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books o24 - o35.

My list is quite lengthy, as these are my summery reading books. I'll cut it to save the room. The books you can find under the cut:
-On Writing by Stephen King,
-The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle,
-Percy Jackson and the Olympians (the five book series) by Rick Riordan,
-The Natural Speaker by Randy Fujishin,
-The Teaching Assistant's Guide to the Basic Course by Katherine Grace Hendrix,
-Spirituality, Action, & Pedagogy by Diana Denton and Will Ashton (editors),
-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and
-The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer.


( o24. on writing : a memoir of the craft; stephen king. )
After having the book mentioned in several conversations with a professor, I decided to give it a try. I have never read any of Stephen King's books prior to this, and though I'm unsure how I would like his genre, I know I love this book. Stephen King first began writing this book in the late 1990s and finished and published it in 2000; quite an accomplishment, given his accident in 1999.

I enjoyed On Writing for many reasons. The first half of the book is autobiographical and entertaining. The second half is devoted to the craft itself, about how he works and recommendations he has for aspiring writers. I recommend it for anyone who sees writing in any way in their future. It's not the be-all, of course, but I think it's a great resource. Amazon page is here.

Here's a selection from page 275 : "Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of the this book--perhaps too much--has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it--and perhaps the best of it--is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink."

Genre : Biography, literature, reference.
Length : 297 pages.
Rating : 5/5 = Would read it over and over again.

( o25. the power of now : a guide to spiritual enlightenment; eckhart tolle. )
When the author started out by saying some people might stop reading early on. I kind of blew the warning off until I found that I, also, wanted to put the book down. But for the fact of Book Club, I nearly did. However, as I kept reading, I found I liked it more than I'd been expecting. Welcome to The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, published in 1999, a #1 New York Times bestseller, and featured in Oprah's magazine.

I find the question format a little frustrating at times. He's extremely repetitive. I've read Parker J. Palmer, and it wasn't this frustrating. Tolle gives names to things, then tells you the names aren't important, and then uses terms he wasn't going to. That said, reading the book has left me in a very thoughtful mood. I liked it overall.

On the back cover : "To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, 'the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.' Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide us."

Genre : Personal Growth, Spirituality, New Age.
Length : 229 pages.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.

( o26 - o3o. the percy jackson and the olympians series; rick riordan. )
I've read the first three books at least once before ( more, actually, for the earlier books ) and am one of those crazy loons who needs to reread the previous books before getting to the new one. Fortunately, I really enjoy the series, so it wasn't such a chore. This is so very much my preferred genre. That and the fact that it involves Greek mythology, which is always epic win to me.

The Lightning Thief was published in 2005; The Sea of Monsters was published in 2006; The Titan's Curse in 2007; The Battle of the Labyrinth in 2008; and finally, The Last Olympian in 2009.

I will not debate that this series is sort of Harry Potter-esque. The story is told through the perspective of one Percy Jackson, who at the start is a twelve-year-old boy who has just found out that he is a demigod, or half-blood. In the tradition of Greek mythology, he and his new-found demigod friends are called heroes and take part in several adventures all leading up to a big-time showdown in the final book. I can hardly speak to how teenage boys speak and process the world around them, but Riordan keeps the language light and incredibly funny. The characters are very likable. I'm not sure if the plot is very predictable. It's hard for me to say as I generally miss these things (and I have a bad habit of glancing ahead). However, I found the series overall to be very entertaining and would highly recommend it.

The Lightening Thief is being made into a movie that comes out in February of 2010. I am a little worried but IT WILL BE OKAY. All-star cast (which could swing either way), Christopher Columbus directing (still concerned), and, though I do love Logan Lerman, he does not pass for a 12-year-old. But as this is a community about books, I shall shut my trap.

Genre : Fiction, Fantasy.
Length : 375 + 279 + 312 + 361 + 381 = 1708 pages.
Rating : 5/5 = Would ( and have ) read it over and over again ( I've read it so many times, so I suppose I have to say this! ).

( o31. the natural speaker; randy fujishin. )
My interest in this book was twofold : I've taken a class from Randy and really liked him, and I am also going to be teaching a section of public speaking in the fall. Though we won't be using this textbook, I figured it would be a good refresher for the sort of material I'll be working with. Randy Fujishin is a professor of communication studies at West Valley Community College, and the book comes out of packets he would hand out to his students in his public speaking course. The book was published in 1994, and my edition ( 4th ) was published in 2003. Apparently there is a 6th edition from 2008.

Reading this book was good for me because it has been forever since I've taken public speaking, and moreover, I don't remember my class. I also will be doing my own batch of public speaking in my class, so the book certainly applies to me as well! I don't know if I would require my students to read such a thing for my class ( not that I currently have that power ), but I think this has been a really useful resource when it comes to looking at why people are typically very hesitant or scared about public speaking. It offers a good batch of information about how to research, organize, and practice speeches. It outlines how public speaking is important in our society while acknowledging that this is from a Westernized point of view, and there are cultural differences.

From the back cover : "The Natural Speaker is a concise, practical, inexpensive, student-friendly guide to public speaking that explores the basic skills necessary to present a natural, effective, and rewarding speech to any audience. By providing a basic knowledge of speech construction, practice, and delivery, this book is designed to enhance and improve students' natural speaking strengths. Featuring a warm, simple, and humorous writing style, The Natural Speaker presents the fundamental concepts and skills required for effective speaking."

Genre : Reference, Business Skills.
Length : 172 pages.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.

