BOOK FIVE: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. And so the series continues, and I am hooked. (Currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to be finished soon and very soon.)
BOOK SIX: The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy. I picked this up on a Kindle daily deal for $1.99; it was recommended by a blogger as well as a friend who was in town at the time. And the price was right! This memoir recounts Conroy's time spent teaching fifth through eighth grade students on Yamacraw Island, off the coast of South Carolina, only accessible by boat. (The real name of the island is Daufuskie Island if you look on Google maps.) A white teacher on a mainly black-inhabited island, Conroy enters a different world and his heart and mind are forever changed by the kids he comes to love. The dialogue is sometimes hilarious, and the bureaucracy and racism of the school district are unbelievable and frustrating. Strangely enough, there were scenes and ideas in this book that corresponded very much with our experiences teaching here in Spain. Favorite quotes: "...life was good, but it was hard; we would prepare to meet it head on, but we would enjoy the preparation," and "Teaching is a record of failures. But the glory of teaching is in the attempt."
BOOK SEVEN: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I decided to try Audible for a month, a service that allows you to listen to audiobooks. Now, I have never liked being read to, which probably seems weird coming from someone who is often more of an auditory learner than a visual one. However, to pay attention well it is helpful for me to see the words on a page.
So what changed my mind? I sometimes walk 35 minutes to school, and some days (if I'm not feeling lazy or my legs aren't aching from walking and training for a race) I will also walk home. That's a lot of time, but I obviously can't read a physical book while I walk (I'm too busy looking for dog poo on the sidewalks and making sure cars actually stop at crosswalks). I decided to try Audible for a month (free 30-day trial to see if you like it!), and now I'm thinking about paying for a membership for our remaining time in Spain because I really enjoyed listening to a book during my commute, on flights, and even while I worked out at the gym.
And Americanah was a perfect book to listen to! Largely character- and setting-driven, it recounts a Nigerian woman's journey to America and back to her homeland, and asks questions like, What is race? How do different races relate to each other? How do different groups of people within the same race relate to and view one another? The book is read by a woman with a charming British accent who also read the characters in various Nigerian, white and African American dialects so well. It was a pleasure to listen to. I think I'll remember the novel in a special way, too, because it became part of my daily routine.