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

LOTR

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

BOE

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.

enders-shadow

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

msnger

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

hamlet

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).

benedick

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!     

 

 

29. Three Ways to Improve Your Blog

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Blogging is hard.

There. I said it.

Although simple in theory, blogging can be quite challenging. Sometimes it drives me insane, yet other times it clothes me with a blanket of satisfaction.

When I began the Lingering Lamb in October, I assumed blogging would be easy, quick to fill the desire I had for writing.

I can’t say I was completely wrong… or completely right.

The Lingering Lamb is still young; its wool is cushioned with almost 30 articles and nearly 1,500 hits. I never imagined it would do this well in only five months. Of course the success is attributed to my awesome subscribers (both in and out of WordPress); without you guys, my job would NOT be fun.

I know there’s still lots to learn, so I’ve uncovered three aspects I need to improve on as a blogger:

ONE) Consistency

My heavenly Father, family, and school are my number one priorities; blogging/free time come second (or fourth… however you want to interpret it).

Of all my priorities, school drains my time the most. It burns away hours that could be well spent blogging, reading, or playing video games.

With all my homework deadlines, it’s difficult to meet my personal goal of posting every Saturday and Tuesday. But if I push myself to be consistent, I can make my blogging goal work.

TWO) Relaxation

I have this twitching urge to constantly check this blog’s stats. On average, each post gets 50 to 100 views, and I’m always wanting to see if a current post breaks the record for the most views.

If I can somehow learn to prevent from clicking the stats button, I think my focus would be geared more toward the writing than the progress.

THREE) Inspiration

Inspiration is something bloggers yearn for more than anything.

It is also a lie…

Although important, inspiration is not what sustains a blog or book (or anything for that matter). It is a lie because inspiration is not the energy that propels a work forward, rather it is the spark that ignites possibility.

Unless I fuel my inspiration with habit and practice, my blogging/writing dreams will never be realized.

It is habit that gets things done, not inspiration.

I suppose number three can tie in with number one. After all, a great way to develop habit is to be consistent… That is… If you don’t worry about it (hehe…see what I did there?).

When I merge these three weaknesses together, I believe my blogging journey will be much more fulfilling (and your reading experience more enjoyable). If I write on a consistent basis, develop writing habits, and just be “worry free” everything will work out for the better.

So what do you guys think? Are there other things that would make my blogging experience better? And bloggers, are there areas where you need to improve?

^Comments Welcomed  

 

 

 

 

 

 

28. Five Books that Changed my Life

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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?

THE END

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!

 

 

 

 

 

12. Why Physical Copies Beat eBooks

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With the rapid advancements in technology, books have evolved into something much more than paper and ink. They’ve taken the form of a lighter and much brighter version that satisfies all the lazy moms that can’t get out of the house to buy a physical book. eBOOKS BABAY!

I don’t think electronic books are dominating the literature industry, but I do know it’s playing a critical role in its evolution. E-books are cheaper, easier to access, and are normally more reliable.

Why, then, are so many people still buying physical books? Stories are the same in both its physical and electronic forms, and most everybody has either a smartphone or tablet. So wouldn’t it make more sense to only purchase eBooks?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are Three Reasons Why Physical Copies Are Better:

ONE: Physical copies appeal to the senses.

There’s nothing like buying a new book from the local bookstore, reading its flap cover, and then flipping through its pages with eager anticipation.

The scent it carries reminds me of the bookstore, which is my favorite place to be. And the weight of the book assures me that a long, exciting journey awaits between its pages.

TWO: Bookshelves look amazing when bedazzled with bookzes.

My main Christmas present last year was a giant bookshelf. It’s my favorite ornament in my room, and it’s clothed with the finest genres known to man: Adult, YA, and Children’s fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction, and a collection of a few creative projects (soon to be revealed).

If reading was only attained through technology, then my room wouldn’t have the literary character that I love.

THREE: Lending and borrowing is easier with physical copies.

One of the greatest joys I have in life is lending books to friends. Lending helps my friends enjoy stories I have enjoyed, and it opens new topics for conversation.

When I let someone borrow a book, I’m constantly asking how the book is coming. “Have you reached the climax yet?” “Can you guess who the murderer is?” Such questions are the doors to unlimited discussions.

THE END

I hope I’m not butchering eBooks… They can be helpful in some situations. For example, it’s easier to read at night with an eBook. In a dark room where your sibling is trying to sleep, eBooks help conserve lighting, and annihilate the tediousness of a book light.

So what do you guys think? Which do you prefer? And Why?