February ’17 Reading Update

Books I read this month:

  • 1984 by George Orwell – As you may have heard, with the recent political climate there has been an increase in sales of this book.  Since I never read this book, I thought now was a good time. I have heard of “Big Brother” and knew the basic premise of the story, but really didn’t know the specifics. I listened to the audio version of this book and was horrified by the comparisons I could make to what is going on under our current president. The idea of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing government that controlled all messages and rewrote facts as lies for a manipulative populace was scary. I don’t believe I would have understand the many levels of this story had I read it in high school. The main character, Winston, struggled to come to grips with the lies and the control the government had over his peers, and ultimately over him and his thoughts.
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – This was recommended by one of my favorite book friends, Melanie, who’s recommendations I always like. This book was over 700 pages long, so I feel like I should get credit for reading MANY books for this one! The first 100 or so pages were a little slow, as you got to know JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude. But once the story really got into the Jude and Willem life-long relationship, with MANY trials and tribulations, I was hooked. I haven’t read many fiction stories with multiple male main characters, so this was a refreshing change for me. I fell in love with Jude and Willem throughout their love story. I was devastated by the sad twists and turns that came towards the end. When I finished the book, I had to sit and grieve my own loss, as finishing the book was really closure on my relationship with these deep characters.  What a fascinating story!
  • Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown by Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter – I’m glad I read this book, but I can’t say it was a fun, uplifting read. This is one of the first educational books I’ve read that tells the darker, political stories that happen in education. The authors share real stories from leaders who have survived nepotism, cruelty, and emotional abuse by bosses and colleagues, all while in jobs where people said they were working “for kids”. I began to learn about this world when I first became an administrator. It is a reality in some, not all, educational settings. I think this is an important read for all administrators, if for no other reason than to be armed with information. The authors gives some relevant strategies for surviving these harrowing experiences.
  • The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook – What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing by Bruce Perry  and Maia Szalavitz- I’ve heard Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade speak three times in the last year and he has recommended this book each time he spoke. I finally read it this month and I wish I had read it 10+ years ago. The book follows the treatment plans these doctors created to support children after major traumas. They detail the development of the brain, why we need to meet children at their emotional, not physical age, when treating them, and the importance of understanding infant and child development. As I was reading, I kept picturing one specific student in my mind. When I was a principal, this 1st grader had recently come to live with his grandparents after his drug-addicted mother was put in jail. I don’t know the specifics of the first 5 years of his life, but I know they weren’t great. By the time I knew him, he was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and was resisting just about everything in his classroom and at home. I wish I had known more about the brain development addressed in this book back then. I hope that today that young man has found the support he needed to grow up and be a functional citizen.
  • The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – When I saw a review of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I read the author’s first book last year and enjoyed the fast-paced mystery. I liked this one even better, though it was creepy to read. From the initial home burglary, to the scary drama at sea aboard a luxury mini cruise, this was an eerie story that tortured the main character, Lo. There were too many characters to keep track of, from the guests to all the crew aboard the ship, but the “bad guys” were well developed and haunting throughout.
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About Amy's Reflections

Director of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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