Book Talk: The Tiger’s Wife

Another amazing book I’ve read recently is The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. First, I’m amazed at how young she is! WOW! What an incredible, fresh writer! Next, the Balkan folklores immediately pull you in on a wild chase as Natalia, the main character, explores the mystery of her grandfather’s death.

I really appreciated the fact that there were so many unique superstitions woven together in this novel because it mimics all of the family stories you know you have heard once or twice (or hundreds of times) at gatherings. In addition, I think it is important to respect the past while still looking ahead at what’s to come. Thus, Natalia balances that line and continues along her journey.

The vivid description apparent within the novel made me feel as if I was trekking along the back woods and watching the “diggers” myself. Even though this story originated from continents and time periods away, there’s something here that just draws you in…something that we all can connect to no matter who we are or where we are from…that “thing” is the power of story telling and how those stories are passed down and shape each and every one of us.

I would highly recommend this book and can already think of several students who would jump on this for an IR read! Definitely check it out; it’s a must-read!

How much is enough?

One of my personal struggles is trying to fit in more reading time into my schedule. In addition, I’m always wondering if I have read enough — classics, YA Lit, non-fiction, fiction. I would say that I’m pretty well-read (though I think you can ALWAYS find something to read!); however, a lot of what I have read, particularly with the classics, was years ago. So, my question for others is how do you keep up with all you have read?

I find that I will “think” I haven’t read something, and then get part way into the novel and realize I have, in fact, read it. I also acknowledge that there is a difference between reading a novel for pleasure and reading a novel to teach it (at least in my opinion).

Nevertheless, you can never read too much (#bookaday, anyone?) 🙂 And I’m always looking for more titles to add to my collection! (note: I can’t WAIT to read this!)

ps I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m using Goodreads and Book Crawler to help catalog some of the works I have read and hope to utilize them more in the future!

pps I’m also thinking more and more about establishing a legit class library. Would love to hear how others have set that up, what they have included, etc.

Book Talk: Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time. This novel had me hooked from beginning to end, and I’m so glad that I grabbed in while I was in the bookstore (especially considering during the bookstore visit, which involved an attendant who did not believe I was a teacher even with photo ID, and would not help me find what I was looking for, and then I was mocked by the manager, and … I’ll stop there because the bookstore alone is a story within itself!).

This powerfully moving narrative highlights the life of WWII AF lieutenant Louie Zamperini, whose colorful younger days ranged from neighborhood trouble maker to one of the best runners in the world. It not only serves as a historical novel of a very significant point in our world’s history, but it also weaves in the lives of so many who were involved and directly impacted with the war that you would not necessarily read about (or at least as in-depth) within a history text in school.

I think this would be a great novel for any English/History class, and a novel that could lead to an independent research activity in which students find the story of one of the servicemen (or women on the home front) and bring it to life. Further, I have always said that I am not a “history” person, and yet Hillenbrand made me a history person with her vibrant writing. Thus, this novel has the potential to pull in more reluctant students in an engaging way that would tie in what they are learning about in their history class.

I don’t want to give too much away regarding this book, and it would be easy to do so because its story will stay with me for a long time. Anyway, I truly feel that if you only read one book this summer, make Unbroken that book!

Book Talk: title suggestions

Here are some titles that were shared at my recent AP Lit workshop that I thought I’d share with others:

Two more titles I’d add to this list that will be a part of my Book Talk convo in a few are Unbroken and The Tiger’s Wife. I read these two books back-to-back and thought they were both absolutely INCREDIBLE.

Book Talk: must-have app! (or two)

I have been looking for some way to help keep track of all of my books — both electronically and hard copy. With the suggestion from one of my “virtual colleagues,” I checked out Book Crawler.

So far, it has been super user-friendly and a great app! I love that it scans the ISBN and automatically fills in all of the information for me. The only thing I would love to see it do is sync books more smoothly to Goodreads (after accidentally deleting my entire Goodreads library, I tried to import the CSV file from Book Crawler, and it left off a few books).

I know this may not make sense to some people, but I found it a lot easier to catalog the correct book within Book Crawler, yet still love the more social feel of Goodreads. Also, I wish there was a more direct way of transferring information from different devices (i.e. iPhone to iPad) without having to actually merge the CSV file each time. Regardless, it’s a great app for book lovers to check out!

ps I just found out that the Goodreads app also has a bar code scanner for quick access to info! So, now goodreads vs book crawler…or maybe both? You can never have too many backups, right? Then again, I’m striving to be more simple, ha!

Book Talk: Water for Elephants

After mentioning it just the other day, I wrapped up Water for Elephants today on our back porch, enjoying the breeze, listening to the pups snore as they sunbathed, and surprisingly catching a LOT of sun! Ah! Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and am glad I took my advisee’s suggestion to check it out! It did have mature content to it [i.e. language, sexuality, violence], so I’d keep that in mind if recommending it to students. However, I definitely see this as a book several of my students would love to read (and actually, again, it was recommended to me by one!).

Gruen did her research. And she talks about it in the author notes at the back of the novel. For me, that’s what made the entire story come alive. The fact that all of those details came from some story that encompassed the circus era really made all of the intricate details stick out even more! And, who wouldn’t fall in love with the main character, Jacob, as we follow him on his journey after he loses everything. In addition, if you’re an animal lover, your heart will feel the highs and lows of all of those characters mentioned, too.

I’ve noticed the book will be a movie this spring, and though as I’ve stated before I’m not a big book to movie fan, I am interested to see how the directors set everything up for it!

Hey! What’s that book?

I think having an independent reading component in the classroom is imperative to creating a reading environment where everyone can find something that best fits his/her own “style.” We share our IR books through book trailers, and it’s been neat to see how kids have creatively put in their analysis through different components within their trailers…not to mention how they have given their peers some titles to check out as well.

Anyway, as we were headed out for spring break, I caught a glimpse of one of my advisee’s books she was carrying with her. It was Sara Gruen’s novel Water for Elephants. I think I surprised her by my enthusiasm at her book selection, and she responded, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool so far. You should check it out.”

Then it hit me…what AM I reading right now? I remember awhile ago when my kids asked me this very question, and realized it was time for me to add onto my goodreads shelf (which by the way, I really need to jump on board with because my bookshelf does NOT represent all that I have read/am reading by any means, ha!). So, at the suggestion of my advisee, I’m checking out Gruen’s novel and have been enjoying it thus far quite a bit! Also, on top of a myriad of other articles I’m catching up with from EJ and CCC, I am also re-reading Wuthering Heights. Man, I forgot how much I loved this book!

Be on the look out for another Book Talk soon!