Sunday Post: Now it’s November

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

introtoprinciplesmoralsReading | In the last week, I have finished the third Lady Sherlock book! Just a marvelous series, and I sincerely thank Amanda, from The Zen Leaf, for recommending it. I just started Jeremy Bentham’s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation as part of my “read the book before listening to the Partially Examined Life podcast” plan.

Listening |As I was eagerly anticipating November 1 and my Audible credit, I killed time bingeing Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities – a wonderful 2 stories in 10 minutes podcast – and immersing myself in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s podcast. I love listening to this brilliant man so much I now have all of his books on my wish list for Xmas. I’m pretty sure I snuck in one episode of Lore and one episode of the Partially Examined Life as well.

On November 1, I browsed Audible like a crazy person before settling on Classics of American Literature (a Great Courses) which includes 84 lectures paired with a 389 page sort of textbook (an outline of the lectures with a few extras). I’m totally geeking out.

Blogging| Last week I was MIA but this week, I have a few posts pre-scheduled. On Tuesday, I share a few memories of my great-grandparents. I was lucky enough to know them and they’ve been on my mind lately. Then on Thursday, my R.I.P Challenge wrap-up post will publish. I have a bunch of books waiting to be reviewed, so fingers crossed I get around to one or two this week.

candyDoingEating Candy. No seriously. We have soooo much candy from Halloween. My grandparents’ house gets about 300 trick-or-treaters a year, and this year I thought I was responsible for providing all the candy. So did my aunt. As such, we ended up with a lot, a whole lot, of leftover candy which somehow managed to make it back to my house along with all the candy the kiddos got on our two-hour trick-or-treating extravaganza. I shall gain weight. Much weight.

Smelling | So I recently boarded the essential oils train, and I must admit that while I don’t feel like oils will solve all of life’s problems, I do very much enjoy the smell and the way they put me to sleep. Right now, I have a blend of Citrus Fresh, Eucalyptus, and Copaiba going and it’s just heavenly.

Thinking | Holy crap it’s already November. How did that happen?

Wondering | Has anyone ever read the Kate Locke series Immortal Empire series? If so, should I read it?

Loving | As always, it’s the kiddos.

 

 

 

Sunday Post: Alone Time Please

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

theminiaturistReading | I finished The Miniaturist, and to be honest, I can not wrap my mind around my feelings on it. I read it, I enjoyed reading it, some of the intricacies of the story were truly intriguing, and yet I was very underwhelmed throughout, as if constantly waiting for something to happen which would tie it all together. Hopefully I’ll work it all out and then get a review together soon. I’ve pretty much given up on Miss Timmins School for Girls, as in I haven’t read a word of it in weeks, so we’ll see if I pick it up again.

Listening |I’ve been loving podcasts so very, very much for the last year, that I decided, on a whim really, to join Audible. For my first book, I figured I’d play it safe and get a book narrated by a podcaster I enjoyed, so I started listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. It’s exactly like listening to his podcasts, so I am loving it.

Blogging |Last week, I posted reviews of Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation and V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. This week I have a review for Seraphina and Shadowscale finally going up after three months of putting it off – not due to a lack of enjoyment. I just couldn’t figure out what to say. I’m not sure what else will be going up as I haven’t had time to write any other advance posts. 🙂

alonetimeWorking | Work has been a whirlwind these past two weeks between the TYCA conference and then meeting after meeting after meeting. I am involved in a bunch of projects which is a love-hate relationship for me. I truly enjoy the work; I love the idea of continuous quality improvement; and I’m excited about these projects. Simultaneously, the time these projects is added on top of my normal workload which is a full-time job in and of itself. Also, it means way less alone time in my life overall which is rather stressful for me. I feel like I haven’t had time to recharge as I haven’t been alone for about 13 days now.

Anticipating | I have big dreams of at least one afternoon, possibly Wednesday, where I will have approximately three hours between leaving work and having to pick up my kids. Three blissful hours of alone time where I am determined to not grade anything, clean anything, or even answer a phone call. I may just sit in silence and quite literally do nothing.

