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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Read More

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IMG_3407So you say you want to read more? How can you make that happen? I’ve got a few ideas, and the timing is perfect—summer is coming.

I’m a firm believer that there are not many “non-readers”; there are just a lot of people who haven’t yet discovered what they like to read. The solution is not to “force feed” what is unpleasant, but rather to arrange a buffet of choices to encourage book tasting. Please note that this strategy works well for children, young adults and the rest of us. I’ve found success using this approach with former students (middle school to university) who vehemently announced they didn’t like reading and wouldn’t read for pleasure. I took several to bookstores myself and let them roam until they found something that might be possibly, vaguely, a bit interesting. It works… many of these students (now adults) still write to me and tell me about what they’re reading and how grateful they are. One book leads to another, and it all starts with looking for the spark.

1.   Think about subjects, issues, categories that you find interesting in real life. Make a list of these items and use it as a beginning point for your book hunt. If you love CSI, then criminology, crime stories, mysteries are worth looking into. Or if you prefer cooking, in addition to cookbooks, there are biographies and memoirs of successful chefs that might whet your appetite. This will get you going in a direction that you already find pleasing, so it’s a smart beginning.

2.   Ask someone you enjoy being with, what they’re reading or what they’d recommend. Write down the titles because you will otherwise forget them quickly. Add them to your list of possibilities.IMG_3399

3.   Go to your local bookstore and talk to the clerk. Tell him/her what your interests are and ask for suggestions.

4.   Sample some books on your list. You can do this many ways: go to the library and browse, visit a bookstore and collect the books and find a comfortable chair, or go on line and preview a chapter or two of your possible suggestions.

5.   THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS PROCESS: You do not have to like the book you’re sampling. You have my permission to put it down and even make a face at it. This is all about YOU having a choice. The Tetreault Golden Rule is as follows: If the book you’re reading doesn’t make your heart go “pitter patter” by page 30, drop it immediately, like a bad boyfriend/girlfriend. This gives you the freedom to pick and choose what YOU enjoy and that’s what encourages more reading.

Let go of value judgements about whether a book is challenging or cool enough – save the hierarchy for later. Your goal is to find a book that captures your interest now.  You don’t get extra points for selecting or not selecting best sellers, award winners, books you didn’t read in high school, classics, graphic novels, books that you’ve already seen the film, or books you’ve already read. The choice is yours, and there are no wrong choices. Please note that it is perfectly acceptable to cycle through several books before you find one that you’d like to read, and you will find one that you want to read if you keep sampling.IMG_3411

6.  Try checking out collections of short stories by different authors, just to get a sense of the author’s style. Non-fiction collections, likewise, offer a sampling that you can later follow. I also really love looking through college writing/literature anthologies. My favorite is The Writer’s Presence because it contains a broad array of excellent pieces of writing—fiction as well as non-fiction.

7.  If you get stuck, just go browsing through book reviews or the stacks in the library or in a bookstore. Ask a librarian or salesperson what they’d recommend… or what is the best selling book of the day… anything to get you jump started. Trust me, it will happen—you’ll make a connection to a book and want to read it.

8.  What do you do once you find that book and read it? Hmmmm, there are lots of possibilities. You could find other books written by the same author or other titles on a similar subject or check out on line bookstores’ recommendations. There’s always some version of “If you like this, you might like that.” I also look at the list of what other people who liked this book also purchased. You can also find out what authors inspired a writer that you like…or what titles s/he enjoys reading, just to give you more avenues to travel.

9.  If you’re hoping to encourage children and young adults to read more, give them the gift of going into a bookstore and getting three books for themselves. The decision regarding specific titles is solely up to them. The power of free choice regarding books is priceless.

On the last day of school, my folks used to let me pick out the number of books that equaled my age plus one. What a fabulous way to begin the summer: we continued the tradition with our kids. It’s an affordable investment in the future.

10.  I always have a small notebook in my bag to jot down book titles, authors’ names, ideas that I want to explore. The older I get, the more useful this little notebook is.

