Tag Archives: reading

Check out the Works of Retired English Professor Hank Kellner

I received a note awhile back from Hank Kellner. He is a retired English professor. He is also a conservative. Kellner has written multiple books, and I thought they may be of interest to our readers. 

I Don’t Want to Be an Orange Anymore

Orange IIGrowing up in the fictional town of Meadowview, young Willie Watson objects to being required to play the part of an orange in the school play when he is nine and in the fourth grade. But that’s just the beginning of his problems. As he continues through elementary school and into junior high school, Willie has to deal with the town bully; Christmas with his relatives; the death of a schoolmate; the loss of his girlfriend; the theft of a fountain pen, and his broken eyeglasses.

But that’s not all. Willie doesn’t want to eat his peas; take the garbage out; deal with his troublesome kid sister; try to climb the ropes in gym class while his gym teacher harasses him, or have to stay after school until he’s “…old enough to grow a beard.”

Readers will discover how Willy becomes a member of Brucie’s gang; what happens in the old movie house on Main Street; how feisty old Grandma inspires Willie, and much, much more.

Included in this book are such chapters as “There Is No Santa Claus,” “Oh Captain, My Captain,” “The Dog in the Rhinestone Collar,” “A Bird’s Just a Bird,” and “Hey Brucie, Your Sister Wears Long Underwear.”

I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore contains a wealth of humorous and often touching descriptions of a young boy’s fantasies and life experiences as he grows up in a small town many years ago. This coming of age book is suitable not only for young adults, but also for older readers.

About the Author: Hank Kellner is a retired associate professor of English. He is the author of 125 Photos for English Composition Classes (J. Weston Walch, 1978); Terror at Mirror Lake (Smashwords, 2013); I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore (Smashwords, 2013); The Taste of Appalachia (Smashwords 2013); How to Be a Better Photographer (J. Weston Walch, 1980), Write What You See (Prufrock Press, 2010), and, with Elizabeth Guy Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing Prufrock Press, 2013). His other writings and photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications nationwide.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Conservative Authors, Reading and Books

Book Review: DRIVEN BEYOND SUCCESS by Edward Primoff

2014-03-22 16.19.49Rating: 5/5 Stars

Recommended Audience: Advanced middle school student to adult

Genre: Autobiography

I was provided a copy of this book for review.

I am a reading fanatic. One of my biggest pet peeves is that my busy life simply does not provide enough time to read all of the books that are on my to-read list. I am always leery when I accept a book for review from an unknown author. You just don’t know what you might get. I do read them, and I try to be as fair and honest as I can. When I say what I am about to say, I want you to know that I am being completely honest because my time is valuable. For that matter, so is yours.

If I was asked to recommend a book that demonstrates the essence of America, I would offer this book to you. One of the things that is constant about conservatives is that we have an optimistic view of our country and the opportunities within it. We are not victims, and we don’t believe that people are either. Edward Primoff is a perfect example of what so many of us know to be true about this great nation. A person who believes in themselves, driven by principles and a work ethic, can truly accomplish great things.

As Primoff states near the close of the book, “The bottom line is that we live in a great country, the greatest in the world. Here the sky’s the limit, if you can think it, you can do it. I have little doubt in my mind that if I had to start all over again I would have no difficulty surpassing where I am today.”

And where he is today compared to where he started out is pretty darn impressive. It seemed from birth Primoff would face obstacles. His mother was actually advised to abort the pregnancy because of a kidney problem she had. Primoff’s largest obstacle was that he graduated high school barely able to read. He had such severe dyslexia that he was only able read 11 words per minute. This book itself was written on Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Despite his handicap, Primoff has managed to achieve every bit of the American dream and become financially independent. He has contributed greatly to his community and country. The book blurb on the inside jacket claims that he has led a life with more adventure than the fictional Forrest Gump. This is a fair assessment. While Primoff’s many adventures are not limited to the following list, he has been a successful business owner (8 figure net worth), he spent several years working with the FBI as an informant, survived a small plane crash, escaped a plot to murder him, struggled for decades with the side effects of an experimental intestinal bypass surgery, and became known as the “unofficial” photographer for the President George W. Bush administration. I think I spent half of my time reading this book with my mouth agape in disbelief at Primoff’s incredible experiences.

Primoff is a testimony to the importance of lifelong learning and self-education. Despite his reading difficulty, he has continued to learn and educate himself. Every time he learned something new, it made him more successful. As a teacher, I can see huge value to a book like this for a struggling student especially at the high school level.

