Book Review: Ring Shout by P. Djéli Clark

Book Review: Ring Shout by P. Djéli Clark

I recently stumbled upon “Ring Shout” by P. Djèlí Clark during a visit to the library, and let me tell you, I’m thrilled that I did. Clark, a decorated author who has claimed prestigious awards such as the Nebula, Locus, and Alex Awards, delves into the realm of horror with this dark fantasy historical novella that ingeniously infuses a supernatural twist into the notorious reign of the Ku Klux Klan.

Transporting us back to the 1920s, Clark introduces us to a courageous group of Black resistance fighters determined to take down a sect of demonic Ku Klux Klan members. Seriously, they’re some kind of spirit monsters.

The “Ku Kluxes” are hell-bent on summoning a malevolent being to further their despicable agenda, and Maryse Boudreaux, blade-wielding monster hunter, stands in their way.

Ring Shout
  • Hardcover Book
  • Clark, P. Djèlí (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages – 10/13/2020 (Publication Date) – Tordotcom (Publisher)

“Ring Shout” captivates from the very beginning, offering an intense and gripping narrative that vividly depicts the horrors of racism and violence in the early 20th century. Clark’s mastery lies in his seamless blending of horror, fantasy, and history, resulting in a truly unique reading experience that leaves a lasting impression.

One of the novel’s standout aspects is the character of Maryse Boudreaux, a formidable monster hunter armed with a lethal blade. Through Maryse, Clark delves into profound themes of resistance, resilience, and the unwavering power of community in the face of oppression. As readers, we witness the strength and determination required to combat injustice, reminding us of the ongoing struggle for racial justice in America. “Ring Shout” serves as both a timely and indispensable work of fiction, shedding light on these crucial issues.

In conclusion, P. Djèlí Clark’s “Ring Shout” is a mesmerizing gem that combines historical events with supernatural elements, crafting an unforgettable tale of bravery and resilience. This novella is a must-read for anyone seeking an enthralling exploration of racial justice, expertly woven into a tapestry of horror and fantasy.

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The Best Summer Reads of 2023

best summer reads of 2023

Are you a teacher on summer break looking for the perfect book to read while lounging under a tree with a cold drink in your hand? Look no further! This guide has got you covered for the best summer reads of 2023. We’ve got heart-pumping thrillers, heart-warming romances, and everything in between. Take your pick and get ready for an adventure!

The Importance of Choosing the Right Book

When you’re picking a summer read, it’s super important to choose the right one. The perfect book can take you on a wild adventure, make you feel all the feels, and leave you wanting more. But if you pick the wrong one, it can be a total snoozefest. You’ll be bored out of your mind and regretting your choice. So, take your time and find a book that really speaks to you. Try out different genres and see what you like. Happy reading, folks!

Types of Summer Reads

When you’re trying to find the perfect summer read, there are plenty of genres to choose from. Maybe you’re into heart-pumping thrillers or maybe you prefer heart-warming romance. Whatever your fancy, I’ve got you covered. Let’s check out some of the popular genres for summer reading.

Fiction Novels


Are you someone who thrives on excitement and suspense in your reading? If so, you might want to consider picking up a thriller novel this summer. With their intricate plots and unpredictable turns, these books are sure to keep you engaged and entertained for hours on end. Not to mention the thrill of trying to solve the mystery before the protagonist does! So why not take a chance on a fast-paced, heart-pounding read that will leave you breathless and always wanting more?


Romance novels are the perfect way to spend a lazy summer day. They take you on emotional rollercoasters and tug at your heartstrings. You can get lost in a tale of love and passion and root for the swoon-worthy hero or captivating heroine as they navigate the ups and downs of their relationship. With so many options to choose from, you can go for sweet and wholesome or steamy and seductive. So, why not just kick back, relax, and indulge in a world of love and romance this summer?

Science Fiction and Fantasy

If you’re looking to escape the boring monotony of everyday life, science fiction and fantasy books are where it’s at! You can dive into immersive and fantastical worlds, complete with magic, technology, and adventure. You’ll get to go on epic quests, unravel political intrigues, and meet all sorts of amazing creatures. The characters are usually super complex, with all sorts of different motivations. Basically, science fiction and fantasy books offer endless possibilities for anyone who wants to get lost in a great story.

The Best Fiction Summer Reads for 2023

Fourth Wing

Fourth Wing (The Empyrean, 1)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Yarros, Rebecca (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages – 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) – Entangled: Red Tower Books (Publisher)

Violet Sorrengail, a twenty-year-old, was supposed to live a quiet life in the Scribe Quadrant. However, her mother, the commanding general, orders her to become a dragon rider. This is a problem for Violet because she is smaller and more fragile than everyone else. Dragons don’t bond with fragile humans, they incinerate them. With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. Violet suspects leadership is hiding a terrible secret. At Basgiath War College, everyone has an agenda and only two ways to leave: graduate or die.


Identity: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Roberts, Nora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages – 05/23/2023 (Publication Date) – St. Martin’s Press (Publisher)

Morgan Albright is settled in a nice neighborhood near Baltimore, with help from her friend and roommate Nina and her job as a bartender. But when she hosts a dinner party and a man named Luke shows up, her life is turned upside down. Luke is actually a con artist named Gavin who steals from women and then kills them. After Nina is killed, Morgan learns that she was Gavin’s target all along. She flees to her mother’s home in Vermont and meets a new man named Miles, but Gavin is still out there hunting for her.

The Collector

The Collector: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Silva, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages – 07/18/2023 (Publication Date) – Harper (Publisher)

Art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon teams up with a master thief to find the world’s most valuable painting. Their mission takes a dangerous turn as they race to prevent a conflict between Russia and the West. Silva’s novel is a must-read for his fans and newcomers alike.

Flash Point

Tom Clancy Flash Point (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bentley, Don (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages – 05/23/2023 (Publication Date) – G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Publisher)

Jack Ryan Jr. is in trouble after a routine surveillance mission goes wrong. He finds himself fighting against an unknown enemy who wants to destroy the Campus. Jack follows the trail to the South China Sea, where a midair collision between rival nations threatens the region. Back at the Campus, a devastating attack leaves Jack as the only operator left standing. As tensions grow and China prepares to invade Taiwan, Jack and his team must prevent a war between the world’s superpowers. But their enemy is still at large, and the Campus is in danger. The cost of their mission is high, and the bill may be too much to pay.

Only the Dead

Only the Dead: A Thriller (6) (Terminal List)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Carr, Jack (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages – 05/16/2023 (Publication Date) – Atria/Emily Bestler Books (Publisher)

In 1980, a congressman was killed in Rhode Island, causing shock in Washington that still resonates today. Now, a group of global elites wants to take control during a time of war, inflation, division, and assassinations. They believe they’ve eliminated the final obstacle to domination, but they’re wrong. Secrets from the past are coming to light, and former SEAL James Reece is on a mission to stop them. He’s on a warpath, and no one is safe when he’s armed with his tomahawk and sniper rifle.


