Friday, November 23, 2012
vacation is also a great time for giving myself time to read. not the sneak-in-a-chapter-barely-before-my-eyes-close type reading of the work week, but the sip-slowly-the-entire-french-press-and-read-first-thing-in-the-morning-because-it-doesn't-matter-what-time-it-is kind. "love walked in" by marisa de los santos is a good read. the author is smart (an award-winning poet with a PhD in literature and creative writing) and peppers the novel with literary allusions. even though there are a lot of inter-relational dynamics at play, de los santos avoids sappiness, oversentimentality or needless drama and brings the characters together in realistic yet tender ways. also because it is vacation, i allowed myself to buy a NEW book: "the snow child" by eowyn ivey. it looks to be somewhere in the fiction novel fantastical genre. "set in alaska, 1920 a childless couple builds a child out of snow. the snow child disappears but a little girl is seen running through the woods 'who could have stepped out of the pages of a fairy tale.' "
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
so, what with all this holocaust study going on (sarah's key, the boy in striped pajamas, anne frank...) i need to take breaks, read about something else, something they ironically starved without: food. the book on hold was "yes, chef" by marcus samuelsson and the reason it took two months was because 183 people wanted to read it first. i have to say, that after only a few chapters, i can see why it is so popular. marcus is adopted from ethiopia into a swedish family along with his sister linda and given an upbringing in soccer but also ultimately in cooking. in middle school, he doesn't know it yet but dinners at his grandmother's home and expeditions on the swedish fishing boats will teach him the basics of food texturing and flavor that rival any lessons taught at chef school. "yes chef" is refreshing in the memoir genre because his writing is honest but never self-grandeurizing, bitter or overly dramatic (and he of all people would have reason to be, nearly dying of typhoid and being orphaned at age 3) as he weaves together the history that led him to where he is today: everything from helping with michelle obama's fresh food campaign to the opening of "the red rooster" restaurant in harlem and many flavorful adventures of friendship in between.
every year when i begin to teach a unit on the holocaust, i prepare for an adventure. because each time the lessons take on a life of their own, setting off a chain of events that couldn't be mere coincidence. i swear it's alive. consider that...in september i put a random book on hold at the library...i forget about the book until a notification comes in november...i check out some holocaust dvds and get a receipt...but i have to go to the back shelf and get in line again to claim the hold item...(stay with me here) because of this i get a new reciept which says "join us for holocaust survivors les and eva aigner this friday night 7-8:30 pm in the community room"...i watch one of the dvds about WWII...i cry while describing the basic plot line to my students...by chance a co-worker has just finished reading the same book...while looking in my files i come across an article i clipped last year from the Oregonian about...les and eva aigner. i've only "met" survivors via YouTube or newspaper, never in person. and, while i know it may not be the most hip way to spend a friday night, it's always in vogue with me to learn something new. and what better way to learn history than from real people and the stories that only they can tell!