Last month I wrote a Slice of Life about reading, how I had been neglecting it, and I asked for recommendations for my next read. I got some great suggestions, most of which I had not read yet. I went to my public library online, and checked out Goldfinch first, which Fran Haley had suggested.
I loved this sad and suspenseful book that had characters I will never forget. It was really difficult to put the book down, and I would read in bed for too long each evening, until my eyes glazed over or I fell asleep. However, I’m a slow reader, and this book was 750ish pages, so I had to renew it. Then yesterday I had to have a cataract removed from my eye, and I still had about 3 hours left to finish the book. When I got home, while my eye was still patched, I finished reading it. One eye closed under the patch, and the font size enlarged for my other lone eye.
Today I checked out my next book, this one on audio so I can rest my eyes the next few days and do more listening. Thanks to Lakshmi’s idea of listening to classics on audio, I checked out Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.
The year was 1992 and my husband was traveling for his job. My children were two and four, and we had been at some friends’ house all day playing with their kids and passing the time. As we were leaving Kevin gave me a book, The Sphere, by Michael Crichton. I have no idea if the book was any good, or if I just needed an adult book and anything would have worked. Perhaps I had mentioned earlier in the day that it had been a long time since I had read a novel, and that is why he gave it to me. Anyway, I brought it home, put the girls to bed, and started reading it. I’m not a super fast reader, but for some reason my brain devoured this science fiction book and I read it until 3:00 a.m., and when I finally turned the last page I went to bed.
Those devouring reading times have come once in a while throughout my life when I have fasted too long from reading. For the past few years of teaching grade 5, my students and I have kept track of our reading. Each year I read 40-60 books. However, the pandemic came and reading became something I neglected. I don’t know why.
However, this month reading is coming back to me, fortunately. I readClint Smith‘s How the Word is Passed, Winn Collier‘s Holy Curiosity, and yesterday I read most of The Racketeer by John Grisham. It was awful, but mesmerizing. I just had to finish it, kind of like The Sphere all those years ago. It reminded me that I need to find good fiction and start reading again! I need fiction to disengage and relieve stress, stress internalized from the daily news as well as the nonfiction books I’m reading.
Do you have any suggestions for my next adult or young adult fiction book?
I took a challenge from Jill Canillas Daley (@jcd118) to post seven book covers, one a day for seven days. No explanation, no reviews.
I accepted a challenge to post covers of seven (good) books that I enjoy: no explanations, no reviews. Each time I post a cover I'll ask someone to take up the challenge- one cover a day. On Day 4 I nominate @mrsdkrebs#kidlit#booklovepic.twitter.com/KCn6NsTyju
I joined in the challenge. (It reminded me of chain letters from a generation ago, for those of you as old as me.) Anyway, I decided to choose from the limited books I have in Bahrain and I easily chose seven good books. I posted them, as instructed. No explanation. No review.
However, I decided to also post a few book covers during the week with a bit of comment, and I’m including those here because they are too important to post without some explanation.
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis
I had Jim Wallis’ book in my Kindle for a year before I got around to it. I bought it when it first came out, but when I started following #CleartheAir, I noticed I had work to do. I went back and read the book. It started me on a journey.
Robin DiAngelo was the next book that came to my attention. I was struck with new thoughts after a lifetime of living with my privilege and not really noticing it.
Quote: In my workshops, I often ask people of color, “How often have you given white people feedback on our unaware yet inevitable racism? How often has that gone well for you?” Eye-rolling, head-shaking, and outright laughter follow, along with the consensus of rarely, if ever. I then ask, “What would it be like if you could simply give us feedback, have us graciously receive it, reflect, and work to change the behavior?” Recently a man of color sighed and said, “It would be revolutionary.” I ask my fellow whites to consider the profundity of that response. It would be revolutionary if we could receive, reflect, and work to change the behavior.
Layla speaks directly to people who are holders of white privilege. I was confronted with my white apathy and white silence. She has to keep telling us white people the same things over and over again. When I went to her Instagram posts and read some of the comments, I see white people commenting on her posts who continue to center our world on whiteness, with blatant white superiority, tone policing (I could listen if you would say it in a nicer way.”), or white exceptionalism (“I’m a good white ally. I’m glad I’m not like those others.”) And the rest of us get away with casually viewing or ignoring because of our white apathy and silence. The world goes on, with us not doing this work with urgency and fidelity, comfortable in our own white supremacy and privilege.
Quote: The Me And White Supremacy Workbook is a one of a kind self-guided workbook and personal anti-racism tool that has been designed to help you to take ownership of your participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy, and to help you take responsibility for dismantling the way that this system manifests both within you and within your communities. This workbook is part education, part activation. It helps you to take a clear look at the different multifaceted aspects of white supremacy and how they operate in both subtle and direct ways within you, and within others.
This one hurt the most. It was difficult and important to read history through the eyes of a black scholar who has recognized white rage throughout our history, white rage against black people. I have read a precious few history books by authors of color.
We have a history that has never been repented of. We never made amends, and we are living with the harvest that comes from planting seeds of rage for hundreds of years. We reap what we sow, and until we rip out the crop, burn up the weeds, plow the ground, and get it ready for a replanting, we will keep dealing with the same ugly chapters repeated over and over again in new centuries.
It will be a lifelong and intentional battle to stop systemic, toxic, and endemic racism in our country. I’ve committed to joining the battle.
What are you reading, either professionally or personally? Why?
If you aren’t reading, why not?
Ah, today I like that third question. When I’m not reading, I like to be reminded of it. I like to be asked that question. It reminds me that a book is the ax for the frozen sea within me. (F. Kafka)
Those times when I need it most are the times I stop reading. Most often, I blame my busy schedule.
Despite the busyness, though, I try to take a bit of time most days to read the Bible because I love Jesus and want to know God better. And there is no better ax.
Despite the busyness, I am reading kindergarten books because I spend my day with kindergarteners who love to hear stories and are learning to read decodable books.
However, in addition to those books that I am reading, I need to add others. I need a book that makes me think, challenging me and my small visions. I need a book that makes me cry, laugh, get-away-from-it-all, or hone my craft as a teacher. I want to do all the reading!
I’m glad you asked, #AprilBlogADay, because I love when I have a book I can’t put down. Now, I’m going to find a book and read it!
I thought I would give it a try today. This summer I decided to get serious about using GoodReads.com. Good decision! It’s a success. I’ve read more and faster, I’ve had many good books recommended through great reviews and suggestions, and my two children’s lit students have joined and log their books on GoodReads too.
Here’s what I’ve read this week.
Professional Book – I have to revamp my literacy classes next year because I am sad I’m going from two periods (English and Literature) to one period (just English). I’m reading lots of books about reading and writing. I must take advantage of every minute I have with my students.
Children’s Fiction – I liked the book Ivan the One and Only. After I read it I noticed it is the intermediate book pick for the Global Read Aloud 2012 (#glread12). I was curious about the Benjamin Pratt book, so I read that one too.
Children’s Non-fiction – I like Jean Fritz, and I teach U.S. history and government, so I read two of hers. Then I also checked out all the Diane Stanley books in my library.
Short Stories – This one has taken me a while to finish. The stories are old, written about the Civil War by women in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
For this Week – I’ve been plugging away at John Adams, but I have two children’s books handy for when I need a break.
Artwork is one of the things I miss from my days of teaching primary grade students. Junior highers can do intricate and beautiful artwork, but there is something sweet and innocent about first grade art. Look at the care this little one went through to write this message on my placemat at the reading council banquet.
I’m looking forward to taking her advice this summer!