What I’m Into: January 2017

January. proper noun. The first month of each year, igniting joy and panic and Vitamin D deficiency.

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Despite all the fresh-start vibes most people love, January has never been my favorite month. It’s cold. It’s still dark. It’s lacking in holiday cheer. But there have been many bright spots to this month, too. Read on for some favorites.

Reading

Reading in the Wild – Donalyn Miller. Donalyn talks about strategies teachers can use to create lifelong readers. Her insights were helpful and gave me motivation to read more myself.

All American Boys – Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds. This story is told in two perspectives. Rashad is an African American boy who is accused of shoplifting and is beaten by a police officer. Quinn is a white boy who witnesses the beating – and who knows the policeman. The authors navigate a touchy topic with unflinching empathy. I highly recommend this.

Flygirl – Sherri L. Smith. This book tells the story of Ida Mae Jones, a fictional WASP during WWII. Ida is African American, but she passes as white to join the WASP. Though it was fun to read about the adventures and challenges of being a woman in a field typically dominated by men, I thought that some of the issues could have been handled in a deeper and more complex way.

Falling Over Sideways – Jordan Sonnenblick. Wow, am I grateful not to be in eighth grade any more. Claire is 14 years old when her dad has a stroke. She navigates the way that changes her family, as well as all the other middle school drama, in a voice that is authentic and especially funny to someone who’s not in that life stage anymore.

The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare. Adam, my boyfriend, would have been a better English major than I was. Case in point: he routinely listens to Shakespeare on his commute. Though I was skeptical that I would be able to follow this story, he passed the audiobook on to me, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I catch while sitting in traffic. Portia is one of my favorite Shakespearean women so far.

The Uncommon Reader – Alan Benet. Imagine if the Queen of England became a voracious reader. This novella tackles that premise with whit and charm. The British accents make it a delightful audiobook.

Currently reading: The Call of Stories – Robert Coles. Cress – Marissa Meyer. This Side of Paradise – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Listening

Audrey Assad – Inheritance. Audrey is the center of my winter playlist, and her newest release is gorgeous and centering.

Spotify Premium. If you see a promo urging you to try 3 months of Premium for 99 cents, do it. Except you might become addicted to music without ads.

Watching

La La Land. This film is everything that I want movies to be: it’s a musical with romance and surprises throughout and thought-provoking ideas and likeable characters including a charming female lead who wears adorable dresses. The ending took me aback and gave me a lot of feelings and made me think about this story long after the credits ended. So basically, go see it.

Rogue One. I decided to live it up and go to this movie on the night Christmas break ended. I questioned my decision a little bit when we got out of the theater at 11:00 pm and a lot when I had weird dreams all night. That notwithstanding, I thought the movie was solid, especially because it broke the typical Star Wars plot model enough to keep things interesting, and it had intriguing themes of self-sacrifice.

The Crown. This show is so beautiful. Everyone must watch it.

Loving

I don’t know if loving is the correct term for this article about the way we approach poetry on standardized tests, but it is thought-provoking.

Batiste Dry Shampoo. Judge if you want, but I don’t wash my hair every day. If I did, it would look and feel like straw. (Staticky straw, in the winter.) With this miracle potion, I can leave my hair down on day 2 and not be grossed out.

Are you burned out of politics? (Still?) (Already?) This reassurance has more grace and beauty than I can muster.

Zumba! My sister and I have started going to classes once a week. We are not gifted in hip-shaking, so we burn extra calories laughing at ourselves.

Doing

Jumping back into the school routine after Christmas break. These days have included mental health trainings, conferences, attempts to make kids interested in poetry, and the daily grind of grading and planning and talking in front of people.

Celebrating my grandpa’s 80th birthday with a weekend trip up north. Grandpa was an excellent partygoer – he tried sushi and saki at the hibachi grill and let us hang out in his hotel room until late, keeping him awake far past his bedtime. We’re so grateful for him and his active presence in our lives!

Time with friends. Some friends gifted Adam and I a double date at salsa dancing lessons for Christmas, which was so much fun! We’ve also played Pandemic with them a few times this month and finally beat the game…at the beginner level…

Attending a performance of Diana’s Garden, an opera from the time of Mozart, at The Ordway. This show tells the story of Amore, the god of love, trying to set the “natural order” of the world to rights by overthrowing Diana, the goddess of chastity. It was entirely a delight. I especially loved the 1950s staging.

