Category Archives: 2012 reads

Don’t Be So Critical (I Know it’s Hard)

Cover of "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us&...
Cover of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

“What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.”

– Seth Godin from the book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

What an amazing observation.

We’re afraid of people saying things like. . .

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“What a waste of money”

“Who’s responsible for this?”

or perhaps even worse. And this stops us from trying new things, taking risks, and from putting ourselves out there.

I don’t want to give you extra motivation to stand up in the face of adversity today.

I want to help you let someone else do it. I want you to stop and think about the negative things you might say, that you have said, that people will imagine you saying when they stand up to try something new.

There’s two sides to every story. I know I don’t let fear stop me from doing things. But I also know that I am quick to criticize. I am quick to shoot down ideas I don’t think will fly. Ideas that are not exactly on my wave-length. Stuff I think is stupid.

I’m going to try my best not to do that any more. It’s going to be a difficult thing to do, but I don’t want to hold someone back. We should all be able to follow our dreams without fear.

That’s my thought of the day!

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Last Reads of the Year

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

I love the concept of this novel. It’s about the man who first started to count and measure time. It started out innocently enough, but this one man’s preoccupation changed the entire world. As such, he became Father Time and it didn’t seem to be a blessing at all.

I whipped through this book and read it in a mere two days. It was a refreshing story, well-told and paced, and kept me gripped for three hours.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun or enjoying a great story.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Imagine having to live at the dump, to pick through the trash and look for items of value. Imagine having to do this as a young child to support your family. It’s a world of unthinkable poverty in a third-world country and it is the daily life for three young boys who have an incredible story to tell.

The story is pieced together from a variety of first-person accounts. I recommend listening to this audio book version of the story since each character is voiced by a different actor. It makes it easy to follow along with who is telling each part of the story.

Usually, the boys don’t find anything of interest. It’s just a way of life for them but that all changes one day with a curious find that will have trying to figure out the secret of what they have discovered.

I enjoyed listening to this story and it is recommended listening!

Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns by Tony Bedard, Adrian Syaf, and Vincent Cifuentes

This is the 11th Green Lantern title that I read this year. I have enjoyed the series but since I have read them out of order, I already knew a lot of what happened in this story.

The story focuses on Boodikka and we learn about her past prior to becoming an Alpha-Lantern, a process that pretty much turned her into a emotionless robot. The story takes us even further back in time with flashbacks showing her just prior to becoming a Green Lantern as well.

Alpha-Lanterns were orginally meant to police the Green Lantern Corps. They were programmed to be logical and fair but they are now being controlled by an enemy threat. This is a new and dangerous threat that John Stewart and the rest of the Lanterns have to win against.

My Reading List 2012

That’s it.

65 books read in one year.

I have never kept a reading log for an entire year. That is a pretty impressive number of books, don’t you think?

I’m an avid reader with a digital bookcase now. I like that. I am definitely going to try this again next year.

See you in 2013 for some more great reads!

The Power of Musical Education

“We make a big mistake in education by compensating everyone called ‘teacher’ on the same salary schedule. Music teachers arguable work longer hours, have greater influence, and contribute more to the community than most of their colleagues. Music education positions are unique. Why should a music educator’s salary be equal to that of a colleague who never works past the minimum workday? Is equal really fair? Hardly, but unfortunately the majority allows the status quo to continue.”

What an incredible idea. I don’t expect to get paid more simply because I teach instrumental music now. But I am putting in more hours. I not only manage several classes, hold extra practice sessions, and run regular extra-curricular activities each and every week, but I also have instruments to maintain and repair. All of this takes a lot of extra time.

While I agree with the sentiment here, I don’t see anything about this changing. I would argue that we need more money for music education but it doesn’t necessarily have to go to my salary. It can go to instrument repair and purchasing, band uniforms, and travelling expenses so we can play and perform frequently.

I think music is a gift that should be shared. Students learn a lot through performance. They learn that it takes commitment and discipline to put on a show. They can feel proud in a job well done. They can feel part of a group. They learn cooperation and feel a sense of community.

I think everyone should have a chance to experience these things. Some get it through sports, the rest get it through the arts. I love both. I am an athlete and a musician and I absolutely love it.

Enhancing the Professional Practice of Music Teachers: 101 Tips that Principals Want Music Teachers to Know and Do by Paul G. Young

My Complete List of 2012 Reads


“People don’t believe what you tell them.

  • They rarely believe what you show them.
  • They often believe what their friends tell them.
  • They always believe what that they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”
– Seth Godin from the book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

What a brilliant poem, at least I read it as a poem.

This was an interesting book that I wanted to read because I want to be a leader in education. I want to inspire my students. I want to charge up the community. And I want to make a difference.

The book doesn’t tell us how to be a leader in any specific kind of way, but it does let us know that it’s possible and it’s something we can start doing. Right now.

I’m sure Seth won’t mind me sharing this small portion of his book either, especially since he writes this on the last page. . .

