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Showing posts from June, 2014

Meditations on the Holy Land and Book Review: The People of Forever Are Not Afraid

23. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu What I noticed most about my time in Israel last month was the overwhelming sense of community-that and (not coincidentally) everyone's tendency to force-feed me. In that vein, a friend of mine teaching in Israel for the year lent this book to me during my travels. "You'll give it back to me when I see you again," he said vaguely, and because both of us were feeling just confident enough in our Israeli-Jewish bubble, I knew that I would. That sense of community persists in this book about three contemporary Israeli women, but in a weird and not quite as comforting way. The blurb on the back of the book is misleading. It begins, "Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny dusty Israeli village...passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life." The blurb implies a togetherness that the characters technically experience, but as the writing makes quite evident

The Best American Travel Writing 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Gilbert

22. The Best American Travel Writing 2013 Edited by Elizabeth Gilbert Travel and short stories make a marvelous combination in my book, and so when I found out that Elizabeth Gilbert had edited a compilation of travel short stories, it seemed like a magical combination. In her thoughtful introduction, Gilbert promises "you will not be bored"-and I was not disappointed. Every single one of these stories is unique and meaningful. I liked some better than others, but I did not skip or skim a single one. For example, bull-running and rooster-eyeball-licking are not really elements I look for in my stories, but I can think of quite a few students who'd get a kick out of it. The story that appealed most to me included "Blot Out" by Colleen Kinder about what it's really like to wear a niqab , a full head and body covering with a grille for eyes to see through. When one of the characters says "the best part was looking strangers square in the eye," I

A Dance with Dragons

After Israel, I spent some time in San Francisco and Chicago. I thought I'd have time for blog posts, but apparently not. Before my travels, I read: 21. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin I finally finished the extant Song of Ice and Fire oeuvre. I have to say, I like where the series is going much better now. Nothing surprised me terribly (because with Martin, you are expecting the most terrible events), and the arc the books have followed has become more consistent with predictions I made after reading the third book. So, basically, let's all breathe a sigh of relief that Tyrion is still okay (though things look bad on HBO right now), and look forward to Baelish and Varys wreaking havoc that won't matter so much when the White Walkers come 'round.... Enjoy the season finale tonight!

Novels, Stories, and Poems Read Most Often in Schools

Litlove's post about Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" got me thinking about pieces of writing that I had to read repeatedly in the American school system. Now, I think some of these may have been regional, others national, and perhaps others the product of particular teachers I had, but I'm curious: what are the most commonly read works of literature in schools, and why? In my own experience, these are the writings I have been asked to read more than once in school: 1. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor 2. "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare 3. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot 4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 5. Elizabeth I's Armada speech 6. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech 7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 8. The Odyssey by Homer 9. "Ode to a Grecian Urn" by John Keats 10. "