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What are you reading?


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We asked that question of high school English teachers — those whose nightstands and backpacks are teeming with both dog-eared pages and spines that have yet to be cracked — to find out what they’re enjoying in hot contemporary titles, classic tomes or guilty pleasures. Consider this your assigned reading list.

Scott Duncan

Town: Bloomington

School: Columbus East High School

Classes you teach: This year I am teaching English 10 Honors, Global Studies (a combined English and social studies course) and dual-credit courses for seniors in Composition and Literature through Indiana University.

What are you reading now? How do you like it? I am closing in on the end of Sherman Alexie’s “Reservation Blues.” It is an incredible novel. The driving force throughout the novel is the blues, and readers certainly feel that with incredibly deep and heartbreaking characters.

What is your favorite book? Why? “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz. The immediate element that hooked me was Diaz’s style. I haven’t read anything like it. The words fly off the pages. The story itself is too difficult to summarize succinctly, but I can throw any superlative at this novel and it would stick.

When is your favorite time to read? Why? Late at night before I go to sleep. That is pretty much my only time to read (except for school-related reading). During the week, pre-bed is my moment when the mind is as close to shut down as it gets. So reading works during that time.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? Maybe the closest thing to a guilty pleasure would be reading (and constantly checking) my Twitter feed.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I have an iPad, but I float between both the iPad and books. I borrowed “Reservation Blues” from the library, so I am enjoying the physical book. But I do have most of my magazine subscriptions on my iPad.

Alison Williams

Town: Columbus

School: Columbus North High School

Classes you teach: English 10 – College Prep, English 11 Standard

What are your English students reading now? “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt

What are you reading now? “Birth Marked.” Not sure if I like it yet or not. I just started it. It was on a list titled “If you liked The Hunger Games read this next …”

What is your favorite book? This is a hard question. I have different favorites for different moods. Here are a few: “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I read a lot of young-adult literature, which may also be part of why I enjoy teaching high school. I like books with realistic characters, interesting plots and stories that evoke strong emotions. I have a soft spot for futuristic dystopian books (“Hunger Games,” “Uglies,” “Among the Hidden,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”). Occasionally, I’ll read adult fiction; one favorite is “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman and “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult.

When is your favorite time to read? I like reading in the morning, with coffee.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? I can enjoy a chick lit book or two from time to time.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I have a Nook. It’s handy when I want a hard-to-find book, or if I’m snowed in and the library is not an option — instant book on hand. I still like the feel of a real book, the weight, the being able to tell when I’m in the middle or almost finished. I also use audio books whenever I’m on long car rides. I have an Audible subscription that I use both in my classroom and for personal reading.

Kelley Culp

Town: Franklin

School: Columbus North High School

Classes you teach: Sophomore Accelerated, American Literature – Standard and College Prep.

What are your English students reading now? “The Old Man and the Sea,” American short stories (“The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Devil and Tom Walker,” and we will begin “Billy Budd” next week.

What are you reading now? “The Concrete Blonde” by Michael Connelly. It is the third in a series of books with Detective Bosch. So far it is good. I am not very far in the book.

What is your favorite book? This is always a difficult question because there are several answers. My favorite classic is “Middlemarch.” My favorite contemporary book would be “Rainbow Six.” If we are talking about my favorite book to read with my daughters, it would be “How to Train your Dragon.”

When is your favorite time to read? Any time I have a few spare minutes, but mostly at night. Why? It gives me a chance to unwind.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? I love spy/thriller novels, Tom Clancy especially.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I do have an e-reader and I love the convenience of it. Having a lot of books at my disposal is great, but nothing beats the feel of a good book you can hold and get wrapped up in.

By Beth Clayton-George

bclayton-george@therepublic.com

What are you reading?

 

 

 Name: Abby Howe

Town: Columbus

School: Columbus East High School

Classes you teach: English 9 Honors

What are your English students reading now? “The Odyssey” and independently selected novels

What are you reading now? How do you like it? Just finishing “The Hunger Games” — loving it, of course. Just put down an unfinished “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” because I wasn’t loving it. Also on my nightstand (either mid-read or waiting to be read) are “Stand Tall” (a young adult novel by Joan Bauer), “These Is My Words,” Jodi Picoult’s “The Pact,” “The Five Love Languages of Children,” Sharon Creech’s “Love that Dog” — a great book about a boy’s attempt to deal with the loss of his dog through poetry, and “The Story” — the Bible in narrative form.

