OH HEY GUYS. Before I get to Top Ten Tuesday this week, I just need to share some excitement. I just found out I won a copy of Diane Setterfield’s new novel, Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story through Goodreads “First Reads” contest. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago when I was looking up the book to add to my shelf, and I never imagined I would win one of the 20 available copies.

I might have even jumped up and down in the department kitchen while making my lunch.

Luckily, no one saw me.

If you are interested in checking out some of their current giveaways, you can do so by clicking here.

Thanks for reading about my geek out. Now on to. . .

This week’s prompt is recommendations, and I’m going to split this into two lists. First: Five Books I’d Recommend to high school girls and new adults.

5. Uglies (and PrettiesSpecials, and Extras) by Scott Westerfeld. I read this book as a junior in high school and I still love it. It’ s one of those stories that we need to tell to remind ourselves that some things are not worth the hype. There are some excellent messages in this series about beauty, self-acceptance, independence, and survival.

4. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. This is maybe a little intense for some high school students, but the way Atwood depicts female relationships is just so perfect. Tony, Charis, and Roz may not be perfect role models, but they showcase a variety of strong characters that most women will be able to relate to.

3. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki. This is another book I wish I had read sooner. It is startling and a bit unsettling, but is made me think a lot about representation, the food industry, and the way that our beliefs and identities can and are manipulated by other people, often for negative purposes.

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Sure to be a tear-jerker, Pausch’s last lecture reminds us why we need to live life to the fullest and appreciate all that we have.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Sorry, she’s just gotta have two shout-outs on my list! The Handmaid’s Tale is so important for women readers, and I wish I had read this book sooner than I did. Atwood makes us pause to think, to consider questions of rights, censorship, and many of the daily activities that we take for granted. This is what happens when many beliefs are pushed to their extremes. Young women should read this if only to help them appreciate the world we live in and understand why we need to work to better it for men and women alike.

And Second: Five Texts I’d Recommend to someone teaching composition. Because I just can’t limit myself to books here.

5. Reflection in the Writing Classroom by Kathleen Blake Yancey. Yancey’s book was foundational for me as an instructor and a scholar. It provides ideas and strategies for using reflection to help teach writing at various points in the writing process.

4. Teaching Writing in High School and College: Conversations and Collaborations. Edited by Thomas C. Thompson. It’s very easy for college instructors to be unaware of the challenges of teaching high school, and vice versa. Although this book is kind of dated now (it was published in 2002, and I’m sure there are a lot of new concerns), the authors of individual chapters provide important perspectives that can help aid college instructors and high school teachers alike.

3. College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction by Anne Beaufort. I waited too long in my academic career to read this. It should be required reading for all first-year composition instructors. It challenged some of my own teaching methods and helped me to think about new approaches to teaching and researching writing.

2. “Teaching About Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Invisioning ‘First-Year-Composition’ as ‘Introduction to Writing Studies'” by Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle. Publish in College Composition and Communication in 2007. Composition scholars and researchers report on some of the data they collected while teaching a new curriculum in first-year-composition courses. This article was fairly controversial (and the topic, really, still is), but was formative for me as an instructor and scholar.

1. Agents of Integration: Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act by Rebecca Nowacek. This book reassured me that I was, in fact, where I needed to be. Although not always specifically about writing or composition, Nowacek follows honors students and professors in linked courses. As a writing instructor, this book is helpful in considering the institutional context of a particular writing class and thinking about how our own teaching of composition fits in with other courses at the university.

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