 

 

Girl in Translation

girlintranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok was the One Division, One Book read for the Spring 2019 semester where I work. Basically, that means we were encouraged to assign the text in our classes and we held events around the themes of the novel. I chose to include the text in my American Literature since 1865 course – which worked out perfectly as I was determined to teach only one white male author in the entire semester.

The story is, in essence, about a rather quintessential story of modern day immigration. Kimberly Chang and her mother move to Brooklyn to be near Kimberly’s aunt, a detestable woman I will probably rage about later on in this review. But back to the summary. They do not find a land of opportunity; instead they find themselves living in squalor, working in a sweatshop, and struggling to stay alive.

The story is an odd and wonderful combination of the naivete of a child as Kim talks about boys she likes and the struggle to make friends and the hardship of a poor immigrant as we see Kim working and living in conditions so far outside the acceptable range of experience as to be horror-inducing. Then we throw in the difficulties faced by so many trying to balance acclimation, acculturation, and tradition. And an Aunt like Aunt Paula. Okay, so I didn’t even make it very long before talking about the elitist, snobbish, selfish, horrible, horrible woman. She pays for her sister and niece to emigrate from Hong Kong and then promptly puts them to work in her garment factory while housing them in a vermin infested apartment with no heat. I can’t imagine treating people the way this woman does.

Kim, and her Ma, knows that the only way they will survive is if Kim saves them by “making it” in America (i.e. kicking ass in school and becoming a doctor or a lawyer), so Kim studies and studies, all the while working at the garment factory as well so that she and her mother can eat. At times, this exceptionalism did annoy me though. Kim is brilliant, and thank god she is because this story would have been quite different had she been of average intelligence. While I appreciate the idea of life-improvement through education – I am, after all, a college professor – I also sometimes get annoyed at hardship-to-success stories that have geniuses as their central characters. While Kim certainly studies hard, she has a natural intelligence that is her true lifesaver. We see her succeed in the full knowledge that without this, she would miserably fail – as so many others in her position have throughout history.

The students in my American Lit class appreciated reading a book from a very different perspective than their own – and they really enjoyed the comparative discussions we had between this, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and the film Winter’s Bone. They did, however, feel the book was a bit tedious at times, and many of us had conflicting feelings about the ending.

Sunday Post: Well, hey there

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Well, hey there! Long time no see. I’m baaaaccckkk. Again.

Reading | So in my giant hiatus from blogging, I have finished a few and started a great many books. Here’s the rundown in brief:

  • V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. Finished. Fantastic. Fan. Tas. Tic
  • Miss Timmin’s School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy. Currently Reading. Meh. Has anyone read this? Should I keep going?
  • Descartes’ Meditations on the First Philosophy. Currently Reading. I’ve made it through the first two meditations of which I’m quite the fan. I love his idea of methodological doubt. I haven’t read the next three because I’m not sure I’m ready for him to undoubt everything he just doubted which is my understanding of what’s coming next.
  • Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. Currently Reading. I’m tending towards liking this one despite what feels like a serious lack of action.

Watching | I finally stopped bingeing Stargate (after season 8 so two seasons to go), watched a few episodes of Stargate Atlantis, and am now off the binge and onto the obsessive viewing of random new shows on the fall lineup. I am enjoying Manifest so far, I’m feeling pretty blah about New Amsterdam and FBI, I am seriously not feeling Magnum P.I.. Those are the only new shows I’ve seen, so please tell me what good ones I’m missing out on!

Listening |I just downloaded Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath from Audible, but I haven’t had a chance to start it yet. I figured I’d give it a try since I love Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast.

Blogging |This week I have reviews going up for Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and Susan Cain’s Quiet, two wildly different but both wildly awesome reads. I did update by Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge as I read two of the books I originally listed and added a new one!

Anticipating | I’m heading to Indianapolis this week for the TYCA Midwest Conference where I will be presenting on the Humanities & Social Sciences division’s plan to increase hybrid offerings from 3% to 60% in a two-year span, including our plans for setting guidelines for hybrid instruction, scheduling rules, student and instructor satisfaction surveys, assessment of student success plans, etc. Any other two year teachers out there who are hitting up this conference?

