Book Report!

I use my Kindle for almost all book buying now, and I had been neglecting my shelf of hard-copy books that I had collected pre-Kindle, so I decided to try to make it through all of them over summer break (I work in a school). Most of the books in this post are from my hard-copy pile. I haven’t read them all yet, but I’m close!

Please Stop Helping Us

I work in a school with a majority of black students, so I’m always interested in learning more about how to best serve them. I’ve been frustrated at times with the way my school “helps” our students so much that we end up doing a lot of things for them that they can and should be doing for themselves, especially considering that we are a high school and our students need to be preparing for their imminent entrance into “the real world.”

So I was intrigued by the title of this book, and wanted to see if it would validate my perspective. And it does, I suppose, but it’s written by a conservative Republican (black) man, who was a little too quick to use the word “liberal” as a slur for my taste. I am skeptical about the author’s perspective and motivation, and would very much like to read something that responds to his specific claims. He uses a lot of data to support his arguments, which I appreciated very much, but data can be found that supports anything, so I’m not swallowing it blindly. Overall, I thought it made decent arguments, but I’d like to hear others’ responses to it.Love Saves The DayI read this author’s previous book, Homer’s Odyssey, which was a true story about a blind cat’s experience living in New York City when 9/11 occurred just a few blocks from his apartment. It was very interesting, and the author clearly knows a lot about cats. This book was about a cat who tries to settle into a new life when her previous owner passes away, and the cat is transferred to a new home. It was sweet, funny, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I know it sounds silly because it’s about a cat, but I don’t care! Hangman's DaughterAn interesting book very loosely based on the author’s ancestor, an executioner in a small town in Germany in the 1660s. It’s written as a mystery: we’re trying to figure out who’s killing the town’s children and why. It was good, I enjoyed it.For White FolksThis was required reading for my job, and it seemed like it might be a decent complement to  “Stop Helping Us”, and it kind of was, but the two books aren’t really in the same conversation. This book is more like a curriculum guide for teachers, with specific ideas for how to engage black students and how to leverage the strengths of black culture and youth culture for use in the classroom. I was trained as a counselor, not a teacher, so I felt like I need more information/training in order to actually implement these suggestions successfully, but it stirred up some good ideas and thoughts.
As You WishThe Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, and this book, written by the actor who played Westley, is a look behind the scenes of the making of the movie. It was really charming, and funny, and had the same spirit as the movie itself.

Lies My Teacher Told MeI’ve been wanting to study history for a while, since I don’t know much of it, and I feel like I didn’t learn it at all in school. It’s hard to know where or how to begin, though! But this book was meant as a start. It intends to present many aspects of American history that K-12 history classes misrepresent, omit, or just totally lie about. I found especially interesting its indictment of text books and the text book industry, which are essentially corrupt and awful. Who knew! Very interesting book.

Funny GirlMy dad gave me this book because, apparently, he read it himself solely because he likes Hornby, and he was done with it, and figured I might as well take it off his hands. 🙂 It was okay. It’s about a woman trying to make it as a movie star in London in the 1960s.

Wolf HallUgh, so boooooorrrrrrring. I had heard great things about this book, which follows Thomas Cromwell’s experiences with the Tudor family, as Henry VIII was trying to divorce Catherine so that he could finally bed wed Anne Boleyn. I’ve seen the show The Tudors, so I already knew all of the plot. Maybe if I hadn’t, this would have been more interesting. Maybe. Possibly not. It’s an interesting story, but this book did not do it justice. But a lot of people apparently like it, so what do I know.FoodJim Gaffigan is a comedian who has a lot of jokes about how much he loves food, and this book is kind of a compilation of all of those jokes. I had already heard the jokes, so it wasn’t that entertaining, but whatevs, it was okay.

Augie MarchOof, no. Again, I had heard good things about this book, but it was really really boring. The Adventures of Augie March? More like the boring, every day nothingness of this wet noodle. Augie March is a guy growing up in Chicago during the Depression, and he gets various part-time jobs, lives in various places with different people, goes out with various girls, and that’s pretty much it. There was a mildly interesting part toward the end where he tries to train an eagle in Mexico, but for the most part, it was a waste of time.

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