Teacher Feature #1

TS BeijingName: Trenee Seward

Nationality: American

How long have you been teaching?

I began my teaching career in 2004 after acceptance into the Teach for America program. The interview progress was rigorous and probably one of the most difficult interviews I’d ever experienced at that time. I began my career as a Special Education Resource Reading/English teacher for students in grades 9-12. Most of my students were functioning well below grade level and considered “at-risk.”

What are you teaching? 

After several years in special education, I decided that I wanted a break—a drastic change even. Since I’m in my thirties, unmarried, and child free, I thought I should see more of the world. That said, I applied for a position with Disney English and flew all the way to Beijing, China for a year’s contract as a Foreign Trainer (read: English teacher for primary students). Working for Disney English has its drawbacks, but overall the kids are well-behaved.  We incorporate songs and games into every lesson, and I am still able to easily track student progress. Since I don’t consider myself a morning person, the hours are also great. I work Thursday through Monday and my hours vary. Only once a week am I ever at work before 9am.
What certifications do you have?  EFL, ESL, and/or other?

I have TEFL-C, Special Education (Early Childhood -12), and Generalist (Early Childhood-4) certifications. I held a probationary ESL certification, but never completed the test.

How did you get into teaching English?

I’ve always been passionate about reading and writing. When I entered the teaching profession, my goal was to inspire students who claimed to hate just that—reading and writing, especially those students that most other teachers or schools had already given up on.

Where are you working? country, school, companies, etc. What kind of contract are you working under?

I’m currently teaching for Disney English in Beijing, China. I’m on a 15-month contract. I wear a uniform and name tag to work each day and am provided with specific content that I must follow. I am still given the flexibility to add games/activities and I determine how long each activity must take. We follow a certain set of routines and attend center meetings twice a week. I teach classes at a variety of levels and class sizes also vary.

How long have you been working there?

I just completed my 6-month evaluation. They are pleased with the work I’ve done thus far. I get better everyday. 🙂

Where else have you worked?

Teaching wise, I’ve worked for Houston ISD and 2 charter school districts. I’ve also worked with special needs students at the university level.

Where do you prefer teaching English?  TS DE2

In a classroom. 🙂

What do you love about teaching English?

I love exposing students to stories that capture their interest, especially struggling learners/readers.

What are the advantages to teaching for you? 

I love the summers off. After I work hard for an entire school year, it’s nice to have a summer to enjoy travel, reading, and doing whatever things interest me most. I know I’m supposed to say something inspiring here, but as teachers we constantly use our brains and teacher burn-out is always a concern. Breaks are a nice way to re-charge and re-invent yourself for the upcoming school year.

What are the disadvantages to teaching for you? 

Unsupportive parents, student misconduct, and you never really stop working are major disadvantages. Your day might end at 4pm, but you go home and continue to plan, grade papers, and contact parents. You’re also more than a teacher—you’re a counselor, parent, social worker—and oftentimes teachers don’t receive the respect they deserve for all these hats, especially pay wise.

Do you like teaching English? Why?

I do enjoy teaching English. It gives me a chance to use my degrees in English, but most importantly, with each lesson, I learn just as much as my students.

Do you do another job?

Not now, but in the States I was also a résumé coach and fiction writer.

TS DE1

Trenee SEWARD is also a successful blogger on WordPress at http://naysue.wordpress.com where she writes book reviews primarily about and by black people.  Visit ‘black girl lost…in a book’ for interesting bookish information and all on upcoming notable releases that you may have not heard about.

I thank gratefully Trenee for accepting to take part in this collaborative effort to present interesting teachers doing different things in different places.  I hope this helps people understand better the life of a teacher, as well as encourage those that are contemplating joining the profession.  Look out for the next Teacher Feature at the end of February.

Fifty Shades of Chicken

51ZSxqtNzfLAbout a week after Christmas a surprise gift arrived for me in the mail.  I opened the package telling myself, I hadn’t ordered any more books and was wondering what English Language publishing company had sent me another catalogue for 2013.  Well to my surprise I discovered Fifty Shades of Chicken.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but as I began to read I couldn’t help laughing hysterically.  Who could have been so clever to put together a cookbook starring Mr. Shifty Blades and Ms. Chicken/Hen.  That mystery has remained in tact because FL Fowler is anonymous.  He or she is apparently an experienced chef in more than one way since the cooking language has been satirically and expertly manipulated to parallel the original books.  I suddenly got a sick feeling that it could be EL James writing this one too, but as I read on I realized it was much too intelligent to be her.  Fifty Shades of Chicken is sectioned into three parts: 1.  The Novice Bird, 2.  Falling to Pieces – chicken Parts and Bits, and 3.  Birds Gone Wild – Advanced Techniques.  Each section has tantalizing delectable recipes with seductive culinary stories like Jerked-Around Chicken, Mustard-Spanked Chicken, Cock au Vin,…Well you get the idea.

