Monday, August 08, 2011

Summer Reading

I didn't read as much this summer as I usually do, but I did finish some books. Here they are:

Book #24 was Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer. My brother-in-law loaned me this book with high recommendations. I found it difficult to plow through, not because it isn't well-written and well-researched, but because of the violence and the abuse that it explores. It's a story of people who kill because they believe God wants them to, of the juxtaposition between violence and fundamentalism. I haven't read anything else by Jon Krakauer except his expose of Greg Mortenson's stretching of the truth in Three Cups of Tea, but I would like to read more of his work.

Book #25 was The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory, a sequel to The White Queen, which I read back in May. I'm not very familiar with this period of British history, the Wars of the Roses, and so many of the people have the same names, so sometimes it's hard going to keep track of the complications. But I'll definitely read the next one in the trilogy.

Book #26 was an Anita Shreve title, The Last Time They Met. The characters kept me reading, and there was a huge surprise on the very last page that I totally did not see coming and that made me want to start again and reread the whole book.

Book #27 was professional reading, Time for Meaning: Crafting Literate Lives in Middle and High School, by Randy Bomer. The book had great things to say about using notebooks with writing students, but I think the very best section was on teaching as craft. That chapter merits a post of its own, and I'll write one when I have the book in front of me. (I can't find it at the moment; I'm thinking it might have been one of the books that we mailed from Florida at the last minute when it became obvious that our luggage was not going to contain all the book bounty we had acquired during the summer.)

Book #28 was Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt. This is a sequel to The Wednesday Wars, about which I raved here. It's the story of Doug Swieteck, a character from the first book, who has now moved with his troubled family. I didn't like it as much as The Wednesday Wars but it was definitely worth reading. I love the way Schmidt uses names in his books, and this one is no exception; the character we knew only as "Doug Swieteck's brother," a complete troublemaker so over the top as to be a joke, here becomes someone we can have compassion for, and whose name we learn. I think Gary Schmidt is a great writer and I am hoping he will get the Newbery one of these days.

This post is linked to the August 13th Saturday Review of Books.

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