Sunday, January 19, 2014

32 Books: Chapter 7: Book #5: Is There a Nice Way to Ask?

 When I asked my students to bring me a good book, I honestly didn’t expect this one. Really. It’s a good book. 

I bought it for myself, paid full price for a hardback copy fresh off that press at a real bookstore back when people regularly did such things, then read every word of every page of this memoir written by an Ivy League professor.

I know why I bought and read the book.  

 I read the author’s first book, loved it, and enjoyed this one just as much. I’m 99% sure my copy of this book is in a box in the garage, but if it isn’t there I either lent it to a student or it’s on the third shelf in my office, next to a huge book by Hugh Thomas.

When the student handed this book to me after class I didn’t pay her any class money because she (again) arrived late and therefore owed me money. Maybe that's why I got this weird feeling, maybe I judge late students too harshly. 
I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t expect THIS book from THIS student, but I’m just honestly telling you the truth.  

If my student really did read this book, I see her in a different light. Maybe she’s more like me than she appears, maybe comes from people who are new to America, maybe that’s why she read this book.

I make a silent promise to ask the student in class, in a nice way, if she really read the book.  

Is there a nice way to do that?

If she did, she’s going to understand this class on a different level because she’s walked through a first hand account of several major things I’ll be covering during the Cold War.

If she didn’t read the book, that’s OK, I’m still thankful for the hours I spent today with this smart book written by a great historian and author.

I turn my attention to the last book I've brought home to read and write about on  this long MLK weekend.