Thursday, July 24, 2008

Finishing up summer reading

For the most part, I detest commuting. This is significant, because this was actually part of the appeal of the TSI to me - living another life, an unfamiliar one, and one that a lot of people live in Baltimore every day - the life of a commuter to Washington D.C. I have a lot of respect for those folks, now. Mostly, my hatred for it involves the trains, and the feeling that my life is dictated by them. In my real life, I'm often a couple of minutes late to places. It's not a big deal. The train, though, is unforgiving. Today, the 7:15 train left at 7:14 (the Penn station clock time, within their 5 minute range), and being a couple minutes late here means I'm getting to Washington about 40-45 minutes later than I wanted to. It's just so unforgiving. I still make it to the Shakespeare Folger Library before anything starts, but it's (quite literally) a sprint the almost-mile or so to the institute, and no breakfast, etc. It's happened already about 3 times, and it makes the morning stressful. (And then whenever I want to rush somewhere, the train is 5 minutes late, or the electricity gets cut off and it stalls for 20 minutes, or some other malady occurs.)

However, the actual train ride is pretty good, when I get a seat, because (here's where I return the blog to teaching), in the last two weeks, I've read four of the five 9th grade summer reading books: Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief (absolutely phenomenal, so exciting and moving, and I can't wait to write about it more), Ron Suskin's A Hope in the Unseen (I've written about this one enough already, probably, but, suffice to say, I think everyone should read this book... and it's the Maryland's State Book this year), Daj Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (a bit of a snoozer), and, today, Allan Stratton's Chanda's Secrets (pretty decent, perhaps a bit too preachy, but I was still moved).

Kids have to read Hope, and then get their choice of any of the other ones. I have one more left - Edwidge Dandicat's Breath, Eyes, Memory. I'm sometimes bored by Dandicat - Farming of the Bones was a bit of a snoozer, despite the excellent title and some nice passages - so we'll see how I like it.

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