Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Salon: September what?

Good morning, y'all! Please pardon my unintended absence from blogging. Perhaps next year I'll remember to plan to take the first two weeks of classes off blogging, as I can't seem to find time to sit down and write when the semester first begins. Here's what I've been up to lately:

I'm teaching a new class this semester, a first-year seminar called Real Genius. I always love teaching a course for the first time, but it is so much more work. We're reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and I'm really enjoying revisiting it. I opted not to re-read it over the summer (I read it soon after it came out in 2008) and instead read along with my students to keep it fresh. For our next unit, I'm turning control over to the students. They'll each be picking a past winner of the MacArthur "genius grant," selecting texts by and/or about their genius, and leading a class discussion. I'm utterly fascinated by the genius grants and the amazing work of those who receive them, and I'm really excited to see which geniuses they pick to study (the 2013 grants will be announced September 23!)

Despite my lack of blogging, I have actually been reading (and listening) a fair amount. I'm currently reading The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and listening to Let Me Go, the sixth mystery in Chelsea Cain's Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series. I've been having another spell of "reading what I want to when I want to," and it's a nice reminder to take a step back, and not say yes to as many new-to-me-author pitches. I love discovering new authors and reading new releases, but I don't spend enough time reading the entire backlists of authors whose work I've enjoyed. After recently loving Sharp Objects (review coming soon) even more than Gone Girl, which I read last summer and promptly vowed to read Gillian Flynn's two earlier novels soon. I'm hoping to find a way to finally make backlist a reading priority again. More than anything, however, I want to make reading less stressful. I want fewer definite commitments and more freedom to pick up whatever is calling to me at that moment.

Lead singer BJ Barham
singing my favorite song,
"City Lights" solo
and acoustically. 
My birthday was a few weeks ago (always right around the start of the semester--fun!), and I treated myself to a solo road trip to Nashville to see American Aquarium, who are now officially my favorite band. It was a fabulous concert, and I relished the time driving across the country, eating with friends and family, lounging by the pool, going to the Grand Ole Opry, and generally taking three days to just do what I wanted to do. I felt more centered and ready for the semester than I ever have.

After seeing Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, and Clare Bowen perform at the Grand Ole Opry, I decided to give Nashville another try, and I'm loving it. I broke up with it too early into its season last year, and all of the qualms I had then have been alleviated. I only have two episodes left, and then I'll be counting the days until season 2 premieres.

It's no secret I abhor the hot weather, and after a relatively mild summer, we are in the middle of another brutal heat wave. I happened to wake up early enough to enjoy some reading and coffee time on the deck this morning, but if this heat doesn't break soon, I may go a little more crazy. With classes in full swing and pumpkin flavored everything popping up, I long for days without air conditioning, having all the windows open, and wearing a hoodie when outside after dark. Fingers crossed autumn makes an appearance in central Iowa soon.

Coming up on the blog
Lots! I have an embarrassing number of posts half-written. There are thirteen (!) books to share my thoughts on, plus nine films and a handful of television shows.

Now tell me: what have y'all been up to?

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  1. Glad to hear your reading has been going well. And here's to hoping the too-hot weather comes to and end soon!

  2. I want to sign up for your class!! I'm obsessed with MacArthur grant too. I hope you keep up posted about your class. That would be a fantastic reading challenge. *hint hint* I'm right there with you on autumn. Fingers crossed it comes soon. Have a great week.

  3. The MacArthur is mentioned in Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Have you read it? I just listened to the audiobook recently. We're having cool but pleasant weather, not quite fall weather yet! I'm going to sit outside and read for a bit this afternoon before it's too late (The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner).

  4. Sounds like you are off to a great start with the new school years. Outliers was a first year seminar book at our school a few years back as well. I liked it when I read it. I have lots of reviews to catch up on as well....have a good week.

  5. Nashville was one of my favorite new shows last year, but we kind of missed the season finale due to some sort of DVR failure. Must track it down before the next season starts!

  6. You have so much going on, but it sounds like it's all great stuff! Looking forward to reading more and finding out which books you've loved lately. :)

  7. Good luck with the class!! The beginning of the school year is always a bit of challenge but a new class.. wow! You will do great with it.

  8. I've actually been thinking of trying to get back into blogging (I miss it!) but now I'm reading everywhere that its just not the same and lots of people are leaving? Anyway, I've been wanting to read a Malcolm Gladwell book for a while... Which would you recommend first? We are going on vaca soon internationally and I have been spending a lot of time putting together the perfect reading list!! LOL


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