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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  I Love Books!
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Thursday, January 2,2020

I Love Books!

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” (Cicero)

Did you know that the third week in January is National Book Week? As a teacher and a writer, hardly anything delights me more than BOOKS!!! Book Week was created to ignite a love of reading in children. Of course a love of reading becomes an eternal flame, so what better time to share some things I’ve read this year with a likeminded community of readers?

Thought provoking: “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne – This book is nearly 600 pages that I truly couldn’t put down. Creative nonfiction is an addictive genre. It artfully weaves a dramatic story through a quasiautobiographical lens. The raw honesty touches places deep within our hearts. The integrity of Boyne’s storytelling shows us how much he loves his country of origin, but also how much it hurts him. As a gay man, he explores how his existence might have been viewed by a culture that not only denies his identity, but also the way he arrived in the world, through an out-of-marriage affair to a consequentially shunned mother. The story takes place all within the factually accurate backdrop of the sociopolitical changes of the later half of the 20th century in Ireland. Loved it!!

Inspirational: “Educated” by Tara Westover – Hoh-ly-mackerel! This was another can’t put it down situation. This memoir details the escape of a woman from a fundamentalist family in rural Idaho who was not allowed interaction with the “outside” world. Her story of accidental escape and accidental education, to enter the world the rest of us know, while having to give up her family, is truly inspiring. After she teaches herself enough to pass her ACTs, she leaves for college. But she doesn’t stop there. She ends up attending Cambridge University on a fellowship, and getting her PhD from Harvard. She is an amazing woman and a true inspiration! I have bought this book for several people.

Educational: “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell – An oldie but a goodie that I actually re-read this year. Sarah Vowell has an acerbic wit, and in this book she tells the story of a trip she took one summer with her nephew, to historic sites in America where U.S. presidents were, you guessed it, assassinated. But she also travels to the places the assassins grew up and tells their stories, as well as interspersing other historically relevant tales from various locations on their journey. Vowell’s penchant for humorous storytelling about otherwise mundane information provokes our brains into reconsidering some parts of our history.

Just plain fun: “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert – This fun book takes place in New York City during the Jazz Age, and is a story about misfits who own an off- Broadway theater that survives out of sheer will. When a wealthy suburbanite fails out of Vassar, her father sends her to live with his sister (the owner of the theater) in the city. Gilbert is a former journalist and her storytelling benefits from this expertise. She interviewed women in their nineties who were showgirls back in the 1920s, researched the time, place and social mores of the era, and weaves a wonderful tale about tenacity, loyalty and love. If you love feminism, Broadway, New York City, history or showgirls, this book has it all. Read it in three days – loved it!

I hope you find some inspiration in these books for National Book Week, and will share your recommendations with me!

 

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