Yellowface: A Reese’s Book Club Pick
  • Hardcover Book
  • Kuang, R. F (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 05/16/2023 (Publication Date) – William Morrow (Publisher)

June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. After Athena’s death, June steals her just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I, and sends it to her agent as her own work. She becomes a bestseller under the pseudonym “Juniper Song”. But emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s success down around her, forcing her to protect her secret at all costs.

The Five-Star Weekend

The Five-Star Weekend
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hilderbrand, Elin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 06/13/2023 (Publication Date) – Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

Hollis Shaw has a seemingly perfect life as the creator of a popular food blog and the wife of a heart surgeon. But after a heated argument with her husband, he dies in a car accident, revealing the cracks in their marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter. Hollis decides to host her own “Five-Star Weekend” on Nantucket, similar to a trip organized by a friend. However, the weekend is far from joyful. Hollis’s childhood friend’s husband arranges for Hollis’s first love to attend, stirring up old feelings. Meanwhile, another friend, Dru-Ann, is struggling to save her career after making online comments about a client’s mental health issues. Brooke is dealing with her husband’s inappropriate relationship with a colleague, and a stranger, Gigi, with many secrets, has reached out to Hollis through her blog.

Meet Me at the Lake

Meet Me at the Lake
  • Fortune, Carley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) – Berkley (Publisher)

Fern Brookbanks has spent a lot of time in her adulthood thinking about Will Baxter. They met for just one day in their early twenties but connected deeply over shared secrets and dreams. They promised to meet again in a year, but Will never showed up. Now, at thirty-two, Fern’s life is not what she imagined: she’s back home running her mother’s resort and doesn’t know where to start to fix it. Will arrives nine years late, offering to help, but Fern doesn’t know if she can trust him. He seems like a different person and is hiding something. Can Fern return the favor of the help Will gave her ten years ago?

The Ferryman

The Ferryman: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cronin, Justin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 560 Pages – 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) – Ballantine Books (Publisher)

Prospera, an archipelago hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating world, is home to lucky citizens who enjoy fulfilling lives until their physical and psychological monitors fall below 10%. They retire themselves to the Nursery, where their bodies are renewed, memories wiped clean, and they restart life afresh. Proctor Bennett, a ferryman, shepherds people through the retirement process and enforces it if necessary. But Proctor’s monitor percentage has begun to drop alarmingly fast, and he’s been dreaming – impossible in Prospera. When he’s summoned to retire his own father, who gives him a cryptic message, he questions everything he once believed. Meanwhile, the Support Staff, who keep Prospera running, are questioning their role. Unrest is building, and a resistance group, the Arrivalists, may be fomenting revolution. Proctor finds himself on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece: A novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hanks, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages – 05/09/2023 (Publication Date) – Knopf (Publisher)

In 1947, a troubled soldier meets his five-year-old nephew and disappears for twenty-three years. In 1970, the nephew reconnects with his uncle, draws a new version of a comic book they saw together, and becomes an underground comic book artist in Oakland. In the present day, a director discovers the 1970 comic book and turns it into a contemporary superhero movie, with a cast that includes a difficult male star, a wonderful leading lady, an eccentric writer/director, a producer, and a production assistant.

Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale
  • Hardcover Book
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages – 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) – Scribner (Publisher)

Charlie Reade is a high school kid who excels at baseball and football and is a decent student. But he has been through a lot. His mom died in a hit-and-run accident when he was seven, and his dad turned to alcohol to cope with the grief. Charlie learned to take care of himself and his dad. When he is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her owner, Howard Bowditch, who lives in a big house on a hill with a locked shed in the backyard. Strange sounds sometimes come from the shed. Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and falls in love with Radar. When Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape with a story that no one would believe. Bowditch had kept a secret his whole life: inside the shed is a portal to another world.

Non-fiction Books

Biographies and Memoirs

Biographies and memoirs let us peek into the lives of people who have made significant contributions to the world. We can learn from their experiences, decision-making skills, and leadership styles. These books can inspire us to achieve our goals and make a positive change in the world. By reading biographies and memoirs, we can learn about the challenges and triumphs that shaped the lives of remarkable people, and we can be encouraged to follow our dreams with passion and perseverance.

Self-Help Books

Summer is a great time to work on yourself, and self-help books can help you do just that! They can give you awesome tips on how to be more productive, develop better habits, and improve your relationships with others. By taking time to read and think about the advice in these books, you can learn more about yourself and the world. So why not use the warm months to invest in your own growth and happiness?

Travel and Adventure

Summer is the perfect time for travel and adventure, but not everyone can go on a trip. Luckily, books can take you on a journey from the comfort of your own home. Travel and adventure books can give you a unique perspective on different cultures and customs, and let you broaden your horizons. Whether you want to escape the monotony of daily life or get inspired for your next adventure, there are tons of exciting books out there to take you to far-off lands. So, kick back, relax, and let your imagination run wild with the captivating world of travel literature.

The Best Non-Fiction Summer Reads for 2023

The Bathysphere Book: Effects of the Luminous Ocean Depths

The Bathysphere Book: Effects of the Luminous Ocean Depths
  • Hardcover Book
  • Fox, Brad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 05/16/2023 (Publication Date) – Astra House (Publisher)

This interesting story starts in 1930 when two men entered a tiny steel ball and were lowered 1,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. From that point on, the experiences of naturalist William Beebe, engineer Otis Barton, and biologist Gloria Hollister, who transmitted Beebe’s observations via telephone line, become even more surreal and awe-inspiring.

Beautiful Trauma: An Explosion, an Obsession, and a New Lease on Life

Beautiful Trauma: An Explosion, an Obsession, and a New Lease on Life
  • Hardcover Book
  • Fogg, Rebecca (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 04/04/2023 (Publication Date) – Avery (Publisher)

This memoir is about Rebecca Fogg’s struggle to recover after a freak accident left her with a partially amputated hand in 2006. Her fascination with the science of recovery led her to write a book that details her emotional journey and explores topics such as nerve regeneration and pain processing. The memoir is both educational and engaging, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the science of recovery and personal growth.

Don’t Call Me Home

Don’t Call Me Home: A Memoir
  • Hardcover Book
  • Auder, Alexandra (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) – Viking (Publisher)

Alexandra Auder was born at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, where her mother, Viva, one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, lived. Her father, filmmaker Michel Auder, captured the moments on film. Alexandra had a whirlwind childhood and teenage years, mostly spent on the road with her mother, who had mercurial moods. They lived in Connecticut and Tribeca before moving back to the Chelsea Hotel. Alexandra’s teenage years were spent with her mother’s conservative family. In her book, “Don’t Call Me Home,” Alexandra reflects on being raised by two counterculture icons. She shares stories of walking a pet goat around Chelsea, joining the Squat Theatre Company, co-parenting her younger sister, Gaby, and partying in East Village nightclubs. Alongside her current life as a yoga instructor, actress, mother, wife, and Instagram provocateur, Alexandra weaves a moving and hilarious portrait of her family. She describes the journey from being her mother’s daughter to becoming her own person.

