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

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.

Meet the 4 year-old that has read more books than you

This little girls is now reading college level texts and her mother reached out to the library of congress to help her find new books.  When they heard about her they asked her to come spend the day.  What a nice story.  Read the whole ting from the Washington Post.

2016 Wrap-Up

Books of 2016 Infographic
Books of 2016 Infographic

Time for my yearly post about all the books I read in 2016.  I did not meet my goal of reading 100 books last year.  I didn’t even come close.  I only read 66 as you can see in the above image.  Work got busy and I also enrolled and completed two certificate classes in data science from University California, Irvine.

What you won’t see in the infographic below is that I borrowed 43 books from my local library.  If I had bought them on Amazon, I would have paid $561.30.  That savings is worth your free library card, and a bunch of hold fees!

My local libraries saved me $561.30 in 2016!


Presidential Library

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2:  (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama holds up a book given to him by author Eric Metaxas, who was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast February 2, 2012 in Washington, DC.  Obama also spoke, defending his economic policies in an echo of his recent State of the Union address. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 2: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama holds up a book given to him by author Eric Metaxas, who was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast February 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama also spoke, defending his economic policies in an echo of his recent State of the Union address. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

I couldn’t resist posting this list of books.  The following list appeared in the November Wired magazine.  It is a list of books that Obama recommends for future leaders.  I love book lists!  BTW the book above is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

  1. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
    • This is an easy choice.  One of America’s most loved presidents.
  2. Parting Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch
  3. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
    • The #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the City Planning & Urban Development category
  4. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
    • The #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the General Sociology of Race Relations category
  5. Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American by Richard S. Tedlow
  6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
    • The #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the Biology & Life Sciences category
  7. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the Business Decision Making category
  8. In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
    • Can’t go wrong with Steinbeck.  One of my all-time favorite writers
  9. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
    • National Book Award Winner
  10. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
    • The only book on the list that I have read.  My Goodreads review: “Overall, I enjoyed this book however, I thought it was slow and overly technical at times. If you are into the why and how extinction occurs you will enjoy this book. For me the last chapter was the best chapter. The chapter on Wolly Mammoths was also very entertaining.”
    • The #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the Ecology category

San Diego Comic-Con for Book Lovers

Signed SDCC2016 Books
Signed SDCC2016 Books

I’ve been at the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) for the last three days.  I have been lucky, and gotten to go to Comic-Con for the past several years.  The last three years, I have concentrated on getting complimentary advanced readers copies (ARC) from publishers at the event.  All the big publishers are there:  HarperCollins, Disney Publishing, Penguin, Del Rey, etc.

Pictured above are those books which I was able to meet the author and get their books signed.  Only one above, Life Debt, was paid for.  This is one I have been excited for, so paying was no big deal!

Obtaining books at Comic-Con is not difficult but it takes some research.  I plan out my days before hand.  Looking to see who will be signing in what booth at what time.  But much harder than the planning is getting tickets.  Approximately 130,000 people attend Comic-Con and getting tickets to the show is extremely difficult, but tickets are open to everyone.

Unsigned SDCC2016 Books
Unsigned SDCC2016 Books

The photo above are the books that I have gotten from the first three days, Wednesday – Friday.  I’m going to go again tomorrow and on Sunday.  Today alone I received 15 copies of books, well 14 books and one audiobook.  My backpack was VERY heavy!

I’m very happy to have the opportunity to meet the authors and publishers of some of my favorite books.  I thank them all for being there!  I’m excited for the last two days of the show.

Summer Reading Programs

Summer Reading
summer read by LWYang

The summer has started and that means that libraries around the country have started their summer reading programs encouraging patrons to check out books and visit their local library branch more often. For my part I visit my local libraries (at least 2) once or twice a week. During the summer and the rest of the year, but summer reading programs are fun!

There are usually freebies attached to the number of books you read. Summer reading programs are not just for kids either. While my kids are enrolled in summer reading programs so am I. Both my nearby libraries have adult reading programs running in parallel with the kids programs. Why would adults want to participate? How about a winning an iPad mini or $150 Target gift card? These are the top prizes that both my local libraries are giving away to participants in the summer reading program.

