27/06/2010

MY BLOGGER BUDDIES - TALKING WITH BECKY

Becky lives and works in Utah but,  whenever she's on holidays,  she stays in Hawaii with her mother. She is a teacher of English literature, like me. She also loves reading, period movies and blogging  just like me. I couldn't resist from asking her to be one of My Blogger Buddies guests. Meet her.

 Let’s start with something about yourself and your life. And, please, don’t forget to tell us  what spending one's own holidays in such a wonderful exotic place like Hawaii is
During the school year, I actually live in Utah (on the mainland), but during the summer and Christmas, I stay in Hawaii with my mother. My mother lives in a small town on the island of Oahu, which is a beautiful place for a tired school teacher to escape to! I grew up in Idaho, very much a western farm girl, but was a weirdo (according to my dad and many in his family) because I liked to read so much. I went on to college and grad school, and would have kept going, but realized that I enjoyed teaching high school. When I’m not teaching, I like to read, cook, travel, and now blog!

We actually live in so different distant countries! But we share much, don’t we? What about teaching ? And teaching English literature? Do you like it or would you rather do something else?
Yes, we do share a lot. Teachers share a language that is universal! I think fatigue being the top of that list. (Ha, ha!) I really love teaching English, especially now that I get a chance to really dive into literature with my AP Literature students (AP stands for Advanced Placement), and I’m really looking forward to teaching a Popular Fiction class in the fall. To be honest, I had intended to go on and get my PhD in English, Cultural Studies, but only because I’m so crazy about what we read and study. I think that I’m well suited for high school though, and might reconsider the PhD somewhere down the road, but just not now.

What are best and worst moments in your (our) job?
My best moment was last year when I heard my students had a 74% pass rate on the AP exam. Becuase we had such a poor pass rate at my school, as low as 30%, I had taken on a huge challenge when I accepted to teach the AP Literature classes. I really just wanted the students to have confidence that they could pass, and a good track record is one big way of doing that. With one really good year under my belt, I have high hopes that this year that just concluded will have a great pass rate as well. We’ll see in July!

As for the worst moment? That’s tough. I can’t think of a truly “worst” as being one moment, but can say that during my first year of teaching, I had a burly young man cheat on a vocabulary quiz one time. When he saw that he got a zero because he cheated, he stood up in front of the class and said, “F--- you, Ms. R! F--- you.” The students in the class swung around to look at me with mouths wide open. In my characteristic, sarcastic nature, I simply shuddered and went, “No thank you. Ick.” The class immediately started saying things like, “Oh, snap!” “Dude, you got burned,” etc. He just looked at me confused, so I said, “See. You need to understand what words mean so you don’t make stupid mistakes like that one again. I guess you might just need English?” Now, I didn’t do it to be popular with them, but I did want to diffuse the tension immediately, and downplay what was happening so I could calm him down, and get back to business. The burly boy went down to the office, later apologized to me, and I seemed to have him and my other students with me from that point on. I’m not saying my response was textbook, by any means, but it was honest and in the moment.

You are an avid reader and you often reflect on reading on your blog. What kind of reader are you and what’s reading to you?
I think I’m such an eclectic reader! Although I love ethnic literature and contemporary fiction, I am usually so frazzled that I just want a fast, fun, and engaging escape read. I get bored VERY easily, so am not really one to sit down and read a book in one sitting. I love to read at night, or while soaking in a hot bath (which I absolutely can not do in Hawaii...so I substitute the bath with a beach).

Have you read something recently, you would warmly recommend?
Actually, I really loved Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. I read it over Christmas, and I’m still thinking about it! I also have to say, that as a Jane Austen fan, I really love Sharon Lathan’s Pride and Prejudice novels. I’m not always so thrilled with Austen knock offs, but fell in love with the romantic, honest, adult relationship portrayed. Everyone has their own opinion on the Jane Austen reprisal, and some are better than others, but I love the voice and style of Lathan’s books.

Which is, instead , among your past reads the one you most love re-leafing through from time to time?
Oh, I love rereading! In fact, I just wrote a post on this very thing. I have a group of books I’ll reread every year, or skim through. I recently reread A Hopeless Romantic, Gone With the Wind, scenes from God of Small Things, and of course, the Harry Potter novels, which I’m reading right now.

