Reading as a Punishment

Reading by Quinn Dombrowski

On February 8th the New York Times published Teenagers Who Vandalized Historic Black Schoolhouse Are Ordered to Read Books.  The article describes a crime, where 4 young boys, vandalized a historic black schoolhouse.  The judge of the case handed down a strange ruling.  The boys had to read.  For someone like me, this would not have been a punishment, but I also didn’t go around vandalizing anything.

USA Today article on the schoolhouse.

Pictures and more from

Now, I don’t know if this will work.  If those kids see this as a punishment then maybe not, but if they take it as a learning opportunity then maybe so.  I’m not sure how enlightened kids that would do this kind of thing are, there is also their age to consider.

I did think that the list of books they were ordered to read was actually pretty well thought out.  It wasn’t just, we are going to give you a bunch of books to read as a pure punishment.  They thought about the books hoping to give the kids a little background and maybe teach them an understanding that they didn’t have and they weren’t learning from their parents or school.

For those of you interested (like me) here is the list:

The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Native Son,” Richard Wright
Exodus,” Leon Uris
Mila 18,” Leon Uris
Trinity,” Leon Uris
My Name Is Asher Lev,” Chaim Potok
The Chosen,” Chaim Potok
The Sun Also Rises,” Ernest Hemingway
Night,” Elie Wiesel
The Crucible,” Arthur Miller
The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns,” Khaled Hosseini
Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe
The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood
To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Maya Angelou
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot
Caleb’s Crossing,” Geraldine Brooks
Tortilla Curtain,” T.C. Boyle
The Bluest Eye,” Toni Morrison
A Hope in the Unseen,” Ron Suskind
Down These Mean Streets,” Piri Thomas
Black Boy,” Richard Wright
The Beautiful Struggle,” Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Banality of Evil,” Hannah Arendt
The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead
Reading Lolita in Tehran,” Azar Nafisi
The Rape of Nanking,” Iris Chang
Infidel,” Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Orphan Master’s Son,” Adam Johnson
The Help,” Kathryn Stockett
Cry the Beloved Country,” Alan Paton
Too Late the Phalarope,” Alan Paton
A Dry White Season,” André Brink
Ghost Soldiers,” Hampton Sides

Book Review: Super You

Full disclosure:  I met Andy Walker and Sean Carruthers a long time ago at one the first podcast conventions.  It was an absolute pleasure.  They even treated me to lunch.  Andy sent me a copy of this book himself.  Having said all that my review of this book is my own.

Who should read this book?  As the authors themselves say “…there’s a good chance you’re interested in ways to use science to make life better for yourself and your offspring…”

The authors of Super You are Andy Walker, known technology journalist, tv and radio personality, and podcaster.  You may know him from Call for Help, a tech television show he starred on with Leo Laporte.  Andy writes this book with co-authors Kay Walker, his wife and Sean Carruthers, a long-time friend, and partner in many of his endeavors.

I enjoyed watching their many videos on youtube and listening to their podcast.  Even watching their tv shows back when ZDTV or TechTV was still a channel.  Speaking about podcasts, check out this interview about the book from Triangulation one of Leo’s many podcasts.

Back to the book.  The chapters are mostly about how you can improve yourself through technology for the first portion of the book.  Altering the genes of your baby before it is born to make sure you have a boy with blue eyes.  The book moves on to discuss beauty hacks like plastic surgery and a few people who are injecting themselves with RFID chips.

Most interesting to me was the bit about living longer through technology and how that is about 30 years away.  What happens in 30ish years?  By then, the authors say, we should have access to the technology to extend our lives by double what people are living now.  It shouldn’t be a stretch to live past 100 if you are younger than the baby-boomer generation.

That’s all great, but will it really happen?  And what do we do to ensure that we make it that last 30-year stretch?  The book speaks to both of these questions.  I suggest you read it, with a glass of red wine, you’ll see why after you read the book!  Enjoy!

