Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Come To Terms - And Then You Read

The word is out, teachers are packing, a letter was sent home to parents today and schedules will be changing Monday. I'm keeping my law class but coming out of the Learning Center to pick up a Freshman English course.

Yuck. However, it's much better than it could be. The teachers who are leaving all seem to have phenominal outlooks. One of the English teachers leaving said she was grateful they just finished reading Puritan literature so she identifies more with the, "It's God's will" philosophy right now more than she would, say, after reading The Great Gatsby.

I've been continuing on my reading binge myself. Last week, after reading a few heavier selections, I opted for some no-brain, easy historical chick-lit just for kicks. It was horrible. As typical for those books, the female protagonist falls in love with her captor. Can we say Stockholm Syndrome, my friends? It was bad, and just like a train wreck I kept on reading the darn thing and honestly think I'm stupider for it. Not to say all romances are bad. I've read some excellent ones, but this was bad. B-A-D, Bad.

Seems like this is also the year for students to bring me books to read. I love the way that this year they're not just sayin, "Hey, you should read," but instead they're actually letting me borrow their books. Last Monday I read Upstate because a student gave me her copy.
I was honestly surprised and caught off guard by the language and situations that are graphically described. I'm all for colorful language - sometimes watered down just doesn't do, but this was rather impressive to the point that even I was taken aback. The book is in our school's library which I think surprises me the most. I like the themes present, but would I tell a kid to go pick it up....no. I'd be too afraid.

This year, I have a Super Senior (5th yr senior) whom I taught last year. He's repeating his senior year, but determined to graduate. He didn't say much last year and I don't think I've heard a full paragraph out of him this year, but yesterday he walked to me and just handed me a book.

He said simply, "It's good. Read it."

So I am.

It's written by Michael Oher - the man the movie The Blind Side portrayed. He wrote the book after the film came out to clear up some misconceptions and detail his life before the film picks up the story. So far, I'm enjoying it and know a lot of students who would as well. The language is incredibly simple, almost painfully so, but it's straight forward. I'm not very far into it yet, but I will be by the end of the night and hopefully can get it to him by Thursday, because...we have a problem.

Let me start by saying I don't like fantasy novels as a whole. Fictional countries and governments coupled with fantasy elements and names I am unfamiliar with and can't pronounce make me angry and I shut down completely. I've refused to read fantasy with the same ardor that I refuse to listen to country music. It's just not happening.

Two weeks ago, a student lent me The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. I faked the smile, thanked him and said it was one that I was looking forward to reading because I had heard so much about it. Lie. Big Lie, but again, a kid gives you a book you show excitement and read it. Read it. All 638 pages of it. Right. However, I had to do it. I couldn't not do it.

So now, two weeks later he's lent me and I've finished not only book one but book two in the series and he was supposed to bring me book three today, but he was absent. HOW CAN YOU BE ABSENT WHEN YOU'RE TEACHER'S SANITY HINGES ON READING THIS BOOK!!! Totally unacceptable. I need to read this third book! I can't stand it. I still maintain I don't like fantasy and I'm so not reforming myself and listening to country, but I've gotten sucked into these books and the characters. The language is thoughtful, the characters fully developed and the fantasy aspect isn't so overwhelming that it's offputting.

I do love long series and sagas to which sense I think these books appealed. All I know is that I'm sitting here trying to read the Michael Oher book and all I can think about is the plot line from the other books. Am I a convert? Have I moved over to the fantasy dark side? I don't know, but what I do know is that it's a fast moving genre that plays very well into the new macabre teen fiction that's become so popular.

Do I recomend the Shadow series? Heck yeah I do...except for book three since I haven't read it yet because some kid was absent and is torturing me purposefully, or at least that's the story I'm going with. Good lord, what if he's at school tomorrow but doesn't have it with him? Think positive thoughts, think positive thoughts....

The morning comes early. Sweet reading dreams.


  1. I guess this means you don't like Harry Potter.

  2. Actually, Vanessa, I've never read them. The boy's on book 4 now and it's certainly a series that I think I'll pick up soon. I think it will appeal to the elongated saga loving part of my mind, that and the series have become so much a part of our literary identity that I think I would love them.

    I'm thinking they'll be a gateway drug. ;) Still not listening to country, however.

  3. Finished the Michael Oher book just now. Very worthwhile to see the story behind the story.

  4. I'm always up for book recommendations. The LONG winter reading season is almost here and my list needs filling. I took your advice on Wintergirls and have that ordered through the library. I'm waiting..........

  5. Sue, you'll love Wintergirls. Let me know how it goes for you!

  6. LOL! I love how your love of reading obviously shows and rubs off on your students - when they are bringing you books that THEY ACTUALLY READ, that's a great sign! :)

  7. Oh man, my kid, husband and I devoured the Shadow series. Except we hate, hate, hate his "lady love." Eeegh. Give me someone with more fire, rather than Ms. Custard-wouldn't-melt. Bleah.

    I actually said to my teen yesterday, "you'd really rather be an assassin, wouldn't you?" and she just smiled.

  8. He doesn't want to be an assassin. "assassin's miss." ;)