My Current Read (March 2018)
This year, I’m revisiting my knowledge of the Civil War and Civil Rights. My two online courses have been commendable at diving into historical documentation and the county library remains to be a treasure trove of information, particularly when I need to mix some fiction into the reading schedule for the sake of my sanity. I re-visited Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad which I would love to teach (if only I had more time) only to find that I finished it much more quickly the third time around; March isn’t due for a fourth volume for some time. While admittedly I should be reading my way through the upcoming Atwood series, I found myself starting Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock. In three weeks, I finished the series. Great YA and incredibly complex storytelling. Bravo, Marchetta, bravo.
My current read (Dec 2017)
I’ve been on the hunt for a good book to read with a sixth grader. A really smart sixth grader. A book that I would like to build a curriculum and spend a solid two months moving between book talks and literary analysis (as much as a really smart six grader can handle). My tutoree reads at a ninth grade level and fortunate for both of us he loves science fiction and fantasy. By the time we started our sessions, he had already read the Harry Potter series, much of Brian Anderson, and all the Artemis Fowl books. And after spending five weeks on A Wizard of the Earthsea, I think we both needed something light, challenging, and a bit well, less philosophical. On a whim, I breezed through the local library youth section and chose a book that looked like it fit: the cover had dark haired youth who seemed to be surrounded by animated paper cranes. A full moon in the background and the title sold it for me. I read it in a day, bought three copies (one for my personal library, and two to mark up), and headed gleefully to my next tutoring session. I’m not a middle school teacher but if it means I can speak the praises of this book, I’d be happy to share curriculum.
My current read (2016)
It’s been a long time since I’ve dedicated time to just one book. I usually juggle several: one necessary for the upcoming school year, one for fun, one to read at bed and forget. So when a book captures my absolute devotion, I have to rave about it. To everyone. Somewhat obnoxiously. Blogging is no exception: if you read any book right now, please make it Max Berry’s Lexicon. If you are a word fiend, an English major, or a science fiction fan, this will feel new and yet so right at home. If you aren’t any of those things, let Barry’s incredible skill at telling a story kidnap you while on a train, while working out, or while trying to sleep. And then come back here and comment. When you want someone to gush about how insanely good this is for a first time novelist or just to gush about characters, remember me.
The Most Ridiculous(ly) Good Show (2015)
Here’s a fact well known by those who know me: I like zombies. That sounds weird; I don’t mean that I have an affection for them. They eat people and that’s a little hard to move past. I do, however, enjoy zombie stories, movies, and on occasion, graphic novels. And it’s not hard to find a graphic novel or comic with an occasional zombie appearance. It is hard to find an entire novel about a crime fighting zombie mortician with an admirable sense of sarcasm and satire unseen since my Buffy days. Even more so, it was a bit rare to find it in my local library where the graphic novel section is, well, lacking (that’s the nicest word I have for it). And yet, there it was: iZombie by Chris Roberson. If this wasn’t shocking enough, the book cover corner was adorned by the ever popular, “Now a TV show!” declaration.
iZombie is the only graphic novel I know to have both an rich story and smart television version. Gwen now Olivia, played by Rose McIver, is a zombie mortician who must eat brains to survive. No one said victims had to be alive; Olivia eats the brains of cadavers. But, oddly like alcohol, even brains have a side effect. Olivia “inherits” the last memories of each cadaver, making her an almost eerie asset to the local police. Cue episode 1 or pick up the novel!
Let’s get serial (2014)
One of the few advantages to long car rides is that it provides time for me to catch up on all my favorite podcasts/broadcasts. I am a frequent listener of RadioLab, This American Life, and The Howard Stern Show (I remain unashamed), and Very Bad Wizards. And, while I did listen to all of those over break, it was the new podcast of Serial that rocked my trip and cursing areas that lacked enough towers to power up the bluetooth connection.
If you haven’t checked this out or have been absolutely stuck in a cave the past 8 weeks (and I don’t judge), let me give you a brief description: it explores the murder of Hae Lee in Baltimore, January 1999. Sarah Koenig, the host, investigates the evidence against the convicted murderer (an ex boyfriend) and the court proceedings. I won’t ruin it too much, but OHMYGOSH check it out.
My thoughts: Anand is innocent, Jay (seriously, Jay, talk) is holding back, and who KILLED HAE?
I can’t wait for season two.
On a side note, because I can’t turn the teacher in me off, parts of this would be brillant in exploring research skills and technique- why making claims are important/how they matter/how you can interpret things in different ways. Hmmmm…
And in creative writing, you could totally use this to teach the mystery genre….
The Video Game Currently on my Mind (2014)
I really like this approach to gaming- think of how this could be useful in diversity training, culture appreciation, race questions, teaching complicated notions of identity and identity issues. The author hit the nail on the head too- games are very insular- we rely on “gratuitous violence to attract players.” This game begins with storytelling- how do you tell/present a culture and find a story arc? [Theirs is climate change.]
I wonder if students couldn’t do this to explore different cultures or even find a way to bring minor characters to light via a class project.
– Inspired by Limbo/Ico/Shadow of Colussus (I’ll have to look some of this up)