Random Thoughts

National Poetry Month


It is National Poetry Month once again. Each year I try to read some form of poetry to honor the month. This year I’m either going to be reading Beowulf or Edgar Allan Poe. Even though I’m not a poetry fan, it is still a strong writing style and reading interest. Poetry helps  people connect with themselves, the world around them, and emotions. It is less intimidating to some people when they are asked to read something. Here are some popular poets and poems.

Some famous poets: 

  • Robert Frost
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Walt Whitman
  • Maya Angelou
  • Langston Hughes
  • D. H. Lawrence
  • E. E. Cummings
  • T. S. Eliot
  • Pablo Neruda

Famous Works of Epic Poetry

  • The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer
  • The Aeneid by Virgil
  • Don Juan by Lord Byron
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • Beowulf
  • Metamorphosis by Ovid
  • Epic of Gilgamesh

Famous Poems

Book News · Random Thoughts

Creating your own summer reading list

I came across this article on the Book Riot website and thought it was wonderful! Like the author, I am also a teacher, and I particularly like how simple her guidelines were. Here’s the link: http://bookriot.com/2016/06/07/how-to-create-your-own-summer-syllabus/


I’ll put this out there first: I am a public school teacher, and damn lucky to have an extended vacation of at least seven weeks every summer. I’ve been teaching since I left college at 21, so for my entire life, the months of July and August have been a change from the norm, and even throughout summer jobs and family obligations, I’ve never lost touch with the summer freedom feeling. A few years ago I secured my master’s degree and was finally ready to be done with required reading…except I missed it. I like rules and structure, and I missed having a list to at least taunt me about what I was SUPPOSED to be reading. That lead to my first self-created summer syllabus, a habit I’ve continued each summer with varying success.

Despite the academic connotations, I never stock my syllabus with titles I find intimidating. Instead, I evaluate where I am in various reading challenges, what I want to learn more about during the summer, and what my family will be doing at different times. Here are some steps to building a summer syllabus:

  1. Pick 1-2 books that help you meet your personal reading goals for the year.  I’m attending Book Riot Live in November, so I’m going to be adding titles by the amazing authors who will be speaking (you can see a full list here). I’m also loosely participating in the Read Harder challenge, so I’ll shoot for at least one book that will satisfy a line item there.
  2. Pick 1-2 books that address personal challenges and/or personal growth. My family is in the middle of a big move that will execute right at the halfway point of summer, so I’m thinking about a book that will make me feel guilty about all the stuff I own. My young kids are a little late starting preschool, so if I can find a homeschool-style book that doesn’t ick me out (lots of them have assumed that I am also interested in a gluten-free diet or strict Christian lifestyle, which is fine, but not what I’m looking for), then I will add that to the list.
  3. Pick 2-3 books that are in a favorite genre. I always add graphic novels, my favorite to read at the splash park. The summer is also the perfect time to start a new YA series, because they make me happy, and I like being happy in the summer.
  4. Pick 1-2 books that you’ve been meaning to reread. I reread a ton in the summer, maybe because I am home and sitting near my bookshelves more often than not. I have rereadFortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve every summer for a buncha years, and any Harry Potter revisiting usually happens in the summer months.
  5. Pick 1-2 books that support your career goals. Anyone you know who works in a school is spending a big part of their summer planning and preparing for the upcoming year. Aside from any suggested reading from my administration, I always have at least one topic that I’m researching (last summer I read a lot about Responsive Classroom, this summer I’m alllll book clubs and classroom libraries) and I usually try to hit at least two books in that vein.

And  there you have it. The bare-bones formula for a decent summer reading list. Adjust the number of titles based on how quickly you fly through books. Adjust the time period to address how long you want to be working on your list. With tiny tweaks, this could be a great way to plan your reading year. Or, if you’re a blessed vacationer like myself, give yourself a summer syllabus that eliminates head scratching the next time you find yourself in the bookstore or library. The best part? Come September, no one will know if you’ve stuck to the plan.
Do you plan your yearly or summer reading?  Do you find yourself saddled with syllabi from higher ups, or are you in total control of your book choices? Do you have any suggestions to help me flesh out the categories above?  I’d love to hear your summer reading thoughts.

