According to Terry Jensen, English teacher at Valley, Book Affair was someone else's brainchild, but Terry soon took over and has chaired the annual event ever since.The purpose was to celebrate READING for LIFE and READING for PLEASURE. Organizers want students to know that reading remains a part of people's lives beyond formal schooling.
Initially, administrators and teachers, staff members and some students shared their favorite books with students. More recently, however, Terry expanded the program to feature state and community leaders as well as published authors. A few years ago, Sharon Jensen, former assistant principal at Valley, suggested a book give-away to further motivate students to read the featured books. Using a portion of Trustland funds, Valley gives away scores of favorite titles!
This year's presenters ranged from a school board member to a manager of the King's English Book store. Here are some book picks and presenter pix to share with you.
Principal of Valley High School, Don Link, honored J.D. Salinger by talking about the first time he read Catcher in the Rye - the quintessential and controversial "coming of age" story. As Salinger passed away in January, this was especially appropriate. Mr. Link also recommended Salinger's Nine Stories, a collection of short stories.
The 4 Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Miguel Ruiz. The book suggests 4 ways of handling one's self in order to achieve personal freedom. They are as follows:
- Be impeccable with your word. (Spot on) (positive)
- Don't take anything personally - what people do is NOT because of you.
- Don't make assumptions about others.
- Always do your best - no MORE and no LESS.
- Little Bee
- Adoration of Jenna Fox (NOT Faux as I originally spelled it!)
- Things Fall Apart
- Th1rteen R3asons Why
- Reluctant Fundamentalist
- Sarah's Key
- Never Let Me Go
- Beyond the Sky and Earth
- Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
- No Shortcuts to the Top
- 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
- Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Sara Zarr usually presents at B.A., but could not this year. Instead, she recommended Ann Dee Willis and Emily Wing Smith as presenters. Both young authors held the teens' attention even at the very end of the day as they talked about the influence of their favorite authors on their writing.
Ann Dee to dedicate a summer to writing and finishing her first book,This is What I Did. Ann Dee's first novel "received three starred reviews and was listed on Voice of Youth Advocates - 2007 Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers List, American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults for 2007 and was a 2008 International Reading Association honor book. Her second book, Everything is Fine was released March 2009. Kirkus described the book as 'Impressionistic, elliptical and full of feeling' and VOYA (starred review) called it 'a story so painful you want to read it with your eyes closed. It is a stunning novel.'”
Emily Wing Smith published her first YA novel, The Way He Lived, in 2007, and her second book is due out soon. The author quoted her favorite author M.E. Kerr's observation that writing helps young adults work through tough experiences and get back to where they want and need to be. Loosely based upon an incident that happened during her high school years, Emily's novel revolves around peers' perceptions of a young many who died one summer. Seen as a martyr by some and self-destructive by others, the protagonist is all and none of what others think of him.
"The Way He Lived received accolades including a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. It was also winner of the Utah Book Award in Young Adult Fiction. Her next YA novel, Back when You Were Easier to Love, will be released from Dutton (Penguin) early next year."
Kay Erickson and Mark Murphy, faculty members at Valley, wrapped up Book Affair by promoting their favorites: The Greatest Generation, a book Kay recommends because her dad was a WWII vet who never talked about the war. Magnificent Obsession, written by Lloyd C. Douglas and published in 1929, has been been his favorite job for 40 years. The classic nspired him to be of service to others, and Douglas' novel also touched my life some 35 years ago when I read it. It's one whose message I will never forget.
This summer my reading goal is to consume as many books by Utah authors as I can. They include Ann Dee's and Emily's, as well as Carol Lynch Williams' book The Chosen. I recently finished Jessica Day George's fairytale-fantasy Princess of the Midnight Ball, and I am anxious to start Bree DeSpain's The Dark Divine.
Oh, and I won't let summer end until I read Ann Cannon's The Loser's Guide to Life and Love and The Chihuahua Chase!