It makes for a hilarious read and some well cooked chicken.  I can attest to the jerk chicken with spices, rum, chiles and lime and the roast chicken with brandy-vanilla butter recipes.  They were absolutely succulent and easy to make.  The writing is clever and humorous and definitely puts a beating on the original.  It’s much more enjoyable.  The pictures are pretty funny too of a muscular, bare-chested Mr. Shifty Blades.  You never see his face.  They also tried to make the chicken look human, which is a little creepy.  The two-page introduction will suck you into this parody and before you know it you’ll be planning to cook one or more of the 50 recipes after you’ve read more than half the book.  This book is great for anyone who loves chicken, loves the original story, hates the original like me, or just plain ol’ likes to cook.  I’m already planning the next recipe to try – chicken fricassee with prosciutto, tomatoes, and sweet peppers.  Holy crap that sounds good!

Title: Fifty Shades of Chicken  a parody in a cookbook

Genre:  Cookbook/Humor

Published:  2012

Edition: Clarkson Potter/Publishers

Pages:  160

Language:  English

My rating:  * * * * 1/2 

Favorite quote:   “”Your whole control-freak foodie thing, it was because of her, that woman —  Mrs. Child.”  My mood has darkened.  “Julia opened my eyes to many important things,” he explains.  “In fact, I’d still be eating frozen dinners if it weren’t for her.”  Frozen dinners?  The thought of my poor, fucked-up foodie eating cold Tater Tots as a boy breaks my heart.  Not taters, baby, never again!” (Fifty Shades of Chicken, p.80) This was difficult to choose because there are so many funny ones.

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzfusNkdPng]

Anthem

IMG_1620I knew I shouldn’t have read this but I can’t seem to resist dystopian stories at the moment, no matter who’s written them.  When I read the back cover I thought it would be a good idea to give it a try.  I’m not at all a fan of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, but The Fountainhead is a work that fascinates me all the same.  I read it for the second time last year with my book club.  I’m astonished how someone can be so dedicated to an odd radical philosophy and spend most of their life writing giant books to promote it.  Rand’s philosophy of objectivism is nothing more than a vulgar rationalisation for individualism and egotistical behaviour.  The Fountainhead is worth reading because of the array of despicable characters and all that they get up to in the name of individualism.  The FountainheadAnthem, and all of her other books are nothing more than a grotesque plea for her philosophy.  This novelette, Anthem, could have been interesting if it wasn’t so heavy on Rand’s philosophy.  Thank God it wasn’t 750 pages, even though it was small I still felt as if I was being beaten senselessly about the head with her philosophy.  I read Anthem in one sitting and found it to be laborious, boring, and the writing lack-luster, where I found The Fountainhead a lot easier to read and interesting in a strange way.  Anthem was a great idea, however didn’t capture me at all, drowning in Rand’s individualist philosophy, and the story being much too simple.  There went my dystopian reading experience, out the window.

“Equality 7-2521 is a man apart.  Since the Great Rebirth it has been a crime in his world to think or act as an individual.  Even love is forbidden.  Yet since his childhood in the Home of the Infants, Equality 7-2521 has felt that he is different.  When he is sent by The Council of Vocations to work as a road sweeper, he stumbles upon a link to the old world that gives him the spur to break free.  First published in England in 1938, Ayn Rand’s short dystopian novel crystallizes the ideas of individualism and competition that would make her name world-famous.” ( back cover of Anthem, Penguin Modern Classics)  About the only thing  I agree with in that description is  “Ayn Rand’s short dystopian novel crystallizes the ideas of individualism and competition.”  I’m still trying to understand who would rate this 4 stars.  I must give Rand one thing, her books really make people think about what they believe in.  Read at your own risk, unless you’re curious like me.

