Reading Updates and Other News

I have been busy, busy. I am making soap to gear up for fall. When you’re a soapmaker, you have to make the soap about four-six weeks in advance of the selling season because it needs that long to cure. I am doing a big arts and crafts fair on September 21, and I want have a good amount of stock.

School has started, at least for me. My students don’t return until September 8. We have pre-planning, though, and I have taken on a new role as English department chair. The start of the year has already been great.

I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series with Maggie. I have read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows much less often than the other books in the series. Re-reading Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix this last time made me think two things:

  1. A lot folks don’t like this one because Harry is so angry. Well, he was dealing with Voldemort’s emotions influencing his own, and even if that were not the case, he has a right, after everything that’s happened to him, to a bit of righteous anger. And he struggles through so much of that book.
  2. Every teacher and administrator working in schools should read this book. It has interesting things to say about teaching, especially about what happens when the government, and especially government officials who know nothing about education, interfere in schools.

I’m really enjoying reading these books with Maggie. I think she’s liking them as well.

I don’t have a lot of extra time with all this craziness, but my wardrobe is really frightening. I mean, I never shop for myself because I hate, hate, hate shopping. I absolutely loathe it. I hate hunting for something I like, I hate continually taking off my clothes and trying on outfits only to find they fit weird or I don’t like them, and I hate being in the store around people I don’t know well and with whom I have to have conversations. I also hate having to decline offers of a store credit card, along with the attempts to convince me that I could be saving so much money if only I had one. As a result, my clothing situation was getting close to desperate. One of my friends posted a link to this personal shopping service called Stitch Fix, and I thought, “yeah right, like I can afford a personal shopping service.”

Nevertheless, I visited the site, and I discovered that it was fairly reasonable. The styling fee is just $20, and the fee is applied to anything you buy. The personal stylist picks five items and sends them to you. You can set how often you receive packages. You fill out a comprehensive styling profile. I was impressed that Stitch Fix asked me for links to a Pinterest board where I pin clothes I like and my LinkedIn profile. I wouldn’t have thought to do either one, but it looks like it was helpful because I received my first shipment, and I liked everything so much that I kept it.

I am posting pictures of myself without makeup and with messy hair, so don’t look at my face, but check out what I received.

Plum Dress and White CardiganFirst, this plum wrap dress. I would have walked right by it if I had seen it in the store because I would never, ever have thought it would look good on me. The waist, however, is a little higher, so it actually covers up areas I might not want to show. It has capped sleeves, so I can easily add a long-sleeve sweater, tights, and boots, and I have a good winter/fall outfit, too. No, I do not have on tights; those are my really white legs.

Jeans, Cardigan, Dotted Print ShirtNext up, skinny jeans. Another item I’d have walked right by if I had seen them in the store. Truly. And they fit me really well. They are actually comfortable. I really liked the print on this shirt. It has no sleeves, so I have to wear the little short-sleeved cardigan they sent, which, incidentally, I also probably wouldn’t have picked out for myself. I have to admit it’s perfect for pairing with all sorts of outfits, thought.

Green ShirtI really liked this green shirt. It fit me well, and it’s versatile enough for work or casual dress. And it’s not too tight around my hips.

I was really pleased and surprised at how much I liked everything once I tried it on, with the prices (I got everything for less than $200), and with the convenience. I really think this is going to solve some of my issues with my wardrobe. I am trying out clothes I might not have tried, and I don’t have to go anywhere. And it costs about the same as I’d spend if I hauled my tuchus to the store. So I’m pretty happy. If you want to try it out, I have a referral code, and it would be awesome if you would use it when you sign up.

Stitch Fix

Book Club Picks and Ideas for the Nightstand

The Book Club Girl shares the top ten book club picks for spring and summer. I read about The Uncommon Reader at Book Group Buzz and thought it sounded interesting, and as a fan of Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Life Studies: Stories, I had heard of her most recent work Luncheon of the Boating Party, but I hadn’t read it. I was lucky to be able to use Life Studies in a senior short story seminar course that I teach. This year’s class didn’t like Vreeland as much as last year’s class, interestingly enough. She was an English teacher for 30 years in San Diego, and her web site has handy information for teachers.

Stefanie at So Many Books mentions another book that looks interesting: Novel Destinations by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon. This book is a reader’s guide to literary landmarks, from the courthouse that served as the inspiration for the Maycomb County Courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird to the moors captured so eloquently by the Brontës.

I am over 200 pages into The Book of Air and Shadows, and I suppose it is too much to hope at this late stage that any of the characters will turn out to be likable after all. However, the storyline does move. I can’t quite say it matches the dearth of characterization exhibited by Dan Brown, but one of my prerequisites for truly enjoying a book is liking a character or at least something about a character. Any character.

If you are a teacher, especially a teacher of writing, and interested in joining a professional development book club, I think we have something going. We are going to read Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle. Lisa Huff, no relation, put together a wiki where we can share our discussion. Consider yourself invited if this book looks like something that interests you.

If You Liked…

If you’re looking for modern fiction to pair with classics, you might be interested in my post “If You Liked…” at my education blog.

By the way, if you have any trouble finding your way around here, let me know, and I’ll help you out. I’m moving away from categories in favor of tagging, so look for more specific information through the tag cloud in the sidebar rather than the archives page.