Friday, May 11, 2007

Heaps of Books

Last night I had terrible dreams. Not nightmares, but the kind of dreams where there is an endless mutation of menial repetitive tasks that have to be performed under time pressure. The kind of dream where you experience working so intensely at something tedious that the body wakes up tired in the morning.

It was a mistake to read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America directly before going to bed. The stresses endured by the author from trying to live on Wal-Mart and Merry Maids wages found themselves communicated into my dreams. I spent much of the night trying to keep some green pickle blobs watered and alive for some job my subconscious concocted. Tonight I’m reading a book about teaching 5th graders in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and will probably dream of mischievous boys flicking boogers.

It’s good to be reading for pleasure. I’ve noticed more than once that I haven’t adjusted the “Currently Reading” information on the blog sidebar in about 4 months. It looks like I’ve been keeping company with Vera Nabokov for a long time. I actually did have a dream about her last week. I dreamt that I was responsible for projecting a film for a class she was teaching. The projector had problems and she was not happy with the offending machine or with me.

Over the course of the last semester, I actually did read a lot of different books. Most of them were written for 5th to 8th grade students and were related to the course I was taking in "Children's Literature in a Balanced Reading Program". Sometimes I was a little self-conscious on the subway ride to and from school. The large print and pictures in some of the books I was reading earned some scornful looks. People tend to be nosy about what other people are reading, contorting themselves to glimpse the title and author of a book. Sometimes I make the people work to find out the title. My book goes down down down slowly to the side… and if they don’t catch themselves, they’ll let their noses stray so far into my business that they are in eminent danger of falling over.

Now the only one cosying up to me while I’m reading is Kitty. He’s looking for a lap and and someone to rub him between his ears. He keeps me company as I work through the stack of books I’ve picked up from volunteering for the local library system. My mom and I spend Thursdays sorting book donations for the fundraising book sale. One of the “thank you’s” for our dusty sweaty hours is that we can take interesting books home.

There are 11 books in the stack that have come home with me in the last two weeks. Probably all but two will go back. There’s a posthumously published Mark Twain book named A Murder, A Mystery, and a Marriage that I have never heard of before. If it's good I may hang on to that. There’s another book called The Age of Missing Information that may be useful for future teaching projects. It’s about a man who spends 24 hours watching cable TV and what he learns vs. 24 hours in the woods and what he learns.

Tonight I went up in the attic and put together about 30 books to take to the library to be donated. For once the books are going out faster than they are coming in. It's the right balance. I don't want to hold on to most books anymore. One of the lessons of traveling. They are too heavy and bulky to keep for keeping's sake unless they are favorites or useful for reference at a later date. Read them and set them free.


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