Super You: How Technology Is Revolutionizing What It Means to Be Human Book Cover Super You: How Technology Is Revolutionizing What It Means to Be Human
Andy Walker, Kay Walker, Sean Carruthers
June 25th 2016

Rewind Your Biology and Live Like a 20-Year-Old! Edit Your Genes to Live Disease-Free! Find a Parking Space with Your Internet-Connected Brain!
Advances in longevity, genetics, nanotech, and robotics will make all this possible!
This is not science fiction. This is your future. Right now, pioneering scientists and technologists are transforming what it means to be human by overcoming biological limits that have existed since our ancestors swung out of the trees and into the suburbs. With incredible inspiration and perseverance, these visionaries are solving deep problems of human health and longevity and their progress is accelerating. Super You takes you inside their labs, companies, and minds to show how you can reap the benefits of a stronger, longer, better, life. You ll learn how to start hacking your life today, to become more super, every day. Discover what s possible when yesterday s human limits are gone!

Learn how evolution became obsolete and why it s time to start hacking yourself Save your life with whirring jet engine hearts, printed organs, and other medical miracles Rewire and turbo-boost your ape brain Become a mega-mind by connecting your brain directly to the Internet to use Google s synthetic neocortex Become superhuman with cyborg technology Design and mold your looks Genetically engineer your baby to be a tennis star (and other true stories) Prepare for the political and religious backlash against the future Discover how scientists will make death obsolete by treating it like a curable disease and how to live until they do."

How to Read More

Reading by Vladimir Pustovit

Lots of people have new year’s resolutions to read more each year.  While I didn’t make my goal of 100 books in 2016, I still think 66 is not too bad.  If you think that is a lot keep reading and I’ll tell you how I did it.

This is how I read 66 books last year with two kids to watch and taking 3 online courses, not to mention a regular job every day that regularly required more than 40 hours a week.  The biggest secret to my success is probably audio books.  I listened to 3.7 days of audio last year.  14% of all books I read (consumed) were audio.  Listening to books is easy to do.  Sometimes I can do it at work on a break or when I’m doing something boring and reparative.  A long commute is a godsend to consuming lots of books.  I also listen in the gym and when I go on short walking breaks during the day.  Another big part of listening to books is not to buy them, at least not physically.  I download all the books I read from Overdrive, a company that sells audio downloads to public libraries so the patrons can download and listens to books free.  That’s right, free.  Download to your smartphone and listen as much as you want for free.

Reading Kindle at Old Street Tube
Reading Kindle at Old Street Tube by Annie Mole

Buy a Kindle.  It will pay for itself in no time!  I have the new oasis.  Whenever I’m heading out somewhere that I will have to wait or think I may get bored, I grab my Kindle.  I read every night in my daughter’s room.  She likes it if I lay on her floor while she falls asleep, so I need a quiet activity to keep myself awake.  I read.  Usually for a good 20 minutes before she nods off.

Lastly, use your local libraries.  That’s right plural.  You probably have a bunch within about 15 miles from where you live.  Use all of them.  Librarians are there to help and they do a great job!  You can usually find what you want, but sometimes you have to get in sent from another branch, its worth the hold fee, some don’t even have a hold fee!  Try to plan a weekly trip to the library to keep some books in stock and ready to read.  Better yet visit a used book store and buy some books to have ready for to read, that way you don’t have to worry about returning them before the borrowing period is over.

Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

Book Review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero is the first book in a series from Rick Riordan.  It is a spin-off series from the original Percy Jackson and The Olympian series.  There are 5 books in the series.  This book reads very much like the books in the Percy Jackson series and for me, this is a very good thing.  I liked that series a lot.  A lot of action all the time and it is funny as well.  This book was a great introduction to a new series.  We meet all new heroes but still get to check-in with some of our favorites from the Percy Jackson series.  Riordan makes some great calls in writing this new series.  I’m hooked.

The Lost Hero Book Cover The Lost Hero
Rick Riordan
Juvenile Fiction
Penguin UK
October 1, 2011

The Number one, bestselling title in this new spin-off series from Percy Jackson creator, Rick Riordan. OLD ENEMIES AWAKEN AS CAMP HALF-BLOOD'S NEW ARRIVALS PREPARE FOR WAR When Jason, Piper and Leo crash land at Camp Half-Blood, they have no idea what to expect. Apparently this is the only safe place for children of the Greek Gods - despite the monsters roaming the woods and demigods practising archery with flaming arrows and explosives. But rumours of a terrible curse - and a missing hero - are flying around camp. It seems Jason, Piper and Leo are the chosen ones to embark on a terrifying new quest, which they must complete by the winter solstice. In just four days time. Can the trio succeed on this deadly mission - and what must they sacrifice in order to survive?

Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

This is the first book in a series of 6 books by Ursula K. Le Guin.  She is an awesome science fiction writer.  Not too long ago I reviewed The Lathe of Heaven, another excellent book.  I listened to this book and had a hard time pausing it when life got in the way.  Just a great story that is very original.  Lots of adventure and magic.  I can’t wait to read the second book.

A Wizard of Earthsea Book Cover A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula K. Le Guin

When Sparrowhawk, a young student at the School for Wizards, becomes overanxious and tries his dangerous powers too soon, he unleashes a terrible evil throughout the land.

Book Review: The Conscious Parent

Another Dalai Lama book!  So this co-author on this one is Shefali Tsabary, who also wrote The Awakened Family which is a New York Times Best Seller and was a book endorsed by Oprah.  “Parents . . . you will be wowed and awed by [Dr. Shefali].” —Oprah Winfrey  The Conscious Parent won the Nautilus award in 2011.  I would recommend this book to any parent.  I found it very helpful and trying to slow down and remember that my kids are going to remember things that I don’t think are a big deal.  Every time I lose it my kids will remember that and it will go into the idea of who I am in their eyes.  I highlighted substantially in this book.  Here are some lines I think are worth sharing:

perfection is an ideal of the foolish.

when we are in the grip of anger, we are anything but in control. We are prisoners of ego.

“It’s okay to be bored. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bored. Keep being bored.”

On weekends, my daughter is allowed an hour of television or an hour on the computer.

Not that they will blindly follow your dictates, but that they will seek your counsel

[to our children] I learn how to be a better person from you.

truly hearing what they are saying, without feeling we have to fix, correct, or lecture.

The smallest, “I don’t know, but let’s find out together,” has the power to evoke the most profound of life qualities.

we often don’t take the time or exercise the patience required to get at the why,

For a young child, times to nap and go to bed are aspects of the main rules and as such are non-negotiable.

If the parent is resolute, the child will quickly pick up that there is no argument around this issue.

The traditional dynamic of parent-versus-child would yield to the realization that our children are often wiser than us and able to advance us spiritually just as effectively as we can advance them.

I know that’s a lot but, I thought every one of them was worth sharing.  The highest praise I can give a book is buying extra copies to give other people.  This is a book that I can defiantly think of buying extra copies for friends and family.

The Conscious Parent Book Cover The Conscious Parent
Shefali Tsabary
Family & Relationships
Namaste Pub Incorporated


Written by Namaste author Shefali Tsabary, PhD, with the Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and advance acclaim by authors Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Wiliamson, Marci Shimoff, Laura Berman Fortgang, and other leaders in the field of parenting, this is the book we've all been waiting for.

This innovative parenting style recognizes the child’s potential to spark a deep soul-searching leading to transformation in parents. Instead of being merely the receiver of the parents’ psychological and spiritual legacy, children function as ushers of the parent’s development.

Once parents are learning alongside their children, power, control, and dominance become an archaic language. Instead, mutual kinship and spiritual partnership are the focus of the parent-child journey.

Parents unwittingly pass on an inheritance of psychological pain and emotional shallowness. To handle the behavior that results from this, traditional books on parenting abound with clever techniques for control and quick fixes for dysfunctionality.

In contrast, in Dr. Tsabary’s conscious approach to parenting, children serve as mirrors of their parents’ forgotten self.

The parent who is willing to look in the mirror has an opportunity to establish a relationship with their own inner state of wholeness.

Once a parent finds their way back to their essence, they enter into communion with their children. The pillars of the parental ego crumble as the parent awakens to the ability of their children to transport them into a state of presence.