On my TBR list right now, I have Catching Fire (the second in the Hunger Games trilogy), more in the Sookie Stackhouse vampire series, The Dead Tossed Waves (follow up to The Forest of Hands and Teeth), the final book in the Luxe series, and the Harry Potter novels. As you can see, most of what I have to read are books I couldn’t fit in during the school year!


We mentioned your blog and blogging is what made us meet. When and why did you start and what did it change in your real life?
I stated One Literature Nut as a place for a couple of friends and I to read and discuss books that would help me prepare to take the GRE Subject Test in English. When I realized I liked teaching high school, I kept posting, sharing books with friends who wanted suggestions, and soon found a community of book bloggers in Utah that really helped me realize that what I was doing was writing a book blog. How was I to know? It sounds silly, but I was oblivious of readers, reviewing for publishers, etc.


As for changing in my real life, am I bad if I say it hasn’t much? I was constantly asked for book recommendations, and I still get those questions but have a place to lead people to for ideas. In a more realisitc sense, in my real life my blog allowed me to read and discuss books that I wouldn’t at school. I share the books I read with my students, but the blog allows me to talk about them.

 What are the pros and cons of blogging according to you?

The pros are the community of great people you meet, as well as their suggestions. I love that friendship, and I’ve come to trust the taste of so many, such as yourself!

I have to say that the cons come from getting too “involved” in everything. That sounds the opposite of what you would say to someone, but it’s been my experience that the more you care about other bloggers popularity, giveaways, etc., the more you move away from what you really wanted to do in your blog in the first place.

From your experience, what do you think the good recipe for a good blogger should be?
Wow. I don’t even know if I’m qualified to answer this! Honestly, the best bloggers are those who love what they are writing about, and have something uniquely their own that shines through on their blog. That unique thing could simply be their writing style and voice, their genre choices, or their creativity in pulling the community together. I love the blogs where the writer comes shining through and I feel like I know what they like and care about.

Apart from reading , teaching and blogging we also share a certain interest for period films. Have you got any very special ones? What’s on your TBS list, instead?


Well North and South is top of my list! I also love all the Jane Austen films, with a special love for Pride and Prejudice, followed very closely by Persuasion. I loved the newest film, Young Victoria, and the newest Tess of the D’Urbervilles put out by the BBC. One last bunch of films I could watch a million times, crazy enough, are the house series put out by BBC and PBS. If you haven’t seen Manor House or Regency House Party, then you really must. Yes, they are reality television programs, but they are so fascinating to watch.

Let’s play at … dreaming! If you might live anywhere else in the world, where would you like to be? And if you had the chance to choose another job, what would you do instead of teaching?
This is SO easy! I would live in Greece, preferably on a Greek island (Santorini or Rhodes would be delightful). I’ve yet to visit Italy though, so I might want to hold off on the final judgment on that though, right?
As for another job, that is hard. I think that being a professional book reviewer/critic would be great. You would still get to read great books, and also publish reviews in print journalism. I’d also like to try out being a college English professor. I’m not sure it’s the type of job that you just “try out” though!

 Before we say goodbye and go back to our summer duties, Becky, is there any question you would like to ask our readers? Any discussion you’d like to propose to commenters?
Well, as you can see, I’m a bit of a wordy girl. How much does a long review or blog post detract from a person reading them? I don’t know that I can change my style, and I really respect the other bloggers who also write fairly chunky posts, and find their posts thoughtful and provoking, but I am curious to know other people’s opinions on this. Do you steer away from reading long posts?

I usually read a post, long or short as it is, if I'm interested in its subject matter, if I'm intrigued by its title or by the pictures in it. So, I'm not steered away from reading long ones.  Thanks, Becky,  for being my guest. Enjoy your holidays and your summer reads. Till very soon on my or your blog!

4 comments:

Becky said...

Thanks for letting me be your Blogger Buddy for today. This turned out really nice! :) I'm off to link it up on my blog.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Thank you, Becky! I'm glad you like the result!
MG

thatfondimpossibility said...

Hello! As a book blogger who loves Richard Armitage, I really enjoyed this blog. I've linked to your site on my own homepage. Let me know if you'd rather I didn't do so, and I an remove said link.

Until then, ciao!

:-)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@thatfondimpossibility
I'm just glad and flattered! Welcome on Fly High, then!
Come back soon
MG