Month: April 2016

(Another) Mathematician’s Lament – How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form

A Mamathlamentthematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form by Paul Lockhart
Published April 1, 2009
Bellevue Literary Press
Source: I bought it
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“A brilliant research mathematician who has devoted his career to teaching kids reveals math to be creative and beautiful and rejects standard anxiety-producing teaching methods. Witty and accessible, Paul Lockhart’s controversial approach will provoke spirited debate among educators and parents alike and it will alter the way we think about math forever.” Source: Bellevue Literary Press

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As a mathematics teacher and long-time student of mathematics, I was overjoyed when I came across this book. Finally, I thought, an ode to the profound beauty and elegance of this most precise and direct human languages. And, hopefully, an expose on the state of mathematics education, and a plea to change course, maybe even some practical suggestions on how we may begin to do this.  (more…)

Anticipating May 2016 – New Book Releases, Fiction & Non-Fiction

Hi everyone! It’s that very exciting time of the month – the end! Which is thrilling of course because it means May is almost here, bringing with it a wealth of NEW BOOKS to swoon over and be enchanted by and hopefully fall in love with.

Here’s my most-anticipated list – 4 I’m still eagerly awaiting (on pre-order), and 4 I’ve had the privilege to read & that I highly recommend. Each list is in order of publication.

What are *you* looking forward to reading this month? I would love to know!!! Please leave a note in the comments if you wouldn’t mind sharing 🙂

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Poignant, If Overly Romantic, Exploration of Hope and Protest – Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart is a Muscle

heartYour Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Published January 12, 2016
Little, Brown and Company
Source: I bought it
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“The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this electrifying debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle’s 1999 WTO protests. In this raw and breathtaking novel, Yapa marries a deep rage with a deep humanity. In doing so he casts an unflinching eye on the nature and limits of compassion, and the heartbreaking difference between what is right and what is possible.” Source: Hachette Book Group

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Review

1999 WTO protests.
People around the world live in abject poverty. The mentally ill are out on the streets. Children are starving. Big Pharma is creating monopolies of health. American corn subsidies are impoverishing agricultural nations. The US is shoving hormone treated beef down the throats of unwilling Europeans, under the guise of ‘free trade’. Workers are being exploited. Terrible injustice permeates human existence.

But, there is hope: “He heard them saying in the streets, ‘Another world is possible,’ and beneath his ribs broken and healed and twice broken and healed and thrice broken and healed, he shuddered and thought, God help us. We are mad with hope. Here we come.” And, for those who come together in such displays of hopeful protest, their collective action and standing together is how “they hold the fear in their mouths and transform it into gold”…

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Top Ten Tuesday – Bookworm Delights

Thank you to The Broke and Bookish for the inspiration and for hosting “Top Ten Tuesdays” since 2010! This week’s prompt: Top Ten Bookworm Delights, inspired by this post by Jamie.

There are so many ways in which bookish experiences reenchant my world daily, and so many reasons to be grateful re: books-in-my-life. Here are some highlights, in no particular order: (more…)

A Not-So-Fine Imitation: A Thin & Cliched Romantic Historical Suspense

fineimitationA Fine Imitation by Amber Brock
Published May 3, 2016
Crown Publishing
Source: theReadingRoom Advanced Readers Program ARC
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“Set in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin. Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus–the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation… Vera faces an impossible choice–whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.” Source: Penguin Random House.

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Review:

“He who is subjected to a field of visibility… inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own [subjugation]” ~ Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish

Basically, what Foucault was referring to is that pervading sense we feel to act in prescribed ways – to discipline ourselves into conformity. We subscribe to the dress-code at work, for example, we observe rules of decorum in our interactions (well, most of us try to), we may even get married and have kids because that’s what’s always been ‘expected’ of us (not least of all by our parents, whom many of us also try to please in various other ways as well…) (more…)

Top 5 Wednesday – Books that Intimidate Me


Top 5 Wednesday is a meme hosted by @ThoughtsOnTomes; the related GR group may be found here: Goodreads T5W

A close friend suggested yesterday that perhaps the books that are hardest to read are most worth it to try… And this got me thinking perhaps I can find the courage this summer to tackleworks I’ve carried with me for ages. In the very least, naming the problem/challenge seems to be Step 1 in any program, and declaring such things in public spaces creates some aura of accountability, so with a goal of (hopefully) having reviews of these by end-August, here’s the top 5 books that scare me witless: (more…)

Top Ten Tuesday* Variation: Eastern Block Humor & Bulgakov’s Master & Margarita

mathuniverseI’ve been dallying on this Top Tuesday post (a meme hosted by The Broke & The Bookish; theme: humorous books) for days (originally I was going to have it ready by the end of the weekend and schedule it to post during my busy week). But the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure I’d have anything productive to add to the conversation.  Because I’m probably the last person you want to get humor recommendations from (for example, the pop-physics book I’m reading now, Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality has me doubling over in hysterics every other page… sigh – when did I become the crazy math teacher?)

Still, the more I thought about it, the more I realized by not writing this post, I was practicing a favorite strategy of mine: avoidance. I mean, the things that are hardest to write are probably the most worth it to attempt. And this time, to write anything at all, I found myself compelled into a variation of the theme Top 10 Humorous Books – a meditation of sorts on my own relationship with humor, told through one of my favorite books of all time, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. (more…)

A Subtle, Insightful Debut Novel & a Brilliant Atmospheric Rendering of the Utah Desert

Never-Open-Desert Diner3The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
Published March 22, 2016
Crown Publishing
Source: theReadingRoom Advanced Readers Program ARC
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“Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben’s visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner that hasn’t opened in years. In this unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. At turns funny, heartbreaking and thrilling, The Never-Open Desert Diner powerfully evokes an unforgettable setting and introduces readers to a cast of characters who will linger long after the last page.” Source: Penguin Random House.

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Review:

“Most people associate the desert with what is missing – water and people. They never think of the one thing the desert has more of – light. So much light.”

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Sunday Post – 2016: The Year of Community & Discovery

This week I am excited to participate (for the first time!) in The Sunday Post meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. The Sunday Post is for sharing news and recaps, and I’m using this installment as an opportunity to reflect on my 2016 bookish resolutions and to thank you, my fellow book-lovers, for the ways in which you have opened up my reading life. ❤

This year has marked a dramatic turning point for me re: my book obsession. Prior to 2016, I could have counted the number of times I read a “new release” on one hand. I only interacted with friends I knew from “real life” encounters on GoodReads; I didn’t read book blogs or write my reviews with any thought to how they might be read. (more…)

Love & a Hooker: The Birth of Public Awareness of Toxic Waste in the US – A Review of Love Canal

Llovecanalove Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present by Richard S. Newman
Published on May 2, 2016
Oxford University Press
Source: ARC from Oxford University Press via Netgalley
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“The first book to place Love Canal in a long history of industrialization around Niagara Falls, stretching back to colonial times; Places grassroots environmental protest in a national and global context; Situates Love Canal in a long and complex environmental history its residents altered forever in the 1970s and 1980s; Draws on previously unused archived material and original oral histories” Source: Oxford University Press

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Review

In the spring of 1953, the Niagara Falls School Board thinks itself mighty lucky for scoring the purchase of a site (Love Canal) for a new school for only $1. Ok, so it has been warned that underneath the seemingly idyllic pastoral landscape, a seething 20,000 tons of toxic waste percolates the earth. How this may be relevant, no one (wants) to guess, not even when the foundation of the new school sinks into an oily fetid pit. Undeterred, construction moves a few paces north, and the school opens in 1955. (more…)