Loving | We all went to my cousin Tara’s wedding a few weeks ago, and this picture is the kids, at approximately 11:30pm after doing some serious dancing at the reception:

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

curiousincidentWritten from the point of view of an autistic 15 year old boy, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time shows readers a very unique perspective on family, relationships, trust, and taking the train to London. I fell in love with the main character, Christopher; his not-quite-perfectly logical nature, obsession with math, desire to be a detective, and bravery combine to create a personality that is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking.

The book is a quick read; simple sentences are used and words and ideas are expressed efficiently and clearly. As narrator, Christopher does not pontificate needlessly on the veins of a leaf on a tree. In fact, he only includes descriptions because his teacher told him to.

The world is a difficult place for Christopher. He desires nothing more than to be left alone. Readers can feel his frustration with adults who want to talk all the time and yet never say what they mean. But I can also feel the frustration of the adults Christopher comes into contact with. The difficulty of autism exists within and without the spectrum and Haddon did a wonderful job, in my opinion, of expressing that difficulty – the opposing desires of the two sides, the inability to communicate effectively with each other. I felt for Christopher, and for his parents and neighbors.

The unique perspective inspired me to assign this novel as one of the three read for my Introduction to Literature course. I haven’t quite figured out exactly how I’m going to use it yet, but I have a few ideas. Obviously, analyzing the text from a narratological standpoint works well, possibly even from a sociolinguistic oral storytelling perspective. I have some half-formed ideas on using Russian Formalism and defamiliarization. Then I think I’ll finish it all up with Reader-Response.

If you have any thoughts on how to use the text in the classroom, please let me know in the comments!

Sunday Post: The Long Month Recap

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Doing | I’ve been on a month-long hiatus from blogging due to my two-week family reunion and then the start of the school year. In other words, I’ve been busy with a lot of this….

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Reading | I read a bit while on my fun-filled hiatus. I finally finished Susan Cain’s Quiet and loved it. The hilarious Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read But Probably Didn’t was consumed in about 20 minutes. I finished V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and then immediately began reading the second in the series. I’m working on that one now, and I have to say that I think this may be one of the best series I’ve read in years.

Watching | While I still throw on Shameless from time to time, I’ve been binge-watching Stargate SG-1…for like the third time in my life. I know, I know. Geek.

Listening |Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell and Lore by Aaron Mahnke are still my top two podcasts, but I have been listening to Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities as well. While the first two are longer podcasts, approximately 30-60 minutes depending on the episode, the Cabinet tells two strange stories in about ten minutes. Great for when you just want a quick fix…like waiting in line, or on a day when the dreadmill just seems stupid…

Blogging |Since my last Sunday Post, reviews have gone up on the blog for Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, Kassy Taylor’s Ashes trilogy, the first part of The Wicked + The Divine graphic series, and Richelle Mead’s The Glittering Court. As I’ve been absent, I haven’t gotten to read any comments on these posts, but I promise I’m getting back in action now.

Anticipating | In the next month, the family heads to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding which I am really looking forward to.

Working | We are now two weeks into the semester, and I’m teaching three sections of Composition 2, Introduction to Literature, and Introduction to Film Study. So far my students seem awesome (to me, this means engaged and talking).

Loving | School has begun. Madison is in first grade and Carter started three-year-old preschool. *sniffsniff  It just seems like my babies are growing up so fast. Carter’s having a rough time in the morning drop off, crying because he wants me. But his teacher assures me that it lasts about two minutes and then he’s good to go. Luckily, the school is really good about sending parents pictures of what their kids are up to, so I get to see Carter having fun after I leave….and not crying in a corner, desolate and alone, feeling abandoned by everyone and suffering as I originally pictured through the tears in my eyes as I bawled in the parking lot after leaving him the first day.2018-08-17 07.27.38.jpg

So what have all of you been up to? I can’t wait to read the serious long backlog of blog posts I have saved in Feedly!!

