Category Archives: Literature

What I’m Currently Reading (according to Goodreads)

End of a long work week with reports to write, but I am a little sick of trying to rephrase “if you don’t hand work in you can only get a zero” a million times…

It’s the middle of semester one reports so naturally that means it is also time for me to procrastinate wildly and start reading two or three hundred books at the same time! My Goodreads “Currently Reading” list is a little ridiculous at the moment – 14 books – but I can’t bear to give up on any of them. My yearly challenge sits at 32/80 (down from the target of 100 set at the start of the year) but that is mostly because I am in the middle of a cozy mysteries series that I am able to breeze through when I want something lighter and pulpier to read (The Tara Holloway series by Diane Kelly, FYI).

Below are the books currently in my “currently reading” list, from oldest on the list to newest. Most of them are books from my local library that I start reading, get caught up with work so hardly have time to continue, end up renewing the maximum about before reluctantly returning to the library barely read. A couple of them I was so into that I ended up buying my own copies to read at my own pace. Any excuse for a Book Depository order!

  1. Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team and a Dream – H. G. Bissinger.
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon.
  3. Who Killed William Shakespeare?: The Murderer, the Motive, the Means – Simon Andrew Stirling.
  4. Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore – Skye Alexander
  5. Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors – Len Wein
  6. A French Wedding – Hannah Tunnicliffe
  7. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  8. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  9. 1984 – George Orwell
  10. The Debutante – Kathleen Tessaro
  11. The Fall of Arthur – J R R Tolkien
  12. Favourite Maori legends – Alexander Wyclif Reed
  13. Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins – Susan Casey
  14. Death, Taxes and Cheap Sunglasses (Tara Holloway #8) – Diane Kelly

 

Hopefully once reports are finished I will be able to whittle down this list somewhat. Besides the Tara Holloway books, I would like to re-borrow out The Fall of Arthur, the Wonder Woman comic and I want to finish GWTW by the end of the year! It’s a little alarming to think not just of this list, but of the books that I own that I have not read yet either! Perhaps I can add that in to a future blog post..

Any recommendations about these or any other books I should get stuck into while I have the time?

Here’s hoping your TBR list is much shorter than mine!

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Gone With The Wind Part 1

Today I was looking through my Goodreads “currently reading” list and realised that I have around 10 books on that list! I am chronic in starting a book only to take a break from it for a while, a LONg while it seems, and then have to pretty much start from the beginning because I’ve forgotten what it was about! I am also chronic in reading/re-reading books in a series in an effort to pad my Reading Challenge (Deltora and Series of Unfortunate Events, I’m talking to you!) for the year, which now sits at 78/85 books,  but having all those unfinished books on my list does get to me at times.

I don’t know quite what it is that makes me put books down after starting them. Obviously being busy at work has had an impact – I rarely want to read at home after my brain is wired all day – but other than that I am curious as to why. The books that are on my “currently reading” list are a range of classic and non-fiction books, some of them library books that I started but never got around to finishing. I know that with books like Kavalier and Clay and All Quiet on the Western Front the reputation of them being “classics” can feel daunting at times. I know that I have Anna Karenina, The Iliad and Heart Of Darkness among many others sitting on my bookshelf for years, waiting for the right time for me to read them. Whether that time is when I’ve had my fill of puff, chick-lit/mystery books or when I’m in the school holidays ready to be challenged OR simply when I have the motivation to want to tackle one of these mighty works.  Continue reading Gone With The Wind Part 1

Friday Five: Favourite texts to teach

Long time no post (as always)…

My year 8 class is currently studying a book that I studied when I was their age, and we are all loving it so much that I started thinking about the other texts that I enjoy teaching, and that I have (in my short career) used with a range of year groups and schools.

