Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Learning Chinese

I decided to learn Chinese. Yes, I realize it is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest language to learn. So - why did I choose it?

For the past 10 months, I have been teaching English to Chinese children online. This job has been a joy and an eye-opener too. I have learned a lot about the Chinese people and their culture.

For instance, one of my students has a new baby brother. When I asked Baby's name, my twelve-year-old student did not know. Or maybe he just didn't know what to say. So, I did a bit of research and, from what I can tell, new babies are not given public names. I think Baby gets a name that only the parents use. One source calls this a "milk name" which is generally abandoned after Baby is officially named. Seems that everyone else just calls the child Baby, or Baobao in Chinese.

My interest was piqued just a few months into my new endeavor. I wanted to be able to understand!

Since I can only speak English to my students, I cannot use them as a resource for learning the new language. So, I looked for some free resources to help me decide if this is something I can really do.

The first tool I used was an app called HelloChinese. This app received good reviews and was fun to use. I used it for a few months but realized that the hardest part of learning Chinese was reading it. The Chinese characters, or hànzì, are difficult to learn. It was very daunting. I'd been studying casually for weeks and was making no progress in memorizing any characters. The app had me drawing characters, which I did faithfully. However, it wasn't sticking. The characters were complicated. Some had as many as 13 strokes!

I watched a Ted Talk video on how some of the characters relate to the meaning of the words. However, many more do not relate at all. So, this helped me only a little.

A few weeks ago, I got a notification that a language program I'd used for Spanish review - Duolingo - had just released their Mandarin language option. I was excited! I knew I liked how the program worked. So I checked it out. I've been using it regularly for several weeks. Now, I'm learning the characters!

The program doesn't have me draw the characters, but match them with the spoken syllable it represents. I also have to decode sentences written in hànzì. Is it difficult? Yes, it is. There are very few characters I can recognize right now. One of them is wo - 我 - wŏ, which is the pronoun I.

However, I think that Hello Chinese is strong in the areas that Duolingo is not, and vice versa. So, I think I will be using both of them as time progresses.

Someday I want to visit China. I would be so pleased to be able to communicate in the language, even if only a little.

Monday, January 01, 2018

500 Words a Day in 2018

I have thoughts to share. Really I do. But when I start writing them down, I judge every one. That's not interesting. That's not insightful. That's not original. That's not even grammatical. Why am I so hard on my own writing?

I read lots of other people's words. I used to read many blogs. Before I was so busy, I spent lots of time reading other people's writing. I read books, magazines, blog posts, Facebook posts - all kinds of things. Most people don't worry very much about their writing, at least from the evidence.

I teach writing. My goal is to help students write concisely and correctly. I sometimes feel like a fraud because teaching writing doesn't leave me time for actual writing. But this year is going to be different. I am going to write daily.

Why? Well, I can blame NaNoWriMo this past November. My daughter asked me to write her some fanfiction. I'd never written fanfic before, especially not in the Harry Potter wizarding world. I didn't really know that much about it, although I did read the books and watch the films. But knowing that Hermione Granger can cast a spell that creates light is a lot different than writing the movements she makes and the words she speaks when she does it.

But I did it. I wrote 50,000 words about Hermione and her friends. And I fell in love with writing again. I want to create worlds. I want to live in them. I want to see them. I want to make them happen.

Creativity. That's always my bugaboo. I come back every time to that thought. Uninteresting. Mundane. Uninspired. Talentless.

How do I get past that?

This is how. Writing every day. I'll be writing 500 words. Every. Day. My hope is that it will push me past the mundane into the fresh and inventive. Some days I'll probably write blog posts. I am still not done with my fanfic, so I'll work on that too. I have some vague ideas for stories. I've always attempted novels, but maybe I'll work on shorter pieces.

I'll make time for writing. I seem to have lots of time for Facebook even when I'm really busy. I can divert some of that time to writing. Five hundred words doesn't take that long to jot down. I'm at 391 words right now and I've only been writing 10 minutes. So, fifteen minutes a day - that's doable. Even if the writing isn't memorable, the practice is valuable. And I won't feel like a fraud when I'm teaching my students. I'll be practicing and honing my craft.

I'm going to post this on my long-unused blog. Maybe no one will read it. Maybe someone will find it. Maybe someone will be motivated to try writing too. And next year, on January 1, I'll have logged 182,500 words in 2018. That's about as long as Great Expectations or The Poisonwood Bible. What about you? Do you have some words to write?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

June Reads

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 6/12/2015
Good - Young Adult - 192 pages Audio 5 hr 9 min
Ponyboy Curtis is a "Greaser" who ends up caught in a deadly struggle with their rival gang, "The Socs".
I may teach this book for a class next year and I wanted to re-read it. I read it years ago as a teen.

