This weekend was my 6th wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, and we managed to arrange an overnight stay to get away to a hotel about 45 minutes away, complete with dinner, movie, swimming, hot tub, and some shopping today (mostly for my wife). It was a good time, and we enjoyed our time away, especially since we were able to spend time together without our two boys (who stayed with my parents), something we don’t get to do often.

Now we’re home, and I need to update the blog – what better to do that with than a tale of my recent acquisitions on the literary front?

For my graduation, I got a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card from an old friend, and I’d been deliberating about what to do with, even down to using it toward buying a class set of a novel I want to teach (probably 1984). I ended up scrapping that idea, thinking that it would be better used going toward books for the classroom library.

Well, it just so happened that the town we were shopping in had a Barnes & Noble, and since it doesn’t happen often that I get to go to an actual B&N store (the nearest one is an hour away), we stopped in, and I splurged a bit while my wife rested from our earlier shopping (this was the last stop for us). So here, in non-list format, are the books that I got there, plus a few others that I acquired:

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon was actually a book I picked up earlier last week at Waldenbooks (the closest chain bookstore), which is a follow-up to Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which features a protagonist who is autistic. I picked up that book since I have an autistic son and had an interest in the subject even before he was diagnosed, and although I haven’t yet read it, I thought I would get Haddon’s next novel since it was on the bargain rack. (Can’t beat a $3 hardcover.)

The other Waldenbooks acquisition was one I got for use as a teacher of literature: The Best Poems of the English Language, edited by Alissa Heyman. At $8, it wasn’t a bad deal, and it has some good selections, including my all-time favorite poem about poetry, Marianne Moore’s “Poetry.” (If there’s a better metapoetic poem out there, intrepid reader, I’d like to hear it.) It actually attempts to go back to the beginnings of English, picking little fragments of Cædmon’s Hymn and Beowulf, and goes all the  way through T.S. Eliot (who is represented by “Prufrock” – a good selection, but perhaps not his most representative poem, in my opinion). These are clearly all works in the public domain (possibly why Heyman only went through Eliot), but it’s nice to have them together.

Now to my acquisitions today – first is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir/graphic novel Persepolis, which I actually read for a class in undergrad but never bought. I knew that I would want the graphic novel eventually, and it was on my list of books to find today. I did find it eventually, with assistance from a helpful clerk, under the biography section. (This was after I looked for it under graphic novels and came up empty-handed. I did find another graphic novel I’ve heard good things about, though: American Born Chinese.)

I have a couple of novels in the series, so I bought a few more to fill it out: the classic Ender’s Game and the parallel novel Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. I wanted to get Shadows of the Hegemon to complete the parallel series, but it was the only one that was missing.

I don’t think any English teacher’s classroom library would be complete without J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye, so I picked it up as well.

Since I was considering it as a work for my novels elective, I picked up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for a very reasonable $4. (The fact that I was able to get this price means that I am probably going to request it for that elective course.)

I guess I must be in the habit of collecting grammar texts, because I picked up Who’s (Oops…) Whose Grammar Book Is This Anyway?: All the Grammar You Need to Succeed in Life by C. Edward Good. (Yes, that is the actual title, and “Who’s” is cleverly struck out with the classic editor’s mark on the cover.) Considering my past with grammar texts (well, except for one: Martha Kolln’s Rhetorical Grammar), I have very low expectations. I hope this book will exceed them.

From a yard sale, I got a two-decade-old publication written by William E. Nagy and put out by NCTE/IRA entitled Teaching Vocabulary to Improve Reading Comprehension, and it came at just the right time: I need to think about how I will be using instruction to improve the reading comprehension of my students. I need to challenge my assumptions about the abilities of my students to comprehend texts, and what Nagy says in there (I’ve already started reading) makes a lot of sense. (I’ll probably write about this soon after I finish it. It’s a topic I’ve written too infrequently about.)

Finally, I got James Nehring’s interestingly-titled book, “Why Do We Gotta Do This Stuff, Mr. Nehring?”: Notes from a Teacher’s Day in School. It’s going to be a new kind of book for me since it’s one of those rare education books written about what happens in high schools from a high school teacher’s perspective; I’ve read Esme’s Education, which is a great book about the perils of an elementary school teacher’s first year in a rough urban school, but never a book dedicated to high school teaching. (Recommendations for other good books in this genre would be gladly accepted.)

Of course, I plan to get many more books – there’s a long list, and I had to turn down some books today – so I still have plenty of room to expand. (Who am I kidding? there will always be room to expand, as long as I still have space on my shelves.) I’m just glad to have these books, which are great additions to my growing collection.

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