Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Salon: What I'm Reading Now

I have no idea how this has happened. I used to be the type of reader who could only read on book at a time. Now, I seem to be reading about 5 books at once. I've got one book for each room, or mood, or something. Here's what I'm reading now:

1. Animal Farm by George Orwell.

I'm an English teacher, so I'm reading this one with my sophomore students. I've read this book quite a few times, and it's always interesting to me to see how my students like it. So far, quite a few students are getting wrapped up in the injustices they are seeing as the farm is progressing. It makes them angry that the animals are letting themselves be taken over, but they wisely point out that when you are caught up in the moment, you sometimes don't realize what's really happening. We have also been talking about the "propaganda" that the pigs use to maintain control of the other animals. I've pointed out that propaganda is used all the time in our own society, and many of the students are responding to that. Their project with this novel is to create their own commerical that uses different types of propaganda.

I think this book is useful because it does challenge citizens of any government to be intelligent and pay attention to what is going on around them. My hope for my students is that they are able to use this awareness of the way people use words to be more intelligent and thoughtful consumers and citizens.

I like this book. Why is it always sadder when animals die in books? I too am horrifed by what happens to this fledgling government. I think a book that scares you can be a very good thing though.

2. Twlight by Stephanie Meyers

This is not the type of book I would choose to read. However, I have been hearing rave reviews from everyone, my students, my co-workers, my friends. So, I figured I'd give it a shot. When I first started reading I was impressed that the book has rather an extensive vocabulary for a bestseller. That's always nice to see. As I've read on I have not been that impressed with the character development or the depth of the relationship between Bella and Edward, the two main characters. Characters are the most important part of books for me, and I'm not thrilled with these characters. Nevertheless, I find no reasons to stop reading this book. I am curious to see where the story goes, and I want to know what everyone is so excited about. I will keep on!

3. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

My husband and I are reading this one out loud to each other. Collins was a contemporary of Charles Dickens, and he wrote some of the most successful sensational novels of that time. The Moonstone is well-lauded by such writers as T.S. Eliot and Dorothy Sayers. It is a mystery/suspense novel about the disappearance of a magnificent diamond, and so far it has kept the interest of both my husband and I. At times I feel the plot is too drawn out; it takes so long to get to certain points. Certainly plenty of dramatic and completely implausible events occur throughout the story. However, I like the narrative structure of different "narratives" by different characters in the book. We are almost finished with this one, so I will have an updated review soon enough.

4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

George Eliot is, in my opinion, one of the most intelligent writers that has ever lived. Her book Middlemarch is my absolute favorite novel. My high school English teacher recommended The Mill on the Floss to me, and I am finally getting around to reading it. So far I'm not as into the story as I was with Middlemarch, but the characters are interesting and Eliot's writing style is incredibly dense, but incredibly rewarding and fascinating. I can sense the seeds of tragedy being sown already, and I am curious to see how the book develops.

The main storyline so far is about the relationship between a brother and sister, Tom and Maggie Tulliver. Maggie is a very interesting character; she is an intelligent, dreamy, and passionate little girl that doesn't quite fit in the restrained society she lives in. I'm looking forward to seeing how Maggie deals with the world she lives in as she grows up.

5. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud A friend suggested to me, and I'm reading it because I'm interested in reading at least one graphic novel. The genre is growing in popularity. This book is about comics and what their place is in terms of literature and storytelling. I know nothing about comics, so I will be interested to see how this book pans out. I'll be honest; this book is the one I read the least often; it just isn't as high on my interest scale. If anyone has read this book and liked it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.

So there we have it! I certainly am keeping busy. Of course, reading more than one book means I may never finish any of them... Oh, and I need to start Jane Eyre soon for the Classics Book Club. Maybe I do need to focus on just one...

Sunday Salon


debnance said...

I would love to read a very complex novel with a group of students. So far, the most complex book I've shared with students was A Wrinkle in Time. Maybe someday!

xicanti said...

I'm much the same; I used to stick to one book and one book only, but these days I'm all over the place. I generally have a longer work that I carry around with me for the bus and my breaks, but I usually find myself turning to shorter works and graphic novels at night. I often have some nonfiction on the go as my secondary read, too, and I've been known to add an e-book into the mix.

Colleen said...

@debnance - A Wrinkle in Time is a good one too. I like Animal Farm because the allegory is pretty easy for students to understand.

@xicanti - I should try e-books; I've never really read any.

tanabata said...

Oh those will definitely keep you busy. Even though I sometimes wish I could read several books at a time, I still tend to be a one-at-a-time reader.
I've only read Twilight so far but will continue with the series at some point because I want to see how it all turns out.

Colleen said...

tanabata, I will look forward to hearing what you think about the rest of the books in the Twilight series. Thanks for your comment.

April Boland said...

I work with teens and one was just saying that she is reading "Animal Farm" for school and loving it. I am ashamed to be 24 and have never read it! :)

Colleen said...

I'm glad to hear of a teenager who likes it. I recommend it; it's definitely interesting. I never read another classic, Lord of the Flies, until I had to teach it. Too many good books and not enough time!