Tag Archives: Books

Four Books

Since I didn’t post for a couple of weeks, and I posted only marathony stuff before that, it’s been a while since I’ve added to Kristen’s Ten Day You Challenge. But I’m no quitter (just a dragger-outer), so today I’m continuing with Four Books.

(Here are my other posts: ten secrets, nine loves, eight fears, seven wants, six places, five foods)

10 day you challenge

Books are my favorite things in the history of ever. Choosing just four was tough, and I already wrote about my favorite running books. Today,  I decided to discuss four books that had major impacts on me at different times in my life.

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Anne of Green Gables. When people what ask my favorite book is, I can never answer, but if I had to choose, I’d pick this one. Or really, this one and the two after it. Growing up as an awkward redhead, I had a lot in common with Anne. And I learned a lot from her — about self-acceptance, about thinking before speaking, and even about love. And I always know when I’ve met a “kindred spirit” if they know what I’m talking about when I say “kindred spirit.”

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Atlas Shrugged. Yes, Ayn Rand had some unique and controversial philosophical ideas. But when I was a 19-year-old college sophomore who had never really thought about anything beyond my little circle of existence, Ayn Rand led me to think about money and politics and power. And those are things that everyone needs to learn to really think about and analyze. Have my views changed since then? Of course. But this book was one of the first that really led me to think philosophically and question the status quo, and that’s a good thing.

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Smashed. This one’s not quite the classic that the other two are, but it had a significant impact on me. Koren Zailckas writes about her experiences with partying and alcohol, and they are scary. I read this the summer after my junior year of college, and while I was never what anyone would call “wild,” this book made me question a lot of what I was doing (and the company I was keeping), why I was doing it, and where it would lead. I kept a copy of this book in my classroom library, and it disappeared a few years ago. I hope that’s because it impacted some other girl’s life, too.

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Lean In. When I started this book, I wasn’t sure how much of it would apply to me. I’m a teacher. I’m not exactly climbing the corporate ladder. But Sandberg’s advice is applicable to all women, and it’s changed a lot of what I do at work. I now have more confidence to speak my mind and stand up for what I believe is right and best for the kids. I think that’s a lot of why I’m now on our district leadership team. So thanks, Sheryl.

What are your top four most impactful books?

Read anything good lately that you’d recommend?


I’ve seen these “Currently…” posts on so many blogs lately, and I always enjoy reading them, so I decided to join the party. Here are my current things….

Books: I just finished Jodi Piccoult’s Handle With Care, which was very good. Now I’m reading The English Patient, but I can’t really get into it. It’s never a good sign when I take a book home over the weekend and don’t even open it. I also need to download some books onto my nook for vacation … recommendations?

Food: Now that it’s warming up a bit, I’ve been craving salads like crazy. I’ve also been loving the in-season strawberries (not in season here, of course, but still more delicious than any other time of year).

Drinks: Green tea — hot, usually, because even when it’s 70 degrees out, it’s approximately -25 in my classroom. I also made some iced green tea with lemon and mint this weekend…mmmm.

Music: I’m loving the vacation-eqsue tunes right now, for obvious reasons. Aside from the obvious Jimmy Buffet, I’m playing this one on repeat:
TV: I don’t really watch much TV, but since I’ve had a lot of early-morning treadmill runs lately, I’ve been catching up on the final season of Psych. I will miss this show.

Needs/Wants: None of these are really needs… it’s not like I’ll die without them … but they’re things I want before vacation. The biggest need is a bathing suit. I’ve had all of mine since before J and I were married, and a few too many lake dips have them lake-water-colored, and they’re kinda falling apart. I also need sandals, shorts… and a LOT of SPF 50 (that one really is a need).

Guilty pleasure:
Walking around the zoo yesterday with a group of kids instead of going to work and teaching all day.

