Three Books, Three CDs, Three Quotes for My Three Girls

I recently heard Rosanne Cash say in an interview that the greatest gift her father (Johnny Cash) gave her was his list of 100 essential country music songs.  This got me thinking, what would be on my list of essential books that I’d give to my kids?

Please welcome my guest, Eli Pacheco, loving father, passionate soccer coach, and hilarious writer.  I met Eli through his Coach Daddy Blog; every one of his posts not only makes me laugh, but also gets me thinking.  Visit him often for a refreshing dose of wit and a little bit of junk food.  I’m thrilled he’s here today to share his “essentials” for his three girls.  Get ready to smile. ;)

My dad and I didn’t spend a lot of time talking books.

Football, yes. Life, sure. Women … let’s just say dad was a Mary Ann guy.

Me? Ginger.

One book my dad did tell me about was Catcher in the Rye. The angst-driven teen antagonist Holden Caulfield struck a chord somewhere in my father. And I felt it too, on some level. I always remembered that. Even as we rooted for rival football teams and drifted to opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Julia Tomiak has given me a unique opportunity today.

I’ve collected three books, three CDs and three quotes to lock into a time capsule for my three daughters. Some choices were easy; others took some digging. Which books, CDs and quotes would you wrap up for your kids?

3 Books

Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

I first read this book as a high school senior. I’ve taken it on every trip I’ve taken since. Each time I read it, it says to me something different. I still can’t, after more than 20 years reading it, describe just how the characters have helped to shape me. But they have.

They Call Me Coach, John Wooden

I wish I could have spoken with the late great coach once, just once. He definitely spoke to me. His emphasis on the individual’s role on the team inspires me as a coach and dad. Humility, hard work, and faith fueled a man far greater than the national championship banners he helped to win.

Call of the Wild, Jack London

This was my first real book – that didn’t have pictures or a choose-your-own-adventure ending. I still have the copy I scribbled my name in as a kid. This book made me feel grown up; I had to read about a harsh reality, but also love and loyalty. I might not have recognized it, but it was there.

3 CDs

Rhythm of SaintsRhythm of the Saints, Paul Simon

I found this as a teenager, too, and the messages and voices I heard weren’t always understood. But they were always pondered. To me, the album took bits of time and place and strung them together in this brilliant parade of words. All with a tribal, earth-bound drumbeat.

Listen Without Prejudice, George Michael

Thoughtful, and moody. I found this album during college. My friends went to fight in the first Gulf War, and I stayed behind to flounder as an English major at UNC Charlotte. “Freedom” stirred me (still does). “Praying for Time” didn’t give me the answers I sought, but it shaped my search.

Blue Light, Harry Connick Jr.

I used to go to the Cone Center at UNCC and rent this CD while I studied. It was the counterbalance to the heavy feel of George Michael’s album, perhaps. Here’s what’s cool: “He Is, They Are” is about a dad and his kids. I was years from kids … but these words planted the seeds for me.


stories quoteThese three quotes sum up what is so important to me – stewardship to my fellow-man, sharing our stories, and keeping dreams alive, no matter how old we get.

The Emerson quote is often said to be credited wrongly; it doesn’t matter to me. It’s the message of finding fulfillment in improving the conditions around you. Phillip Putnam put just the right weight on stories. What are we without them? Blogs would be nothing more than pumpkin recipes without stories.

And lastly – Elvis. I still believe in what The King says. No, I didn’t end up being even Elvis the Pelvis, but I continue to dream like I did as a kid. I’m the quarterback. The humble star. The superhero.

I’d love for my kids to find a little of that in their capsule, too.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.

Phillip Putnam


When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.

Elvis Presley

Now it’s your turn.  Eli and I want to know: what “essentials” would you like to share with your kids? 

When he isn’t hosting incredible guest bloggers or answering questions his three daughters toss at him, Eli Pacheco writes the blog Coach Daddy. Find him on Google Plus, Pinterest, and Twitter.

What Does Eponymous Mean?

wondrous meme

Click the picture to visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion and find more interesting words.

