Friday, December 28, 2007

Year in Review Part Two

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

2 comments:

shannon akers said...

you'll love the corrections. it's a very different, brilliant kind of humor writing. and isn't that the book they are going to turn into a movie with will ferrell? maybe?

i just started mrs. dalloway by virginia woolf.
i'm excited.
have you ever read it?

Steph Jamison said...

I totally know what you're saying about how your quality of life and thinking changes when you're not reading. I picked up Atonement after a lapse in reading and found myself absolutely soaking it up and processing so much more beyond the book.

And thanks for the top ten list. I've been looking for a new book. I think I'll go with one of your recommendations :)