Edison’s Ghosts: The Untold Weirdness of History’s Greatest Geniuses

Edison’s Ghosts: The Untold Weirdness of History’s Greatest Geniuses
  • Hardcover Book
  • Spalding, Katie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 05/16/2023 (Publication Date) – Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

In her book, Edison’s Ghosts, Katie Spalding argues that genius is not always what it seems. While we may never become an Einstein, there are likely things we can do that he couldn’t. Spalding explores famous prodigies who were quite strange, including Thomas Edison, who believed he could communicate with the undead and created a Spirit Phone; Marie and Pierre Curie, who slept next to radioactive material and strapped it to their arms; Lord Byron, who brought a bear to university; Isaac Newton, who looked at the sun without eye protection and was blinded for three days; and Tesla, who fell in love with a pigeon. The book is filled with examples of humanity’s best doing some really dumb things.

The Experience Machine: How Our Minds Predict and Shape Reality

The Experience Machine: How Our Minds Predict and Shape Reality
  • Hardcover Book
  • Clark, Andy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) – Pantheon (Publisher)

The traditional view that our senses provide direct access to reality has been challenged by new discoveries in neuroscience and psychology. A new theory suggests that the brain actively predicts reality instead of passively perceiving it. Philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark explores this theory, which suggests that reality is a synthesis of sensory information and expectation. Clark illustrates how the predictive brain shapes all human experiences, and how chronic pain and mental illness can result from malfunctioning predictions. The boundary between ourselves and the outside world dissolves, revealing our entanglement with our environments and our perceptions as controlled hallucinations. The Experience Machine offers insight into this significant development in our understanding of the mind.

Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration

Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration
  • Hardcover Book
  • Heisman, Rebecca (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 03/14/2023 (Publication Date) – Harper (Publisher)

For the past century, scientists have been studying bird migration. Birds travel thousands of miles across the earth each fall and spring, fascinating humans with their navigational abilities. Recently, scientists have made significant breakthroughs in understanding these migrations. Flight Paths tells the story of how scientists from across generations, continents, and disciplines came together to study bird migration. The book traces the development of techniques used for tracking migratory birds, from marking individual birds to using DNA markers. Through their work, scientists have made significant discoveries about the flight paths and behaviors of migratory birds. Flight Paths is a fascinating look into the exciting moments of discovery and the power of science when people work together towards a common goal.

The Power of Language: How the Codes We Use to Think, Speak, and Live Transform Our Minds

The Power of Language: How the Codes We Use to Think, Speak, and Live Transform Our Minds
  • Hardcover Book
  • Marian, Viorica (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 04/04/2023 (Publication Date) – Dutton (Publisher)

This groundbreaking book delves into the workings of language in our minds and how we can utilize its vast potential. Dr. Marian explains that our brains can accommodate multiple codes of communication beyond just one language. Learning new languages can improve brain health, creativity, and cognitive control.

Each new language we learn shapes our perception of the world, and how we remember, feel, think, and make decisions. Language is a powerful tool for organizing, processing, and structuring information, leading to remarkable progress.

Research shows that learning a new language can enhance executive function, boost creative thinking, develop critical reasoning skills, delay Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, improve decision-making under stress, and alter our attention and memory.

Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy

Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Dickey, Colin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages – 07/11/2023 (Publication Date) – Viking (Publisher)

The United States has a long history of paranoia, from the American Revolution to modern-day conspiracy theories like the Illuminati and QAnon. These beliefs are not just on the fringes of society but are woven into the fabric of American democracy. Cultural historian Colin Dickey explores this history in his book, Under the Eye of Power, and explains why people, even those in positions of power, continue to subscribe to conspiracy theories. Dickey argues that belief in conspiracies can be comforting in the face of the chaos and unpredictability of history and democracy. By understanding this cycle of paranoia, we can work to break it.

Unlikable Female Characters: The Women Pop Culture Wants You to Hate

Unlikeable Female Characters: The Women Pop Culture Wants You to Hate
  • Bogutskaya, Anna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 05/09/2023 (Publication Date) – Sourcebooks (Publisher)

Female characters have historically been expected to be likable, leading to cautionary tales for those who show their messy side. Today, unlikeable female characters are becoming more popular in film, TV, and pop culture, being accepted by audiences and receiving industry awards. This shift shows that we are finally acknowledging women as fully-fledged human beings. Unlikeable Female Characters explores the evolution of these memorable characters, examining their popularity and audience reactions, as well as how pop culture is allowing us to celebrate the complexities of womanhood. Film programmer and broadcaster Anna Bogutskaya takes us on a journey through popular media to explore whether society is ready to embrace complicated women.

Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World

Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World
  • Hardcover Book
  • Harris, Malcolm (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 720 Pages – 02/14/2023 (Publication Date) – Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

The history of Silicon Valley, from railroads to microchips, is an extraordinary story of disruption and destruction, told comprehensively in this narrative. Palo Alto is a city with temperate weather, educated and enterprising people, and ambitious corporations that have changed the world. However, it was built on stolen Indian burial grounds and is a haunted toxic waste dump. PALO ALTO, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, explains how and why Northern California evolved in its particular way, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism. It tells the story of how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, leading the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. Palo Alto is a visionary history of how we live now, ending with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.

Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Summer Read

Know Your Reading Preference

When it comes to finding the perfect summer read, it’s important to know what you like. Are you all about fast-paced thrillers, or do you prefer heartwarming romance? Maybe you’re into inspiring biographies. Whatever it is, understanding your preferences can help you pick books that you’ll love. If you’re into thrillers, you might like books with intricate plots and suspenseful twists. If romance is your thing, stories that tug at your heartstrings might be more up your alley. And if you love biographies, stories of people overcoming adversity might be right up your alley. So, figure out what you like and get ready for some awesome summer reading!

Consider the Book Reviews

Book reviews are super helpful when you’re trying to decide what to read. They tell you what the book is about and what the author’s writing style is like. Plus, they can give you an idea of whether the book is any good or not. Basically, if you want to find awesome new books to read, you gotta check out some reviews.

Choose Books from Different Genres

Don’t be afraid to branch out when it comes to reading! Trying different genres can add some variety to your reading list and give you new perspectives. It’s especially helpful if you’re feeling stuck in a reading rut or not getting as much out of your reading as you used to. Plus, exploring different genres can help you discover new authors and books you might not have found otherwise. So go ahead and take a chance on something new – you might be surprised at how much you end up liking it!


Choosing the perfect summer read is a deeply personal and enjoyable process. It involves understanding your preferences, exploring different genres, and considering others’ reviews. In the end, the best summer read is one that captures your interest, matches your mood, and takes you on a memorable journey. Happy reading!


