Read this book with one of my students as part of a unit on building a strong classroom community. I remember reading it as a child as well. Still getRead this book with one of my students as part of a unit on building a strong classroom community. I remember reading it as a child as well. Still gets to me--poor Wanda! I like that it doesn't have a perfect resolution....more
Sweet story about an 8th grader whose brother gets very sick. Really loved the blend of sadness and humor. It's pretty rare to find a YA book that doeSweet story about an 8th grader whose brother gets very sick. Really loved the blend of sadness and humor. It's pretty rare to find a YA book that doesn't sound like it was written by an adult, and this book manages to capture the voice of an 8th grader well. I can think of a bunch of my students who would enjoy this one!...more
Nice essays from an American couple who moved to Italy. There are some really lovely passages, and the authors are clearly very skilled. There were juNice essays from an American couple who moved to Italy. There are some really lovely passages, and the authors are clearly very skilled. There were just two aspects that made me give it three stars instead of four: Initially, I didn't understand that they were essays rather than one continuous narrative, so that threw me off a bit. Once I realized that, I enjoyed the book more, but it did leave me with a feeling of vague confusion. In addition, because the book is co-authored, there are a few chapters which switch from first person to third person and back (i.e., "When [David] tells Mark what has happened, Mark looks at his own documents and discovers the discrepancy...In a white rage, we hunt down Bruno.") David and Mark are the co-authors, and I imagine they took this approach to specify which person had which experience, but this switching, combined with some switching of verb tenses, was quite confusing to me.
But it is not money that makes a home, or lack of it that keeps one from being made. (6)
The most useful thing anyone living in Italy can learn is how to be bored. (38)
In a boring country, you find that you are content more often than happy, since we make our own contentment and happiness makes itself. (39)
This story, which at the time we took to be about ingratitude and jingoism (how could anyone covet layer cake in the land of the tarte tartin?), is really about the stubborn longing for familiar things--even things at which, back home, one turned up one's nose-- that with the passage of years becomes such a distinguishing feature of expatriate life. (89)
We questioned other Americans and discovered that they, too, often fell prey to culinary nostalgia. On visits home we lorded our superior knowledge of European cookery over our friends and families, even corrected their errors...In Italy, we nearly wept over the absence of graham crackers, hoarded cans of cranberry sauce, even stole shamefacedly into the McDonald's on Piazza di Spagna to savor a Big Mac in an invisible corner, and invariably ran in to the director of the American Academy on the way out. (91)
Memory, of course, was the real culprit. As Proust knew, flavor awakens the past, which is why the longing for certain foods so often encodes a more complex longing: for remote places, for childhood, even for the childhood longing for remote places. (91-92)
When you live abroad, the ordinary and the mysterious trade places. What from a distance seemed exotic, the very things in pursuit of which you left in the first place, lose their charm, while the alchemy of time and distance reveals in commonplace things--the things you took for granted--a surprising loveliness. This may be the secret joy and sorrow of expatriate life: By virtue of living in a foreign land, you throw not merely your history but your identity into relief. The past renders an unexpected poetry. To prepare the foods of childhood becomes, in a very real sense, a brief trip home. (92)
All of us agree[d] that the rest of the evening would have to be devoted to reading in front of a fire, after we had called our families on the other side of the ocean--a distance that seems greater in Christmas Day than it does the rest of the year. (130)
Interesting living-abroad-a-logue. The delicious food descriptions were the most enjoyable parts, for me. But I also appreciated the honest portrayalInteresting living-abroad-a-logue. The delicious food descriptions were the most enjoyable parts, for me. But I also appreciated the honest portrayal of moving to a new country for pleasure. Yes, it's an incredible privilege to be able to do that. It can also be difficult. I've heard some people say that parts of book can sound petulant, such as the discussions of the difference in concepts of time, but I didn't have that experience reading. They seemed more like just acknowledgement of the confusion or even frustration that can come when different expectations are coming up against each other--it reminded me a lot of my time living in Costa Rica. Another part that resonated with me was the description of numerous uninvited guests. Everyone wants to visit you when you live in a vacation destination! It's fun, but it can be hard when people want to come at inopportune times because it fits with their schedules (such as when I had an unnamed guest who insisted on coming the week I was moving back to United States, because she wanted to see a friend who was also visiting that week...) I might have enjoyed the book more if I had gotten a better sense of the author himself, but overall, I liked it very much.
