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Friday, January 29, 2016

#sixtybooks: Book #3

Hello! I've gotten though another book! It's hard to find the time to read, but I really look forward to it.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This book has been on my radar for a while, but I was disappointed. I'm a big Salinger fan, mostly of Catcher because I've read it so often. When Rakoff was in her 20s, she became an assistant for Salinger's agent, so she fielded phone calls from him (he slowly became more friendly to her) and answered his fan mail (sometimes with a canned response, but sometimes she went rogue and answered letters on her own). One time, he walked by her desk and she shook his hand.

Is this tenuous connection with him enough to make a book? It's a coming of age in New York City publishing, and she has a bad boyfriend, but I'm not sure there's a story here. It was pleasant to read, and I learned a little more about Salinger, but I forgot Rakoff's POV the minute the book was over.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Breaking News: EdCamp Boston is early!

Hello! EdCamp Boston just announced their 2016 date (March 5) and when tickets are available (Sunday!?!). They will be gone in hours, so if you live in New England and want to go, check it out ASAP!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#sixtybooks: book #2

Hey, there! School is back on, and it's midterms time, so my fun reading plan has gone down the drain for the most part, but this is the last book I read on vacation (mostly on the plane).

I know Carrie Brownstein from the TV show "Portlandia," which I love, but she is best known as a musician in the all-female band, Sleater-Kinney. This memoir explores her childhood in Washington with an anorexic mother and a closeted gay father. She struggles to find her place in the world and makes friends in the girl rock scene. She then starts a band and deals with her own sexual identity and enduring the life of touring. The band broke up and then reunited recently.

Brownstein is a terrifically adept writer, especially about concerts and her many famous musician friends. The world she describes is so insular--it's cool to see it from the inside. I was disappointed that there was nothing in the book about "Portlandia" and how she developed her comedy writing and performances. The book did make me yearn to see Portland, Olympia, and the Pacific coast!

Currently reading and attempting to finish before book club dates next week!

Also, I'm taking an online class by Brene Brown, of TED talk and Oprah fame. Good stuff about being yourself and taking risks.  The title comes from this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#sixtybooks: book #1

Hi! I'm trying to read #sixtybooks in 2016. Follow that hashtag on Twitter for more info. I honestly don't know if I can do it--I struggle to read for fun during the school year--but I will try!

For book #1, I totally cheated. I started Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer last week, and I've read it many times before. I wanted to read it again because I hope to teach it to my AP Lang. students this spring in some sort of unit about returning to nature, abandoning materialism, something like that. I haven't flushed it out yet, but I'd like to do one whole book together.

Also, my class is HUGE, about 31 kids, so I might take out the sophomores (about half) and have them read Feed by M.T. Anderson instead and do an already-theorized technology unit. They need a refresher on fiction for the MCAS 10th grade long comp, PLUS no one should get out of reading Feed. It is mind-blowingly good.

Anyway, I've reread this book a lot because I admire it so much. It's a terrific work of non-fiction, blending a true-crime-ish story with personal anecdotes, historical context, and more. Chris McCandless left detailed journals and photos for Krakauer and the world to explore. I'm not hiker or nature lover, but I can understand McCandless's desire to abandon all society and try to live as freely as possible. I think the book provides lessons for parents--if your kid has a lifelong rebellious relationship with you, explore it before it's too late. Also a lesson for young adults whose brains aren't fully developed yet: before you make a drastic, risky decision, talk to someone.

Later this year, I'd like to read The Wild Truth, by Chris's sister. She explores the abusive relationship the kids had with their father, which definitely adds a new layer of intrigue to the story.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your book recommendations for this year at @abbeydick on Twitter or