1. How can I find the best summer reads? Knowing your reading preferences, considering book reviews, and exploring different genres can help you find the perfect summer read.

2. Can non-fiction books be good summer reads? Absolutely! Biographies, memoirs, self-help books, and travel books can all be engaging summer reads.

3. Should I stick to one genre for my summer reading? Not necessarily. Exploring different genres can add variety to your reading list and expose you to new perspectives.

4. What if I don’t enjoy a book I’ve chosen for my summer reading? That’s okay! Not every book will resonate with you. If a book doesn’t hold your interest, feel free to switch to another.

5. What are some popular genres for summer reading? Thrillers, romance, science fiction, fantasy, biographies, and travel books are all popular choices for summer reading.

Thanks for reading. This site and all the work shared here are completely reader-supported. The best way to support it is to check out my recommendations or subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Lessons for High School Graduates from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

bust of marcus aurelius
Ra 61 b, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is a timeless collection of philosophical reflections from one of history’s greatest thinkers. As high school graduates embark on their journey into adulthood, they can glean valuable lessons from Aurelius’ wisdom. This article explores the teachings of Marcus Aurelius and how they can benefit young individuals transitioning into the next phase of their lives.

Understanding Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius, born in 121 AD, was a Roman emperor renowned for his intellectual pursuits and leadership skills. His reign was characterized by political challenges and military conflicts. Amidst these responsibilities, Aurelius turned to philosophy and introspection as a means to find solace and guide his actions. Meditations, written as a personal diary, encapsulates his thoughts on a wide range of topics.

"Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both. They were absorbed alike into the life force of the world, or dissolved alike into atoms." (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

Lesson 1: Stoic Philosophy and Virtue Ethics

Stoic philosophy, a central theme in Meditations, advocates for the cultivation of inner virtue and the pursuit of moral character. As high school graduates face an array of choices and uncertainties, adopting stoic principles can provide them with a robust framework for decision-making. By focusing on personal virtue, individuals can align their actions with their values, fostering a sense of integrity and purpose.

Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Aurelius, Marcus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 05/14/2002 (Publication Date) – Modern Library (Publisher)

Lesson 2: Finding Inner Peace and Resilience

One of the key lessons from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is the importance of finding inner peace and developing resilience. High school graduates often encounter challenging situations, and cultivating resilience can help them navigate through setbacks and hardships. Meditative practices, inspired by Aurelius’ reflections, can aid in managing stress and fostering emotional well-being.

"To do harm is to do yourself harm. To do an injustice is to do yourself an injustice—it degrades you.  5. And you can also commit injustice by doing nothing." (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

Lesson 3: The Pursuit of Self-Improvement

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius emphasizes the importance of continuous self-improvement. High school graduates can embrace a growth mindset and seek opportunities for personal and intellectual development. By adopting a proactive approach to learning, graduates can enhance their skills, broaden their knowledge, and adapt to the evolving world around them.

Lesson 4: Embracing the Present Moment

Marcus Aurelius encourages individuals to embrace the present moment fully. In today’s fast-paced world, high school graduates often find themselves preoccupied with the past or future. Practicing mindfulness, as inspired by Aurelius’ teachings, can help graduates appreciate the beauty of the present moment, enhance their focus, and reduce anxiety.

Lesson 5: Facing Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles

Meditations offers profound insights into facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. Marcus Aurelius acknowledges that life is filled with hardships and encourages individuals to develop resilience and perseverance. By adopting a positive mindset and employing practical strategies, high school graduates can tackle obstacles head-on and emerge stronger from adversity.

"To bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before. And will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging. Produce them in your mind, as you know them from experience or from history: the court of Hadrian, of Antoninus. The courts of Philip, Alexander, Croesus. All just the same. Only the people different." (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

Lesson 6: Cultivating Gratitude and Perspective

Gratitude plays a significant role in Marcus Aurelius’ philosophy. High school graduates can benefit from cultivating a grateful mindset, which promotes well-being and perspective. Aurelius’ teachings remind us to appreciate the simple joys of life, recognize the interconnectedness of all things, and maintain a balanced perspective even in the face of difficulties.

Lesson 7: Building Meaningful Relationships

Marcus Aurelius emphasizes the importance of building meaningful relationships based on mutual respect and genuine connection. High school graduates can learn valuable lessons on fostering healthy relationships, nurturing friendships, and leveraging the power of social networks. Balancing online interactions with face-to-face connections is crucial in the digital age.


Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations offer timeless wisdom that resonates with high school graduates as they embark on their adult lives. The lessons derived from Aurelius’ philosophy encompass stoic principles, resilience, self-improvement, mindfulness, gratitude, and building meaningful relationships. By applying these teachings, graduates can navigate the challenges of adulthood with wisdom and grace, finding fulfillment and personal growth along the way.

Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Aurelius, Marcus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 05/14/2002 (Publication Date) – Modern Library (Publisher)


1. What is the significance of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations? The significance of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations lies in its timeless wisdom and practical teachings. It offers guidance on various aspects of life, including personal virtue, resilience, mindfulness, and building meaningful relationships.

2. How can high school graduates apply stoic philosophy in their lives? High school graduates can apply stoic philosophy by focusing on personal virtue, aligning their actions with their values, developing resilience, embracing the present moment, and seeking continuous self-improvement.

3. What are some practical techniques for practicing mindfulness? Practical techniques for practicing mindfulness include deep breathing exercises, meditation, mindful observation of surroundings, journaling, and engaging in activities that promote focused attention and relaxation.

4. How can high school graduates overcome challenges using Marcus Aurelius’ teachings? High school graduates can overcome challenges by adopting a positive mindset, developing resilience, seeking perspective, focusing on inner virtue, and utilizing practical strategies for problem-solving and adaptation.

5. How can gratitude enhance the well-being of high school graduates? Gratitude enhances the well-being of high school graduates by promoting a positive outlook, fostering contentment, reducing stress, strengthening relationships, and cultivating a sense of appreciation for life’s blessings.

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Why Every High School Grad Should Read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl

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In the vast landscape of literary works, few books possess the power to profoundly impact readers and alter their perspectives. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl is one such book. It offers a unique blend of memoir and psychological insight, providing readers with invaluable lessons on the human condition and the pursuit of meaning in life. This article aims to highlight the significance of this remarkable book, explaining why it is essential for every high school graduate to read and absorb its wisdom.

Understanding Victor Frankl

Who is Victor Frankl?

Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, penned “Man’s Search for Meaning” based on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Frankl endured unimaginable suffering and loss, but it was through these harrowing experiences that he developed his groundbreaking psychological theory known as logotherapy.

The Concept of Logotherapy

Logotherapy posits that the primary motivating force in humans is the search for meaning in life. According to Frankl, this search for meaning is what drives individuals to overcome adversity and find purpose, even in the face of extreme suffering. Through his book, he eloquently explores this concept, providing readers with profound insights into the human capacity for resilience and the importance of finding meaning in life.

