Yes, teachers do summer reading, too!
Just to let you that I practice what I preach, here’s a short list of what I’ve been reading this summer so far:
1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – I got interested in reading this book for two reasons: it is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author was interviewed on “The Colbert Report” Both high praise. It is the story of an immigrant family from the Dominican Republic–their struggles in their homeland, in their new land, with each other, and with love. It is told from several points of view, one of which is that of the title character, Oscar. This is an odd book, so if you choose to read it, be prepared. First, as I mentioned, it has several points of view and Diaz takes no pains to clarify from whose point of view the reader is getting the story at any given time. Second, the narrator has a very…modern urban, shall we say…voice. The language is rather raw, although this often adds to the humor in the book. Speaking of language, it would help if you knew some Spanish since the characters and narrator often lapse into this language. If you’re like me and you don’t know Spanish, the up side is you may learn some (although I have a feeling most of it is not something you could repeat in your Spanish class!); the down side is you may be lost in some key scenes. Last, a lot of the book concerns the culture and recent history of the Dominican Republic, information which is often included in footnotes. I found this fascinating, but some readers may find this confusing. This is not an easy book, but overall I enjoyed it, not only because of the interesting story and writing style, but also because of what I learned about the history of the Dominican Republic.
2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wrobelwski – This was an Oprah book. (Yes, I do get most of my book recommendations from television shows. Ironic, isn’t it?) It is the story of Hamlet, but with dogs. I’m not sure why the story of Hamlet needed to be retold…and with dogs…and, truthfully, it was a little hard to get into this book. But after about 100 pages of homey dog training stories, the book is starting to get good. I mean, it has a murder and a ghost! What’s not to like? I haven’t finished it yet…and I hope it ends better than the actual Hamlet, but I am enjoying it. I’ll keep you posted. (But DO read the original, too!)
3. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah – So, this one I heard about on NPR, not a TV show! Like Edgar Sawtelle, I haven’t finished this book yet. It is the type of book that you read a little of and need to take a rest from–to distract yourself with some fiction. It is not an easy book to read. It is the true story of a young teen boy from Sierra Leone who is caught in the middle of a civil war and forced to become a child soldier. Unfortunately, this is a common story for young men and boys in this part of the world. What Beah had to endure is shocking. While I have not finished the book, I can already say without a doubt that I highly recommend this book. You won’t enjoy it, but you’ll learn from it.
I will continue to update this post as the summer progresses. Until then, happy reading!