The Month of May
This month is a month of deadlines and distractions. My AP students took their Literature and Composition exam on May 3rd, and my ninth graders will be taking the End-of-Course exam for English 1 in about two weeks. As the school year winds up, there is not much time for reading for pleasure.
But I do it anyway.
Honestly, I don't know how I would survive my job or my life without the consolation of books.
Although this year has been a tough one for my reading life (fewer books finished than normal, lots of books begun and then set aside) here are some of the books that have been sustaining me recently:
Lab Girl, a memoir by scientist and professor Hope Jahren. I've been reading this book mostly at night, about a chapter at a time, but I've picked up the pace recently. I can't begin to explain just how amazing this book is. First of all, Jahren is an astonishingly good writer. I mean GOOD. She is also hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. She makes everything about plants, geology, science, and the workings of a scientific lab absolutely enthralling. And her perspective as a woman in a male-dominated field is riveting.
The Ambassadors by Henry James. When I was an English major in college I loved Henry James. Now, I'm wondering if anyone even reads him anymore--someone must, surely. I picked up The Ambassadors to see whether I still had the focus and ability to concentrate to read James. The reality is that the ability to focus deeply on the type of sentences and precise details you get with Henry James is something that requires practice. My life and my job have left me with fractured attention. But I am slowly making my way.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This 490 page panoramic historical novel set in Korea and Japan hit the sweet spot for me. It is a beautiful, profound, entrancing book. I was lost, completely immersed, in this story of a Sunja, a young girl who becomes pregnant by a married man. Sunja lives with her widowed mother, who runs a boardinghouse. In a twist of fate, a young Christian minister comes to stay in the boardinghouse, and rescues Sunja from her shameful situation by marrying her and taking her to Japan, where most of the story takes place. I will be posting a full review of this novel, but suffice it to say for now that it is splendid.
As the school year comes to an end, I'm looking forward to reading for pleasure, sheer, pure pleasure, and reading all the time.But even now, when it seems like there is no time for it, I will be reading.
What have you read lately that hit the sweet spot for you? Do you find as life gets more and more busy and stressful, that you need to read more, not less?