Literacy Lit


I work part-time as an Adult Literacy Coordinator at the Echo Park branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, and one of the programs I started is a “literacy book club.”

The inspiration for this was a surplus of copies of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 left over from another program. The program director asked me whether I could use them. Immediately I thought: “Perfect for a literacy book club!” They showed up a few days later, I lined up  a book club leader, and off they went!

Perhaps too far off…the books soon strayed from the the original theme of literacy. They even read one of my own noir novels, which was gratifying but still a wee bit out of line. I let it run for a while, but I finally decided that I should bring it back into the corral and put it to work plowing the fields of language learning as explored in fiction.

So  I sent a list of novels (and one memoir) that turned on reading in some way or another. I just ran across that list again, and its broadly eclectic nature rather amused me.

Since it might amuse you too, I am posting it here. All good books with strong storylines. I’m getting a giggle from the micro-reviews I scribed for each one. So, here they are:

  • A Boy and His Dog, Harlan Ellison (lots of swearing, literacy angle, short)
  • Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy (powerful but dreary, literacy angle)
  • Life Is So Good, George Dawson (true story of poor black sharecropper in the South who learned to read at age 98, memoir)
  • Waiting for the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (SF Bay hippie/music culture, segues into near-future section where smartphone culture has nearly taken over, not a downer though)
  • Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville (short weird novella about a copyist in mid-1800s New York who loses his grip on reality, and how his employers try to deal with him as positively as possible)

What others would you suggest?

Rick Risemberg