What is your favorite book? Why? Favorite ever would have to be “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The simple language, the innocence of the narrator, the heartbreaking injustice and heartwarming compassion: I love it all. My favorites list numbers many, but most recent titles include “The Help,” “Water for Elephants” and “The Kitchen House.”

When is your favorite time to read? Why? I read every night before bed. It relaxes me and allows me to stop processing the day’s activities.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? Surprisingly, no. There’s too much great lit that cries out for my attention.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I do love the feel (and the smell) of an actual book in my hands, but I also have a Kindle and enjoy it thoroughly, especially since the Kindle smart phone app means that I’m never without a book when stranded somewhere.

 

 

 Name: Chasidy Kannianen

Town: Seymour

School: Columbus East High School

Classes you teach: I am the department chair for Central Middle School and Columbus East High School, and I teach three sections of 11th-grade English.

What are your English students reading now? My students are currently reading Arthur Miller’s play ”The Crucible.”

What are you reading now? How do you like it? I am reading “Matched” by Ally Condie. I like it because it makes you think about society in a different way. I’m not sure I would like to live in that (or any other) dystopian society.

What is your favorite book? Why? “Mommywood” by Tori Spelling is probably my favorite book. I think I like it so much because I feel like she and I are having a conversation as friends when I read it.

When is your favorite time to read? Why? I like to read in the summertime because that is the only time I really have to decompress and just read for pleasure.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? Not unless reading about others’ lives (and generally not commenting) on Facebook counts.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I don’t care about the format as long as I can get it for free. So, I will read a physical book if I can borrow it from a library or friend. I also found that many libraries now have books you can download to your iPad and read those for free.

 

 Name: Katie Keith

Town: Columbus

School: Columbus North High School

Classes taught: English 9 Accelerated, American Literature College Prep, and Level 5 English 9th and 10th grade

What are your English students reading now? My freshmen classes are reading Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and juniors are starting Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”

What are you reading now? I just finished reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I really enjoyed the author’s use of both literal and metaphorical journeys throughout the novel. I think the main character is very relatable for young adults as he searches for love, a career path and a place in life.

What is your favorite book? Asking an English teacher to choose a favorite book is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. Of course I have a favorite, but announcing it just wouldn’t be fair to the others! I will say that my favorite book to teach is Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I love the depth of character and conflict; plus, it has so many wonderful moments of comic relief.

When is your favorite time to read? I do the majority of my reading in the summer. It’s the only chance I get to really focus on something new. The school year is spent reading books for my classes, but I like to use the summer to delve into reading for pleasure.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? No. I never feel guilty for reading anything!

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I prefer physical books.

Julie Calfee

Town: Columbus

School: Columbus East High School

Classes you teach: English 9 and 12

What are your English students reading now? “The Odyssey,” “Beowulf,” “Canterbury Tales”

What are you reading now? How do you like it? “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.” I like nonfiction, especially stories of people crazy enough to run ultra marathons in Death Valley or spend six months hiking over the Appalachian Trail. Reading stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances is highly entertaining for this small-town gal.

What is your favorite book? Why? Thornton Wilder’s ”Our Town.” It’s actually a play, but it’s one of the few texts I will read and reread as life changes for me. I’ve celebrated family weddings and mourned grandparents and friends in the pages of that story. I cannot read Act III without crying. I dare anyone to try.

When is your favorite time to read? I make a habit out of reading at night. It’s quiet, and it helps me log out for the day by putting my mind somewhere else.

Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads? I’m not sure how to answer this question. I absolutely have 50 shades of tastes when it comes to reading.

Do you have an e-reader, or do you prefer a physical book? I have read exponentially more in my adult life since I got my first Kindle. I now own a Kindle Fire. I become very frustrated when I read a physical book, touch a word and the definition doesn’t pop up. And turning pages? Ugh! Way too much work now!

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