All posts by jmayfield

hidden easter eggs in the books i’ve found…

“Dig” A.S. King – just before Easter, a book that started on Easter Sunday – and with little to nothing to do about Easter – the aggravating part to me was that the parents were portrayed as out of touch and cruel – that the next generation is soooo much smarter – and I get that young people want to believe that – but i think some humility is often in order

“Chasing Excellence” – by Pat Melgares – wonderful book about a running coaching legend – Joe Vigil – really enjoyed that one – and just reminded again of how cool it can be when young kids catch hold of something

“Darius the Great is Not Okay” – didn’t enjoy this one – it struck me as whiny – and having lived through my own isolated teen years, i hate that every book has to be “that special someone who ‘gets’ you is right around the corner…”

Crucial Conversations – Patterson – recommended – or maybe a teacher friend just said she was reading it and I hijacked the book, read it in a day, and then torn it to shreds in the days afterwards – b/c I’m just not a very good friend:)

“The Great Dissenter” – wonderful book about a forgotten Supreme Court justice – the lone dissenter in Plessey v. Ferguson – and of course, as happens in these things, his name came up in another book two weeks afterwards:)

“1962” – Krell – loved this book – about the 1962 baseball season – and the whole year – but I had a wonderful conversation with my dad about the guys who played on the Yankees – my dad was 12 at the time and basically knew the whole lineup – so getting to talk to him was fun

“Winning” by Glover – Jordan’s personal trainer – on what it takes to succeed – basically, you have to be a jerk and put everything else second – that said, I really honestly identified with much of what he said, which makes me a terrible person, but the whole “balanced” life is not what makes people get to the top of a field – so I think honesty is important

“Chasing Failure” – Leak – Christian publisher – sort of interesting coming off Glover – but the “dream it, do it” type – and why we’ve now made Kobe Bryant a hero is beyond me (see Colorado in the early 2000s)

“Hattiesburg” – Sturkey – I loved this book – really, really good – story of a Southern small town – and told in black and white chapters – rather than dehumanize whites, I thought the book did a wonderful job explaining – but not defending – white oppression – and the book was spot on in its analysis of today and the issues that we face today with voting rights suppression

Twas the week before spring break…

“Running Smart” – good book – about the science behind running – what’s myth, what’s workable

“A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor” – Hank Green – it’s actually Book 2 of 2 but I read it solo just fine – and really enjoyed it – had robbed it from a librarian’s “best” list – you can’t go wrong there

“Dear Martin” – same thing, robbed from a librarian’s list – it was good – first 100 pages, wasn’t that sure – but the second half made up for the first half

“Winners Take All” – great book on economic inequality – the problems with capitalism – very insightful and highly recommendable

“The Pattern Seekers” – book on how systemizers helped develop civilization – and so the “problems” that show up in autism are actually just examples of our neurodiversity – the author did a good job balancing the benefits while acknowledging that autism certainly doesn’t mean you’re smart in something though – and that there can be problems there

Well, this one is going to take a while…

So my apologies for being away for two months – obviously, it wasn’t for lack of reading…

“Do You Dream of Terra-two?” Teenagers are selected for a 20-year trip to a new Earth – what could possibly go wrong for them? Yeah, um, everything except their teenage hormones (gag…)

“Ken Jennings Jr Genius Guides: US Presidents” – fun book at Christmas from a former student

“Rebel Rising: Rogue One” – Watched again over Christmas and wanted a Star Wars book to read – meh…

“The Buried Giant” Ishiguto – Christianity Today recommended read – was good

“The Secret to Superhuman Strength” Comic on running/exercise/aging

“Reading the Times” Bilbro – similar to something else I read – and less good

“Just Like That” – Gary Schmidt – wonderful book – thirds in the Wednesday Wars set – and just as good as the other two

“The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher” – I had high hopes for this comic – based on the character in Legends of Tomorrow – but wasn’t that great

“The Shape of Thunder” – highly recommended from a librarian – but didn’t like it

“Cobra” – Dave Parker biography – as per usual with a biography, pretty self-serving – Parker glossed completely over his cocaine issue and that issue in baseball in the 1980s – but he still wrote 400 plus pages…

“Clubbie” – Greg Larson – the “inside” look at minor league baseball – which I already knew and which goes way deeper and darker

“The Power” – Alderman – recommended by many – didn’t really see it though – I’ll likely lose my feminist credentials soon

“A Tale Dark and Grimm” – Gidwitz – new book in our CMS library – interesting premise – but not that enjoyable

“Mascot” – Anthony John – another new CMS book

“Racing the Clock” – Bernd Heinrich – on running and aging – there were distractions about nature – Heinrich is a research professor – but it was overall a great read about aging – very wonderful

“The Only Way is the Steady Way” – baseball reflections – some good ones in there too – and about growing up – like the Clubbie book, there are times when I read about these “men” acting like adolescents – and yet with families and such and I just wonder what exactly went wrong for me that I didn’t get this same experience

“The Wisdom Pyramid” – so this was the better book from Reading the Times – and I used the pyramid with my eighth graders

“Practicing Thankfulness” – awful book – suicide and homosexuality – gender differences – are supposedly from a lack of thanksgiving – really bad stuff