Most of a book is a chronological account of his life from high school to present. I found some of his later life experiences most interesting, specifically his involvement in politics at the county, state, and national level. Primoff offers some interesting observations as he discusses ousting a corrupt county office holder and his involvement with the Maryland gubernatorial campaign of Robert Ehrlich.

Chapter 22, “Who is On the Side of the Angels?,” was probably the best of the entire book. Primoff gets a little philosophical in the chapter as he discusses his optimism for the future:

“The one thing I’ve learned best is that most people in our country are basically good. It may surprise you when I say that in spite of all the difficulties we are now facing as a country. I am very optimistic about our future. People in the United States are becoming more connected with our political system than at any other period in my lifetime and that is so important. When I became active in the mid-90s in local county politics, a member of our school board was asked what he thought of Ed Primoff.”

He answered, “He’s okay, but he’s too much into that freedom thing.”

It brings me great comfort to now see millions of Americans concerned about that silly old freedom thing.”

In my opinion, he is right. Despite all the negativity in our country, I see significant, positive change on the horizon. If there was ever a life to demonstrate the reasons to be optimistic, I think they could be found within the life experiences of Edward Primoff.

If you can, consider buying a copy of Driven Beyond Success. All profits from the sale of the book are earmarked for Wounded Warriors and St. Jude’s. I do not believe you will regret it.

You also can check out the official book website at http://www.drivenbeyondsuccess.com/


1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews


file0002135280483I am a big fan of Dan Miller. For those that don’t know him, he is a career coach and author. He also has a podcast that I listen to every week. This is a recent post from his 48 Days Blog. I thought you might find it of some interest. More students need to be taught that education is so much more than just formal schooling. 

Do you need a college degree to get ahead today?  That’s one of the hottest topics out there and a continuing question I am being asked.  ( I’m including a new chapter in the revision of 48 Days to the Work You Love titled Yes, I Have an “Education.”)

I love the process of learning and have pursued that in multiple ways.  Yes, I did go to college and have both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology.  I completed my doctoral studies but never turned in a dissertation. Instead of creating a document for four old guys to read I wrote a book that a whole lot of people have read – and paid for.  Today I write, speak and coach.  Along the way I’ve owned varied businesses and done everything from painting houses to selling cars.

Find Your Calling

So let’s look at some things you can do – right now – to get an education that matters.

Here are Ten Steps to Education – Things you can do this year to open the floodgates of new opportunity, and new wealth.  Companies will want you, you’ll see new things you can do on your own, and your income will start to grow in unexpected ways.

  1. Read (or listen to) at least 12 great books – I have an Amazon.com Prime membership with unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping – and buy books liberally – and encourage you to do the same.  However, if you feel you cannot invest even small dollars in your education then check them out of the library. (See complete list here – Dan’s Reading List)

I know of no way to more quickly change your level of success than to read good books.

Old Classics like

    • Think and Grow Rich
    • The Magic of Thinking Big
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People
    • The Strangest Secret

Timeless Greats

    • Thou Shall Propser
    • A Whole New Mind
    • How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
    • The Success Principles

More recent titles

    • Trust Agents
    • Linchpin
    • The Compound Effect
    • The Art of Non-Conformity

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

2.  Attend 3 or 4 seminars

Chose what you’d like – but go with an open mind.  I attend a lot of seminars each year.  My goal is not to change my life with any ONE seminar, but to learn at least one great idea that I can use.

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

48 Days Innov48 Live Event

3.  Subscribe to at least two great magazines

You can get any magazine on line if you prefer.  I still enjoy holding the magazine, turning the pages and returning to them again and again. Here are some of my favorites

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”  ~Chinese Proverb

4.  Listen to 3 or 4 informational on-demand radio shows  & read 3 or 4 blogs each week

You may be an audio or print learner.  No right or wrong – just select what works for you.  The free information is priceless.  

5.  Get involved in a community like 48Days.net

 Find a couple where you can identify with the group – then get involved.  Contribute, ask questions and give advice.  You’ll find your center of influence will grow rapidly.  

6.  Work on improving your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to use and manage your emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.  Your skill in this area will allow you to form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life. 

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”  ~Chinese Proverb

7.  Acquire at least one new skill this year

Each year I select an area of interest – having nothing to do with business or making money.  Purely for the “education.”  Imagine that.

