“This would make a great topic for my next blog post.” (Credit)
I’m going to continue to push you toward using your blog for the preparation work before you begin drafting your Book Review Essay (the requirements for which can now be found on Canvas here and here). So, for your three posts this week, here are two assignments and a suggestion:
- Assignment One: I’d like you to use at least one of your posts this week to write some initial thoughts about your book. I know people are in different places. Don’t let that deter you. Even if you’re not as far as you “should” be, even if you’re only far enough to give some basic first impressions, do what you can. But if you’re halfway through, you can probably start to shape how you want to talk about this book when you’re drafting the real essay.
- Assignment Two: Find another outside source about the same topic. Could be anything: a column from a newspaper, a report from a nonprofit organization, a video from YouTube… Just be mindful (as always) of what readers will think, and be ready to answer the questions before they’re asked: “Where did this come from? Who made/wrote it? Why should I trust it?”
- Suggestion: Do Assignment Two twice, so that you’re even further ahead on developing and articulating your thoughts about the topic of your eventual essay.
PS — Don’t forget, you should still use images/links/etc. in these posts!
I hope you’ve been making good headway on your nonfiction books in the past several days. So far, I’ve asked you to analyze an existing book review essay, and to think about how the author gives the reader context early on. Now I’d like you to start looking for some additional sources that you might eventually use in the essay you’ll write.
Today, your assignment is to find two sources that could be used in that way.
My suggestions for how you might go about this:
- Keep track of the questions that occur to you while you’re reading. Not the questions about vocabulary, but those that could be answered through a little further research. Then go looking for articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and other stuff that will help you answer those questions.
- Look for interviews with, or articles about, your author. There, you’ll almost surely find some really useful or interesting tidbits that may prove useful when you’re drafting.
- Take a look at websites and magazines whose topics align with that of your book. Read around on the site. Look for connections with the book you’re reading. This will make it easier to tie your review to current public conversations.
There are more options than just those, of course. And once again, I encourage you to use your blog posts this week to explore some of these articles, or ideas directly from your book!
At this point, you should have your nonfiction book that you’re going to review.
- Is there an author’s note? If so, what important information (perhaps about her/his process) does the author tell you there?
- In the introduction or first chapter, how does the author make a case for the relevance of her/his subject?
- What context does the author tell us we need to understand in order to make sense of her/his subject?
As we’ve been talking about, you’re going to write a book review essay that follows the basic conventions of the genre. My hope is that you’re already well on your way to getting a nonfiction book, published either this year or last, about a topic that interests you.
To get a sense of the genre you’ll be writing in, and its conventions, you’re going to spend some time analyzing a book review essay. Choose one of these essays from The New York Review of Books linked below. I will provide some questions for you on the Smart Board.
Remember that the goal here is for you to gain an understanding of this kind of essay, not to get the “right” answers to the questions I’m asking. Here are the essays:
The Women at the Top, by Marcia Angell (2014)
Kicked Out in America!, by Jason DeParle (2016)
The Disaster of Richard Nixon, by Robert G. Kaiser (2016)
Spiders tune their webs like guitar strings. Very short video; worth the click.
This upcoming Macbeth movie looks potentially pretty cool.
Sounds like David Foster Wallace’s essay “Consider the Lobster” caused more than a couple of arguments with his editor.
Via Laughing Squid, enjoy this time-lapse of a monarch caterpillar’s metamorphosis.
For later use, Ken Parille’s blog post about Chris Ware’s New Yorker cover from the June 22, 2015 issue.