Flirting with Forever by Gwyn Cready 6/21/2015
Good - Romance - 415 pages Print
Art curator Campbell Stratford accidentally travels back in time to meet 17th century artist Peter Lely. Rated MA for explicit sex.
Fluffy read. 

May Reads

May was CRAZY-BUSY!!

Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding 5/10/2015
Good - Fiction - 384 pages Print
Private investigator is raped while on the job and afterwards suffers PTSD symptoms while trying to fight her way back to normalcy.
Fielding always writes an ending with a twist. This one too. I didn't see it coming.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 5/26/2015
Good - Fantasy - 381 pages Audio 14:14
The Ring is destroyed and the King is enthroned.
Re-read for Book Club. I sadly found I didn't appreciate the series as much as I have in the past. 

April Reads

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 4/1/2015
Good - Fantasy - 448 pages,  Audio 16 hrs and 40 mins
The 9 members of the Fellowship are divided and the quest to destroy the Ring is continued.
Re-read for my book club. I think I've read this 5 times in my life now.

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates 4/4/2015
Excellent - Non-fiction - 304 pages Kindle
From breaking out to breaking through, that’s what reading Shakespeare did for Indiana federal prison inmate Larry Newton, who was locked in solitary confinement for more than 10 years. His story is recounted by English professor Bates, who taught the “Shakespeare in Shackles” class that gave Newton, convicted of murder as a teenager, his new lease on life. (Booklist summary)
Wow! This was a wonderfully inspiring read. I love seeing what happens when people pour into the lives of others.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 4/13/2015
Good - Fiction - 336 pages Print
“Rachel takes the same train into London every day, daydreaming about the lives of the occupants in the homes she passes. But when she sees something unsettling from her window one morning, it sets in motion a chilling series of events that make her question whom she can really trust.”—Woman’s Day
It was entertaining. The way the story was told took a lot of attention to follow.

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin 4/14/2015
Good - Memoir - 272 pages Kindle
American hero Louis Zamperini shares his wisdom, values, lessons, secrets, and other insights gleaned from his remarkable experiences in this powerful and inspiring book. (Amazon summary)
Before Unbroken, Zamperini sat down with Rensin a few times to discuss what he'd learned throughout his life. 

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant 4/17/2015
Excellent - Fiction - 352 pages Audio 11:50:55
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. (Amazon summary)
I've read this before and remembered it as a great read. This was a re-read for book club and I was surprised at finding so much R-rated material that I didn't recall. The discussion at book club was one of the best we've ever had though! I am always fascinated with the life of Joseph and since he was Dinah's brother, he figures in to this story (which is probably why I liked it so much the first time).

Friday, April 03, 2015

February and March Reads

Warriors: I Bring the Fire Part V by Carolynn Gockel 2/6/2015
Good Fantasy -  301 page Kindle
When tragedy strikes Amy’s beloved mutt Fenrir, and Odin strikes Bohdi’s best friend Steve, they have to work together again. Amy’s knowledge of science, Bohdi’s talents for theft, and both of their survival skills are put to the test. But more than Steve and Fenrir’s lives are at stake. Amy and Bohdi may unlock the key that saves mankind from the gods … or bring about the apocalypse.
This series captivated my interest and even though Loki is no longer a central character, I've kept reading. There is one more installment and a short story to finish up the series. I've purchased them but haven't made time to read them yet, partly because I don't want it to be over.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand 2/14/2015
Excellent Non-fiction - 473 pages Print
Telling an unforgettable story of Louis Zamperini’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
My 15yo son and I saw the film and were impressed by this story, so I sought out the book to read. My sisters, mom, and aunt all read the book to discuss at our annual weekend together. An enthralling story told well. 

 Saving Grace by Jane Green 3/1/2015
Good Chick Lit - 343 pages Print
Beth McCarthy seems like the perfect assistant for Grace and her famous author husband, but is she too good to be true?
I picked this up at the library when I needed a quick distracting read. 

 The Princess Bride by William Goldman 3/10/2015
Good Young Adult - 512 pages Audio 2 hours 34 minutes
RE-READ (2008) Join Westley the plucky farm boy, Buttercup the beautiful young maiden, Inigo Montoya the driven, embittered swordsman, and many other strange and unusual characters in this swashbuckling tale of good-natured silliness. It is read by Rob Reiner, who directed the motion picture based on this classic tale.
I adore the film. Love it! But the book doesn't quite hit me the same way. Something about the tone of the narrator is too snarky or too condescending. I read it before a few years back and felt the same way then, so this one isn't on my favorites list. However, it is entertaining and there are layers of the story in the novel that are not in the film.

