Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jane: Great Books

If Mom were still alive, I would call her and tell her about the book I just finished reading, Note by Note by Tricia Tunstall. In fact, I would have called her after I read the first chapter--I could tell then that it was going to be wonderful.

It's a set of essays, an extended reflection, really, on the piano lesson and the power of music. The author is a pianist and piano teacher, and she uses vignettes from the lessons she gives (to children, mostly) to muse on the way music moves us and on learning in general and relationships between teacher and student.
As a teacher, I loved the way she describes her relationship with her students (I'd LOVE to have her for a teacher, or the teacher of my child). At one point she says, "But Chloe has helped teach me one of the great lessons every teacher learns: I can control, influence, and persuade my students--except when I can't."

As a music lover, I enjoyed her discussions of "what makes music beautiful," and her musings on pop versus classical music.
As I writer, I loved her style and the way she took something ordinary--teaching someone something new--and used it to reflect on larger issues.
I'd recommend it.

And while I'm at it, I'll recommend another book.

I also just finished reading Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper's Wife. It's about a polish couple who runs a zoo, and is caught in WWII. They use the zoo to smuggle Jews out of the ghetto and to safety.

I had to read it slowly; the harrowing tales of WWII Poland were so heart-rending. But it's an uplifting book, all in all. Of course Ackerman's prose is lush and vivid, and she brings to life Antonia, the Zookeeper's wife, and all the people she encounters.

What are you reading?


Wm said...

I just finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird- A had read it in school and I don't think I ever had, but am very glad I did now. I found myself thinking about how one reads a book through life, and sees different things in it. I'm sure as an 8th grader, I would not have been struck by Atticus' strength as a parent and single father as I was now.

Right now I'm reading a silly book written in the late 1950s and set in Paris. It's entitled The Dud Avacado. I saw it praised somewhere recently and because of the title and the setting decided to give it a go.

Jane said...

Ah, Mockingbird. I read it somewhat recently, too. Quite the book--and she never wrote another. It's the one book she had in her!

It's interesting how one notices different aspects of books at different points in one's life . . .

I am also now reading a silly book, a mystery that includes a fictional version of the Bronte family! But it's fun.

T-Mom said...

I just finished Christopher Tolkien's study of his father's works (9 volumes, or 10, I forget), and if you're a writer it's pretty fascinating, esp. the volumes that deal with the writing of LoTR. Now I'm on a Civil War kick and reading books about Grant, Sherman, and Lee.