Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's fitting that I would finally finish this book in England staying so close to the places Jane Austen wrote about in her books here. Walking through the quiet streets in the Cotswalds and in Bath makes everything about a book like this come to life. I can't say that I am in love with Austen's writing style - books don't usually take me so long to read...but I am so in love with her story lines that it makes up for the occasional tedium I feel when I'm reading. Sense & Sensibility's Elinor is one of my favorite characters of all time, so I'm glad to made it to the end of her story. I love the sisters in this story. I love their romantic notions and the objects of their affection. If I wasn't unabashedly obsessed with Pride and Prejudice (not to mention Emma and Mansfield Park), I would say this is Austen's best..but where's the fun in picking just one favorite? Happy reading!

ps. I blame any odd wording or typos on the jet lag. It simply can't be helped. :)

(And what did I watch to go along with finally delving into this book - the newer BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, of course....with Downton Abbey's Matthew Crawley playing Edward Ferrars. Perfectly delightful.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Atlantic Musings

In three hours and forty-three minutes, we are supposed to touch down just outside of London, which means I am writing this from 31,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Strange place perhaps to be writing, but my fellow passengers are either sleeping, attempting to sleep, or are watching one of the many in-flight movie choices. And me, well, I can’t sleep. It’s 7:24pm in California and 3:24am in England. Unless I can squeeze in a catnap, I am going to go into my first day of traveling without any sleep. Par for the traveling course and nothing I haven’t done before.

I have to write today though because I am simply grateful. I am grateful for the people in my life – the good friends and family that are there no matter what…and who are there whether you need someone to rant to or merely need a vanilla milkshake.

One of my favorite people on the planet is Hillary. Hill had her baby on Thursday night. He’s a perfect baby boy with a head of dark hair and a look that is reminiscent of Dylan when he was tiny with those ever present Collette facial features mixed in. Hill, though, did not have an easy time in recovery and post-delivery had multiple clots which led to blood transfusions and the type of fear that no one should have to face. I know this all sounds melodramatic, but I know no one with a kinder heart or brighter smile than Hillary Collette. I still have days where I can’t believe I get to be one of her closest friends. I am so grateful she’s okay. And I cannot believe she has four children, but that’s a completely different conversation.

With that I’ll stop with the rambling from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Can’t wait to catch up with you now that summer is finally here. See you after my audience with Her Majesty The Queen (or rather my short adventure exploring the English and Welsh countryside). Cheers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cuckoo's Nest is one of those books that I love rediscovering each time I teach it. My kids love it because of the rebellion, the sex, the craziness, and the fact that Kesey experimented with drugs which makes the Chief's hallucinations feel strangely real. I love this book for its commentary on what it is to be human and for the stark question about how we treat wounded people in our lives. Do we push them to the fringe of society because it's easier to not deal with people who struggle or do we ostracize them because they're not the "same" or "normal" (whatever normal is, right?!).

This time through the book I wanted to badly to tell Billy that he would be just fine. I hated the nurse so much I was actually seething when I finished reading one of the sections aloud to my classes. And I laughed over and over again despite being in front of thirty-plus teenagers at McMurphy's jokes. Sometimes I just can't help myself.


SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teaching a book about a thirteen-year-old girl getting raped was about as much fun as it sounds. I think Anderson's book is engaging and witty, but I'm not sure I want to teach it again. I loved Speak the first time I read it, and I love it still. I think the sarcasm and candor is perfect for young people. The kids could not get enough of the teacher descriptions. I love the discussions I was able to have about Picasso and Maya Angelous because of Speak. I just don't know that I did justice to the concept of bullying, date rape, etc. I didn't know quite how to approach that with a room of kids with such varied levels of maturity.

Not much of a review for Speak, but sometimes I can't get out of teacher mode. Oh, and I love David Petrakis.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The funny thing about John Green's book is that while I don't fall in love with his plots, I am so entranced by his writing that I don't care what he's writing about. The one liners, the descriptions, the dialogue, etc. are all fantastic. I want Green's wit and humanity to narrate my life.

The Fault in Our Stars deals with adolescent cancer patients deftly and humorously. Obviously, cancer isn't humorous, but life is and people even at their lowest can have fantastic senses of humor. Green understands this fine balance and walks it carefully. I won't say that I am going to read this book and over again because it would be too sad, but I did scribble a dozen or so quotes into my journal that I've looked at multiple times since finishing this book.

Read it. You won't be disappointed. But you might think the part about the author in the book is a little weird. I definitely did.

[Favorite quote: "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." Quote that had me laughing out loud: "What a slut time is. She screws everybody."]

Happy reading!