 

 

 

Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It

CuriousCurious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It by Ian Leslie was part of a faculty book club at my college, and ultimately I loved it, in part because the book spends a great deal of time arguing the necessity of a liberal arts education. As a professor teaching literature, humanities, film, and creative writing courses alongside the more “practical” composition courses, I am obviously a huge fan of liberal arts and a well-rounded education.

The book makes many excellent points – which I primarily agree with – but it was definitely a shallow dive rather than a deep academic exploration of curiosity. That being said, I fully enjoyed the book and found some practical takeaways. For example, I always have my students write research questions. Leslie argues that when doing so, I should ensure the questions lead to mysteries rather than puzzles; puzzles can be solved, mysteries not necessarily.

Another point made in the first section of the book is one I know but tend to ignore for ease. I know, I know, bad Trisha. Specifically, Leslie argues that students need to be in the zone of proximal learning in order to spark curiosity: you need to be right at that intersection of knowledge and lack of knowledge. In other words, they need  some background knowledge, some place to start from, in order to learn the new information. Sometimes, according to Leslie, a lack of curiosity is explained by a lack of knowledge.

The second section of the book moves into the ages of curiosity through to curiosity as subversive, and there is a special section on the importance of literature which – clearly – excited me. One quote in particular stood out to me: “Only fiction has the power to cross the mental barricades, to make strangers intelligible to each other, because it moves people’s hearts as well as minds” (Leslie 67). While I believe non-fiction does have the ability to do this as well, I still take Leslie’s point to heart. And I plan on using this quote in my syllabus this Fall for Intro to Lit.

In the third section, Leslie focused on ways to stay curious, providing 7 specific steps people can take in order to maintain a high level of curiosity. My favorite of these is to stay foolish. The book tackles this problem in section 2, but one of the reasons students don’t display curiosity in class – as evidenced by questioning – is their fear of looking stupid and/or their fear of looking smart. Ridiculous right? I think the advice to stay foolish needs to move to the idea of allowing yourself to be foolish when it comes to students.

I have really just scratched the surface of the book here, so I recommend reading it on your own sometime whether you are a teacher yourself or just interested in curiosity.

Sunday Post: Let the Prepping Begin

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

curiousincidentReading | I powered through Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in one day this past week. It felt awesome. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to binge read like that. I randomly decided to use that book in my Intro to Lit class this Fall because I suddenly remembered enjoying it way back in 2009 when I read it the first time. Yes, I know, I really take great pains to determine what to read in my classes. After my re-read, I do not regret my impulsive choice.

We will also be reading Ender’s Game and American Born Chinese this semester, along with some short stories I have yet to pick out.

Watching | I’m still stuck on Shameless, and I’ve made it all the way to season 5 now.

Blogging |Last week, I posted a review of How Full is Your Bucket? and a look at Personality Quizzes in general. This week I have reviews going up for Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It and Jeri Smith-Ready’s Shade Trilogy.

Hating | I can’t sleep. I’ve never been what you might call “good” at it, and over the past 20 odd years, I have had multiple diagnoses (fibromyalgia, alpha-delta sleep anomaly, blame it on the back) and multiple medications and practices (no food, more food, no liquid, more liquid, no exercise, more exercise, etc.) regarding my sleep problem. For the past two and a half years, it’s been brutal. This past year, I have tried melatonin, every OTC sleep aid possible, essential oils, hemp oil, Belsomra, Trazodone, Ativan, and Ambien. And alcohol. And alcohol in combination with those other drugs. I’m not proud. Just saying. A combination of hemp oil and Ambien comes closest to helping. Ambien alone doesn’t put me to sleep, and I end up laying in bed for three-ish hours, depressed. If I take them both, I seem to be asleep within an hour and only wake up once or twice…which is much better than the absolutely 0 minutes of sleep I get when I take nothing. No exaggeration; I can lay in bed all night long and not fall asleep once. So that’s where I’m at there….

Thinking | It’s probably time to start doing some actual planning for the upcoming semester. Meh, classes don’t start until August 20…

Loving | Time with the kids. We are down to the last month of summer. Bahhumbug. But, we’ve been having a lot of fun, including a hot, sweaty, fun trip to a Jump Zone.