The bottom line is that once you get hooked on books, there’s an unlimited amount of bound volumes and e-books to discover. It no longer becomes an issue of “Will I find something to read?” but more so, “Will I find enough time to read everything on my wish list?”

Happy Reading—go find a book and fall in love.


Pushing To Spring

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Coonamesset Farm in bloom

Coonamesset Farm in bloom

This past week has been filled with all sorts of reasons to celebrate. It’s May. There are graduations, Spring is in full force, and, of course, Mother’s Day. All good stuff.

I have had the pleasure of mentoring Gordon since he was a junior at Waltham High. Together we worked on writing critical essays, how to read challenging texts and how to remember to set your alarm to get to class on time. For the past five and a half years, he has put up with me, and I have put up with him…but joyfully so!

Gordon   Class of 2013 Bentley University

Gordon Class of 2013
Bentley University

This past week Gordon successfully completed his final semester at Bentley and will graduate next Saturday. He has invited me to the ceremony, and I’ll sit in the audience, yell and make noise when he receives his diploma, and then I’ll probably blubber into several tissues. He never gave up; he’s the first in his Haitian immigrant family to attend college, the first to graduate, and it’s a very proud moment that I know he’ll savor and appreciate. I can’t wait to see him in his cap and gown.

Mama and Molly

Mama and Molly

Mother’s Day Weekend has been absolutely delightful. Molly and Josh arrived and spoiled me rotten with her fabulous cooking and their wonderful company. Books, recipes, knitting ideas were shared and explored. We reconnected as if we were never apart. Kate and Matt will be visiting soon, but in the meantime, we did our first video Ichat. What a kick–I get to see her face and hear her voice! We gab over hot coffee as if she were next door. I really appreciate that I’ll always love my kids, but just as importantly, I really like them! I’m a lucky lady.

Coonamesset Lettuce

Coonamesset Lettuce

David and I had brunch at Coonamesset Farm today. The food was good, but the farm in springtime was something to behold. There are fallow fields, some lined with small seedlings and others more fully developed.  Everything is in the state of “becoming”. It’s filled with good intentions, hope and demands hard work. It’s also beautiful.

Alpaca deep in thought

Alpaca deep in thought

The farm animals are always a joy to visit. It’s their home and they let us drop in. The alpacas look like little kids with their big eyes and sense of wonder. Their “wool” is spun into the alpaca yarn I’ll be knitting warm hats and shawls with this winter.

IMG_3353 IMG_3360

The ducks and chickens are now located together in a large fenced in area. The ducks are laid back, and the chickens seem manic. One unusual, very pretty breed of chicken  has a duo that pace back and forth as if they’re thinking about solving a quadratic equation.


During the past month I’ve started to practice yoga. I know— I’m clumsy, don’t have an athletic muscle or bone in my body, and have trouble staying still for more than three seconds. This “yoga thing” is amazing. Both of my daughters do it and encouraged me to try. I found an excellent teacher who is succeeding in turning me into a yoga-mama. After four weeks, my chronic back pain is gone, I am more relaxed and centered, and I like doing it. I even speak softly for at least an hour after I’m done. Go figure! It is a most welcomed addition to my life, and I’m grateful.


Last, but not least, Smitty’s Ice Cream opened for the season this past week. I confess David and I drove on an empty tank of gas to get there. Yes, he got coffee ice cream smothered in butterscotch, and I tried two new flavors: coconut and orange/pineapple. Yum, yum, yum. This cannot become a habit…well maybe one can substitute a cup of ice cream for a lunch???

All of these events (except possibly Smitty’s) share the theme of hope and rebirth that comes from inspiration as well as perspiration. It resonates with me…optimism based on hard work and realizing one’s potential by doing good stuff with focus and determination. Gordon learned how to be a student and reached his goal. The farm will be worked and produce good food and lots of beauty. My daughters have grown up into adults that I am so very proud of; parenting is work and it works. I am learning how to do yoga without falling over; I practice every day. Smitty’s Ice Cream is my exercise in moderation. That might take some time.