Assigned Reading, Book Recommendations, Reading

Final Grade on My Fall Term “Assigned Reading”

Back in September, I wrote a post about how I sometimes missed being in school and how, though my reading life has been thriving more lately than it ever has before in my adult life, I still often feel like the majority of my reads are “fluff” reads—not the deep stuff of substance and heft that make much more impact on me long-term, like much of what I read during college did.

So I did what any self-respecting former English teacher would do–I assigned myself books to read, three each “term” over the course of the next school year.

And I assigned each book a “percentage”—how much it would impact my term’s “final grade” at the end, if you will.

For a quick recap (in case you don’t want to go back to visit that original post), each of the three books fell into one of the following categories:

  • a “heavy hitter” (aka, a book most people would agree is a “classic”)
  • a young adult award winner, or “teen star” (I used the Newbery awards as a guide)
  • a “power boost” book (one that was meant to stimulate personal growth in some way)

My “Fall Term” ended on Saturday 11/25, so I figured I’d best go all teacher-ish and give myself an assigned grade already.

The Grading Breakdown (from original post):

* “hard hitter” book – 40% of course grade

* “teen star” book – 30% of grade

* “power boost” book– 30% of grade

The following were opportunities for extra credit:

* anything off another recommended reading list (+10% to grade)

* poetry, full book (+10% to grade)

* parenting books (+ 5% to grade)

* any book out of my reading comfort zone (+ 5% to grade)

***Note: You’ll notice the titles below are affiliate links if you click on them, which help support To Love and To Learn. If you’re looking for some good Christmas gift ideas, Echo would be a great choice for an astute middle-grade reader who can handle a more difficult story structure (and a longer book) or for any older teen or adult who loves a good (whimsical) historical fiction book (and I’ve heard the audiobook is phenomenal–and you can get two free audiobooks with a 30-day free trial of Audible if your library doesn’t have it). And Grit would be a fantastic title to give just about anyone who is at all interested in the business of self-improvement, whether that be in his/her personal OR professional life!

How I Grade My Own "Assigned Reading"

Assessment Breakdown of Fall Term Reading

  1. “Heavy Hitter” – 1984 by George Orwell

    • Total Number of Pages: 298
    • Number of Pages Completed by Term End: 226 (though book was completed by the time this post was published!)
    • Percentage of Pages Completed: 76%
    • Rating Awarded on Goodreads: 4 Stars
    • Reasons for Rating Given:
      • The book, written in 1948 about a time in the not-too-distant future, bears chilling resemblance to certain features of modern-day society. Though I’d heard of the term “Big Brother” (used in the book) and knew roughly what it referred to, it was still satisfying to finally get the full scope of what this classic covers. There were numerous times that I got goosebumps as I read passage after passage that reminded me of the ubiquitous nature of screens and the way that so much is available online about most people and the 24/7 nature of social media today…all these things bear resemblance to features of the fictional world of the book, and it’s necessary to sometimes step back and see it all from a larger vantage point.
      • The ending, though I knew it to be depressing because of how mad my husband got after finishing the book, was still…well, depressing. While I understood WHY the book ended as it did and agree that it probably was the most powerful way to end things, I still didn’t exactly *like* it.
      • Also, the political discourse found near the end (in the “secret book”), while fascinating and containing some of the strongest points of the novel, did slow down the plot and the reading of the book quite a lot.
  2. “Teen Star” – Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

    • Total Number of Pages: 592
    • Number of Pages Completed by Term End: 592
    • Percentage of Pages Completed: 100%
    • Rating Awarded on Goodreads: 4.5 Stars
    • Reasons for Rating Given:
      • Braided stories–where multiple “strands” of the story follow different characters and then all come together at the end–are notoriously hard to pull off, but this one was superbly done. I was worried when I started the second main strand that I wouldn’t like the second set of characters as much as the first, but I needn’t have worried—all three storylines are memorable and heart-tugging, and I’m always a sucker for a good happy ending, though this one was maybe just a little bit *too* tidy.
      • I’ve been reading a lot of WWII books over the past year or two, so I felt a twinge of disappointment that the story started at that same time period, though I was excited to see that it covered subsequent time periods in the second and third strands.
      • The only real reason this one wasn’t given 5 stars is because for me to award a book 5 stars, I have to be super eager to read the book again, or at least visit parts of it. Though I am excited to check this one out on audio from the library (because I’ve heard it’s one of the best audiobooks ever done to date), I’m not completely anxious about it needing to come in anytime soon.
  3. “Power Boost” – Grit by Angela Duckworth

    • Total Number of Pages: 352
    • Number of Pages Completed by Term End: 352
    • Percentage of Pages Completed: 100%
    • Rating Awarded on Goodreads: 4.5 Stars
    • Reasons for Rating Given:
      • This book, which details the research Duckworth has undergone over decades of how the ability to persevere at a task and keep actively reflecting on how to improve at that task might be a much stronger predictor of success than talent or innate ability, had so many sections I wanted to highlight that my book is full of a LOT of yellow. This book is enormously hopeful for anyone wanting to start out on a skill or task (or to continue working on a skill or task) that might not seem to come “naturally,” and it comes with a few very specific suggestions of what you need to do in order to go about achieving greater mastery at any skill set. There are numerous real-life examples in this one to inspire and direct your own journey toward progress, and I ALWAYS left off reading this one feeling like I could just go out and conquer the world (figuratively, of course—I have no desire to literally do so.)
      • Near the end, some of the examples and sections seemed a bit repetitive of earlier material in the book, though the new examples were still usually fun to read and draw comparisons from.
  4. Extra Credit Opportunities

    • Total Number of Other Books Read During Term: 10
    • Number of Books Falling Under Extra Credit Categories: 2 (though I’m only counting one because the other one was so “fluffy”–Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack–that I couldn’t count it in good conscience, though it was definitely out of my usual reading comfort zone!)
    • Title of Extra Credit Book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    • Category of Extra Credit Title Fulfills: Anything Off a Recommended Reading List (found on my 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list)
    • Extra Credit Percentage Awarded: +10%
    • Review: Found in this post

Final Grade Awarded for Fall 2017 Term: A (100.4%)

  • (30.4% HH + 30% TS + 30% PB + 10% EC)

And, now that Winter Term is already in full swing, here are the next three books waiting in the wings for me:

*HH – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

*TS – The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

*PB – The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

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