Friday, November 21, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I never, ever take for granted that I chose a profession where I get to talk about books ALL OF THE TIME. (Grateful!)

One of my co-workers told me about a novel that he is reading with his students called The Fault In Our Stars. He told of how the students chose this book to read and how much he and his students enjoyed this book.

Well, two days ago I started reading this novel, and last night, I read it until I could not stay awake any longer. I really wanted to read longer, but my body would not cooperate. (This is a good book!)

This novel is a modern day coming of age story. One of the protagonist, Hazel, is a sixteen year old girl who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of thirteen. She doesn't want to get close to people, because she does not want to hurt them by dying. However, she meets this guy named Gus, whose cancer is in remission, and they fall in love.

This novel has all of the mushy stuff that goes with teenage love, but it has that serious element that deals with death.

Reading this novel, I thought a lot about cancer, death, and my dear friend Carolyn who died of cancer earlier this year and my friend Patty who beat breast cancer and allowed me to tell her story on this blog... Cancer Sucks!

I thought about the strength that it must take for a person to have cancer and to continue to fight. My friend Carolyn sent an email once that stated that "Cancer is relentless, and so am I." I use to suggest that she read a book or listen to books on tape in order to get her mind off of cancer, and she stated "When you have cancer, cancer is all that is on your mind."

This novel gives a look into what the life of person may be like who has cancer. Hazel's life and the life of her family were completely altered by cancer. Because Hazel's cancer was terminally, death was literally lurking everywhere.

Reading this book, I thought about all of the ideas that a teacher could explore with students, and I hurried to school to share those ideas with my coworker who is currently teaching this novel.

My people, make the most of this day and everyday, because DEATH is lurking everywhere.

John Green

Next, I am going to reread The Alchemist by Pablo Coelho. This may be a journey you should take with me!

Enjoy this Day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B. DuBois

When I traveled to Ghana this past summer, I felt very lucky that the five other people in my travel group were readers, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about one of my favorite things: BOOKS!

Ghana traveling mates!

Two of the many highlights of the trip were visiting the house where W.E.B. DuBois lived while he was in Ghana writing an encyclopedia and viewing his burial site.

W.E.B. DuBois Memorial
W.E.B. DuBois burial site

One of the travelers in the group mentioned that she had completed a novel by W.E.B DuBois, and I instantly became excited. I had no idea that W.E.B. DuBois had written a novel. I have read other books by DuBois such as The Souls of Black Folk, but I knew nothing about this novel: Quest of the Silver Fleece.

Quest of the Silver Fleece was published in 1911, and it is completely captivating from the very first page until the last page. In the notes at the beginning of the novel W.E.B. DuBois writes:
"He who tell a tale must look towards three ideals: to tell it well, to tell it beautifully, and to tell the truth. The first is the Gift of God, the second is the Vision of Genius, but the third is the Reward of Honest."   
The setting of the novel is after the end of the Reconstruction era in a fictional town in Alabama named Toomsville and Washington DC. It's during an era when cotton, the Silver Fleece, was a very important part of the Southern economy. Many Whites of the town did not want the Blacks to get an education, because they felt that education would make the Blacks 'unfit' to work. However, Miss Smith, a southern Black educator, continued to run her school for Black students.

One of the protagonist is Zora. Zora, because of her family's history, is thought by many Whites to be wild, untamed, and not fit to be educated.

Now, you know that I love Zora Neale Hurston, and I was very fascinated with the idea that DuBois named the protagonist Zora, and I wondered if she was named after Zora Neale Hurston. After a little research, I do not believe that this character was named after the writer Zora Neale Hurston. The book was published in 1911, and in 1911 Zora would have been around twenty years old and was not on the Harlem scene yet as part of the Harlem Renaissance. She did not go to New York until 1925, and I do not think that she would have met DuBois before 1925. However, wouldn't it be cool if the protagonist, Zora, was named after Zora Neale Hurston?

Zora Neale Hurston

Sorry about that interruption...Anyway

The other protagonist is Bles, whose background is a little different than Zora. He is thought by Whites to be trainable, and therefore, he had access to Miss Smith's school and other opportunites. Zora and Bles were in love, but many people felt that Zora "was not good enough" for Bles.

Eventually, Bles and Zora split, and they both left the South. However, they came to the realization that they needed to return to the South to help with the upliftment of their people, and that's just what they did.

This novel has love, suspense, history, and is well-written, and I highly recommend that you give it a try.

W.E.B DuBois is well with My Soul!

W.E.B.  DuBois

My next read is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!

Happy Hump Day...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cyclocross Race #5: Rockburn Cross

My category of CX racers raced Sunday at 10am. I got to the race site early, registered, pre-rode the course, watched a co-worker and team members race, and even took a few pictures in front of the toughest part of the course.

Toughest part of the course: I did not attempt to ride it; I ran it!

After I pre-rode the course, I thought "This is a tough course; I wonder how I am going to do?" However, just before my race, I was talking to a fellow racer who had just finished his race, and he said that "This course is very ride-able except that section in the back," and his statement gave me peace. (We must be very careful with our words... I wonder what would have happened if my fellow racer had stated that this is a tough course that was not ride-able.)

The whistle was blown, and we, female racers, took off. I was feeling really good, and I talked to myself throughout the race. I was telling myself things like "I feel good, I can do another lap, ride your own race, pain is temporary etc."

