Monday, September 15, 2008

Independent Reading Project: Memoirs

My biggest goal this year (since it is your senior year) is to transition you to life beyond high school--in other words, to make myself unnecessary in your life (in less than ten months.) So, I must hand over much of the responsibility of the class to you. In addition to what we study as "whole class texts," you will also be reading books in literature circles as well as independently this year. Our first "unit" (obviously with the college essay in mind) will cover memoirs--and I left a few choice first person narratives on the list because they achieve similar effects that we will be looking into. As you choose a book, you may also want to start to consider what "topic" you are interested in, because we will develop reading plans for ourselves after this first memoir.

Here's a short list of suggestions, but it is up to you to do the research on the books and make sure they fit your criteria. My criteria is that they should be at least 200 pages long (we can fill in the gaps with supplements if need be.)

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Chasing Ghosts by Paul Rieckhoff
Chronicles by Bob Dylan
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni
Furthering My Education by William Corbett
Kafir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean
Gray's Anatomy by Spalding Gray
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
When I Was Cool by Sam Kashner
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley)
The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

This is also (obviously) an election year and both major party candidates happen to have compelling memoirs.

And some other first person narratives (fiction) that I would accept:

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (or any number of his novels)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Nadja by Andre Breton
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Native Son by Richard Wright

and the list goes on...I think I'll add Ms. Pettit's and Ms. Musilli's suggestions to the comment stream when they come in. Any of you can feel free to add a book and explain it a bit in the comment stream.

You will need a copy of the book you choose on Tuesday, September 23rd in class. Please plan accordingly.

Image is Three Studies for a Self-Portrait (1980) by Francis Bacon (the 20th century painter, not the Renaissance thinker) It is expected to reach £5.5m at auction.

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