Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teacher Feature - Ms. Power

What do you most like to read?
novels, especially ones from other cultures or earlier times in history. Since I am not a particularly fast reader and I am so busy with work, I rarely indulge in reading one, because I know that if it's good I won't be able to put it down and I will neglect my other duties or skip sleeping. It's a huge treat to read a novel. I like to read them on planes especially; it makes the trip pleasant instead of onerous. Once I read "Into Thin Air" on a plane which was especially cool because the plane was flying at an elevation not much higher than Mt. Everest, where the story takes place. 

Do you have a favorite book/author/publication?
My two favorite novels are The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Jane Eyre. Magazine-wise, I regularly read Science News, National Wildlife, Muse, and Cricket, and occasionally Scientific American. 

What's the last great thing you read? A Thousand Splendid Suns 

Where do you most like to read? In the reclining chair in my living room 

When you were in high school, did you like to read? If so, what?
Yes, novels about people (especially kids) in other cultures and other times in history. (that hasn't changed) 

What is your most hated book and why?
I disliked Great Expectations (sorry, Holly) because, with the exception of the minor character Joe, there is no character in the book that I felt empathy for. I did not care what happened to any of them and that made the book boring to me. I can't relate to people who are lazy and unambitious (like Pip) or who don't want to move forward with their life (like the woman who still wears her wedding dress). I did at least finish the book so there are other books I hated more, but I cannot even remember their titles. In 3rd grade, I read all of the Nancy Drew series that existed at the time. Now they seem dreadfully badly written, but at the time they were exciting. 

I love libraries.

Teacher Feature - Ms. Havrilla

  • What do you most like to read?  (this could be a literary genre, or a type of material, like blogs, magazines, etc.)
    • I like to read the news daily, health/medicine academic journals/abstracts frequently, spiritual formation (ex. The Lamb's Supper by Dr. Scott Hahn, Theology of the Body by Christopher West, & Bible Study- I use a guide from St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology) frequently, magazines (monthly), educational resources (ex. Brain-based learning by Eric Jensen), and I finally get around to novels during the summertime.  The novels I read depend on my mood and location.  I tend to enjoy "easy reads" such as romance novels (ex. Nicholas Sparks, Mary Kay Andrews), adventure (ex. Clive Cussler- one of my favorites), and action/adventure (ex. Nelson DeMille, Brad Thor- who can resist a handsome Navy Seal keeping America safe?)  Oh and yes, I usually read the novels while sitting out on the lake in the Montana sunshine – or at home on the beach listening to the waves lap upon the shore.
  • Do you have a favorite book/author/publication?
    • No, variety is the spice of life.  I like to mix it up.
  • What's the last great thing you read?
    • Hmm, most of my reading during the school year revolves around my classes- just recently I sent a current events article to my Anatomy students regarding the flu outbreak with handy tips on how to prevent getting sick.  Personally, reading my Bible study guide is probably the last read that has been most enriching.
  • Where do you most like to read?
    • OUTSIDE!  In nature.  Under the sunshine.
  • When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?  
    • Honestly, no.   (Maybe you shouldn't include this question?!)  Actually, I really thought I hated to read for awhile (except textbooks- I've always loved those!)  I finally realized that it wasn't reading I hated, it was being forced to read books I didn't care about that I hated.  I've overcome that obstacle.
  • What is your most hated book and why?
    • FSHA summer reading?! Lol  Try reading East of Eden with one eye (no joke- I had a serious eye injury summer of sophomore year- this was before audiobooks were as common as they are now!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Staff Feature - Ms. Rost

What do you most like to read?  (this could be a literary genre, or a type of material, like blogs, magazines, etc.)
These days, I seem to gravitate toward nonfiction across all mediums – from books to newspapers to blogs. (I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I used to be a newspaper reporter.) I’ll read the Los Angeles Times at lunch in the Admin Building most days, and I subscribe to the New York Times on Sundays. That’s more for keeping on top of news, of course, but I really love digging into personal accounts and features that illuminate current events and recent history.

Do you have a favorite book/author/publication?
Too many, in fact! My favorite book of all time is probably The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, which is just so beautifully written. It’s the story of a brother and sister who are separated in India and the various trials they have to endure to be reunited. As for authors, I always have to read anything new from Ann Patchett, Tim O’Brien, Michael Cunningham and Barbara Kingsolver. Michael Chabon and Margaret Atwood are quickly joining that group.