* But the fire of vine clippings was burning brightly, the smell of lamb chops and rosemary was in the air, the red wine was doing noble work as a substitute for central heating, and we felt hardy and adventurous. (35-36)
* The answering machine welcomed us home, winking its little red eye to show that people had been talking to it. (110)
* There comes a time in the restoration of an old house when the desire to see it finished threatens all those noble aesthetic intentions to see it finished properly. The temptation to settle for the shortcut nags away as the delays add up and the excuses multiply...During the hot months of summer, tranquilized by the sun, it had been possible to look with a patient eye at the uncompleted jobs throughout the house. Now that we were spending more time indoors with them, patience had been replaced by irritation. (178)
* Perhaps by next spring we would see the tub in its proper place. We were learning to think in seasons instead of days or weeks. Provence was not going to change its tempo for us. (206)
* It had been a self-absorbed year, confined mostly to the house and the valley, fascinating to us in its daily detail, sometimes frustrating, often uncomfortable, but never dull or disappointing. And, above all, we felt at home....more
Great fantasy read. If you like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Chronicles of Narnia, I'd recommend this trilogy. Fast-moving, engaging plot thatGreat fantasy read. If you like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Chronicles of Narnia, I'd recommend this trilogy. Fast-moving, engaging plot that made me want to keep reading. Strong character development. I found myself not feeling 100% invested in the characters--even though it was definitely a page-turner, the reason I wanted to keep reading was more to find out what happened next, rather than because I cared a lot about the characters. Still, I will definitely read the other two in the series.
Sunlight poured into the Waystone. It was a cool, fresh light, fitted for beginnings. It brushed past the miller as he set his waterwheel turning for the day. It lit the forge the smith was rekindling after four days of cold metal work. It touched draft horses hitched to wagons and sickle blades glittering sharp and ready at the beginning of an autumn day. (8%)
"No matter where she stood, she was in the center of the room." Kvothe frowned. "Do not misunderstand. She was not loud, or vain. We stare at a fire because it flickers, because it glows. The light is what catches our eyes, but what makes a man lean close to a fire has nothing to do with its bright shape. What draws you to a fire is the warmth you feel when you come near. The same was true of Denna." (57%)...more
Good listen. As someone who loves to travel but has never had a particular interest in traveling in Siberia or the rest of Russia, I enjoyed listeningGood listen. As someone who loves to travel but has never had a particular interest in traveling in Siberia or the rest of Russia, I enjoyed listening to the author describe his fascination with Siberia. The sheer size and history of this area are quite impressive. Some references were too obscure for me to understand (for ex, he discusses how Russia produces X times the amount of sodium dioxide that France does as an example of the country's strength...oh, yes, of course. ??????), and the author's reading voice is pretty monotone, but once I got used to those things, I really enjoyed the book. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy travelogues, and of course, to anyone who loves Russia....more
Interesting read. It took me a while to get into it, but the repeated blizzards and resulting snowcation in Boston gave me some good reading time. I lInteresting read. It took me a while to get into it, but the repeated blizzards and resulting snowcation in Boston gave me some good reading time. I lived in Texas for 5 years, so it was fun to read about how it became part of the United States and how its politics developed.
"Although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said, but what is equally true, is that power always reveals" -Robert A. Caro, as qtd. on pg. 163...more
Good tips on investing, saving for retirement, buying a house vs. renting, purchasing insurance, etc. I've done a fair amount of reading on this topicGood tips on investing, saving for retirement, buying a house vs. renting, purchasing insurance, etc. I've done a fair amount of reading on this topic but still found new info in here....more
Sweet story about a boy and the dog he rescues from a neighbor who mistreats animals. Interesting questions about right vs. wrong. Good read with my fSweet story about a boy and the dog he rescues from a neighbor who mistreats animals. Interesting questions about right vs. wrong. Good read with my fourth graders!...more
The Last Battle was my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia. It was well-paced and more clearly allegorical than some of the other novels, whichThe Last Battle was my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia. It was well-paced and more clearly allegorical than some of the other novels, which I appreciated. I also liked how so many of my favorite characters from the other stories in the series came back into this story at the end. The book seemed to have a slight ecological preservation focus, and some of the characters talked about the importance of caring for Narnia, and I enjoyed that slight emphasis.
Some favorite quotes:
"Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted." (Aslan, pg. 189)
To me, this quote speaks out against doing evil things in the name of Christianity. I wish the series had dealt with this more. People who are/have been on the right side of history abide by this idea.
*** "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this." (Jewel the Unicorn, pg. 196)
One of my students brought this book with her to read if she finished our district standardized testing early and offered to lend it to me later. I waOne of my students brought this book with her to read if she finished our district standardized testing early and offered to lend it to me later. I was pretty impressed with the book--besides addressing the issue of bullying in schools, it also dealt with gender roles (Chrissa's mother is a doctor and her father is a stay-at-home potter), and it also wove in some discussion of homelessness. Bullying is the only issue that is dealt with in a substantive way, but the other issues are touched on in a pretty authentic way, I think. The writing and the characters were strong. I think a lot of students would relate to this book and enjoy it....more
I LOVE this book!! It took me a while to get through the first time, since I was reading it in French (and my French is not great), but it's beautifulI LOVE this book!! It took me a while to get through the first time, since I was reading it in French (and my French is not great), but it's beautiful. I later read it in English, and I enjoyed that as well. So many great lessons. Lovely illustrations. Children and adults alike should read it!!...more