Mr. Waits: English Teacher
Currently in our collection:
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck– Not only does Steinbeck tell the story of Dust Bowl refugees during the 1930s, he captures the very nature of rural culture and realities of life on the road. The book questions our conceptions of what it meant to be poor in America, at a time when there was little or no social safety net, and poverty’s impact on family life. TGW reminds me of my family. I was the first to graduate from college, and still feel a connection with ancestors who lived on farms, raised their own food and worked hard. Steinbeck won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for literature.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald– An examination of the life of the very rich during the 1920s when greed was great and excess was success. More than anything, Fitzgerald characterizes the “American Dream” in a way that hadn’t previously been seen. The wall of separation between “haves” and “have-nots” is clear throughout, and with today’s awareness of increasing wealth gaps, this is a theme that resonates with modern readers. Then there’s the pathos of Jay Gatsby who, while being “uber rich” himself, aspires to many of the same things as most people, most prominently love and acceptance. He is in love with Daisy, the “Golden Girl”, a common element in much of Fitzgerald’s writing, but is denied her in the end because he really “doesn’t belong.”
Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose – The story of Lewis and Clark’s expedition westward to look for a passage to the Pacific, this book caused me to set a goal of one day traveling along the same route as their Corps of Discovery. The author’s own passion for the story was evident during an interview with Charlie Rose when he became emotional during a discussion about the apparent suicide of Meriwether Lewis years after the expedition. The men’s journals serve in great part to give depth to Ambrose’s story as they recount not only the hardships but also their observations along the way.
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut – I read this in my freshman year in college and was taken by Billy Pilgrim’s (the main character) unbelievable experiences in World War II and by his apparent ability to move back and forth in time. Its absurdities connected well with my rather inexperienced of life at the time. Some would say it was Billy’s schizophrenia which, when combined with his comical appearance, made his observations seem detached. He is an anti-hero who survives abuse by his Nazi captors, the bombing of Dresden, but despite some other cruel things that happen to him, he often ends his thoughts by saying, “so it goes.”
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway - I suppose this is on many favorites lists, but it hooked me with its expressions of Lost Generation disenchantment combined with Hemingway’s austere prose. It was easy to read but not so easy to digest as one would have to understand Hemingway himself to do that! I read it because it was a course requirement during my junior year in college. I was hooked on Hemingway from that point.
Ms. Garrison: Resource Specialist / English 9
Currently in our collection:
Judy Blume: Summer Sisters
Mary Higgins Clark: Weep No More My Lady
Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist
Other Suggestions available at the Oceanside Public Library:
Christina Schwarz: Drowning Ruth
David Sedaris: Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris: Naked
Sue Miller: While I Was Gone
Wally Lamb: I Know This Much Is True
Donna Tartt: The Secret History
Jeffrey Archer: Kane and Abel