i'm just an educator stumbling upon new ways to do my job better (i hope)

Quiet Months

Things on this site have been quiet for a good long while, and the sad truth is that I've not gotten too much reading done from March through June, although I've purchased a lot of books about which I am very excited. All that's left to do is sit down and read them.

Just because I haven't read much--nor written anything about what I have read--does not mean that I've not enjoyed the hell out of them...some of them. In a few words each:

 

  • March: I found Mockingjay to be a compelling continuation of a compelling story, but at the same time not quite a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. 
  • April: I devoted my April reading to some social commentaries/histories, including David Brooks's The Social Animal and Andre Perry's The Garden Path. It wasn't on purpose, but both books presented their nonfiction stories through fictionalized characters. I'd never before read works of nonfiction that took this tact, so it was a strange coincidence to pick two of them in the same month. I'm a fan of Brooks's political writings, not nescessarily because I always agree with his positions, but because whether or not I agree, I can always clearly see his logic and I never feel that he's blindly pushing partisan ideals. The Social Animal was well-written and included some fascinating social science, but in the end I wanted Brooks to stick to politics. The trouble with Brooks presenting research is that he doesn't have as much opportunity to comment, and his commentaries are what I most appreciate about his writing. The Garden Path was fun for me to read, because as an account of the initial efforts to re-create the school system in New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Perry had a topic that was near and dear to my own heart. While he changed the names of certain organizations and people, it was easy for me to recognize certain "characters" in his book for the real educators in New Orleans they depicted. Since my stint in the New Orleans reform movement really came a couple years later, it was interesting to read an account--even if it was a fictionalized one--of some of the conversations and confrontations that set the stage for the system that I got to know intimately. I wasn't always clear on the point Perry was trying to make, but with such a charged topic (and my own mind pretty well made up) I didn't mind that so much. So that was a fun read. I gather that Perry has a couple more books on the same topic to follow this one, and I'll definitely be reading them. That was more than a few words.
  • May: I kept up the nonfiction kick in May with Inside of a Dog. Like The Social Animal, good factoids, but I didn't really get the kind of analysis I expected from the book. It was evident in the early pages (though not on the back cover) that part of the book's goal was to dissuade us from anthropomorphizing our dogs, so maybe that's why Horowitz avoided jumping to human conclusions, but I'm a big dog anthropomorphizer (e.g., @PrufrockDog, @AugustusDog) so...wortwhile read, but not my favorite. Imperium was a great read. I've read and enjoyed others from Robert Harris, so that I loved Imperium was no surprise. Harris writes the sort of novels that are equally at home on the beach as they are in the library stacks, which is my stilted way of saying they're both fun to read and smartly written. I also started (and am still intermittently turning to) Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I tend not to agree with much of Ravitch's criticism of current reform initiatives, but she's a good one to read regardless of your views, because beneath all the vitriol is some legitimate research, important history, and well-thought positions--plus ages of experience. 
  • June: so far, I'm slowly but surely plodding my way through Solar, which I've been waiting to read since The New Yorker mentioned it in a profile of Ian McEwan while he was still writing it. I'm loving it, as I almost always love McEwan's books (especially the ones set in contemporary times), but I'm just not allowing myself enough unadulterated time to really dig into it. Thus, I've been reading it for a couple weeks but still haven't hit 100 pages. So more to come on that later.

 

So that's about it on the reading front these last few months. It's been slow reading, and I've been exceedingly quiet. Among the reasons: work is busy, travel is heavy, I watched all five seasons of The Wire, and I was bought a house. But hopefully I'll be back to doing some writing and more reading soon.

June 2011 Books

May 2011 Books

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