Summer Plans

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I’ve officially completed my sixteenth year of teaching and it was a great year. My students worked hard and we created a fantastic community I hope will last in the years to come. We learned, we laughed, and then we cried when it was time to say goodbye. This sort of bond doesn’t happen every year, so I am particularly grateful when it does happen.

Teaching can be a demanding profession, but all that hard work pays off when students walk out of my classroom a little wiser and a little more confident than when they entered nine months before. Having summers off is pretty awesome, too.

So, what should I do with two months all to myself?? The possibilities are endless, especially since I’m starting to feel a bit more free than I have in the last few years. After dealing with so much loss (family, friends, and furkids have all passed away in the last three years), I’ve admittedly not been myself. However, it finally feels like some of those heavy clouds are starting to clear. I can feel bits and pieces of myself falling back into place. And its exciting.

My list of things I want to do is already likely to fill up more time than I have, but I like having options when I wake up in the morning:

  1. Start trail running, again. Years ago, I was a trail runner and I loved it. I gave it up due to time constraints, but now I think its time to bring it back into my life. The physical activity and time with nature did a world of good for me.

2. Start cooking, again. For some reason, I stopped cooking healthy meals and making salads. I’m going to pull those old recipe cards out and get away from those processed boxed meals.

3. Knit. Like there was ever any doubt this would be on the agenda! This summer I’m looking to learn some new techniques and add more socks to my already stuffed sock drawer.

4. Write. Also a no-brainer item for the agenda. I’m hoping to continue my haiku practice, but also to jump back into the query process for my novel. I haven’t given up on that yet and I have all summer to send out query packages to the agents on my list.

5. Read. I have a stack of “to read” books I can’t wait to dive into this summer. I’m already halfway through my Goodreads Challenge goal, but I want to be at least 5 books ahead of schedule before the new school year starts.

6. Learn something new. I’m still deciding what I’m going to learn – I’ve kicked around everything from languages to a new craft. We’ll see where the muse takes me!

7. Binge on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I have several shows/movies I want to watch and catch up on including, Grimm, Portlandia, The Blacklist, Bob’s Burgers, About Time, Theory of Everything, The End of the Tour, and so many others!

8. Work. Yep, teachers can’t help but do some work over the summer. I’m teaching a new class (AP World History) in the fall, so I’m going to try and get a jump on the planning process. It’s a class I’ve always wanted to teach, so I’m looking forward to outlining the basic structure.

9. Spend time with family, furkids, and friends. As my circle continues to get smaller, more free time means more time with those I care about the most. I’m just going to hold onto them a little tighter and make sure they know how much I love them.

10. Clean out the house. It’s time to purge the shed and closets of the stuff we no longer use or need. I cleared out the built up junk in my classroom last week, so I’m already in the mindset of getting rid of clutter.

This list should probably have the word “relax” somewhere in there, but I’ve never been one for long periods of sleep or sitting still. Why start now?

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c.b.w. 2016

The Essential Haiku Library

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Poetry books tend to occupy a small space in most bookshops unless your local bookshop is one of those awesome little nooks that carries everything. Haiku books occupy an even smaller space, if at all. This is quite the problem for an avid reader, writer, and all out fan of haiku.

Where do you find these?!

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When I first got into haiku as a daily practice a year ago, I was desperate for haiku reading material – especially contemporary haiku. Much to my dismay, my local bookshop carried only one anthology. I bought it and devoured it within a week. Now what? As a newbie, I didn’t know what to look for or what authors/editors to search.

I did the usual amazon search and found a couple things here and there, but they were ridiculously expensive as they were often self-published, single print or special editions of journals. So, I tried Half Price Books where I lucked out with two more anthologies. From there, I was able to put together some names of celebrated haiku poets and editors, which allowed me to do more advanced searches in online sources.

Needless to say, building my haiku library has been an arduous task! A trip to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon helped, but it has not been easy to find publications of an art form that has become one of my passions.

All that book stalking paid off with a nice little collection of haiku anthologies, histories, and philosophies.

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Now that I’ve done all the grunt work, I thought I’d share what I consider to be the quintessential books that should be part of any haiku library. Knowing the titles and authors/editors make finding them infinitely easier. I’ve linked them to sources to make it even easier!

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Basho

The Haiku Anthology – Ed. By Cor van den Huevel

Haiku in English: The First One Hundred Years – Ed. by Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns

The Essential Haiku – Ed. by Robert Hass

Haiku Moment – Ed. by Bruce Ross

Haiku 21 – Ed. By Lee Gurga and Scott Metz

Haiku Vol. 1-4 by R.H. Blyth – I do not own these volumes, but they are considered required reading by most haiku enthusiasts. They are difficult to track down and can be a bit pricey.

My collection includes more than this list and there are, of course, many more volumes out there. These are, however, the ones that left the most meaningful impression on my muse. I learned the most from them about the tradition and evolution of haiku, while also experiencing the powerful nature of haiku through some incredibly talented poets.

I am always looking for new anthologies, so if you know any good titles, please share them in the comments!

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c.b.w. 2015

Re-Reading Doesn’t Count??

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After watching ABC Family’s Harry Potter Weekend earlier this summer, I decided to re-read every Harry Potter book. Normally, this would be an easy goal, but because I’m wrapped up in Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge it’s not that simple.