Lessons from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

1. Discovering Purpose and Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning” emphasizes the fundamental importance of having a sense of purpose in life. Frankl argues that by discovering and embracing our unique purpose, we can find the strength to endure and transcend even the most challenging circumstances. This message holds significant relevance for high school graduates who are embarking on their journey into adulthood, as they face new challenges and uncertainties.

2. Overcoming Adversity

Frankl’s personal experiences in the concentration camps serve as a testament to the indomitable human spirit. He demonstrates that even in the darkest of times, individuals possess the power to choose their attitudes and find meaning in their suffering. This powerful message resonates with high school graduates who are about to encounter various obstacles and setbacks on their path to personal and professional growth.

3. Cultivating Resilience

Man’s Search for Meaning” teaches us that resilience is not merely the ability to bounce back from adversity; it is the capacity to transform pain into growth and find meaning in our experiences. By reading this book, high school graduates can gain valuable insights into developing their resilience, enabling them to navigate the challenges they will inevitably encounter throughout their lives.

4. Embracing Personal Responsibility

Frankl emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own life. He argues that individuals have the freedom to choose their attitudes and responses, even in the face of unimaginable suffering. High school graduates can benefit from this lesson by understanding that they have the power to shape their own destinies and make choices that align with their values and aspirations.

The Impact on High School Graduates

Reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” has the potential to profoundly impact high school graduates in various ways. By internalizing the book’s powerful messages, they can:

  1. Develop a sense of purpose and direction in life.
  2. Build resilience and face challenges with strength and determination.
  3. Embrace personal responsibility and make conscious choices.
  4. Find meaning and fulfillment in their experiences and relationships.
  5. Gain a deeper understanding of the human condition and empathy for others.


In a world where individuals are constantly searching for meaning and purpose, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by

Victor Frankl offers a guiding light. Its profound insights into the human spirit, resilience, and the pursuit of meaning make it an indispensable read for high school graduates. By delving into Frankl’s gripping memoir and psychological theories, graduates can embark on a transformative journey that will shape their perspectives and equip them with invaluable tools for a fulfilling life. It is with utmost conviction that we recommend “Man’s Search for Meaning” as essential reading for every high school graduate.

Man’s Search for Meaning: Gift Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Frankl, Viktor E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages – 10/28/2014 (Publication Date) – Beacon Press (Publisher)

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The Art and Joy of Building a Personal Library: An Enthusiast’s Guide

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When you stand inside somebody’s library, you get a powerful sense of who they are, and not just who they are now but who they’ve been. . . . It’s a wonderful thing to have in a house. It’s something I worry is endangered by the rise of the e-book. When you turn off an e-book, there’s no map. All that’s left behind is a chunk of gray plastic.

Lev Grossman

There’s something comforting about surrounding yourself with books. If you’re not sure what that feeling is, I encourage you to take a trip to your local public library. Head inside, stroll into the first stack of books you see and just stand there.

Don’t grab a book yet. Don’t walk around the stacks and browse. Just stand there. Let the voices of past and present speak to you. Hear the wisdom of ages, the folly of tyrants, and let the whimsical dance of poets blanket your soul.

You don’t have to take a book home, but you should. You don’t have to pick up a book at all, but you should.

If you stand in the library long enough, you’ll feel a pull on your inner being.

That’s the feeling I’m speaking of right now. The feeling that there is something you need in one of those books; the feeling that what you are seeking is within your grasp.

You can have this feeling at home by building a personal library. A personal library is an excellent tool for both personal and professional growth. It serves to remind you of the vast amount of knowledge that exists in the world, and how much there is still to learn. In addition, it helps to keep you humble by showing you how much you don’t know.

My own journey toward building a personal library began during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s still a long way from where I want it to be, but I’m well on my way.

Building a personal library isn’t just about stocking books on a shelf. It’s about creating a refuge, a personal sanctuary that houses the wisdom of the ages and sparks your imagination. It’s about carving out a space that reflects your identity, where each book has been handpicked with love and care.

By building your personal library, you can discover new interests and passions, and expand your understanding of the world around you. It’s a hedge against hubris and complacency, providing a constant source of inspiration and motivation for personal growth.

“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones,” author Nassim Nicholas Taleb claims. Your “library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly.”

I know not everyone has the means to build a personal library of thousands of books. The thought of owning even 100 books might seem overwhelming. I promise it’s easier to get there than you think.

Whatever means you may have, start building a personal library. Start small by buying physical copies of the books you love. Buy them whenever you have a chance and the means.

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

Mark Twain

Let’s look at the process of building a personal library from scratch…

Building a Personal Library: The First Steps

Why Build a Personal Library? Before you dive headfirst into book buying, take a step back. Why do you want to build a personal library? Understanding your motives can help guide your choices and make the process more meaningful. Perhaps you’re an avid reader looking to curate a collection that reflects your literary journey. Maybe you’re a budding scholar who needs a comprehensive resource for research. Or perhaps, you just want a stunning visual display of your love for books. Whatever your reasons, keep them close to heart.

Choosing a Space for Your Library Next on the agenda is choosing a space. Think about where you’d like to house your books. A spare room, a cozy corner, or even a dedicated wall can serve as your personal library. The key is to choose a space that you’ll enjoy spending time in. Ideally, it should be quiet, well-lit, and comfortable.

Book Acquisition: The Heart of Building a Personal Library

Choosing Your Books Now comes the fun part – choosing your books! Start by considering your reading preferences. Are you a fan of classic literature or contemporary fiction? Do you love sci-fi, or are you more of a mystery enthusiast? Don’t just limit yourself to fiction. Your library can house a range of non-fiction genres, from history and philosophy to memoirs and travelogues.

Remember, building a personal library isn’t a race. It’s a journey of discovery, so take your time. Each book should add value to your collection, so consider each addition carefully.

Where to Buy Your Books Books can be sourced from a variety of places. Traditional bookstores, online retailers, second-hand stores, library sales, and even garage sales are all potential gold mines. Don’t shy away from used books; they often come with a sense of character and history that new books lack.

Organizing Your Personal Library

Categorization and Organization Now that you have your books, it’s time to arrange them. You could sort them alphabetically, by genre, by color, or by personal significance. Experiment and see what works best for you. Remember, the main purpose of organizing is to make it easier for you to find a particular book when you need it.

Labeling Your Books Consider labeling your books for added organization. You could invest in a personal library kit, complete with bookplates and a date stamp. Not only does this add a touch of professionalism, but it can also give your library an authentic feel.

“Don’t ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for…use your library). Don’t apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”

Neil Gaiman

Creating the Ambience: The Soul of Your Personal Library

Furniture and Lighting The ambiance of your library is essential to making it a space where you’ll want to spend time. Choose comfortable seating, such as a plush armchair or a chaise lounge. Consider a sturdy table for your cup of tea or coffee. And don’t forget the lighting – a combination of natural and artificial light works best.