  1. Tomorrow, When The War Began
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    My year 8 class is in the middle of a comparative essay assessment for this text. We read the book, watched the TV show and the film over the last five weeks (plus school holidays). TWTWB is a novel that I really got into when I was in high school, and it is a book (and series) that is so unique in its plot, writing, characters, themes and issues. That idea of “what would you do if your country was invaded” is something that should seem inaccessible to teenagers today. But the way that John Marsden tells the story of Ellie and her friends is so compelling and vivid, so emotional and raw and above all else real, that I think it uniquely appeals to teenagers. The group of characters all have their flaws and are so different that I think everyone can identify with at least some part of a character. I used to live near a local airport, and whenever I read book one and then heard the planes flying at night, i would freak myself out so badly!
    This is also a series that I can never put down; once I read the first book I often read the other six within the week, and the same happened when I was teaching the book this term – I spent the first week of my holidays engrossed in guerrilla warfare and teenage terrorists.
  2. The Princess Bride
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    My year 8s looked at this movie at the start of the year, looking at characterisation, genre and film conventions. I adore this movie, and (selfishly) as a teacher I don’t like to teach texts that I don’t know or like. So when the opportunity came up for my year 7s last year to start looking at narrative conventions and characters, I had the idea to show them this movie. They loved it, after complaining at first that it was sure to be an old black and white movie, if it was made in the 80s.. I got them to do a character analysis on how one character in the story changed as a result of the events in the movie, some of them crafted some exquisite responses!
    I have also read the book, which quickly became one of my all time favourites as soon as I started reading it.
  3. The Outsiders
    2626920066_091dc0a914_zI first read The Outsiders when I was in year 10. I was amazed that such a seminal, rite-of-passage text that resonated with my male classmates was written by a girl no older than I was (at the time). Since then, I have used that text with my mostly male, disengaged classes. I have found that they identify with at least something in the novel, whether it is the loyalty and devotion of the three Curtis boys, the hero worship of Dallas Winston or the lonely bravado of Johnny. I think The Outsiders is a book that you could study on many levels; whether it is to introduce themes and issues as I did this year with a hard year 10 group, plot and conflict with my year 9s last year or parallel characters and debating with my year 9s in my first semester of teaching.
    The Outsiders was one of the first books that I remember reading in high school that I know have had lessons stay with me into adulthood. It was Ponyboy and Johnny that I turned to when facing my first novel study with my first “smart” class, and it is the lessons that they taught me that I try pass on to my students.
  4. Invictus

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    yes, i know this is the actual event, not a picture from the movie.

    This one is a bit more personal for me. I saw this movie with my brother and my dad at the movies, and I left crying and proud to be South African. As an English text though, I think that Invictus has a lot to offer. It explores issues of racism, class systems, sports, politics, history and civics. I first used it with a hard year 10 class last year, and they looked at it more as a film study, with issues and themes the main focus. My year 10 class this year was very similar. We had previously watched a documentary called Pacific Warriors (my class has a lot of rugby specialist program kids) looking at the issues of inequality and funding in sports. I think the kids get a lot from Invictus, from looking at a moment in history and events that seemed too unreal to be true, to being able to watch a good sports movie.
    I also like to teach it because it allows my students to get to know me a bit better. My family lived through a lot of the circumstances in the movie. My granny was a great hockey player who was not allowed to represent South Africa because of the colour of her skin, my mother was a great ice skater who was on her skating team as one of the “token” two coloured girls, and my grandpa would constantly talk about how great Madiba was. The movie is very real for me even though I have never really lived in South Africa, and I think lets my students see me as an actual “person” with a history and heritage that I am proud of. We also have a giggle at me being near tears at the end of the movie EVERY. SINGLE. TIME i watch it!

  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
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    This one less as a “study” text, more as an “end of term” text. I have shown this movie at the end of terms since it came out, and every single class i have shown it to (8,9,10,12s) have enjoyed it. I adore it, and i think it’s perfect in its quirkiness!

Hope your Friday is less chaotic than mine! Would love some suggestions for go-to English texts, my tendency to stick to the familiar can at times be limiting…

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Hello October!

