Monday, September 26, 2011

A Path Full of Brambles

Ever read books not assigned to you in class? Write about them on your blog? Or maybe read about books on other people's blogs? If so (and of course it is so, since you are reading this book review), consider yourself officially gifted.

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative AdolescentsLisa Rivero is one of my homeschooling gurus. Her early book, Creative Home Schooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families, is full of ideas and insights which have shaped my family's experiences as my son has grown from a brilliant and kind small boy into a brilliant and (mostly) kind young man. Her newest book, A Parent's Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents, is not about homeschooling per se.  Instead, Rivero attempts in her newest book to help parents deal with the difficulties that their gifted children may present to them.

I wrote a post not that long ago about the books I read in preparation for my son's upcoming homeschooling year--and I want to assure those of you who have absolutely no interest in this subject that I have no intention of letting this blog become a homeschooling blog.*

I hesitate to use the word "gifted" at all since it has such negative meanings in popular culture. It sounds like bragging.  Many of us who love learning (pretty much one of the definitions of gifted) have been taught not to brag about what comes to us more from the combination of good genes and good opportunities than from personal hard work.  Many people believe the word "gifted" is a label only adopted by people who want to set themselves off as better than others.  But that is not at all the truth which Rivero is trying to talk about.

What I love most about Rivero's work is her exploration of the way that giftedness is no sign of superiority.  Instead, it is a sign of difference, of weirdness, even (at least in experience) of abnormality: "I have heard more than one parent complain that it is tempting to say that his child suffers from giftedness rather than he is gifted.  Maybe this helps to explain how hard it can be, for both child and parent.  People who insist that being gifted is a walk in the park don't understand that the park, while beautiful and extensive, is also wild, often pathless, and filled with brambles."

The "unpath" through the brambles of the park can lead us through that darkness and into a place of growth.  That is exactly what I am learning--through the experience of homeschooling a gifted child, as well as through this project and its accompanying blog.  Summer has been a time when I've let go of the practice of both, to some degree.  Now--as the Jewish High Holidays come and autumn starts to seem real--is our time to reenter growth: mine, my son's, and the growth we do together.

*If you found this post because of your interest in homeschooling, or if you are fascinated by the experience of having a gifted student at home full time, you might be interested in checking out my 12yo son's blog about his experiences growing up homeschooling: The Education of a Young Man.  As of now, he posts extremely irregularly.  Learning to write is one of his educational goals this year, so things may pick up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Celebrating Book Bloggers

This post is a day late for the BBAW "Community" celebration day--but for those of you who have stuck with me this long slow summer, you must not be surprised by my tardiness!  As autumn really gets underway, I promise to be a more consistent blogger and reader.

I've been inspired by so many of you that I hardly know where to begin. Some of you write posts full of thoughtful ideas. Some read amazing lists of fabulous fiction, causing me to overload my library hold shelf on a weekly basis. Some of you are stunning writers. All of you make me want to read more books. And sometimes that desire is a disadvantage: too often I pick up another novel rather than pick up this laptop with plans to write a new post!

First of all, thanks to the first book blogger I ever found, Amanda at Dead White Guys. I had been googling to see if anybody wrote about their non-school-based educations and stumbled across her hilarious and clever blog.  Of course, I laughed as I read many of her back posts and then immediately subscribed to her blog and twitter feed.  I do find it a bit ironic that my very first "model" of a classics blog was a brilliant parody of what I had in mind to write.  She mocks overly-earnest readers--but secretly I think she may be one of us herself.

Other classic bloggers I love are Allie at A Literary Odyssey, Rebecca at Rebecca Reads, and Jillian at A Room of One's Own. All three are thoughtful critics who build their posts from a combination of the intellectual and the personal.  Their lovely writing and gentle rigor will completely draw you in.

Amateur Reader over at Wuthering Expectations sets a sometimes-ferocious model for careful reading, heady analysis, sophisticated humor, and patient mentorship.  Emily at Evening All Afternoon, Frances at Nonsuch Book, and Teresa and Jenny at Shelf Love all think creatively, write gorgeously, and bring up issues which leave me thinking for days.

Special thanks go to Lucy at Fictional 100.  Her fascinating book about her beloved fictional friends (the central characters of lasting literature) and her inspiring blog are reason enough to gain her a mention here.  But what I am even more indebted to her for is her unbelievable Twitter support (@Fictional100).  She has asked the right questions, introduced me to thoughtful people, and patted me on the back when I needed it most.

There are so many other blogs I love.  Special mention goes to Thomas at My Porch for giving us a book blog full of insights and analysis but also full of the beautiful stories of everyday life, with real characters living out their own real plots.  PJ Grath gives us something similar--lovely photographs, lots of great book talk, and a deep sense of real life--over at Books in Northport.  Finally, Beverley at Pomo Golightly (a blog I found back in my knit blogger days) keeps me dreaming about a simpler, more honest, and more beautiful world.

Thanks to all of you--and thanks to all the rest of you who read, write, and share your thoughts with me.  You make me a better reader.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I am honored to announce that the Lifetime Reading Plan was nominated in the category of "Best New Blog" for this year's celebration of Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I would love it if you would hop over there and put in a good word for me. You can vote by clicking at the bottom of the nomination page or at the main voting page.

If you are new to my blog, you might check out some of my favorite posts:

1. Gilgamesh: The Art of Becoming Civilized

2. Trollope's Rachel Ray

3. Waugh's The Loved One

You can also learn more about me and my project here in my introductory post, "Surrounded by Books".
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