Saturday, March 08, 2008

Reading Update

Book #6 was Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale. I read her book Princess Academy aloud last year to my seventh graders and although lots of the boys were put off by the title, everyone ended up enjoying it, especially the last third of the book. Now I'm reading Book of a Thousand Days to my eighth graders (the same group that listened to Princess Academy last year) and it seems that many of them are finding it a bit slow. I expect them to perk up their interest in the last third when the action heats up. I enjoyed this one for many reasons, not least of which was the focus on sound and smell imagery. Dashti is very sensitive to senses other than the visual because of the time spent locked up in the tower in near-darkness, but also because her culture focuses on smell. Their greeting includes breathing in the scent of the other person.

Book #7 was The Steps, by Rachel Cohn, a loaner from one of my students. Cohn is good on the mixed feelings that Annabel has towards her divorced parents and "the steps" in her father's new family. The Australian setting makes a nice change, too, from other books of this type.

Book #8 was The Uncommon Reader: A Novella, by Alan Bennett. What fun! The premise is that the Queen of England discovers reading, not just reading that she must do for her job, but reading for pleasure - with unexpected consequences.

Here's the Queen at the beginning of the book: "Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato - one finishes what's on one's plate. That's always been my philosophy."

Here's what happens when she decides to read in the palace library. "But though it was called the library and was indeed lined with books, a book was seldom if ever read there. Ultimatums were delivered there, lines drawn, prayer books compiled and marriages decided upon, but should one want to curl up with a book the library was not the place. It was not easy even to lay hands on something to read, as on the open shelves, so-called, the books were sequestered behind locked and gilded grilles. Many of them were priceless, which was another discouragement."

I marked lots of other great quotes but I'll stop there - but this book is absolutely delicious and you should read it!

Right now I'm reading Black Baby, White Hands, Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles, and (still) Kids Are Worth It. I'm also reading The Wednesday Wars aloud to my children and the whole family is loving it. I haven't started a new grown-up novel yet but maybe today if I can get through all the other stuff I have to do...I got a pile of projects yesterday I have to grade, my planning for next week must be done, lots of the regular grading, and some other have-to reading I promised to get done this weekend...

Here's today's Saturday Review of Books.


writer2b said...

'The Uncommon Reader' sounds very inviting! I'll have to see if the library has a copy.

Sherry said...

I must be the only one who didn't like The Wednesday Wars (didn't finish it), but I do think I'll add The Uncommon Reader to my TBR list.