Math = Love: #EmptyShelf Challenge: January Recap

Saturday, February 1, 2014

#EmptyShelf Challenge: January Recap

Today is February 1st.  To be honest, I'm so glad that January is over.  After much reflection, I am going to say that January is my least favorite month of the year.  It starts out so promising.  We make goals.  We resolve that this year is going to be different.  And, for a few days (or hours), it is.  Then, Christmas Break ends, and reality returns.  Life soon becomes overwhelming again.  And, our resolutions are quickly forgotten.  Instead of looking for ways to thrive, our focus becomes mere survival.

January is gone.  Christmas Break is now but a distant memory.  Spring Break looms too far in the future.  And, I feel like maybe I'm finally getting back in the groove.  Every day, I get out of bed and go to a job that I love.  I get to spend my days educating others about something I'm passionate about.  When life gets busy (read: insane), I need to take the time to remind myself just how lucky I am.  I get paid to do a job I love.  I chose the name of this blog for a reason.  I love math.  And, I love teaching it to students even more.  There are so many people out there in the world who hate going to work in the morning.  Their job is a result of someone else's passion, not their own.  I am beyond blessed, and I need to remember that no matter what month of the year it is.

I'm about to do something I've never done before.  When this blog started, I wrote solely about my student teaching experiences.  The blog was anonymous because I wasn't sure how my college/cooperating teachers would respond to my honesty.  When I landed my first teaching job, I kept the blog anonymous.  Part of the way through my first year, things started to change.  I proudly put my name on my blog and took ownership of my ideas, my struggles, my successes, and my failures as a result of the PSA of a certain somebody you are almost all familiar with.  The more I blog, the more I count my readers as friends.  So, friend, thanks for reading my blog!  I know I haven't met most of you, but, let's be honest.  I've shared a lot of personal stuff on this blog.  And, if you weren't my friends, that would be just plain creepy that you knew so much about me without having ever met me.

One of the most personal things you can know about somebody, I think, is the books that they read.  I think books are a window into both who a person is and who they want to be.  I know that when I visit a person's house for the first time, I am almost always drawn to their bookshelves.  I want to see what they are reading/have read.  I'm on the lookout for books that we have in common.  It's an amazing conversation starter.  I almost always learn something about the person that normally wouldn't have come up in conversation.

Back in late, late December, my sister and I embarked on the #EmptyShelf Challenge.  We are challenging each other to see who can read the most books by December 31, 2014.  I actually started on December 27, 2013, but my sister chose to not start until January 1st.  Despite the five day head start, she is beating me.  Here's the scary part.  I'm about to show you my January reads.  The books I read this month had nothing to do with math or teaching.  Instead, they are a peek into my life outside of school.  (Many of my books are a reflection of the importance of faith in my life.  If this is something you are not interested in, feel free to stop back by tomorrow for a post full of math, foldables, and fun.)

The month started with an empty bookshelf.  I wanted a visual reminder of my reading progress.

Before The Challenge
Now, one month into the challenge, my shelf looks like this.  I've also started utilizing the public library in town, so the notepad and pen are there to remind me to write down what library books I have enjoyed.

#EmptyShelf Challenge - One Month In
 Here are the books I read out of my own collection:

January's Reads
Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect by Connally Gilliam
This is a book that I bought and started in college, but it's been setting on my shelf, partially read, for the last few years.  At 24, I'm much younger than the author, but I found a lot of things in the book that I could relate to.  I am definitely living a life that I didn't expect.  While still in high school, I planned out my life.  I was going to go to college, meet a guy, fall madly in love, get engaged, graduate, get married, and live happily ever after in that order.  I always assumed I would find a teaching job close to wherever my husband found a job.  Well, here I am, over 1.5 years into my teaching career, and I'm still unmarried.  I've picked up my life and moved to an entirely new town where I didn't know a single person.  This has certainly been an adventure.  I know this is all part of God's plans for my life  He knows exactly what He is doing.  And, I can't wait to see how He works all these things I never expected to experience so that they contribute to His glory.  

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
So, this book probably seems out of place on this list because I just made it very clear that I'm NOT married.  So, why am I reading a book that was written to help married people build a marriage that lasts?  That is a very good question!  A few months ago, I was listening to a podcast about love languages.  The speaker talked about how understanding your love language could help you in all relationships - not just romantic ones.  On a whim, I decided to take an online quiz to determine exactly what my love language was.  My result?  My primary love language is Words of Affirmation.  My secondary love language is Quality Time.  Once reading the descriptions of these, I knew without a doubt that these were definitely the ways in which I receive love.  When people say kind things about me or my work, it lifts me up.  When I feel like I deserve praise but receive nothing, I feel defeated, unloved.  Looking back over my life, I can see how many of the arguments I have found myself in have stemmed from my not feeling loved.  I never really stopped to think about how different people require different things to feel loved.  Since reading about the five different love languages, I feel like I see the world and my interactions with others differently.  Part of me wonders how I can apply this to my classroom.

