Summer Reading

Without even planning, my summer reading list developed quickly this year. This is my mandatory reading for work and some are books that I have read in the past. I decided–along with a teacher who will be teaching one section of the same course–to completely change the book list. So, that gives me 12 weeks of some pretty interesting reading to come!

Professional Development:

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. This one was assigned to all teachers, but it’s one that I’m actually quite interested in because of the psychology aspect. At the end of the day, I love to learn about the way people learn, particularly what motivates them.

inGenius by Tina Seelig. This one was assigned to teachers who teach an art course. As a creative writing teacher, this lumps me into that category. As with the other, I’m looking forward to learning about becoming more creative myself and taking that into the classroom.

Other Work Books:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is one of those books that I would definitely read on my own if I had all the time in the world, so I’m a little excited that it was picked as an “all school” book. It gives me a good reason to read something for “fun” that I probably wouldn’t get around to otherwise.

The rest of the books for work comprise my reading list next year, and I’ve read them before. I’ve never taught any of them in a classroom, so I’m excited to re-read them with the intention of teaching. It definitely changes the way I read and what I pay attention to as I read.

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The decision was to overtly teaching self-realization this year, which led to the addition of the Morrison selections, Obama and Goodwin. At the same time, our discussion centered around the idea that there is a world outside of the school and neighborhood in which we teach.

I have to admit that it was extraordinarily hard for me to keep my opinions to myself this year when students stated that racism doesn’t exist anymore, women are completely equal to men and that poverty is something “in other countries”. So, I’m very excited to explore some deeper themes and discuss what the human experience for more people who my students actually interact with.

 

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books: The Art of Fielding

I bought this book on Amazon because it was on the NY Times bestseller list and because it’s about baseball.

Author Chad Harbach was praised in multiple reviews for this as his first novel, and I have to say that the praise is well-deserved. It is an extremely well-written novel. The characters are well-developed and believable. The setting is beautifully described. Dialogue is crisp and unique. From the writing standpoint, it leaves little to be desired. This is a major reason that I was able to read it in four days (which considering my work schedule and its length of 528 pages was pretty close to a miracle). It has that light and easy read that signifies the intricacy of the writing.

My only complaint–and I have to put a disclaimer on this in that it comes from the lens of a baseball fan–is that it’s not entirely a baseball story. There are moments when I feel that the story, specifically the backstories, is a little too romantic, a little too dramatic. But that is just a personal take that comes from a personal interest and obsession with baseball.

The story started out with great focus on Henry Skrimshander–being discovered by the catcher of the Harpooners, adjusting to college life, and struggling through a major slump.  I appreciated the struggles of Mike Schwartz, the aforementioned catcher,  as he tried to figure out what life would be after college baseball. Apart from these two major storylines, the book also wove in the tales of Guert Affenlight, president of Westish college, his daughter Pella, and Henry’s roommate Owen. And despite the lack of baseball in some instances, the collision of the storylines of these characters is masterfully done.

Overall, an amazing book. Harbach is an incredible writer, and I will definitely read whatever tale he spins next.

 

currents

I’ve pretty much been listening to Led Zeppelin for the past three weeks or so. Just been in that kind of mood. Plus, it’s good working and running music. I like the transitions to be seamless so pulling the iPod off the dock and switching to headphones to run is important. My current favorite, favorite song is “What is and What Should Never Be.” Screeching guitars. And it totally sets you up to think you’re going to get a nice, slow song. Then, BAM! That’s a good description of my overall mood, too.

Coincidentally, this has become my wedding-prep song. (Not for me getting married, but for shooting weddings.) Don’t ask.

For the books:

I picked up today “The Bullpen Gospels.” I heard Keith Olbermann talk about it a couple of months ago and was so disappointed to figure out that he had obviously gotten an advanced copy. So, I’m excited for it in a major way. Plus, I think it will help with the rewrites I’m about to begin.

The other is “The Winner Stands Alone” by Paulo Coelho. I’m working my way through Coelho’s books in the order they appear in my life. Seriously. I’ve had friends hand them to me. Then, I found one sitting on the shelf–out of place–at the library a few weeks ago. So, when I returned it today, this book was the only remaining book in the “Coelho” section. Figured that it must be the right time for it. The eerie thing about these books is that not only do I feel like they’re telling my story, but I also feel they’ve been timed perfectly each and every time.

currently reading: books for travel

Packing for trips is not my strong suit. I’m happy to just toss stuff in a bag and see what happens. But, I am very thoughtful about the books I choose. I figured that I was going to have a lot of travel time and down time on this short trip, so I spent quite a bit of time choosing the books I would read.

  1. The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. I started this at home and had to bring it to finish it off (see my previous post for the significance). I loved it in that it really made me think kind of way.
  2. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. It’s been on my bookshelf for about a year, and a friend saw it a couple of weeks ago and made reference to something in it. So, I decided that I should read it. I’m loving it so far.
  3. The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho. I love Elijah. I really do. And I was so excited that this book arrived at home on Sunday so that I could bring it with me.
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Recommended to me by a friend, but I haven’t really had time for “fun” reading.