Title: Anthem

Genre:  Dystopia/Philosophy/Classic

Published:  1938

Edition: Penguin Modern Classics (Beautiful cover and the only thing I like about this book)

Pages:  105

Language:  English

My rating:  

Favorite quote:  none

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm1C0_mu8eo]

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

IMG_1618Well, well I’ve finally crawled from under my big, slimy rock and started to read the Harry Potter series.  I must say that I’m thrilled to have done it and I’m mighty sorry to not have done it sooner.  What can I say, Harry Potter is a cool dude!  I won’t bore you with a synopsis because about 99.9% of you already know what it’s about and the .1% left have probably seen at least one of the movies or live on another planet and have never heard of him.  So, let’s cut to the chase.  What did I think?  I thought the story was magical, enchanting, captivating, mysterious, and suspenseful.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a recipe for success!  I can now understand what all the hoopla was about.  The writing style is engaging, descriptive and something about it reminded me of The Hobbit.  I can’t explain it other than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone made me feel the same way I felt while I was reading The Hobbit, a certain childlike pleasure, rooting for the good guys.

The characters are all memorable, even down to the most detestable and insignificant, like those wretched family members living at number four Privet Drive.  They all play the important roles of helping to set the scenes of the story.  The developing friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione is endearing, but quite typical of the way friends are made at school at this age.  It was great to see that in spite of their weaknesses, their advantages are acknowledged and helped them save day.  Harry Potter is no longer alone.  He’s made great friends and the adventure continues on.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the houses at Hogwarts.  I find that the British culture and tradition  of school made for a solid thread in this story.  It wasn’t just magic for magic, there was a lot more.  There were rules and regulations to abide by, Quidditch, mysterious classes, and upper grades helping first years.  The houses rise and fall together as a group.

The world building was done brilliantly.  Having Harry Potter move from the muggles world to the wizards world was an excellent way to compare and learn things along with him, even as insignificant as the candy kids eat to something as important as wizards not being allowed to own dragons because the muggles would be able to spot them.  The Forbidden Forest which surrounds a good part of Hogwarts, had some surprises of centaurs and unicorns and will likely be lurking with more strange, mythical beasts in the books to come.  Speaking of candy, I know I can’t be the only one who wouldn’t want to taste any of those Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, i.e. ear wax and vomit flavored.  Gross!  I could go for a chocolate frog though.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was dark and mysterious with its disappearing staircases and doors.  Having to whisper secret words to enter your house, while each door is guarded by a ghost, it all adds to this well-thought out setting.  What kid or young at heart adult wouldn’t love this story.  We owe it all to J.K. Rowling who has a wonderful gift for writing, but most of all she has the gift of remembering what it was like to be a child, with all the necessary details.  Essentially, that is what makes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone so infectious.  After reading the last page, I can’t wait to start Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

J.K. Rowling sold 400 million copies of Harry Potter and when I hear that another book You-Know-Who has sold even more copies, frankly it makes me sick to my stomach.  Rowling was working as a bilingual secretary and researcher for Amnesty International when she got the ingenious idea to write the Harry Potter series.  After much life turmoil with divorce, the death of her mother and living with very little money, the Harry Potter series was finally published and the Harry Potter craze came and continues on.  All the publications later led to successful movie adaptations.  J.K. Rowling has recently written The Casual Vacancy a tragic comedy, her first adult novel, which has received very mixed reviews because of its quantity of despicable characters.  Frankly, I find that intriguing, but as a whole, the reviews have mostly been good.  Even though, there is talk of a project for it to be turned into a television series.  The Casual Vacancy even made it on Time’s top 10 best novels of 2012.   Rowling has also written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages,  and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which are all supplements to the Harry Potter series.  Check out the video below of Rowling reading one of my favourite scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry goes to buy his wand.  There’s a little Q&A at the end too.  Happy reading…..

Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Genre:  Fantasy/Childrens/Young Adult

Published:  June 1997

Edition: Bloomsbury Harry Potter Collection Beautiful, sleek, black books in a nice box that looks similar.

Pages:  332

My rating:  * * * *  1/2

Favorite quote:  “Not a scar, no visible sign…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person that loved us is gone, will give us some protection for ever.” ( Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, p. 321)

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Uvf-_zYSs]

Cutting for Stone

IMG_1614How in the world did I get through 2009 and didn’t read or hear about this book?  It was simply AMAZING!
What’s it about?  Well, it’s about culture, love, separation, devotion, betrayal, family, and so many other things.  It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away the plot and I don’t like writing reviews full of spoilers, but here’s the overall story.

