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, August 21, 2011

Sunday Coffee

Ramblings on school, books, and other stuff

My brain, heart and body are 100% engaged in school now. That means a temporary lull in all things bloggish, although I do have at least one post scheduled for the coming week, and I hope to do more.

So, the first week of school is over and it went great. I couldn't have asked for a better start to the school year. I love my students. I love my teaching schedule. Okay, so I don't love lunch duty and all the mundane and minescule tasks I have to complete, but I'm a realist.

We had our first football game of the school year on Friday, and everyone was there. I mean everyone: our superintendent, several thousand parents students and fans--everyone. Our school, Bluffton, played against our arch-rival Hilton Head Island High School. We blew them out of the water (final score 76-0). Yeah, our team is good.

So this weekend I'm trying to get on top of next week (and rest up a bit). My honors students read Cry the Beloved Country for their summer reading, and I'm rereading this beautiful novel. It is such a pleasure to read a carefully constructed novel. I find it interesting that Paton wrote Cry the Beloved Country in part while traveling in America. He was heavily influenced by John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I wish more writers were publishing social justice novels today; the time is ripe for novels of conscience. Some truths need the breadth of a novel, and the political rhetoric today is reduced to talking points and sound bites. Tales told by idiots, signifying nothing.

Besides rereading Cry the Beloved Country, I'm also reading James W. Pennebaker's Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions. I've had this book on my shelf for years and just never got to it. It is absolutely fascinating, and confirms what I knew intuitively: writing about traumatic events is good for both your psyche and your body. Trying to suppress or inhibit thoughts about traumatic events (even those from many years ago) has an impact on your immune system.

Have you found writing to be healing? How many readers out there keep a journal and write about their lives? I'm a fanatical journal keeper I have notebooks and journals going back decades. Some are writer's notebooks, and some are personal journals. I don't go back and read them very often, but if I want to know what I was thinking when I was fifteen, I can find out (probably do not want to know this!). I can feel the physiogic effects of writing immediately: a few minutes with a notebook and a pen and I feel focused, calm. Do you keep a writer's notebook or journal? Do have the same experience?


Judith said...

I have been keeping a journal since the age of eight (1961). I have an overflowing, huge box of spiral-bound notebooks, chock-full of all kinds of details about my life and thoughts. Since 2007, I've been writing my journal on the computer, so now my entries are ever so carefully edited (can't help it)! I think better when I'm writing.

Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Glad the school year had such a positive start for you. I start again on the 5th September, I'm looking forward to it but also can't believe the summer is almost over!

I keep a journal, on and off. I don't write in it as much as I should ...

Lesa said...

Sounds like you are off to a good start with the school year. This week will be my first full week back and I'm kinda excited about it.

That is so cool that you have years of journals-- not just cathartic but also what a treasure for your descendants. Wish I had kept journals since my childhood-- maybe if blogging had existed then I would have.

Jennifer said...

I always wish I kept a journal, but can never get into a habit. I do have one that I keep around for when I've got issues going on - writing difficult feelings down helps keeps me from taking thing out on my husband, but other than that I never write out anything. I am fascinated by writing as therapy though - I'll have to check out that book.

Scriptor Senex said...

Like you I keep journals both of my thoughts and actions (mostly boring actions) and of tidbits picked up here and there. I have kept them for forty years. I find it's both edifying and horrifying going back over them. It takes a journal to remind us how we've changed and developed over the years. I wonder if my thoughts now will seem as childish in another twenty years (if I live that long)?

bibliophiliac said...

@Judith-interesting that you type your journal. I still like to write long-hand (a dying art, I think).
@Sam-can't wait to hear how your first week goes!
@Lesa-I'm not sure I want my descendents to read my journals!
@Jennifer-it's interesting that you do use a journal during difficult times (so it is therapeutic). I'm reading everything I can about the writing process. It never ceases to fascinate.

bibliophiliac said...

@Scriptor Senex- "edifying and horrifying" - exactly! I don't read old journals very often, but when I do I often see patterns that weren't apparent at the time.

Robyn Ryle said...

Another great Sunday Coffee. I have journals going back to 5th grade, though lately I've fallen out of the habit. I read somewhere and exercise where you keep a journal, but just pick one scene out of your day and write it as if it were in a story or novel. So making your life into a scene. I liked that idea, and did it for a while, and then life got in the way. I do think writing helps to deal with trama's, large and small. Anne Lamott advises you to write it all out....all the ugliness. It'll help you and maybe someone else.

Marie Cloutier said...

I'm glad your school year is going well! I hope it continues that way.