My wondrous word this week comes from a Goodreads quote of the day.  Do you get those?  They are very inspiring to this reader/ writer.  The quote for Monday, October 20, 2014 was:

The thing about getting older is that you don’t need everything to be possible any more, you just need things to be certain.

Interesting, although I don’t agree.  As much as I crave certainty, the older I get, the more I realize how uncertain everything is.  I’m getting more comfortable with “possible” – sometimes with good reason.  (Like, it is possible that a publisher will pick up my book.)

Anyway, this quote comes from author Monica Ali, a British writer best known for her book Brick Lane, which is about the eponymous street at the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community.

eponymousThe use of eponymous threw me, particularly sad since I own a CD by REM called Eponymous, and I never bothered to look up this cryptic word.

Eponymous \i-‘pä-nə-məs\ adjective, from Greek epi + onyma name; relating to or being the person or thing for which something is named

This is one of those words that might be best understood through several examples:

  • Jane Eyre tells the story of the eponymous heroine and her tumultuous relationship with Mr. Rochester.
  • Prince Hamlet is the eponymous protagonist of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
  • Wytheville, the eponymous name of my town, honors George Wythe, the second signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Not sure what any of that has to do with the REM CD.  If a band names a CD after itself, that is an eponymous name for the album.

Word Nerd Workout

Share an example of an eponymous name.

Be sure to visit Kathy, our meme hostess, at Bermuda Onion for more interesting words.

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!


What’s the Difference Between Farther and Further?

Further v FartherA few weeks ago when I posted on the difference between conscious and conscience, Dana and Judy mentioned another troublesome pair: further and farther.  Well ladies, I’m here to clear up your confusion.

Maybe.  These words have been used interchangeably for hundreds of years.  No wonder we mix them up!  Looking up their definitions doesn’t help much.

Farther – from Middle English ferther

  • Adverb: at a greater distance; to a greater degree (farther down the hall)
  • Adjective: more distant (he dreamed of traveling to farther lands)

Further –from Middle English further

  • Adverb: farther, to a greater extent (Mom was further irritated by the interruption)
  • Verb: to promote or move forward (He worked hard to further his education)
  • Adjective: going or extending beyond; additional (We aimed for the further hills)
  • Sentence modifier: Further, I have no intention of giving you the car. 

But Webster’s Dictionary and Grammar Girl gave me a few tips to keep them straight.

When you’re talking about physical distance, use farther.  

(Memory trick: “far” is in “farther”.)

  • My goal was to run farther on the trail than I ever had before.

When you’re describing figurative distance, use further.

  • I will not discuss this with you further.

If you’re not sure, or physical distance isn’t clear (as in before we go any farther with this plan), use further.  But don’t sweat it.  Many reputable grammar resources, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, say it’s okay to use the words interchangeably.

So, Judy and Dana, you’re off the hook!

What other word pairs give you trouble?  I might use your suggestion for another post!  We can all learn together.

Be sure to check out my piece on the difference between e.g and i.e.



Vocab from the Bartimaeus Trilogy: Sycophantic

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday, a great meme for people who take the time to look up unknown words they come across in their reading.  Visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion for links to more interesting vocab.

I’m listening to the audio book of The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud.  It’s well done. In one scene, the great djinni Bartimaeus beats up a lesser imp to obtain valuable information. Once Bartimaeus puts a bolder on top of the imp, he’s willing to talk.  I can’t remember the exact sentence my word appeared in, but it was something like,

After I had the information I needed, I grew tired of his sycophanic drivel.

See the amulet in the gargoyle's hand?

sycophantic \sik-ə-‘fant-ik\ adj from Greek sykophantes, informer; characterized by a sycophant, which is a servile, self-seeking flatterer; obsequious

In a Bible devotional I read, the author referred to Judas Iscariot as a sycophant.

Word Nerd Note: sycophantic is a synonym from another Wondrous Words Wednesday entry of mine: obsequious.

Word Nerd Workout

Think of a sycophantic character from books or movies.  Grima Wormtongue from The Two Towers is an excellent example.  Share your ideas in the comments.

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!



