Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Reading

 Another school year has passed, and another summer break has begun.  I've enjoyed the last week just relaxing, and though I've been semi-productive, everything I've done has been on my own time.  I didn't have to worry about what time it was, ever.  The freedom from my usually beloved schedule has been the best vacation so far.  But because my nature still needs some sort of task to accomplish, lest I slip into introversion and self-analysis that can only lead to misery, I have been devouring books like it's my job.  Here are a few snippets of my thoughts so far.

The Submission by Amy Waldman
Sometime last year the peeps revived book club after a long hiatus, and although I opted out of several selections because of the busy-ness of last winter, I have read the last few and have surprisingly enjoyed a few books that I never would have picked for myself.  The Submission was one of them, chosen by our dear friend Martha.  It is set just after the attacks of 9/11, and a jury of artists, architects, and one widow are given the task of choosing the design, and designer, of the memorial.  After an arduous process that kept all candidates anonymous until chosen, it turns out that the jury has selected a Muslim architect.  Of course, the shock of this reverberates throughout the country, and to call thought-provoking  Waldman's speculation on how a grief-stricken America might react to the idea of a person who claims the same religion as the attackers creating a memorial to the attacked is a vast understatement.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I had read this beautiful story once before when I was very young, too young to remember and understand the most touching and teaching parts of it.  So, when Rob and Tracy and I ventured across the country to DC in March (how appropriate), Rob and I took turns reading it in the car.  I won't tell you how many times she had to stop when she found me shamelessly sobbing in the back seat. We got about 2/3 of the way through it, but then I was back at school, and life didn't slow down, so I had to wait until early last week to pick it up again.  The story of the precious March family and the trials and victories the girls encounter while growing up is a classic masterpiece.  One can't help but fall in love with them all and rejoice when they rejoice and weep (literally) when they weep.  I haven't read the subsequent stories of these characters, Little Men and Jo's Boys, yet, but they're on my list to tackle as soon as my fragile emotions have recovered.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
This was another book club selection, chosen by Becky.  The idea in iBooks' blurb (because I read nearly everything on my wonderful iPad now) of a young boy being trained as a soldier to fight off an alien invasion did not appeal to me in the least.  However, the intense struggle of Ender, a young, empathetic genius in a futuristic universal world, to overcome his circumstances, and often himself, held my interest to the end.  I am often irritated by books that begin in medias res, dropping me down in the middle of the action (especially in a world so different from my own), but the way that the characteristics of this new place were gradually revealed was exciting because I was always searching for clues in the text.  It was very well written and nearly thrilling and had me rooting for the young genius until the End(er).

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I have been told by many people that I am perhaps the last person on the planet to read this book and its sequels.  It's been on my reading list for at least three years, but I've never been interested enough to pick it up because I feared it was another Twilight, and don't get me started on the ridiculousness of that phenomenon.  However, I had several beloved students this year who were super in love with The Hunger Games (so much so that the girls all braided their hair to be like Katniss's on our Senior High Retreat, which was the day after the movie's midnight premiere), so I had to find out what all the fuss was really about.  I didn't expect to really enjoy it, and I won't say that I'm sucked in.  But Collins did make me care about her characters, and I'll say this for her:  She knows how to sell a sequel.  The cliffhanger at the end of The Hunger Games makes me thankful I waited so long to read them because I'd be miserable if I were waiting for Mocking Jay to finally be released. 

Well those are the books I've finished this week.  Don't hold me to this high weekly standard for the rest of the summer, but I do plan to finish several more.  I'm also reading/listening to Les Miserables along the way, but I don't have the focus it takes to get through those roughly 3000 pages without several breaks.  I've seen the musical, and I have been saying I was going to read it someday for sometime.  Rob and I are planning to see the musical again in October, so I thought this was the perfect time.  I like a task I can check off of a list, and setting a goal of getting through Hugo's magnum opus by then seemed perfect.  I'll keep you updated on how it's going.  So far I'm on page 86 of 2820. 

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