Nonfiction November Wrap-Up
First of all, I want to mention that I read FOUR nonfiction books for pleasure during Nonfiction November. One of those was the Nonfiction November “readalong,” The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn. It turns out that the other three are the kinds of things I read to prepare for teaching anyway, as they all concern education and poverty and opportunity. Win! Those titles are The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs and Hold Fast to Dreams by Beth Zasloff and Joshua Steckel. And just this weekend I read Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights by Robert P. Moses and Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
One thing I noticed about these three books together is that they are authored by different kinds of stakeholders in public education: an ordinary citizen, a teacher, and a reformer. If we were in one of my classes, we might discuss how these different positions affected the writing of these books.
Last Week and the Week Ahead
I managed to do quite a bit of reading over the holiday weekend. In addition to Radical Equations, I read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which is a book that is receiving all kinds of buzz.
I also read This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. That one is a YA graphic novel (my first!).
I’ll post reviews of those two books later this week. I have also started Hilary Mantel’s An Experiment In Love, which came from last week’s stack.
My inlaws are arriving this week for a visit, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. But here is this week’s pile of intentions:
1) I’m excited to return to The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, which I started earlier in the year but need to finish.
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain—real and imagined, her own and others’—Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory—from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration—in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.
3) And finally, it’s hard to resist a book with blood splatter on the cover. I just received This Is The Water by Yannick Murphy from the library. I can’t remember why I requested this or who recommended it, which seems to happen to me a lot.
From Yannick Murphy, award-winning author of The Call, comes a fast-paced story of murder, adultery, parenthood, and romance, involving a girls' swim team, their morally flawed parents, and a killer who swims in their midst.
One last thing – the candles! On Wednesday I will be attending a fundraiser for First Book—Seattle at the Glassybaby hot shop.
If you’re in Seattle, this is a terrific event, with the proceeds bringing brand new books to local kids. If you’re not in Seattle, you can get involved with First Book by checking out their national website.
You might have seen First Book President and Co-Founder Kyle Zimmer receive the Literarian Award at the National Book Award ceremony last month. She has been instrumental in the efforts to promote the publication of diverse authors and storylines in children’s literature.
*It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.