Based on your choice of literature I think we could be friends

I read this cute blog post months ago about how the blogger challenged herself to complete 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days. She did a lot of different things, like putting up inspirational signs on message boards, hiding dollar bills in the dollar store, putting together care packages for homeless people, giving away baked goods, loading vending machines up with coins, and writing lots of notes and leaving them in random places. One of these notes caught my eye because she left it, in all places, inside a library book. It read, “Hi! I don’t think we’ve ever met, but based on your choice of literature I think we would make great friends.” Something about this idea just made me smile. Wouldn’t it be fun to open up a book and get a message from a kindred soul?

I decided NaBloPoMo was just the right time to give this idea a go myself. Before I headed off to the library, I wrote the message on some cute post-it notes. Putting the notes inside the books at the library should have been super easy. But I had a three-year-old with me. So it went something like this:

Me: It’s mommy’s turn to pick out a book now.

C: No, I need you!

Me: What do you need?

C: I need you to play with me!

Me: I will. I just need to get a book first.

C: Nooo, I neeed you!

Me: I know. This won’t take long. Just come with me and then we’ll go back and play.

C: Nooo, I need you to play with me.

Me: Yup, we will do that. I just need to quick grab a book.

C: Noooo! (Falls on floor dramatically)

Me: Shhh! You have to be quiet on this side of the library. People are trying to read here.

C: But I need you…

So anyway, I eventually got around to selecting two books to post my messages in: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I hope the next person who checks out these books smiles when they come across my note. It’s nothing fancy, but I hope it makes someone think about all the people who have read and enjoyed the same books.

Am I doing this wrong?

Graphic novels have been on my radar lately. I’d dabbled in them before – even using a graphic novel version of Romeo and Juliet to help a class of struggling readers get through Shakespeare’s play – but I’d never read them just for my own enjoyment. I love to draw and be artistic, so it seems like a genre I would appreciate and enjoy. I’ve often wished there were illustrations in the books I was reading, or yearned to tell my own stories through both words and pictures.

However.

I’m finding graphic novels to be a bit…intimidating? Unapproachable? Disappointing? I’m not sure those are the right words, but basically, I don’t think I’ve come across a graphic novel that makes me a believer in the genre, yet. Am I missing something? Am I reading them wrong? I’ve only tried a handful, and I’m open to trying more, but I still prefer a novel over a graphic novel any day.

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

  1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi  
  2. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. The Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson
  4. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
  5. Ann Tenna by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
  6. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  7. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

I’ll admit Fun Home was worth the read. I was impressed by the intellect, humor, storytelling, and artwork of author Alison Bechdel. Her work was also a memoir, so it was bold. I wrote more about my experience with the book here. But out of all the graphic novels I’ve tried, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride was my favorite. I could actually relate to it. It was cute and enjoyable. In fact, I read most of it in a day. The illustrations were colorful, clear, and just how I wish I could draw. Author Lucy Knisley perfectly captures the craziness of planning a wedding and the amount of work that goes into a single day. Weddings are crazy things – so many decisions, traditions, people to please, and expenses – but they’re also pretty wonderful. This book reaffirmed my decision to keep giving graphic novels a chance.  

What do you think? Should I give graphic novels another go? I’d love suggestions on what graphic novels I should put on my reading list.

Entry #15 – Re-read:

reread_chinagarden

Entry #15 – Re-read:  This is a book that you have read more than once.

As an English teacher, I’ve re-read my fair share of books.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romeo & Juliet, The Outsiders, The Miracle Worker, or Holes.  When it comes to reading for pleasure rather than for lesson planning, I tend to shy away from re-reading.  There are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to re-read.  I don’t have the tattered book that I carry with me everywhere and read once a year.  Despite this, I was surprised at the growing list of books that I have re-read.

rereadbooks1. The China Garden by Liz Berry……Read 5 times

This title is always my response when I’m asked what my favorite book is.  I’ll talk about it more in a later post.  All you need to know now is that it’s wonderful…and I kind of want to re-read it again soon!

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry……….Read 4 times

This is a Young Adult classic.  I used it with my seventh graders last year, but I’ve also read it plenty of times on my own.  I love the world of “sameness” that Lowry has created and Jonah’s realization that his world is not as perfect as he once thought.  It’s the original dystopian novel.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger………….Read 2 times

Don’t we all wish we could travel through time?  In Niffenegger’s novel, she shows readers a darker side to time travel through the romance of Henry and Clare.  Cool fact: Niffenegger is not only a talented writer (she wrote the creepy novel Her Fearful Symmetry, too), but she’s also an artist.  She creates stories and artwork for visual and graphic novels.  See some of her work for the story Raven Girl here.

4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth…Read 2 times

It should be no surprise from my previous posts that I adored Divergent and Insurgent.  I took a break from reading during November to focus on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I wasn’t very good at staying away from books!  I told myself, “I’ll just re-read Insurgent so I’ll be ready to read Allegiant…” and then I decided I might as well re-read Divergent too!  I was pleased to discover they were just as good as I had remembered.

5. The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney……………Read 2 times

Cooney was my favorite author as a teen.  I read The Face on The Milk Carton and became hooked on Cooney’s ability to create believable teen characters who were going through crazy things like discovering they had been kidnapped, or might have unleashed smallpox on the world from an old scab in a book, or traveled back in time.  Her books were short and could be read quickly.  I always made a beeline for the “C” shelf at Barnes & Noble, eager to pick out another one of her novels.  Even as an adult, I wander over to the shelf to find out if Cooney has written anything new.  I recently re-read The Terrorist on my Kindle Fire.  Even though the book was published in 1997, the subject matter (a kid from an international school in London is killed by a bomb) still feels relevant.

How about you?  What books do you find yourself re-reading?