I challenged myself to read 35 books in 2015 and it stands to reason that any book I read should count towards that total. It shouldn’t matter if I’ve never read the book or if I’m choosing to re-read a book I read five years ago. However, Goodreads is currently unable to assign more than one date to a finished book. That means, once I read a book it only counts one time towards my “Read Shelf.” That also means a previously read book will not apply towards the reading challenge.

On the surface, the one time read date sounds reasonable. Most people read a book once and they’re done, right? Wrong! Most readers I know have favorite books they love to revisit. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Jane Eyre, the entire Twilight series, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and so many others. Yet, every time I re-read them, I can’t log the additional read in Goodreads. Not cool! Especially since each new read brings new insight and therefore new perspectives for a review and discussion.

When it comes to the Harry Potter situation, I rated all six books as a means to build my account and foster recommendations when I first signed up on goodreads four years ago. In doing so, I made it impossible to count any Harry Potter re-reads on this year’s goals.

To solve this problem, I had to do the unthinkable – I deleted every Harry Potter book off my shelves and hoped it would wipe my reading history for each volume. It worked for all of them except HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone. While this solves the problem, I’m mad I had to do it in the first place! I’m still reading Harry Potter in tandem with other books, but at least they will now count towards my challenge total.

Despite finding a solution for the Harry Potter Situation, the fact remains that I’ve re-read more than few books this year and those efforts will remain under the radar. I love Goodreads, but the lack of a re-read feature definitely needs to be fixed!

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Where do you stand on the re-read issue?

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c.b.w. 2015

Love-Hate Challenge: Part II

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My Love List of books, (see Love-Hate Challenge: Part I), was easy to make because I love so many books. The Not A Fan List however, is much more difficult. While I read a wide range of books, I also know myself well enough to avoid books I know aren’t for me (like computer coding or anything where a dog dies). That means there aren’t too many books that end up on the yuck pile!

I had to work pretty hard at this list and I honestly mean no disrespect to those who do like the books on my list. This is all just my humble opinion.

Not A Fan Book List

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I’ve ranted about this book before, (See Favorite Thing Friday: Last Books). Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Roth is an incredible writer – I loved Divergent and Insurgent – but Allegiant made me so angry. I can’t remember the last time an ending killed the entire series for me. As a reader, I felt betrayed and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

2. Harlequin Romance

I want to clarify that I’m not totally against romance. I actually read a lot of romance novels, just not Harlequin. Why? They are all the same! If you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. I like a little originality in my mindless escape reading!

3. Books where chapters shift between different points of view or series that start in one point of view and switch to a different point of view in the last book

My post, One YA Reader’s Desperate Plea outlines a rather lengthy rant on this particular point. I really, really hate it when writers shift the point of view in a series. And I won’t even pick up a book if the point of view shifts constantly from chapter to chapter. Grrrr . . . it just bothers me!

4. Books I haven’t finished: The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeirer and The Idiot by Fyodor Dosteovtsky

I’ve read almost 200 books over the last few years. These are the only two with a bookmark still stuck in the middle. The Illumination wasn’t half bad, but I got bored and couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I still intend on finishing The Idiot, but I have also realized that I am not a huge fan of Dosteovtsky. He’s a little too depressing for my taste.

5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I was forced to read this book in high school and that might be part of the reason why I do not like it. Even though I’ve always loved to read, I’ve also always hated being told what to read and then subsequently forced to read it on someone else’s set schedule. Aside from that, I could not relate to the characters and I found the story quite disturbing. It’s just not my thing.

6. Series that go too long

There are a number of series that fall into this category, but the only one I fell into and then out of was the Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore. I read I Am Number Four, The Power of Six, and The Rise of Nine thinking it would just be a trilogy. The story however just keeps dragging on. The sixth book comes out later this year . . . This series should have ended a long time ago!

7. Most Works of Emily Dickinson

It took me two years to read Dickinson’s complete works. I have a lot of respect for Dickinson’s talent, but I don’t really like her poetry (with exception to her works regarding nature).

8. Most Works of Charles Dickens

With exception to A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities, I am not a fan of Charles Dickens. I made attempts to read all of his works (which is how I came upon the two exceptions), but could never get past the first 100 pages. I think he’s a talented writer and I understand why he is so adored, but I think it’s the Dosteovtsky issue all over again for me. Dickens is quite grim!

9. Books by Dan Brown before the Da Vinci Code

After I read the Da Vinci Code, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on all of Dan Brown’s previous books. After attempting to read the first 100 pages of each, I realized there was a reason why he didn’t hit it big until the Da Vinci Code. His previous thrillers weren’t that thrilling.

10. The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff (later redeemed by Rosoff’s What I Was).

The Bride’s Farewell was a thin book but it took me forever to read because it was such a slow moving story – almost glacial. I’d only get through a couple of pages before I started to nod off in total boredom. To this day, I’m not sure what the point of it was supposed to be. However, I liked the writer’s overall style, so I gave her another shot with What I Was, (which was incredible).

Nominees

I picked these nominees because I think they’ll all approach this challenge with an interesting perspective. I’m hoping they’ll create lists that are unique to their personalities and writing genres.

The rules of the Love-Hate Challenge are simple:

  • Make a list of 10 things you love
  • Make a list of 10 things you hate
  • Nominate 10 bloggers

Rita Ackerman

Suzanne Brent

TBN Ranch

The Everyday Epic

Heart to Harp

Windy Words

Metaphors & Smiles

Random Acts of Writing [+art]

Michele Venne

YA Chit Chat