Sunday, February 13, 2011

What should I read next?

I spent most of this beautiful day, sitting in the backyard finishing my reading of The Privileges by Jonathan Dee. I really didn't like the book. I kept thinking that maybe I just couldn't like a book about wealthy people who, for the most part, had no real struggles, and when the did have struggles, they bought their way out of them. But I know that's not true, I've read and enjoyed books about ultra-wealthy people before, but Dee's depiction of the Moreys never engaged me enough to become sympathetic to any of the characters. Even when I finally thought something exciting/interesting would happen, I would be disappointed with a too easy, too fast resolution to the conflict--money really does buy everything for these people. Although I thought the writing was good, it wasn't so good that I wanted to keep reading. I finished the book because I have a difficult time not finishing books and because it was a book club selection. We met tonight to discuss the book, and I wasn't the only one who didn't like it. Only a couple of members liked the book, but neither of them loved it.

After we finished discussing The Privileges, we picked out our next read from a list of four books, one of which was immediately eliminated because a member had already read it. We settled on a The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I'm not very excited about the choice; I would've preferred The Lotus Eaters. The other choice was The Glass Castle, which every other book club in the world as probably already read. I really dislike memoirs even though I recently read and loved Just Kids, so I was just glad that everyone else didn't want to read it. Surprisingly, no one even named it as one of their top two choices.

Before I start the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I am going to start a new big book. To me a big book is any book with more than 500 pages. I've narrowed my choices down to these six books, all of which I have owned for some time now:
Which one should I read next?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Bookprint

In the course of preparing for my upcoming book fair, I came across Scholastic's You Are What You Read site today. One of the things you can do on this site is share your bookprint, the five books that most influenced you. I always have a problem with these kinds of lists. Just the other day, a student asked me to name my favorite book of all time, and I really couldn't answer the question quickly or easily. I have read and loved so many books, and I have difficulty articulating how the books that I've loved have influenced me.

But I do like the idea of identifying my bookprint, so I'm going to try to pick the 5 books that influenced me the most. Here is my initial list, in no particular order.
  1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X - I feel like I learned much American history from this book, history that I was never taught in school. This book changed my way of thinking about mainstream perceptions and depictions of people who live outside the mainstream. (Does that even make sense?)
  2. Beloved by Toni Morrison - I have read this book so many times, first as a reader then as a grad student and then as a teacher. I love the use of language and the way Morrison starts in the middle and fills in the blanks as the story progresses.
  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Another book that I've read multiple times. This is my all-time favorite dystopia. I love how Atwood depicts the possible outcomes of extreme religious right ideals. Every time I read a YA dystopia, I see the influence of The Handmaid's Tale in it, even if the book has nothing to do with religion or abortion.
  4. Superior Women by Alice Adams - I keep telling myself that I should reread this book to see if it's as great as I remember it. I think this was probably the first novel that I read that I would classify as feminist. As I recall, the women in this book, one of them in particular (can't remember which one right now), were determined to be more than just wives and mothers.
  5. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor - I've read this book two or three times. I love Naylor's story of these women who are from different generations and different socioeconomic status but who all have to deal with not just racial prejudice but also gender bias and bias among themselves.
For now, I'm going to let this list simmer. Because even as I was making the list, I was thinking of other books that I might include. Notice there are no children's books on the list. I can't really remember ever not being a reader, but I never had a favorite kids book, a book that I read multiple times like I see so many kids doing.

What is your bookprint? Can you name the five books that influenced you the most?