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Surviving winter. Some days more successfully than others.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – head to her site to explore more! And please tell me – what have you been into this month?

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14 thoughts on “What I’m Into: January 2017

  1. Anna! Tell me what you think of This Side of Paradise. I’m a half-dedicated Fitzgerald fan, having read This Side of Paradise, Gatsby, and three-quarters of Beautiful and Damned. I find him to be philosophical and sometimes dragging, but I actually find myself liking Hemingway better. My friend told me you’re either a Hemingway or Fitzgerald fan. Which one do you like better? Currently I’m into A Farewell to Arms and find myself turning the pages more quickly than Beautiful and Damned. (Also, I highly recommend Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” If you liked Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” with Owen Wilson, you’ll love “Moveable Feast”; it’s witty and fun when Hemingway describes all the expatriate artists and writers in 1920s Paris. My favorite book as of now! Thank you for your blog; as always, it’s wonderful to keep in touch from college and see your writing monthly 🙂

    • I’m about halfway through This Side of Paradise…I have to say it feels pretty similar to Gatsby and Tender is the Night, the only other Fitzgerald I’ve read. They generally drag for me in the middle and I have to force myself through a bit, but I do appreciate his descriptions, and I’m always glad I read them. I haven’t read any Hemingway, actually. I’ll have to give him a try!

  2. My book club is diving into YA this year (most of us are teachers or former teachers) and it sounds like All American Boys would be right up our alley. We love YA that has an interesting social issue to confront. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • I didn’t know any other adults reading All American Boys, but I was dying to talk through it with someone. It would be an amazing book club pick! Also, a book club of teachers and former teachers would be the best.

  3. I’ve been listening to Audrey Assad too, particularly “I wonder as I wander” on repeat. Loved the Crown too. I can hardly wait for season two! I also recently bought the Batiste dry shampoo as my first try at the whole dry shampoo thing. Super helpful for clean hair Sunday morning!

    • We miss out on so much by only playing I Wonder As I Wander with all the Christmas music. It’s such a beautiful song, I agree! I also am loving Abide with Me – the lyrics are currently posted on my bedroom wall! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. I LOVE F. Scott Fitzgerald soooo much! My Mom just found a copy of This Side of Paradise at a library sale and gifted it to me. It’s the very last of his novels that I needed to complete my collection. I’m saving it to read in July because that’s when I first read The Great Gatsby which is – SURPRISE, SURPRISE – the book that got my obsession with him started. I’m sooo excited to read it. Have you read any of his other books? Is this your first time read This Side of Paradise?

    I started The Crown and really like it!!!! Have you seen Little Dorrit staring the same girl? It’s good! Plus, Matthew Macfayden!!! 😀 And Rogue One….Sooooo good! I can’t wait to watch it again.

    I’m trying to find the balance on hair washing. I washed it every day for YEARS. Then, about 5 winters ago I started working on being able to wash it less. I got down to washing it only twice a week and stuck with that for a long time. I’ve noticed that I can’t quite do that these days…And I’m even contemplating to going back to washing it every other day. We’ll see! I love the ease of not having to dry it and style it from scratch….I’m happy you’ve found what works for you!!!

    Happy Birthday to your Grandpa! It sounds like the perfect celebration was enjoyed by ALL.

    I’ve never been to the/an opera, but I would like to try it at least once! Glad you got to go. 🙂

    • I’ve read Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and am now working through This Side of Paradise for the first time. I really didn’t like Fitzgerald until recently, and I still have to remind myself that I’m reading for his language use and depth, not for an interesting plot or likeable characters! And I haven’t watched Little Dorrit, but if Claire Foy AND Matthew Macfayden are in the same show, I definitely should! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. I love Audrey Assad too. I sometimes do pre-worship at my church and I love playing/singing her songs.

    La La Land was so much fun, but now my husband and I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack!

    • I listen to the La La Land soundtrack all the time at work during my prep hour. Now if only my 7th grader students could listen to it and do their work at the same time!

  6. Awe, Happy Birthday to your grandpa. What a blessing to have them in our lives for so long. My husband’s grandfather was 85 when he died (15 years ago now). What a gift to have them around into adulthood. I’ve been wanting to try zumba. I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like it. 🙂 — I don’t believe we’ve crossed paths before, Anna. Nice to meet you. 🙂

    • Nice to meet you too, Brenda! My grandpa is a delight. And so is Zumba! It feels rather ridiculous, but when I stop caring about how silly I feel, it’s so fun. 🙂

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