Thursday, June 17, 2010

health, and science, and history...oh my

Is it terrible to admit how much I sometimes resent how much reading I have to do for homeschooling? Terrible or not, I do. And you know, it's usually not even the subject matter that bothers me--it's more that "I must read it" feeling.

Anyway, I read 24 pages in Encyclopedia of the Human Body by Richard Walker. It's one of those big DK books. I don't even have it on one of my reading lists at the side there because I've never had any intention of reading the entire thing. It's more of a "read the relevent sections" sort of thing. Up today--the digestive system, nutrition, and metabolism. Woohoo. Okay, Debi--shape up here! You're making it sound like you hate this book. And really I don't hate it at all. It's extremely informative and it has great photos and illustrations and diagrams. I'm just so ready to be done with school, so ready to read something JUST FOR FUN, that it sort of puts a damper on talk of pyloric sphincters and pancreatic enzymes and energy balance.

Next, I read an essay in The Biodiversity Crisis: Losing What Counts. I've been working my way through this book for the past couple months. And I've really been enjoying it. You know, in that way you "enjoy" something that breaks your heart. Truthfully, I've found some essays more interesting than others, but that's to be expected. And I'm sure others would list them differently in order of "interest level" than I did. Again to be expected. But there's not one that doesn't have something important to say. The one I read today, "Thompson's Ice Corps" by Mark Bowen...not one of my favorites, but short at only five pages. But in that cool manner of coincidences that I love, it turned out to be an extremely relevant one--it's about the evidence of global climate change being gathered through ice cores. And global climate change is precisely the topic that Annie and I have ourselves immersed in for environmental science right now so we've been doing other reading and watching of videos that have talked about ice cores as well. So why didn't I enjoy this article more? Well, it has to do with my aversion to chemistry. ;)  Lots of talk of oxygen isotopes that glazed my eyes over--I found myself having to read a couple of really long paragraphs over several times as my attention wandered.

Finally, I read the first 29 pages of chapter 7, "An Uneasy Peace: 1946-1952," from The Century. I'm actually reading this for school, too, but I don't have those feelings of resentment when it comes to this book. It's just so darn good! I really do enjoy reading this book so much. As we go through the years of U.S. history, through nonfiction texts and through literature from and about the times and through documentaries and dramatic movies and even through a few audio sources (like listening to a few of FDR's Fireside Chats), I think we get a pretty broad perspective of the events of this nation. And we usually finish up each little chunk of time by reading the corresponding chapter in this book. Yes, it covers information we've already covered from all these other sources, but it brings something special to the overall picture as well. One of the most wonderful things about this book is the personal accounts. Not of the "big players" in history, but of the everyday people who lived through it, written in their own words. Such a wonderful broad variety of people, with a wonderful broad variety of experiences. I got tears in my eyes a few times during these 29 pages.

"I think that my return home was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life." This was from the story of seaman who had been captured and spent three years in a Japanese labor camp. Of course, he was glad that the war had ended and that he'd been freed. But he was given no help afterward, nothing to help him make sense of what he'd been through or how to deal with the outside world again. He was simply shipped home, given a cursory physical exam, a new uniform, his back pay, and sent him on his way.

And there was the story of the man who fought for this country in Europe, won two purple hearts, and then came home to a nation that told him he couldn't sit in the front of a bus or downstairs at a movie theater. Not only enough to make you cry, but enough to make you sick to your stomach as well. But he went on to tell how he helped form a black veterans' organization, and talked about some of things they were able to do to help these abandoned veterans.

So yes, they're stories of ordinary people living their lives. But are any of us "ordinary"? I think that's what I love most about this book--without even trying, it shows that we all have stories worth telling.

I had hoped to get some Harry Potter read last night when I went to bed, but instead I just stuck with The Century. Overall, I guess I didn't get in an overwhelming amount of pages for a day. Oh well. And I'm sure it's evident that my favorite reading of the day was definitely The Century.

And in the dangerous world of blog-reading, this has been added to my wish list:

*Animythical Tales by Sarah Totton (thanks to Chris's review)

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