Recommended Summer Reading

* Please note, this is NOT the REQUIRED summer reading that everyone will be doing this summer. More on that later…

Third Period:

The nonfiction books mentioned in class today were Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

Fiction recommendations from your peers during the last few minutes of class were A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, the Twilight trilogy by Stephenie Meyer, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’ve read all but the first, and must say that they’re all extremely enjoyable reads.

Please feel free to comment on this post with more recommendations and/or thoughts about any of these books!

Before I close for the evening, I must also recommend a fantastic writing-and-reading-related MOVIE to watch over the summer — Stranger than Fiction. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

I just HAVE to put this out there…

I am sitting in a coffee shop where I frequently hide to get work done when being at home is too distracting, and while the barista was getting my coffee I noticed something that made my brain activity jump off the charts: she had the final three lines of Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” TATTOOED ON THE INSIDE OF HER FOREARM (and I mean the ENTIRE inner part of her forearm)! You know I’m serious, because you know how much I discourage exclamation points and writing in all caps. There is simply no other way to express it. Wow. That’s dedication. Interestingly, that’s the second literary tattoo I have seen in the past year. An English teacher friend of mine has a raven tattooed on his calf atop the word “Nevermore.” I found this wildly entertaining.Please understand I am not encouraging (or even suggesting) that anyone go out and do this sort of thing. I am simply reporting, as usual, about the interesting ways in which gems of literature pop up in the least expected places. 

The word of the year is…


As mentioned to 3rd period (and I think the rest of you would also find this interesting) a week or so ago, the American Dialect Society designates a new word of the year each year. Last year it was “plutoed,” and the year before it was “truthiness.” For definitions and explanations of those, as well as the complete lists of nominees and winners from other years, click here.

It’s interesting to see how our language changes as we need words for new phenomena. It’s also interesting to see how recently so many new words have come from simply “verbifying” nouns (ironically, “verbify” is the result of the “verbification” of the noun “verb.” Yikes. Take a minute to let your brain digest that.). If you want to hear the concept explained through the infamous “Don’t tase me, bro!” debacle at the University of Florida a few months ago , go here. Enjoy!

* Fun With Magnetic Poetry *

I must admit, I rather enjoy reading the phrases and sentences that people have been creating on our magnetic poetry board throughout the day. They run the full spectrum from goofy and nonsensical to serious and profound.

I’ve noticed that a few of you take it VERY seriously — if you’re one of those people and would like to practice (Is competitive impromptu poetry writing a legitimate sport? Hmmm…) you can play it online by going here : . I believe the site also has a place where people can post their magnetic masterpieces.

Have fun with words!

Quotes (and such) of the week

This week I’m posting a double dose of quotes, words, and book openers. Enjoy.

BOOK OPENER #1: “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (which, by the way, can be read for AR!)

BOOK OPENER #2:  “First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.”

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (also an AR book)

WORD #1: virulent

WORD #2: loquatious

QUOTE #1: “The question of literature, I suppose, is whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.” – Elizabeth Drew

QUOTE #2: (the following quote is from the 1980 documentary AC/DC: Let There Be Rock)

Interviewer:  Do you think there will be a third world war?

Angus Young: I am the third world war.

Hemmingway’s Polydactyl Cats

It you’ve taken my American Lit class, chances are you have heard me go on and on about Hemingway’s six-toed cats. Maybe you’ve even thought I was completely nuts and making it all up. For all of you doubters out there, read this article from on 07/09/07. Enjoy!