( o32. the teaching assistant's guide to the basic course; katherine grace hendrix. )
Because it's a book and it counts. As I am an incoming graduate teaching associate ( GTA ) and this book was handed out to us. I found it very helpful. Dr. Hendrix has had a lot of experience in training and supervising faculty and GTAs, and the book was published in 2000. I think it's pretty relevant to anyone who is going to be teaching anything, though this book is geared toward people in my position. It has a lot of helpful information about dealing with your students and your department.

From pg. 1 : "This teaching guide provides information on how to design and conduct your courses. In addition, you are urged to explore your cultural assumptions an self-image as a person and classroom teacher. Every aspect of who you are, including your personality traits and upbringing, have the potential to influence your teaching philosophy, style, and interaction with students."

Genre : Reference, academic.
Length : 73 pages.
Rating : 3/5 = Worth the read.

( o33. spirituality, action, & pedagogy : teaching from the heart; diana denton & will ashton, eds. )
This book was recommended to me by my professor, when I told her I was interested in pursuing communication and spirituality for my thesis. My professor is very pedagogically-oriented, such that she actually contributed to this book. It's been a pleasant surprise, really. There are some chapters I like, when discussion revolves around acknowledging and integrating culture and cura personalis ( whole person ). Some were a little too out there for me to really appreciate, though I did get some good lessons from them. The book was published in 2004, and it's part of a larger series about education and spirituality by the publisher. I especially appreciated the examples that the authors used, so that you could see their theories in action.

From the back cover : "Spirituality, Action, & Pedagogy : Teaching from the Heart invites the reader to participate in a personal exploration of what it means to consciously seek the heart of education. The authors of this collection--practitioners in higher education and teaching in such diverse areas as educational foundations, communication, theater, sociology, reading and literacy, and performance studies--respond to this challenge by striking the most personal chords of their lived experience. As they relate their tales of spirituality and teaching, the reader will be coaxed into confronting the question of what it means to teach. Spirituality, Action, & Pedagogy addresses the integration of spirituality into pedagogical practice by providing cutting-edge examples of applications in classroom settings."

Genre : Academic, spirituality, pedagogy, education, education theory.
Length : 158 pages, not including the pages about the contributing authors.
Rating : 4/5 = Pretty darn good.

( o34. the book thief; markus zusak. )
A book originally targeted for Australian adults, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief can more often than not be found in the young adult section of most general bookstores. It was published in 2006 and has received several awards since, not the least of which is the 2007 Michael L Printz Award.

The book starts in 1939 in Nazi Germany, and the narrator is Death. Death tells the story of a young girl named Liesel who travels with her mother and brother to a small town. Her younger brother dies in transit on the train, and Liesel and her mother must bury the child before continuing on their way. It is then that Liesel picks up The Gravedigger's Handbook, the first in a slew of books that will find their way to her hands. Liesel is given to a set of foster parents, the Hubermanns, while her mother goes off to a concentration camp because she is a Communist. While WWII and Nazi Germany are so prominent in the book (and hard to miss), neither is the main issue of the book. Arguably, Liesel herself is not the main interest in the book. Death tells this story because Liesel represents something 'he' has seen so little of in 'his' travels: a mixture of beauty and brutality. The setting seems fitting as far as brutality is concerned, but there is a beauty that is so rare. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, or blown away, really. It's very cleverly written, with a very unique perspective, and a handful of characters that you can't help but be interested in, from Liesel herself to her best friend, Rudy Steiner, to her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, to the Max Vandenburg, the Jew that the Hubermanns hide in their basement. I've also found the figurative language to be very special.

Interesting facts: Zusak's father is Austrian and was a house painter, which is Hans Hubermann's profession. And his mother is of German descent. It is through his mother that Markus Zusak heard of so many stories that find themselves within the pages of The Book Thief.

Because of this book, I've become interested in the author and will hopefully read I Am the Messenger.

Genre : Historical fiction.
Length : 552 pages.
Rating : 5/5 = Would read it over and over again.

( o35. the courage to teach: exploring the inner landscape of a teacher's life; parker j. palmer. )
My teaching associate program has a special fondness for all things Parker J. Palmer (wish I'd gone to see him last semester) and this book is also required for me to read. I'd wanted to read it anyway, though, and I'm glad I did ahead of schedule.

Like other books by Parker Palmer, this one tugs apart the definition of what a teacher is. Palmer is an educator himself and discusses the challenges and strengths of not only the profession, but also of the individuals themselves who are involved. He encourages teachers to trouble their views of themselves, their institutions, their students, and their subject matter. He challenges them to always be mindful, to not let things get set into a routine that is so inflexible that it doesn't respect the teacher, the students, or the subject. It's all a process that leaves the teacher in a vulnerable position, but along with the bad days, there are so many rewards to be appreciated.

This is my first semester of teaching, and I've found this book to confirm some of my fears and also give me new hope. I can acknowledge my role in the classroom as someone who is supposed to create an environment where real education can take place, bu I also have to accept that I can't do that alone and that so much also depends upon the subject matter and the students, so I can't take all the blame when something goes wrong. It's about taking it day by day, about always questioning yourself so that you don't fall into a mindless routine, and always teaching in the moment. I've found this book to be so inspiring, and I'm sure I'll find occasion to read it again and again.

Genre : Education, spiritual.
Length : 214 pages in the 10th edition, not counting the notes and such.
Rating : 5/5 = Would read it over and over again.

Currently reading : I'm starting the Sookie Stackhouse books, formally known as The Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris. The first book is Dead in the Dark. I'll soon be reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood as well. And thanks to school, I'll also be reading: Communication as...: Perspectives on Theory edited by Gregory J. Shepherd, Jeffrey St. John, and Ted Striphas; Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates by Mike Wallace and Alison Wray; and Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities by Adam Kahane. I like lists. My book list for the year can be found here. Happy reading!

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