Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Reading List

One of the reasons I blog - one of the major reasons, actually - is so that I can share in the insight and experience of my readers. If I know nothing else, I know that I have a limited range of vision and experience and that I am better - a better wife, mother, friend, teacher, and all-around human being - for being able to learn from others. I really value the input that people give to me. I'm just not a go-it-alone kind of gal; I seek out cooperation and collaboration, and blogging is just one of the ways I do that.

Now, having said that, I'm putting out a call for help.

I'm thinking about my composition classes coming up in January, and one of the things I'm thinking is that I'm going to make them READ. I'm thinking that most of the material I give them will be short pieces - articles, essays, short stories, poems - though there may be one extended reading assignment in the mix somewhere. I want these to be on a really wide range of topics - as broad as I can get, actually - I don't want to limit it to writing about writing. Fiction and non-fiction. Historical accounts of events, letters, memoir. Poems. Hell, I will likely throw in some art, too, just to keep things fresh.

I'm pretty well-read. I've got a good range of reading experience, and a good bit of material stashed away in my bookshelves and teaching folders. What I'm looking to do here, though, is to broaden the scope of my thinking in terms of what my students should read for a writing class. Part of this is born out of a wish to expand my own reading experience - I've never had any problems teaching material I haven't worked with before - I really enjoy the process of learning it along with my students and am hoping to be able to bring some new literary experiences into my own practice as I teach these writing classes. The rest of it is an effort to learn from others' experiences as I go forward.

What I'm asking is this: what are your favorite pieces of writing? Short stories. Plays. Blog entries (yes, even those!). Poems. Articles. Speeches. Essays. Songs. Think about the writing that's moved or inspired you. Think about different styles of writing that you've struggled with or admired. Send me bits of your own writing that you feel you really nailed. Let my request swirl around in your brain for a little while, then come back to me in the comments with suggestions and ideas (and so much the better if you tell me WHY you suggest the pieces that you do).

In short, I want your help to compile a really kick-ass reading list. You're all part of my community, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you bring.


Anonymous claudia said...

The Borzoi Reader,at least 35 plus years ago in college,was a wonderful compilation of different authors. The online site is obviously different. BUT,I found a section that read: Writing Links for Writers and Teachers,as well as Language Arts& Resources. You may already know about these.(www.rockisland.com)

December 05, 2006 7:35 PM  
Anonymous firewings said...

Well this is just off the top of my head, and not stewed upon like you suggested, but I thought of Amy Tan's Opposite of Fate. Has anyone else besides me read this? I don't know. I really enjoyed it though and I think it has some use to mold discussion too, if that's an angle you wanted to work.

December 05, 2006 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Tense Teacher said...

Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" is one of my very favorite things to read and to explore. In the nonfiction genre, I really enjoy Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings. In poetry, Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" always sparks interesting discussion.

...Those are just a few off the top of my head.

December 05, 2006 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Free association style, I think of Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter as a novel that made me want to write. Also, the early books the Hunter S. Thompson--Hells Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He invented a style of reporting that got old, but those originals are great. Also, there is a blogger whose work I love--Birdie Jaworski. She is an Avon Lady, and her blog has a lot to do with that, but she writes amazing, amazing essays on her life (which is pretty amazing in and of itself). She only started writing recently, and shes already winning awards and recognition. I will e-mail you a story of hers or two. Her blog is called Beauty Dish. Google that.

December 05, 2006 11:23 PM  
Blogger feather said...

I will think on this again after I have slept, stared at my bookshelf, and paged through the incredible 200 page handmade textbook that my composition professor made for us. But I have to say that I completely agree with Rick's comment on Carson McCullers. Her writing is exquisitely gorgeous. I didn't write down any parts of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter because I read it before I started doing that, but oh, it's fabulous. The Ballad of Sad Cafe is also great.

Italo Calvino's delightful If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is a stylistic masterpiece: it is one of the few novels written in 2nd person that I've read, and probably the only successful one. You should read it if you haven't! In the middle there's a section in which you, the Reader, has a discussion with the Other Reader about what exactly it means to read. Fabulous. I haven't typed it up yet but I can send it to you when I do if you like.

And that's not even beginning to discuss essayists or poets.

December 06, 2006 4:50 AM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

Since it's a writing class, you might try Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I love her nonfiction.

December 06, 2006 6:49 PM  
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Blogger Anson jacob said...

Extraordinary ! it would be ideal if you continue trying different things with your composition and doing intriguing things! I'm delighting in it.
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