16 October 2008

Two book recommendations

On one hand, I've been absolutely starved for books -- as if Linus' blanket was yanked out from under him. On the other hand, I've been practicing more organizing thoughts in my head and writing things longhand first in order to be a more disciplined thinker and to organize what's already there without putting more in. Also, the gorgeous British edition paperbacks (of so many post-modern, post-colonial, "Non-Western" -- though how that term drives me crazy -- writers that we don't really get in America) are to an extent cost-prohibitive though available.

But. Every once and a while something magically pops up in the zborovňa that fascinates me. It fascinates me because of subject matter and also because I tend to wonder how it landed near my desk in the middle of Slovakia in a place where such books are not widely available though they are accessible. An example of this wonderful phenomenon is Global Issues from the series Resource Books for Teachers (of EFL). I found a few things in there that I am really looking forward to adapting for my classes (my colleagues are not very likely to use the book because of the huge effort to read the English) -- especially about things like carbon footprints, being a global citizen, and house vs. home issues. From my experience so far, I think the kids will have really interesting perspectives on these sorts of things, and the book is great at constructing activities in such a way that they transcend ideologies and really focus on the creation of language.

There's a really lovely bookstore in the Max in Prešov, and there I found Changes of Changes: Society and Politics in Slovakia in the 20th Century by Ľubomír Lipták. The book is an organized series of essays -- not entirely cohesive, and nothing goes into nearly enough depth, but I did learn a lot by reading it. There were a lot of really nice things about the book: he recognizes and mentions Rusyns as a minority group within Slovakia (that's Rusyns, not Ukrainians or Rusyn-Ukrainians). It also helped me understand on a more macro level why a rather hostile attitude towards the Hungarians still exists -- the Slovakization of (Czecho)Slovakia after 1918 was a huge issue and took a long time to consolidate. I've been wanting to blog about this, because I think it can be a symptom of a greater ill towards minorities, but I didn't understand it well enough. Hopefully soon I can hypothesize a bit more about the situation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Suggested reading -- author(s) may be up to your level of lively observation: "Travels With Herodotus" by Ryszard Kapuscinski. Vintage Books, Random House New York. English translation from the Polish original by Klara Glowczewska. Originally published in Poland as Podrozez Herodotem by Znak, Krakow in 2004.

More recent of the two authors' surname is same as that of my mother's mother's father (who could have come from Lemko-Rusyn-land in Poland). When I met that author he asserted that his surname was pretty common, and agreed that it could have had something to do with cabbage.

My father's father's father's father's surname had something to do with Polish oxen.

Guess who I am.