the handmaid's tale

Stuff We Like :: 3.31.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

I have to be honest: Most of what I’m doing this week is trying to finish the spring issue of the magazine! Still, you know what they say about all work and no play.

around the web

So true: Kon-Mari for homeschooling moms

This article really hit home with me—I love the easiness of the LIKE button, but I miss the conversations we’ve given up because of it. (Toward that end, I’m setting up a little forum for subscribers that I hope to have ready to roll out with the spring issue — but we’ll see!)

When I read The Handmaid’s Tale, I seriously thought it was the scariest book I’d ever read. It seems even scarier now. I’ve often wondered how Margaret Atwood feels about her dystopia in light of current world events, and now I know! (Aside: Are you planning to watch the TV adaptation? A year ago, I would have been all-in, but now I’m worried that it will just freak me out.)

 

at home/school/life

on the blog: It’s your last chance to vote for the MOST HOMESCHOOLERY THING EVER.

one year ago: Ideas for celebrating every day of National Poetry Month

two years ago: 3 Fun Ways to Welcome Spring to Your Homeschool

three years ago: Sentimental flashback: How this magazine got started

 

reading list

Colors of Madeleine update: I finished The Cracks in the Kingdom and am moving on to A Tangle of Gold. As soon as the spring issue ships. (I guessed the big twist — I made Suzanne tell me that I was right — but that didn't make it any less brilliant. I'm enjoying these books so much.)

My poor abandoned children, who are cruelly forced to entertain themselves while I am in get-this-issue done mode, are reading The Wingsnatchers and say, “It is really good, which you would know if you were reading it with us.” So parenting fail, but at least they are reading something good!

Meanwhile, in academic reading: Ancient Greece: From Prehistory to Hellenistic Times, The Scarlet Letter, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, A Room of One’s Own

 

at home

I have discovered this British version of House Hunters on Netflix, where people shop for houses in the English countryside, and I tell you, it is like balm for the soul.

Again this week, we are subsisting on Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken and takeout Mexican, and we did not actually make cookies this week. (We bought the frozen macarons at TJ’s instead.) This is how all my big deadlines end up. 

I’m thinking of making this Amaretto Olive Oil Cake for Seder this year. But there has to be something chocolate, too, right?


YA Bookalikes for Summer Reading

Not sure what to recommend next for your teen? These in-the-adult-section novels are great follow-ups to classic kid favorites and great YA books to read this summer.

Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro

IF YOU LOVED: The Giver

CHECK OUT: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

There’s a reason utopia means “nowhere.” The perfect world always comes at a cost. Lowry’s starkly beautiful dystopia reads like a little sister to Ishiguro’s lyrical science-fiction novel about an idyllic English boarding school where special children are groomed for a bleak future. The same questions resonate through both books: Who decides how the truth is revealed? What does it mean to have free will? What makes a person alive? And in both books, the answers are complicated.

 

IF YOU LOVED: The Harry Potter series

CHECK OUT: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Just like the indomitable Mr. Potter, Brooklyn teen Quentin Coldwater finds himself enrolled in a school for magicians. But he quickly discovers Brakebills Academy is quite unlike Hogwarts and that being a magician isn’t a cure-all for dissatisfaction with everyday life. Quentin doesn't share Harry's likable heroism, which makes him a more complicated protagonist.

 

Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar, Julie Brinckloe

IF YOU LOVED: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

CHECK OUT: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Heller takes a darker view of human nonsense in his World War II classic, but there’s plenty of similarity between characters like the major who never sees anyone in his office when he’s in his office and the teacher who sends herself home on the kindergarten bus for (temporarily) turning evil.

 

The Hunger Games (Book 1)
By Suzanne Collins
The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret Atwood

IF YOU LOVED: The Hunger Games

CHECK OUT: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Panem is an equal opportunity dystopia—young men and women are equally at risk in the country’s annual ba􏰁ttle-to-the-death games. But in the republic of Gilead, a totalitarian Christian theocracy, women like Offred must play an even more dangerous game. Atwood’s dark imagined future is ripe for rebellion, but rising up against an entrenched government in The Handmaid’s Tale is not as easy — or dramatic — as taking on Panem’s President Snow.

 

We’re reprinting some of Amy’s summer reading series favorites from home/school/life magazine. This list appeared in our 2014 summer reading guide.


What You Should Read in High School

Great homeschool reading list for high school. #homeschool

In the summer issue of home/school/life, we're helping you figure out the best way for your family to homeschool high school — and for us, what to read is an essential piece of the puzzle. By high school, your reading list should reflect your teen’s interests, but we think these books are worthy contenders. 

The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
 

Why you should read it: Fitzgerald’s novel about love, success, and the Jazz Age is arguably the quintessential American novel, reflecting both the spirit of the American dream and the high cost paid for it.

 

Of Mice and Men
By John Steinbeck
 

Why you should read it: This simple-on-the-surface novella lends itself to deeper reading and raises compelling questions about friendship, love, and what happens when life doesn’t work out the way you’d imagined.

 

Why you should read it: Vonnegut writes in his introduction to this book that “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre” — and then proves himself completely wrong in the following funny, curious, heartbreaking pages that mix fact and fiction.

 

Brave New World
By Aldous Huxley
 

Why you should read it: Everyone is happy in this futuristic fantasy — and that’s terrifying. If you don’t recognize in this dystopia pieces of our own modern world — mood-lifting meds, technologically assisted everything — go back and look again.

 

Why you should read it: The brilliant, self-destructive narrator of this book is intriguingly complicated. Equal parts fascinating and repugnant, he’s the kind of complex character you can talk about for hours.

 

Why you should read it: Beckett’s masterpiece lacks sensible characters, a logical plotline, and a coherent setting, but teasing it out will uncover the genius — and hilarity — of this absurd play.

 

Why you should read it: Gleefully, manically, Heller reveals the absurdity of war through the twisty-turny stories of a group of World War II fighter pilots.

 

Why you should read it: Perhaps no author better captures the downward spiral of depression into madness than Plath does in this semi-autobiographical novel.

 

The Metamorphosis
By Franz Kafka
 

Why you should read it: Teenagers can really identify with Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into something else entirely, reviled by his family, and forced to question his own identity.

 

Why you should read it: If you read only one book in high school, it should be this one, which inspires all the questions that matter: Who am I? How do I live well? What is art? What is the meaning of my life?

 

Things Fall Apart
By Chinua Achebe
 

Why you should read it: The stark, simple tale of Igbo boy Okonokwo is both a richly resonant reflection of African culture and an indictment of European colonialism.

 

The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret Atwood
 

Why you should read it: What’s terrifying about Atwood’s dystopian future, in which a totalitarian religious regime controls women’s lives completely, is how believable it is.

 

Why you should read it: What does it mean to be human? Dick’s twisted, dark tale of an android-hunter on a mission to take down rogue robots dives fearlessly into the question of self.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front
By Erich Maria Remarque
 

Why you should read it: This coming-of-age novel (set in World War I Germany) perfectly captures the experience of modern war — from the patriotic elation of joining up to the despair and disillusionment of the trenches.

 

Why you should read it: OK, this one’s not an easy read. But slow down, dig in, and let the rhythms of Faulkner’s language wash over you.

 

The Brothers Karamazov
By Fyodor Dostoevsky
 

Why you should read it: Kurt Vonnegut said that this Russian novel can teach you everything you need to know about life. I think he might be on to something.