One Last Thing

May I ask a favor?

If you got anything out of this book, if you highlighted or circles or Post-it-ed, I’m hoping you’ll do something for me:

Give this copy to someone else.

Ask them to read it. Beg them to make a choice about leadership.

We need them. We need you.

Spread the word.


Well, Seth, I can’t pass this book on to anyone in a direct way since I borrowed it from the library, but I can encourage people to seek it out and read it as well. That’s the power of a blog post.

Thanks for a nice read and a great bit of inspiration!

Want to see what else I’ve read this year? 

Whatever Happened to Good Reads?

I love reading. I always have a book on the go. Here are the latest titles that I’ve worked my way through in the past few weeks.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

I love the idea the main character has in this book. When her parents divorced, she went to live with her dad. His new job meant that they had to move frequently and in each new place, she decided to reinvent herself. They moved four times in two years and in each new place she adopted a new first name and tried a new personality. Things change in this fifth town for some reason and she ends up being McLean, her given name, once again.

I could really identify with this character. I mean, who wouldn’t want to try a fresh start with a new name and a new role in a new town? It sounds like she had it all figured out, but of course, she didn’t.

Wonderfully written with great characters and an awesome story. I really enjoyed this book.

Right State by Mat Johnson, Andrea Mutti, and Pat Brosseau

This story takes place in the not-too-distant future. The second black president of the United States is hard on the campaign trail and hopes for a second term in office. Meanwhile, a political pundit stumbles upon an assassination plot. When he brings this news to the president’s security team, they convince him to infiltrate the terrorist group so they can stop the assassination. It’s a political thriller told in the black and white comics medium.

This one didn’t totally enthrall me.

Refresh Refresh by Danica Novgorodoff, Benjamin Percy, and James Ponsoldt

The cover of this book looks strange. It shows a boy just after a fight. We learn throughout the course of the novel that he and his two best friends fight each other all the time so they can be ready to fight for what they believe in, just like their dads who are all serving overseas in the Marine Corps.

This novel shows how tough it is for the boys in a small town to grow up without their fathers in the home. The main character is worried about his dad and constantly checks his email to help stay in touch with him. The title also shows a cycle that draws men into the service. It’s a gritty story that feels achingly too real.

My Complete Reading List of 2012

Speechless (Let’s Take Action to Make Things Better)

Sometimes we don’t stop to think about how much power our words have.

It’s easy to blurt something out that you really have no right to share, something that can hurt someone else, something that is probably better left unsaid.

Speechless is a novel by Hannah Harrington that explores this issue. The main character, Chelsea, has a really hard time keeping secrets. In fact, she doesn’t see any need to keep them whatsoever.

Until. . .

She shares a secret that incites violence, almost gets somebody killed, and in the process isolates her from her peers. That one secret had far reaching implications for quite a few people.

The novel is told from the bully’s point of view, but it’s hard to see her as a bully. After all, it’s just words. She doesn’t start fights. She isn’t violent herself. She just throws words around with reckless abandon.

She wishes she could take back her words. But she can’t. So she decides that since her words have hurt so many people, she just won’t speak anymore. She takes a vow of silence.

This is a great novel for teenage girls to read. I think this is an issue that really needs to be addressed. We often see boys bullying each other because they do it physically.

When bullying is done with secrets, gossip, shunning, and other silent ways, it can go unnoticed. It can also seem to be “not as serious.”

Hopefully that changes soon. We need to hear stories like this. We need to have this discussion. That is why I am thankful for books like this one.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is beautifully bound. It had a plain white cover with raised text on the front and back cover.

“The story is about how harmful our words can be. It’s also a story about how we can take action individually or with our friends to make our schools and communities better places for everyone. We can stop the bullying and gossip that hurts so many people. We can help ourselves and others feel better and more connected.”

Here is a way we can help spread the word about this topic.

Read the book, pass it around.

Earlier today, I asked if anyone wanted to read it and then pass it along. I received an email and will be mailing this book out free of charge to Betsy.

I’m asking her to sign her name on the inside cover and then pass it on to someone else with instructions to do the same thing. She told me that she already knows who she will be passing it on to. Hopefully, the reader after her will pass it along as well.

I hope we can get a few dozen autographs in this book. Wouldn’t that be cool?

We can also have a discussion about it here in the comments.

Please leave a comment or send me an email.

And if you want to find out more

Latest Graphic Novels

Here are the latest graphic novels that I have read this year.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale

A student of mine was reading this and she was so utterly captivated by it, I knew I had to give it a read as well. It’s a nice tale that puts some famous characters from children’s literature into some new adventures.

Rapunzel uses her hair like a multi-purpose tool and even as a weapon in the old west setting. She meets Jack and they become an unlikely duo to set some wrongs right.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison

Bruce Wayne, the one and only Batman died. It was a big event in the comics and I was hoping the latest movie would have done something similar. I really think they dropped the ball on that one.