Decor and Personal Touches Lastly, infuse your personal style into your library. Decorate with artwork, potted plants, cozy rugs, or anything else that brings you joy. Remember, this is your space, so make it uniquely yours.

FAQs about Building a Personal Library

1. How much does it cost to build a personal library? The cost can vary greatly depending on your book-buying habits and the décor you choose. Building a personal library doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re open to buying second-hand books and re-purposing furniture.

2. How long does it take to build a personal library? Building a personal library is a personal journey that can take as long as you want. It’s more about the quality of your collection than the quantity.

3. How many books do I need to start a personal library? There’s no set number. Your library could start with a handful of books that mean a lot to you. Over time, it can grow to house hundreds or even thousands of volumes.

4. Do I need a lot of space to build a personal library? Not necessarily. While a dedicated room is ideal, you can also create a beautiful library in a small corner or even on a single bookshelf.

5. How do I maintain my personal library? Keeping your books clean and in good condition is important. Dust them regularly and avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or high humidity.

6. Can I digitize my personal library? Yes, digitizing your library is a great way to catalog and keep track of your books. There are various apps and software available for this purpose.


Building a personal library is a labor of love, a testament to your passion for books and learning. It’s a journey full of joy, self-discovery, and the simple pleasure of holding a good book in your hands. So, take your time, enjoy the process, and above all, let your library be a reflection of you. Happy reading!

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How to Read More Books: Learn from the Masters

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Are you looking to read more books but can’t seem to find the time or the motivation? You’re not alone. The world is full of distractions that can waste your time and energy. But for those who have a passion for the written word, there are ways to overcome these hurdles and cultivate a robust reading habit.

Reading more books is an admirable goal that can expand your mind, improve your cognitive abilities, and offer you a richer, more nuanced understanding of the world. Bibliophiles like Tyler Cowen and Ryan Holiday are well-known for consuming vast quantities of books yearly. Let’s explore their strategies and learn from their habits.

Tyler Cowen: Quantity and Quality

Economics professor and co-founder of the blog Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen, is known for his voracious reading habits, consuming hundreds of books per year. How does he do it? Here are a few insights.

1. Skim first: Cowen advocates for speed reading or skimming through a book before deciding whether to devote more time to it. Skimming allows you to get the gist of the book, which can help you decide if it’s worth delving deeper.

2. Don’t be afraid to quit: If a book isn’t engaging or useful, Cowen recommends abandoning it. There’s no sense in wasting time on a book that isn’t providing value. Life is too short, and there are too many good books out there to stick with one that’s not working for you.

3. Read broadly, but specialize too: Cowen suggests reading widely to expose yourself to a variety of ideas, but also recommends specializing in certain areas. By focusing on specific subjects, you can develop a deeper understanding and knowledge base.

Ryan Holiday: Deliberate and Reflective Reading

Ryan Holiday, author, media strategist, and populizer of all things stoic philosophy, is another avid reader who goes through hundreds of books a year. He has a different approach to reading than Cowen; here are some of his strategies:

1. Always have a book with you: Holiday suggests always having a book on hand. This allows you to fill in those idle moments with reading rather than scrolling through your phone.

2. Note-taking and marginalia: Holiday is a firm believer in active reading. He takes notes, underlines passages, and writes in the margins of his books. This helps him engage more deeply with the material and aids in recall later on.

3. Reflect and review: Holiday recommends reviewing your notes and even rereading books to ensure comprehension and retention. By reflecting on what you’ve read, you can deepen your understanding and apply the knowledge to your own life.

Conclusion: Develop Your Own Reading Habit

While Cowen and Holiday have different strategies, they share a deep love of reading and a commitment to making it a priority. If you want to read more books, consider trying some of their strategies.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to read more books for the sake of quantity but to enrich your mind and life. So skim or dive deep, read broadly or specialize, take notes or reflect — find what works best for you and make reading a part of your daily routine. The world of books is vast and varied, and there’s always something new to discover.

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Treat Everyone Like a King

"“Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us. Self-pity goes with selfishness, and there is nothing more to be deplored in a leader than that. Selfishness belongs to children, and to half-wits. A great leader puts others before himself. You would be surprised how acting so makes it easier to bear one’s own troubles. In order to act like a King, one need only treat everyone else like one.”" (Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged)

“Anyone can face ease and success with confidence. It is the way we face trouble and misfortune that defines us. Self-pity goes with selfishness, and there is nothing more to be deplored in a leader than that. Selfishness belongs to children, and to half-wits. A great leader puts others before himself. You would be surprised how acting so makes it easier to bear one’s own troubles. In order to act like a King, one need only treat everyone else like one.” (Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged)

Book Review – Traitor’s Blade: The Greatcoats, Book 1

Title: Traitor’s Blade: The Greatcoats, Book 1

Author: Sebastien de Castell

Publication Date: 2014

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

What It’s About

I have the pleasure of diving into the pages of Traitor’s Blade, the debut novel by Sebastien de Castell. This novel is the first entry in the critically-acclaimed Greatcoats series, a swashbuckling adventure set in the fictional realm of Tristia.

traitor's blade

Traitor’s Blade follows the story of Falcio Val Mond, the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, a group of traveling magistrates and warriors who once served the now-deceased King Paelis. Alongside his companions, Kest and Brasti, Falcio embarks on a thrilling journey to preserve their king’s legacy and restore justice to the kingdom. As the trio navigates the treacherous political landscape of Tristia, they must confront the formidable Dukes and Duchesses, who have plunged the realm into chaos after the king’s assassination.

De Castell masterfully weaves a tale of camaraderie, loyalty, and betrayal in a world filled with complex political intrigue and unforgettable characters. The author’s background in fencing and historical reenactment lends an authentic touch to the vivid swordplay and duels that punctuate the novel.

Falcio’s narrative voice is relatable and engaging, drawing the reader into the heart of the story. His unwavering dedication to the Greatcoats’ mission, combined with his moral compass and quick wit, make him a compelling protagonist. Meanwhile, the supporting characters, including Kest and Brasti, are well-rounded and contribute to the story’s emotional depth.

The novel’s pacing is brisk, and de Castell adeptly balances moments of humor and heartbreak with thrilling action sequences. The author also skillfully reveals the broader world of Tristia and its history, hinting at the larger narrative that will unfold in subsequent books.

traitor's blade

In conclusion, Traitor’s Blade is an exhilarating and captivating fantasy adventure that pays homage to the swashbuckling tales of old while carving out its own unique space in the genre. Sebastien de Castell has crafted a world full of intrigue and memorable characters, leaving readers eager to follow Falcio and his friends on their quest for justice. This novel is a must-read for fans of epic fantasy and those looking for an immersive, action-packed story with heart.

