In anticipation of National Reading Month this March—in which Kalamazoo Public Schools kicks off literacy activities throughout the schools—we prepare ourselves by engaging in the annual ritual of asking via email: What are you reading? The emails started flying. We think it’s fun to learn what our CIS colleagues are reading…
I thought these snow days were a great time to finally start The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m a huge fan of the movies but I’ve never made the time to read the books. I’m half way through The Fellowship of the Ring and can’t put it down!
-Donielle Hetrick, CIS After School Coordinator, Woods Lake
I am currently reading the“Ashes” Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick.
-Orel (Tom) Sosa, CIS Site Coordinator, El Sol Elementary
I’ve just finished two wonderful memoirs: I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place by Howard Norman. Howard grew up in Grand Rapids and went to WMU in the 80s. He’s now teaching writing at U of Maryland. The book is episodic and focuses on his younger years as well as ten years he spent collecting stories from the Inuit in the Hudson Bay area in his 20s. The other book is Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure, a funny and sometimes painful story of his experience starting life in the Soviet Union in the 80s and then moving with his family to New York when he was 7, and the clash of cultures that he has experienced since that time and that has provided material for his novels. (Interesting fact: Gary was from a Jewish family in Leningrad and they were issued visas to leave the Soviet Union at a time when Russians were not permitted to emigrate. But after a drought and crop failures in Russia the Russian government made a deal with the U.S. which supplied shipments of wheat in exchange for allowing a number of Russian Jews to leave the country.)
-Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives
I am reading Key To Success, Letters to a Young Sister, and Letters To a Young Brother. These are books for our upcoming girls and guys group.
-Deborah Yarbrough, CIS Site Coordinator, Kalamazoo Central High School
I just finished reading Lessons of Hope by Joel Klein—former Chancellor of the New York City School District under Mayor Bloomberg. I am now reading Angry Optimist a biography about Jon Stewart (The Daily Show). I LOVE hearing what everyone is reading.
-Pam Kingery, Executive Director
I have been reading The Triple Package, How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, a Chinese immigrant wife and a Jewish American husband. It is a true story about the vast differences in the values and expectations of the couple about raising their two daughters. The differences are based on the parents cultural differences in their own upbringing styles. I can easily identify myself in Amy’s style. The triple package referred to in the book title is identified as: 1. A Superiority Complex, 2. Insecurity, and 3. Impulse Control. Very interesting reading, but also realistic, and hit home to me!
I am reading another book by Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. You get the idea of what this one is about. A clash of cultures…
-Gulnar Husain, CIS Site Coordinator, Arcadia Elementary School
I’m reading Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
-Deondra S. Ramsey, CIS After School Program Coordinator, Washington Writers Academy
Currently I am rereading A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a part of the Outlander series. I sadly have not read very many new books in the last year due to my heavy reading for my classes. I can’t wait to be done with school so I can indulge in new books that I can really concentrate on!
-Elisabeth Finch, CIS Site Coordinator, Washington Writers Academy
I am reading Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston, a pioneer story about the Donner Party and their journey west.
-Destinee Lukianoff, AmeriCorps VISTA
I love reading local and Quality Snacks hit the spot. I just finished this collection of short stories written by Andy Mozina, a professor at Kalamazoo College. If you want to munch on something smart and funny, this is it.
I now have two books at my bedside, ready to go. The novel, All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr, who wrote one of my favorite short story collections ever:The Shell Collector. And Deborah Ann Percy’s Invisible Traffic which has been described as “a stunning collection of desperate and gorgeous tales, set against the backdrop of Michigan’s third coast.” (Yes, the writer Deborah Ann Percy is the same woman who retired a few years back, having served a distinguished administrative career in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, notably as principal of Maple Street Magnet Middle School for the Arts.) Also, it is worth noting that the Richard N. Percy Memorial Fund Scholarships (available through CIS of Kalamazoo) is set up in memory of Deborah’s father, Richard Percy. He served as KPS superintendent from 1960-1969. These grants support professional development for Kalamazoo Public Schools’ teachers and administrators that address the individual’s personal interests, specifically their creative or artistic talents.
