Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weighty Reading

As I wait in line at the grocery check-out counter, my eyes always rove to the book and magazine displays. I get a kick out of reading the headlines in the National Enquirer and a couple of other sensational newspapers. From them, we can learn all about space aliens, fifty-pound babies, long-dead celebrities who reappear, and giant pavement-eating earthworms—not to mention politicians who mate with space aliens and produce fifty-pound human-alien babies.

I never buy those. But I do sometimes buy little recipe books, especially for chocolate desserts. (You can see where my heart…er…stomach lies.) I have a friend at the college who has the same buying habit. She told me that she reads those books in bed, right before she goes to sleep. She never lets chocolate books make it to the kitchen—too fattening. She doesn’t trust herself.

Once in a while, I find a good paperback book there. A week or so ago, I was surprised to see that S. E. Hinton had a new novel published last year—Hawkes Harbor. So I bought it. About a third of the way into it, my jury is still out on it; it seems a little depressing so far. I am more of an upbeat-book kind of girl.

There is a reason why I am drawn to a book by Hinton. In 1970 when I taught eighth-grade English, Hinton had recently published her internationally acclaimed bestseller, The Outsiders. I read that story aloud to my eighth-graders, in fifteen to thirty-minute increments. They loved it and became quite involved, emotionally, with the teenage characters. One student’s mother told me that she overheard her daughter and a friend talking about how sad they were that “Johnny” had died. The mother was alarmed, thinking one of their schoolmates had died.

Now, thirty-five years later, when I run into some of those students, they still remember Johnny and Ponyboy. So--I want to see if Hawkes Harbor is that memorable.

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