What's the last great thing you read?
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, which is part of my nonfiction kick. She’s a British columnist, and I had to get her book after hearing her interviewed on NPR because she is absolutely hysterical. The book is basically stories about her youth framed in such a way as to undercut a lot of what we hear in the media about how women should and should not behave, or should and should not look. There are definitely some sensitive, controversial topics discussed, so it’s not a book for everyone, but there were so many times when I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud.

Where do you most like to read?
Like how some people can sleep anywhere, I can read anywhere. I probably do most of my reading on my living-room couch on my laptop, but as long as I’m comfortable, I can read.

When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?
Oh yes. When I was even younger than that, I’d get in trouble for reading at the dinner table. I went through phases in high school – I’d go from Jane Austen to sci-fi to John Grisham. There was a point where my friends teased me because I’d pick up a book after seeing and liking the movie, like Emma for “Clueless,” or “Circle of Friends,” or “Wings of the Dove.”

What is your most hated book and why?
There are two that come to mind. First, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Everyone told me it was so great – including people whose taste I trust! – but I couldn’t stand that book. The main character was just so whiny and self-centered. Secondly, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. There are a lot of people who don’t like Ayn Rand for her politics, and while I don’t agree with her, I read The Fountainhead and found it thought-provoking. I borrowed my aunt’s copy of Atlas Shrugged when I was in college, and I still have it because I’ve never gotten through it. At one point, there’s a 60-page speech from one character, and as a writer, I find that offensive! Writing concisely is not her strength.

Check it out today @ the FSHA Library!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Staff Feature - Mrs. Dawson

Studious Ms. Dawson cracks a book in the Library.
What do you most like to read?: I don’t really have a specific genre that I like, I think it has a lot to do with where I’m at, what’s suggested to me, what I’m craving, etc. Last year, I went through a big apocalyptic phase, and love books by Michael O’Brien like Fr. Elijah, which I’m still working on….  I also woofed down The Hunger Games series, which were so incredible. I love historical fiction, and I read The Paris Wife over break. It’s about Earnest Hemingway’s first wife and their crazy life together. Right now, I’m into spiritual memoirs. Currently, I’m reading Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. I also love reading gossip magazines (guilty pleasure… I know waaay too much about the lives of celebrities) and blogs. I love “Cup of Jo”, “Joy the Baker”, and “Today’s Letters”. Blogs are such a fun way to connect with people. I try to be careful about reading them, though, because too much screen time is never good for me.

Do you have a favorite book/author/publication?: Anyone who knows me knows I love C.S. Lewis. I was introduced to him in high school when I took a C.S. Lewis seminary as a theology elective. I love his ability to tell stories and his clarity. Clarity is something I really appreciate in writers, especially apologists like Lewis. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but love the Narnia series as well as his apology books, like Mere Christianity and A Grief Observed.  I love his ability to impart knowledge while telling compelling stories, like in The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. Another great book that C.S. Lewis didn’t write, but highlights the his correspondence with author/poet Sheldon Vanaulken is A Severe Mercy. That book changed my life.

What’s the last great thing I read?: I recently finished a book called, Shirt of Flame, by Heather King. Heather King is a writer from Los Angeles. She highlights her recovery from alcoholism while she “walks” with St. Therese of Lisieux, following her “little way” philosophy. The campus ministry leadership team even used sections from this book for their leadership retreat this year.

Where do you most like to read?: I like to read before I go to sleep, in bed, propped up by pillows and a cup of tea. Or outside if it’s nice! Like many people, if I’m reading something I love, I will read it anywhere… the gym, the doctor’s office, driving… just kidding about the last one. I do not advocate driving and reading at the same time.

When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?: Like many high school students, I found it hard to make time to read for pleasure. I was in a Great Books program, so it felt like we were reading a book a week. We also had our own crazy-long reading list for summer break. So, to answer the question, I was always reading, but didn’t have a cultivated taste in genre yet. I really admire students who make reading a priority, especially when there are so many other ways to just “fill time” (the Internet being the biggest time sucker of all…). My sister-in-law, Colleen, learned to read super young, and is always reading. She did this in high school, college, and even now, with a busy schedule. You name it, she’s probably read it.