 

 

How Full is Your Bucket?

howfullisyourbucketAs I mentioned in an earlier post this week, the college where I work has chosen How Full is Your Bucket? as a college-wide read with the intention of combining the wisdom of the text (i.e. fill people’s buckets) with the understanding of individual’s strengths based on the StrengthsFinder personality quiz. Everyone at the college was given the book to read along with an access code to complete the online StrengthsFinder quiz.

The book relies on the (perhaps overly) simple metaphor of a bucket. Each person has a bucket, and throughout the day, their interactions with other people either add to their bucket (good) or dip from their bucket (bad).

The metaphor arose based on a study conducted by his grandfather, Don Clifton, who found that “our lives are shaped by our interactions with others”; these interactions are either positive or negative and it is the accumulation of all the interactions that “profoundly affect our lives”. I don’t disagree with this. I think that negative interaction after negative interaction can quite drastically shift a positive person’s mood and outlook. And I think the reverse is true as well.

Actually, I agreed with most of what was in the book. I’m just not sure I learned anything new. The strategies Rath and Clifton detail seem intuitive and obvious. While I appreciate the sentiment of it, the book was less critical and research-focused than I would have liked. There are definitely specific, practical pieces of advice for improving morale but nothing too surprising.

Still, it’s a short, easy read and maybe there are quite a few managers, bosses, authority figures who could use a reminder of how to maintain a positive work environment. Plus, who doesn’t like personality quizzes?

Know Thyself: Personality Quizzes

Know Thyself. To Thine Own Self Be True. But how do we know ourselves? Well based on how many Facebook links I get to them, the answer is Personality Tests. And to be less flippant, the following our my results from personality tests taken FOR WORK not for fun. Seriously, these were actually required as part of professional development.

What I have included here are my own results. I would love to hear yours!

Meyers-Briggs: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving

INTP personalities are those “who are energized by time alone (Introverted), who focuses on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details (iNtuitive), who makes decisions based on logic and reason (Thinking) and who prefers to be spontaneous and flexible rather than planned and organized (Perceiving)” (link).

StrengthsFinder:

  1. Intellection: People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
  2. Learner: People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  3. Input: People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
  4. Achiever: People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  5. Ideation: People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Grit Test: 3.9/5

According to Angela Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.”

Based on my results, I am “grittier” than 60% of the population.

The Big Five:

  1. Openness: 96% :: Openness describes a person’s tendency to think in abstract, complex ways. High scorers tend to be creative, adventurous, and intellectual.
  2. Conscientiousness: 65% :: Conscientiousness describes a person’s ability to exercise self-discipline and control in order to pursue their goals. High scorers are organized and determined, and are able to forego immediate gratification for the sake of long-term achievement.
  3. Extraversion: 52% :: Your mid-range score on this dimension indicates that you are fairly average in your motivation to seek out social rewards. You probably have some desire for admiration, influence, and prestige, but you can also be content when you’re not winning recognition from others.
  4. Agreeableness: 54% :: Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own, and to cooperate rather than compete with others. People who are high in Agreeableness experience a great deal of empathy and tend to get pleasure out of serving and taking care of others.
  5. Neuroticism: 31% :: Because you are low in Neuroticism, you are less likely than other people to experience negative emotions like fear or sadness. You are probably optimistic, carefree, and self-confident. You rarely worry about how things will turn out.

The Big Five has four major personality types: Empathic Idealist, Analytical Thinker, Practical Caretaker, and Logical Mechanic. I’m very much the first two according to my results.

The college where I work is currently investing a bunch of time and money into the StrengthsFinder test. They bought everyone a copy of How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath, which is associated with this test. Faculty and staff are taking the test and sharing our results. We are even holding discussions on what the results mean and how we can start using those results to create better workgroups and foster relationships. Look for my review of that book coming up in the next week.

So, as I said earlier, I would love to hear about any personality tests you’ve taken and whether or not you take them seriously.