"You've spent years in a grueling effort to understand the structure and process of human life… I only ask one thing of you: Possess your skills, but don't be possessed by them."
"How much more alive you can feel--even a sense of purpose--knowing there are real lives at the other end of your ministrations, or your art, or your talk, or even your jokes."
"'Who am I who is asking all these questions?' And that, I think was the birth of the humanities…Artists try to say things that can't be said…"
"Look, we're accustomed in our culture to know when a commercial is coming. We know how to turn it off. But love we can't resist."
"If I've ever had a sense of meaning, it's been in simply experiencing my life: just noticing I was alive."
16. Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda (239 pages) If anyone could ever be called a national treasure, I believe that it is Alan Alda who deserves the title. His second book, in which he reviews, analyzes and comments upon the speeches he's made, is a brilliant mixture of memoir, effective speaking how-to, philosophy, and academia. Being a writer and actor has allowed Alda to become both an expert on and an enthusiast of humanity and life. His book is not only deeply thought-provoking, enlightening, and heartening, but also full of truth (which is not the same thing as honesty). This is a book of the most brilliant, important advice for living. When I read a book, I like to dog-ear passages I like; looks like the whole thing is dog-eared. A brilliant, wonderful book on how to be a human being, reminds me of a philosophic Bill Bryson, and discusses the meaning of science, of work, of art, and even contains the meaning of life. And he's got it exactly right. Grade: A+
17. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman (116 pages) Green, the quiet gardener, is about to turn sixteen when her mother, father, and charming, beautiful sister Aurora are killed in the city in a terrible disaster. Consumed by grief and covered in ash, Green dresses herself in thorns and nails, tough leather, and tattoos herself with dark images, calling herself Ash. Hoffman's tragic fairy tale is lyrical and poetic, beautifully symbolic of human grief--both on a personal and on a universal level--in the face of tragedy and loss. Grade: A
18. The Wave by Todd Strasser (138 pages) When young teacher Ben Ross is teaching his high school history class, he starts an experiment to teach his students how the Nazis could take such a powerful hold over a group, how groupthink and fascism can grow. A powerful, disturbing, thought-provoking young adult novel that places history and psychology in the contemporary setting, generating many unsettling questions. Not particularly a well-written novel (characters are pretty flat, and I'm not sure that a novel is the best medium for this story), but one that is refreshing and highly significant, if not particularly convincing. Grade: B+
19. Behavior Support for Education Paraprofessionals by Will Henson (100 pages) The best behavior-support book I've ever read. First of all, because it is exactly right-on. Developing good, respectful, caring, professional relationships with students is exactly what works when it comes to any sort of success in teaching or disciplining. Treating students as real people, treating them with respect and care, rather than with authoritative orders and demands, truly works. I loved that I was justified and supported, and also reaffirmed. Second, the book provides clear examples, language to use, guidelines and plenty of information. Third, it is truly written for paraeducators and understands and respects their job, but that is not to say that it isn't full of helpful tips for all school staff. Grade: A
20. Drive By by Lynne Ewing (85 pages) Tito's older brother, Jimmy, is killed in a gang-related drive-by shooting. When Tito begins to suspect that his brother was involved in the gangs, his world begins to fall apart. He must reevaluate his friends and neighborhood, and even decide his own future. Though very short (and so, not particularly deep) and written at a very low reading level, this book is dramatic and unflinching, even matter-of-fact, a needed look at the horrors that, tragically, many young kids must face and deal with. Grade: A
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