Monthly Archives: January 2019

#Read2018 Books

Man, 114 books!

Instead of a top ten list, here are some titles I want to spotlight:

My five-star books:

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler By Ryan North

This book defies description: when it came out, it was at the top of the Sci-Fi and Non-Fiction bestseller lists for Amazon. A book that’s fun to dip into, but that I couldn’t stop myself from devouring in a couple days. Warning: it will make you want to tell everyone you meet about how humans really missed the boat with buttons.

Mr & Mrs American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

That’s right: I’m giving comedy its due. In terms of pure, delightful, actual laugh-out-loud-ness, this one is a pageant winner. Plus you know I’m a sucker for a found family/precocious kid story.

Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris

Remember what I said about found family? I also love books that make you want to travel, and this one makes me long to go to…Italy (you though I was going to say Paris, didn’t you?). Also, do not read while hungry: the food descriptions are mouth-watering! You may also not want to read in public. I may have started crying in front of my students while reading this.

[We interrupt this blog post to bring you the following advertisement. This was one of my Book of the Month club selections. I joined last March and I love it! You can either get charged monthly for $15, or a year for $150. They give you five to choose from, and you can skip a month if you don’t like anything. You can also add-on for $10/book. If you’d like to try it, you can use my link and we each get a free book. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.]

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When I read this in January, I knew it was going to be one of my favorites of the year. A sprawling love story with a dash of old-fashioned Hollywood, it’s a book that reminds you why you slog through so many books: because sometimes you’ll find a treasure like this one.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

For me, 2018 was definitely the year of Taylor Jenkins Reid. After reading Seven Husbands, I wanted to devour all of her previous work, and it did not disappoint. (I tried to stretch it out as much as possible, so I still have After I Do to read.) This was my favorite. You know when you’re reading and your heart gets in your throat because you don’t know what choice the character is going to make and you see that both choices aren’t wrong and it’s just really got you nervous? That is how I felt for the entire book. So, so good. Plus I want others to read it so we can discuss her decisions. Plus I want to read it again. Plus can I mention how nice it is to have a book where all the characters are pleasant to be around?

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Guys, don’t be like me and wait to read this book. This is the rare memoir that is both insightful (I must admit this is the first book I’ve read about South Africa) and funny. And not just, “oh, that is an amusing, wry tale” funny, but “hahaha, wait, you gotta hear this story!” funny. Read it now; thank me later.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Maybe it was because I was reading this in Scotland, but I loved this story of a young woman in London during World War II. Although it is a war story, the most descriptive word I can think of is cozy. Perfect for a winter’s night by the fire.

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater

I read a lot of YA books, and sometimes they feel like they’re just checking off a list of topical items to include. This one is non-fiction and organically covers so many interesting topics: transgenderism, racism, justice system, restorative justice. It makes you confront these issues, but personalizes them so it doesn’t feel like you’re being forced to do Important Topic Homework. It also includes some unique storytelling elements, which is just an added bonus.

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane and The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

I paired these together because they both defy description, but I think if you like one, you’ll like the other. I’m a bit late to Penumbra, but I’m glad it finally made to the top of my TBR list. This is a book that you definitely have not read before, and you never know where each page is going to take you. The same can be said for The Oracle Year (another Book of the Month selection that I never would have read otherwise). What if you knew certain events would happen in the future? What would that knowledge be worth? Who would want that knowledge? What could you do with that knowledge? It reads like classic Grisham, with characters you know are up to something, but you’re not sure what, and you have to keep turning the pages to find out.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This was a re-read from 2014, but, man, does it still hold up. One of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. I can’t even think about the ending without tearing up. To quote from my sister, “If you are a teenager, have a teenager or have been a teenager, it will touch your heart.”

Otherwise Engaged and The Zygote Chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore

Two more re-reads, but I had a bit of a reading slump and these are two of my favorite books. Almost 20 years old, and the writing still zings. Like real-life love, I can’t explain why I love these books so much, all I know is that I do.

Four-star books that are still noteworthy:

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCollough
A novel in verse based on a real female artist from the 1600’s with topical connections to the #metoo movement? No, this is definitely a book that hasn’t been done before. And the writing is not just a novel in verse, but a beautifully crafted poem on each page. This one sticks with you.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
You don’t read many sci-fi books set in the past (except Star Wars), so this a refreshing blend of dystopia (meteorite crashes into earth), historical (ladies wearing pants! gasp!), and science (how fast can we get to the moon?). If you liked Hidden Figures, I think you’d enjoy this as a fun what-if premise. I ordered the second book right away! (but haven’t gotten to read it yet.)

