Good books

Art reflects life, and I have learned so much about life through literature.  A kernel of an idea can make us see the world differently. Here you'll find my thoughts on things I've read, from canonical texts to children's books.  My hope is that each post leaves you thinking and perhaps feeling inspired to read something new.

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Half-Broke Horses: Advice from one tough lady

Jeannette Walls tells the story of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, in her true-life novel, Half-Broke Horses. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the indomitable lady.

Your and You're: Not Equal

What is the difference between your and you’re? Try this easy mnemonic device to help you learn when to use which word in this quick grammar tutorial.

The Spirit of Dickens

Every year, a few days before Christmas, I begin reading A Christmas Carol. It is a story that has been told and retold a hundred times over for a reason...it is brilliant. Not only is the concept of a ghost story for Christmas completely genius, but the writing itself in this little novella is representative of the best of Charles Dickens. It is tight and impactful, with almost none of the long-winded prose you may remember from having to read some of his other works in high school. To me,

Americana Reads

As I sat down to write some quick reviews of three books I read recently, I realized that they are connected. All three are true-life tales (a historical fiction, a journalistic novel, and an autobiography), and all three grapple with different ideas of what it means to be American. I chose them randomly, but I’ve been thinking so much about our country lately in the current political climate that my subconscious might have weighed in. From revolutionary colonies, to southern voodoo culture

All the Light We Cannot See

I recently finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. My husband gave it to me a few Christmases ago, and I love the habit he has of choosing books for me. He does his research and carefully selects what he thinks I’ll enjoy. But even though this one is a New York Times Bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner, I shelved it until I could steel myself for a book about World War II. Now I am no stranger to heavy literature (Shakespeare’s tragedies are not exactly beach reading) bu

A page from her book: Mrs. Sowerby

I’m on a bread-baking kick, and it has reminded me of a passage from one of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden. Mrs. Sowerby is the mother figure of this book, and her ways remind me to get back to basics when it comes to raising kids. Mary and Colin, the central figures, are introduced as petulant, sickly children who spend most of their time isolated inside their grand estates being cared for by servants. The rural Mrs. Sowerby's son Dickon helps them to reclaim their phy

How to close read

What does it mean to "close read" a text? How do we learn to apply critical thinking to analyze and interpret literature? Read on for a quick tutorial on how to get more out of what you read.

An Unfair Fight

I am in the middle of reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. My husband picked up this book for me because he knows how much I loved The Poisonwood Bible, which contains one of the best opening passages I’ve ever read (idea for another post!). Her style is elevated but completely accessible, so it’s perfect for evenings when my quarantined mama brain is fried from homeschooling, germ paranoia, and disturbing news headlines, but not quite pulp that will tolerate nothing but spoon-fed Ne

Sun Salutation

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a text I have devoured many times, and always in the spring. Zora Neale Hurston’s love of language comes through in life-breathing metaphors that capture the mysteries of nature. This book begs to be read outside where it leaves words rolling around on the grass.The excerpts I’ve selected here revolve around the sun. The first scene takes place at dusk, as she opens her story with personification: The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky.

Dappled Things

George Orwell’s 1984, like any dystopian novel, isn’t exactly an uplifting read. It rather unforgivingly portrays humans at their worst, and makes us question whether or not we are spinning toward a place without redemption. Its characters live in an atmosphere of constant fear, hatred, and uncertainty.I have taught this book to sophomores many times, and I believe it holds important political and sociological lessons for them. But I don’t want to write about those here. What I want to

Birthday Wish: A Pair of Silk Stockings

Kate Chopin's short story, "A Pair of Silk Stockings", invites us to judge a mama who dares to indulge herself. I couldn't help but relate to its central character today, but have written myself a happier ending.

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