36. How to Empathize with Children

I enjoy being with kids.

Throughout High School, I volunteered as a coach/counselor for a camp, teaching kids fundamentals of basketball and the Christian life. After High School, I volunteered in my church as a youth leader.

I’m pleased to inform you that during the month of July, I will be working at Camp Hydaway, a kid’s camp organized by Thomas Road Baptist Church. During the camp, I will be supervising activities and teaching fourth and fifth graders about God. FUN RIGHT?!

I won’t have much free-time, but I will bring a book just in case.

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I first read Ender’s Game a few years ago, and when I finished, it immediately became one of my favorites. The protagonist, a 6-year-old genius, gets recruited by the government to protect humanity from an alien invasion. Although he bears an enormous responsibility, he still experiences the everyday struggles of a kid.

Considering the atmosphere I’m about to immerse in, I thought Ender’s Game would prove beneficial; I will be surrounded by children.

This might sound crazy, but I believe the more I read children’s books, the easier it is to empathize with kids.

Do you agree with my theory? Or is it actually crazy?


35. Great Books for Vacation

Vacation is a great time to kick back and relax, but how is vacation fun without a book or two?

Or in my case… Seven.

I spent a few hours perusing my shelf for the perfect beach reads, and I came up with a combination of genres that will hopefully keep my attention all week.

Since I have A.D.D., jumping from genre to genre is the best way to keep my mind fresh and alert. Excluding the Harry Potter books, I have never been able to finish a series without reading different books in between.

So with only one week for vacation, I had to make sure the books were all different. Hopefully you will find some in the list that pertain to your liking.

So without further ado, here are the seven:

In the FANTASY category, we have The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien


I was told by a friend that no one could call themselves a Fantasy lover without reading The Lord of the Rings. Convicted, I felt the need to begin reading it as soon as possible.

I’ve read the first few chapters, and I’m loving it. Although more difficult to read, it definitely reminds me of The Hobbit, which in my opinion is one of the greatest novels ever written.

In The Childrens’ Fantasy category, we have The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West


I bought this book two years ago at an outlet store near my house. Obviously judging a book by its cover is shamed upon, but let’s admit it: WE ALL DO IT.

The cover art shows a young girl entering a strange new world (full of adventure and mysterious places no doubt). Hopefully the book contains as much adventure as its cover predicts.

In the Science Fiction category, we have Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.


Ender’s Shadow is a parallel novel to Ender’s Game, the award winning book about Andrew “Ender” Wiggin who basically saves human civilization from a presumptive alien invasion. Although the plot sounds cliché, Ender’s Game was actually an amazing book; Card brought originality that simply astounded me.

Ender’s Shadow is a parallel novel to Ender’s Game, meaning it’s the same story, but from a different character’s perspective. The protagonist is Bean, one of Ender’s friends from battle school.

A friend of mine said Ender’s Shadow was the better of the two, and if he’s right, then I’m in for a great vacation.

In the Dystopian category, we have Messenger by Lois Lowry


The Giver was an excellent read. Messenger, along with Gathering Blue and Son, are companion novels to The Giver. The stories follow, Jonas, Gabe, Kira, and Matty as they embark on dangerous journeys to discover the truth about the outside world and themselves.

For the Childrens’ / Young Adult Fiction category, we have The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne


I have absolutely no idea what this book is about, but according to the title, I’m assuming it has something to do with Shakespeare; and I love Shakespeare (hence the photo of me dressed as Benedick from Much Ado about Nothing).


Novels like this one are my favorite types of books. I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by stories with geeky protagonists who battle High School, bullies, and young love. Everything comes together to make the story worthy of Shakespeare himself.

For the Spiritual Improvement category, we have The Disciples’ Prayer by Donald T. Williams

the disciples' prayer

I bought this book when Williams visited my church to preach. The book is a phrase-by-phrase walk-through of the Lord’s prayer from Luke chapter 11. I’ve already started it, and I’m looking forward to learning more; Williams definitely offers great insight on the overlooked topic of prayer.

And for the Bible category, we have The Bible itself

Whenever I leave home, my father encourages me to bring my Bible. Developing a daily routine of scripture reading is imperative for my life; I try to read it before I read anything else.

So what do you guys think? Are there other books I should be reading while on vacation? Is my list good? Let me know in the comments!     



28. Five Books that Changed my Life


Whether you enjoy reading for its academic value or for pleasure, you cannot deny its vital importance. Reading has played a critical role in my personal development, and without it, receiving a college acceptance letter would have been impossible.

