I have always loved classic stories, especially the children’s variety. I mean, come on, my grandchildren call me “Marmee.” The list of more advanced classics I had read when I began teaching at Caldwell was not very long. I’d taken a Shakespeare class in college and loved it. I’d read a few things things by Twain and Poe and Hawthorne, so I was fairly strong on the Americans, I guess. I’d also read a few more modern classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Great Gatsby, of course. Still I was missing out on a lot. I’d never read any of C.S. Lewis’ non-fiction. No Dante, no Dostoevsky, no Eliot, and worst of all, no Homer.
My first few years I taught a lot of middle school. I read things with them like The Red Pony and The Old Man and the Sea. I have to admit that neither of these works made me crave more classic literature. I’m not into being depressed. One of my favorite teaching stories is about one of my seventh graders who looked up woefully from Steinbeck’s classic and asked, “Why is it called The Red Pony when the horse dies in the first chapter?” Why indeed.
Over the next few years, I added a few classics to my list and I read a lot of non-fiction for my history and apologetics classes. My taste has broadened considerably. I have always loved Agatha Christie, but after teaching at Caldwell I discovered the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters and merged my love of the Middle Ages with my love of mystery.
When we began the Humanities program four years ago, I spent the summer catching up, and every summer since then I have continued my reading program. I have come to love so many classic authors. I developed a love/hate relationship with Henry David Thoreau, and went on a Russian binge. Sadly, I have read every single mystery Dorothy Sayers ever wrote, even the ones finished by someone else. I’ve had a blast and I have learned much. This reading has changed me and I am grateful.
I also come to this summer a little on the burned-out side. I went to our local used book store to purchase some summer reading and I’m afraid I came away with more “fun” books than work books. That’s okay. I need a little diversion. I’m reading John Grisham’s The Associate. I. LOVE. IT. I forgot how good Grisham is, the way he can weave a tale and draw you in.
Don’t worry. I’m also reading the last part of The Divine Comedy— touring heaven with Dante–and I’m reading a lovely (NOT!) book about death, conspiracy, and cut-throat politics in Renaissance Florence, so I’m working. BUT, summer is for relaxing. Summer is for rest. Summer is for Grisham. AHHHHHHHHHH!