Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

One of my colleagues teaches the novel The Namesake, and many of the students give it rave reviews. One of my students read it over the summer, and she stated that it is the best book that she has ever read. 

Now, this definitely is not my type of book. There really is not a climax or any real drama; it’s a straight forward story about a guy named Nikolai Gogol who is dealing with the conflicts that are involved with assimilation. His parents are also dealing with assimilation and are trying to cling to their  traditional Indian culture. Nikolai pulls away from his family, but we see him make a full circle when he returns to his family. This is a true coming of age story.

There was not much that I could relate to in this story, yet I was able to empathize with the characters. It was great to be able to get a glimpse into what could happen when a person tries to assimilate. After talking to many of my students whose parents have immigrated to the United States, they could definitely identify with Nikolai. However, I saw Nikolai as a very weak character who never followed his own heart. 

My experience with this book and the experiences of many of my students with this book are quite different, and I really believe that it is about relate-ability. I had in-depth conversations with a few of my students who loved this book, and they both had immigrations experiences in their backgrounds and totally got this book; they could relate to it. 

With this in mind, I am offering my students the opportunity to read books that they can relate to. I want them to fall madly in love with reading by first reading books that they love and can relate too, and eventually, I am hoping that they will evolve into readers who read all types of book, about all types of people and cultures, in order to be well-rounded people who have a whole lot of empathy for all types of people and experiences that make up this vast world in which we live.

A student asked me why did I finish a book that I did not particular like, and I told him that I read it in order to be included in conversations about this book. But, after much thought, I realize that I also finished this book, because I value other people’s stories and experiences. 

If you value the experiences of others, read this book!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Today, another Black man was shot and killed by a cop, Terence Crutcher, and I felt the need to write a blog about this book. I hope that there are teachers who will have the courage to share this book with their students in order to have or continue to have the courageous conversations that are needed... I believe that our schools can play a role in healing this land.

This book is about police brutality, race, and courage....

A Black teenager, Rashad, is wrongly accused of stealing and is severely beaten by a cop. A white student, Quinn, who attends the same school as Rashad, witnesses the beating and personally knows the cop who does the beating. Quinn must decide if he will tell or not. The reader is allowed to hear from both Rashad and Quinn and is also allowed to see the complexity of race and racism that is plaguing this country.

Yes, these things need to be discussed in schools, in a safe environment, where students are able to express their thoughts and get their feelings out. Also, schools can be a great place for students to learn to hear others' opinions and respectfully agree and/or disagree.

This book is written in a manner which is engaging, yet accessible, and I am praying that teachers will be courageous enough to share it with students and start the healing that our country needs.

Y’all read this book!

By the way, if you are in DC on Saturday, swing by the National Book Festival to meet one of the writers of this book, Jason Reynolds.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill

I was taking to a well-read and respected friend, Gary, and he was telling me about this revolutionary guy named Napoleon Hill who wrote the book Outwitting the Devil. Many people, like me, may be very familiar with Hill’s more famous book Think and Grow Rich, and be less familiar with his name. So, when Gary stated, Napoleon Hill, I had no concept of who he was talking about. However, when he said the author of Think and Grow Rich, I instantly knew he was talking about. (I find it fascinating how some people’s work supersede their name.)

I ventured into reading this book with high expectations 1) because it was recommended to me by someone whom I truly respect and 2) that friend told me that it was a book with ideas similar to the The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a book which I live by. 

Napoleon is basically talking about how our thought life and fear, procrastination, anger, and jealousy keep us from living our best lives. He paints this picture of the ‘other self’ that we must surrender to if we want to live our best lives. The ‘other self’ is when we give up the fear, procrastination, anger, and jealousy and follow our instincts to live out our purpose on this earth. 

However, the top three things that the devil uses to entice us are food, sex, and talking to much to impress others or to give unsolicited advice. Food is directly related to fear; people will not control what they eat and are consistently fearful about their health. He talks about the idea that the pursue of sex tends to lead people to procrastination etc. And, he talks about the danger in talking to much which leaves to anger etc., and we learn by listening.

In this book, Napoleon writes as if he is interviewing the devil, and I do not believe that the devil would reveal his secrets of how he deceives us, but....I overlooked the writing style and focused on the content and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

This is one that you may want to put on your list if you are on a growth journey.

Happy Reading!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...