How I Discovered It

I wish I could say that there was great intention and planning that led me to this book or that it had been on my TBR for a long time. But that’s simply not the case. I finished another book on Scribd and was just browsing the catalog. Traitor’s Blade looked interesting, and I dove in. And I loved it!


As I said, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The characters are well-developed, and you feel the sense of urgency they have throughout their travels.

In Traitor’s Blade, we join Falcio and his fellow Greatcoats, Brasti, and Kest, on a thrilling journey through a corrupt kingdom. From the very beginning, the novel charges ahead at an exhilarating pace, leaving readers breathless as they experience Falcio’s sheer determination firsthand. The relentless action and challenges faced by our heroes make for an incredibly immersive read, as they must utilize every weapon, tactic, and bit of cunning at their disposal to survive. Through it all, the witty and razor-sharp dialogue stands out as some of the finest in the fantasy genre.

traitor's blade

At the heart of this enthralling tale lies the unbreakable bond between Falcio, Brasti, and Kest, which proves to be an absolute delight to behold. Falcio’s strategic mind, Brasti’s cheeky archery skills, and Kest’s unrivaled swordsmanship make for a captivating and formidable trio. Indeed, the comparison to the Three Musketeers is apt, as the natural and playful camaraderie between these characters is one of the novel’s strongest elements. As a reader, you can’t help but laugh, smile, and feel the heartache alongside them as they battle adversity, bicker, and find themselves in the most precarious situations imaginable.

What I Liked About It

The worldbuilding in Traitor’s Blade is top-notch, with a rich history and political landscape that feels fully realized. The addition of the Greatcoats, with their unique blend of law enforcement and warrior skills, adds an intriguing layer to the story. The swordplay scenes are also incredibly well-written and exciting, making this a must-read for fans of action-packed fantasy.

What I Didn’t Like About It

One thing that might be a drawback for some readers is the occasional nonlinear storytelling, which can make the timeline of events feel a bit disjointed at times.

Who Would Like It?

As a fan of the book, I wholeheartedly recommend Traitor’s Blade to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy adventure that showcases the power of friendship, loyalty, and the human spirit. Other books in the Greatcoats series include Knight’s Shadow, Saint’s Blood, and Tyrant’s Throne.

Other Books You Might Enjoy:

  1. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch – A gritty, fast-paced tale of a talented con artist and his band of thieves in a richly detailed fantasy world.
  2. The Blade Itself (The First Law Trilogy #1) by Joe Abercrombie – A dark, character-driven fantasy that delves into the lives of a diverse group of protagonists, each with their own agendas and motives.
  3. The Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan – A captivating fantasy series following a pair of thieves, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, as they navigate a world filled with political intrigue, danger, and adventure.
  4. Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames – A humorous and heartfelt story about a group of retired mercenaries who reunite for one last epic quest.
  5. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo – A fast-paced, character-driven heist story set in a richly imagined world featuring a diverse and morally complex cast of characters.
  6. The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan – A gripping tale of magic, politics, and revolution set in a unique world where powder mages wield gunpowder-based sorcery.
  7. The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – An action-packed fantasy series following the story of a young assassin, Azoth, as he navigates the treacherous world of magic and politics.
  8. The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – A literary thriller set in post-war Barcelona, where a young boy discovers a mysterious book that changes his life and leads him on a dangerous quest.
  9. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb – A richly detailed, character-driven epic fantasy series following the life of FitzChivalry Farseer, a royal bastard turned assassin, and his complex relationships with those around him.
  10. The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence – A dark and compelling fantasy series about a ruthless prince, Jorg Ancrath, who embarks on a brutal journey to claim his birthright and conquer a fractured empire.

Book Review – The Lies of Locke Lamora

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Author: Scott Lynch

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

What It’s About

In the bustling, corrupt city of Camorr, an orphan named Locke Lamora emerges as an ingenious thief, a master of deception, and the leader of a band of skilled swindlers known as the Gentleman Bastards. In Scott Lynch’s captivating debut novel, “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” we are transported to a richly imagined world of criminal intrigue and breathtaking adventures that keep us hooked from the very first page.

The story follows the life of Locke Lamora from his tragic childhood to his rise as a skilled con artist under the tutelage of Father Chains, a blind priest who is, in fact, a criminal mastermind. Alongside his fellow Gentleman Bastards, Locke sets out to carry off the ultimate heist: swindling the city’s wealthy nobles of their fortunes while avoiding the attention of the city’s powerful criminal underworld, led by the mysterious figure known as Capa Barsavi.

As the plot unfolds, the stakes rise, and the intricate web of lies and deception grows ever more tangled. The Gentleman Bastards find themselves embroiled in a perilous game of cat and mouse with the enigmatic Gray King, a deadly figure who seeks to overthrow the established criminal order. As the danger escalates, Locke must use every ounce of his cunning and guile to outwit his enemies and protect his friends while navigating the thin line between loyalty and betrayal.

Lynch’s writing is a delightful blend of humor, suspense, and rich world-building. He has created an intricate, layered society that mirrors the complexities of our own world. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a tale of friendship, loyalty, and the fine art of deception. With its vivid characters, razor-sharp dialogue, and thrilling action sequences, the novel is a masterclass in storytelling.

In summary, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” is an enthralling and inventive fantasy novel that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series. Scott Lynch has created an unforgettable protagonist in Locke Lamora, a character whose cunning and charm will undoubtedly resonate with fans of the genre. A must-read for anyone who enjoys immersive world-building, clever heists, and unforgettable characters.

How I Discovered It

This book was recommended to me by nearly everyone I know who reads books similar to those I enjoy.

“When you don’t know everything you could know, it’s a fine time to shut your fucking noisemaker and be polite.” (Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora)


While I enjoyed the book, it did take some time for me to get into it. There is quite a bit of world-building at the beginning of the book, so much so that I began to wonder exactly where the plot would end up.

However, once the story picked up, I was completely engrossed. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns. I especially enjoyed the intricate heists that Locke and his crew pull off. The world-building is also impressive, with vivid descriptions of the city of Camorr and its various factions.

What I Liked About It

I loved the dynamic between the members of the Gentleman Bastards and the witty banter that they engage in. The world-building is also fantastic, and I found myself fully immersed in the richly imagined city of Camorr.

What I Didn’t Like About It

As mentioned before, the beginning of the book can be slow due to the extensive world-building. Additionally, some of the violent scenes may be too graphic for some readers.

Who Would Like It?

Fans of fantasy heist novels will love “The Lies of Locke Lamora.” It’s a great choice for readers who enjoy complex plots, well-developed characters, and immersive world-building.

Related Books

Readers who enjoyed “The Lies of Locke Lamora” may also enjoy the sequels, “Red Seas Under Red Skies” and “The Republic of Thieves,” as well as “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo.

The Reading List for February 2023

Two things came to mind as I began compiling this month’s reading list: deeper learning in schools and the power of embracing your authentic self. The first one is, of course, on my mind pretty much every day. Any work that I have done in education has ultimately been centered on creating deeper learning experiences for students.