Without further ado, here are five books that changed my life:

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I was 12 years old when I read this book. I remember being thrilled with the action and intrigued by the plot. This was the first book I read since Harry Potter, and I was definitely satisfied.

Although not as good Harry Potter, The Hobbit grasps the concept of modern fantasy better than any other. It is, you could say, the grandfather of modern fantasy. Without it, the genre would not be what it is today.

  • Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

This one is an autobiography. Washington grew up during the reconstruction period (post-Civil War), an extremely difficult time for black people. In the book, Washington describes his trials growing up, his yearning for an education, and his glorious redemption as a successful man.

I consider Washington a historical hero. He not only helped black people obtain quality educations, but he instilled in the hearts of thousands (including me) that learning never stops.

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

I primarily read for pleasure and ignore the philosophical or moral messages hidden between its pages. In The Giver, however, I couldn’t help but notice the distinct underlining messages opposing abortion.

There is a scene of Jonas’s (protagonist) father injecting an infant with a killing serum. He treats the procedure normally, unknowingly destroying a life for convenience. The scene mirrors reality. The father represents a people oblivious to their actions, and the dying infant represents the millions of victims slaughtered by a silent holocaust (e.i. abortion). Jonas, who is the only person capable of understanding the concept of death, is broken by the unmindful nature of his father and the community.

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is a great American classic filled with clever animals, idiotic farmers, and a smack in the face to Stalinist Russia.

I originally read Animal Farm for school, but after a few chapters, I read it more for enjoyment. Orwell not only brought animals to life, but he explained through representation why socialism simply can’t work.

  • Wizards of the Game by David Lubar

Of the five, Wizards of the Game has impacted me the most. It’s about an eighth grader named Mercer who is obsessed with a role-playing game called ‘Wizards of the Warrior World.’ Naturally, his game contains fantasy elements (e.i. magic) which causes uneasiness between Mercer and a Christian named Ed.

By the end, Mercer acknowledges Ed’s beliefs, and can adequately differentiate between fantasy magic and biblical sorcery (which by the way are completely different).

I assume the majority of my readers are unfamiliar with Wizards of the Game. It isn’t as popular as Animal Farm or The Hobbit, but it has certainly impacted me the most. Growing up in the church, Harry Potter and Pokémon (or anything magic related) were considered satanic. Wizards of the Game answers the question many Christians ask: How different is fantasy magic from real, biblical witchcraft?


What do you guys think? If you were to re-create this list, what books would you include? What books have shaped your life?

I encourage comments!






22. Donald Trump, Crippled America, and a Signature

Fantasy is my favorite genre of literature. And when I can’t read fantasy, I fall back on Young Adult novels. This past week, however, since things are heating up politically, I decided to purchase Donald Trump’s new book Crippled America.

The book is actually very interesting and well written. Trump outlines his plans for America and spends intricate detail on issues like illegal immigration, the Department of Education, and the idiocy of “political correctness.”

When I realized that the multi-billionaire presidential candidate was going to speak at my University, I quickly decided to begin reading the book.

Yesterday Trump spoke at my school, and throughout his speech, he remained consistent with the literary message in his book. That is something to give him credit for: Trump may say outrageous things off the top of his head, but at least he’s honest and consistent with his purpose.

Before leaving the auditorium, Donald Trump greeted people, took selfies, and gave signatures. I was lucky enough to receive Trump’s signature, which he scribbled on my copy of Crippled America.

Trump signature

While some “Trump Haters” may consider this signature garbage, I personally think it’s pretty cool. No matter which presidential candidate you associate with, you cannot deny the awesomeness of a famous person’s signature. A signature gives a book a dual purpose; when signed, it is no longer only a reading material, but a collectible artifact.

Crippled America may reside outside my preferred genre of literature, but books like this (and autobiographies) can actually be very interesting. I definitely recommend Trump’s new book; it’s fast-paced, motivating, and Trump fills its pages with the usual “Trump Enthusiasm.”

20. Three Tips to Enhance Your Reading

Do you ever find yourself unable to read? Maybe it’s because you’re in an uncomfortable position. Or maybe you’re stressed. Whatever it is, something is stopping you from reading… And the stopping needs to stop.

More than once, I’ve found myself in this unfortunate scenario. It’s actually quite common with many readers. I’m sure there’s a proper term for this condition, but for now, let’s just call it readers block.

