January 2015 in Books

TheSparkThe Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett is a fascinating memoir of a mother going through the roller coaster life of first discovering that her child has autism to eventually realizing he is a genius of geniuses who might very well be up for winning a Nobel Peace Prize in physics for ground breaking theories that expand Einstein’s theories. He’s only 15 and his resume is quite extensive already. If you’ve never heard of Jacob Barnett just google his name and you’ll find plenty of information. This story was revealing on so many levels, but it really is about theĀ  roller coaster ride that a mother went through, first being told that her child would never read, maybe never really talk, to then eventually realizing that his mind was far more advanced than the average child. I found the book, though not necessarily exceptionally written, to be both fascinating and inspiring. I also came away with some nuggets of thoughts that I’ve been mulling over ever since.

ManageDaytoDayManage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind edited by Jocelyn K. GleiĀ  is not necessarily ground breaking information but the different essays from various well known people make it helpful. Sometimes a different approach or perspective helps things stick. I did do a few things like take Facebook off my iPod after being reminded of the needless minutes that are wasted on social media.


WomanWhiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is a classic that I’d never read, and I’ll be honest, I never would have had it not been for a group of friends of mine that are reading classics together. This was the pick and I’m glad I read it, though at times the Victorian, long, drawn out descriptions were a bit of a drag to get through. It was interesting to think about a mystery being written long before “mysteries” were a genre. There were some parts that were, like I said, a bit too lengthy and laborious, but there were many other parts that I loved. I’m glad I read it and really enjoyed it especially towards the end of the 600+ pages.

TheReadingPromiseThe Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma was not exactly what I expected, but was an enjoyable read, and in its own way quite inspiring. When Alice was 9 years old, her father, a children’s librarian, made a pact with her to read every single day for 100 nights straight. They later expanded it to 1000 nights and eventually would reach over 3000 nights of never breaking “The Streak.” Their final night was the day she moved into her college dorm. What it isn’t, is a book about books and discussions that she and her father had about life as a result of the books. Frankly, there is surprisingly little about the actual literature she and her father read. However, what was truly inspiring was how “The Streak” bonded a father and daughter through a turbulent life. I would go so far as to say I think the reading might have saved their relationship all together. Her mother left abruptly when she was young, and it was the promise of reading together that kept the dysfunctional and rather uncommunicative pair together throughout her childhood and teen years. Each chapter is really a snapshot essay of a childhood experience that of course always includes reading with her dad at the end of the day. The bond that she forged with her dad is remarkable, and it is amazing to see how books were what kept that alive.

CSLewisC.S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric, Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alistair McGrath was, I felt, a well-rounded biography of Lewis’ rather complicated personal and public writing life. I will say I have not read any other biographies so I can’t compare, but I really enjoyed the exploration of both his personal and professional life. He really was a complicated man, and it is amazing how he became to be such an well-known author. His legacy both spiritually and in English literature has touched millions around the globe. He never expected it. He himself thought he would be forgotten within five years of his death, and it’s fascinating to see how his literature has stood the test of time. It made me want to pull out the Narnia books again as well as explore some of his other works that I still haven’t read.

It was a great start to my reading year! I’d love to hear what you are reading!

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  1. I read The Woman in White some years ago and felt exactly the same about it. Have you read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins? It’s interesting, too. Frankly, I am thankful I didn’t have a genius to try to nurture! I can’t imagine! What a challenge! Love reading about what you’re reading.

  2. I read The Spark last year. Your other books sound interesting, too.

  3. I read The Spark at the end of last year and LOVED it! It was so interesting and made me think a lot of how we approach education and best serving our kids.

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