In the comics, death isn’t always permanent. It turned out that Bruce Wayne merely was lost in time and not dead. He needed to figure out a few things and work his way through different eras to come back to life in the present. Each era has him playing some fantastic characters as he slowly tries to piece together who he is and where he truly belongs.

More Reads

I Love Comics! (Latest Batch of Reads for 2012)

I’m enjoying building this little digital bookcase, of sorts. I’ve never really kept a reading log. I read for the sheer enjoyment of it, but this year, I am keeping track of every single title. Here are my latest graphic novel reads.

Kill Shakespeare: Volume 2: The Blast of War by Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col and Andy Belanger. 

All of the heroes and villains we know and love from the plays of William Shakespeare exist in one time and place. Shakespeare himself even exists in this universe. People believe him to be a magical being or perhaps just a myth. But there is a prophecy that only the Shadow King can find him. Of course some people want him dead, others just want his magical quill for the power it can wield.

This book features homegrown talent as all of the creators hail from southern Ontario Canada. It’s an interesting story that you can follow along with even if you aren’t a student of the Bard.

Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank, Johnathan Sibal, and Jason Gorder.

This was a great read. I didn’t want to put it down. It’s about people who have been forgotten or cast aside. After a while, they slip through the cracks and while they continue to exist in this world, they cannot see or be seen by regular people.

David Grey is a police office and when his soul is stolen, he slips into the shadow world. He begins the long journey to New York  to reclaim his soul but there is much more going on in this netherworld between the one he knows and can still see and this new land of forgotten and down-tread people.

This story basically brings a metaphor to life. And I love metaphor. I also love almost everything Straczynski has written. He is a brilliant writer and well worth checking out.

Check out the complete list of My 2012 Reads.

Magic Street, Transformers UK, and more!

I love reading! Here are the latest titles I’ve zoomed through this month.

Magic Street by Orson Scott Card

Cecil Tucker discovers an abandoned baby and convinces his mom to adopt him. He names the baby Mack Street and he becomes a big brother / mentor to the little boy. Cecil just knew that there was something special about this child from the very beginning and that it was his duty to protect him.

With the word “Magic” in the title, you can expect that Mack has certain powers. The story is described as an urban fantasy and Card certainly delivers a great read. I’ve never been disappointed with any of his work.

In the author’s note at the end of the book, Orson Scott Card mentions how his friend Roland Bernard Brown had been encouraging him for years to write a novel that featured a black hero. It’s really nice to get this history of the book and the creative process as well.

Transformers: Classics UK Volume 2

This huge graphic novel is the second in a series that reprints the original comic stories from the United Kingdom. There is a lot of bonus content in this book that gives a complete history of how Marvel UK differed from what was happening with the Transformers in the United States of America. It’s really cool to see how they bridged the gaps with their original stories in the weekly comics. This is a great read for die-hard Transformer fans

Jack of Fables: Vol. 2 Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham, Sturges, Akins, Leialoha

I really liked reading how Jack of Fables became Jack Frost. He tells the story while hiding out with some of the other Fables who escaped from their captors at end of volume one. So far this series is pretty good. Looking forward to volume 3.

More great reads

  • 2012 Reads (the complete list of everything I’ve read this year)
  • More Comics (Transformers, Doctor Who, Green Lantern, and Batman)

Latest Graphic Novel Reads

I’m really enjoying cataloging everything I’ve read over the course of the year. I don’t know why I never did this before.

Here are the latest graphic novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2012.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors by Peter J. Tomasi and Frenando Pasarin

I have been reading a lot of Green Lantern books this year courtesy of the Public Library. Whenever I see a GL title, I grab it. I must say that I’ve been enjoying this series quite a lot. It doesn’t even matter that I’ve read them slightly out of the intended order. This one takes place before the last book I read.

Superman: Red Son by Mark Miller, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson, and Walden Wong

This is an alternate history story that sees Superman raised in the Soviet Union instead of The United States of America. He doesn’t take on a secret identity in this story at all. He serves the ideals of the Soviet Union but he doesn’t let that stop him from helping people all over the world who are in need.

Lex Luthor is still his main foe. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern all make appearances in this book as well but they are quite different in this alternate universe. The book is gritty but it seems completely realistic, along the lines of The Watchmen. It even has a bitterly ironic ending. Clever writing, nice art, and a realistically told story. This is a good read.

Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, Andrew Pepoy. 

The Fables books are absolutely amazing. All of the Fairy Tale story characters we know and love actually exist in the real world. They have their own society and live in secret. This book is the first in a spin-off series that focuses on the famous Jack. He is sometimes called Little Jack Horner, Jack B. Nimble, or Jack the Giant Killer.

In this story, he gets captured and brought to The Golden Boughs Retirement Community. It’s like the village in the classic television series The Prisoner. Here Fables characters are held captive by a mysterious character known as Revise. There’s a joke on the last page of the story acknowledging the original TV show as well.

After reading this first collection of stories, I really want to read the entire series.

More Great Reads