Regular readers may have noticed that it’s been a few weeks since my last post. I didn’t stop reading or forget about my blog, but rather a health issue required my full attention – temporarily. All is resolved now (with a happy ending) so, at long last, I can tell you what I’ve been reading….
Reading while distracted by a bigger issue is interesting. I found myself wanting books that provide escape, but nothing that was too dense. I enjoy reading big demanding novels, but those books require your full mental attention, and I just didn’t have that to give. My first choice fit the bill perfectly: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan.
Egan’s novel about a woman being pulled in lots of directions – as a wife, daughter, and working mother – is observant and funny. The main character, Alice, is a book lover. At the opening of Egan’s novel, Alice is a book reviewer for a woman’s magazine who seems to have struck that perfect balance between part-time work that she loves and her family responsibilities. But when her husband doesn’t make partner at his law firm, Alice accepts a position at Scroll, a start-up that plans to change the way people read and buy books. It doesn’t go so well, and things get even worse when Alice’s father becomes very ill.
My favorite thing about A Window Opens are the many references to books – they seem to appear on nearly every page! Here’s a sample sentence: “….the cozy upstairs room was already abuzz with intelligent-looking people who looked like they’ve been born in a John Cheever story, educated in a Donna Tartt novel, and now live the full Jonathan Safran Foer life….” I loved watching for all of the book references, many of them related to children’s books. It added a whole layer of pleasure to reading Egan’s novel.
Next I read Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me? A friend gave it to me suggesting that it would be a fun escape. She was right. I really liked it. One of Kaling’s essays is about her ambition to become a member of a sorority at Dartmouth College, and then finding that it wasn’t what she wanted at all. “I thought I would like an environment of all women, where I was deemed ‘the funny one’, Kaling writes. “But it took me twelve weeks to realize that I don’t really like organizations where people are ‘deemed’ things.”
Kaling has some fun anecdotes about The Office and The Mindy Project. Here’s another passage that made me laugh: “For the eight years that I had been there, NBC had been like a dysfunctional African country where the president changed every eleven months or so. Actually, NBC made most African countries look pretty stable by comparison.” Kaling’s book made me wish we could have lunch together.
I’m now reading Brian Selznick’s new book, The Marvels. I’m only about half-way through it and already know it will be one of the books I regularly recommend to students and parents looking for gift recommendations. It’s hard to explain how breathtaking it is – both physically and emotionally.
The first part of this very large book (it’s actually heavy!) is about Billy Marvel, a boy who is the only survivor of a shipwreck in 1766. Billy’s story is told completely in pictures. The prose part (which I’m just starting) begins in 1990, so although I know the two stories intersect, I’m not there yet. For nearly 400 pages of illustrations, I’ve been literally “marveling” at the depth of each picture.
One other thing…..
Inly has broken ground on a new library which is scheduled to be open for the 2016-2017 school year. The new library is going to include a maker space and areas for students to work with 3D printers, among other cool things, but of course, the ultimate “maker space” is the library – in the books where kids first explore possibility and start to give shape to their dreams. All of us are looking forward to welcoming kids to a new space for making, dreaming, and reading.
In the meantime, there are lots of big trucks and muddy holes. Over the next few months, I will share pictures of the new library rising out of the dirt. Right now, we have to imagine all of the kids in that space who will check out their first Magic Tree House book or meet the Wild Things, but as the building takes shape, the possibilities will become more clear.
The construction crew is also discovering things. This picture is of a Hay Tedder, a machine used in haymaking during the late 19th century. The round thing on top is a tire. Together, the objects form a kind of figure, don’t they?
And, finally, proof that Inly protects its cows against possible construction-related head injury!