Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer of love and books: my summer review


I'm officially back to work, folks. Summer was lovely and fleeting and swift and jam-packed. I read some great books, and now that I look at the stack here, I realize it was mostly a non-fiction summer. I'm tending to lean in that direction lately, I guess.

Now that I'm back to teaching, I mostly re-read the books I teach in 3 different classes, so the new ones thin out a bit during the school year. Speaking of reading books for classes!!! I AM teaching the new class I created and proposed called Outdoor Literature. I'm just a little excited. Those poor kids. I'm going to give them piles of books to read and drool all over them and jump for joy everytime we head out to the beautiful pine forest behind my school for class.

Three books from the pile are ones I'll be teaching, so I'll start with those. (Bless your heart if you are actually going to read all of this. I'll try to keep my blurbs short.)

Between a Rock and Hard Place: You remember hearing this story about the guy who had to cut off his arm to free himself from a fallen boulder? It's a GREAT read. He's actually a pretty talented writer. It could have been done in about 150 pages less, but that's okay.

Touching the Void: Very much in the style of Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a survival story of a climber in Peru. It's a real page turner.

Last Child in the Woods: A smart and thoughtful look into the gifts our children gain from playing outside and learning the cycles of nature just by being out in it all the time. I didn't think I needed convincing about this, but some of of his research was really amazing. Not playing outside enough leads to ADHD? I believe it.

In case you're wondering, the other books I'm teaching in this class are Into the Wild (Krakauer), Last American Man (Gilbert) Walden (Thoreau), and Outermost House (Beston) plus a 2-inch course pack full of essays and poems.

And on to the others:
Kitchen Confidential: You know Anthony Bourdain, the tough guy on the Food Network? His book is sordid and gossipy and full of interesting insights about the restaurant world. Like, never order seafood salad in a restaurant, as this is a thinly veiled attempt for chefs to get rid of their almost-bad fish. Good to know!

Under the Banner of Heaven: Yikes! Enough said.

The Way Life Should Be: A cute novel, a Maine story, and definitely meant for summer (a love story gone awry). What I loved about this main character is she ends up starting up her own little cafe and bakery on a Maine island which is a life I sometimes fantasize about.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman: One of my students from last year made me promise her I'd read this. (She said: Just think of all the books I had to read because you told me to!) Fair enough. So. This book is scary and alarming about our government's involvement in sabotaging third world countries for the financial benefit of major corporations. It's important for us to be aware of this stuff.

But I like to read about prettier things. Like babies and butterflies.

Out Stealing Horses: You know how I feel about that.

Here if You Need Me: My favorite of the non-fiction. A story of a woman who went to seminary after her husband was tragically killed and then became the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. For a spiritually searching girl like me, it was perfect. I am consciously stopping myself here from going on and on and on and on. Her voice is one the bravest, clearest, and (sometimes) funniest I've read in a while. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Olive Kitteridge: A novel written about the main character (title) from the perspective of everyone in the town who knew her, a series of vignettes. It's sort of dark, but many of the imges stayed with me all summer.

That's all! I'd love to hear about the great books you read this summer too.

3 comments:

The Pagleys said...

These is My Words-- this book was wonderful and amazing and one of those books that I didn't want to end. It won a Willa Cather literary award (My Antonia being one of my favorites,I was sold). It is the story of Sarah Prine and the Arizona territory in the late 1800s. It is a trilogy and you grow to love the characters! The story is told in the diary format and as Sarah grows and matures, so does her prose.
One more book I would recommend is Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. What I love about this slave narrative is that it starts where most don't--in Africa! It gives a complete picture that isn't often given.
I also read a young adult fiction story Mystik Lake. I thought it was good but a little sparse.
Funny, I just booktalked Between a Rock and a Hard Place hoping students would pick it up and read it. I had a sophomore girl very interested and just had a teacher come say to me that some of her onlevel students had finished books over the weekend that I had recommended! It made me feel good.

Leigh said...

Is there an e/on-line class for Outdoor Lit? I want to join! Keep us posted on when you read the books, and I will read along (I'll read my copies in the woods down the street or at least on my back deck to keep in tune with the "outdoor" part)!

Carol said...

Hi, Emilie - As the election season progresses, I can't get The Last American Man out of my mind. McCain and Palin are playing with and manipulating the public, torturing the mythology Gilbert so aptly depicts - and the country is tripping merrily along. Very discouraging. I'll look at your family photos again and that will cheer me up... And I vote for an on-line version of your Outdoors class as well.