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Saturday, January 07, 2017

First Book Review of 2017: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

6:12 AM

Author: Mark Manson
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Reading in 2017 is all about "getting my life together." Since I am turning 35 this year, I am focused on being the "best me" that I can be. Therefore, when I chose The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I knew that I was starting my year off just right. 

I started the audiobook on January 3rd, during my morning commute to work. I'm guilty of not reading the synopsis of a book that I have chosen, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Matter of Fact, I think I heard about the book when I was listening to a podcast by Myleik Teele. Her podcasts give me life, and I love that she is an avid reader, who is dedicated to personal development. So, when she recommends a book to read, I take note.  After reading 48 Laws of Power because of Myleik's recommendation and enjoying it, I have started making a list of books that she suggests to her listeners.

Listening during my commute to work, I started to contemplate my own patterns of thinking and logic based on Manson's explanations of choosing what and what not to care about in your life. Every choice makes a different in my life. Even when I choose not to react or act, I am still making a choice, which is rooted in my value system. Manson forces you to start to evaluate your life's values and start to identify what's essential and important to you, as well as to identify why. For example, he talks about an individual, who remains in a marriage, even though happiness has been long gone. This person refuses to leave because the value of staying married, even though misery and insecurity have replaced joy. This person does not value their happiness as much as their desire to stay married. Thinking back on this situation in my life, I felt compelled to reckon with this analysis. A person, who valued their happiness more than staying married just for the sake of marriage, probably would not remain in a bad marriage, which is sucking the life out of their existence. Interestingly enough, Manson emphasizes the significance that your values contribute to your overall actions and what's important. The wisdom within the text provides a taste of reality and encourages the reader to question their values and why these values matter. 

Another point about the book is the distinction from other self-help books.  Manson does not preach positivity. Instead, Manson instructs the reader to recognize that sometimes things are wrong.  Problems do occur. Bad stuff does happen.  Manson suggests that instead of transforming the bad things into a wonderfully tasting lemonade you should learn how to withstand the bad things and learn how to effectively deal with them.  I liked this spin on dealing with life.  Many personal development books focus on the turning lemons into lemonade philosophy, but Manson suggests that the reader learns how to suck the lemon and deal with the horrible sting of its taste.

After reading Manson's book, I've found myself wondering what is important to me and why. I noticed that I have a tendency to pay attention to things that should not be given any thought. I become angry when I feel that someone has intentionally or unintentionally "done me wrong." Giving value to "being done wrong" distracts me from things that I cannot control and should care about in my life. Should I actually project the energy of anger and dwell on the fact that someone bumped me in the grocery store without saying excuse me? Should I actually lose time and energy over someone talking about me behind my bump or making false accusations? Could I focus on more important things in my life instead of such trivial things, which add nothing to my life? What am I avoiding? Why am I afraid? What do I fear? Why am I afraid? I like how Manson's proposes that you focus more on the why than on the what.

As as you can see, Manson really makes you think. Even the profanity and the sarcasm within the text add to his message and theme. I finished this book in two days. I will probably read it again and purchase the eBook or paperback. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because it is truly thought-provoking. People, who enjoy personal development books, will enjoy this text. This book encourages self-evaluation for the improvement of your life. This book is definitely one that I will be giving as a gift to other people.

If you are interested in the book, check out the excerpt from Manson's website. Have you read this book? Would you read this book? Let's talk in the comments.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

3:16 AM
Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My oldest son is finished his first, freshman semester of his advanced English course with an exam on Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was written by Zora Neale Hurston, who is one of my favorite authors. When he informed me that he needed the book, I became excited and disappointed.  I was excited because he would be experiencing real literary talent from the Harlem Renaissance. I was disappointed because even though I own numerous copies of this book, all of them are packed away deep in my storage unit.  ( I really miss seeing my books.)

Hearing my son say that he enjoyed reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. I appreciated how my son was able to recognize the work of a writer, who had inspired authors like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison.

Due to traveling for my job and dealing with family emergencies, I have been unable to engage in "book talk" with my son about Their Eyes Were Watching God. I am hoping that during the holiday break, I am able to engage him in literary conversation about his analysis of the text.  I want to compare my analysis of the book with his and just chat about it.  Engaging in in-depth discussion about various literary texts is something that I miss since I no longer teach English.

I must say that my son was never tempted to watch the movie version of the book.  I even mentioned it once to him, and he did not take the bait.  I was so proud of him. He wanted to read the book, and he finished it without being entangled in the web of comparing the book to the movie.  So many students fall deep into this trap. He did not. He wanted to devour the text, and knowing this fact makes me very proud.

