Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Reading Update

School starts in a week and a few days.  A week, people.  One week.  Seven days.  Where did the summer go?  That deadline has definitely given me focus--to improve a few lesson plans, to get my classroom together and to put my game face on.

But it's been a great summer.  I haven't read quite as much as I would've liked, but I will continue to work through a few books during the school year.  I just don't have nearly as much time to devote to books when I also have papers, journals and other assignments that require attention.  Not to mention time with Favorite and house projects (which I will update later this evening).

At any rate, here are the books I recently finished:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert--I don't agree with her religious ascertations, but I love her writing style.  Gilbert has a wonderful way of drawing you into her story.  I tasted every single one of those meals in Italy (and was super jealous I couldn't actually partake) and found myself jealous that she wanted to learn a language simply because she thought it was beautiful.  I also developed this odd "dream-like" state regarding her ability to pick up and travel in Europe and Asia for a year.

The Romance Readers' Book Club by Julie L. Cannon--I found it on an endcap at Barnes and Noble and it was super-cheap.  In addition, the back of the book made it sound like an easy read; it was.  Am I going to recommend it?  Well, it wasn't a horrible book, but it wasn't the best thing I've ever read, either.  There were parts that were amusing, and it only took me an hour and a half to read it.  So take it for what it is.

Please Stop Laughing At Me...by Jodee Blanco--I bought this book to add to my library of autobiography/memoir/biography in my classroom (since the sophomores have to do a project with this type of book).  I agree that school bullying is an issue.  I think that Blanco has a pretty compelling story; however, her writing is bland and unemotional.  I think it's likely that this book became a New York Times Bestseller based on the subject matter, because there were points in the story when I wished Blanco's writing style conveyed the amount of emotion her experience obviously opened in her.  That said, I still think it's worth reading.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that it's rough navigating the world as a teenager.

Under the Dome by Stephen King--Stephen King fans, you might want to skip this review.  I am not a Stephen King fan.  In the past, I have really enjoyed a few of his short stories/novellas ("Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," "The Body"), but I have never really liked any book he's written.  This book is really no exception.  I thought the synopsis on the back was interesting enough, and there were parts of the story that were really well done.  For instance, the concept of vying for power in a small town was exceptional; however, there were too many things that were downright bland.  Many of the characters fall into the bland category.  In fact, I found it hard to keep many of them straight because they were so unimportant and bland.  Too many of them seemed similar.  Likewise, when I found out what was actually causing the dome (no, I won't ruin it for you in case your opinion will differ from mine), I just stared at the page and said, "Really?  Seriously?  That's what he came up with?"  So do what you want with this information, but know that I remain unimpressed with Stephen King on the whole.

In between a few of these books, I also picked up (and reread) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThere's something to be said for characters that practically jump off the page.  Stephen King could learn a thing or two from these books.

Currently Reading:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan--I'm not very far in because this is a book that has to be considered and savored.  So far?  It's well worth reading.  Sometimes I forget the greatness of my God.  It's nice to have a reminder.

Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension--I'm sure there was just a collective groan from the blogosphere regarding this educational piece of literature, but I'm telling you that it's actually an interesting read.  I love it when something like this gets my creative juices flowing and reminds me that education was never supposed to be about cramming my students' heads full of random knowledge.  It was always meant to be functional.  I am reminded that one of the questions I should be asking myself when I create lesson plans is "What is the purpose of this information?"  In other words, how will this benefit the student when s/he leaves my classroom?

The reading will continue.  The house building will be updated and school will start in just over seven days.  And I'm thankful for the opportunities each of these things affords.

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

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