It’s the 1950s in an Ethiopian mission hospital where twin boys, Marion and Shiva Stone, are born out of a relationship between a young nun and an English surgeon.  There, the two boys grow up with two very different personalities, while their country is going through much governmental upheaval.  Be ready for meetings with fascinating characters, intriguing situations, beautifully described landscapes, smells of spiced Ethiopian dishes, medical procedures, much sadness, and even a bit of mystery.  All of this and more is recounted through India, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the United States.  In essence, it is a story of separation.  Cutting for Stone is epic, exuberant, a must read,  and even more so, if you are interested in this part of the world.

I could rave on and on about how great this book is but of course nothing is perfect.  Cutting for Stone has a few problems in my opinion.  Firstly, it is very heavy in detailed explanations of medical procedures.  If you’re not the squeamish type you won’t have a problem.  In my case, the birth of the twins had my imagination reeling.  I found that part pretty horrific, unfortunately I have a good imagination when the description is well done.  I pictured the scene a little too well.  However, these medical descriptions are very informative for laypeople.  Lastly, the novel falls down a bit in the first part.  The book consists of four parts.  Interestingly enough, parts 2,3, and 4 are not at all written in the same way as part 1.  I say thank goodness once I started to read part 2 the style had changed, otherwise, Verghese would have lost me forever.  Part 1 is written with a slight pretentiousness. It didn’t seem to entice me directly into the story.  The detail was colossal and overbearing; so distracting at times, I found it hard to decide what to focus on.  It just made me proceed reading cautiously and slower, but it was well worth it because by Chapter 11, which is the beginning of Part 2, I felt a welcome shift to the story.  The writing style was more literary and sensitive to my liking.  Sometimes as readers we have to work a little to enjoy the full extent of the reading experience of some books.  This is a good reason not to give up too quickly.  (Part 2 started on page 113.)

Abraham Verghese was born in Ethiopia in 1955.  His Indian parents were working as teachers in Ethiopia then.  Verghese began his medical training near Addis Ababa.  He later joined his parents in the United States to continue his studies after Emperor Haile Selassie was ousted from power in Ethiopia.  Being a foreign medical graduate at the end of his studies, he only found internships in less popular hospitals and communities.  He wrote about these experiences in his first articles in the New Yorker.  They were called The Cowpath to America.  Verghese continued to practice medicine and to write and published two memoirs called The Tennis Partner and My Own Country, where Verghese writes about being a doctor in a small town in eastern Tennessee.  there he and the town are faced with their first AIDS patient.  The Tennis Partner is about a very close relationship between a doctor and a recovering drug addict intern.  The ritual of playing tennis brings them closer together.  Empathy for the patient and bedside medicine are issues Verghese felt have been stifled among medical training.  He was asked to join Stanford University in 2007 as a tenured professor because of his interest in bedside medicine and his work as a reputable clinician.  Cutting for Stone is fiction, but the theme of patient empathy is a strong element that Verghese emphasizes in many instances in the story, not to mention, there are some similarities with his life.  Check out the video below because you’ll get an excellent insight into what Verghese was trying to depict in Cutting for Stone, very thought-provoking.  Enjoy!

Title: Cutting for Stone

Genre:  Adult fiction/Historical fiction

Published:  2009

Edition:  Vintage Books

Pages:  534

My Rating: * * * * *

Favorite quote:  “When a man is a mystery to himself you can hardly call him mysterious.” (Cutting for Stone, p. 31)

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIBe_iwx5PY]

The Next Big Thing – Birthmark

Firstly, I’d like to thank Victoria Corby for tagging me on The Next Big Thing.  She’s in the throes of writing French Twist, which sounds like my kind of story.  Check it out http://victoriacorby.wordpress.com.  I would say I’m a novice literary writer with a capital N.  I actually sat down last November to partake in the thing that I’ve said I wanted to do for some time now – writing a book.  NaNoWriMo, along with some pretty cool, experienced buddies, put me on the straight and narrow of starting to write my first book.  I was nervous and wasn’t sure I was doing things correctly, as if there is a correct way to write a book.  What NaNoWriMo did teach me was to be consistent about the quantity that I wrote each day, to persevere even when the story didn’t seem to be turning out exactly as planned, and above all to enjoy myself.

What is the working title of your next book?