My children know that my love for reading is very serious.  Give me a book, as a  gift, and I am overjoyed.  Take me to a bookstore and allow me to sit undisturbed for hours, I am forever grateful.  However, when my children share my love for a book(s), like my son did for Their Eyes Were Watching God, "my cup runneth over."

My love for books was instilled in me by my mother and father. When we traveled, we always found a bookstore or a library.  Because of this habit, I do the same thing when I travel.  My parents always read.  They read to us. They taught us how to read. They read in front of us.  To this day, I love seeing my father fall asleep with a book in his hand.  He is always reading and always learning.  To be able to share my love of Zora Neale Hurston and Their Eyes Were Watching God with my oldest son is such a blessing. I am trying to savor each and every moment with him.  Before I know it, he will be in college, and he will be away from "my nest."

Have you read Their Eyes Were Watching God? Who do you share you love of reading with?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guest Post: How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading

7:50 AM

How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading

How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading
By John Steely

An adult student needs to be able to read a paper or a chapter and understand the material on their own, outside of the classroom. One of the best ways to make sure that this happens effectively is to take notes while reading, writing down the ideas and thoughts inspired by what is being read.

Most students are taught to highlight while reading. This can be somewhat useful, but simply highlighting does little to improve the understanding of what is being read. Highlighting is an effective method of finding a passage later, as is underlining and even making comments in the margin. However, none of these are as effective as taking notes.

The Purpose of Taking Notes While Reading

The reason the student is reading something is, usually, to gain an understanding of something that was previously not understood, or at least to improve the existing understanding of the material. Often, the reading assigned to an adult student is more condense and full of information than reading done in grade school. Thus, the reading can be more difficult.

The purpose of taking notes while reading is two-fold. On the one hand, the student is trying to understand what is being said, and to incorporate that understanding in a larger picture of the course or goal of the reading. This purpose means that the student must understand not just the content but also the structure of what is being read. By taking notes while reading, this structure can often become clearer, more easily understood. On the other hand, the student does not want to read the material more than is necessary; after all, the student is working within a time frame that can sometimes put constraints on the amount of time spent in the reading. Being forced to read the material more times than is necessary can be a waste of time. This does not mean that the student will read the material only once; in many cases, multiple readings are needed. But readings should not be wasted. By taking notes, the material can be understood faster and more effectively.

How to Take Reading Notes

Unlike the classroom, the student has the opportunity to read the material more than once. This fact means that the method of taking notes can be more deliberate; the student can take the time needed to create a set of structured notes, rather than using a method of note-taking that minimizes time. For this reason, probably the best method of taking notes while reading is to use an outline. By creating an outline, the structure of the material can be more easily understood.

The outline should be constructed as a sequence of layers, rather than trying to get the entire outline done with one pass. The first layer should be based on the structure of the reading; if section headers are provided, these can provide a readily available initial structure. Within each section, the first thing to determine is the purpose of the section. Is this section putting forth an argument? Is it explaining an idea? Providing an example? Once the purpose is determined, this should be written under the section heading.

After the section's purpose is determined, the reader then needs to put in the details. I have found that doing this twice and comparing the results creates the most effective notes. Read the section through, creating an outline based on the reading. After the section is done, the student usually has a better understanding of what that section of reading is doing. Then reading the section a second time, creating a fresh outline can provide a fuller understanding. Whether this second reading is done immediately after the first is entirely up to the student. With particularly difficult sections, taking a break between the readings can provide a fuller perspective on the reading, creating a better outline.

Once the outline is created, it should be reviewed for completeness. Is anything in the outline unclear, confusing? If so, then the student has two options. Either he can reread the material, looking for a clearer understanding, or a question can be created for the next class, looking a clearer understanding from the instructor.

Reading Technical Material

This technique works best in material where claims are made and supported, such as in economics, design principles, or surveys. Technical writing, such as mathematics and electronics, need a slightly different approach. The key sections for technical material are often not the sections provided by the reading material but the formulas being presented. Once the formulas are presented, then the outline should provide first an explanation of what is in the formula then at least one example; more examples are useful if the material is not clearly understood the first time.

Practice makes Perfect

If there is any academic activity which improves with practice, it is reading and taking notes. Initially, the student will find the endeavor difficult and fraught with uncertainty. Working with others, comparing notes and examples, can be of immense help when learning how to take notes on reading material. As the student practices, however, she will notice a remarkable improvement. As in many other efforts, persistence in reading and taking notes pays off.

