Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reading Update

Book #98 of 2018 was Circe, by Madeline Miller. Since I am an Iliad/Odyssey junkie, I loved this book. Circe is a villain in the Odyssey, turning men into pigs, keeping Odysseus from continuing his journey. In this telling, she's got good reasons for everything she does, and you're on her side before you know it. We get to see not just Odysseus, but also Daedalus, Penelope and Telemachus, through Circe's eyes. The writing is good, too. Here's Circe on Odysseus: "And how would such a man go home again, to his fireside and his olives? His domestic harmony with me was closer to a sort of rehearsal, I realized. When he sat by the hearth, when he worked in my garden, he was trying to remember the trick of it. How an axe might feel in wood instead of flesh. How he might fit himself to Penelope again, smooth as one of Daedalus’ joints."

Book #99 was Stay With Me, by Ayobami Adebayo, a Nigerian writer who explores the lives of a couple who can't get pregnant. The solution proposed by friends and family: a second wife. The story kept me turning pages, but I didn't find the ending to be very convincing.

Book #100 was Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person.  Since I've recently been introduced to Rhimes' show "Grey's Anatomy," it was fascinating reading about her own life and the way she sees the world, especially how she uses that material in her creative life.

Book #101 was That Kind of Mother, by Rumaan Alam. I was very surprised by the low customer ratings for this book on Amazon, because I liked it. I appreciated how quiet and understated it was in its handling of potentially explosive material: class, race, child-care, cross-racial adoption, friendship. I loved the recurring motifs of Princess Diana as a role-model, distant and imaginary, and Priscilla as the lactation consultant turned nanny turned saint. I found Rebecca a believable and sympathetic character, and particularly enjoyed the exploration of motherhood and creativity.

Book #102 was 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works, by Dan Harris. I read this book back in August and wrote about it in this post, where I said I wanted someone else to read it so we could talk about it. I solved that one by reading it to my husband, and we both enjoyed discussing it. (I love reading aloud, and it's something we enjoy doing together.)

Book #103 was Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. I have been using this teaching method since the beginning of this school year (I wrote about it some here), and it is extremely useful and effective. I was glad to finish reading the book, finally. It includes scripts for teaching lessons, examples of the signposts in YA books, and even worksheets to share with students.

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