Posted in Reading, Teaching

Front Porch Reading at Topsail Island, Volume II

Topsail Island (2011)

The two books that I need to read before the beginning of the semester didn’t go into the suitcase.  I almost packed them, but then I stopped myself. It was our vacation, after all. So I chose, instead, a couple from the stack on the nightstand: The Best American Non-Required Reading 2011—more on that beach-appropriate reading in another blog entry to come—and  Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

Bossypants (2011)

Even though I read Bossypants purely for pleasure, I found myself making notes on a passage that I’ll refer to when I teach oral communication in my Focused Inquiry classes this fall. In a section of the book titled “The Rules of Improvisation that will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat,*” Tina Fey discusses the importance of speaking in statements “instead of apologetic questions”:

No one wants to go to a doctor who says, ‘I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?’ Make statements with your actions and your voice (85).

That’s valuable advice for all of us who strive to improve our public speaking, and Fey’s laugh-out-loud example teaches us more succinctly and effectively than volumes of oral communication theory.

Posted in Reading

Front Porch Reading at Topsail Island

On vacation at Topsail Island, June 4 – 8, I read Ashes to Water, the July-August selection for Richmond’s city-wide book club sponsored by River City Reads and Chop Suey Books. Whenever I read a mystery–which I don’t often do–I’m impressed by the intricacies of plot. What appealed to me more than the plot of Ashes to Water, though, was the novel’s sense of place. Like Irene Ziegler‘s short story collection Rules of the Lake, the novel’s prequel, Ashes to Water presents in vivid detail central Florida’s lake  country with its “grove[s] of knotty cypress knees” (274). I look forward to hearing Ziegler read from Ashes to Water on August 18.