This Memorial Day

This Memorial Day and every one in the future will mean more to me than ever before. Now I’ve visited the monuments and memorials erected in honor of the men and women who have died defending the interests and freedoms of our country and our allies.

I’ve been very clear in my constant support of our military, and only now has that support intesified after my trip to Washington DC last week. You may not know a veteran or anyone who’s died serving in our military, but none of the men and women who died knew you. And they were willing to give their life, in part, to protect you and your way of life.

Every fallen soldier deserves the gratitude of every American.

I actually won’t say Happy Memorial Day. Because I’m not happy that so many of our young men and women have had to die to protect our country. But I will say today is Memorial Day, and we should all take time to remember what today is really about. It isn’t about being off from work, it isn’t about BBQ on the porch, or about taking a short trip for the long weekend. Today is about the fallen heroes of our military.

Also, I’ll have my DC video up tomorrow.

Three Years ago Today…

Three years ago today I graduated from the University of Houston Downtown with honors. I immediately started writing my first book. I self-published it in October of that year. I’ve read a lot less in recent years than years prior. And I’ve yet to decide on a career path.

I just spoke with an old friend of mine today who is now working as a nurse in a hospital making a good salary. And I know of others who had jobs before even finishing school. And I’m just here.

My current job search is the most advanced it’s ever been. I’m applying for jobs almost daily. And they’re wide-ranging.

BUT three years have passed since one of the great days of my life. And I’m still proud to have experienced it. I’ll have to figure out the job thing soon. But I still have a full-time job. So I’m okay.

NYC Teacher to Possibly Lose Job for Ordering Books for Students

A teacher in Brooklyn is currently in a fight for his career and well-being, but the reason for it is astonishing. He teaches AP English. He assigns Shelley’s Frankenstein to his students. Last year he ordered 102 copies of the book directly from a publisher on his own dime and proceeded to sell the books to students for $2.

I think in this situation it is important to note a few things. He’s been teaching for nearly three decades and he’s won awards for his work. Last year he filed unfair labor charges against his employer for what he calls a dumbed down curriculum.

All of this led to his immediate removal from his classes and placed in an administrative assignment.

I’ve read parts of an interview in which he brings up a valid point. The school says he violated some rule about selling books to students, but no one complained about students having to pay $6 for their copies of Hamlet from the school bookstore. He was providing his students with the books they’d need for class at a financial loss. This guy wasn’t trying to make a few bucks at the expense of his students and their parents. He wasn’t doing anything malicious. He was doing what teachers do by spending his own money for his classroom and students.

I have no idea how this will ultimately play out, but I believe he should be reinstated immediately and any disciplinary action as a result of this particular incident should be wiped from his record as a teacher. My guess is he’ll be fired or a settlement will be negotiated and he’ll go away. I’d love to see him fight it as long as he can.

What do you think of this? A teacher buys more than 100 copies of a book for his students and then gets removed from class.

Saturday Selects: Your Voice

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday (usually) of each month to discuss a topic outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today is a topic I touched on fairly recently. The 2016 presidential campaign.

Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee come November. Many who thought his candidacy was nothing more than a joke and public spectacle are now grappling with whether to support him or not.

But just because he’s emerged from a crowded field of contenders for the highest office in the world doesn’t mean anything is set in stone just yet. He’s been praised for having brought in new voters to the GOP while also being ridiculed by members of his own party.

But my message to you is quite simple. Your voice can still be heard. You have Trump, who needs no introduction whatsoever. And you’ll have Hillary. Many argue this election will truly be about the lesser of two evils, but I tend to disagree. Only one of the candidates is highly unqualified to hold the most important office in the world. And the other candidate has decades of public service.

My question today isn’t about your voting preference. I’m curious to learn your thoughts on how we reached this point.

Pop Up Books

I can’t recall reading too many pop up books as a youngster. Maybe I wasn’t interested. Maybe I was too busy sleeping all the time. Or maybe there’s no specific explanation at all for my lack of pop up book reading.

But I can tell you that they’ve become great works of art. I’ve seen several extremely detailed pop up books in my time at HPB. I’ve even been asked by one guy specifically for pop up books because he claimed to collect them. I can’t adequately describe the feeling upon opening up one of these books because I’m an adult and I feel my opinion is mostly indifferent at this point. But I have been surprised by their complexity a few times, which leads me to believe that kids would be over the moon.

Do you or a kid in your life have any experience with pop up books?

Don’t Throw out Those Books

Books are relatively inexpensive in the West. There are some exceptions, but this mostly remains true. Books are not as easily accessible in other parts of the world. For example, in Uganda books are incredibly difficult to come by. The cost is astronomical in a country with very low wages. Books there can cost a week’s salary, or more.

Which is why I’m saying don’t throw out those old books you no longer want. There are likely people in your area who simply can’t afford to buy their own. My top suggestion would be to take them to a company or organization that will do their best to reuse or recycle them.

But this applies to most things. Food. Clothing. Old electronics. So many things end up in landfills that could have been reused or recycled but simply aren’t. And I know some would say that books aren’t THAT important to go out of your way to preserve, but let me ask you something. Did you grow up with books in the house? Imagine if you hadn’t.

This Week in Books: Men and Their Book Clubs

I’m sitting here reading an article about men being a part of male-only book clubs. I’m thinking a few things as I read on, but I’m just surprised that we even need to point this out. Women have had their own book clubs since forever, and no one is writing up articles about those. But the reasoning for the original article referenced appears to attempt to dispel this myth that reading is somehow not manly or masculine.

Wait, what?

This is stupid. But the sad thing is that I’m not even surprised by this. I know some of you are really interested in BookTube and similar Instagram accounts, but I want to ask you something. When you think of your favorite book accounts on any social platform, who’s running it? Is it a man or woman.

In my experience I’ve found that girls are far more likely to be running these types of accounts. I’ve also found that they’re far more likely to gain a following through them. Maybe men are expected to be talking about sports or politics or something more manly, but some things I just don’t understand.

I do understand when girls gain larger followings on any social platform than the typical guy does because guys are stupid online. I know because I have a girlfriend with 22k followers on Instagram and I’ve seen the comments and DMs.

But I’d just like to ask why it’s so odd for a guy to enjoy reading. Should he be reading comics instead? Or should he be in the gym working to improve his overall health? Reading is one of many forms of entertainment (and much more to many) that people enjoy. I don’t know why it needs to be for one sex over another.

My question today is about stereotypes and perceptions. Why do you think a big deal is made when guys enjoy reading?

On Signed Books

Harper Lee was known for shying away from the spotlight. And for living a rather normal lifestyle for someone so renowned. But in 2012 a kid became paralyzed after a hockey injury. And Lee was asked via personal letter to sign first editions of her book to help with his future medical bills.

Over the course of several months five signed first editions of her book were sent to the player and the family is just now revealing what happened.

You see, there’s so much that’s been said about Lee in her final years. But THIS one thing tells me more about her than any of the others. She kept to herself, but she wasn’t oblivious of the outside world. She may not have liked the spotlight, but she was still a human being just like the rest of us. And I’m afraid that fact is sometimes forgotten.

PS: the family asked several authors for the signed first editions, and at least one author refused completely.