Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Library Loot - 3.4.09

Have I mentioned lately how much I am looking forward to spring break?! It is not that I don't like teaching - I actually love it. But sometimes the stress of all the grading and the ump-teen lesson plans that I need to develop wears on me. At 4:15 on Friday, March 13 my Spring Break will officially begin (not that I am counting down the days or anything). Most of my break will be spent reading the books for my summer Master's Program -- but that will require a separate post sometime next week. The rest of spring break will be spent reading books that I want to read --- which brings me to my latest library loot.

This is quite the eclectic stack of books. Some I have been waiting to come in for quite sometime, and others I have just recently read a review and absolutely had to request. Some will be very fast reads - almost skimming; and others will require slow intense reading as I study the work. So without further ado, here is the stack of books that I hope to read prior to March 23rd, when I must return to school for that final quarter of the year.

  • Thinking about Memoir by Abigail Thomas. I am not quite sure how I came across this book's suggestion, but since one of my summer classes is entitled: "Rewriting a Life" - I thought this might be a good book to review.
  • How NOT to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. Again, I am not sure where I read of this book, but the title is great. I have zip - zero desire to write a novel (not to mention a total lack of imagination) --- but I do think this book might provide some useful insights to help me teach narrative writing to my students. Also, I have a colleague who is currently working on a YA novel, and I thought this book might be of use to him as well.
  • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspeare. Lesa highly recommended this author's newest book, and I thought I should start reading at the beginning of the series. I must confess that I have already read the first 5 chapters of this book and have thoroughly enjoyed the writer's easy-going style.
  • Manga Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream. OK -- this is a HUGE departure for me, but hear me out on this one. I read Robin's review of a Manga Shakespeare and decided that I needed to investigate this version of Shakespeare in the hopes of relating the Bard to my 8th grade students. We will begin the unit next week (I will just introduce dramatic terms), but I believe that the more I bring Shakespeare into their world, the better off I will be.
  • Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. This book was mentioned at Book Club Classics as being in "runners up" of the PEN/Faulkner Award. Since I currently teach 7th-12th grade, I thought I could probably relate to Ms. Hempel in a personal way.
  • The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. I think this book has been favorably reviewed on half the book blogs I follow. However, the first blog review of this title that I read was at Books on the Brain and I immediately requested the book from my local library. That was nearly a month ago and I just received the book tonight. I am very much looking forward to this read. How can you go wrong with literary gourmet?!
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. When I reviewed the chunkster, The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb, I had a couple of fellow bloggers suggest this book as one that provides great psychological insight into the minds of those who commit such heinous crimes. I am truly fascinated by this topic and will probably put this at the top of the reading list on March 14.
  • Just After Sunset by Stephen King. Ok - so I must admit - I have never read a Stephen King novel in my life. To be honest, if I sit down to read a book - or watch a movie for that matter - I want to be pleasantly entertained (I LOVE humor). To be scared out of my wits is not entertainment, in my humble opinion. While this newest work has received mixed reviews, those that seem to pan the book do so because there is not enough horror. OK -- so if I am going to cut my teeth on Stephen King, so to speak, then I probably want to do so with something less "horrifying". Also, I am becoming fascinated with the short story genre: how an author quickly establishes setting - plot - characters and satisfactorily resolves all in only a few pages is absolutely mind-blowing to me. I am very much looking forward to this read.
AND... if I manage to complete all these books plus the 12 or so that I need for the summer, then I also have Stephen King's book, On Writing, that I have heard is another fascinating read that I could probably adapt to a number of lesson plans (I guess a teacher never really totally escapes from school).

As a final note before I post......did you know that today, March 5 is World Book Day in the UK and Ireland? Apparently this is an opportunity for any involved in the book trade "to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all." (I discovered this little bit of trivia on the Jane Austen Today blog). So this now makes me very curious: Why doesn't America have a day to celebrate books and reading --- or ---- do we and I am ignorant of that wonderful fact. There has got to be a way to work this "holiday" into my high school literature class today.


  1. You got some good ones. I think you should read The School of Essential Ingredients first - I loved it.

  2. those are some great books. i cant wait to hear what you have to say about How NOT to Write a Novel!

  3. Hi Molly--great post, as usual! :)

    First off--yeah for you for introducing the Bard to your 8th graders--great age to begin discussing him and his work, in my humble opinion!

    Secondly, Maisie Dobbs? One of my FAVORITEE series-and I am not even a huge mystery fan. I agree with your comment about her writing style, it is so "easy" yet over the course of the series she tackles such weighty issue. Winspear is a must read/ must own in hardback author for me and I just got #6 for Valentine's Day! Can't wait to start it.

    Thirdly--we must be kindred I have never read a King novel either and plan to read his Misery for the genre challenge I am doing. Will definitely be a first for me.

    Ms. Hempel Chronicles looks great as does School of essential elements. I just requested The Hour I First Believed from Paperbackswap and previously received We Need To Talk About Keven from their also.

    Hope you have a great day--hang on. Friday is almost here. :)

  4. One of the best feelings in the world is to have a stack of books to read and some time to read them. I even enjoy the moments of indecision over "what am I going to read next?" Enjoy!

  5. Everybody deserves a vacation, so don't worry about counting down the days. Enjoy that stack of books!

  6. Thanks for the compliment on my blog; i appreciate hearing that as i enjoy blogging about books so much.

    I looked at your library stack and chuckled. It's about the size of my stack right now, all while my personal collection remains unread :)

  7. I'm curious how your students responded to the Manga Shakespeare! I look forward to an update on teaching Shakespeare ... and on that great stack of books in the photo!


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