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Memoirs: Five to Fall For

October 1, 2014

As a college writing teacher, I have the responsibility to select what my students read. These writers they read then inform  their writing styles, choices, and subjects that they write about this semester –and often, influence choices that shape the rest of their lives.

I try to give my students as many choices to read as possible including short essays by Sherman Alexie, Gloria Anzaldua, Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mike Rose, Amy Tan, Henry David Thoreau.  This gives me the unwieldy task of managing a class when I’m not always sure what students have read and written about. I simply place choices around a theme in front of them like a buffet for them to feast on.

Often I host a “book club” where students will choose from several books to read, discuss, present, and write about together.

This fall, I have once again chosen narratives, all except one of them very recently published, and one is new for me to teach.

The books are, in alphabetical order:

Violence Girl: A Chicana Punk Story–from East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage by Alice Bag (2011, available in the VC bookstore)

–growing up in LA in the music scene in the 70s

Boy About Town by Tony Fletcher (2013, available now in a new US 2014 edition)

–growing up in London in the music scene in the 70s

Life by the Cup by Zhena Muzyka (2014)

–broke Ojai single mom starts successful tea business; free excerpt and buy your copy here: http://www.zhena.tv/x/life-by-the-cu

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (1990)

–major award-winning book captioned as “fiction” but based on the author’s experiences in Vietnam and it is the Ventura College One Book One Campus Book selection for 2014

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (2012)

–best selling book about a woman in her 20s who hikes 1000 miles on the PCT; now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon; note I walked the whole PCT and was one of the first 20 women to do so–when I read this book I spent a lot of time yelling at her stupidity

Today I will ask my students which book–

1. is their first choice to read and why,

2. their second choice to read and why

3. which one they don’t want to read and why,

4. who they’d like to work with and why

5. who they’d prefer NOT to work with

6. whether who they work with is more important than what they read.

So which of these books have you read? Which ones would you like to read? Let me know in the comments!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 1, 2014 11:55 am

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    Here are the fall 2014 Book Club Choices for my VC students

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