Monday, March 01, 2010

The Unlikely!

I spent February break reading all the summer reading books that I didn't intend to like and much to my surprise, they were wonderful!

First some sad news, THE FULL BURN didn't make the cut. It was full of really bad language. And while I am not necessarily opposed to the occasional swear (just ask anyone who has seen me drive in traffic) this really was not good enough to warrant it. And it was pretty boring. And I know from boring. I read a book about MATH this week for heaven's sake! (Just kidding, math teachers. Math is awesome! Yay math!)

GEEKSPEAK: A GUIDE TO ANSWERING THE UNANSWEREABLE, MAKING SENSE OF THE NONSENSICAL, AND SOLVING THE UNSOLVABLE by Dr. Graham Tattersall is the math book in question. It was quite funny in some parts. I tended to skip over the parts with actual numbers, but I liked the formulas. I learned how to figure out how bi my vocabulary is, how to weigh my house, how to find out how long it would take to send my body to Mars. (Please do NOT beam me up, Scotty!) The book wasn't as accessible as I thought it was going to be, but any math minded kid who likes philosophy and problem solving is going to love it. And even math-phobics like me will find it interesting. Who knew math was so useful? (I will now go hide while Ms MacDonald and Mr. Novello chase me with graphing calculators.)

PANIC IN LEVEL 4 by Richard Preston is the science-y book this year and it was AWESOME! I expected to be a little interested, but I loved it. And it even had gross stuff in it, but I pressed on. It is a bunch of essays by Preston (who writes a lot of books about diseases that freak me out) that for the most part appeared in THE NEW YORKER. The topics range from ebola to pi to dying trees to the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters to a really creepy genetic disease that makes your hands attach you and you attack your hands. Blech!! And yet, I had a hard time putting it down. Don't get me wrong, I am still a huge wimp, but good writing can make me keep reading in spite of almost certainly being freaked out when I think about things later!

GHOSTS OF WAR by Ryan Smithson was amazing. Smithson joined the Army Reserves after graduating high school shortly after 9/11. He was deployed soon after and tells the story of his year as an army engineer. He has a clean, clear writing style and tells his story in a heartfelt way that shows the humanity and high ideals of the average soldier. He has a respect for those he served with and served under, combined with an understanding of the humanity of all the players in the current conflict.

SCRATCH BEGINNINGS: ME $25, AND THE SEARCH FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM by Adam Shepard. This Merrimack graduate decided to go to a strange city and start out in a homeless shelter with $25, a tarp and the clothes on his back to see if he could work his way out of homelessness in a year. At first I had a hard time getting beyond his somewhat clunky writing, but his attitude and experience really won me over. I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to make sense of poverty and class issues.

KNIGHTS OF THE HILL COUNTRY by Tim Tharp is "the football book". I try to have one every year. Last year it was 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS which very few people liked. Hopefully the Knights will be more of a crowd pleaser. I really liked it because it got in to the head of Hampton, a linebacker on an undefeated football team in the Ozarks. At first, Hamp's voice was kind of annoying because he "speaks" in something of an Okie dialect, but once I got used to it, the story really kept my interest. (I tried to skip over the football parts, but they were so intrinsic to the story that I had to keep going back and reading them.) The story is about how Hamp deals with his own issues while his best friend Blake (a giant tool) is spinning out of control.

Now I have read all the books I have felt obligated to read and can concentrate on the ones I want to! Ms Woznik and I are going to the school committee at the beginning of April to get them approved. By then I will have read everything. I am so excited about this year's list!