This morning I woke up and read my blog. The whole thing. Despite being an avid journaler (is that a word?), I've never really had such a record of my thoughts throughout a given year--which tells me that reading has given me the windows that I so craved when I started this a year ago. There are a few things that I took away from it all:
1. Good reading is necessary for me to function. In the past month I told one of my best friends that my reading life was stagnant and that it was affecting my quality of life. I realize I'm both ridiculous and a dork, but stay with me. I was reading a lot of Young Adult fiction, which is great for entertainment and my job, but not necessarily for me as a person. I attempted to read The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara, but couldn't get through it. I had some great writers of faith on my bookshelf and some interesting collections of essays, but none seemed to satisfy my need for a quality story. Which resulted in a feeling I can describe as lonely? And my room was a mess. A visual representation of my mind. I partially blame my bookclub for disbanding. Just kidding. The bottom line is that I am not myself if I don't have a story to get lost in.
2. Good reading is necessary for good thinking. One of the most interesting things about teaching reading and writing to 8th graders is that it's your job to teach them how to critically think. A part of our curriculum this year was Banned Book Clubs--meaning, yes, I was passing out copies of some of the most famous banned books of history: from "Forever" by Judy Blume to "Matilda" by Roald Dahl to "Gossip Girl." This year forced me to consider my position on reading as a professional...and to be ok with the fact that my opinion might be controversial. But if you could only overhear some of the conversations going on in class and see the way they want to devour books.
3. Reading forces me to think about the world. Some of the themes that have challenged me have been what is authenticity? What is real? What is selfish? What matters enough to make me change? This is why I love books. I'm excited about the lineup that I have for early 2008...
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss
Friday, December 28, 2007
Top Ten Books of My Year (in no particular order)
1. Atonement by Ian McEwan. This book has so much to say about writing and fiction and life while at the same time being a fantastic period piece with incredible characters. A must read before you see the movie (which was well done).
2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer. This book is amazing. Period. Foer's post modern style is ridiculous and his characters so endearing. A unique, poetic treatment of 9/11.
3. Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen. This is a surprising choice for my top ten, but. The themes that come out of this book as well as the chronicles of a slice of U.S. history are quite thought-provoking.
4. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. Hearing a first person memoir about what has been happening in Africa was staggering.
5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Simply the most poetic book I have ever read.
6. Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda. A quick read with characters I want to be friends with.
7. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. A book that completely challenged me and my faith in so many ways.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. There aren't words:)
9. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. This was, I think, the most thought provoking book I read all year.
10. History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Another fiction writing poet, this story just makes your heart ache in the best of ways.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
last week's leaves
calling me to stare
begging me not to turn away
because they wouldn't be
this week some snow
coated the steps
repainted the rooftops
and stole my attention.