Review: Fifth Business

Don’t look up information before you write a review.  Yet I did find out Tokyo Police Club wrote a song based on this book.

Ramsay, the protagonist of Fifth Business, could be Everyman and Anyperson except that historical and world events move through his life and become up close and personal.

Fifth Business is a story that no matter how much we don’t believe that we impact people’s lives around us, we find out about it at the weirdest moments and when we least expect to. Then at some point everything will come to a head and perhaps not the way we expect. It’s also about belief, love, being yourself, being part of something and being part of other people’s lives.

This book talks a lot about magic and has a magic all of it’s own.

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30 Day Challenge: The Tide is High

A relative of mine has a favorite saying that “water finds its own level”.

Find your tribe and they will find you.  This is true in life and with running a business as well.

I had a 20 minute conversation a few months ago where a potential client wanted to know why they should choose me over one of my competitors.  It was one of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had as a business person.  Yet in the end, they paid me for the time I spent with them which was above and beyond what I normally do and I was grateful and the 20 minutes was well worth it.

Quick aside: people will call you when you are least ready.  So, always be ready.

One piece of advice I give to business newbies, and I received this as well in the beginning, is don’t feel you have to take every client.  Yes, I made that mistake in the beginning and learned the hard way.  Everyone wants overnight but even after doing this for over 20 years, there are still people out there who don’t know about you and your best friend is word-of-mouth.

And yes, the people who will want to work with you will respond.  So be yourself because phony is exposed really fast.

30 Day Challenge: Day 1 – I need someone….

I’ve been given this 30 day challenge to teach and show what I do.  I can start with my elevator pitch but I have 29 days left to get to that.

When teaching English learners English, I like to use songs and music.  The reason I do this is because music helps the words, the grammar, the syntax all stick easier than simply doing rote memorization.  Teaching with music is also more fun than simply sticking with a book.

The Beatles “Help” is one of my favorite songs to use for advanced beginners to intermediate learners.  One needs the word “help” in English.  The song also teaches simple past, expressing using the verb “need”, the word “so”, “much”, adjectives, pronouns, conditional, and some great vocabulary.

The word “help” also sums up what I do, not only in my business, but all around.

In my business I help people transform their lives.  Yet like other business owners, this isn’t just my business, it is my life.  For the past 23 years, seven of the last have included my LLC, I have worked with, helped, taught, held hands with, cried with, gone through English grammar and literature with ad nauseum, pulled words and information out of people’s mouths, put their thoughts and information on paper, career coached and counseled them, wrote out their dreams and thoughts for them, banged my head against a few computer screens and desks in frustration, and overall seen people move on to better places and positions.

Review: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

If you, dear reader, are a fan of American history, particularly New York City during the Revolutionary War, this is a book for you.

If you like the Broadway show Hamilton, this is a book for you to read.  Chains is on the other side of Alexander Hamilton. Chains gives an eye-opening look to what was going on outside of the major names and players of the American Revolution.  Chains shows a piece of the underbelly of American history.

The story of Isabel Gardener will break your heart and leave you wanting more at the same time.  Isabel is 13, a slave, caretaker of her younger sister, Ruth, and not one to sit back. Her story is page turning, heart stopping, and will take your breath away.

10 out of 10 for making your mind bloom.

Book Review: Worthy Brown’s Daughter

Your Mind in Bloom, LLC rating for making your mind bloom: 8 out of 10.

Don’t let this scare you.  Phillip Margolin writes a tight, fast-paced, thoughtful and heart wrenching tale that takes place at a time of great shift in American history.  Mr. Margolin even gives a view that isn’t found much in all of the literature about the era before the Civil War.

Matthew Penny is an attorney who has his share of interesting cases and clients and they won’t go away.  They follow him.

Worthy Brown asks Attorney Penny to help him get his daughter, Roxanna, back.  There is a plot twist you will never see coming, even if you try to cheat by reading the end first.

This is a great book for people who are fans of the West Coast, the Wild West, the law, and US history.  Enjoy!

Review: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

For mature audiences only and for those that can handle tough issues and graphic portrayals.

The copy of this book that I found contains notes and a lot of highlights.  I’m wondering if someone, or two, used this for a class or book group, or both.  Finding scribbles and highlights is fascinating because it shows what other people reading the same thing latched onto during the reading.

In today’s day and age, Michael’s relationship with Hannah would be treated as a major crime, the setting for a show like Law and Order’s Special Victim’s Unit.  Olivia Benson would be on the case of a woman having an affair with a teenager half of her age.

This book could only take place in the setting that it does.  Everyone has secrets to hide yet justice is being handed out on a continual basis.

I just wonder for a country like Germany that has forced and compulsory state sanctioned education, just like the United States and a few other countries, how someone like Hannah would have fallen through the cracks and would have never learned to read or write, even functional literacy.  That is the major gap that is left by having the story from only Michael’s point-of-view.  He says that Hannah would never answer his questions.

Having worked with English Learners and with clients who can read barely beyond a second or third grade level as adults, Hannah’s complete lack of anything really makes me wonder.  Did the system just pass her along, so to speak, as happens today even though not many people are willing to discuss the subject.  Did she come from a poor family that the system missed somewhere?  Who knows?  It is left to the reader’s imagination.

Hannah preyed on Michael and the feeling seemed to go the other way as well.  No one is a good guy in this story.  Heartbreaking in some ways, yes, but these are two imperfect human beings.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

This is one of those books one can read and think, “Ah, the scandal”.

A renegade teacher.  A possible not so secret lover.  Betrayal by a student.  What could be better?

The more I’ve worked in education, the more I can appreciate this work.  Jean Brodie has no children of her own, so she cultivates her own group from the students at a small private school where she teaches.  Jean Brodie makes the reader cringe and that is a good thing.  Some people may think she is evil and just plain blind to the world around her.  It depends on the perspective.

Why is this point really her prime, if it is her prime at all?  Perhaps Miss Brodie knows it is now or never to cultivate her legacy.

This book could never happen today.  This is a great, well-written, compact story and a classic.  Don’t cheat by watching the movie.