Second, the idea of embracing your authentic self is important to me since I spent the majority of my life not being my authentic self. Growing up in an environment in which I was expected to do “the right thing”—a pretty subjective idea—and what I wanted to do wasn’t easy. I’m getting there, but there haven’t been many of my 46 years on this planet that have been guided by my own passions and thoughts.

Now, on to this month’s book recommendations:

Failure to Disrupt

If there was ever a book that arrived at the perfect time in the education world, it’s this one.

In this book, Justin Reich argues against the idea that technology can completely change schools and how students learn. He does this by describing and analyzing different educational technologies in a realistic way. Reich draws on his positions at Harvard and MIT to provide unparalleled insight into the progress of these trends and their limitations in practice.

This book sheds light on the issues with educational technologies, such as the various approaches and tools developed by technologists. It offers valuable insights into what to consider when adopting, utilizing, and implementing technologies in different educational settings, especially during the era of virtual learning and social distancing.

In Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, the author questions the ability of educational technologies to bring transformative changes to education. Despite the promises of affordable, accessible, effective, and engaging education for all students, the author points out the inconsistencies in enrollment and completion of online courses and the limited benefits for students from low socioeconomic statuses. The author also highlights four challenges: the Curse of the familiar, the trap of routine assessments, the EdTech Matthew effect, and the toxic power of data and experiments.

The book’s last chapter, “Conclusion: Preparing for the Next Learning-at-Scale Hype Cycle,” is key. The author urges readers, including educators, administrators, policymakers, and technologists, to carefully evaluate educational technologies and be cautious of tools that claim to be transformative. To do so, he poses the following questions: 1) What’s new? 2) Who guides the learning experience? 3) Is the pedagogy trying to fill pails or kindle flames? 4) What existing technologies does it adopt? He also emphasizes the need to examine how and when technological tools can be incorporated into students’ learning processes and warns against factors that could hinder learners’ abilities to achieve desired results.

Failure to Disrupt offers compelling arguments on educational technology, examining the hype and laying the foundations for a promising future in the field.

Leadership for Deeper Learning

Full disclosure on this one: I am lucky to call all three of the authors who collaborated on this project friends. Even if I didn’t have that connection, I’d still recommend this book to you. It’s a fantastic look at innovative schools and what they are doing to create deeper learning experiences for students.

This book examines how leaders have introduced, maintained, and advanced innovative, deeper learning opportunities in their schools.

Schools are changing to be more action-oriented, focused on performance, digitally relevant, and democratic. This book highlights innovative practices across seven categories: vision, agency in learning, trust in teachers, openness to new ideas, over-communicating change, equity-mindedness, and courage to live outside norms.

Leadership for Deeper Learning explores how school leaders can create new learning environments for students and teachers, with practical strategies and stories to inspire change and innovation.

Most Likely to Succeed

While this book has been around for a bit, the message is no less relevant today than it was in 2015, perhaps more so in the wake of COVID-19

Most Likely to Succeed looks at the problems with the US education system and suggests ways to better prepare future generations for the age of innovation, such as changing the way we teach and what we teach.

According to Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, schools are not equipping students with the skills they need to succeed as ethical citizens and productive employees, and they are also forcing them to learn useless information superficially. Wagner and Dintersmith say that this makes it harder for students to follow their passions and get real-world experience. They also say that it makes teachers unhappy and keeps society divided along class lines.

The key message of Most Likely to Succeed is this: although society is advancing at an astonishing speed, our education system is stuck in the nineteenth century. Consequently, we’re educating our children to succeed in a bygone era. To give our kids the opportunity to succeed, we must creatively reimagine education for the innovation era.

What Schools Could Be

In What Schools Could Be, Ted Dintersmith shares solutions he discovered while traveling to 50 states, 200 schools, over a hundred community forums, and a thousand meetings. The book talks about innovation in K–12 education, online learning, colleges and universities, and short-term immersive experiences. It’s a great way to learn about the American educational innovation landscape.

In Dintersmith’s model, a great school has four parts (PEAK):

  • Purpose: Where students do actual important work.
  • Essentials: There’s a backbone to what they’re learning that they’ll need in the future.
  • Agency: Students are in charge of their learning and are intrinsically motivated.
  • Knowledge: Everything learned is deep and retained, they are creators and teach others what they know

Kitchen Confidential

I miss Anthony Bourdain almost as much as I miss Tom Petty, which is a lot. I’m sure as you reach this section you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is a book about line cooks doing amongst books about education?”

Allow me to try and explain…

The book takes the form of a biography chronicling Bourdain’s time in the culinary industry. Interspersed with cooking advice, it covers the love between a chef and sous-chef, as well as the chef’s relationship with delusional owners. The biography takes you through Bourdain’s childhood and his realization, while in France, of the importance of food. It then follows his journey from his start in the culinary industry, through culinary college, and up the ranks of various chef positions until he eventually runs his own kitchen with, as he puts it, “brigades of pirates, degenerates, and thieves.” Filled with wild anecdotes of kitchen misbehavior, drugs, sex, rock and roll, more drugs, and truffle oil, the book illustrates the hardships of the industry, including long hours, injuries, and sexual harassment, and how people still choose to do it. One particularly powerful chapter towards the end of the book goes blow-by-blow through an average day in the life of a chef.

While the life of an educator doesn’t have nearly the entertainment value of the life of a chef, there are certain parts of the job that are difficult, frustrating, and perhaps even maddening. The relationships between teachers and students, the demands on teachers’ time, meaningless mandates from far-away misguided legislators, and the never-ending grind of the school year can have many teachers feel like they are on the line. And maybe they are.

But in the relentless pursuit of making something great, there are always obstacles. There are always trying times. There will always be something to improve, whether that is a 7th-grade math lesson or an exclusive dish at a Michelin-star restaurant.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I thoroughly enjoyed this inside look at a madcap world that so many of us will never experience or understand. It’s all fun stuff. The anecdotes, characters, and asides are crazy enough that Bourdain wouldn’t need to be a great writer to make them work. But he is a good writer with a unique voice and a dry sense of humor that makes his TV shows stand out. Together, these elements make the book not only an interesting read but also a real pleasure. I laughed out loud numerous times throughout.

Honorable Mentions

I can’t talk about being your authentic self and driving for what you really want in life without mentioning The War of Art, the modern classic on overcoming Resistance and becoming the creative genius you were meant to become. And if you’re wanting to dive deeper into discovering your authentic self, you should add Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown to your list, along with Victor Frankl’s classic Man’s Search for Meaning. I’d also recommend Flow as a way to get the most out of your creativity and reach your fullest potential.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s reading list! Remember, reading is a great way to expand your knowledge and understanding of the world. Whether you’re interested in education, leadership, or just looking for a good memoir, there’s something on this list for everyone. So, grab a book and start reading!