December's Reads

Just realized I haven't posted December's reads!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 12/8/2014
Good Fiction -  422 pages Print
Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears and Nick is the main suspect. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? (adapted from Amazon summary)
What to say about Gone Girl without giving spoilers? This is a book that stayed with me, but was oddly unsatisfying. That may have been the way Flynn intended it. I'm not sorry I read it, though. 

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak 12/12/2014
Excellent Young Adult - 574 pages Audio 13 hours and 56 minutes
RE-READ In 1939 Nazi Germany, young Liesel Meminger lives with her accordion-playing foster father and rough-talking foster mother... and the Jewish man hidden in the basement.
The Book Thief was polarizing at book club. People loved it or hated it. No middle ground. I have read it twice and love the beauty of the language and I appreciated the voice of the narrator and the poignancy of the story. I loved the film as well which was very well-cast.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer 12/21/2014
Good Young Adult - 368 pages Print
"Teenage Delilah prefers spending her time with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. Then one day Oliver actually speaks to Delilah. Turns out, Oliver feels trapped by his literary existence and is sure there’s more for him out there in the real world. (condensed from Amazon.com summary) "
I enjoyed this creative tale by Jodi Picoult and her teenage daughter. Characters in a book interacting with the reader? Yes, please! (I should note that this book is nothing like Picoult's other novels, at least the ones I've read.)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain 12/27/2014
Excellent Non-fiction - 370 pages Kindle
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. (Amazon.com summary)
This really is a must-read. 

Praying God's Word Day by Day by Beth Moore 12/31/2014
Good Non-fiction - 382 pages Kindle
An inspirational thought and a prayer for each day of the year
I read this throughout 2014.

Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long by Beth Moore 12/31/2014
Excellent Non-fiction - 394 pages Kindle
Believing God, a powerful study of Isaiah 43 and Hebrews 11, is now available in a convenient day-by-day reading format, reminding us time and again that God is bigger than we can imagine and faithful to be who He says He is, do what He says He can do, and help us be who He says we are. Believe it! (condensed from Amazon.com summary)
I liked this one better than the prayer one and read it throughout 2014. 

Monday, February 02, 2015

January Reads

The Light Princess by George MacDonald 1/1/2015
Excellent - Children's - 110 pages (Print)
A princess is cursed with a lack of gravity.
I assigned this to Emily to read and decided to read it myself as well. I've always wanted to read MacDonald, but a difficult reading experience with one of his books when I was a teenager had prejudiced me against him. However, this wasn't at all hard to read! Very simple, but deep.

Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley 1/11/2015
Good - Chick Lit - 501 pages (Print)
Young actress Celia Sands is offered the lead in a play in Italy because she shares the name of the actress for whom the play was written.
A couple friends rave about Kearsley and I've read two of her so far, both entertaining and light.

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by Brian Wansink 1/16/2015
Excellent - Non-fiction - 320 pages (Print)
How to set up your living environments so that you naturally lose weight.
Interesting ideas on how to set up your home and work areas to make losing weight and eating healthy easier. Ideas are also included for schools, restaurants, and grocery stores - from a business perspective - make money and give customers what they want. I've implemented a couple ideas so far - have NO food visible in the kitchen except a fruit bowl with at least 2 kinds of fruit and move the produce out of the produce drawer in the fridge and onto an eye-level shelf. 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen 1/24/2015
Excellent - Classic - 400 pages (Audio 14 hr 27 min)
Book Club Re-read - Impoverished Fanny Price lives with her aunt and uncle.
I like this book more each time I re-read it.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant 1/24/2015
Good - Fiction - 322 pages (Print)
85-year-old Addie Baum answers her granddaughter's question, "How did you get to be the woman you are today?"
I have enjoyed other books by Diamant (The Red Tent) and requested this from the library as soon as it was released. Interesting story of an urban Jewish woman born in the 20s who wants to be independent and still find love.

What are you reading?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

October Reads and November Non-reads

A practical view of the prevailing religious system of professed Christians in the higher and middle classes in this country : contrasted with real Christianity (1829) by William Wilberforce - 10/20/2014
Excellent - Classic - Non-fiction - 354 pages - Kindle
Wilberforce’s influential book challenged readers to center their life, both public and private, on Christ’s redeeming work and teachings.
Wilberforce was the subject of the film Amazing Grace. He penned this book in the early 1800's to draw attention to the lack of true (or real) Christianity among the upper class in Britain. Challenging both in style (1800's, kwim?) and in content, this is a valuable, though difficult read. I also have the modern paraphrase of this book which I hope to read at some point.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien - 10/23/2014
Good - Fantasy - 480 pages - Audio - approx. 19 hours
Frodo obtains the Ring of Power and sets out with the Fellowship of 9 to destroy it.
I've read this several times previously. This was our book club read for October.