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/John_Steely/330623

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

1:36 PM
Book Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

When I decided to read Small Great Things, I knew nothing about the book.  I just noticed that many of my book hearts on Instagram and Twitter were posting about this book.  Without reading the book synopsis or the book reviews, I added it to my TBR list and downloaded it on Audible.  

I should have read the book synopsis and book reviews. However, if I had read the synopsis or the book reviews, I would not have read the book so soon.  I have been reading a lot of books about racism, and the recent presidential election was bringing the hatred out in full force. Being sick of the ever-present troll known as racism, after reading the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (book review coming shortly) and starting on Queen Sugar (I haven't finished it yet.), I probably would not have read this book for a long time. 

Therefore, I would have missed out on devouring a book full of life that included so many spoken and silent lessons.   I may have even forgotten that the book was on my ever-growing TBR list on Goodreads.  

Nevertheless, I listened to Small Great Things and was not disappointed. Jodi Picoult writes a book about race relationships, but from three different viewpoints, which makes the book so interesting.  She writes from an African American woman's perspective, a white supremacist's view, and a white woman's perspective.  

Ruth, the African American woman, is a neo-natal nurse, who encounters Turk, the white supremacist.  Turk requests that Ruth and anyone else of color not to provide care to his son.  When Turk's son dies, Ruth is immediately thrown under the bus by Turk and the hospital for his death.  Kennedy is the public defender, assigned to Ruth's case.  Not only does Ruth and Kennedy learn from each other, but they actually "see" each other.  Jodi Picoult demonstrates the profound lesson in "seeing someone."

Many times, as I listened to the text, I understood Ruth's confliction as an African American woman. I understood being the "only one" in particular settings.  I learned a valuable lesson about trying to "prove" that you were worthy enough to be accepted or educated enough to perform.  I understood not fitting in with the African American children and not fitting in with the White children.   Both her childhood and her adulthood mimics certain incidents in my life, which I could relate. Jodi's ability to paint vividly each perspective is remarkable.  The research that Jodi performed to gain insight into each aspect is translated into an amazing story that leaves you wanting to promote some change and any action.


I do not read the author’s note, but since I was listening to the audiobook, I was made aware of how hard Jodi Picoult worked to tell the “truth” in her fictional novel.  The story is based on a similar incident that occurred in Michigan.  An African American nurse, Tonya Battle, sued the hospital after it granted a man’s request that no African American nurses were to care for his newborn child.  A note was placed on the assignment clipboard that read “No African American nurse to care for baby.” Before reading Small Great Things, I was unaware of this event that took place in 2013. The news article can be viewed on USA TODAY. Her lawsuit was settled according to USA TODAY.

The author’s note is a must read and helps to understand how and why Small Great Things were written.  After reading the book, I decided to read the reviews.  I am glad I did not let the reviews determine if I read this book.  I am glad that I was exposed to this book and its many messages.

I would recommend Small Great Things to everyone.  All ages. All ethnicities.  If I was still teaching college-level English,  I would figure out how to use this book in my lesson plans because of the profound messages within each page. So many themes are present in this book: compassion, racism, mental illness, hatred, and much more. Check out the excerpt of Small Great Things.

Have you read Small Great Things?  What did you think of the book?  Are you going to add this book to your TBR list?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Guest Post: Read a Book: To Know That You Are Not Alone

10:15 AM
Read a Book: To Know That You Are Not Alone

Read a Book: To Know That You Are Not Alone
By Divya Revindran

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them" - Joseph Brodsky.

In these busy times, when we don't even have time to eat breakfast, there is no wonder that we gave up reading, rather forgot the importance of reading.

I was also not a reader. I thought it as a boring task to read a 100 or more pages book. But I was wrong. We are really missing lot more than what we think without reading.

When I start being at home after my work without nothing much to do, I choose books as my companion. I found it really amazing to read, which cannot be described in words. We can understand it only with the actual experience. It's the best way to avoid boredom.

Now I am an avid reader and I wish I would get enough of my life time to read all the great books.

There is much more to life than our work or spending time aimlessly with latest technology products. Reading books gives us that much needed break from chaos of life. It instills peace inside us, makes us relaxed and also exercise our brain in the process.

When we read a book, it feels great to put ourselves into a world of characters that the writer has created for us. It is the same like watching a good movie.

