Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer reading

Most of my reading this summer has been young adult fiction. I started off with some fluffier stuff but over this weekend turned to books that were more thought-provoking -- the kind of books I like to teach in the classroom.

The first book of this type was Messenger. I had been meaning to pick this one up for some time but just kept forgetting to. I first read (and taught) The Giver my first year of teaching. It's one of those books that gets even the most reluctant reader completely involved. Because they just have to know how at all ends. The next year I was discovered to read that Lois Lowry had written a companion book, Gathering Blue. I thought it was all going to end there and then I discovered Messenger. The Giver is about a society in which people do not feel any of the unpleasantness of life. Well, everyone except for one person -- the Giver. It is this person's job to be the receptacle of all emotions for the society. Gathering Blue is about a society in which those who are seen as being weak are cast away. We see a bit of the society in Messenger in Gathering Blue. The world of Messenger is one of acceptance and knowledge. But something has happened and now the townsfolk want to close their borders to outsiders.

These three books always make me think of that need to conform. Who defines what is the norm? What happens to those who fall outside of the norm? What makes us decide who should be allowed and who shouldn't?

So I had all of this kind of stuff swimming around in my head when I started to read Uglies. Obviously I was in one kind of mood when I was shopping. So now I have new questions added to the previous. What makes someone pretty? While we strive for conformity, do we really want a world in which everyone is more or less exactly the same? There were some other questions but that would give away some of the surprises in the books. Needless to say, I enjoyed this book so much that yesterday I went to the bookstore to pick up the rest of the trilogy.

And next maybe I'll get around to some "grown-up" reading. That is after I read the final Harry Potter this weekend.

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