I didn't FINISH any books in November. Our book club selection was several short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so that doesn't count as a book.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

September Read (Yes, singular)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - 9/5/2014
Excellent - Classic - Audio 12 hr 18 min
Scout's father Atticus is assigned to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930's Deep South
Yes, I only managed to read one book in September, but wow! what a book! I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird before, but this was our book club selection. I took a while to relax into the flow of the story, but once I did, I adored it! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

August Reads

Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard by Ben Crystal - 8/5/2014
Excellent - Non-fiction -  257 pages - Print
Witty and user-friendly, this brief guide to Shakespeare proves him a genius who is still relevant and enjoyable.

The Screwtape Letters (also includes "Screwtape Proposes a Toast") by C.S. Lewis - 8/5/2014
Good - Inspirational - 128 pages - Print
A correspondence between two demons, the elder giving the younger instructions on how to lead humanity astray.
My goal is to read ALL of Lewis. I've read this before, but it was good to re-read.

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich - 8/8/2014
Good - Suspense - 341 pages - Print
An assassin is after Ranger.
Out of 21 books by Evanovich, this one was satisfying!

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (6th edition) by William Zinsser -  8/10/2014
Good - Non-fiction - 294 pages - Print
Principles, methods, forms, and attitudes of Good Writing.
I have been wanting to read this for a long time. Some of the chapters I found VERY inspirational, others were very practical, and some just dragged on.

Simplify Your Time by Marcia Ramsland - 8/17/2014
Good - Non-fiction - 196 pages -  Print
30 days of practical time-saving and organizational skills
A practical goal-setting plan that I really should try.

How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler (and save time, money, and hassle) by Christopher Elliott - 8/29/2014
Excellent - Non-fiction - 276 pages - Print
Travel expert gives advice, tips, and info on all aspects of travel from hotel rooms to airlines to eating out. Very practical and informative.
I learned a lot about travel of all kinds.

Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard - 8/31/2014
Good - Non-fiction - 280 pages - Print
Fact-based account of the life of Jesus
I expected more from this non-fiction account. Perhaps I already knew a lot about the historical Jesus, but there wasn't a lot here that I found fresh. For those who aren't aware of the facts, this would be an awesome read though!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King - 8/31/2014
Excellent - Non-fiction - 288 pages - Print
This look back at Stephen King's career is mesmerizing and moving, as well as honest and practical,
WONDERFUL book! Fascinating even for writers who aren't fans of King's writing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

July Reads

Hamlet SmartPass Plus Audio Education Study Guide to Hamlet (Dramatised, Commentary Options) (Unabridged) by  ‎ William Shakespeare, Simon Potter - 7/24/2014
Excellent - Classic - Audio 7 hr 42 min
The multi award-winning SmartPass study guide with and without commentary options. This is a full-cast, unabridged performance with comprehensive commentary and analysis for any student to fully understand and appreciate the play. Universally accepted as Shakespeare's finest play, we peel back the layers of Hamlet to discover how and why it deserves such a place of honour in world literature.
I adore Hamlet. These SmartPass audios are wonderful for understanding the finer points and cultural references in the plays. 

How to Travel the World for FREE by Michael Wigge - 7/25/2014
Good - Non-fiction - 152 pages - Print
One Man, 150 Days, Eleven Countries, No Money! Michael Wigge traveled from Germany to Antartica starting with no money at all.
Very interesting account of how this dude charmed and scammed his way around the world.

Hamlet: A Novel by John Marsden - 7/29/2014
Fair - Young Adult - 229 pages - Print
Novelization of the classic Shakespearean play
A couple book club friends and I decided to read the novelization of Hamlet, but little did we know there is more than one choice! So, I read this (lackluster) version and they read another.

Monday, December 22, 2014

June Reads

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis 6/4/2014
Good - Childrens 224 pages Audio (4.5 hours)
Shasta escapes from slavery with talking horse Bree and heads for Narnia.
I remember not really enjoying The Horse and His Boy as much as the other books of the Chronicles of Narnia. But I read it aloud to Suzy and James and they really enjoyed it. I did too!

