useful. Emphasis on joy.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, author Marie Kondo, swears that if you follow her method on decluttering and tidying, you will never have to declutter your house again. Based on that claim alone, you can see why so many people have added this book to their to-be read lists. It’s why I decided to buy this book instead of waiting for my hold (number 151!) to come through at the library.

After years of helping clients declutter and clean their home, Kondo has developed a method, called The KonMari Method, which she gives in detail to readers. According to the author, there’s an order to decluttering: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and things of sentimental value. The whole time you declutter, she wants you to ask yourself if the item makes you happy. I agree. Pretty much every item of clothing I own makes me feel good when I wear it. If it doesn’t, it goes. Life is too short to wear clothes I feel self-conscious in.

I had a few problems with this book. First, it could be pretty repetitive. The author tells readers over and over again how not one client has rebounded yet after accepting her help. That’s great but I don’t need to read that fact in so many sections.

Another problem I encountered is when I started reading the section on organizing books. As a homeschooler and a bookworm, I own at least 1,000 books. After years of paring down my collection, I know that almost every book in my home is needed. Those that aren’t, like a few ARCS, are ones that I’m trying to read before the baby’s arrival in July.

First, the author believes that books are mainly for conveying information. What?! Don’t tell a bookworm that!! Books are just more than that. They teach, give comfort, and can offer meaning to the situations we go through in life. They’re not just paper and ink. Do I believe that a person can have too many books? Yes, I do. But I also believe that it’s not a bad thing to own a few unread books. If you haven’t touched certain shelves in years, (I’m looking at my little sisters), you should look long and hard at what you own. Suggesting that books and bookcases can go in the closet reminds me of the time my ex-boyfriend said the same thing. He’s an ex for a reason.

While Kondo will likely offer new advice to some readers, she mostly reminded me of what I already knew. Here’ the gist of it:

• Surround yourself with things that give you joy.
• Declutter your home in one go, (if you can), then tidy up. That way you don’t get distracted and later discouraged.
• Everything should have a place.

While I didn’t love the book, I would still recommend it. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Want your own copy? Leave a comment stating that you want this book and I’ll send you my copy. U.S. readers only.

Favorite Adult Reads of 2014

With the 2015 just days away and my reading going so slowly, I figured it’s time to throw in the towel and post my list of this year’s favorite reads. I divided my long list into three posts: children’s fiction and nonfiction, young adult and middle school reads, and adult fiction and nonfiction.

Though I didn’t read as much as I usually do, I was really surprised as to how many fantastic books I read. The books on my lists are ones that I really enjoyed, would re-read, and would buy.

To find out more about each title, click the link which will take you to Goodreads or my review (if I wrote one).

BestCollageFables Vol. 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham
The Bees by Laline Paull
My Real Children by Jo Walton (review)
Rat Queens Vol. 1 by Kurtis Wiebe
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman (review)

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Ruby by Cynthia Bond (review)
Chew Vol. 7 Bad Apples by John Layman
Chew Vol. 8 Family Recipes by John Layman
Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughn
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis

BestCollage 3An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (review)
Mr. Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo (review)
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (review)
The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarksy (review)

Nonfiction

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Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (review)
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Baking With the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro

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L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi (review)
52 Drawing Lab For Mixed Media Artists by Carla Sonheim
God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant (Review. This is usually deemed a children’s book, but adults will enjoy it more.)

What were your favorite adult reads of 2014?

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

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Happy Sunday! Instead of telling you what I’m up to, I decided to do something different. A Diverse Universe event is coming up and I thought I’ll write a list post for anyone who’s thinking about joining the event and don’t know what to read.

Bloggers like Aarti and Nymeth have eloquently written about why more people should read diversely. I’m not going to do it. I’ve realized that exploring works of art based on an author’s race means being open to something different. And either you are open to that or you’re not. Readers love the adventures that books can take them on, like new worlds light-years away or a dystopian version of the world they live in. Looking at race can be a different and harder thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s an ongoing process, one that means making a decision book by book. It doesn’t mean suddenly changing the way you read overall. I, myself, have been guilty of not reading many books by people of color over the years. Or, I’ll read them but don’t review them. This year has been fantastic with books by people of color dominating my reviews, but I still have work to do.

