Though I did read a bit of Sunnyside at the gym today (and I’m still loving it, but I’m still trying to formulate my thoughts on it), my best book moment today actually had nothing to do with my reading at all.
I introduced literature circles to my AP English students today. [Now, of course I have to preface my comments today with this: I am lucky that I teach students who both can and (for the most part) like to read. But I have had very similar experiences, albeit with different levels of text, in a school where I did NOT teach an AP course and so I believe in the tremendous power of choice in school reading (when, of course, mixed with lots of other things).] So to help my students choose their political rhetoric novel, I gave them a brief “book talk” of the nine choices they had. And by the end of every period, students were fighting over who would get which book. They were excited about reading in a way I haven’t seen yet this year. Some wanted the traditional dystopic novels (1984, Brave New World). Others wanted the newer choices (Super Sad True Love Story). Some wanted speculative fiction they thought would hit close to home (Mother Night, The Plot Against America). One of my favorite moments was when a usually quiet boy suggested that his group read The Handmaid’s Tale “because I think it’s important to hear women’s voices in politics.” Today, my students reminded me of the excitement that reading can bring. A friend of mine told me the other day (from very far away–hi, Jamie!) that her favorite thing about finishing a book is the moment when you get to choose what you’ll read NEXT. Today reminded me how exciting that moment can be.
On another light note, that same friend brought my attention to this article in the Guardian about the power of books to literally save lives. I always knew Jonathan Franzen was good for nothing!