The title of my book is called Birthmark.  In the beginning, I had put another title but quickly realised that my story had taken a slight turn, but for the better.  So this title works a lot better.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I’ve always had a vague idea of writing a book which would take place in my hometown New Orleans.  New Orleans is a place with tremendous character, loads of culture, scrumptious food, and beautiful architecture.  I think any avid reader would enjoy reading a book which entails all of that.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess my book would fall into the genre of contemporary fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m not so sure about that just yet.  I don’t think I’ve captured the physique nor the complete personalities of my characters enough to answer that question.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Birthmark is a story which follows the ups and downs of an African-American family from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Sorry, I can’t say more than that.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Ultimately, I’d like my book to be published by an agency.  Personally, I have a problem with a lot of self-published books.  They often need a bit of editing and there’s nothing that annoys me more than reading through mistakes, poorly written passages, or scenarios that just aren’t plausible.  I want my book to be edited by professionals and of course given a beautiful cover.  I want my book to look just as good on the outside as it is in the inside.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wouldn’t say my NaNoWriMo writing experience gave me a solid first draft.  It did give me an excellent corps 52,650 words in which I can mould into a real first draft hopefully this year.  I wrote it in three weeks which was amazing to me.  I was sure I’d have trouble getting to 50,000 words, but in the end I could have written a lot more.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t actually think of any exact titles at the moment but it would be very similar to a family saga story but with a lot of upheaval, character growth, and a few other twists and turns.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I inspired myself to write this book.  I was tired of hearing myself constantly saying, “I should write a book.” or “I should put that in a book.”  I saw some booktubers on You Tube talking about gearing up for NaNoWriMo and something inside of me said go for it.  You’ve got loads of time on your hands and you have nothing to lose.  The weekend before November 1st I spent trying to figure out what exactly I was going to write about.  My husband helped by asking me questions which then led to me choosing character names and places I wanted to use in New Orleans.  I must admit he gave me that extra swift kick I needed to get started.  I jotted down some notes in an outline form so that I could somewhat get my story off to a good start and voilà.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well there are two story lines going on between two generations.  There’s some intrigue, confrontations, New Orleans culture, etc.  That’s all I can tell you for now.  I don’t want to ruin it for you.

To continue on The Next Big Thing tag, here are two other budding writers that I’d like to tag.

Carole Hill from Piglet in Portugal, http://pigletinportugal.com where she writes about living in Portugal.  She also writes about the challenges of living abroad and about her many hobbies (cooking, photography, etc.).  She too is a NaNoWriMo winner and on a mission to write a book and to get published.

Kimba Azore who writes the blog Fleur de Curl, http://fleurdecurl.com and is from my home state Louisiana.  Her blog details everything you want to know about natural hair, beauty, and fashion.  She even has a rubric featuring what she’s reading and writing.  What a poet she is!

Hope you enjoyed this post and will check out Piglet in Portugal and Fleur de Curl to read about their writing exploits.  I’d love to hear about what you think about self published books as opposed to professionally published ones below.

Speak

41WvR8-CBULThis year is starting with a big bang with and excellent five-star YA novel.  I finally chose one that is living up to my expectations and isn’t a long puffed up series.  The story is about Melinda Sordino.  She’s starting her first year of high school and no one is speaking to her, including her best friends.  An incident from summer has plunged her into silence and it seems she is doomed to speak no more.  Even though she is silent, she is screaming inside.  It’s just nobody hears her, not her parents or her friends.  Speak took me back to high school and made think of those days when you only seemed to befriend those that were just like oneself.  Clicks were the way students got from one year to another.  You had to fit in and fit in is what most students do or at least attempt to.  However, there are those who are total outcasts for one reason or another.  Melinda is not really an outcast.  She just feels like one and is perceived as one in her surroundings.  She feels as if she’s disappearing, crumbling like an abandoned home.

Speak takes us on Melinda’s journey to express her pain and not speaking is the way she survives, literally hanging off the edge of a cliff, and hoping to be caught by a suspended net below if she falls, which doesn’t seem to come.  In spite of her pain, she is very lucid about the people and the things happening around her.  Her descriptions are blunt but absolutely correct.  As a reader you’ll love her, want to protect her, and root for her right from the start to the end.