“The Outlier” – Jimmy Carter biography – good – Kai Bird is a wonderful writer

“Reading While Black” – Christianity Today’s book of the year – and it was good

“Heavy” – Kiese Laymon – same week as the book above – this one was also about the African-American experience – this one was also good – just in a different way

“The Genius of Athletes” – I’ve used some of this material with my 8th grade – and some for myself – great book

“That Will Never Work” – Marc Randolph and the start of Netflix – it was interesting to read b/c he devoted hours – like I am devoting hours to teaching during a pandemic – but I’m not going to get the financial benefit he did…

“Shakespeare in a Divided America” – good read – my favorite chapter was on the musical Kiss Me Kate and how it relates to Taming of the Shrew

“Gently and Lowly” – friend sent me this one – and it was good – especially given my friend thought enough to send it

so I’m counting 25 books since Christmas

Dashing through the books…

“One Life” – Megan Rapinoe biography – great book – surprisingly good – she’s very well versed in what she believes – passed the book along to my mom when I was done

“No Time Like the Future” – Michael J. Fox – another book I shared with my mom – another good one – Fox has battled a lot in the past few years – and the book sort of explored keeping faith in difficult times

“Averting Catastrophe” – Cass Sunstein – great read – insightful – basically, how much do we as a government plan for eventualities that might be “worst case” scenario? the book looked into that (lot of it went over my head:)

“Night” – Wiesel – eighth grade third nine weeks book – a reread – I was struck this time about the relationship between fathers and sons – I can’t fathom having to lose my dad the way Wiesel did

“Hiroshima” – another great book – I thought it explored incredibly well the issue of “the bomb” – and when you think of the moral compromises people have made already in this pandemic, it makes understanding the bomb – after a long four year war – more understandable

“Is this anything?” Seinfeld – another mom and son book share – enjoyed it – actually remembered some of the bits from his show – which I haven’t seen in 25 years

“Tru and Nelle” – G. Neri – I like the Christmas Tale a lot better – but this one was okay – I don’t know that I would’ve read the second one if I’d read the first first – so I’m glad I didn’t:)

“The Dead Are Arising” – Les Payne and his daughter – quite a lot to learn on the life of Malcolm X – surprisingly, his life wasn’t covered a lot at my private Christian school:) the circles I have always been around criticized his “hate” – but the man was literally in utero when white supremacists threatened his mother and burned their house down – so what do you expect?

“Hidden Figures” – the YA edition – enjoyable – will be left at school for others to read

“A Promised Land” – another mom-son book combo – Obama’s book was good – you can’t dismiss his intelligence – he’s a good writer – insightful – and the book had some funny moments

“Lights, Camera, Fastball” – story of the Hollywood Stars – 1930s and 40s minor league baseball team – enjoyable read

“The Art of Inventing Hope” – Conversations with Elie Wiesel – good book – will be able to use material in it with my eighth grade – most importantly, the idea of being a witness to history – and passing that along in a world now that invents truths

Happy Turkey Day 2020

“Shake and Bake” – basketball book – biography of a player in the 1970s – filler, but okay

“Kids on the March” – good YA on marches that have been influential in the past 130 years – some I knew about, some I didn’t

“Down Along With That Devil’s Bones” – great book – didn’t know much about the topic, but well-written – and good frame for recent events

“The Magic Misfits: The Minor Chord” – NPH book – loved it!

“The Magic Misfits: The Fourth Suit” – final book – read both – good series – still can’t do the magic, but enjoyed it:)

“Dimestore” – given by a friend – good – well written

“From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back” – didn’t have as much fun with this one as I had with the first book – the ending chapter about the crawl is always worth it – but 570 pages, a bit much:)

“Where the Light Enters” – Jill Biden’s book – the part on education was wonderful – why she teaches – why she kept teaching as Second Lady – and I understood why she enjoyed community college – those students overcome so much to be where they are

“Creating Kind and Empathetic Kids” – disappointing book – elementary driven – and not very challenging

“Think Like a Lawyer” – great book for teachers – how to introduce critical thinking skills in the classroom – good ideas I plan to use in the classroom

“Rage” – good book – read it the week of the election – I think I was the only one still trying to gain information on Trump at that point:) Very well done – Kushner’s take on how to understand Trump, the part with starting with Alice in Wonderland, was, well, odd…

“The Knowledge Gap” – friend from Tennessee leant it – didn’t agree with the premise, but still gained a lot from it

Happy Pumpkin season!!!

