I Get Some Recommendations

I think it's my turn to pick the book club book in April, and I am really stressing out about it! (Bonus: Thinking about books is fun. Bonus Bonus: When I think about books, I'm not grading papers).

Almost everybody in our book club has has an English background, but there are some members who probably DON'T want to read George Eliot over Christmas Break (shocking, I KNOW). And though our last pick was an Oprah book, take a look at what I'm gonna have to be reading next. (And you know I will totally be taking it to Christmas dinner).

I have used several different resources to try and find The Perfect Book.

I asked the school librarian today. Here are the books I checked out:

The Thorn Birds -- I have heard of the mini-series, which one of the other English teachers has said is one of the BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME BAR NONE (that is exactly how she said it).

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Boothe -- Just the title of this made me think, it must have been really hard to be John Wilkes Boothe's brother. So I am looking forward to reading this one.

Grendel -- I LOVE Beowulf, and I actually asked Mrs. L. if she had the newest translation of it. She didn't, but she did recommend this book, which is the Beowulf story told from the monster's point of view.

The House of Mirth -- I looked online at several other book clubs, and many of them recommended Wharton's Ethan Frome, which I read in the 10th grade. I thought maybe we could read something else of hers, though I did pull out my oooooold copy of Frome and start reading it last night. [Actually, I remember clearly that we were reading this book in class during the six weeks that I was grounded for smarting off to my mom about my U in conduct on my report card. I was cut off from everything: tv, phone, radio, and--MOST HURTFUL OF ALL--books, not counting books for school. So I read Ethan Frome four times, made 100 on the test (the only 100, thank you very much) and fell in love with the book. I think, in all of the 10th grade, I was the only person who actually liked it.]

I asked Mrs. M., a fellow teacher, who is a bit more mature and has been teaching (and reading) for many many years. After warning me that she mostly read classics, she offered these:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull -- About which I know nothing, other than that Mr. Brady was reading it in bed in The Brady Bunch Movie. How sad am I?

Watership Down -- Isn't this the book that Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at DisneyWorld is based on? Or is that another rabbit book? I tend to be leery of animal books and movies in general, because there's always one that dies, and I cannot handle that.

Flowers for Algernon -- I've heard this is a really good book, but I sort of have this memory of seeing a movie based on this book and being really mad about the ending. Then again, given the number of movies I've seen, I could be thinking of something totally different, or, for that matter, be making the whole thing up.

Next I went to Time Magazine's 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to the Present. I was pretty sure I would have read most of these books already, but as it turns out, I have not even read half of these books. Not even a tenth.

Here are the ones I have read:

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Play It as It Lays, by Joan Didion
Possession, by A.S. Byatt (I read half of it, but it was sooooo slow, and plus, I really loved the movie; that's why I started reading the book in the first place, and the movie is SO MUCH SHORTER).
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

I was really depressed by my low number, until I realized that this list does not even represent the last one hundred years of writing, let alone the many centuries before that. Although, if there was a list of 100 Best Novels Written Between 1600 and 1900, guess who would rock that list: yeah, ME.

At lunch I got to talking with Cat and Kay about books that I haven't read that I sort of think I SHOULD have read, given my English major and the many hours of lit classes I had to take. Plus, with teaching English, I sort of feel like I should be more well-read. But there are like, THOUSANDS of books that it seems like everyone else has read and I haven't, and they're all like, "WHAT!?! You haven't read _____ !?!" (which I'll admit was my own reaction when Kay said she'd never read Beowulf).

When I got home, I googled it: Books an English Teacher Should Read

Well, that didn't work. So I am drawing on my own bookshelf, as well as my colleagues' recommendations, and I AM MAKING THAT LIST.

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