Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Coffee

The End is Near
The end of something is always near. Also the beginning. I'm still not sure who Howard  Harold Camping really is, but I find it incredibly sad that some people took his words so seriously that they did drastically stupid, and in some cases, drastically criminal things. This kind of apocalyptic thinking just doesn't compute for me, and it would be funny if it weren't sad.

For those of us who teach, the end of another school year is near. The former students who are finished with their first year of college are popping in to visit, and I'm starting to think about summer. I'm also in that phase of the teaching year where I have a sudden retrospective idea of what I should have done differently. Now is the time to write those thoughts down, because by August I will have forgotten it all.

This summer I'll be participating in Coastal Savannah Writing Project at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah. This wonderful program is one of the items Congress decided to eliminate, so funding was stopped in the middle of the year. That fact is just one of many things that doesn't make sense to me in this era of politics and education. Or maybe I should say the politics of education.  The National Writing Project has a budget that is infinitesimal compared to, say, tax breaks for corporations or two wars. It is an organization with a huge "bang for the buck" since each teacher who participates goes on to train other teachers. NWP has a goal of improving the teaching of writing by training teachers and by allowing teachers to develop as writers. I find it stunning that Congress did not think the mission of NWP was important enough to save this program. The CSWP group met for orientation last weekend, and I am so excited about working with these writers. Everyone who participates in NWP says it is a life-changing experience, so I can't wait.

The past week has been a great reading week for me. I participated in the Dueling Authors:Austen vs. Dickens Tour at The Classics Circuit. I didn't finish my book (Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens), but I plan to-Our Mutual Friend is everything I hoped it would be, and I plan another post when I actually finish the behemoth.Then, as kismet would have it, I had just read Ordinary Thunderstorms for TLC Book Tours, and that just enriched my appreciation for both books. I was impressed by the depth of Ordinary Thunderstorms, and the rich texture of the novel. Ordinary Thunderstorms is set in London, and the Thames plays a critical role in this novel and in Our Mutual Friend. I love when the books I am reading connect.

Right now I have put everything else aside for Dostoevsky's The Idiot.I read this book back in high school--I remember carrying the Signet paperback everywhere I went. Most likely I read a Constance Garnett translation; now I'm reading the Everyman's hardcover edition translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The footnotes are very helpful; also helpful is the list of names I've started keeping by my side as I read. Russian names! Translations of Russian novels should include a short chapter on Russian patronymics and the endearing and confusing nicknames that every character must have. I'm reading The Idiot as part of a read-along sponsored by Allie at A Literary Odyssey. My goal for today is to finish Part One of the novel (I'm very close), after which I will write my first of at least two posts.

I'm really ready to gorge myself on books. That's what I normally do in the first weeks of the summer. I'd like to do a post on all the books I have lined up (I recently made of list of the books I have agreed to review, and those I really, really want to read right now. There are eighteen books on the list). Should I chomp my way through some fun genre reads, or should I get all serious and classic this summer? Maybe reading The Idiot will reignite my love affair with the Russians, and I'll plow through War and Peace this summer. Last summer I did this guest post over at Desert Book Chick about my long-standing passion for Russian literature. Maybe this summer I will indulge myself with a slew of Russians. June 9th is my last day of school-what will I be reading? What will you be reading this summer: classics, big fat beach reads, or both?


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

When does summer start for you then?

I teach in the UK and don't finish until July 22nd, and we have a six week summer break.

Anonymous said...

bet your looking forward to summer break ,loks like a busy week lisa ,all the best stu

bibliophiliac said...

@Tiny Library-last day for teachers is June 9th. We go back on August 8th. Most teachers take a class or work during our summer break.