    • Photography
    • Martial arts
    • Astronomy
    • Our Spiritual heritage
    • Learn a new language
    • Take the Drawing from the right side of the brain class.
    • Start a book discussion  or Mastermind group
    • Get a vocational degree in something you can use immediately

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”  ~Henry Ford

8.  Become comfortable with your presentation skills

No matter what your career or business you must be comfortable presenting your ideas.  It will do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.  You will find it easier to complete a sales transaction, have conversations with family and friends, and find success in your career. 

9. Take 2 or 3 courses in areas of interest.  

You don’t have to be “accepted” or lock in thousands of dollars in tuition.   Just explore the many courses that can give you marketable skills on sites like:

These sites have thousands of professional video courses covering almost every topic imaginable. And you can access to all courses on the site for a small monthly fee or a small fee for the individual course.  Many of these courses have certificates of completion to show adequate preparation for work in that area. More and more employers are accepting these certificates as proof of training. 

10.  Plan two trips this year

Many people think they cannot afford to travel.  Joanne and I have continued to travel even through our toughest times financially.  I’ve been treating her to Christmastime in Chicago for over 20 years now.  Direct flights from Nashville used to be $69 round trip (a little more now).  And few people travel on business the week of Christmas so 4-star hotels are cheap and easy to get.  Typically I have used PriceLine to put in my bid of about $79 a night.  But just do something that excites you.  Be creative.  Joanne and I often go downtown Nashville and just pretend we’re tourists.  We walk through the classic cathedrals, over the unique pedestrian bridges, and visit the art displays.  

Vacation Rentals by Owner   http://www.vrbo.com/

I’m sure you could probably add more examples of experiences in your life that have helped you get an “education.”  With today’s technology you can listen to your smart phone while cleaning the house or driving your car.

So where do you think I got my “education?”  If I depended on my academic degrees, would I really be qualified to write, speak and coach?

What life experiences have been part of your “education?”

If you are interested in purchasing any of Dan Miller’s products, would you please go through our affiliate link?


Leave a Comment

Filed under Educational Articles, Guest Post


Photo from National Archives and Record Administration

Photo from National Archives and Record Administration

Last week I published a review of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I received a note from one of our guest writers, FJ Rocca, that included this piece.

Conservatives ought to read the biographies of Frederick Douglass. He wrote three, all of them masterful and articulate to explain, not racism, but the true meaning of freedom. Exemplary is his explanation of the importance of individual self-reliance and self-development, as opposed to the collectivist tendency to rely on others for one’s sustenance, in the case of the slaves, their “masters,” trading in exchange their eternal labors in the chains of a system that denied them the fundamental right to own their bodies and minds. Douglass eloquently describes his path to freedom, which begins when he realizes and develops a deep belief in his own right of self-ownership, exemplified in his teaching himself to read as the door opener to greater self-education, because, as he says, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

A keen observer of reality and a keener abstractor of the truth, Douglass analyses the tactics of owners to keep their slaves in check. One method, he observes, is to give slaves a holiday from Christmas to New Year’s Day every year, encouraging them to remain drunk the whole time by supplying them with booze. Thus, through their limited pleasure, the slaves were disaffected with the notion of freedom, which would mean that they would have to pay for their own pleasure. The slaves failed to realize that they were indeed paying for their holiday’s pleasure by slaving for the rest of the year. The psychology behind this inducement is undeniable. The more dependent one becomes on a thing, the less he is willing to break away from it, even if it provides only short-term gains, and costs much more in the long term.

On the surface, the holiday granted by slave owners might seem like a positive benefit. But, as Douglass makes clear, the so-called generosity of slave owners is false and deceptive. In reality, it is a tactic slaveholders use to distract slaves from any notions of freedom and thus to keep them from desiring their freedom so much that they do not rebel. On this, Douglass says, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”

The intentions of the welfare state can be accurately compared with the intentions of the slave owners of Frederick Douglass’s day. They pose as generous benefactors by offering what seem like benefits. The psychology behind this inducement is undeniable as was that of the slave owners Douglass describes. The more dependent one becomes on a thing, the less likely he is to exert the effort to break away from it, even if it provides only short-term gains, and costs much more in the long term. Likewise, the welfare state offers its generosity in exchange for support of their programs, hence their power.

The slaves’ Christmas holiday was brief, only a week. But slaves were kept in ignorance. They were mostly illiterate, and were certainly inexperienced with true freedom, hence Douglass’s complaint is that they bought the short term benefit and paid the long price. He says, “I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.”