Regardless of the author, genre, or length of the book, people with reader’s block can’t seem to find inspiration to keep turning pages.

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These three tips have helped me tremendously with my reading, and because of them, I have been able to comprehend faster and more efficiently.

Three tips for successful reading:

ONE: Read Alone

When I’m reading, I need to be distraction free. Nothing upsets my reading more than another person’s voice. The mixture of their words and the words on the page splits my concentration, and I’m forced to put my book down until the person is gone.

TWO: Softly Pronounce What You Read

Reading out loud combines both my visual and hearing senses. The more senses I use, the clearer I think. This doesn’t mean I shout… I just gently mumble the passage to myself.

THREE: Always Have a Pen in Your Hand

Occasionally, books will have important messages buried beneath its pages, and it’s important to remember these messages after the book is finished. More than once, I’ve forgotten to highlight key sentences in a book, and in doing so, get confused with the plot and characters later in the story.

The way I see it, taking notes is similar to taking a photo. Photography is used to capture a moment. Likewise, taking notes and highlighting is used to capture key passages within the text.


Ladies and gentlemen, I hope this was of some help to you. I hate reader’s block, and I want to get 100% out of anything I read.

So pick up that book you’ve been dying to finish. Use these tips, and see how much smoother your reading is. 🙂





15. The Giver… A Study on the Book

During Theatre class a few years ago, my friend introduced me to an incredible book. Short but intriguing, The Giver remains one of my favorite reads.


The Giver takes pace in a community where everything is perfect. There is no pain, suffering, or war; everyone is assigned a role in the community that matches their interests. The protagonist, Jonas, is selected to be the receiver of memory, a daunting task to collect past memories from the Giver, and use them to help govern the society.

At first, the Giver only shows Jonas good memories: he shows him memories of love, family, and even the concept of color. Jonas is overwhelmed by not only the beauty of the world but also by the complexity of human life. He can’t fathom why the community would want nothing to do with it.

Later, however, the Giver introduces dark memories of pain, suffering, and the agony of war. Once possessing this knowledge, Jonas understands a terrible truth: the community was built upon principles that valued the absence of pain rather than the virtues of love. The community forfeited all emotions, both good and bad, to obtain a middle ground void of everything.

One of the most heart wrenching moments in the book was when Jonas asked his father if he loved him. Jonas’s father, empty of all emotions, couldn’t understand the question. Jonas was then asked not to use the word love again, because it caused confusion within the community.

What do you guys think about this? If the United States somehow injected us with a serum that caused all feelings to vanish, would it be a good or bad thing?

Or would it be a feeling at all?


13. Movie Adaptations of Books (a brief observation)

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If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you would know by now that I love books. I also love movies based on books, and video games based on movies. To enjoy these forms of entertainment, though, I have to differentiate between the three, and acknowledge the differences that make each piece great.

The hardest to differentiate: Books and Movies

Within the last decade, Hollywood has adapted many popular books into films; and most of them have proven very successful. However, a large portion of book worms are constantly dissatisfied with the adaptations. When asked why they were disappointed, their responses were always, “Well, it’s because the movies were nothing like the books…”

But honestly, was it really a bad movie? Or was it just bad because the kissing scene was more passionate on paper than on screen?

After frequently hearing these complaints, I realized that many book worms had no idea how to properly analyze a film. They judged solely based on the book instead of on elements crucial to a movie.

The number one problem that these book worms have is that they can’t differentiate between literary and cinematic components. Some elements that make a book great won’t necessarily emerge the same on screen. This is because people think differently while reading opposed to watching. While reading, people (more or less) are open minded. When watching, people want the story to progress quickly. For example, in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (definitely one of my favorite books), Peter and Valentine (siblings of the protagonist, Ender) spend six or seven chapters discussing ways they can take over the world. While reading the book, my mind allowed for additional plots to infiltrate my imagination, creating a broader picture of the story as a whole. If those seven chapters had appeared on screen, however, I would have died of boredom. They would have introduced something that had nothing to do with the main arc, therefore slowing the pace of the story.

The bottom line is this: movies can’t be books, and books can’t be movies. Since this is true, then judging movies based on their books is completely pointless. It would be like eating a hot-dog, then complaining that it doesn’t taste like a hamburger…

Instead we should enjoy the different interpretations, and discuss them accordingly.

So what do you guys think? Do you agree with my point of view? Or are the complaints valid?

I highly encourage comments!