Books Books Books

Bonus post for today cause I’m inspired by this new past time.

While I’ve been working as a substitute teacher, I’ve finally had time to catch up on my reading. I realized I really hadn’t read for fun in years. The whole having to read thousands of pages of books I had no personal interest in for university classes kind of killed any inclination I had to read. However – now it seems I have a lot of time. On prep periods, on lunch periods when staff rooms prove to be awkward and lacking in conversation, when the regular teacher has left seat work that requires only cursory supervision if students are rowdy, etc.

I’ve made it a mission of mine to go back and read books I consider classics that I’ve just never gotten around to reading in the past. In the past few months I’ve made it through the following books (not in this order):

1984 by George Orwell
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud
Room by Emma Donoghue
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Book of Negroes  by Lawrence Hill
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory

If I think back – it’s likely been since this time last year when I started reading for fun again. But then I worked some crazy hours over the summer and stopped reading almost completely. I’m also part way through Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, but can usually only make it through a chapter or so at a time, before it gets a bit too heavy.

I’ve learned to love grade 12 university prep classes in particular – usually those classes are pretty self-directed when I’m in as a substitute. I had out the work and they get to it, allowing me to sit at the desk and read quietly, except for when noise levels rise, requiring me to set my book down and take a stroll around the classroom to ensure students are still working.

Phillipa Gregory has been a guilty pleasure read of mine for awhile. I have a stack of her books – many I purchased last spring but haven’t gotten to yet. I’ve found I don’t always like reading her books while teaching though, since there tends to be a fair amount of sex. Bit awkward to pull that kind of a book out in a classroom.

I found 1984 and Love in the Time of Cholera to be the type of book where I struggled at times to stay entirely interested. Both authors have a tendency to lose their readers in long descriptions and strange word choices.

I’m not the type of person who usually enjoys books with shifting narrators – especially when done from the first person perspective – so The Poisonwood Bible was not the best book choice for me. I did enjoy it though, but felt they could’ve ended the story much sooner. The ending seemed a bit beleaguered.

Despite the changing narrators, I loved Secret Daughter. In this case, third person narration was used and the need to alternate between different characters and their perspectives made sense. Fantastic read. I also adored The Book of Negroes, Room and The Help – together with Secret Daughter, those books are my current must read recommendations to friends, families and colleagues.

I currently have an ever growing list of books to read – especially when it comes to classics that I feel I should read in case I end up teaching them in a classroom someday.

What are your recommendations for “must read books?” And why those particular books? I know for me, I tend to focus on a lot of historical fiction, or just something a bit different. I just started Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, which is a memoir, but will also soon start another novel to balance out the memoir – likely The Great Gatsby at this point.

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About Miss Substitute Teacher

Working as a substitute teacher. Kids really do say the darnedest things!
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4 Responses to Books Books Books

  1. Team Oyeniyi says:

    I love 1984 – I often ask am I living in 1984 at the moment! I could never get into The Hobbit or The French Lieutenant’s Woman because the infintessimal descriptions drove me insane!

    • I managed to get through The Hobbit in high school right before the LOTR movies came out. It took me forever though.

      1984 was a good read, but I found it hard at times. I think it was more the choice of language than anything. I’m finding that a lot of older books lose my attention because of the language they use. I also find I prefer books with more dialogue.

  2. loz8188 says:

    What did you make of The Handmaid’s Tale? It is one of my favourite books. I’ve just read The Help too : )

    • I did enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale a lot – although found the fact that it sort of jumped around a bit to be slightly confusing at times. I think it was one of those books where I had really high expectations because I had wanted to read it for so long – 1984 had the same level of expectations in that regard as well. However, it did seem to meet most of them. It was definitely a good read and made you think. I’m very interested in looking at how women have faired in our history so looking at how women are classified in that book based on their fertility was incredibly interesting to me.

      The Help was another fantastic read. Absolutely loved it!

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