And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander
This was my first fiction read of 2014.  I picked it up at my favorite thrift store based on its title and cover.  Yes, I admit it.  I judge books by their covers.  This was historical fiction, and it allowed me the chance to escape into Victorian England.  It was one of those novels where not everything was as it seemed.  It's the first book in a series, but I have yet to take the time to hunt down the sequel.  It was an enjoyable read that kept me on my toes.

The Shack by William Young
This is another book that has been sitting on my shelf for a while.  I tried to read it a couple of years ago, but I never got past the first three pages or so.  I remembered reading a lot of glowing reviews when it first came out, so I decided to give it another shot.  Somehow, I didn't exactly know what the premise of the story was, so I was shocked to find that this man was going to a shack to meet God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit  The Trinity was not represented as I expected.  Though, I'm not sure what I expected at all.  It was an interesting read, for sure.  This is one of those books where I'm not quite sure how I feel about it after reading it.  Did I like it?  I just don't know.  I spent most of the book in shock, but at the same time, it was one of those books that I just couldn't put down.  I just had to see what happened next.

Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James
I picked this book up at the thrift store because I was semi-familiar with the author.  It was a short, quick read.  I think I only paid 25 cents for the book, so I didn't really look much into it before purchasing it.  In retrospect, I think this book was intended for high school students.  Still, there were several chapters towards the end that really spoke to me.

Ultimate Connection by Barbara Ho
I picked up this short book in the Bargain Books section of Mardel back in October, I think.  My prayer life is an area where I've always struggled, so I welcomed the opportunity to learn several principles I could apply to my prayer life.  I also really enjoy hearing other people talk about what their prayer life is like.  This book opened my eyes to some concepts I had never been exposed to before.  I enjoyed this quick read, and I would like to think that it has made a difference in my life.

Thrive: The Single Life as God Intended by Lina Abujamra
This book was my first reread of the year.  I first read this book last summer.  The focus of this book is how to thrive despite your relationship status.  It is an inspirational read, and it is chock full of lots of good advice and thought-provoking discussion.  I attacked this book with highlighters this time around, and there are few pages that are unharmed by my colorful markers.  I'm not quite sure I am living a thriving life yet, so I could probably stand to reread this book five or six more times!

These books are not pictured above because I checked them out of the local library.

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts
This was my first book ever to check out of the public library in Drumright.  I feel really bad about the fact that I lived in this town for over a year and a half before venturing into the library.  My landlord recommended this book and author, so I decided to take a chance on it.  I love reading fictional books that are set in Oklahoma because I recognize the names of the towns that the characters visit.  This book was no exception!  This was a quick, humorous read.  And, I look forward to checking out more books by this author.

Misty by V.C. Andrews
Do you ever check out a book without knowing what it's about?  This was one of those books.  I'd never heard of the author or the book, but I decided to take a chance anyway.  After all, it was a library book.  So, if I didn't like it, I could easily return it.  When I checked this book out, I thought it was either a romance or a mystery.  I was wrong on both counts.  This was the first book in a series that focused on a group of teenage girls in group therapy.  Each book focuses on the decisions/circumstances that led each girl to end up in therapy.  Had I known what the books were about, I likely wouldn't have picked up the series.  But, I actually enjoyed the first book.

The Noticer by Andy Andrews
First off, I checked out this book because it had a cool title.  I wondered, "What is a noticer?"  This was a short and inspirational read.  As I read this book, I found myself thinking that I could apply some of the advice given in the book to my own life.  One of the main ideas in the book was that whatever we focus on increases.  If we focus on the bad things in our lives, our lives will tend to get worse.  When we choose to focus on positive things, we tend to notice even more positive things, and we make choices that lead to further good things in our lives.  When I focus on how stressed out I am with my job, I notice more things I should be stressed out about.  When I take the time to find the good (and there's lots of it!) in my job, I am happier.  And, a happier me equals happier students.        
That puts me at 10 books for the year!  I'm already well-ahead of where I was last year.  Now, I just need to catch up with my sister...


  1. I've had 5 love languages of children checked out of the library for awhile that I keep meaning to read. You could probably apply that to high school as well.

    1. That's a great idea! I'm going to keep an eye out for that book. I felt like I learned a lot about my interactions with others from reading the original book.

  2. I am impressed!! That is quite a few books for only one month....(and 5 days). Thanks for sharing. Like you, I love to check out other people's bookshelves. I'm very glad I found your blog, you are very inspirational, my students would love to have a math teacher as enthusiastic as you lol. I love math too, but you put in so much work to making it fun, I am blown away.

    1. Thanks! If it wasn't for reading over Christmas Break, this list wouldn't be anywhere near as long. I LOVE to read, but I haven't made as much time for it as I should have. I'm working on that, though!

      Thanks for your sweet comment regarding my blog. It means so much to me that you read my blog!

  3. Thanks for sharing your personal reads with us! I look forward to your blog arriving in my inbox every afternoon.

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment! It means a lot to me that you look forward to my blog postings!