What is your most hated book and why? AHHHHH. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway. This was the first Hemingway book I read in high school, and I didn’t enjoy it. I was just bored senseless. It’s about a Cuban fisherman named Santiago who waits a crazy long time to catch a fish, and then finally sets off the catch this marlin. My high school friends and used to call each other Santiago if we wait too long for a guy to call back. Perhaps if I read it now, I’d enjoy it. I read The Sun Also Rises after that, though, and all was right between Earnest and I.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Teacher Feature - Mr. Smith

What do you like to read?
I am a fan of adult mysteries and espionage novels. I have recently discovered YA writing. In between novels, I enjoy reading anything about the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Knights Templars. Just completed the pair of historical novels about Oliver Cromwell, Wolf's Hall & Bringing Up the Bodies. I also thoroughly enjoy an occasional biography, especially about Henry VIII and his many wives and his daughter, Elizabeth I. Another quirk that infects my reading patterns: I will empty a shelf of a author's novels and read them all during the summer to get a flavor of the authors!
I have a subscription to Architectural Digest and read that monthly because I have a keen interest in interior design and antiques. Reading this magazine compliments my antique business, Bella Cosa Antiques, where I buy and sell Art Nouveau, late 19th century porcelain, primarily from Bohemia, now called Czechoslovokia. The manufacturers are Royal Dux, Amphora, Teplitz and from a German company called Goldscheider which produced Art Nouveau porcelain and terra cotta figures and busts in the late 1800's. In the last 15 years I was one of the top sellers on Ebay of Nippon porcelain from early 20th century Japan.

What have you recently read?
I tried to complete, Cloud Atlas, over the Christmas holiday but was not able persevere and I very much wanted to see the inspiration for the film of the same name. I very rarely do not complete a book. I don't remember authors all that well, but I will read anything by James Patterson, Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Dan Brown and Steve Berry.

What are you reading right now?
3. I am half-way through Shadow of the Wind, by the Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon and am enthralled with this mystery set in Barcelona.

When and where do you like to read?
4. I read in between sessions with my clients, in my home office, waiting for doctors--in any place where I need to wait and do not want to waste my valuable time. I read a book every two weeks and am reading more than one book at a time.

Did you like to read in high school?
5. I loved to read in high school and set out a plan for myself to complete the 100 Best Classical Books by the time I graduated from college. The Russian novelists slowed me down in my resolve!

What is your most hated book?
6. I don't hate any books as they each nourish me in so many ways. I will say, when finished, that a book may have been a waste of my time, but I try to find some redeeming quality in all that I read. I should read more poetry as I love teaching it but for now, I continue to write poetry, something I've done since 1960. Whenever I am on Kairos, I will use the quiet of this contemplative retreat house and its magnificent ocean views to inspire me to write. I hope one day to self-publish my poetry and the murder mystery novel I've been working on for several years during summer breaks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teacher Feature - Ms. Gonzalez

Ms. Gonzalez is amazed
at what she finds in
her favorite magazines!

What do you like to read?
Although I always loved fiction, the past few years I've been loving nonfiction more--especially that good ol' science writing on all topics including viruses, parasites, consciousness, drugs, behaviors in general, and brain variations that result in people smelling numbers or phantom pain from amputated limbs. A favorite science writer is Ed Yong, and my freshmen won't be surprised, because they've read lots of his articles already (parasites in fish bellies, vampire spiders, tiny mite-y frogs, and more). Online science writing is awesome: articles are free (for the most part), they're interesting and well-written, and they cover a wide variety of topics.
Some good 'ol favorites

Where do you like to read?
I like to read while plopped on anything soft, but I can read in any nook, anywhere. In fact I am like a rat: the more novel my environment, the better my attention and learning (Davis et al., 2004; Feenstra et al., 1995; Zhu et al., 1997). ;) 

Did you like to read when you were in high school?
It can be hard to decide
what to read next!
In high school I loved reading all sorts of books in and out of class: The Awakening, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Odyssey (yeah, I loved that huge brick), The Catcher in the Rye. Geez, I even loved Sophocles and Shakespeare, even though it seemed like I was the only one who did (or who had the guts to admit it!). I thought it was fun to make fun of Romeo's sudden change in mood: wasn't he whining over some other girl the second before he fell in love with Juliet?! I thought that was fascinating... But I do think human behavior in general is just too, too interesting. Some of my high school favorites: The Bluest Eye, The Woman Warrior, everything Sandra Cisneros, and The Bell Jar (still one of my favorites). I also dug Spanish Literature: San Manuel Bueno, martir was a life-changer, and La muerte de Artemio Cruz was super complex (oh and totally in parallel universes with The Death of Ivan Illyich).

What is your most hated book?
There is only one book I could not love reading in high school: Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Sorry, but I've seen this soap opera played in all the Mexican soap operas ever! I prefer some variety to my stories. But, I would love to hear an argument against mine... 

