A Post About Nothing Really At All (Except All My Dreams for 2015)

What better image to represent a post about nothing!

What better image to represent a post about nothing!

Man, does it feel good to be sitting here in my dining room with my computer, writing to you on this lovely but neglected blog of mine.

The reason for today’s blog is… well, nothing really at all.

I suppose I’m writing because I’ve missed this. I’ve missed communicating with my fellow Not So Book Clubbers, and to me that’s reason enough to write. I could spend time apologizing for the lack of updates over the past couple of months and I could blame it on my work schedule, but that’s not really fun to read.

So instead, let’s use this post as a happy holiday card. An end of year celebration! A letter of intention to write more but not a promise (as promises are hard to keep). And an update on where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Back in July (as you may have read), I was hired back by the company that laid me off almost a year prior. I know some people think it was very admirable of me to go back but in reality, it wasn’t. I loved the people I worked with. It was easy to say “yes!” to returning to them. And since then, although it’s been incredibly busy, and at times highly stressful, it’s been rewarding. I laugh everyday at work regardless of what we have on our plates and that is owed to my fantastic co-workers. But with that said, I can’t help but miss that sweet beautiful time of unemployment because of all the free time it gave me.

This is how I showed up for work on Halloween this year—dressed as the robot we sell. My co workers not only didn't mock me, they let me win the costume contest. Sometimes, work can be great.

This is how I showed up for work on Halloween this year—dressed as the robot we sell. My co workers not only didn’t mock me, they let me win the costume contest. Sometimes, work can be great.

I’m sure it drives my husband crazy every time I say that, as he was there during said time of unemployment when I kept lamenting the loss of my job and incessantly referred to myself as a “loser” because I couldn’t get back on the work horse easily. But looking back, man was unemployment glorious! Sure, in the beginning I felt as though I was flailing around without a purpose. But then come November, the book club started and I felt a new value in my time.

I devoted every minute of every day to reading, writing, developing this idea, and building a dream. In reality, those 11 months off from full time employment saved me. Prior to the NSBCBC, I had allowed myself to drop all my hobbies. I spent the free time I had watching TV and wasting away on the Internet. And I know I’ve written about that before but I still can’t get over it. What a waste! And even scarier, what an easy habit to fall back into!

With Bravo's Andy Cohen at a book signing this past November.

With Bravo’s Andy Cohen at a book signing this past November.

Now, although I no longer have the luxury of absorbing myself in all things book club anymore, I realize it’s not an excuse to leave all those practices behind. I know how easy it is to fall back into horrible routines where you work all day and don’t satisfy your soul during your off time. So because I know what it takes for me to find fulfillment and happiness, in 2015 I’ll make it my resolution to try my darndest and fill the free time I have with the activities that made this past year so wonderful: read more, write more, and focus on things that push me forward.

New NSBCBC book marks coming soon! Send your name and address to Nsbcbc@gmail.com to receive yours for FREE!

New NSBCBC book marks coming soon! Send your name and address to Nsbcbc@gmail.com to receive yours for FREE!

And I recommend that for you as well. Fill the free time you have with activities that give you fulfillment, as opposed to filling your time with things that make you zone out after work. Sure, zoning out is helpful at times, but it doesn’t give your life any forward momentum. And I know, what I’m asking you to do is quite a tall order; find what makes you happy and fulfilled and fill your free moments with that.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the reality is that it’s not. But at least I’ll be right here trying to do the same with you.

Have a happy holiday my wonderful Not So Book Club Book Club. Thank you for being the most supportive and wonderful community this year. Lots of love.

Nina

Rocking my Gatsby shirt that my Grandma told me I'm too old to wear. I disagree. :)

Rocking my Gatsby shirt that my Grandma told me I’m too old to wear. I disagree. 🙂

P.S. – Your January reads! The reason for me picking all three is that they came highly recommended! I have attached each of their goodreads pages. Read the reviews. See which one is for you! I look forward to chatting with you about them!

Read all about them! All the Light We Cannot See (http://goo.gl/knS69X) Brain on Fire (http://goo.gl/0vgiji) Cabinet of Curiosities (http://goo.gl/lSyKNU)

Read all about them! All the Light We Cannot See (http://goo.gl/knS69X) Brain on Fire (http://goo.gl/0vgiji) Cabinet of Curiosities (http://goo.gl/lSyKNU)

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Just Press Repeat—Teaching the Classics

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I wish I could say this was the only picture I found like this on google, but unfortunately the English classroom has become the least favorite of many meme creating students out there. Womp womp.

A lot of you may not know this about me, but I am a certified English teacher in the state of NY. Growing up, I was always a reader and writer, so when it came time to choose a profession to pursue, teaching English made sense to me. Throughout my college career, I remember taking classes that motivated me to introduce students to compelling books, graphic novels, and hilarious short stories. But when I found myself working in a public school, I realized those ideas would have to be put on the back burner.

I remember on my first day of teaching, I was ushered into a walk-in closet that belonged to the English department. Filling the walls were pastel hardcover copies of “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Diary of a Young Girl,” and whatnot. I was told I was allowed to teach any of the books I found in the room as long as another teacher had not already reserved that book selection (which was done so by sticking a light yellow post-it on the books). I found myself staring at a sea of yellow post-its and at a loss for what I would teach. None of the books particularly inspired me. Although I read a good few of them during my public ed years, I was hard-pressed to remember much about them. They didn’t speak to me as a teenager and I was even more doubtful they would speak to my students.

Throughout my time teaching, I was able to find books I felt could connect to the students and I tried my hardest to make these books appeal to them, but I couldn’t help but wonder—why do we only get to teach these books? In 2011, over 290,000 new titles and new editions were published in the US, and that doesn’t even include books that were self-published. (In 2012, approximately 391,000 new titles were self-published.) So with that in mind, am I to believe that out of the half million books that were published this year, not one of them was worthy enough to be taught in our public schools?

True, every few years a real standout gets added to the curriculum. Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” (published in 2003) made its way onto many high school reading lists. But in the 11 years since, few books have made such strides.

[Please note: I know educators who petitioned their English directors to allow them to teach books they found worthy of the classroom, and with approval were able to teach that story. I also know many teachers that allowed their students to pick out their own novels to read, as long as it involved a specific theme. (Lessons were more about understanding themes rather than plot points.) However, there is no denying that “the classics” still dominate our classrooms.]

toodamnhigh

Found another one. Is it ok that I laughed at this one?

I hope I haven’t made you believe I’m a complete hater of “the classics.” I do believe there is a benefit in having our students read the same set of books because among many reasons, it creates a society of people who understand the same cultural references. Clearly I enjoy that (just check out the mission statement of the book club!) I remember years ago when I was watching “The Daily Show,” John Stewart pulled out a conch and started screaming “I have the conch! I’m talking now!” I laughed at the joke because I understood he was referencing the conch from Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” and I loved knowing that there was a world of readers out there who understood the reference and were laughing with me. But even with that in mind, I think it’s important to expose our students to a wider range of literature because we want to make them readers for life.

So many students are completely turned off to reading at such a young age because they don’t connect with the books. Perhaps if teachers had more of a right to choose what they thought would connect with students, we’d have a better shot at motivating our students to becoming avid readers. And then, when those students felt inspired to, they would read “the classics” on their own.

– Nina Sclafani