Sunday, December 06, 2020

Reading Update

Book #79 of the year was, a reread, Number the Stars, Lois Lowry's Newbery-winning novel about World War II in Denmark, and the heroic way the Danes moved almost all of their country's Jews to safety to escape the Nazis. I'm reading this with my sixth graders this quarter, and so far it is going excellently. It's a fast-paced, exciting story, based on the real-life childhood of Lowry's friend. 

Book #80 was another reread, The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. I'm reading this one with my seventh graders. I wouldn't have chosen it for that age group, because I just think a novel (this is a non-fiction account) with a protagonist close to their own age would be more relatable for them. I was really glad to reread it, though. What a story, and how inspiring!

Book #81 was also a reread, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I love this book, and I'm enjoying teaching it in eighth grade. I tried it once before, many years ago, and found it didn't go terribly well. I wrote a little bit about that here. This time it's going well so far. We'll see what this year's classes think of the ending.


Book #82 was Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. (I read Wilkerson's first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, back in August, and it's in the running for the best book I've read this year. Wow!) It took me a long time to read this one, not because it wasn't well-written and engaging - it was. But it was so very painful to read the horrific and sickening details of how racism, cruelty and caste have been woven into the history of the United States since the very beginning. "It was not," Wilkerson writes, "merely a torn thread in 'an otherwise perfect cloth,' wrote the sociologist Stephen Steinberg. 'It would be closer to say that slavery provided the fabric out of which the cloth was made.'" Wilkerson's epigraph, a quote from James Baldwin, probably sums the book up better than anything: "Because even if I should speak, no one would believe me. And they would not believe me precisely because they would know that what I said was true." This is a must-read, but prepare yourself to see things differently when you're done than you do when you begin. 

Book #83 was Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones. I read Jones' book An American Marriage back in 2018, the year it came out. This one was published in 2012, and isn't nearly as good as the more recent title.  It is good, though. It's about bigamy, family secrets, and friendship. 


Book #84 was The Land, by Mildred D. Taylor. This is the first of Taylor's Logan Family Saga. I read the fourth book in the series, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, with my seventh graders earlier in this school year, and wrote about it here. These books are based on Taylor's own family stories, and are a great companion read to Isabel Wilkerson's books, as Taylor's work dramatizes the exact situations and problems Wilkerson writes about. 

Book #85 was the latest Inspector Gamache book (the sixteenth), All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny. I liked how this one was set in Paris, and many of the familiar characters show up, plus some new ones. 



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