Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recent Reads: Part III

It’s hard to believe it’s been three months since I last reported on readings, and a lot of reading has been done since then. Though several articles and a couple fifty page booklets were involved in my recent class, none of them were so significant that they worth posting here. So here are the books yet completed (or in progress):

Touching Spirit Bear, By Ben Mikaelsen
This book is part of the curriculum I taught this past school year, in the midst of the chaos of finishing the school year and trying to manage track season. I really loved this book, which was handed to me the week before the quarter and highly suggested. If you want to read a story about a very troubled teenager, a dysfunctional home, and a couple adults that advocate for healing and processing instead of traditional justice, this is a great fit. There is a bear mauling, island isolation, and a title that doesn’t do it justice. I highly recommend it.

Another Culture, Another World, By Father Michael Oleksa
This was the flagship book for my latest grad school class, which I finished this past weekend. Cross cultural communication is important in most parts of the country these days, but even in out-of-the-way Alaska we deal with more cultures than just about anywhere else in the country. Our minority percentage is a far cry from “highest”, but if you look at different cultures present, some would say we win. Alaska is a crossroads of cultures native to this area and those thousands of miles away, which is why it’s so important to think about the ramifications of our communication styles.

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

I finally finished this novel (after much prompting from Ms. LaPointe, who also read the book as part of our unofficial two person "book club", and then went on to finish it months before I did) , which turned out to be a good summer read. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about the book, which got quite a bit of press when it came out last year. I will say I’m somewhere in the middle: it’s not my favorite book, but I am a sucker for depressing books about dysfunctional families that find bits of redemption in the end. This is 600 pages in a nutshell.

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

I had actually never read this classic before this week. I am teaching it next year, and while I (obviously) like to read things before I teach them, I rather enjoyed plowing through it in less than 24 hours. It’s about 100 pages, and is quite comical in how obvious the historical critique is being played out by animals in your not-so-typical farm. We’ll see how astute the teenagers will be on “getting” this.

Currently Reading: Caribou Island

This is what I’m currently working through, on lazy days when I don’t feel like devoting my life to baseboards. Set in Alaska on a lake I spent some time on just a couple weeks ago, I’m curious to see how it all plays out. Word has it (from my fellow book club members) that the author is making it up here this fall, and we may get to hear from him.

Currently Listening: My Sister, My Love

Joyce Carol Oates has long been one of my favorite authors, ever since I read one of her short stories my senior year in high school. We Were the Mulvaneys, which I read while chaperoning a senior trip back in 2007, and Black Girl/White Girl, which I read while piecing a quilt the same year, continued to endear me to her after college. Her writing can be dark, but is very real, and she does an amazing job approaching social and moral dilemmas without presuming to solve them. This particular book, chosen because it was readily available on CD at the library, and I needed something to accompany my painting project, will not be my favorite. Still, it raises some very interesting ideas that I find myself thinking about even when her narration is finished.


  1. I can't believe you a). finally finished our book club book, b). then kept that fact hidden from me and then c). posted that fact nonchalantly on your blogged and d). (and this one hurts) didn't mention our reading pact as part of this post.

    We are no longer friends.

  2. Ok, we're friends again because I am still giddy about not comment verifying. xx

  3. You're too cute. I just finished The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand, Winter Garden and Night Road by Kristen Hannah. I really liked Winter Garden and I heard it may be turned into a movie. Speaking of movies, have you seen HP yet? I haven't had a chance and it's driving me CRAZY!