Didja Miss Me? (Summer Reading)

Posted on July 13, 2011Filed Under Book List, Me, vacation | Leave a Comment

My. Oh. My. It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. Hafta to dust off the cobwebs before we get started. June has done disappeared, and July is well on its way to doing the same. How did that happen? I know I’ve been taking a lot of naps, but…

I sound like a grandpa. Now get off my lawn.

Actually I hope there are still at least few of you out here, because , what with me attempting to create a new video class from scratch (well I do have $120K to play with), and a whole buncha new “initiatives” (one of which is a pledge to raise our 90% of  ALL our students to the proficient or advanced levels in math AND English) coming down the line from our new supe, and a host of other things I’ve been trying to ignore for the summer, I think this year is going be miiiiiiighty interesting. (Now THAT is one looooong sentence. Assignment due Friday: Diagram it.) At least I won’t have any S(ullen) and R(esentful) 8th graders this time around. I don’t think so anyway.

What I’ve been doing this summer:

Going to the Live Oak Music Festival. Peace, love, dirt. And a lot of good music. If you live anywhere near the central coast of California (or even if you don’t), you should check it out. Got my traditional Fathers’ Day tie-dye from my boy. Ahh, good times.

Camping in our little old-school Coleman tent-trailer. Mostly at an undisclosed beachfront site. Undisclosed because, well, it’s kinda small and hard to get reservations for. Sorry. Well, not really.

The aforementioned napping. I try to get one in per day. If we’re camping, there might be time for two.

Trying to decide what to buy for the video class and thinking and reading about what to actually teach. More on this as we approach panic time.

Reading. Lots of reading. I’m sort of (?!) ADHD, and ever since I’ve been reading, I’ve pretty much always had several books going at once. You gotta have one for while you’re eating cereal or sandwiches. You need one for reading before nigh nigh. There’s the main one you’re working on at most other times. And of course there’s the infamous “facilitation” book: the one you take into the “facilities.” Then there are various others just for variety. And so on.

Finished so far this summer:

2030, by Albert Brooks. The guy responsible for the great movies Real Life and Lost in America (among many others), and the voice of the head of the EPA in the Simpsons Movie wrote a book about what the world (mostly America) will look like in 2030. It’s darkly funny and reads more like a screenplay or a film treatment than a novel, but I loved it. A bit too plausible for comfort.

Neuromancer, by William Gibson. The book that made the word cyberspace synonymous with the internet. Sci-fi at its 80’s finest. A first novel blockbuster. OK. I’m a sci-fi nerd. I can’t believe I hadn’t read this one before. It’s a bit confusing, but if you try not to think TOO hard, and just immerse yourself in his universe, it’s pretty cool. There are  even Rasta dudes in space.

Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. I finally got around to this one. It rocks. And people who climb Everest are morons. I loved the part where they leave the guy for dead all night, go out the next day to pay their respects, chip three inches of ice off his head, and HE’S STILL BREATHING. They leave him for dead again,because they don’t think they can get him down the mountain. And hours later, HE WALKS INTO CAMP! He survives a night suffocating in a tent that collapses in the wind and covers his face because he can’t move his frostbitten arms to move the flapping tent from his face. And HE SURVIVES! Anyway. I get barfy over about 12,000 feet, and I hate being cold.

Brilliant — The Evolution of Artificial Light, by Jane Brox. This is a history of artificial light, from the stone animal oil lamps used by cavemen to paint the cave scenes in France to the newest led bulbs. Very interesting, and a fun read. It’s amazing what people used to do for light. On the Shetland Islands they killed some fatty seabird, stuck a wick down its throat and burned it like a candle.  I think I’ll just go to bed early, thank you very much.

Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry. As you all know, it’s the “sequel” to The Giver. I finally got around to reading the whole thing. I liked it a lot, but it feels a bit unfinished; more of a sketch that needs filling out. I did notice the reference to Jonas  at the end.

The Losing Role, by Steve Anderson. Historical fiction based on a desperate operation put together by Hitler in late 1944. German soldiers were trained to impersonate American units behind enemy lines, where they would supposedly wreak havoc. Many of the recruits were waiters, artists, dancers, and actors. The book tells the story from the point of view of an actor forced into one of these units. It doesn’t go as planned. Highly recommended.

Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett. Just another Terry Pratchett book.

Currently in Progress:

Messenger, by Lois Lowry. (Duh.)

Super Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The followup to the first. Funny, informative, but I think a lot of what they say should be taken with a grain of salt as they say. It’s early, but I think I liked the first one better.

Noise, by Darin Bradley. A weird distopian future one. Pirate tv is sort of the equivalent of the internet as society breaks down completely. Not sure what I think of this one yet.

The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester. Nonfiction. It’s the story of the origins of the Oxford English Dictionary. I guess thousands of entries were written by a guy in an insane asylum, and James Murray, the main editor, didn’t know until he tried to personally thank him.. Just starting this one.

Can you tell that I’ve been taking advantage of the library’s e-book offerings?

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