Books to Save from a Burning Building


A student recently made the mistake of asking me for a reading list comprised of the most important books I’ve read.  Joke’s on me, I guess, as I thought it would be easy.  The list kept growing the more and more I thought about it!  After winnowing down the numbers, here are the books I’d have to save in case of a fire.  I hope my house never burns down!

If you know me personally, you can probably guess why certain books appear here and why they’re categorized a certain way. If you’re interested in the reasoning behind each, just ask.

Anyway, were is the list, categorized and in no particular order.  Love some of these books or want to add some?  Let us know in the comments!


The Iliad – Homer
The Odyssey – Homer
The Lord of the Rings trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lightning Thief series – Rick Riordan
The Hunger Games series – Suzanne Collins
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series – Douglass Adams
The Dark Tower series – Stephen King
His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass) series – Phillip Pullman
Close Range – Annie Proux
The Plague – Albert Camus
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac – Gabrielle Zevin
Ender’s Game series – Orson Scott Card
Interpreter of Maladies – Jumpa Lahiri
The Namesake – Jumpa Lahiri
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Saffron Foer
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Ishmael – Daniel Quinn
1984 – George Orwell
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

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How to Implement Rigorous and Relevant ELA Curriculum


Leaders often look to best practices, scholarship, and other leaders before making changes in their organizations. However, much of my coursework in educational leadership has called on me to look to myself for answers. I find this to be valuable, as I do not yet have years of leadership experience to ponder; it does me good to envision how I will meet the inevitable changes and challenges I can expect when I assume a formal leadership role. Though I have opportunities to reflect in my coursework, prior assignments required me to ground my reflection in research. This may seem contradictory because most of us self-reflect without considering others’ thoughts, but academia demands explanation enforced by citation.

This post, though, is a reflective narrative reflection, a metacognitive exercise—a record of my thinking about my thinking. And in this instance I will write my way through the problem of implementing a rigorous and relevant ELA curriculum. Here is how I understand the issue.

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Remembering Ronnie: An Old Soldier Tells His Story

vietnam, purple heart, veterans

I’ve learned there’s more to memorials than this.

I wrote a little while back about learning to listen better. At the time, I was primarily concerned with improving my relationships with my family, friends, students, and colleagues. What I didn’t expect was that actively practicing my listening skills might lock me into an hour-and-a-half long conversation at CVS. Yes, that’s where I spent last Wednesday night, talking with a Vietnam vet named Ronnie. Here’s a brief retelling.

I went out to CVS to pick up some antacid that night. I recently did a little self-diagnosing, and I think I have LPR, or “silent reflux”, but that’s a story for another day. I stood around trying to decide which medicine to purchase, when suddenly I heard a gravelly voice behind me. Continue reading

Will Smith’s Words of Wisdom from the Tonight Show


I don’t watch a lot of late-night TV. As a new father, teacher, grad student, and martial arts instructor, I don’t have a lot of energy to stay up at night! I do like watching clips of episodes from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Conan O’Brien, and my new favorite, Jimmy Fallon.  You’d have to be living under a rock if you missed his ascension to the hosting spot on The Tonight Show.  If you’re like me, you may have even missed this great interview with his first-ever guest, Will Smith.

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Not Really a Book Review of The Icarus Deception



I am an unabashed Seth Godin fan. His main audience may be businesspeople, but the topics he writes about are universally valuable: how to fail with purpose, how to tell a good story, and, how to be indispensible.

His latest book, The Icarus Deception, heralds the end of the Industrial Era and its secure, well paid jobs, and it convinces us that the only way to ensure your professional success and personal fulfillment is to find and do work you deem worthwhile–in other words, to make art.

Here’s where I depart from a mere book review. After finishing the book and viewing Godin’s Sqidoo bibliography page, I came to a realization:

I have been blogging to promote my art, but I haven’t intended for my blog to be my art.

I’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog as I sort things out. Instead of being an advice column with some fiction and essays attached to it, I’d like to make Good Circuits a place to publish thought-provoking work of all types.

As the past iterarions of this blog may reflect, I’m going through growing plains as a writer. Should I write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, how to, self help, martial arts, stick strictly to marketing?

The truth is, I want to create all of that and more and to connect with all of you. And I’d like to welcome all of you to create and connect, too.

I’d love for you to share this experience with me. We are all artists, so let’s get together and make some art! Let’s make the most of our time online.

Let’s not waste the marvelous opportunity that Information Age presents. There’s more to the Internet than shopping and memes and cat videos. There is nothing standing in our way.

Another Way of Looking at Work


Instead of viewing work as a list of tasks to be completed, why not consider it a wealth of opportunity to create art, to make meaning, and to connect with others?



Consider the word recreation.

re – a prefix meaning to do again

creation – to make something

If you’re one to make New Year’s resolutions, take the opportunity to recreate the things in your life that need the most improvement. Have the courage and resolve to set a plan of action and to follow through on it.

Remember also the most common connotation of the word recreation. Don’t forget to have fun!

Happy New Year!