“Too Much and Never Enough” – good book – obviously, your political views will influence how you perceive it – but it did a decent job explaining Trump – at least, I thought

“Bebes and the Bear” – great book at the local library on Texas A&M and Alabama’s bowl game in 1968 – enjoyable read

“Rod Carew: One Tough Out” – wow, what this guy has lived through – losing his daughter to cancer – enduring his own cancer woes – so much more than just his incredible baseball career

“The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip” – cute book – allegory

“National Team” – saved this book for a while – well worth it – really enjoyed it – I grew up cheering those teams – so a wonderful read

“Phantom Tollbooth” – had to reread it when I realized I was short of books for the second quarter for sixth grade – I still think it’s not a great middle school book but it had to do this year

“Class Act” – wonderful graphic novel – companion book by Jerry Craft – thanks to Ms. Blount for going ahead and getting it – made my weekend:)

“Glory Days” – 1984 summer – great read – lots happened during that Olympic year

“Out of Thin Air” – book on Ethiopian running – was okay

“A Cup of Comfort for Teachers” – had a parent give me the book her mother had years ago – that in itself was enough – but it was also an encouraging read

“The Runner’s Kitchen” – wonderful book – lots of recommendable recipes

“Redeeming Power” – wonderful, convicting book about how abuses of power occur and how they can be righted – or fought

the books just keep on comin…

“Gone to the Woods” – by the author of Hatchet – wonderful book – his story of the start of his life – and it was compelling

“The Other Half of Happy” – a Ms. Blount new CMS book – pretty good – about the challenges of being Hispanic in America – identity issues

“Passing the Baton” – Book on the significance of African-American women in track and field – beginning in 1948 – it was probably used for a doctoral thesis – so it was less narrative than repetitive analysis – but still was entertaining to me b/c of the running tie-in:)

“Rapture” – Coach of the Raptors – good read – made me think of Coach Mac – I think he’d enjoy the book

“The Big Three” – yes, it was a basketball week – this book was on the Celtics – their Big Three from 2008 – wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped – I’d heard most of the stories

“Bluebird, Bluebird” – when your friend’s mom in Tennessee says to read a book, you read a book

“The Great Pauline Fink” – absolutely loved this book – YA – clever, funny – if you grow up in a rural area, you’d like it too:)

“The Tyranny of Merit” – great read by a Harvard prof on problems in the Ivys – and problems with the Ivys are problems gifted kids have too – so I got a lot out of the book

I have some catching up to do…

“The Book Thief” – fabulous book – don’t know why I didn’t read it earlier – just wonderful – and a great example of how every YA doesn’t have to be a love story – there are more important issues in life…

“Cod” – the legacy of the previous 8th grade ELA reg ed teacher – she ordered a ton of books that stayed shelved for years – this one was one of them – not great, even if you love fishing (and if you love fishing, you’re probably not reading a long biography about a fish…)

“My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich” – I wanted to like this book – the narrator wanted to go to space camp in Huntsville – but she was not likable and the book wasn’t either

The Promise of Change – great book about the integration of TN schools in 1956 – written in free verse – outstanding

“Bringing Down a President” – Nixon and Watergate – for YA, outstanding – not sure how many kids will be into it though

“The Year We Fell From Space” – great book that tackles adolescent depression – and her conversations with a rock were amazing:)

“Dalko” – what do you do when your talent doesn’t come through? Outstanding baseball book – loved it – the inspiration for Bull Durham

“The Answer Is” – Alex Trebek’s book – really well done – sad, of course – but well done and enjoyed it – hoping for the best for him

“A Free Man of Color” – when your friend’s mom gives you a book, you read the book

“Chase Your Dreams” – great book by a current soccer star, Julie Ertz – used a bit of the coachable part in class

“Parenting with Words of Grace” – great book for teachers – and for parents:) reminded me that what we say reflects what we believe about God

“42 Today” – great book about Jackie Robinson – I have read so many things about him – and could read so many more b/c there’s so much about his life that is fascinating

“Rise of Skywalker” – waited for a long time to get this book – disappointed, like the movie…

“Home is Where the Heart Is” – New book I raided from our library from Ms. Blount – not a fan:)

Happy Start of August!

“The Time of Green Magic” – meh, not a fan – way overhyped – a younger grade book – Iffen…

“Bad Boy” – wonderful book – wonderful memoir by a wonderful author – great gifted takeaways

“Taking Flight” – given to my by a friend – harrowing story of a ballerina – escaping Sierra Leone – wonderful NF I somehow missed a few years ago

“The Warden’s Daughter” – liked it – Goodreads didn’t – but I thought it was okay – Spinelli’s books are similar (write what you know, right?)

“Bravey” – by far, the highlight of the week – probably the month – probably the summer – lots of takeaways – about fathers, about running, about creativity – just a wonderful book and highly recommendable

resurrecting my youtube career…

“a great reckoning” – louise penny novel – had a friend recommend the series – i can’t do series, but i can do a book – and it was good – surprisingly good – even gave me the ability to write a satire with it too – so yeah!

“star wars from a certain point of view” – great book – enjoyed the stories – what does everyone say about an anthology? that it’s too uneven – this one had chapters i did love over others – the sith of datawork was wonderful – as was the final story – but it was all pretty entertaining:)

“rabbit and robot” – creative YA – not really YA though – the review i read said it was R-rated YA – so yeah, that’s not really YA – but it was creative and i did enjoy it

“the room where it happened” – another one i started out not really liking and came around too – and it was funny – ironically so – that John Bolton so craved power that he became a Trump aide – only to see Trump endorse so many positions Bolton didn’t believe in – so the lesson here kids is that power isn’t everything:)

“out of left field” – great book from the author of green glass sea – another favorite – this was a book related to it – and in time for baseball season:)