-Jennifer Clark, Director of Community Relations
I am reading Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. I read it before in high school, and I loved it so much that I wanted to read it again.
-Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator, Woodward School for Technology and Research
I am on the tail end of three books right now. One is Adam Fairclough’s biography of Martin Luther King, another is a novel called Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel—a post-apocalyptic tale that follows a caravan of survivors who travel around the Midwest performing Shakespeare—and the third is a poetry collection calledMotherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, by Patricia Lockwood.
I LOVE hearing what all of you are reading. And it also fuels my reading obsession!
-Kaitlin Martin, Volunteer Services Coordinator
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson is smart and HILARIOUS. The Circle by Dave Eggers is scary and disturbing and smart and will make you never look at Facebook ever again. I recently finished and loved them both.
– Laura Keiser, CIS Site Coordinator, King-Westwood Elementary
I Just finished True Notebooks: A Writers Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman, which is a true story about a writer that goes into a Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles and teaches a writing class to some of the inmates and includes some of their work. A very interesting read.
I also just finished Amy Poehler’s and Lena Dunham’s books. Interesting, but Tina Fey’s and Mindy Kaling’s were better.
And now I am just starting Elephant Company by Vicki Croke about a man during WWII who saved a bunch of lives with the help of a herd of elephants. If you’ve been in my office, me reading a book about elephants probably won’t come as a surprise!
–Elyse Brey, CIS Director of Secondary Sites
I just finished This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin and I’m working through [insert] Boy by Danez Smith and Reading the Muslim Mind by Hassan Hathout.
-Nicholas A. Baxter, AmeriCorps VISTA
I just finished The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and now I plan on starting The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I love hearing what you all are reading, it’s a great way to find books to add to my “to read” list!
-Lindsey Westfall, CIS After School Coordinator, Northglade Montessori Magnet School
I am working diligently on The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership by Jeffrey Liker and Gary Convis. Someone recommended it to me. If you are a fan of continuous improvement for self and organization, this is the book for you.
I also just finished Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan (the guy who does the “Hot Pockets” sketch). It is a fast, funny read – especially if you have kids (of any age). It’s based on his own life with 5 kids in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City.
-Emily Kobza, Director of Development & Business Engagement
It may be the time of year or particular time in my life, but I can never get enough information or begin to research everything that interests me. My thoughts are now drifting to my gardens, grapes, strawberries, fruit trees, and honey bees. I’m currently reading up on organic methods of dealing with fungus, blight, and bugs. I read my magazines, books, and IPad planning for the upcoming season. Actually, I should be cutting back my grape vines now.
-Maureen Cartmill, CIS Site Coordinator, Woods Lake
Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue by Judith Orloff. This book guides you through fighting off negative energy and how to cope with everyday life. This is a good read.
-Brenda Johnson, AmeriCorps VISTA
I just finished Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Just in case you missed the news (or the baby bump) we are expecting a new baby in June. This book is a great reminder to trust women and our bodies.
-Leslie Poucher Pratt, CIS Site Coordinator, Prairie Ridge Elementary School
I am reading Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas. It is one of the books about the television show Veronica Mars.
-Cakneeshia Stegall, AmeriCorps VISTA
Sadly, I am only reading After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure by Barton J. Hirsch, Nancy L. Deutsch, and David L. DuBois.
I did receive a magazine as a Pay It Forward gift recently that I am eager to crack open. It shares/highlights 100 major Civil Rights moments.
-Artrella Cohn, Director of Secondary Sites
I am currently reading through each state’s flexibility waiver from the ESEA / No Child Left Behind act to compare school accountability systems across the U.S., specifically looking at the correlation between a school’s performance and student poverty. I don’t recommend any of these documents to anyone, but perhaps I’ll share my research paper later. I look forward to reading for pleasure again very soon.
Oh, also baby books – I’m reading a lot of baby books…
-James Hissong, Director of Quality and Evaluation
Still don’t have enough? Click here to see what people were reading last year. We’d love to hear what you are reading. Let us know! Just drop me an email email@example.com. We may just publish what are readers are reading in a future post.