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

I sent so many pics of passages to my friends from this book and could have sent many more! It’s a bit eerie how well Roxanna captured the current school environment. A very fun read that may hit too close to home for some of us!

Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul A Offit

While not all seven stories are stellar, there’s some in here that really make you think. The brief history of how the opioid crisis began is just fascinating. I think these could also be the springboard of some interesting science/statistics lessons.

And that’s all folks! Be sure to tweet me @mathymeg07 with your favorites of 2018!

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2019 Fitbos Challenge

It’s back! The fourth annual Fitbos challenge! Because working out is always better with friends!

Here are some FAQs about the challenge:

What is the #Fitbos19 challenge?  Set your own workout hours goal for the year, make that goal public by entering it on the first sheet at At the bottom, you’ll notice tabs for each month. This is where you can enter your daily workout times (if you’d rather enter them by week, just put the week’s totals in for one day). The front sheet should update your times.  Remember to put your yearly goal in as hours and your daily workout time in as minutes.

What if I want to do something other than hours, like miles or steps or pushups?
The spreadsheet is set up to convert minutes to hours. For each month, in cell 7 in your column, simply delete the “/60” part of the formula.

How did this start? In 2015, for some reason, I signed up for #500milesin2015. I made it (and did a 10K!) but not without some “knee awareness.” I wanted to still have a yearly goal but be able to vary the workouts, so I started a google spreadsheet last year. Each year I always end up slacking for the first half and then amping it up for the last quarter, but I have made my goals!

What should my goal be? I’m doing 150 because it’s a nice number. 3 hours a week with a two-week vacation. Some people are doing 100 hours, some people are doing 275. I try to find the line between possible and believable and that is something different for everyone. We don’t judge.

What counts? We’re not the exercise police. If you think it counts, count it. My rule of thumb is, “Am I not sitting on my butt when I rather would be?”  Hiking? Of course. Snow-shoveling? I’ve heard that such a thing is actually quite the workout. Dance-vacuuming? Hey, if you break a sweat and have a clean house, double bonus! Walking around the school during your planning period? Great way to get in some extra minutes and get re-energized! I personally do a mix of walking the dogs when the weather is nice and youtube videos and DVDs from Jessica Smith when the weather isn’t.

What if something doesn’t work on the spreadsheet? Yes, I was lazy and just made a copy of last year’s and did some tweaking, so there may be some wonkiness left over. Just shoot me a tweet (I don’t check blog comments very often) and I’ll try to get it sorted!

What if I’m a fitbit user? Sarah Martin (@Sarah3Martin) has a fitbit fitbos challenge group. You can give her your info and she will add you to the group for weekly challenges if you need more (or different) motivation.

What do I get when I complete my goal? Your hours turn green and you get a monthly shout-out on Twitter from me. This year I set a calendar reminder for the 5th of every month for the shout-out — sorry I slacked a bit in the fall this year! I blame it on lack of new Astros World Series gifs. As a new added bonus, if you finish your yearly goal, you get to sign up early for next year, meaning you can get a prime column! 🙂  (If you don’t get a prime column this year, some people like to color/fill their name to make it easier to find. Or you could make your own copy of the spreadsheet, put yourself in column B, then just copy and paste your times at the end of the month to the group sheet.)

Who completed the 2018 challenge? Congrats to:

Shelly (@stcarranza) 159 hours (106%)
Tina (@TPalmer207) 126 hours (100%)
Shelli (@druinok) 150 hours (109%)
Dave (@daveLanovaz) 182 hours (101%)
Brett (@ParkerMathEd) 100 hours (100%)
Megan (@MeganHeine) 299 hours (115%)
Mary Anne (@mahiker) 357 hours (!!) (119%)
Pam (@pamjwilson) 132 hours (101%)
Jennifer (@hhsmath) 197 hours (109%)
Megan (@megandubee) 258 hours (103%)
Elissa (@misscalculate) 2026 miles (100%)
Me! 150 hours (100%)

What does it feel like to complete your #fitbos goal?

And to answer your final question, “where do I sign up again?!

Category: Uncategorized