Break from Japan posts (more are coming, I promise!) while I write a bit about my life at this very moment.
In less than three weeks’ time, I will be back in school with students. I have a tentative schedule and tentative class lists, though I am not printing any out since the class lists typically change up to and during the first week of classes. It looks like my planning period will be the last period of the day, which will be different, but my lunch period will still be 4th period, which is from 10:11 AM to 10:56 AM. Since I eat breakfast at 5:30 AM, I will be hungry by then, but I will be hungry again at 4 PM as usual.
I have a lot of things to do and I keep putting them off. I need to use my watermelon for pickled watermelon rind and I need to do something with the inside part. I have to (with my husband) move all the rest of the stuff that belongs in the kitchen out of the guest room, and put the guest room back to rights so we can have a houseguest. I need to clean up my office so I can use it. I need to write lesson plans, course standards, assignments, and blog posts, and I need to sort photos from Japan to put up on flickr. I need to get the house neat enough to have a house cleaning person to come over and clean it. I need to take the cat to the vet for his annual shots.
What have I been doing? Well, in between traveling, I’ve been enjoying the opportunity of summer to READ. I really love reading! Really! I’ve read:
- A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
- The Waters Rising by Sheri S. Tepper
I finished reading
- Genius: the life and science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
- Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
- The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold
- Forge of Heaven by C. J. Cherryh
I’ve STARTED but not finished reading:
- The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (one of the summer reading books for my school)
I’ve continued reading (but also not finished) these books I started some time ago:
- The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
- Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
And I have on Kindle but have yet to start reading:
- The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
- Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Forgotten Genius by Stephen Inwood
So my mind has been in books lately, and today NPR posted a “top 100” list of fantasy and science fiction books and series, as voted by online poll. Each person answering the poll could select ten choices to vote for. The poll was available for about a week, and I did make my selections, along with 60,000+ others. Or at least that many other ballots – I don’t know if it was possible to vote more than once.
I was sincerely bothered that C.J. Cherryh did not make the list. I was also annoyed that books that I had been unable to slog through as a teen (when I had even MORE time on my hands for reading) DID make the list. Some of them had annoying protagonists. Or dopey dialogue, or dry dialogue. Or had no women characters, or had bad women characters – shallow, two-dimensional, dumb, whatever. My judgement of what makes a novel a GOOD novel specifically has to do with these things.
If I get lost in the world of the novel, if it seems real, if the dialogue is entertaining, if the protagonist is likeable, I will probably like it. If the dialogue is dull or in a difficult dialect, if the characters do dumb things, if the world is unbelievable, or if the book is overtly sexist or worse, misogynistic, I probably won’t finish it. I couldn’t finish the Salman Rushdie book I started – nothing ever happened in it. I couldn’t force myself through Abbot’s Flatland because of the way women were portrayed. And it was boring. And forgive me my friends who love them, I cannot get into Jane Austen’s novels at all. I haven’t figured out if it is the language or the plots or the characters that I dislike, but I have never been able to read one all the way through.
Please don’t recommend any more books to me at the moment. My slate is full enough. But in a month or so you can start directing me towards next summer’s list!