26 September 2007
What I've been reading
Because some of you may be interested in this, and because it is an important part of my domestic intellectual life, I am including a brief list of books recently read. Some I chose for myself, others I read for work, and still others made their way into my hands. This is not exhaustive, but it covers most of what I have actually finished since I last posted about books. Of course, there are always at least 5-10 more in-progress on my bedside table or on my desk. So here is the latest installment:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: I am currently reading this with an 11th grade class. They have an extreme distaste for it: not enough action, who wants to read the diary of some crazy girl who won't talk, it has nothing to do with my life, etc. and they are only on page 30. I read to the end to see how I could arouse some interest in them. We will see how it goes. I do recommend it. The writing is strong and the main character has moments when she is truly compelling.
A Grief Observed by C S Lewis: Lewis hasn't made it to my bedside or purse in awhile, he is usually shuffled off for some undiscovered author. This book is short, rich and excellent in true Lewis style. I don't know why I didn't read it earlier in life--perhaps I would not have been able to truly hear what he had to say.
Poetics by Aristotle: This book is one of those classics that people refer to all the time, especially in literary circles, that I felt I needed to read. Aside from the references to Greek plays that I have never read or seen, I thought it was interesting. Aristotle points out the obvious, which seems to have escaped many modern writers, outlining the necessity for consistency in voice, character and style. He also addresses other problematic issues like audience attention span and the tools that lesser poets (and writers) use to hide their lack of skill or story. Reading this didn't change much about me or my writing, but it did encourage me that I am not wacked out when it comes to my need for consistency, veracity and continuity even in my entertainment. And I feel educated;-)
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes: A classic book about a mentally retarded man who undergoes surgery to make him smarter. He rapidly becomes a genius, only to equally rapidly decline back into retardation. I am reading this with two of my classes and I find the story compelling. There is a lot of room for discussion and I hope that my students are getting something out of it. In one group we are reading out loud and this makes it a little awkward when Charlie, the protagonist, talks about pooping in his pants as a child or about being in love with his adult education teacher. We are managing, and in the meantime, we have interesting conversations. For many of my students I realize that a lot of it is over their heads, and they may want to read it again in a few years when they know more of life.
I will try to post more about my reading on a regular basis.