Modern Americans are not so quick to trade their long term freedoms, freedoms they have experienced for most of their lives, for short term gains, or so they think. But instead of demanding freedom over government-conferred benefits, they now seem to demand longer term benefits to trade for their freedom. The welfare state overcomes the pesky demand by extending the free “slaves’” holiday to every day, thus providing the enduring motive to support the state, i.e. the government who provides the welfare. They do not take account of the reality that these benefits must be paid for out of the pockets of people who do not receive them. But the State would like us not to realize this. Thus, the government would like to keep us in ignorance, as well. Douglass’s words may be easily applied to the state of American citizens’ awareness. Of the slaves’ ignorance, Douglas says, “He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.”

A couple of sayings come to mind. One, a Marxist maxim, says “from each man according to his ability, to each man according to his need.” There is another, curiously contradictory Marxist maxim that says, “He who does not work, shall not eat.” That one is never spoken openly at first, but it comes out after the money runs out. And the money WILL run out. The saying that comes to mind thereafter is, “There is no such thing as a free lunch” and that one is true, because the free lunch will last only as long as productive people who provide the wealth seized by the state are willing to produce that wealth. The Soviet Union is a good example of this. In Russia and other USSR states, long lines of people waiting to receive a measured allotment of eggs, bread or meat was the norm. It should be noted that bureaucrats and politicians in the Soviet Union had special stores in which to obtain these goodies without the requisite waiting in queues. The state never denies itself what it imposes on its citizens.

Slaves appreciated the free drunken holiday while disappreciating the requisite labor of the rest of their year, even though a like effort at seizing their freedom would have yielded REAL benefits that would have existed in perpetuity, because they would be self-perpetuating. Likewise, too many Americans are willing to appreciate the falsely free gifts of the state while disappreciating the freedom to pursue their own fortunes, even if such pursuit led to far greater gains than a welfare check could possibly ever provide. But the government hopes to keep its citizens from realizing this, because, as is said, truth, once realized, can and almost always will, set people free, because, as Frederick Douglass says, “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”

This brings up perhaps the most appropriate of Douglass’s quotations for the purpose of expressing the importance of recalling the freedoms once readily and easily enjoyed by American citizens, but endangered by the encroachments of government. “I have observed this in my experience of slavery, – that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom.” Please, my fellow citizens, let us make plans.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse.


1 Comment

Filed under Guest Post, history education, Reading and Books

BOOK REVIEW: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

frederickdouglassRating: 5/5 Stars

Recommended Audience: Advanced middle school students through adults

In one word, wow! This is an amazing piece of American history that all Americans ought to experience. This was the first of three books written by Frederick Douglass. It is a summary account of Douglass’ experience as a slave, his discovery of reading and writing, and his partial account of his escape from slavery.

It seems hard to believe that things in this book happened just 180 years ago in our own country. When you look at where we are today versus this time period it is literally a world apart.

I was struck by the lengths that Douglass went to be able to read and write. Imagine risking your life to learn to read! Contrast that with a modern world where so many adults (and their children) construct excuses to not even find the time to read. So many of these same individuals have the time to play video games or watch reality television all the while claiming they are too busy. Is this not a direct insult to individuals in our history, like Douglass, who just wanted the opportunity to do so?

Once again, literally a world apart.

One small criticism of this book is the introduction written by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Yes, if that name is familiar, it is the “beer summit” professor who was arrested by cops who “acted stupidly” according to the Marxist in Chief.) This thing does not belong in this text. This book’s intended market is the upper middle and high school market. Gates blathers on about things no young reader would know anything about, and he writes at such a high level that I even struggled with small parts of it. Really? What better way to turn off a young reader then to stick this diatribe at the beginning of the book.

In contrast to the introduction, the bonus material in the back is very much worth the read and complements Douglass’ narrative well. Two of my favorite were the short stories “Two Tickets for Mr. Johnson and Slave” and “Learning the Game.”

“Two Tickets…” is an account of two slaves, husband and wife, that make their escape from the South. The other is a story that looks at Mexican immigrants working in the fruit fields of California. It’s hard to place the exact setting, but it would have to be sometime in post-World War II because it uses the term braceros. It was good to see this in there because many people know little about the history of Mexican immigration into America.

While a little bit challenging for the middle school student, this book could definitely be read by higher readers. It definitely should be required reading in any American history course at the high school level.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews