summer reading

July 3, 2014

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“Which is all well and glorious, these homeschooling days of wonder. But there are other days wracked with a whole different sort of wonder, particularly if you are a parent. Why can’t he write a paragraph by himself if schoolkids his age can? Should I push her to read instead of listening to audiobooks for hours on end? Do I really need to teach long division if it makes him throw things and his mental estimates come pretty close? Does watching back-to-back episodes of Myth Busters count as science? Will he always do the least amount of work necessary to get what he wants? And does that prove that he’s lazy—or incredibly smart?”

Do you feel teased? That’s a paragraph from my first column for home/school/life magazine. A column in which I lay out how the word wonder shows up so often, in so many getups, in our homeschooling life. If you want to read more, you can click here, subscribe, and have the whole magazine zip into your device faster than you can zip that device into your beach bag. Oh, please put my column into your beach bag! How I’d love to accompany you to swimming lessons, or to the ocean, or up to the lake, or even to the playground down the street, the one with the concrete slide.

Honestly, I do hope you feel teased enough to check out the magazine. Even before I got the writing job I was gushing over how it’s the homeschooling magazine I wish I’d had when we started out. Fresh, smart, inspiring, gorgeous to look at. (Just what you want in your beach bag, if not personified on the chaise lounge beside your beach bag.) Plus, it encompasses a variety of homeschooling styles, which I find refreshing. More teasing: Amy, the magazine’s editor, offers 11 reasons to love the summer issue.

Speaking of summer reading, I seem to be on a food memoir kick. (Food! Memoir! Two of my favorite things! Two great tastes in one candy bar!) I started off with Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette. Longtime readers here already know how charmed I am by Molly’s writing. Hearing the inside story on how she and her husband opened their restaurant is particularly compelling–and it made me glad that even though my husband talks about opening a breakfast joint, he doesn’t really mean it. Then I read Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton–a different sort of story of finding one’s way into a restaurant. Man, there is some gorgeous writing in that book! It’s lush and evocative and I highlighted lines like a zealous college student. I wish they’d organized the book as a collection of essays, rather than a memoir; it sometimes feels disjointed, as if there are important parts missing, and others that are repeated unnecessarily. Still, I was happy to put up with that to read lines like, “The heavy agenda I’d brought–and had been carrying around for years–effortlessly slipped from my body and disappeared, like a dinner napkin, under the table.”

Writing like that makes me loll my head back in my lounge chair and sigh.

So, tell me, what books do you have there in your beach bag?

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

wanderingsue July 7, 2014 at 7:26 am

Just started rereading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke- haven’t read a novel in ages, and it’s a good’un, and nice and long.

Halfway through a few exciting parenting things, especially Winning Parent, Winning Child, by Jan Fortune-Wood, and Alfie Kohn’s new one, The Myth of the Spoiled Child, is next, which has me very excited.

But the best thing is that I’m browsing the stash of Home Ed/Unschooling theory- John Holt, Alan Thomas, etc, as Dave has agreed that it might perhaps be time for him to turn the light on and look under the bed, and stop being so darned scared of home education! Our H is nearly six, so, yeah, I’d say about time.

Oh, and H and I have just started Poop Happened- I think that might have been on your recommendation.

Having said all that, beach bag? Don’t I wish! Though we are having a pretty sweet summer, by British standards. Love to you!

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patricia July 8, 2014 at 8:46 am

Hey, Wandering Sue! So good to see you here again! Ooh, Alfie Kohn has a new one! I’ll have to check that out. And how great to have Dad getting curious about all this home ed stuff. Sounds like it’s giving you an excuse to reread too. It’s always good to give yourself a little refresher, huh? Yep, Poop Happened–I always recommend the good stuff. ;-) Have a fun summer with those kiddos of yours!

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Justine S. July 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I am at this point in the summer halfway through A Song of Ice and Fire…so that means halfway through book 3, A Storm of Swords. I am a fiendish reader who is pretty well the opposite of the above commenter – I rarely pick up non-fiction books. I spent so many years reading what I had to read, and then reading what I thought I should read. Now I read things that make me want to stay up at night and fuel my endless imagination. I suppose you could say that I am a true lover of story, and having fully embraced my love, now find it difficult to stray.

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patricia July 9, 2014 at 11:45 am

Thanks for chiming in, Justine! I love the phrase, “fiendish reader.” Funny, I sort of fall in the middle: I read mostly nonfiction, but in the essay and memoir category–probably because that’s what I write, and I read for inspiration. I say I fall in the middle because while what I read is classified as nonfiction, it employs elements of story and fiction. At least it does if it’s any good!

I love to hear what people are reading because the responses are always so varied and personal.

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Amy August 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Thanks to you I read Gabrielle Hamilton’s book, more like glued myself to it.
Now that’s how memoir is done! Thanks for the suggestion.

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patricia August 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Amy, hi! (I’ve been thinking about you guys lately. I was near Adventure Playground yesterday, and today is Molly’s birthday. How I’d love to see all you wonderful ladies again!) Yes, I agree, that’s how memoir is done. I am using it as a textbook. I can imagine that you appreciated her sass. I mean that most fondly.

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