One of my teammates, Sean, was at the race, and Sean followed me over just about the entire course. He was calling my name, giving me pointers, riding along some parts of the course with me, and saying things like "I know you are in pain, but keep riding." Sean is the best. I can not even began to share how much Sean's yelling, screaming, and offering encouragement helped me. Some parts of the course felt lonely, and I wanted to give up, but when I would see and hear Sean, I knew that I could keep going. (People need other people!)

There was this one lady who was right behind me, and I was determined to not let her pass me, and that friendly competition coupled with Sean telling me to not let her pass me, helped me to use every bit of energy that I had left to sprint to the finish line.

My people, it is finally sinking in that I should ride my own race and not worry about the other racers as much. I need to ride as hard as I possibly can until the race is over. I was so sure that the cyclist who was behind me and I were the last two cyclist; however, there were several ladies who were behind us, and I am sooooo happy that I did not give up. I actually finished twenty-one out of twenty-eight.

For those of you who are new to racing, if you look at the column that is labeled laps, that tells you how many laps a person completed. And, if you look below my name, you will see that there are several women who completed two laps and there was even one lady who completed one lap. That means that they were pulled from the race because of their lap time. My people, for the first race ever, I was able to finish EVERY LAST ONE OF THE LAPS, and there was someone behind me.

Change can be so gradual sometimes, and if we are not carefully paying attention, we will miss the changes and forget to celebrate!

So, after this race, I am celebrating the fact that I was able to finish all three laps....Small Victories Count!

The next race is Saturday, and I am charged and energized and ready.....

Happy Monday, and Celebrate Your Small Victories!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Friday, I got off from work and headed over to Starbucks to start reading Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma. I only had about one hour and a half to read, and I needed to scurry off to a social gathering. However, I read those first two chapters and thought seriously about blowing off my social commitment and going home to snuggle up with this book.

If you don't know, then I must tell you... I am a sucker for love. I'm talking about that Teacake and Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God kind of love, that Ossie and Ruby Dee kind of love, that Florida and James Evans kind of love... Can you feel me?

So, if a writer wants to hook me right away, all she has to do is start off by talking about love, and that is exactly what Lauren Francis-Sharma did in 'Til the Well Runs Dry.

The novel starts with the protagonist, Marcia Darcia, who is a seamstress, going to one of her customer's house to fit her for a dress. While at the house, Marcia caught the eye of an East Indian man, and he literally tracked her down and made her fall in
love with him. My people I was hooked.....

I went to my social function, but the minute I got home, I continued to read Til the Well Runs Dry until I couldn't stay awake any longer.

Saturday, I got up and did my normal routine that I normally do when I am not cycling: Whole foods for an omelet, latte, and time to read.

I started reading Til the Well Runs Dry, and before I knew it, I had been sitting in Whole foods for hours frantically reading this novel.

I was pulling for the protagonist, Marcia Darcia and Farouk Karam. But, we all know how love goes...The road to happiness is not always straight, or the love road may not lead to happiness at all.

Lauren pulled me into this book and kept me captivated with a plot that had many twist and turns and much suspense.

Eventually, I needed to leave Whole foods and try to do some other things, but I really wanted to know how the story would unfold for Marcia and Farouk.

I rushed off to get a tour of Frederick Douglass' house, I went to the Dr. King memorial to pay homage to this awesome man, and I finally ended up in a coffee shop in DC to continue to read this book.

This novel is set in Trinidad, and I loved how Lauren used the culture and historical events in order to help drive the plot and keep me intrigued. The cultural piece of this novel reminded me a lot of the novel Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid.... Rich, Rich, Rich, mysterious culture!

Eventually, I left the coffee shop and rushed home to finish the last few chapters of this very suspenseful and well-written novel.

My people, I read all of the almost 300 pages in a day and a half, and I can't wait for Lauren to write another novel.

This is definitely one to add to your reading list!

Lauren Francis-Sharma

My next read is The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B DuBois

Read, Read, Read......

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I must confess that I started reading Tender is the Night back in August, but one thing about this book is that it is written in a manner where I could put it down for awhile, pick it back up, and continue to read without missing a beat. This is a well-written book!

All along I thought that this book was about one of the main characters Dick Diver. Dick is a brilliant psychiatrist who is married to one of his clients, Nicole. We meet Dick and Nicole while they are on vacation, and they meet this young girl named Rosemary. Rosemary is an actress. Dick and Nicole ask Rosemary to travel with them, and Rosemary falls in love with Dick.

Then the books flashes back to when Dick met Nicole. Nicole was stunningly beautiful and was institutionalized; she was Dick's patients. She and Dick fell in love and eventually got married. They had two children. Then....

The plot starts to twist... Dick is accused of infidelity with a patient, Dick and Rosemary have a brief affair, Dick gets beat up and imprisoned, Dick becomes an alcoholic and is asked to leave the clinic where he works....

Near the end of the book, we start to finally hear from Nicole who has been silent most of the book. While Dick is away on one of this trips, Nicole has an affair with a guy named Tommy, and she ask Dick for a divorce and marries Tommy... I was not expecting this at all. 

It became apparent that throughout the book, Nicole was getting the psychological help that she needed from Dick, and at the end of the book, she finally was well and realized that "Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."

So, this book was not about Dick at all but actually about Nicole.

My people, do not think that because it took me a long time to finish this book that it is not a good book. This is not the case at all: reading to prepare to teach, cyclocross, my social life, Homecoming etc.

This is a book that should be read....

My next read is Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Love Your Body....

This image is on display at the Wholefoods that's on the street that I live on.

"No, they don't love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I'm talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I'm telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they'd just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver--love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”  

From Beloved by Toni Morrison
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