In July of last year (when the reading program starts) I read 20 books in a single month. That’s a lot for me! I currently have a list for all the books I want to read as part of the program. Next to each title is the call number (book library location) for both of my local libraries. Meaning by reading one book I can claim credit for reading it in both libraries programs.

I’ve finished 4 books MTD this July, so I have a lot to read to keep up with what I did last year. I have about 30 books listed on my summer reading list and more being added all the time. I hope I can get to them all. I’m always looking for more time to sneak in reading. Wish me luck and go check out your local libraries summer reading program.

Review: Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi

Star Wars- The Weapon of a Jedi
Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry

Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi is placed between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.  Jason Fry is a new author to me at least with this new Journey to the Force Awakens series.  He is actually best known for the The Jupiter Pirates series.

When comparing this to the other books in the series like Greg Rucka’s Before the Awakening.  It doesn’t do to well.  The story was extremely slow to start.  Don’t get me wrong the book reads very fast.  It took me two days and I had a ton of interruptions in reading.  I’m glad I read this only because I know its not integral to the story of the Force Awakens.

The story follows Luke on a mission he is doing for the Rebel Alliance.  Although, he never gets to the mission in the book (too bad, might have been a better story).  He feels himself attracted (via the Force) to a planet he has never been to before.  He visits the planet and figures out why the Force was calling him, unfortunately his presence has not gone unnoticed.  A new bad guy finds him.  The story is little ruined by the fact that we all know Luke makes it.

No surprises and a slow story earns this book 3 stars.  One star for being about Star Wars included.  If you are following along in the series you can skip this one, but its under 200 pages and written for a much younger audience so the book goes very fast.  Just don’t expect it to be your favorite Star Wars novel.

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure Book Cover Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series
Jason Fry
Young Adult, Science Fiction
Disney Lucasfilm Press
September, 4, 2015

Luke Skywalker returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set betweenStar Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a mysterious planet, and explores a dangerous duel between Luke and a strange new villain.

March War and Peace Update

Light afternoon reading
Light afternoon reading by

This is not a good update.  I’m way, way behind on reading this.  I should be around 16 almost 17% through the book.  When I last checked in with you in February I was at 6.3%.  I am now at 7.2%.  I have not been picking on this book very often.  Even the fact that it is on my phone has not helped me read more.  I thought that would increase my reading of it since I always have my phone so it is more convenient for me to read the book.  But, there is always something else that I want to read more than this book.

I also thought that if I got all the War and Peace episodes from the new 2016 television mini-series that would get me more into reading this book.  It has not.  I’ve read 35 books so far this year.  Most of them, I’ve read after having already started War and Peace, but I just can’t bring myself to pick up this book and as for the television show, I can’t seem to work up the excitement needed to turn that on either.  There is just always a book I would rather spend my time with instead of watching anything on tv.

Currently, I’m avoiding War and Peace by reading Notes from a Small Island and Golden Son.   Both much more immersive than War and Peace.  Any suggestions on how I can get excited about reading War and Peace?

February Rewind

February 2016 Rewind
February 2016 Rewind

Rewind is where I go over what I read last month and how I am doing towards my 100 books read in a year challenge.  So, lets get into it:

  1. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls Fame. 4/5.
  2. Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know by Adam Bray. 3/5.
  3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. 4/5.
  4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 3/5.
  5. Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid. 3/5.
  6. Star Wars: Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka. 3/5.
  7. All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. 3/5.
  8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. 4/5.
  9. Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen. 4/5.

Three standouts out of 9 books.  I think I liked Graham’s book more because I was excited to read what Rory Gillmore’s mom wrote.  Plus, it was read by herself, which is always the best in an audio book.  Cold Comfort surprised me.  I was expecting a more stuffy book than I got and I enjoyed how nosey the main character was.  The remains of the day was different, it was stuffy, but it really worked with the story in this case.  The Darth Vader graphic novel was very good.  I may have short changed it slightly as goodreads only allows whole number scores, this is much closer to 5 than four, but its not perfect.  If you read one of the books above make it Darth Vader.  I can’t believe I don’t have a post on that.  I will have to so something about it.

As far as the 100 book challenge goes, I’m a head of schedule.  I read more than 8 books in January and I read 9 in February, so, I’m good.  So far in March, I’ve read a bunch of graphic novels.  I’m in good shape.