The Space Between: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon 6/8/2014
Good - Fiction 118 pages Kindle
Michael Murray escorts Joan McKimmie (Laoghaire's daughter) to a convent in Paris, while the Comte St. Germain experiments with time travel.
Wow! This is a key part of the Outlander time travel puzzle.

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis 6/9/2014
Good - Non-fiction 109 pages Print
Essays on education, society, and nature and how the Tao relates to our morality.
Lewis = genius. 

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon 6/10/2014
Excellent - Historical Fiction 820 pages  Audio (45 hours, 58 minutes)
Jamie and Claire leave Fraser's Ridge to head for Scotland, but are sidetracked by the growing revolution. Jamie's dilemma is increased knowing that his son William is a British officer. Roger and Brianna are in 1980's Scotland reading letters left to them by Jamie and Claire, but an unexpected visitor turns things upside down.
Re-reading before MOBY is released. LOVE!

In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord (pseudonym) 6/18/2014
Excellent - Non-fiction 312 pages Print
Reflections from an American Christian woman who went to Afghanistan as an aid worker. She tells many stories of conversations she's had with Afghans about religion, culture, and more. I highly recommend this book.
Wow, this was poignant. (Why can I never pronounce that word?) Highly recommended!

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio 6/20/2014
Excellent - Non-fiction 334 pages  Print
This book presents 80 people around the world and a photograph of what they ate on one ordinary day.
Fascinating look at what people eat around the world.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens 6/21/2014
Good - Classic 891 pages Audio  (31 hr 21 min)
Poor but genteel, Nicholas Nickleby makes his way through the world to happiness and love, despite those who would seek to discredit or injure him.
Dickens is an acquired taste nowadays, but back in his day, new installments of his novels were as highly anticipated as the newest episodes of The Walking Dead or Outlander. lol

Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon 6/23/2014
Excellent - Historical Fiction 848 pages  Print
Finally! Here it is! Long awaited and well worth the wait,

Beowulf by Seamus Heaney (translator) 6/24/2014
Excellent - Epic 256 pages  Audio (2 hr 15 min)
Epic saga of a warrior
I listened to this which was probably not as effective as reading, but I understood most of it.

Valiant Soldier, Beautiful Enemy by Diane Gaston 6/29/2014
Good - Regency Romance 283 pages  Print
Captain Gabriel Deane rescues a Frenchwoman and her son and falls in love with her.
A nice fluffy read.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Ten Books with Staying Power

List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They do not have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that have stayed with you in some way. 
1 - The Bible
2 - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
3 - Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
4 - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
5 - Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
6 - My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
7 - Motel of the Mysteries by David Macauley
8 - Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

9 - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
10 - I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom & illustrated by Richard Scarry

If you do it, leave me a comment with a link!

Monday, June 23, 2014

May Reads

4 more books in May - one a week seems like a good average, yes?

The Eternal Argument: A framework for understanding Western Literature and Culture by R. Robin Finley - 5/16/2014 
Good Non-fiction 286 Print
Long time middle school English teacher Robin Finley traces the history of Western literature against the larger conflict between theism and humanism.
I purchased this at the homeschool convention in 2013 and it sat on the shelf. But in April 2014, I heard the author speak at the homeschool convention in Cincinnati and remembered I had the book at home. Useful information to help understand Western literature.

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis - 5/17/2014 
Excellent Non-fiction 141 Print
If God is omnipotent and good, how can we explain human pain and suffering? Lewis proposes reasonable answers.
Finally decided to stop SAYING that I am going to read all of Lewis and get started on it. I decided to read just a short bit every day when I do my devotional reading. I chose this one first because it was short and the subject matter is apropos due to my husband's chronic pain. After reading, I can say again, Lewis is a genius. Sometimes I barely can wrap my mind around what he says and other times it is clear as a bell. This is definitely a book I will read again.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis - 5/30/2014 
Excellent Fiction 125 Print
Taking a bus from hell to heaven, the narrator describes what he sees.
Another Lewis book. I had not realized until this year that The Great Divorce is fiction. I had always thought it to be a theological treatise, but it is a fictional account of what the narrator sees in a vision of heaven and hell, and these are not the fiery caverns of the mythical hell nor the fluffy clouds of heaven. I think all humans will recognize parts of themselves in the characters in this short book.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell - 5/30/2014 
Excellent Non-fiction 280 Print
The tipping point is "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." What makes it happen? Can we make it happen?
Gladwell's Outliers changed the way I think about success and The Tipping Point adds another layer of consideration to why some things make a difference and others go unnoticed. This is far from dry reading - very entertaining and thoughtful!

What are YOU reading right now? (Tell me in the comments!)