Read or Die!

Some co-workers were commenting on my lamentable state of not having a tv.* One added, “That’s how he can get so much reading done.” I didn’t want to burst her bubble, but that’s just not the case. Being a new teacher and a newly-wed takes up all of my time. Seriously. I’m forcing myself to get any writing done here, because it’s the only real writing I do. Outside of that, I only read in short sprints. Which I guess is okay, since I have ADD anyway.

But these are the books I’m currently reading or looking forward to soon reading:

What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey. Just started it yesterday. Billy Graham has called Yancey his favorite Evangelical writer. After having read The Jesus I Never Knew and The Bible Jesus Read, I’d probably concur. The book tackles grace through stories, recollections and observations and largely deals with the fact that we Christians so often talk about it, but rarely practice it. Already on my viewing list from Yancey’s recommendation is Babette’s Feast.

Monster, Walter Dean Myers. I read it back in college. Now, my students get the privilege of reading this portrait of a young Black man who is on trial for murder and journals his story in the form of a screenplay for a documentary. He calls it Monster because that is the name the prosecutor gives him and although no one really believes he murdered anyone, his association with the petty thugs who commited the crime leaves him feeling tainted. One of the best Young Adult Lit pieces from one of the best Young Adult writers.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris. Not as funny as Naked. But funny as all get out. On his father calling the father of one of the popular kids to try to make them pay for some dental work necessitated by the popular kid’s throwing of a rock at young David,

There were two Thad Popes in the Raleigh phone book, a Junior and a Senior. The one in my class was what came after a Junior. He was a Third. My father called both the Junior and the Senior, beginning each conversation with the line “Lou Sedaris here. Listen, pal, we’ve got a problem with your son.”

He said our last name as if it meant something, as if we were known and respected. This made it all the more painful when he was asked to repeat it. Then to spell it.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006, Ed. Dave Eggars, Intro by Matt Groening. I have the whole series, dating back to 2002. The first year was the best, imho. But it seems that the series is back on track in comedic and poignant aspects in this largely Iraq-focused book. This edition also includes some collections, including “Best American Fake News Headlines” (all culled from the Onion, including the gems “Activist Judge Cancels Christmas”, “Blacks, Whites Put Differences Aside, Work to Make Better Burger”, “Philandering String Theorist Can Explain Everything”, and “Rest of U2 Perfectly Fine with African’s Starving”) and “Best American Excerpt from a Military Blog” (from Check out this excerpt from June 17, 2005 “I can’t stop thinking about what a major said to me the other day. ‘The whole country of Iraq, every man, woman, and child… Kill every one of them and it still won’t be worth one American’s life.'”) and “Best American Things to Know about Chuck Norris” (culled from Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits; Chuck Norris created the hole in the ozone layer “to get a better view of the sun”; Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants).

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan on reading it to my students. It takes place in a barrio here in Chicago and is a classic in young adult literature.

Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson. I’m slowly making my way through this revelation on revelatory Biblical reading and living.

Job, The Writers of Job. We just finished it last night. This time reading it orally, I was struck by how similar Job and his friends’ arguments are. They always go back to God, they always talk about how majestic and powerful and all-wise God is. But it isn’t until God truly shows his majesty, power and wisdom that they dare not speak on God’s behalf. Every time I’m confronted with Job’s story of suffering I’m awe-struck with the fact that I should be silent.

*We just got a tv this Sunday. Not sure how long it’ll last. Hopefully long enough to watch some exciting Bears wins.


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