The writing in this novel is clever, witty, and cutting at times.  The sentence structure is short, direct, very humorous and sometimes makes you want to shed a tear.  The chapters are never longer than about 3 to 3,5 pages and the shortest ones are about half a page.  At no point will this book bore you.  Actually you could read it in one sitting because it’s not very long.

At the beginning of the book Laurie Halse Anderson writes a letter to her friends.  She says, “Speak is the book I wasn’t going to write.  Why would I want to revisit the agonies of adolescence?  Wasn’t that the point of surviving to adulthood—-so I could block out the traumas of being a teenager?…..So I tried.  I wrote the book.  I never thought anyone would publish it.  I never dreamed it would earn any awards.  I never imagined it would be taught in schools,…This has all been an unexpected, remarkable ride.” (Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak)  This is a really wonderful book and everybody should read it.  It will make you think.  It will make you see. It will make you cry, but most of all it will make you listen.

Laurie Halse Anderson is an American author known for writing about difficult topics like dysfunctional families, body image, rape, etc.  She tackles these topics originally and honestly.  She writes primarily for young adults and children.  Her first novel Speak was published in 1999 and led her to win the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults selection, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize,the Printz Honor Book Award, and a  National Book Award nomination among others.  Some of the other young adult novels she has written are Catalyst, Prom, Twisted and Chains.  Her first children’s novel, Ndito Runs, was published in 1996.  Turkey Pox, No Time for Mother’s Day, The Big Cheese of Third Street and many others have followed.  I’m definitely going to try to read some of her other YA novels because she really is a brilliant writer who knows how to capture the emotions of a situation.  Great read!!  Check out the video below where she reads a very moving poem related to this book.

Title: Speak

Published: 1999

Edition: Penguin Platinum (Beautiful edition with deckle edge paper!)

Pages:  198

My Rating: * * * * *

Favorite quote:  “Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar.  It makes you gag.” (Speak, p. 122)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic1c_MaAMOI]

Reading Resolutions in 2013….

New Year’s resolutions are becoming nothing more than pressure.  If we’re not promising ourselves to honour our gym subscription, lose 5kg., to learn how to speak a foreign language, or to go through those random boxes in the attic, you can count on bibliophiles gearing up to fix the number of books they’re planning on devouring in the new year. I’m guilty as charged.   I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

2012 has finally come to a successful end since I managed to finish my Goodreads goal by reading 51 books.  Here’s the part where you hear some cool music and of course lots of cheering for me.  I tried to choose different types of books and added some YA novels to my repertoire, with some reservation in 2012.  I’m still trying to like it as much as some but it seems just a little on the predictable, light side for me.  I’ll continue to read YA to give it a chance and I’m not giving up on finding some good ones.  Moreover, the YA titles I’ll decide to read in the future will hopefully be chosen with care.  If you have any recommendations please write them below.  Be careful not to suggest too many trilogies and series because you know how much they get on my nerves, although they seem to be the thing to publish at the moment.  There’s always one book that disappoints in them. With that said from the 51 books I read, my 12 Best Reads of 2012 in no particular order were:

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I was lucky to have chosen such interesting books, but unfortunately there were a few duds –1. Fifty Shades of Grey, 2. Fifty Shades Darker, and 3. Fifty Shades Freed.  They were the worst.Henceforth, another one of my goals of 2013 is to try to pick high calibre books no matter what genre and to enjoy my reading.  Speaking of resolutions, this year my goal is to read more African-American literature, more classics, more detective/thriller novels, a few rereads, more graphic novels, and more books from The Guardian Weekly’s 1000 novels everyone must read http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/, which includes a bit of everything previously listed .  My challenges this year will be 55 books for the Goodreads 2013 reading Challenge and 5 books for the Big Book Challenge on Goodreads. That’s probably a few too many since I’m pretty busy, but I love a challenge and I gotta try.  So, I’ll certainly give it a good go.

As for my blog, I’m also adding a new rubric called Teacher Feature where I feature an EFL teacher working here in France each month.  These posts will contain information on what it’s like teaching EFL in France in different environments.  There will also be more posts on book related subjects, whether it be on book events, authors, new releases, and maybe even some other stuff.  I’d also like to thank all my subscribers immensely for supporting ReadEng. Didi’s Press this year and hope that 2013 here keeps your interest peaked about books and the literary world, and urges you to continue to comment or to begin to comment if you haven’t done so yet.  I wish you all very Happy reading, but most of all, I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR with much love, friendship, health, and prosperity in 2013!! 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.