Random Thoughts

Real Neat Blog Award

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I’ve been nominated!

I’d like to thank Bookheathen’s Right to Read for nominating me for a Real Neat Blog Award! I’m very flattered. The idea is for me to respond by answering a few questions and by nominating some other friends to do the same. Wow!

These are the rules:


1. Thank and link the blogger that nominated you.

2. Answer the 7 questions that the nomination has provided you.

3. Create 7 questions for your nominees.

4. Nominate 7 other bloggers.

Well, here are the questions I was asked:

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?
    I just wanted to start recording my thoughts and opinons on books, as well as keeping a log of what I’ve read.
  2. Do you have an all-time favorite book and, if so, what is it?
    Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Claire Robson is definitely right in the top mix. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is there as well along with The High Lord (Book 3 of the Magician’s Guild Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan. I know I reread those one regularly. I also love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, and Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.
  3. It’s a commonly held opinion that a movie is never as good as the book on which it is based. Do you have a favorite movie that you think is better than the book? [just one, in case you have more]
    I thought the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightly was better than the book. Only because it followed the story almost exactly, the costuming and language were spot on, and it made the story move a little more interestingly and quickly.
  4. What do you look for in your favorite blogs – e.g. poems, humor, challenging writing, serious issues, frivolity, art, photographs  etc – or whatever?
    I like interesting articles on random book knowledge and also polls and book crafts.
  5. What historical figure is your role model, if any, and why?
    I don’t really have a historial role model.
  6. What is your favorite indulgence – e.g. chocolate, expensive holidays, fast cars etc – or whatever?
    Totally books and chocolate LOL and yarn for crocheting.
  7. What recipe can you offer for achieving world peace?
    I think everyone should have to visit different countries and live there for a minimum of two months. This way they can experience how different people live and have a better appreciation of the difficulties and values of different societies.

And here are MY questions:

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?
  2. Do you participate in any reading challenge(s)? Which one(s)?
  3. What is your favorite book format and why? (Paperback, Hardback, Kindle/E-book, Audiobook, Large Print, etc.)
  4. What is your favorite NON-fiction book?
  5. What is your go to book store when you are looking for something?
  6. What hobbies do you have aside from reading?
  7. What are your five favorite fictional places?

My nominees are:

  1. Maria Casacalenda – Big City Bookworm
  2. Ajoobacats
  3. Kindles and Wine
  4. Robert – 101 Books
  5. A Year of Reading the World
  6. Becky – Blog of a Bookaholic
  7. The Classics Club
Random Thoughts

40 Ways to Improve Your Reading Life

Article originally published by Brenna Clarke Gray on the Book Riot blog: http://bookriot.com/2015/01/30/40-tiny-tasks-for-a-richer-reading-life/

Being a reader is a life-long project, and we all want to do it well. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the parts of a reader’s life that feel insurmountable — the TBR list you’ll never complete; the library hold list you’ll never catch up on; all the amazing books you’ll never hear about, let alone find and own!

But there are little ways we can enrich our reading lives every day: small changes we can make or ideas we can try to change up our reading patterns and find new books to love. Here are forty places to start. Add your own in the comments below, or try a couple first and then come tell me how they go.

1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual and use that time to read a poem.

