If there is one discouraging thing about being an English teacher, it's the limited amount of time I have to read. What a painful irony. Even more painful, when I do have time to read, I find myself stumped - unsure of what to read, or I can't remember what I've been wanting to read, or I just fall asleep. Fortunately, I have developed a couple of strategies that have helped me get more reading and remembering done:
'Blow Dry and a Book': I coined this term, but if someone has something more alliterative/awesome, I am up for suggestions. I have fairly long hair that my stylist Jeremy says 'retains moisture'. That means it takes freaking forever to blow dry. And because I am lazy, I don't like to stand in front of a mirror and stare at myself while I complete the process. About a year ago, I came up with a genius solution. I sit down with my back propped against the wall or the backboard of my bed, and then balance my book on my knees while I blow dry. This works best with hardcovers, so I can hold the dryer with one hand, tousle with the other, and hold the book open with my elbow. It sounds silly, but I like it. It takes time that would otherwise be spent staring into space or lapsing into vanity/depression and occupies my brain with something constructive.
Goodreads.com: I like this website. I don't like ranking books with stars, because I waffle back and forth so much, and I hate the idea that someone might pick a book that I loved and hate it, or love a book I hated. However, they do have a handy mark as to read function, which I am enjoying. Be my friend!
Unlike my students, I am using my spring break to catch up on some books, which I will now review for your reading pleasure.
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall: First, what a delightful oxymoron of a title...how can a man with 4 wives and 28 kids ever find time to be lonely? But it's a truth that you're never so lonely as when you're in a crowd. At its heart, this book wasn't really a commentary on polygamy, though. It's more about the characters and their (non)connections to each other. I also liked that you get the perspective of the clueless husband, the youngest wife, and one of the sons, and they are all crying out for attention that they don't get. There are really funny parts of the book, but more sadness. All of their problems are really self-created...but at the same time, you feel sorry for them. Someone let me know if you read this book, because I would like a second opinion on it.
March by Geraldine Brooks: I first read Little Women when I was a pre-teen, and I've read it a handful of times since then. As an adult, I recognize the moral lessons Louisa May 'hides' in her writing, but I still love the story. And for people who love Little Women, I always recommend Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Rose is the only girl cousin, and when her parents die, she comes to live on the Aunt Hill, with all of the aunts and cousins. Morally clean hi-jinks ensue. Then in the sequel, Rose grows up. Prepare yourself, because she does end up marrying her cousin, but don't let that gross you out. It's still a totally sweet love story. Either way, now I've read March, which tells about the father of the March family of Little Women. For the first half of that book, the father is serving as a chaplain in the Union Army, and this tells his story. There are a few little sneaks into the original novel, but this one stands alone. You also get a little bit from Marmee's perspective too. It was an interesting concept, but I can't decide if I can accept the flawed, faulty and more human characters in March over the idealized parents in Little Women. March also won a Pulitizer Prize, and I don't think it was that good. If you liked Little Women though, it's worth a read. Also, does anyone know of any good Louisa May Alcott biographies? I have heard that there are a few good ones out there, and she lived a pretty interesting life.