pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (books)
So Drew and I went to Borders today for the first time in forever, and I bought three books. (YAY! Buying books never gets old.) One of the three was A.J. Jacobs' book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. I'm fascinated by theology anyway, but I also teach the Bible as literature to my 9th graders and am about to start that unit, so I thought it would be an educational and timely (if irreverent) book to read right now.

I started reading it around 4:30 and just finished it. So. Good. Funny, yes, but it was also deeply respectful and unexpectedly touching. It was also incredibly well researched, and it was clear that he really tried to approach the process even-handedly. I've done a ton of research over the past couple of years, but I still learned a lot from reading this book and was vastly entertained. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Here are two excerpts about how intimidating this process was for Jacobs, and they capture perfectly how I've felt about teaching the Bible:

I felt torn, anxious about my approach, my monumental ignorance, my lack of preparation, about all of the inevitable blunders I'd make. And the more I read, the more I absorbed the fact that the Bible isn't just another book. It is the book of books, as one of my Bible commentaries calls it. I love my encyclopedia, but the encyclopedia hasn't spawned thousands of communities based on its words. It hasn't shaped the actions, values, deaths, love lives, warfare, ad fashion sense of millions of people over three millennia. No one has been executed for translating the encyclopedia into another language, as was William Tyndale when he published the first widely distributed English-language edition of the Bible. No president has been sworn in with the encyclopedia. It's intimidating, to say the least. (13)

I'm poring over religious study books, desperately trying to get a handle on this [specific Biblical] topic and every other. My reading list grows exponentially. Every time I read a book, it'll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It's like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads. (29)

That last excerpt made me laugh out loud in recognition.

Anyway, I thought some of you might also be interested, so I thought I'd spread my love of this book over here.
pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (books)
As recorded on the Key West Literary Seminar blog:

"I have seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by small talk."
Annie Dillard, on why she was introducing Jake Silverstein, then getting the hell off the stage.

"You don't judge a painting by how precisely it portrays the object it depicts."
James Gleick in discussion with Janna Levin

"Physicists are the only ones allowed to talk about beauty with a straight face anymore"
Janna Levin in discussion with James Gleick

"It's like trying to get puppies to look in the mirror."
Billy Collins on getting poets to discuss how they think about their work.

Book Post

Jan. 11th, 2008 08:13 pm
pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (books)
I've often thought it might be interesting to track the books I read over the course of a year. Never actually done it, partly because of laziness and partly because it's a little embarrassing to admit how much brain candy I consume. I think that's part of the balance in being an English teacher, though--got to have something to offset all the Very Serious Literature.

I'm probably not going to say much about the books themselves (I told you I was lazy), though I'm always happy to discuss any book in the comments. My plan is to list the books I've read for pleasure first and then the books I'm teaching and/or referencing for school second.

Book Post #1 behind the cut: 1/1/08-1/11/08Read more... )

So there you have it! I think that's everything I've read so far.

I just posted a new blog entry over at my teaching site, by the way: Of Boogers and Books. Stop on by, if you'd like.
pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (books)
I don't do this often (but should!), but I thought I'd take a minute to list a couple of the books I've read recently.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: I've been hearing about this book for awhile, and I finally picked up a copy. I was astounded by it. The world See paints is so vivid that your feet will hurt along with Lily's as they are bound into three-inch slippers (be warned--the foot-binding chapter will make you sick to your stomach), and I was amazed at the level of empathy I felt for characters in a world so totally foreign to my own. The friendship between Lily and her laotong Snow Flower and the secret language of nu shu entranced me. I recommend this book highly.

The Art of Detection by Laurie King: I love both of King's major mystery series (the historical Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series and the modern Kate Martinelli series). This book is the latest Martinelli, so it's set in modern-day San Francisco. King mixed her series a bit by basing the murder on a Holmes' enthusiast's obsession with a newly discovered Conan Doyle manuscript. I enjoyed the story as always, but I can't say that this was my favorite in either of the series. Something about it didn't quite capture me the way King usually does. Still, if you've liked the Martinelli books in the past, I imagine you'll enjoy this one as well. I certainly did.

I've just started Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor: Interesting so far. More soon. I'm also about to start reading The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine for school. I was looking forward to that second on a lot more before I heard so many negative things about its accuracy. I'll have to read it and then read what the critics have to say.

Oh, I've also been watching a couple of wonderful documentaries: Planet Earth and Blue Planet. Wow. Nature documentaries don't get better than these, I'm pretty certain.

So that's all for now. More later when I can remember everything I read before a couple days ago. My brain is a bit mushy.

Book Spam

Mar. 12th, 2007 06:51 pm
pixkris: Wedding Day Smiles (I See)
Every single person in the world needs to read Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite because it is both snarky and informative without being elitist.

I laughed out loud more than once and was genuinely surprised that some of the things I *thought* I knew for certain are actually debatable. June Casagrade compared all the major grammar compendiums and uncovered all kinds of inconsistencies, and yet she still manages to provide real help for those who really don't get grammar.

I give it five stars and a rogue apostrophe.

November 2010



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