Friday, February 19, 2010

2002: January

For some reason, I decided to keep track of what and how much I read each month at the beginning of 2002. My life? I was teaching ESL K-8. Running from elementary school to middle school kept me busy, but I still had time to check out the middle school library from time to time.

1. The One-Minute Teacher (nonfiction) - Spencer Johnson, M.D. & Constance Johnson, M.Ed. Aaaargh. The Johnsons have one idea and repeat it over and over. The book is really short, but as Mark Twain (?) would have said, "Those covers are too far apart!"

2. Christina Stead (biography) - Hazel Rowley. An excellent portrait of the Australian novelist, best known for her 1938 novel The Man Who Loved Children.

3. In The Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (nonfiction) - Nathaniel Philbrick. The story of the Essex tragedy, which took place over two years 1819-1821 was the horror sea story of the 19th century as the Titanic was for the 20th. After the Essex was attacked by a giant sperm whale (which later inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick), the survivors of the wreckage took off across the Pacific in three small boats with most of their suffering ahead of them during the next 90+ days. Starvation and cannibalism play a part in the crew's fate, and Philbrick reports this unsparingly. Although tons of research (Philbrick has pages and pages of end notes) was done, In The Heart of the Sea is not a long book, and the narrative moves along nicely. Very highly recommended.

4. Lupita Manana (novel) - Patricia Beatty. This is a young adult novel. When Lupita's father is killed in an accident, Lupita's mother decides to send her two oldest children, Lupita and Salvador to their aunt's home in California, so they can find work and send money back to Mexico to help support their mother and the younger children. After one unsuccessful trip in which they are stopped by la migra (immigration police), Lupita and Salvador cross the border into the United States. They face a series of obstacles relating to family, work, a different culture and always fear of la migra, but Lupita is spunky and optimistic, always believing that manana (tomorrow) will be better. It was interesting to compare this book with a movie called El Norte that I'd seen a couple of years earlier.

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