This month I read an odd assortment of books. I revisited one of my favorite authors, I branched out into some new YA lit, and I enjoyed some professional books as well.
- Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins – This was a short YA novel I found in my library app. I loved the story, which was about a high school football star who is dating the prettiest girl in school and who finds himself also thinking about a boy. The football player had never heard the word bisexual before and as he learns more about that and himself, his life changes. My only problem with the book was the ending, which was completely abrupt and unfinished. I don’t think the author did justice to her characters or her story by just ending the book where she did. I was very disappointed.
- The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith – I wish I hadn’t read this book right after the last one, because this was another YA book that ended too abruptly, which annoyed me! A young boy, Joel, dies on a camping trip, and this story is how his friends and family deal with life without him. Each chapter was narrated by a different character and gave you a very small glimpse into Joel’s life. I would have liked to see each character narrate at least two chapters, instead of just one, to extend the story of Joel and his survivors. I was disappointed that we didn’t learn more about him; I think I was expecting a hidden mystery that just wasn’t there. He died the way they said and he was a good person, like everyone said. The characters in this story were Mormon, and I appreciated learning a little more about their culture throughout each small story.
- Shoot First by Stuart Woods- After my last two YA books, I needed a tried-and-true mystery I knew I would admire. I think I might have skipped a Stone Barrington story or two, but with most of the main characters remaining the same, I can always jump into one of these novels. Stone bought yet another home, in Key West this time, as he romanced yet another woman and escaped his and her death through various maneuvers with his BFF Dino. Always a good read!
- Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott – This book was such a fascinating read to me. We used it in our teacher leadership book study last month, and the group who read it really enjoyed it! The author goes through a lot about listening, preparing for and being invested in fierce conversations, and not avoiding those elephants in the room. I loved her “Mineral Rights”, which is a dialogue designed to help someone get to some deeper clarity about an important problem, much like a coaching conversation. I shared that and the “Decision Tree” with a friend in another profession, and we discussed how these were applicable in both of our fields, as we we work with a range of people individually and in groups of differing expertise and responsibility. I wish more people were prepared to have fierce conversations.
- Fast & Loose by Stuart Woods – After I read the last Barrington novel, I realized that I had skipped a few. Since I liked to read my series in order, I went back to catch up. This was yet another fun mystery where Stone is being saving his life and the life of a new love interest, as a mad man stalks them around NYC. Amazingly, Stone did not buy a house in this book. However, he did form a new company that bought a yacht, a jet, and a home!
- Indecent Exposure by Stuart Woods – I’m glad I went back and read these books, though I’m annoyed I read them out of order. These last two books changed a few things in Stone Barrington’s life, from the homes he owned, the companies he invests with, and his dating life. I love when Stone is with Holly, who is now the Secretary of State and possibly the future president!
- Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner – This is the second time I have read this professional book. I read it last year on my own. This year we have been using this as part of our monthly book study with our principals. So each month I have reread a section of the book in order to design a book discussion protocol for the group. I think this is a great read for all leaders, but especially for aspiring and new leaders, as the authors give concrete suggestions for learning leadership habits that will last a career.
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – Wow! I’m so grateful to the friend who recommended this book to me. I trust her recommendations, so I decided to read it without knowing anything about it, and even after seeing that it was almost 500 pages long! This is a tale of four generations of a Korean family living in Japan after colonialism forced them out of their homeland. It was beautiful, sad, heartwarming and heart wrenching, as these characters lived in abject poverty and fought to put food on their table for their children. There were moments of love, joy, and success, followed by moments of sadness and disillusionment. I loved following the lives of each family member through their adventures.