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1. I am currently compiling a list of my favorite 50-60 books for a very bookish gift that I want for my birthday. Cheryl Sorg creates thumbprint portraits. Oh, they are so wonderful (check out the link to see what I mean.) Anyway, after sending her a sample of my thumb print, I have to give her a list of 50-60 books to include in the "portrait". I thought it would be easy. It is not easy, in fact it is hard to narrow the list down to 60 books. In addition each book I am putting through a mental screening process in which I try to figure out if I will actually like this book in ten or twenty years from now. Some books are easy: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind have already passed the "stood the test of time" test. But what about others that are favorites today but haven't been on the list that long? I don't know if they will stand the test of time. What if I put them on my list and end up feeling ambivalent about the books later? Argh! I am trapped in a mental mess of my own making.
2. By the way, I thought I would add lots of young adult books to my list of 60 books but actually most haven't passed the "stood the test of time" test and so very few are on my most recent list. Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia; The Book Thief; and Where the Red Fern Grows are the only ones on the list right now. YA lit seem much more "in the moment" than their adult counterparts, for obvious reasons. Just today I was looking at the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was published in 1999 and has never been out-of-popularity in my library. Some books just seem to have a universal message that can stand up to the ticking clock, but not many.
3. Our school has adopted a new English curriculum and the administration wants the teachers to teach it with fidelity. This leaves no time for them to bring their classes to the library to check out free-choice reading books. Circulation is way down this year. Last year after four months of school we had checked out 6643 books. This year, in the same period, the number is substantially lower, 3980. Isn't that SAD? The district wants kids to do better on the standardized tests but they are sacrificing reading for it. And how do they expect children to develop a love of reading if they rarely encourage them to read a whole book from start to finish? SIGH***
4. Speaking of reading a book from start to finish, will I ever finish The Goldfinch? It is 770 pages long, I've been reading it for over a week pretty much whenever I have a moment of time and I only on page 300. It's a good one, though, very well done.