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?