Sunday, January 25, 2009

Topics Re-Visited

OK - so I am not ready to admit defeat in the area of audio books. I shared my problems of being a visual learner, so when I listen to audiobooks it as though I translate the words spoken into words written so that I can understand the story --- exhausting! So here is my latest idea. I will try to listen to audiobooks of books that I have already read - but just need to brush up on before teaching in class. I drive 30 minutes one way on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I am thinking that this might be a great way to review - and perhaps free up some time in the evening to read something of my own choosing. I'll let you know how it goes.

This new experiment dictated my library loot for this week. I checked out the following three audiobooks - Old Man and the Sea - Walk Two Moons - The Hobbit. I am fairly familiar with all storylines, so I am hoping that the narration allows me to catch subtleties that I may have missed.

The other topic I wish to revisit is where I receive inspiration for books to read. This week I have learned that my students can greatly inspire me. I think I have shared that I am a very clear cut - realistic - pragmatic person. I have a difficult time with romance novels and I especially have a difficult time relating to fantasy / science fiction (I have only just now grown to enjoy the Hobbit and that is after teaching the book for 4 years). Over Christmas break I asked all my students to read one book of their own choosing (I know .... what a mean teacher to ask students to read over their vacation) and then come to class prepared to give a 3-4 minute book review. The only caveat was that the book review had to be positive and persuade the audience to want to read the book.

Ok, so suffice it to say that many of the junior high girls selected the Twilight series books (and I refused to have a book repeated - so I heard reports for all 4 books in the series), I was amazed at the number of fantasy books that were chosen. I listened to the reports, but to be honest, I was not at all persuaded to go out and begin reading them (this was really not due to the student's review, but my own personal issues). EXCEPT..... I had two 7th grade students give amazing book reviews that truly have inspired me to give this genre another try (although probably not for a while due to other time commitments). One student read the Fellowship of the Ring at the beginning of break and was so taken with the series that he chose to read The Two Towers as well. His presentation consisted of drawing a map on the board and illustrating the journey. While most of us were very confused --- we were also very intrigued.

The other 7th grade student read Madeleine L'Engle's a Wrinkle in Time and again, was so taken by the first book that she voluntarily read the 2nd book in the series as well. Once again, the audience was rather confused at the character names, but this student was so enthusiastic for the story and author's writing style that I absolutely must attempt to read these books soon.

Finally, a last source of inspiration is the internet and a number of email loops to which I have subscribed (mostly AP English groups). This past week a question that was posed to the loop - and I would like to ask here (in the hopes of receiving further inspiration) is this: do you ever pair a classic with a modern/contemporary piece of fiction --- and if so, what pairings would you suggest? One of the ideas that I have heard is to pair Pride and Prejudice with Bridget Jones' Diary - so when I saw the latter book for sale yesterday for a dollar, I simply had to pick it up. Are there other great pairings that would work?


  1. Those are three wonderful books to listen to, so I hope you enjoy them! I love listening to audiobooks now, but in the beginning I had to teach myself how to listen. I'm also a very visual person, and discovered that I didn't listen well. I'm much better at it now, and I think it's extended into my "real" life, too.

  2. My son's in college and took a sci-fi/fantasy class. I asked him if there were any girls in the class and he said about half the class was girls. In my day, that was what the guys read. I'm glad to see girls are expanding their horizons.

  3. I love fantasy (not much of sci-fi fan), especially YA fantasy. I think that's why I'm so taken with the Bone series (review of second in the series will appear this week).

    Wrinkle in time and LOTR are both favorites of mine.

    I can't think of any book pairings at the moment (not enough coffee?) but Emma and the movie Clueless are a match. As is The Odyssey and the movie O Brother Where Art Tho?

  4. Beth mentioned the only two pairings I could come up with--interesting question! Oh, and you MUST read A Wrinkle in Time! It is a YA classic and one I remember reading as a child. I just re-read it last year along with my 13 year old son. He love it too. The good news is that it isn't a very long book, so what have you got to lose? :)

    In response to my knitting post--yes! You can make adorable little dishcloths and they can be a fancy, simple,easy or hard as you like. They are a great thing to learn on as a first project and I love using the 100% cotton yarn. I hope your schedule eases up sometime where you could feel like you could investigate this further. There is something very satisfying about a finished knitting project. :)

    I hope you have a great week.

  5. Hi again Molly--I have left comments on your last several posts but apparently my daughter had signed in on my google account so even though I signed the comment, it is Sarah's avatar and link that comes up. Sorry if this is confusing---not sure when she was on my computer....hmmm....;)

  6. Wrinkle in Time, which I picked up as a kid, was one of the books that made me a reader. You have a treat in store.
    As for pairings, how about an Edgar Allan Poe short story, and Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which just won the Newbery award.

  7. I think that Tolkien is one of the premiere authors of well written fantasy. The hobbit was well written and lovely to read. I have yet to read a Wrinkle in Time, but I have heard many good things about it. I found Tolkien's books quite inspirational as an author of fantasy. I thought that the 'Children of Hurin' was a really good read with compelling characters.

  8. I would like to suggest my book, Checkered Fences, for reading. It's an adult fiction based upon my life growing up in the 60's & 70's, political & social changes at that time, and an interracial relationship. My website is I hope that you enjoy it and would like to hear your feelings about my first book.


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