When we spend hours and hours reading a book, creating a world with different characters in our mind, our imagination powers are sure to get a boost.

Thanks to the technology that we can find good articles to read on the internet. A great article can motivate and inspires us as the same as a book do. The only reason I recommend reading books over short articles is that when we spend hours with a thought or an idea that it's more likely to stay with us than spending few minutes tinkering with it.

Just reading a book is not good enough. The way how we read it also matters. When we come across a new idea or different opinion, think upon it deeply. Do not accept it or eject it blindly. Try to reason with it and understand the writer's point of view.

As we continue this habit, we will start forming our own thoughts and values. It will challenge our mind and the thoughts, customs and tradition that we have grown up with.

It's very easy to get involved too much into the reading process, that we forget the actual purpose of reading is to make us a better person. Just finishing one book after another without any real action from our side won't help us.

Reading articles which spreads negativity, hatred and wrong content is dangerous. It is better not to read anything at all rather reading such articles.

Always read the content from a safe distance. Neither too close nor far away from the eyes.

Always prefer quality over quantity. Better to read one great book than hundred bad ones.

Don't accept anything blindly. Think upon it and try to understand the reason behind what's been written.

Focus completely on what we are reading. Do not think about other stuffs while reading.

Even our education system acknowledges the fact that reading is important for the development of an individual and hence it is considered a top priority in primary education. We can read almost anything including encyclopedias, novels, and magazines and so on. What we read is not important as long as we like what we are doing.

The foremost thing is that reading improves our vocabulary, Command on the language and the communication skills, as we regularly come across new words, phrases, idioms and writing styles. Reading books of a variety of subjects helps us to add our knowledge, which, in turn, helps us with different attributes of life.

The habit of reading yields rich dividends, and that's a fact which cannot be questioned. So it's high time you find a cure for bibliophobia, i.e., the fear of books (especially thick books) and dive into the world of literature or whatever you like to read. In this world of competitiveness, it's always advantageous to amass vast knowledge, and there is no better way to do so.

"Everything in the world exists in order to end up us a book "- Stephane Mallarme

To Know more about the benefits of reading visit http://divyarevindran.blogspot.in/2013/12/10-reasons-why-you-should-be-reading.html

Divya Revindran: http://divyarevindran.blogspot.in/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Divya_Revindran/1779875

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Top 5 Books Read in 2016

6:00 PM

As the year comes to an end, I realized that I have been devouring a significant number of books.  This year, my goal was to read 15 books in 2016. Since I have a 4-hour daily commute, I have been reading audiobooks.  Before my lengthy commute, I only read physical books and ebooks. Now, I am addicted to audiobooks.

I have compiled a list of my top 5 books for 2016.  My list of books includes business books, memoir, fiction, and non-fiction.  I have reviewed some of the books on my list.
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I read the paperback version, which I purchased at Barnes and Noble.  This book was really great. I enjoyed the novel.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a very talented writer.  I plan to read more of her books in 2017. 

2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - Year of Yes was actually read by Shonda Rhimes, which contributed to me enjoying the book.  Hearing her read this book and express various life lessons, I am glad that I chose this book from Audible.  

3. I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi - This book is HILARIOUS, but there are numerous lessons, which can be learned from each essay.  Luvvie gave me life in this book.  Sometimes, she was even talking about me.  This book is a must-read.

4. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene - I first heard about this book, when I was listening to a podcast by Myleik Teele.  This book is on my list to read every year.  The 48 Laws of Power applies to your personal and professional life.  Next year is about self-development. I am glad that this book was introduced to me.

5. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris - I am still trying to wrap my mind around this concept, but I really enjoyed the book because Tim Ferris shares so many different resources that can be used for a variety of reasons.  The book links to his blog, which shares, even more, resources.  I listened to the audiobook version, but I plan to read it again and purchase the physical book.

  • What book(s) did you enjoy reading in 2016?  
  • What books are left on your TBR List?

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About Us

Cassandra desires to live in a world where her access to books is endless. As a Book Reviewer, Lifestyle Blogger, English Instructor, Conference Presenter, and Published Writer, Cassandra’s been recognized for her work at local, state, and national levels. When Cassandra’s not being a mother, wife, instructor, presenter, writer, or volunteer, you can find her hypnotized by the pages in a book. Her books can be found via Amazon, Kindle, and iTunes. Currently, she is working on her first creative writing piece, entitled “A Vision of My Imagination.” So, stay tuned for her upcoming book. Discover more about Cassandra, by connecting with her on social media.

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