Some critics have stated that by purposely choosing to read a book written by a person of color, you’re excluding whites. Well, that’s true. When you’re in the mood to read science fiction or fantasy that means excluding all writers who don’t write in that genre. Race isn’t any different. Nor is it any different when choosing to read books that won certain awards or set in different countries or translated from other languages. I hope everyone who reads this post makes a decision to pick up a book by a person of color. Like I stated earlier, that choice is up to you.

The books on my list were all published this year. I decided to give newly released books more bookish love than those that were published in previous years. By buying, borrowing, or reviewing new releases shows the gatekeepers that books by people of color are desired by readers.

Note: Most of the links to the titles below will take you to Goodreads. Several will take you to my reviews or the reviews of other bloggers.

Looking for a short read?

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I don’t read short stories often enough though I love them. The great thing about them is that you can often find amazing ones online via Tor and other online publications.

Novels

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Nonfiction

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Have you read any of these books? What newly released books would you recommend?

2014 Summer Reading List

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The school year officially ended last Friday and since then, my days have been filled with watching the kids spend time being outside, playing Uno with the kids, and vegging out on the couch. According to a family friend, my family is glowing. It wasn’t until I heard the words, that I realized she’s right. There’s no notes to take, reading logs to type up, or textbooks to check. It feels good.

While the kids are making plans on how to spend their summer (building huge Lego sets, swimming, and starting their own blogs), I’m making plans too. I’ve posted my bucket list so now I get to share my summer reading list. Sometimes I think one of the best parts of reading books is making lists about the books we want to read.

  • Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
  • Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Trokia by Adam Pelzman
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (may read this one with my daughter)

 

  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (essays)
  • Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss (essays)
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking by Sarah Elton (future cooking classes with the kids)
  • The Iliad by Homer
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones

 

  • Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington
  • Love by Toni Morrison (reread)
  • The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

My list will probably change from week to week as I add and subtract things so you can always see the most updated list on Pinterest. It seems like a lot of books but I have plenty of time on my hands. I’ve already started reading The Iliad. Surprisingly, I’m enjoying it.

What are you reading this summer?

Review: Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham

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My copy from the library. Do you see all the post-its?

Why Don’t Students Like School? : A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means For the Classroom

 Daniel T. Willingham

180 pages

Published in March 2009 by Jossey-Bass

Source: Public Library

In Why Don’t Students Like School?, psychologist Daniel T. Willingham shares with readers nine principles of cognitive science that can be applied to classrooms everywhere. From why thinking is hard for all of us – kids and adults alike – to the importance of repetition and motivation, to debunking the theory of multiple intelligences, Willingham’s book is one that should be in the hands of educators, parents, and administrators everywhere.

In each chapter, the author focuses on one of the principles and shares with readers the research behind the principle and gives examples. At the end of each chapter, there’s a summary and ways to implicate the research into the classroom.

One of the best chapters has to do with factual knowledge and critical thinking skills. Willingham argues that for students to critically think about a subject, they have to have background knowledge. That knowledge allows student to hold more information which means they can comprehend more. It also makes students better readers. The whole thing is a cycle.

It’s also why it’s important for parents to start early with their kids by reading to them. If a child doesn’t have the same background information as their classmates, they’re always going to play catch up, but they will always be behind.

Another one of the book’s principles has to do with intelligence being malleable. What’s just as important is a person’s mindset about intelligence. Intelligence can be changed through hard work but a person has to believe that they can get smarter. When a person believes they can become smarter, they seek out challenging opportunities that help them become that way. If a person believes intelligence is fixed, challenging opportunities are avoided as a way not to fail.

There is so much to learn and while I enjoyed reading this book, I had a few issues. This book is less than 180 pages and it is dense. There’s so much information coming at readers. It’s a book you have to work at but it’s well worth it. There’s also illustrations in each chapter to help with the examples given. Towards the end of the book, the illustrations became a distraction and weren’t needed.

If you’re an adult who’s interested in bringing out the best learning experiences for children, you can’t go wrong by reading this book. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.