Reading (and other) Challenges

popsugar2017readingchallengeThe one time in my adult life I suffered a sustained bout of depression, I sought professional help as soon as I realized I hadn’t read a book in months. If there isn’t a pile of books on the nightstand, desk at home, coffee table and desk at work waiting to be read then something is wrong. It’s been a rough year, but I’m facing my challenges and staying healthy. I know this is true, because I’m reading about a book a week for pleasure.

The Dean of Educational Technology and Media–when I was a student we called this person a librarian, and now I call her “person who loves reading and books as much as I do”–sent me an email last week to let me know the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge was posted. Being 6 books behind schedule and feeling stressed out I’m only 89% finished with this year’s challenge, I’d pretty much decided to take a break in the coming year. But Tiffany’s enthusiasm proved contagious and the link in her email was too great a temptation. I think I’ll stick to the basic challenge, and I’m going to need some help with a few of the categories. I’m sure my students or my daughters–both voracious readers and college students–will teach me what a steampunk novel is.

Soon after browsing this list and my bookshelves for potential 2017 reads, I received another email, this time a notification from Goodreads suggesting I review my Year in Books. I was equally tempted by the link in this email, but disappointed to discover my Year in Books is fixed at 48 books, 14,528 pages.

I love the Popsugar Reading Challenge because it pushes me to explore genres I would otherwise overlook. I also appreciate the social media network of Goodreads; connecting with other readers and viewing their lists helps me achieve my goal and stick to the deadline. These are good challenges. The only difficult, yet not insurmountable, challenge is reading 32 papers and submitting report card narratives while completing the last 11% of my 2016 Reading Challenge.

With more than 2 weeks left in 2016, I fully expect to complete my challenge of 54 books. In fact, I’ve just begun reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to fulfill the category of “a book you haven’t read since high school.” It’s a slim, yet powerful, book. I’ve read 17 of 107 pages, and I should finish it before the weekend.

Sorry, students. Your papers may not get graded until Monday.



Be Not Afraid

header-rabbis-640x97I’m blogging over at Rabbis Without Borders on the My Jewish Learning website this week:

I am not Afraid: Are you afraid of things that go bump in the night? I was, but I’ve been taking a course—well, officially I’ve been teaching a course—on this very subject, and now I am not afraid. Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty to fear in these uncertain times. Somehow, though, learning about all the things people feared in previous centuries and Read more →


Passover Playlist: Four Songs

I’ve created this Passover Playlist for my children—who are understandably anxious and sad about leaving their childhood home of sixteen years—and there is a bonus song for my spouse. These are the songs I’ve been singing while they are at school and work and I am at home, spending my Spring Break packing boxes. Since the week ahead promises to be rough on all of us, let’s soothe our nerves with music:


For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you…

It just takes some time…you’re in the middle of the ride…everything everything will be alright…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people  and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life, I love you more.

With all your faults I love you still, it had to be you, wonderful you…

rwb_logo196I’m at the Rabbis Without Borders blog this week, sharing some moments from our family seder and reflections on moving next week. Please visit and leave your comments at the website:

From Slavery to Freedom, From Grief to Joy: In ten days we will be surrounded by these same boxes in a different house. After nine months of preparation—purging our house of unnecessary stuff and packing the essentials for our journey—my family will leave our home of sixteen years. The timing of our move, immediately after Passover, inspired much discussion at our Seder about leaving behind the burdens of last year and…Read more →