It’s Monday and here’s what I’m reading: June 24th, 2013.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Diane @ Practically Paradise

I finally got around to reading the two John Green books that were at the very top of my summer reading list, and was more than a little bit disappointed.  To begin with, these were not books I could hand out to my 6th. graders…or even my eighth graders. These were, most definitely, high school books.  So, I was disappointed in that – so many of my kids loved The Fault in Our Stars and wanted more of Green – but these are not the books for them.  Looking For Alaska described this way in Green’s web page:

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Alaska is a captivating character, and I loved her.  And Green’s witty, irreverent style is easy to become carried away by; I found myself enjoying the writing a lot more than the story itself, which seemed to wander a bit.  Spoiler alert! Alaska is killed in a car crash towards the end of the book, and I found the whole resolution of the story somewhat confusing and pointless.  Still, I loved the characters Green created in Alaska.
I don’t think I can say the same for the ones that people An Abundance of Katherines, however.  Here is a blurb for the book, as described on Green’s website:

When it comes to relationships, everyone has a type. Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. He has dated–and been dumped by–19 Katherines. In the wake of The K-19 Debacle, Colin–an anagram-obsessed washed-up child prodigy–heads out on a road trip with his overweight, Judge Judy- loving friend Hassan. With 10,000 dollars in his pocket and a feral hog on his trail, Colin is on a mission to prove a mathematical theorem he hopes will predict the future of any relationship (and conceivably win the girl).

Green’s sense of humor  is every bit as sharp and quick in this book as well, but I just could not get into the characters.  There was an absurdist bent to this story, which meandered far too much to hold my attention.  I thought the mathematical aspect (the theorems Colin is trying to construct), a clever device … but it soon became tedious, as did Green’s clever-for -the-first-three-chapters habit of foot noting this and that .  And I found the characters undeveloped and one dimensional.  I had checked out Paper Towns to complete my John Green marathon, but I think I may put it aside until later this summer.


The Teacher’s and Writer’s  Collaborative  is a New York City based organization that is devoted to fostering a love of writing through workshops and collaborative programs and publications.  It’s poetry program in the five boroughs generated the fabulous poems collected in A POEM AS BIG AS NEW YORK CITY.   

Each poem is written to capture the essence of New York City, as seen through the eyes of the children who ride its subways, visit its sites, walk its bustling streets.  It is a wonderful tribute – and the gorgeous illustrations by Masha D’yans are just perfect.

I also read the one and only Seymor Simon’s Extreme Earth Records.  Simon’s amazing blog is one of our favorite nonfiction go-to sites – we stop in for research as well as writing tips and exercises all our school year.  Extreme Earth Records is a collection of the coldest, highest, most remote, etc. places on earth.  Each chapter is written in Simon’s inimitable style – informative, entertaining, and well illustrated.  I have purchased many of Simon’s books for our non-fiction library – and this will be another addition.

7 thoughts on “It’s Monday and here’s what I’m reading: June 24th, 2013.

  1. Looking for Alaska was the book I gave away on World Book Night. Any book lover who hasn't experienced World Book Night should. It is so much fun and it leaves you feeling warm and satisfied for having put good literature out into the world. I enjoyed LforAlaska and one day plan to read The Fault in Our Stars because of its great reception. An Abundance of Katherines was alright but I listened to it on audio. It was a lot of incessant whining but I like the part about the Archduke Ferdinand having his final resting place in America. It's cool how America has so many eccentric little towns. Happy reading!

  2. The art in that poetry book is wonderful looking Tara! I've read other John Green books & they fit only with my most mature students, I agree. I read the Katherines & it was okay-haven't read the other one. I've heard that Paper Towns is very good, however. Thanks also for the Simon's link!

  3. Thanks for your candid thoughts. It is great to read different opinions. My students love Looking for Alaska, but it certainly has a few edgy sections in it. I have read almost all of Green's books (with the exception of Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and my students have good fun debating about which is best. That said, I don't think I would give all of them to younger crowds–I suppose it would depend on the student.I really enjoyed reading your post. 🙂

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