Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Snapshot of the Reading Life

Recently completed:

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward. I like Lisa Lutz's Spellman Files series, so I thought this would be appealing. Woops, wrong. It was contrived and annoying. I finished it out of a (probably misguided) desire for completion more than out of a desire to see what happened to any of the characters. Because, in the end, I didn't care -- not about the characters, not about the authors. Sorry, not much more I can say.

Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Ascencion Book 8 of a 9 book series written on a rotating basis by 3 authors. If you ever wondered what Star Wars would be like if it had been written as a bodice ripper, this is the book for you. And, just like a bodice ripper, you can skip through it without losing track of the plot because there's just not a lot of plot there. Really. About 50-100 pages from the end I gave up, skipped to the last chapter or so, wrapped up the parts of the story that probably matter for the next book (oh, okay, Abeloth does THAT -- no big surprise there; the Sith do THIS -- again, no surprise; and Vestra is up to THAT -- huh, coulda written that myself; and Luke and the Jedi are pretty much up to the same ol' same old), and returned it to the library. But I shall persevere through to the final book because, yoohoo, STAR WARS!

Currently reading:

How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport. I think I've been reading this forever, although it's only been about 4-6 weeks. Really, it's a decent guide on how to organize your study time for maximum effect. It would be great for a college student to read, preferably before the beginning of the semester. It would probably be helpful for high school students. But, like I say, I'm not sure what's in it for me, other than being able to recommend it to people the appropriate age and occupation -- which I can already do, therefor no need for me to finish the book. Maybe I just like it because whilst reading I can fantasize about having been that clued in during college.

How to Be a High School Superstar by Cal Newport. Takes some of the same concepts from the college book (above) and applies them to high school so that kids have plenty of free time to develop "interestingness". Also purportedly claims to explain how to develop "interestingness". I'm only about a third of the way through, and this one is worth finishing to see where he's going with it. Homeschool theoretically could be the PERFECT for giving kids huge blocks of time to develop "interestingness", but plenty of homeschool kids aren't making the leap. C'mon, you've all heard the stories of homeschoolers who, given free rein over their time, fritter it away on various meaningless pursuits and are barely literate years later. I suspect Cal Newport doesn't have magical words of inspiration for those kids -- I suspect the inspiration to be a Superstar has to already be present, and Newport simply gives a way to channel it. But, hey, it looks like it will be an interesting read. And I'm attracted to the way the author challenges the status quo, stating that the typical way people try to make college applications stand out is really downright silly. But, will my love of all things status-quo-challenging blind me to the flaws in his premise? Hmm....

For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin. I picked this up at random from the New Book shelves at the library, attracted to the cover picture of a guy swinging on a pendulum in a classroom. I often like science biographies (Lives of a Cell, for example). And the fact that I'm currently teaching physics to a bunch of grade-school-age kids adds to the attraction. Wow, this book is great for inspiration. Admittedly I can't show the exact same demos in my itty-bitty co-op class -- I don't have access to the swanky equipment to drag into the classroom -- but his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. I wish, though, that the book had an appendix that listed out all the YouTube videos and cool websites he mentions in the text, since as it stands now I have all sort of crappy little bits of paper stuck in pages since I'm often reading the without an internet-connected computer by my side. Really, if you like reading about science topics, this is a book you don't want to miss.

Okay, there are probably more bookmark-ridden books languishing around here. But these are the ones I've been carrying around with me lately, and continue to carry around.

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