2. Visit your library — especially if it’s been awhile — and ask a librarian for a recommendation.

3. Let go of one reading prejudice and never think about it again.

4. Read one book in a genre you think you despise.

5. Ask someone you respect for a book suggestion, and read it right away.

6. Give away the book that’s been on your TBR pile the longest.

7. Volunteer for an organization that promotes literacy.

8. Read a book that looks like it will make you feel uncomfortable.

9. Commit to a reading challenge.

10. Cull ten books from your collection and donate them without bringing any new books home.

11. Read out loud to someone you love.

12. Make a list of the ways reading intersects with love in your life.

13. Listen to the audiobook of a book you DNF’d years ago.

14. Read your best friend’s favourite book, no matter what it is.

15. Dog-ear a page.

16. Write in the margins.

17. Ask your oldest relative or friend their favourite book. Read it right away and tell them.

18. Read outside.

19. Listen to an audiobook while you run errands.

20. Read a play. Let yourself take the time to imagine how it might be staged.

21. Reread a book you hated in high school. Reread it twice.

22. Apologize to someone you’ve been snobby or snarky to about books.

23. Read a book by an author from a country you’ve never imagined visiting.

24. Read a collection of poetry by a single poet, front-to-back, twice.

25. Give your favourite book from childhood at the next baby shower you attend.

26. Give your favourite book from your 20s to your favourite college student.

27. Read a book by a person who doesn’t look like you.

28. Read a book by a person who wouldn’t understand you in a million years.

29. Read one page of a holy book from a faith you were not raised with.

30. Listen to a podcast about books.

31. Attend the next reading in your town, even (especially!) if you don’t know the author.

32. Write a handwritten letter to a living author you adore.

33. Visit the grave of a dead author you adore.

34. Visit a place you’ve only ever read about in books.

35. Crack a spine. Go on. Do it.

36. Read a superhero comic, especially if you haven’t in years (or ever).

37. Watch an adaptation of a book you like and try to like it for what it is.

38. Memorize a poem.

39. Reread the book you loved best when you were sixteen.

40. Have a conversation about books with someone you’ve never talked books with before.

Book News

Books being made into movies in 2016

For one of my reading challenges this year, I need to read a book that is being turned in to a movie this year. So I searched and found the official list on PopSugar’s website. Here’s the link: Book to Movies 2016. You need to scroll through the pictures at the top. However, I know I’m not going to remember to do that so here is the list. Some movies may not even be the same title as the book and I’m not even sure all of these are coming out this year. If I found the official release date to be in 2015 or 2017 I deleted it from the list. I divided them up into ones with movie release dates and ones without release dates but were listed on the PopSugar website as coming this year. The link of the release date will be a link to movie information, the book title link will be to the book on Goodreads.

Books to Movies with Release Dates:

No Release Date:

  1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  2. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen by Christopher McDougall
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. King of Heists: The Sensational Bank Robbery of 1878 that Shocked America by J. North Conway
  5. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
  6. Get Her Off the Pitch!: How Sport Took Over My Life by Lynne Truss
  7. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
  8. Home is Burning by Dan Marshall
  9. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
  10. Six Years by Harlan Coben
  11. The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace
  12. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
  13. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
  14. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  15. Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
  16. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray
  17. The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale
  18. Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
  19. American Tabloid by James Ellroy
  20. The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll
  21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow.
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Facing the Wind by Julie Salamon
  24. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
  25. 1984 by George Orwell
  26. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  27. Three Letter Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
  28. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
  29. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
  30. Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maurean Seaberg
  31. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
  32. Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey by Peter Carlson
  33. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
  34. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  35. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  36. The Queen of Katwe: One Girl’s Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion by Tim Crothers
  37. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  38. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  39. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
  40. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  41. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  42. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  43. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
  44. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  45. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  46. The Merciless by Danielle Vega
  47. Men of Granite: True Stories of New Hampshire’s Fighting Men by William McGee
  48. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  49. The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
  50. The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas
  51. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  52. The Engagement by J. Courtney Sullivan
  53. The Diary of a Chambermaid by Octave Mirbeau
  54. Love May Fail by Matthew Quick
  55. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  56. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  57. Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of World War II’s 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops by Peter Shelton
  58. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  59. The Van Cliburn Story by Howard Reich
  60. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss
  61. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman
  62. The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes
  63. Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron
  64. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
  65. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
  66. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  67. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by John Ronson