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July 28, 2011 / JaymeJ

Summer Unplugged

July and August are the months when I have a chance to unplug, well semi-unplug. These are the months when an ever-revolving stack of novels appears on my side table. These are the months when my library card (actually) gets used. These are the months when I have the luxury of staying up late to read another chapter or even (gasp) finish a book that is unrelated to education!

As I gear up for our annual beach vacation next week, I am stockpiling books to read as I relax by the waves. In light of this, I am breaking from my usual ed tech focus to recommend a few of my most recent reads:

Dragon Bones by Lisa See – Reminiscent of my Amy Tan period, I have been reading a number of books by Lisa See. Dragon Bones was my first. The combination of a murder mystery, an archeological dig, Chinese mythology, and personal relationships made me want to go back and read the previous two books about these characters. I also read See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and lost myself in the intertwined lives of Snow Flower and Lily.

The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty – Are we running away from our past or toward our future? This novel follows the life of one man, his family, and his discovery of himself through his running.

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton – A heartbreakingly realistic story of mourning, relationships, and coping with the aftermath of a child’s untimely death. I also read her first novel The Book of Ruth which was good, but I didn’t enjoy as much.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares – A haunting story of a relationship that weaves in and out of hundreds of years.

Poke the Box by Seth Godin – Ok, I am sneaking one semi-professional title onto the list. This fast read asks, “When was the last thing you tried something new?” It has inspired how I look at teaching, assessments, risk-taking, and mistakes – or “Happy Accidents” as they are known around my school. Though this is not an education book, per se, it will impact my teaching, learning, and personal efforts this coming year. (Example A: I started blogging!)

Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell – A memoir of a special friendship between two women, how they inspired each other, and the lasting effect of their relationship even after one succumbs to her battle with cancer.

Other favorites from the past years include: The Help, Just Let Me Lie Down, The Mysterious Life of Henrietta Lacks, and The Last Lecture. Helen of Pasadena was a fun read for someone familiar with Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley.

Books in my pile I have yet to read: Room: a novel by Emma Donoghue, Shanghai Girls: a novel by Lisa See, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, and Run by Ann Patchett

How do you unplug and unwind during the summer?
What books would you recommend I add to my “reading pile”?

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