Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: Hunger- Roxane Gay

I'm getting back to my blogging roots by returning to doing some book reviews as I read them. My approach to reviews is to look at them from a teaching perspective. Would I use the book in my classroom? What age level is it appropriate for? Which students might it speak to etc. Hopefully this is helpful to you.

The Review:
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay is a memoir dealing with Gay's relationship with her weight and how it affected/affects the relationships in her life. I listened to this book on tape and I'm glad I did. She reads the book aloud and her inflection really helps the reader to connect even more with the story. It truly added a personal touch.

I liked the book. I'm glad I read it. As someone who has never been significantly overweight it really made me think about how being overweight/obese affects people in ways I'd never considered. It also gave a lot of insight into relationships that I found valuable.

Who Should Read it:
Frankly, everyone should read it. I would say that I think this is a college level book. Some mature seniors in high school could read it but it's heavy. I think female students will get more out of it and students who don't necessarily identify as heterosexual may also get a bit more from it as well. Male students could learn a lot from it, but may not be able to identify with it in the same way. I also think that students struggling with their weight would really identify with Gay in the book.

I read the book as an option for my college's Common Read program where the whole college reads the same book and it's integrated into as many classes and co-curriculars as possible.  Viewing it from that lens, I don't think it's the right book for the Common Read program. The narrative jumps around in ways that didn't always make sense to me and I think many of our students wouldn't be able to follow it well. I also think the content might be to heavy for general courses and would be better suited in courses like women's studies, dietetics, counseling etc.

 Teaching the Book:
As stated above I think this book would do best in contextualized courses rather than English Composition for example. I would be wary using it in a high school setting but may personally recommend it to specific students. It is a great mentor text for a memoir as it demonstrates clearly how to tell your life story in the context of one aspect of your life.

While I'm not a big proponent of trigger warnings I do think it's important that instructors are aware of potentially disturbing scenes. For this book in particular letting students know ahead of time should not be a "spoiler" or take anything away from the book.

The book goes into some detail about a gang rape. It also discusses domestic violence and emotional abuse.

Reading Level:
While no reading level seems to be available for this book I would put it firmly in the 11th-college range. The language is not necessarily difficult but the content and the structure of the book make it challenging. The not completely linear narrative can be tough to follow at times and would take an advanced reader to follow.

Have you read it? Will you use it in class? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Teachers, Reclaim Your Sanity and Your Life

Teachers spend so much time working on their classrooms, grading, planning, calling parents, and teaching that it can make having enough time to do the rest of your responsibilities in life difficult.

Luckily, we are in an age of technology and innovation, and when used correctly it can save us so much time and give us some of our life back.

I've purchased a few things recently that are changing my life more than I expected them to.

Please note this post contains affiliate links which means if you use them I may earn a bonus or a small percentage of the sale- at no cost to you. This helps me keep this blog up and running.

Problem 1: Cooking
I live alone and aside from cooking for my boyfriend from time to time mainly cook for myself. I often found myself without any ideas of what to cook or purchasing items to cook with but having way too much left over because I only needed enough for a couple of servings. (Could they please start selling cilantro in much smaller bunches?) I was wasting a lot of food and was eating out way too much as a result.

Solution 1: Home Chef
A colleague was using Home Chef and was raving about it. So I checked out lots of meal services and discovered that Home Chef gave me the most control. I have food allergies- milk, tree nuts- so I needed a plan that would allow me many choices each week. I started with ordering two meals a week and either their fruit or their smoothie add on to keep from paying shipping.

By using Home Chef I motivated myself to cook, tried lots of new foods, developed a collection or recipes to use in the future, and was able to pack lunches. The serving sizes were pretty big for me and I was trying to lose weight when I first started so, if I wasn't cooking for my boyfriend I would cook both servings and then divide everything up into three meals. I'd immediately pack two take out containers and plate up one to eat that night. That way I had lunch to take to work the next day and dinner the next night. Then I'd make the next meal.  Eventually I ordered three meals a week instead of the fruit or smoothie add on which was great but at times became a little overwhelming.

You can skip a week at any time which is also great. If you want to try use this link for $30 off! (I pay about $50 for the two meals, but since I usually get 6 meals out of them it makes me very happy! I was spending way more than that eating out.)

Here are pictures of some of the meals I've made:

Problem 2: Keeping Up With Cleaning
I've never been great about doing chores while living alone but when I am busy at work it's extra bad. I also have a cat who sheds more than a small cat should so when I do end up vacuuming I end up pulling up way more than I expect.

Solution 2: Robot Vacuum
While I was visiting friends this fall I saw their robot vacuum. Their house is huge, under renovations, and has four furry pets living in it. If this robot vacuum worked for them it could certainly work for me!

I hopped onto Amazon when I got home and wouldn't you know their model was a deal of the day? They have the ECOVACS DEEBot N79. It runs about $250-300. However, I found it for $150, saw it for $220 another day, and as of publishing this article there was a coupon on Amazon for $50 off. It's way cheaper than the Roomba and it gets the job done. You can control it with a remote or your phone which is extra awesome and it's smart enough not to fall down stairs.

Now I can vacuum at the same time I'm cooking, doing dishes, watching TV (it's pretty quiet), or doing just about anything else. It's a total time saver.

Problem 3: Taking Notes in Meetings
I take a lot of notes in meetings but have a hard time figuring out how to keep them organized. Sometimes I know I'll want them even a year later! I just don't have space to keep all of my notebooks forever, and I have no good way to index them.

Solution 3: Rocketbook Everlast Smart Notebook
I heard about this notebook on a podcast for higher education. It is awesome. I use this notebook when I'm taking notes I think I will need later. This $30 notebook is reusable. You use Pilot Frixion pens with it (they're erasable and also awesome) and then, using their app, scan the page and it uploads to wherever you want it to go! You can have it auto email it to you, sent as a text message, uploaded to Google Drive, DropBox etc. It's seriously life changing. Then, you just wipe the pages down with a wet cloth and start all over. There's plenty of pages so you can take lots of notes before uploading. 


What products have revolutionized your life at home or at work?

Thanks for reading!