Four Ways to Get Teens to Read

speakAt a recent swim meet, my friend Michelle and I discussed edgy YA novels like Speak and Looking for Alaska while our daughters rolled their eyes. One of their male teammates, sitting nearby with an iPod five inches from his face, glanced over at us.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t be discussing this in mixed company,” I said.

The boy shrugged.  “I don’t care.  I don’t read books.” He turned back to his screen.

Oh dear.  He doesn’t read?

This word nerd  has a new mission: get a book in this boy’s hands!

Teens have plenty to distract them from reading: school, sports, friends, and more gaming and social media options than any adult can keep track of.

Have you noticed how persistent these media are?  Clash of Clans can nag my son and he doesn’t mind, but if I dare to mention laundry that needs folding…

If we’re going to keep teens interested in pleasure reading, we have to be just as persistent as games and social media.

Four Strategies to Promote Pleasure Reading with Teens

  1. MalalaGive books as gifts.  Take teens to the library or book store (if you still have one in your town); bribe them with a sweet treat from the cafe if necessary.  Just get books in their hands!
  2. Many popular movies, including Mockingjay, If I Stay, and Insurgent are based on books. Challenge the teens you know to read the book before they see the movie. I’m offering to take my daughter’s friends to the theater to see Insurgent (and pay for their movie ticket- not the popcorn) if they read the book first.
  3. Don’t get stuck on books.  Graphic novels and magazines count as reading material but have more visual imagery and less text, making them less intimidating and more interesting than a 300 page novel.
  4. Find books that will interest them. If they have a hobby, find a non-fiction title about that. If they like sports, check out Mike Lupica.  Find inspiring stories about young adults who have made a difference in the world, such as I Am Malala.  

A Great Reading Resource

Next week is Teen Read Week.  Since 1998, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has sponsored reading activities at libraries during the third week of October to encourage teens to read for pleasure.

TeensTopTen_logoA fun part of the week is the TTT: Teens’ Top Ten.  Teens aged 12-18  vote for their favorite books from the past year. I’m too old to vote, but the TTT is a great resource for reading suggestions.  Find information about nominees, including book trailers, and vote at the Teens’ Top Reads post at  Here are some of the nominees for 2014:

  • Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowel
  • The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
  • The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
  • Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray
  • The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

I haven’t heard of half these books, so I’m excited to explore the list.  My eldest son enjoys Sanderson’s fantasy books.

And that boy from my daughter’s swim team?  He’s getting a copy of The Eye of Minds at the next meet.  It’s a thriller set in the virtual gaming world – hopefully that will hook him!

What are some other ways to encourage teens to read?  Which books or websites can you recommend?

Other places to look for YA lit:

Guys Read


Thanks for sharing!



Vocab from the Bartimaeus Trilogy: Amulet

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday, a meme for readers who want to learn more about the words they stumble across in their books.  Visit hostess Kathy at Bermuda Onion to find more interesting vocabulary.

See the amulet in the gargoyle's hand?

See the amulet in the gargoyle’s hand?

My word this week comes from the audiobook The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.  It’s young adult magical fantasy. In the story, a young magician in training summons a powerful djinni named Bartimaeus to steal an amulet from a rival magician.

I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know what an amulet was.  Since it’s crucial to the book, I figured I’d better learn it!

Amulet \am-yə-lət\ noun from the Latin amuletum. A charm often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil (as disease or witchcraft).

Talisman is a synonym for amulet.  Here’s a photo of several amulets and talismans, thanks to Nathaniel_U at Flickr.


Photo credit: Nathan_u via Flickr CC-BY

Photo credit: Nathan_u via Flickr CC-BY


Here’s an Indian Amulet Necklace

Photo Credit InExtremiss via Flickr CC-BY

Photo Credit InExtremiss via Flickr CC-BY

Word Nerd Workout

Have you ever seen an amulet?  Do you have one yourself?

Word Nerd Announcement

Congratulations to Kathy, our meme hostess, for winning the prize for my Banned Books Week Giveaway.  She won a gift card to Barnes and Noble!  I’m sure she’ll use it well.  (And hopefully tell us about whatever she reads.)

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!


Spread the word on Twitter: Vocab from the Bartimaeus Trilolgy: amulet = a small object worn for protection via @juliatomiak