Book Review: Secrets of the Chest

This is a tough review.  I really like the story in the jacket sleeve of this.  Actually, that was sent to me from the publisher and I liked it so much I requested a copy of the book.  When it came I was excited to start it, but as I read I lost interest in the story.  IT started out okay, but it kept going on subjects it needed to just move on with.  This is another book that it took me a very long time to get through.  I kept putting it down to read something else.  However, since I hate leaving a book unfinished, I picked it up when I could.  5 months passed and I finally had it done.  I gave it 2 stars.  I think this book had potential, but it didn’t execute.  What makes this review tough is I asked for this book and I don’t want to give it a poor review, but I have.  I’m the only reviewer of this book on good reads and the poor thing has a 2-star rating.  I hope others will review this book, but I can recommend it.

Secrets of the Chest
Evelyne Morris
Historical Fiction
Austin Macauley
May 31st 2016

Thornton, 1603. Mary de Courtsey, a four year old ‘little maid' is given a handmade oak chest in which to keep her secrets and treasures. Throughout her coming of age, marriage, separation and darkest hours she maintains its secrecy and vows it will be always passed on via the female line to future generations. Now in 2015, Suzanne has just turned 18 and inherits the chest from her grandmother. As Suzanne reads a final letter from her grandmother bequeathing the mysterious chest to her, an amazing family history is revealed. From the tempestuous and challenging tale of survival and murder in the 1600s, illicit children at the turn of the 19th century through to a more recent past via France and Istanbul, her female ancestors reveal themselves and their engaging stories to her through their diaries and their unbroken protection of the family chest.

Book Review: Last Full Measure

I like Star Trek.  You could even call me a Treky.  I really liked the Enterprise tv show.  I have watched it on Netflix from start to finish in addition to seeing it live when the show was still airing.  I can watch those episodes over and over.  When the show was pulled I was bummed.  The world without a Star Trek series currently on air makes me sad.  I hope it someday makes its way back on the air.  In the meantime, there are always books!  I started reading the Star Trek Enterprise series back in 2013.  The books feel real comfortable to me.  Probably because I have watched all the series from the original to Enterprise.  I have not read a book in the series that I hated.  I’ve read some that I particularly care for, but I wouldn’t call it a waste of time.

The Last Full Measure follows along the story from the original episode when the show was still on.  Therefore, I like this one a little less because I already know the story.  Having said that I still enjoyed my time reading this book in the series.  If you are reading the series and don’t want to read the books that are also an episode you can skip this one.  If like me, you enjoy all the Star Trek you can get, this book is a good addition to the ongoing series.  I’m looking forward to the next book.

Last Full Measure Book Cover Last Full Measure
Michael A. Martin, Andy Mangels,
Pocket Books/Star Trek

When a Xindi weapon unleashes an unprovoked attack on Earth, killing millions across two continents, a contingent of Military Assault Command Operations personnel (the MACOs) joins the Enterprise to work together with the Starfleet personnel to stop Xindi depradations across the galaxy. Original.

Book Review: The Lathe of Heaven

Ursula K. Le Giun is the woman!  She is an amazing weaver of science fiction stories.  She will completely immerse you in her stories and make you believe the unbelievable.  I love her work.  I recently finished the first Earthsea book and I can’t wait to read the rest.  This book takes you on an incredible journey asking the question what if what you dream came true?  At first, if you are like me, you think awesome, all my wishes coming true.  Alas, we forget our nightmares.  Also, who is to say how your dreams will be interpreted?  This is just a fascinating read.  Highly recommended.

The Lathe Of Heaven Book Cover The Lathe Of Heaven
Ursula K. Le Guin
Simon and Schuster
April 15, 2008

George Orr discovers that his dreams possess the remarkable ability to change the world, and when he falls into the hands of a power-mad psychiatrist, he counters by dreaming up a perfect world that can overcome his nightmares, in a new edition of the classic science fiction novel. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.

Book Review: Grendel

This is a delightful book!  Great prose and a very original idea.  One of my favorite books is Beowulf.  This is a twist on that story.  John Gardner asks us what if Beowulf was told from the monster’s point of view.  I don’t want to say much more and ruin this read for you.  I really enjoyed this fantastic story and would highly recommend for anyone who is a fan of the original Beowulf.  I was delighted to find this book.  It’s a short read and you won’t be disappointed.  Give it a shot.

Grendel Book Cover Grendel
John Gardner

The Beowulf story retold from the monster's point of view reveals the darker side of human nature and values