Sandy's 56 for 2006

She doesn't want to make a big stink about her own private participation in the 50 books challenge, but I have to make one here. Not only did she read 56 books, but many of them are very impressive books, including The Iliad and The Odyssey! Check it out!

Instead of writing a review of each book, she has created a simple rating system:
F=how did this even get published?
D=not recommended
C=okay
B=recommended
A=this book rocks

1. Until I find you by John Irving (A: maybe my second favorite Irving book)
2. The God of Small Things by Arundati Roy (B: this book is too sad)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (A)
4. Finbar's Hotel by a consortium of Irish writer (C)
5. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (A: a repeat)
6. How to Practice by The Dalai Lama (C)
7. More Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg (B)
8. Morning, Noon and Night by Spalding Grey (B)
9. Border Passages by Leila Ahmed (B-I learned a lot)
10. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (D: good idea, bad writing)
11. Persepolis by Marjan Satrapi (C)
12. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (C)
13. Interpreter of Maladies by J. Lahiri (B)
14. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (A: best book ever. a repeat)
15. The Known World by E. Jones (B)
16. Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic (B)
17. Jarhead by A. Swofford (C)
18. A Parrot in the Oven by V. Martinez (C)
19. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan (B: I learned a lot)
20. Don't Play in the Sun by M. Golden (B)
21. Chickamagua by S. Foote (C)
22. Ladies Night at Finbar Hotel (C)
23. The Bluest eye by Toni Morrison (B: a repeat)
24. Sundiata by D. T. Niane (D)
25. Fist Stick Knife Gun by Geoff Canada (A: an inspiration)
26. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Natisi (C: writing is too academic)
27. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (B: it's growing on me. a repeat.)
28. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (C)
29. The Iliad by Homer (A)
30. Fires in the Mirror by Anna Devear Smith (C)
31. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (B: a repeat)
32. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah (B)
33. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (B)
34. Snakes and Earrings by H. Kanehara (D)
35. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (A)
36. The Giant's House by E. McCracken (C)
37. I Capture the Castle by D. Smith (B)
38. Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol (B: this one is too sad)
39. Flying with the Eagle, Racing with the Great Bear by J. Bruchac (A-)
40. Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (A-)
41. Doctors Cry Too by F. Boehm (D: kind of corny)
42. Farewell to Manzanar by J. Wakatsuki-Houston (B+)
43. The Odyssey by Homer (A)
44. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (B+)
45. In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck (C)
46. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (B)
47. Lord of the Rings I (B)
48. Lord of the Rings II (B)
49. Lord of the Rings III by J.R.R. Tolkein (B)
50. 'Tis by Frank McCourt (B-)
51. Animal Farm by George Orwell (C)
52. The Miner by N. Soseki (A-)
53. Wholly Communion by assorted poets (B)
54. Satanic Verses by Salaman Rushdie (B+)
55. The Crucible by Arthur Miller (C)
56. Rabbit Proof Fence by D. Pilkinton (C-)

Wow.

18. The Crucible

by Arthur Miller

This reading was inspired by the folks at June23rd.

Our nation had bizarre and violent beginnings. In a way, we are born from moral panic. We haven't stopped hunting witches, in their many forms, since.

The Crucible is really good play. I just taught it to my tenth grade. We read the whole thing in class over the course of two weeks. They loved it. I loved it. It really came to life over the days. We traded off parts each day so everyone read minor and major parts.

A great reading experience that turned into somewhat of a performance. I am looking forward to the next time they play comes around.

This will be a bit cryptic (to minimize spoilers) I am amazed by what happens to Salem when damn near all its leaders are in jail. And why is not cause for the men to rethink. Just the fact that no one in the region put a stop to this is mind boggling.

Crowfoot and Hagakure

Two great quotes I encountered this year:

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the Sunset."
-Crowfoot, Blackfoot Indian

"There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and
run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you
are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding
extends to everything."
- Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai

The latter quote is (finally) a good definition for the Japanese expression "shoganai," which is too often assumed to mean the same as the Western defeatist shrugging of the shoulders. I love this expression, shoganai, and am happy I've finally found a way to define it.

The first one, by Crowfoot, is really beautiful. Especially the second sentence, "It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time." That is certainly not nothing! But it is a momentary flash, or force, in the grand scheme of things. And the fact that such a breath is beautiful, or stinks like rotting grass, doesn't matter so much.