#AMonthofFaves 2021: Popular Books Worth the Hype

Today’s prompt is pretty self-evident, so let’s get into it.

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Book Club & Stinky Theater #SOL18

Yesterday was a good day, but long.

First, I had book club, which was a delight as always. I was late because of traffic and also because, even though I turned it off, my Google maps was somehow set to avoid highways. By the time I figured it out, I had already lost about ten minutes of driving time. 🙄 I mean, I still would have been late, but I would have been less late. Because, let’s be real, I was eating lunch and fooling around online.

The discussion was about Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile, which most of us did not like. (You can see my review of it here.) Those who have seen the TV show much prefer that to the book.

One of the cool things we did was check in on our New Year’s resolutions and goals, and it was nice to see how many people had made (sometimes surprisingly fast) progress on theirs.

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Full-Cast Play Productions: An Audio Experience

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about audio and rather than list my favorite narrators or audiobooks, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a different kind of reading/audiobook experience I had this summer.

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This summer, I actually spent quite a bit of time listening to plays, which if you have never done that, I highly recommend it. The plays I listened to are all full-cast productions so all of the characters are played by different actors. If you’re wary of audiobooks or not sure if they’re for you, I think full-cast productions are the perfect entrĂ©e into the format.

When we watch plays (or TV/movies for that matter), I think we take for granted how much work the dialogue has to do. So I really appreciate listening to plays because they give me an even greater sense of how much work the dialogue does in terms of setting the scene, establishing character/character relationships, and advancing the plot–all without huge dumps of exposition (if it’s done well, of course).

I listened to 3 1/2 full-cast plays this summer. Here are the three I actually reviewed over on Goodreads:

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Dear English/Lit teachers of the world, just stop

I recently finished J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and then went online and read some reviews (as one does). And I saw an alarming pattern in quite a few of the reviews I read.

Therefore, I have a request:

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE stop telling your students that plays are meant to be seen and not read.

PLEASE.

First of all, it’s not true.

Second of all, they then go out into the world and keep spreading that nonsense in book reviews and blog posts and however else they share information with each other.

source
source

Here’s the thing: plays are absolutely meant to be read. They start out as scripts. Plays cannot be produced, acted in, directed, costumed, lit, etc. unless the people involved with the plays READ THEM.

In fact, reading a play takes just as much–if not more–imagination as reading a novel or short story. It’s all about teaching students how to read and engage with the form.

And, yes, details are added in the production of a play that brings it to life, but one person’s interpretation of a character or scene or whatever can be different from another’s, which is why the same staged play can play out differently for different audiences depending on who’s involved with the production.

But isn’t that the same with reading a novel?

Maybe someone prefers to see the play, which is fine, but let’s stop with the whole plays aren’t meant to be read deal, okay? It’s fine to say that sometimes plot or action becomes clearer in the seeing of it, and, yes, Shakespeare tends to be better experienced when we see it since the language can be a bit inaccessible. But, you know, people read the play to put it on for us, so the script is the thing–or, rather, the script is the basis for the whole thing.

And it has to be read. And it can be read and understood. It just takes a different kind of effort is all. So stop telling your students it can’t and shouldn’t be done.

Thank you.