Thursday, March 06, 2014

Reading On A Thursday: Notes

Even though I'm mired in that hellish hell known as jet lag, this bookworm will not stay down.  The compulsion to read will not die.  Bleary-eyed, I'm stumbling through three books right now:

1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Mary Wollstonecraft.  I started this book in January, and haven't gotten far, although I admire the hell out of Mary Wollstonecraft.  I confess, her long labyrinthine 18th century sentences tire this 21st century reader.  I feel like I've been driving a large team of horses after a few pages.  I also feel a bit sad thinking about how she had a lot of time to refine her thoughts and hone her logic and perfect those sentences because she was probably lonely.  Most women wouldn't (and couldn't) have understood her, and a fine mind such as hers in a woman's body would have been anathema to most men.

2. Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver.  She's judgmental and preachy.  She can be a little condescending, too.  She's pedantic and didactic.  Furthermore, Kingsolver has never outgrown that clunky way with dialogue and characterization that I chalked up to first novel-itis when I read (and loved) The Bean Trees many years ago.  In other words, she's driving me crazy with this novel about monarch butterflies who mysteriously migrate to a small town in rural Tennessee, but I can't quit reading, because it is interesting and I am learning so much, and I do agree with what she says (and says and says and says).  Overall, I  prefer her nonfiction.

3. World English 2 - Publisher: Heinle.  This one is for work.  It's the new textbook for the EFL classes.  Thank goodness it's not that mind-numbing lowest level.  Our topics here include: food, communication, cities, the body, challenges, transitions, luxuries, nature, life in the past, travel, careers and celebrations.  Lots of opportunities for a riff when things get stale. On the grammar side, can't get away from the present perfect, but there are two chapters (!?) of modals and a section on real conditionals (although unreal conditionals are more fun).  Oh no, the dreaded passive voice was just spotted.  For the past few semesters, I've been approaching these textbooks unit by unit in a workmanlike manner, but I've decided to burrow into World English 2 as if it were the choicest novel and really get to know and appreciate it.  Maybe that familiarity will inform my teaching.  Fingers crossed.


Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I loved The Poisonwood Bible but didn't get on much with Barbara Kingsolver's other books. They weren't terrible, but they didn't have that fluidity and weirdness that Poisonwood Bible had. At this point I've given up on her! Accepted she was a one-hit wonder for me!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I've always struggled with Kingsolver's books for some of the exact reasons you mentioned. She can be so condescending!

Vasilly said...

I prefer Kingsolver's nonfiction to her fiction too. I probably will try Flight Behavior sometime. I hope you feel better soon.

Eva said...

I'm glad you said that about Kingsolver! I hated Poisonwood Bible (the second half was just so damned heavy handed and not in the gothic, overwrought way the first half was), so I've never even given her nonfiction a go. Sounds like I might like those more.

bibliophiliac said...

Kudos to you for burrowing into a textbook! I read Vindication of the Rights of Women way back in graduate school, then kind of got obsessed with Wollstonecraft and her entire life story (I suppose you know that Mary Shelley was her daughter, and that she was just a teen when she fell in love with the married Percy Shelley...they used to meet at Mary Wollstonecraft's grave). One book that gave me a different perspective on Wollstonecraft was the novel based on her life by Frances Sherwood...It's called Vindication. There are also some good biographies out there.

Care said...

Hi. Love your posts. Have only read & loved A Poisonwood Bible and haven't had much inclination to read anything else. Have fun teaching all that English stuff. :)
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