Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Since I'm reading several different books, I'm still working my way through the books on my list from last week. I also read another book yesterday, though: Antigone, by Sophocles. I had to read this play for a class I teach. I love how Greek tragedies are able to make me think deeply about my life and about the world that I live in, so I try to get my students to connect the text with modern life. To that end, I've come up with a list of questions for the text, and I use these as springboards for talking about current issues: 

-What can we learn from Antigone about how to govern well? In what ways does Kreon govern well? In what ways does he not govern well? What mistakes does he make in governing his kingdom?

-How does Antigone participate in nonviolent resistance? Are the laws she breaks unjust? Would MLK approve/support her resistance? Is her cause in any way important to the community? Or is her cause more private/personal?

-How much of Antigone’s disobedience/protest is for religious reasons? How much of MLK’s protest is for religious reasons? Is it okay to stand up to the government/to break laws for religious reasons?

-Who is a better citizen? Antigone, for breaking the law? Or Ismene, for obeying it?

Click here to participate in It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hot Cocoa Mix

I try to make as many things from scratch as possible (though I do so more in the summer when school is out, than when I am teaching during the school year). I recently made an adaptation of this hot cocoa mix from the Food Network, that tastes better than any mix I have bought. It's rich and delicious! Here's my version:

2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. cocoa (dutch process if possible)
1 t. salt
2 t. cornstarch

Directions: Mix all ingredients together well, and store in an airtight container. To use, heat one mug of milk until hot. Add two heaping teaspoons hot cocoa mix and stir well (I use a small wire whisk to stir). Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Here's what I'm reading right now. I've always got several books going at once:

1. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them, Francine Prose. I like this book so much that I ended up copying the first chapter and bringing it to school for my creative writing class to read. Prose is an advocate of close reading, which is reading slowly and carefully, noticing every word and sentence. I tend to read very quickly, so this is inspiring me to slow down and pay more attention to language.

2. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien. Last year I read his book The Things They Carried for a class I was teaching, and I loved it, so I thought I'd try another book by him. While this doesn't focus on the Vietnam War, like The Things They Carried, the main character is a veteran of the war, and his experience there has created a lot of problems for him.

3. Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading the New Poetry, Stephen Burt. In an age where poetry reviews tend to be rather wishy-washy (mostly friend reviewing each others books positively), Burt is a rigorous and intelligent critic. In this book he discusses many poets, mostly contemporary, who, on the surface, may seem rather difficult to read. I've only read the introduction to this so far, but I'm excited about the poets he is treating in here: people such as Rae Armantrout, John Ashbery, and Donal Revell.

4. The Eternal City, poems by Kathleen Graber. I'm very picky about poetry. I have a stack of about 10 books of poems on may desk that I really love, and I'm going to add this one too it. These poems are amazing! Graber uses language in such a fresh an interesting way, which I appreciate, but what I most love is her ability to leap between the concrete and the abstract, between images and ideas, and between past, present, and future in a way that really makes me think but doesn't lose me. And she manages to weave seemingly disparate things together beautifully.  A new favorite poet!

Click here to participate in It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Top 10 Books of 2011

Here are my favorite books of 2011, in no particular order.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
Why Read? Mark Edmundson
The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs
Farm Together Now
In a Beautiful Country, Kevin Prufer

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

For 2012 I'm going to try and read more books than I did in 2011, so I'm signing up for the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge to keep myself on track with this. I'll keep track of the books I've read on this page. Last year I read 53 books, so I'll try to read more than that this year!

1. Q, Evan Mandery (fiction)
2. 22 Britannia Road, Amanda Hodgkinson (fiction)
3. White City, Mark Irwin (poetry)
4. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson (fiction)
5. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien (fiction)
6. Antigone, Sophocles (drama)
7. Keeping the House, Ellen Baker (fiction)
8. Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose (nonfiction)
9. The Eternal City, Kathleen Graber (poetry)
10. Once Upon a River, Bonnie Jo Campbell (fiction)
11. Interloper, L. S.  Klatt (poetry)
12. The Art of the Poetic Line, James Longenbach (nonfiction)
13. A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis (nonfiction)
14. Veil, Rae Armantrout (poetry)
15. The Beginner's Goodbye, Anne Tyler (fiction)
16. Bringing up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman (nonfiction)
17. C.K. Williams on Whitman (nonfiction)
18. Home, Toni Morrison (fiction)
19. The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball (memoir)
20. Vaclav and Lena, Haley Tanner (fiction)
21. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Jeannette Winterson (memoir)
22. Lone Wolf, Jodi Picoult (fiction)
23. Legend, Marie Lu (young adult fiction)
24. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)
25. Poster Child, Emily Rapp (memoir)
26. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)
27. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (young adult fiction)
28. Long Division, Alan Michael Parker (poetry)
29. Saint Maybe, Anne Tyler (fiction)
30. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (science fiction)
31. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)
32. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (fiction)
33. Amazing Grace, Kathleen Norris (nonfiction)
34. The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence (nonfiction)
35. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (fiction)
36. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender (fiction)
37. Every Riven Thing, Christian Wiman (poetry)
38. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Daj Sijie (fiction)
39. Responding to Student Writers, Nancy Sommers (nonfiction)
40. Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamot (nonfiction)
41. The Lost Art of Reading, David Ulin (nonfiction)
42. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffeneger (fiction)
43. The Assumption, Bryan Dietrich (poetry)
44. Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott (nonfiction)
45. The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey (fiction)
46. A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (fiction)
47. The Hypnotists Love Story, Liane Moriarity (fiction)
48. Alcestis, Erupides (drama)
49. The Master’s Muse, Varley O’Connor (fiction)
50. Core Samples from the World, Forrest Gander (poetry)
51. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs (nonfiction)
52. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, Bob Spitz (biography)
53. Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brun (fiction)
54. Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel (nonfiction)
55. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin (nonfiction)

Books I Read in 2011

The Last Time I Saw You, Elizabeth Berg
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender 
Addition, Toni Jordan 
Room, Emma Donoghue 
The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Paolo Giordano
Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin
Tree of Sighs, Lucrecia Guerrero
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Siji 
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

Antigone, Sophocles 

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson
703: How I Lost More Than A Quarter Ton and Gained a Life, Nancy Makin
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond
The Feast Nearby, Robin Mather
I Am Hutterite, Mary-Ann Kirkby
Born on a Blue Day, Daniel Tamnet
Farm City, Novella Carpenter
Blood, Bones, and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas 
Growing Up Amish, Ira Wagler
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

Girls on the Edge, Leonard Sax 
The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller 
The Gatekeepers, Jacques Steinberg
The Winter of Our Disconnect, Susan Maushart
The Shallows, Nicholas Car
Lost and Found, Geneen Roth
The Lost Art of Reading, David Ulin
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Gail Steketee and Randy Frost
Farm Together Now 
Off the Grid, Nick Rose
Manning Up, Kay Hymowitz
Deeper Reading, Kelly Gallagher
The Town that Food Saved, Ben Hewitt
Notebook Know How, Aimee Buckner
Teaching Literature, Elaine Showalter
Food Rules, Michael Pollan
Why Read? Mark Edmundson

On Christian Liberty, Martin Luther
Love’s Immensity, Scott Cairns
The Naked Now, Richard Rohr
A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis  

The Lions, Peter Campion
In a Beautiful Country, Kevin Prufer
A Village Life, Louis Gluck
World Tree, David Wojahn