I get carried away... 

I'm representing APA at FSHA:

Davis, C., Jones, F. L., and Derrick, B. E. (2004). Novel environments enhance induction and maintenance of long term potentiation in dentate gyrus. J Neurosci, 24(29), 6497-6506.

Feenstra, M. G. P., Botterblom, M. H. A., and Van Uum, J. F. M. (1995). Novelty-induced increase in dopamine release in the rat prefrontal cortex in vivo: inhibition by diazepam. Neuroscience letters, 189(2), 81-84.

Zhu, X., McCabe, B., Aggleton, J., and Brown, M. (1997). Differential activation of the rat hippocampus and perirhinal cortex by novel visual stimuli and a novel environment. Neuroscience Letters, 229(2), 141-143.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teacher Feature - Ms. Jones

What do you most like to read?  
I love historical fiction most!  There is something really interesting to me about imagining how people lived in times gone by and getting a little window into the past through an interesting character.  I also enjoy magazines about celebrity gossip, parenting, my university's alumni magazine and teacher magazines because I can finish an article in a few minutes.

Do you have a favorite book/author/publication?
Yes, I am obsessed with Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander series!  It's SO good!

What's the last great thing you read?
A Breath of Snow and Ashes which is the 6th book in the Outlander series.

Where do you most like to read?
I usually read in bed.  Most often before I go to sleep, to help me wind down from the day.  I used to love to stay in bed late on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and my book, but Baby Mariah makes that difficult these days!

Ms. Jones hates this book!
When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?  
Yes, I loved to read in high school.  I even liked some of the books we were assigned to read!  Believe it or not, I liked The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, 1984 and A Prayer for Owen Meany.  I had less time to read for pleasure but I still squeezed it in where I could.  My favorite books growing up were the Little House on the Prairie series, the books by Karen Cushman, who wrote Catherine, Called Birdy, Scott O'Dell books (Island of the Blue Dolphins) and the Harry Potter series.

What is your most hated book and why?

Billy Budd by Herman Melville.  Seriously awful!  Boring, slow and hard to read!

Let's Go to the Library!

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Cliff's Books in Pasadena

If you enjoy browsing the shelves in a bookstore or library, you must head over to Cliff's Books in Pasadena immediately!  I am very sorry to report that Cliff's is not long for this world.  I stopped by over break and learned that the 50% off sale is indefinite; the store is going to close.  If you haven't been there, you should know that Cliff's is not your average used bookstore.  First of all, it's wonderfully messy and unorganized.  In many sections of the store, there is no rhyme or reason to the way books are placed on the shelf.  This may frustrate those looking for a specific title, but for the bookstore browser it's heavenly.  Every time I am there I stumble upon a book that is really special.  Sometimes it's a book that takes me back to my childhood or college days.  Other times it's something unexpected or even a little strange, like a single volume from a Charlie Brown encyclopedia set published in the 70s, the other volumes nowhere in sight (we bought Volume 3 quite happily, planning to spend the rest of our days seeking the others).  I honestly don't know what the staff of Cliff's was thinking when they purchased some of these books from people who walked through the doors, but I'm so glad they did!  The ramshackle collection of paperbacks that takes up a third of the space is enough to cause a person to lose track of time.  One could spend an entire day wandering through the stacks at Cliff's, marveling at the yellowed pages of a book of Pac-Man humor (yes, this is a real book, and I did buy it), or a children's book about maps from the 1940s, or an owner's manual for a 1981 Buick sedan.  Cliff's is a cave, a labyrinth, and a treasure chest.  It is guarded by a delightfully grumpy and wholly un-helpful man (is he Cliff?) who sits next to a rack of old, used postcards for sale.  I can only assume they were found inside the books, and it is such a pleasure to leaf through them and read the short messages from strangers written on the back.
Cliff's will be gone soon, like so many used bookstores that have closed in the recent past.  If you love the smell of an old book, the feel of its pages, and the surprises that can be found on the seemingly endless shelves, you must visit Cliff's before it's too late.  If you've never been to such a place, please go.  Please go, because there are so few opportunities left to do so.  Please go, not because Cliff's is the best used bookstore out there (it's not), but because it is there, and it is full of books, thousands and thousands of books.  And soon it will be gone.

Cliff's is open until midnight every day of the week.  It's right by Vroman's, the Laemmle, Tender Greens, etc.  You won't be sorry!

Other used bookstores in the area:
Bookfellows mystery and imagination (SciFi and Mystery shop)