This is a clouded leopard cub... a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
This is a clouded leopard cub… a.k.a. the cutest creature ever.
Bane of my existence: Seniors. Particularly the ones whose final paper (20% of their final grade) is due Friday… and who haven’t started said paper.
Indulgence: I’m trying to carefully avoid many indulgences until vacation (because I plan to indulge a lot while there), but dark chocolate is still my go-to treat.
Blessing: So many! I’ll pick this one: Last week, I got an e-mail from a former student thanking me for teaching her in high school. Little things like that make me feel so blessed.
Slang: “Spendy” has been making a frequent appearance…maybe because I’m looking at all those vacation needs/wants and they do not fit within my miniature budget.
Excitement: Oh, you haven’t caught on yet? We’re going on vacation.
Mood: A little stressed, but pretty happy, because all those stressors are pretty good things. The end of the year is so busy, but it’s so fun to see students growing up, improving, and moving on to great things.
Link:  This article about how top-tier schools don’t make for happier or more successful lives. Good food for thought as I watch a new group of kids graduate and other move up into that senior slot and start thinking about their futures.
What are some of your current things?

Book Review: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet

Last week, I finished a book and needed a new one. I wasn’t in the mood to read anything on my shelf, either at home or at school (which is kind of sad, because I have a LOT of books). I was in the mood for a running book. You know the kind … one that, while you’re reading, you can’t decide whether to keep reading because it’s so riveting or go outside and run because it’s so inspiring.

I already own several books that fit that description, but I wanted something new. So I grabbed my trusty nook, did a quick search, and landed on Kilian Jornet’s Run or Die. I only knew two things about this book: 1. Kilian Jornet is an incredible trail runner, and 2. Reading about incredible runners tends to give that inspiring feeling I was after.

So I bought it, and I read it. And although it was okay, I was disappointed overall.

Let’s start with the good:

  • Quick read — it was only 145 nook pages, which made for speedy reading.
  • Vivid descriptions of some of the amazingly beautiful places Jornet has run and of his thoughts and emotions throughout some runs and races. For a translated book, especially, I was impressed with some of the imagery.
  •  Some nice little thought-nuggets to ponder, like this one (the name of Chapter 8): “We celebrate a peak when we’re back down.”

And these are the things that made it a “meh” book for me:

  • Disjointed. That was my main issue with the book — it’s just a collection of tales of Jornet’s races, runs, and feats, without a unifying element. My next two points are really more sub-points of this one.
  • Shallow. The term “thought-nuggets” was the best descriptor I could use above, because Jornet never really gets into the meat of some of those thoughts and lessons. The book would have been much better with some more depth.
  • Impersonal. That probably sounds weird to say about a memoir-type book, but at the end of it, I didn’t feel like I knew Jornet. He touches on his childhood, his family and friends, and a failed relationship… but merely touches. For me to love a book like this, I need to feel a connection to the author, and I didn’t.

This book is worth a read if you want a short running book that you can read in a couple of days, but there are definitely more inspiring and well-written running books out there (see this post for some of my favorites).

And just for the record, Kilian Jornet is still a badass runner, regardless of his book.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately (running-related or not)?


Thursday Thoughts

I realize that it will probably be Friday before most people read this, but that’s okay. It’s Thursday right now. It’s been a while since I’ve done a random list post (a.k.a. a cop-out), so I think it’s about time, don’t you? As I mentioned on Sunday, this has been an emotional week at work, and my brain is not feeling a serious or profound post.

What’s that? You’ve never read a serious or profound post on this blog? Oh, that’s right.

In keeping with that theme, then, here are some non-profound things:

  1. I love this album:

    My students are always shocked if they find out I like Eminem. I tell them that I liked Eminem before they were born. I thought I was exaggerating, but then I googled it…turns out his first mainstream album came out in 1999. That’s when my freshmen were born. Ouch. So much oldness.
  2. Know what else is old? This laptop. Good gravy, just load the Internet, you junk monster.
  3. I just read this book:

    I liked it. It kind of made me want to run an ultra.
  4. Now I’m reading this:

    It’s weird. Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes an ultrarunning book more than a Pulitzer winner.
  5. I had to go to the elementary school the other day, and I saw this on the wall:
    photo (18)
    I nearly died. Get out of the gutter, you pervs. Those are OBVIOUSLY lungs.
  6. I need to eat this ASAP.
  7. I thought I hated both sauerkraut and olives. Then, I started the Whole30 and decided to give them another shot. Turns out, I like them both. Moral of the story: When you’re a grown-up, try the foods you hated as a kid. Maybe they are good now.

I think that’s all the randomness I have for you tonight. I had two more things, but they need their accompanying pictures, and this &@$* computer won’t load them. Another time, then.


Tell me something random about you. If you already did that list thing on Facebook and you’re my Facebook friend, you have to tell me something else.