Three Books Related to “Doorways”, by McGuire, Greer & Yu

Ok, it’s a gate, not a door. And it looks like windows. It will do!
Naomi’s Photos
“Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire

One of our sons recommended I read this book after we both read “The 10 Thousand Doors of January” by Harrow. He liked McGuire’s book better.

I myself have mixed feelings about both books.

This book has doorways that lead to other worlds but the story takes place in this world.  A world where teenagers who have spent time in other worlds and desperately want to return there, are stuck, unable to find the right portal again. Their parents, who don’t know what to do with them, have sent them to a special boarding school, where they meet each other.

At first, I was quite enthusiastic about this book as the reading flows and the movement between present-day reality and the descriptions of truly interesting “other worlds” was quite engaging.  The names of the worlds were of interest as well (compared to some of the names in Harrow’s book). The angst of being a teenager and the struggle to find your place in the world is certainly portrayed cleverly.

However, the book then morphed into two things which I’m less fond of, and left me with no desire to continue reading the series:

a – a “whodunnit” crime mystery

b- a classic boarding school tale of a small band of kids or teens who form a group, supposedly the oddballs of the school but always end up saving the day…

Nevertheless, the book is worth reading and I’m not sorry to have read it. In addition, it is always a pleasure to share book experiences with family members.

Will you still love me when I’m going on 50?
Naomi’s Photos
“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer

This showed up on my LIBBY account as an available audiobook just when I needed a book to listen to.

All I knew about “Less”  in advance was that it had won a Pulitzer Prize. I must admit that at first I went and checked again that it really had won the prize, as it took me some time to figure out what was going on in this book.  My first impressions were that there didn’t seem to be a plot at all!

But once I realized that “Less” is also about “doorways” and “coming of age” (except this time the age to contend with is turning 50!) I started enjoying myself, particularly as the audiobook reader was so good at presenting the colorful characters that appear in the book.

Arthur Less is about to turn 50 and the man he loves has invited him to his wedding with another man. Each stage of his comic journey (not laugh aloud comic but full of misadventures and comic characters)  around the world (his excuse for not attending the wedding), he basically sheds layers of his fears, beliefs, and insecurity while moving toward a new stage in life.


Just so you know (without it being an actual spoiler):

There is a very real, actual  (an ancient, thick) door the writer goes through at the climax of this story, so “doorways” are not just metaphorical in this book.

Together doesn’t mean “the same”.
Naomi’s Photos
“Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu

It is fortunate that I had this book as an audiobook (once again, courtesy of Libby!) as the talented reader helped me deal with this book. It was somewhat of a struggle for me.

On one hand, this is clearly a clever book. It is told as if you are watching a “police/crime” T.V show being filmed in the fictional “The Golden Palace” Restaurant in Chinatown, getting the “behind the scenes” story as viewed by the protagonist, who is usually known as “generic Asian Man”.  By using this show, the author hammers home a message of discrimination against Asian people in the United States in general and its reflection in Hollywood.  You are made to understand every nuance of the term “Generic Asian” – not only are the individual people not visible, but people from so many different places and cultures are also lumped together as if they were one –  “Asian”.

As someone who is interested in genealogy and immigrants, I found the personal histories of the people very interesting.  While I had known a bit about immigrants from China to the West Coast, I was not aware of all the discriminatory LAWS that existed in the USA. Another thing you don’t learn in school perhaps.

On the other hand, I’m not particularly interested in Hollywood,  and aspirations of “making it” in Hollywood. I found bits difficult to get through and had fleeting thoughts of not finishing the book despite it being a comparatively short book. I felt that the message was already clear enough.

But then I would have missed the ending.

An ending that is worth reading.

Once again, I thank a library for getting me to read books outside of my “comfort zone”.





Visualising School – A Photo Pause (The Pandemic Version, 2021)

Define “Lockdown” (Naomi’s Pictures, not taken at school”).

January 2021, yet another “lockdown”.  I never imagined that we would be in this situation almost a year later.

A “Visualising School- Photo Pause” without a single picture taken at school!

Too many circles… (Naomi’s Photos)

I am a part of so many CIRCLES – I am a teacher and a national counselor. I am a mother who strives to cook healthy food for a family and the daughter of an elderly mother. I need to exercise for my body and take pictures for my soul, particularly as my circle of friends has become socially distant…

Work-Life balance has become trickier than ever with the addition of “Zoom”  meetings and in-service training courses that only begin late in the evening…

Crumbling plans (Naomi’s Photos)


Teaching during this pandemic is causing the very firm and solid structure of my learning center for Deaf and hard of hearing high school students to shake and blur.  I’ve been a teacher for more than 35 years now – each year I replace a story we teach, incorporate a different method of practicing vocabulary, experiment with using more dramatic elements when teaching poetry, or begin a new method of visualizing students’ progress.

But those are examples of a controlled, well-planned process of remodeling specific rooms which are part of a permanent and reliable structure. A structure that worked well!

Even the simple fact these particular students can’t keep their books and notebooks in the classroom anymore has caused an upheaval!

“Teacher Love”  (Naomi’s Photos)

“Showering” the students with “teacher love” used to be SO MUCH EASIER …

You can do it!
Naomi’s Photos
Watch Out! (Naomi’s Photos)

I know I’m supposed to be the dwarf (some of my teenage students tower over me and I’m not a short woman!) inspiring the students to believe in a “YES YOU CAN DO IT” attitude. But it’s hard to stay constantly full of inspiring energy with all that is going on in the background….

So many differences… (Naomi’s Photos)

My students have always been diverse, with different needs, learning abilities, and emotional issues.  Those have always been the “building blocks” we have to work with.  One plan never fit everyone.

Distance learning’s addition of “new building blocks” that  need to be taken into account (such as technology available to the student, a quiet space to study) when planning a lesson nowadays has complicated matters even further…

Waiting online (Naomi’s Photos)


Late again… (Naomi’s Photos)

Waiting for the teenagers who don’t wake up for their lessons…

Winter sun… (Naomi’s Photos)

… going  outdoors and enjoying the winter sun sounds more appealing!

Hang in there and be healthy!


Time for a Book: “Disappearing Earth” by Julia Phillips

Lockdown, again…
Naomi’s Photos

You know a book is really good when you keep thinking about it after you have read it, mulling over details, realizing details in the book are metaphors for more things than you realized before.

This is one of those books.

Even the title still resonates with me – there are so many ways to “disappear”…

The book is cleverly written.  There is the “official” story, about two sisters, young girls, who disappear one day, in Kamchatka, Russia. They seem to vanish without a trace.

But that is not the only story, or even (at least to me) THE story of the book, though it is certainly there and you do get your “whodunnit” satisfaction.

Using the framework of the case of the missing sisters the author introduces us to a variety of women. We peek into their personal lives – everything about them is so vivid I feel as if I had met them. Through these characters, Phillips gets across strong messages (and thought-provoking questions) about women, about their control or lack of control over their own life (control can vanish too…), about racism, corruption, nature, and more.

All this while moving the dramatic plot forward. I was not able to predict the final chapter at all, even though I’m often quite good at doing that!

I heard the audiobook version so I didn’t have the helpful character guide I later discovered was included in the book. It didn’t make much difference insofar as understanding what was going on but for a time I did wonder if the author would ever stop introducing characters!

They really do all connect!

In short, don’t read about the book, read the book, and let it speak for itself.

I had never heard of the book but it was available on Libby so I thought I would give it a chance.

So glad I did!