Well, if you read my last post – and noticed my lack of posts for the week – you have surmised that my free time has diminished considerably since school started. While I do still feel overwhelmed, I also feel blessed that I “have to” read classic literature for a living. How great is that?! So while I have not had much time to read books for fun, I have been reading.
I am still not confident enough in my writing/reviewing capabilities to post a full-scale review (I am hoping that I will overcome this inferiority complex in due time), I can tell you what books I have been reading and my limited insight into them. First of all, I read Wuthering Heights over the Christmas break (yes, it was the first time that I had read this amazing classic) and I read it in anticipation of the PBS Masterpiece Theater production – which will be shown in 2 episodes, beginning this evening and continuing next Sunday evening. I also understand from the Barnes and Noble classics bookclub that the episode will be available online through February 1. So, if you have the time, you might want to check it out.
I did manage to read one book that I can count towards the “Just for the Love of it” reading challenge hosted by Sheri of A Novel Menagerie. I read the collection of three short holiday stories by Truman Capote entitled, A Christmas Memory, One Christmas, and the Thanksgiving Visitor. I requested this book prior to Thanksgiving and it only became available after the holiday season. The book was a quick read (only 107 pages total), but the effects were lasting. I have only read In Cold Blood by Capote (and only read that this fall) and so I am not familiar with his writing style. He tells a good story, with plenty of detailed description, but the endings are not of the “warm fuzzy” holiday tradition. I am guessing that Truman Capote does not like the “happily ever after” endings because his personal life did not mimic a fairy tale story. Capote seems to want to tell a story of “real” life and real life cannot be summed up in a neat, tidy package. My first reaction was somewhat negative when I finished reading the book, but I have found myself pondering the stories over the course of the week, which probably attests to his gifted writing ability. If I were to rate the book, I think I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars and I do plan to read it again – just not during the holiday season when I like all my stories to have that “warm fuzzy” feeling.
The book that I have spent the most time reading this week is for my 8th grade English class – The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. This is another one of the many classics that I had never read as a student and have wanted to read as an adult. As I read the book, and some of the commentaries, I have discovered that I need to keep my audience in mind — 8th graders! There are so many layers of analysis for this very short novella, that I am sure graduate students could be kept busy for months discussing the potential meaning in every sentence. Suffice it to say, the 8th graders will certainly understand the book on the literal level – an old fisherman’s fight with a worthy opponent; the endurance necessary to complete a task; and that success does not always mean material success but rather a job well done. I hope to bring out some of the allegorical elements of the story (Santiago is compared to Christ and Mandolin his disciple) in an effort to help students learn to recognize symbolism in writing. I think I will be doing well if I can accomplish this much in the 4 Wednesdays that I have to teach the book. I know that this will be one story that I can read and re-read and each time I will find something different, perhaps more profound, than the previous times.
This is a 3 day weekend for us, so tomorrow I plan to take my student bookclub to Lawrence (home of University of Kansas) to roam around the independent used bookstore, The Dusty Bookshelf. We went there last October and they had such a grand time that they have requested to go again – on a school holiday! It should be a fun time.
Today will be spent reading and analysing Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I will be teaching this to my 7th grade class and while I am sure there are layers of meaning with this YA novel, I am hoping that it will not be quite as deep as my Hemingway experience yesterday.
May you all be warm and cozy in your Salons this Sunday!