Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#11: 10th Anniversary (James Patterson)

I’m continuing through James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series and have now read the tenth installment. Perhaps I was in a bad mood while reading this one or was still enjoying the success of 9th Judgment, but I REALLY did not enjoy this book at all.

As with the previous books in the series, several crime mysteries run simultaneously as we learn more about the four heroines’ personal lives. The crimes investigated this time include a baby-selling scheme, a rogue taxi driving rapist, and a renown heart surgeon on trial for the murder of her playboy husband. While all of this is going on, three of the leading ladies find love to one degree or another.

For this reader, all of the moving pieces made the reading tedious and lacked direction. It was only in the final 150 pages of the novel that things finally became interesting. If this had been the standard set in the earlier novels, I doubt I would have invested this much time into reading the series. Now, it’s a matter of principle! There are only 6 books currently remaining in the project. (However, if we know anything about Patterson, you can expect that there will be more to follow in the near future. A quick glance at his website does not reveal information about book 17 of the series at the time of this post.)

So once again I find myself needing to move away from these works and dive into something a little less predictable. What’s in my book stack at the moment? I just began two new books — Most Wanted (Lisa Scottoline) and Am I Alone Here? (Peter Orner). I’ll keep you posted on how those progress, but early indications are that the Scottoline is going to be another hit for this reader!

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Books #9 and #10

When finals hit this week, I felt as though I finally had more of my own time back. What did that mean? READING! Here’s a quick summary of the two books that I finished this week.

#9: Lit-Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives (David Denby). I started reading this fascinating book while in Albuquerque over Easter break. Denby explores sophomore English classes at three schools in New England to discover how they encourage students to become lifelong readers. Much of the focus is spent with Sean Leon’s class in New York City’s Beacon School. By departing from the traditional reading lists (with the blessings of his administrators), Leon challenges students to discuss important issues while realizing that literature continues to speak to our modern situations regardless of how “old” the story might actually be. Students read the expected authors — Hawthorne, Huxley, Orwell, and Faulkner. What is surprising is the inclusion of Plath, Hesse, Vonnegut, Dostoevsky, and Sartre among others. Mr. Leon’s students didn’t just “read” these works either; they struggled with the themes and entered into the settings and wrestled with the authors’ messages for contemporary society.

I found Lit-Up fascinating. When I first began my academic journey, I seriously considered pursuing a career as a high school English teacher. Looking back, I realize that the decision was triggered by my conflict with music professors who I refused to allow to have the death grip they were maintaining over my life. Thankfully, I saw the light and found my way back into the music field. However, my passion for literature and literacy remains. Do I think this model would work for every student? Probably not. However, I do think that Lit-Up reveals the impact a gifted, passionate educator can have on a group of students when they are given the academic freedom to follow the unscripted path that is dictated by the class’ interest and understanding. I’m tired of hearing about teachers being forced to “teach to the test.” Our students do not fit a nicely-formatted pattern; neither should their curriculum.

 

#10: The 9th Judgment (James Patterson). As the end of the week rolled around, I realized that I needed a physical book to hold in my hands, but it also needed to be a novel that I could finish before returning to Arkansas for the summer. I made a impromptu trip to the Unger Library and decided to return to my reading of the Women’s Murder Club series. I flew through this episode because I simply could not put the book down. This installment of Patterson’s series focuses on the Lipstick Killer that is haunting San Francisco with his mysterious messages of FWC and the realization that his targets are mothers and their young children. Claire, our strong medical examiner, recommends that the women of the city arm themselves in order to assure their safety while Lindsey finds herself as the only member of the police force that the lunatic serial killer will communicate with. This page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the read and ends with a cliff hanger that will force the audience to quickly dive into the next book in the series. (I’m already planning a trip to the library as soon as I get home…..because I’ve got to know what happens next for Lindsey!)

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