This year, my goal is to read four books each month – and by the skin of my teeth, I squeezed in four books last month. Life does get busy, but there is always, always time to read [books are such excellent meal-time companions!].
Three out of the four books this last month were nonfiction – I’m finding as I pursue specific interests (writing, theater, and teaching), my reading choices lean more and more toward nonfiction. However, I will never negate the power of a good story, so that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning fiction all together! For this month, however, it did take a back seat.
1. Bury the Dead: Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons & Rituals by Christopher Sloan [A book of 100 pages or less]
This was a nonfiction book that was already in my classroom when I got there, and since I’m working my way through all the books in my classroom library, this one seemed like an interesting pick. Although it was short, it was definitely fascinating! The pictures were intriguing as were the descriptions of burial practices throughout the ages. Not only that, but I thought it was interesting to find out what archaeologists can tell about ancient civilizations from their burial rituals. It’s literally like solving mysteries from the past, which always catches my interest.
From a teacher’s perspective, it’s also a great book to engage students who might think that nonfiction is boring – or who might have a specialty interest in science, archaeology, or history.
2. The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West [A book with an ugly cover]
Poor book – it couldn’t help its cover, it was so old! As I saw online, there are many updated covers out there, but this is the copy that I read, hence why it got put into this category. At the end of January when I was feeling sick, Mom loaned me this book that Grandpa had given her – and it was my one fiction read for last month.
It was about a Quaker family who lived during the Civil War and all the ins and outs of their family life. It took me a little by surprise when I discovered that each chapter was its own story line and that there wasn’t one running plot throughout the whole book. Despite that, the author used beautiful language and described the family so quaintly and cozily that it was definitely an enjoyable read. Maybe not a lasting favorite, but definitely not a waste of time either.
3. A Sense of Direction: Some Observations on the Art of Directing by William Ball [A book of your choice]
This book was hands-down amazing. It was recommended to me by my college theater professor, Jeff Sanders, when I asked him what books on directing I should read in preps for Snow White. It came at just the right time as I was prepping for the first artistic team meeting – and everything in it was gold. It started at the beginning with the theory and “whys” of what a director does, and then moved into everything practical from auditions to rehearsals to tech week and more.
I ate this book up hungrily, furiously underlining and starring important details, in hopes that I remember a fraction of all he had to say as I move forward into directing my first show. Definitely a keeper and one I will reference time and again, I am sure.
4. Quack This Way by David Foster Wallace & Bryan A. Garner [A book recommended by a family member]
My sister, Vicki, sent me this book for Christmas to encourage me in my writing pursuits since she highly respects both of these two authors and their use of language. It was a quick read (my “squeeze-it-in-in-two-days” book) since it was basically an interview transcribed, but there were profound nuggets in there about language and writing (even if these two are somewhat intimidating in their high level of intelligence).
I loved this quote by David Foster Wallace: “You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers – not all of whom are modern […] – becomes a source of unbelievable joy. It’s like eating candy for the soul.”
And then he said, “Do you have a hard time understanding how people who don’t have that live?” To which I most resoundingly respond with, “Yes!”
Books in general make my brain hum with aliveness – with ideas whirring, passions stirring, and joy bubbling. There are so many to devour that I love finishing them just so that I can pick up the next one and discover the joys hidden within. And so the 2017 Book Journey continues …