Thursday, April 13, 2017

Books of 2017

I have a difficult time with New Years Resolutions.  Oddly enough, I have a difficult time with goals in general.  But if I have a goal for 2017 it is this quote often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds talk events; small minds discuss people"

I figure if my goal is to discuss more ideas I need to fill my mind with new ideas.  So on my typically 75 minute commute each day and my typically 60-75 minute run every other morning I figure I should be listening to more ideas.  By the end of 2016 most books I was listening to were just fluff.  Good entertaining fluff.  But I decided it's time to buckle down and listen to some new ideas.  Here are the books I have listened to and a take away I got from the books in 2017 so far:

The Agony and the Ecstasy - a biographical novel about  in my humble opinion, the best artist of all time, Michelangelo.

I start with this book, even though I haven't finished it yet because I AM LOVING it.  Probably more than any other book on this list.  And I am shocked how whenever I ask people about this book, they groan like I am asking them if they have read War and Peace.  *For the record, I have read 900 pages of War and Peace and actually really loved it too. Anyway, back to The Agony and the Ecstasy.  It is awesome.  It also helps that I can picture all of the places described around Florence.  Both Michelangelo and Florence will always have a special place in my heart.   

My take aways: “One should not become an artist because he can, but because he must. It is only for those who would be miserable without it.”  I love this quote... and feel like it should be the motto for being a junior high teacher as well as an artist. 
If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.
Read more at:

Born a Crime - Awesome autobiography of a "mixed" boy growing up at the end of the Apartheid in South Africa.  

My take away: My favorite quote that I want to implement into why Geography is so important is, "When you make the effort to speak someone else's language even if it's just basic phrases here and there you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and an identity that exists beyond me.  I can see you as a human being.'"

Love and Gelato - a cheesy teen book about a teen who goes to live in Florence for the summer.

My Take Away: Didn't really have one.  Just loved to picture all the beautiful places in and around Florence as described in the book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Jason and I listened to this on our travels back from Christmas Vacation.  There will never be a reader as good as Jim Dale.

My take away: J.K. you are a genius.

I am Malala - the personal account for a teenage girl trying to fight against the Taliban.

My take away:  I love any book or story that shows the contrast between different Muslims.  Often times no matter how I try and teach it, I feel my students/American society views all Muslims the same.  (which is tragic since A. there are over a billion of them. B. some are so evil and some are so beautiful.)

The Family Romanov - Using primary source quotes, this book puts together the story of the fall of the Romanov family.  It was awesome.

My take aways: 1. The contrast between the two classes was so drastic.  2. I didn't realize the lower class was actually starting to get educated right before the revolution which might have even been worse because stupid young educated people thought communism would work.  3. and most important, by the end of Lennon's life he was starting to doubt communism.  He saw the people couldn't run the government.  And his doubt is what makes people conspire that Stalin killed him.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - I only started reading this book because Stacy Carosi.  I had no idea what it was going to be about.  This whole book is about Scientology and Leah's experience within the church and trying to get out.  Very interesting.

My take away: I can't look at Tom Cruise the same which is sad because I really did like his movies.  But breaking away from a religion you had given your whole life to would be a very difficult thing.

A Man Called Ove - the story a depressed old Autistic man that tries to kill himself but helping others kept getting in the way.

My take away:  Reaffirmed the tender spot in my heart that old people need young people as much as young people need old people.  And I sure hope that someday my parents get to live in my backyard.

Anna Kendrick:Scrappy Little Nobody  - the struggle to become an actress.

My take away: It's shocking how much the world wants to portray that celebrities are different from us, when they really are just like us.

Defy Series - Defy, Ignite, and Endure - A fun fantasy series about an unrealistic teenagish girl who can fight better than any man.

Take away: Sadly... don't really have one?

Boys on the Boat - The inspirational story of a orphaned boy who is able to make it to the 1930ish Olympics by becoming a rower.

My take away: I have been involved and hope to be involved again with a group that has synergy like described in the book.

Honorable Mentions:
I also listen to podcasts.  The hard and good thing about podcasts is the fact that they are short.  Good because they are easy, and fun, and usually entertaining.  Bad because I feel like they are forgotten as easily as they came.  I am not changed by podcasts the way I am by a book.  But that being said there are many wonderful ideas I have gained through podcasts.  Some of my favorite podcasts are:
1. Freakenomics.  It rocks my world and I adore it.
2. TED Radio Hour.  Sometimes it's awesome, sometimes just super boring.
3. The Tim Ferris Show.  This guy is a genius and always gets me thinking.
4. This American Life.  I used to LOVE this show but now too often I find it WAY too political for me and it is hard to swallow.
5. Planet Money.

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