What’s a Book For? By Garn Press Author Rick Meyer
Rick Meyer has been a writer for as long as he can remember. He loves to play with language in ways that inspire readers to consider ideas that he thinks are neglected. Rick typically does this through his teaching at the University of New Mexico or in the professional articles and books that he writes. He is the author of Flush: The Exaggerated Memoir of a Fourth Grade Scaredy-Cat Super-Hero on sale on Amazon, 20% off, $12.75.
What’s a Book for? Here are some things to consider when planning for conversations.
My copy of Grand Conversations (Peterson & Eeds, 1990) is very well worn. The book flops open to my favorite parts just like any book (and teaching resource) that we come to love deeply, value as teachers, and rely upon to influence our students’ thinking. I hadn’t heard of book clubs when I first read Grand Conversations, but now it seems that everyone I know is in a book club. My wife’s book club reads some of the greatest new fiction and nonfiction they can locate. When I ask her how her group’s meeting went on one particular evening, she answers, “We did what we always do. Some of us read the book. Some didn’t. We order wine and some tasty appetizers. We talk a little about the book and then we talk about our kids, our jobs, our spouses, our joys, and our worries.”
“What about the book?” I ask.
She grins. “We’re usually done with the book really fast and then we get into getting caught up with each other. By the time we finish that, we all have to leave—but not until someone suggests the next book!”
Her book serves a few purposes. First, since she has to finish it within a month, it serves as an excuse to leave other things behind and just read. That’s a really good purpose. It also serves as a very legitimate reason to be social. That, too, is a fine purpose for a book. Sadly, it also serves to remind all the members of the group that they have tight schedules with no time to discuss a book, and because of that, the social part takes over.
What about in school? It seems that between NCLB and the CCSS, books have been repurposed to serve as measures of fluency, vocabulary, text-based (closely read) comprehension, and even as a place to study phonics. I’ve just finished my memoir that I can imagine 9 year olds through 99 year olds reading. Actually, it’s an exaggerated memoir because I’m just not sure if I’m recalling all these events with objective clarity, but my recollections make me who I am and that’s who and what I present in the book. Engaging in a grand conversation about my book would be the biggest compliment that any reader could offer. A grand conversation is not a check of any skills, it’s a very active discussion about this question: “What do you think?”
Readers of my book—or any book—will understand the story. And if they don’t, they can certainly ask another reader what they think something means. I didn’t write the story to teach some reading skill. Readers will learn those in spite of my writing. I wrote the book to see what others think and with the hope that they’ll talk to each other about my life during the summer when I was nine years old. When I dare to cross a forbidden street, what do you think? When I think back about the hugeness of my fourth grade teacher’s rear end, what do you think? When I’m beaten up because I’m Jewish, lie to my parents, try to build a robot, or climb a tree to hide, what do you think? When readers engage in conversations about books, those books serve to make them better people, thoughtful people, enraged people, and people provoked to engage in some action. That’s a grand conversation. It’s the real reason for a book.
Learn more about Flush: The exaggerated memoir of a fourth grade scaredy-cat super-hero here. If you want to learn the truth about me as a reader, have a read of the interview with me here. Rick Meyer has been a writer since he could talk. He’s a professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, a husband, father, and grandfather. He wants to know what you think.
Peterson, R., & Eeds, M. (1990). Grand conversations: Literature groups in action. New York: Scholastic.
Flush: The Exaggerated Memoir of a Fourth Grade Scaredy-Cat Super-Hero
Author: Rick Meyer
Book: Flush: The Exaggerated Memoir of a Fourth Grade Scaredy-Cat Super-Hero
Garn Press (114 pp.)
$24.95 hardcover, $12.75 paperback, $9.99 e-book. Ebook $2.99 through Kindle Matchbook Program
Paperback & Hardcover Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound (local bookstore)
EBook Available: Amazon
About the Book
When fourth grade ends, Ricky is on his own for the summer because his parents have jobs and his sisters are, well, they’re sisters so he’s not interested in them. The summer begins on a high note as he begins gathering items left at people’s curbsides, things like lawn mowers, baby strollers, old lamps, and appliances.
His plans to build a vehicle go well, and then he starts building a robot. But his plans are interrupted as he rides around the neighborhood one morning and gets jumped by Mike. Mike beats up Ricky, leaving him bloody and his bike in ruins. Fearing his father’s reaction to the wrecked bike and his mother’s reaction to his torn and bloody clothing, Ricky hides both and secretly works on repairing his bike.
His relationship with his father is confusing for Ricky as he tries to please him but just cannot seem to do so. Ricky’s father is equally confused by their relationship. The summer meanders through other adventures, including a recurring nightmare in which Ricky, a skinny kid, is flushed down the toilet. Catastrophe follows disaster as Ricky works to keep his summer secrets from his parents, fearing they will get a babysitter to keep watch over him if they know some of the many things that have been going on.