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Things that I want to accomplish this month include:

  • Finish reading the Thone of Glass series by Sarah J Maas – I’m addicted and currently in the middle of Heir of Fire (book 3).
  • Swimming at the pools a minimum of 1km per session, and at least three times a week.
  • Eating at least two pieces of fruit per day, and at least two servings of vegetables per day. Doctor says I have dangerously low iron levels so I’m looking to completely revamp my diet, starting with a new love of mushrooms and spinach!
  • Going to the beach at least four times this month. I’m ridiculous, the second the sun comes out a light goes off in my head saying “well. must be summer, time for thongs and bathers and sand and seaweed!”
  • Walking/running at least once a day – again. with the aforementioned revamp. I call it “Operation Hottie.” I’m also doing the Colour Run on the first of November, which I know is more fun than run, but I still want to do well!
  • Keep my bedroom clean. End of term saw me doing a lot of mindless dressing in the mornings without any time for laundry at night, resulting in the Everest of dirty clothes piles in my bedroom.
  • Stick to my Lorna Jane Active Planner – it’s all pink and amazing, and the core of my 12 week aim/Operation Hottie for the next three months. And on that note..
  • Lose at least 2cm from some measurement in my Lorna Jane planner. I’m trying hard to remember it’s less about weight and more about how my clothes fit me (especially with all my swimming making my arms so BUFF), but who doesn’t want to see that number on the scale go down? And finally:
  • Watch my darling Eagles take the flag this Saturday!

Hope you had a fantastic September and that your plans for the last three months of the year are coming along great! Just 12 weeks until Christmas!(shudder)

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Best pre-Christmas Present Ever!

Browsing on Twitter today (after an exhausting last week of school) has led me to what I believe is one of the best presents I will receive this year: an excerpt to my unashamedly most anticipated book of 2015!!

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A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in my opinion. The Princess Diaries is one of my top ten book series, and when I first found out there would be not one but two new book set in that world, I could hardly contain myself. Mia Thermopolis is a grown up Tina Belcher in my opinion, and both are my life idols.

Hope you get something good for Christmas before Christmas!

Love,
Andrea

 

Holiday Reading and Educating

My Goodreads challenge (of reading 100 books in 2014) currently sits on 76, meaning I have just under three months to read 24 books. If you know me in the slightest, you will know that this is a very achievable feat. My new job as an English teacher means that not only do i have access to an absolute plethora of texts (my reaction to being shown the book room: Why yes, I can see a use for these *drooooling*) but I also need to be sure to stay current and diversify my reading choices. So when school holidays came a callin’, I packed my school bag not just with marking and planning, but also what I believe is known as a “buttload” of books:

Pictured/on my list:

  • The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (currently reading)
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (not pictured but just finished read, and OH My GOOOD I love it)
  • Batavia’s Graveyard – Mike Dash
  • The Thebean Plays – Sophocles
  • Blackrock – Nick Enright
  • Macbeth
  • Stone Cold – Robert Swindells
  • The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
  • About A Boy – Nick Hornby
  • Rumble Fish – S. E. Hinton

Some of you may think “Happy Potter? Some diversifying missy!” and you would be right; however I am reading these (mostly) when my class is in the library doing silent reading, modelling successful reading practices to kids who would rather be on their phones.

I love going to the library for reading, and I’m very proud of the fact that I have recommended books to some of my years tens successfully (thank you Matthew Reilly!). Being a new teacher I feel like I’m still filled with a large amount of idealism and naivety about how much of an impact I can have. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching kids reading, and even more so from talking to them about their books. One of my year 11 boys is full of energy, a handful when he wants to be, and yet very sweet and helpful. He gets through a Half Blood Prince-sized book nearlly every day, according to his teacher from last year, and he is the last person who anyone would expect to be pestering me to go to the library, and yet he does! Just one of the things I love about my job, seeing that love and overwhelming appetite for reading in kids that I teach.

