by Jim Lang
They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So, here goes…
I am a book hoarder.
Those of you who share this affliction will recognize the signs, which include:
- dangerously large, unstable stacks of books scattered around our homes; God forbid if a sudden seismic shift or inadvertent nudge causes us to become trapped beneath the stacks.
- full digital carts and baskets of print and electronic books from our favorite on-line bookstore or supplier that taunt us via email reminders throughout the week. Let’s face it, sometimes book hoarders just like to keep those items in the cart or basket for a while to maintain the illusion that we have power over our addiction.
- a stubborn refusal to watch any movie or TV show based on a book series until we have read the books first; this reminds me — stop posting spoilers from HBO’s Game of Thrones, as I’m only on Book 2.
- bizarre dreams that pull the unsuspecting characters from our latest book into our mundane worlds as we sleep, and,
- for those of us who are teachers, the gleeful hoarding of books from February through May that comprises our Special Stack of Summertime Reads, or, to use education jargon, SSSR (kind of like CFA data, CCS, PLC, and PD). We glance longingly at this ever-growing, constantly- changing SSSR stack when we’re buried waste-deep in essays and projects to grade in April and May, knowing that we’ll soon be able to read something without clutching a red pen.
So, I’ve officially jumped into my SSSR stack o’ books, which includes a variety of treasures:
Crime Beat by Michael Connelly: Because Connelly is, quite simply, the greatest mystery/crime author out there today. A former crime beat reporter and journalist in Florida and Los Angeles, Connelly actually shares the true stories that shaped many of the fictional exploits of his detective, Harry Bosch, and the other characters he weaves into his novels. If you haven’t read a Connelly novel, begin with The Black Echo, read his books in order, and check out his website. Trust me, no one creates memorable characters and mysteries like Michael Connelly.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: Every reader has that one novel they’ve never been able to finish. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is mine, and this summer, I will conquer it. God help me.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Green is “the” writer of the moment with my students and teaching colleagues. I can’t keep his novels on my classroom shelf. He creates unique characters and perfectly captures the teenage voice in stories of strength and compassion. Having finished and loved The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, this book is next on my list.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: I devoured the memorable characters and rich narratives in Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Never read it, and since I’m teaching it this fall and am horrifying my AP Composition students with an essay test over this novel on the first day of school (bwahahahaha!), I guess I’d better read it.
Divergent by Veronica Roth: With Book 3 of this trilogy set to release in October, I figure I’d better begin this series, because everyone I talk to screams, “I can’t BELIEVE you haven’t read that yet!!”
Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland by Pasi Saulberg: Admittedly, I have skimmed this book and loved what I’ve learned so far, but I want to read it cover to cover. In a time when we are doing almost everything wrong in American educational reform, it’ll be interesting to learn how Finland gets it right and why they outperform virtually all other nations educationally.
These are just a few of the creative worlds I’ll be exploring this summer as a result of my book hoarding, an addiction that I hope has no cure.
So, what titles made it on your SSSR list?