One more week of holidays left (not long enough), but I can’t wait to get back. I teach one class each of years 9-11, and am picking up the top year 11 class in about a month when my colleague goes on holiday. So far my broad plans for them are: Year 9: Introduction to Shakespeare (using an episode of Doctor Who and Macbeth, being a class of all but 3 girls), Year 10: Sports as a genre of film and books, starting with Friday Night Lights and touching on rite of passage and creative writing, Year 11: Comic books and superheroes, exploring the moral identities and representations in the genre.

Any advice is well welcome, as well as any thoughts on my holiday reading! Teachers out there,  what text types would you use with classes that are 95% male? My previous experience has been exclusively girls, so I have been struggling a little with what to engage the boys with. Hope you had a great weekend!

 

Love,
Andrea

 

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

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It is killing me to no end that while today is the third day of winter here in little old Perth, almost everything else I read is gearing up for summer! Fortunately that also allows me to vicariously live through what I read and imagine that it is in fact summer and I am sitting on a beach instead of huddled up underneath my doona getting warmth from my laptop.

I am a sucker for any kind of summer article, book, movie, music anything. it just makes me feel so happy and warm. Most importantly it helps me to forget my mounting troubles and (as corny as this may be) radiate some sort of inner warmth. So without further ado, and brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish,  here are my top ten books that will be in my beach bag this summer, and that I always end up reading during my December to February summer.

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  2. Summer Crossing – Truman Capote
  3. South Beach (and the rest of the Spring Break series: French Kiss and Hollywood Hills) – Aimee Friedman
  4. Boy Meets Girl – Meg Cabot
  5. Surf School and Surf Sisters – Laurine Croasdale
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  7. Silver Shadows – Richelle Mead (what I will be reading when you guys are all having summer)
  8.  Top Secret Twenty-One – Janet Evanovich (ditto)
  9. Unlucky 13 – James Patterson (ditto)
  10. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green (ditto, plus I figure I may as well read it now)

Hope you guys are staying warm (if like me you are beginning the descent into winter) or pumping up the summer jams!

Love,
Andrea

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1928

I loved this poem before I ever knew I wanted to spend my life with words. Sweet dreams beautiful woman.

Love,
Andrea

Ten Books I Own But Have Never Touched (Yet…)

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Today’s top ten is a freebie, so because I am currently struggling with about three books at the moment, I thought I would dedicate this week to those books that are on my perpetual “gonna read” list. This is also only the ten that I know of, the majority of my books are packed away in boxes in my garage due to a lack of space inside my house so there are at least 15 more I own but have not read.

  1. Love In The Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
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  2. The Aeneid
  3. The Odyssey – Homer
  4. The Beautiful and the Damned – F Scott Fitzgerald
  5. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
    I have made the decision not to read this (even though I know the major plot twist of it) until I have read and own every other Agatha Christie work.
  6. That Summer At Boomerang – Phil Jarratt
  7. The Book of Basketball – Bill Simmons
  8. Puberty Blues – Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette
  9.  Shakespeare – Bill Bryson
  10. City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
    To be fair, I only just bought this (physical copy) today! Probably will be read by this time tomorrow though.

Hopefully get onto some of these soon! What are some of your “forever owned, never read” books?

Love,
Andrea

Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t

 

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This week’s Top Ten I could have written about for pages and pages, and because of my tendency to read more than one book at once there could have been a much longer list. I will begin with the one that’s most recent to me, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dreamby H. G. Bissinger This one I am wary about reading when I can’t invest a lot of time into it. I recently watched the first six episodes of the television series and I literally got emotional and near/in tears in every one of those episodes. So while I am very eager to read the source material, I have been on the opening two chapters for a few months now because I think I want to make sure I am emotionally ready. Weird, I know, but I get emotionally invested in almost everything very easily! Continue reading Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t