Bookmarked: The Trials of Teaching for America, Nursing Home Survival Guide, and the Founding Fathers on Presidential Power

1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader.
It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many
hidden on the shelves. In “Bookmarked,” we link to excerpts from some of
our favorites, hoping they’ll inspire a trip to your local library or
bookstore. Enjoy!

Teaching in the Terrordome (University
of Missouri Press, 2012) tells the story of how Heather Kirn Lanier
joined Teach For America, a program that thrusts eager but inexperienced
college graduates into America’s most impoverished areas to teach,
asking them to do whatever is necessary to catch their disadvantaged
kids up to the rest of the nation. Teaching at Southwestern High School,
a.k.a. “The Terrordome,” in West Baltimore, Lanier had to overcome
obstacles such as a disintegrating building, suspicious colleagues and
even violent actions from the students. Despite shining statistics
presented by the organization, here is a more common story of “Teaching
For America,” written with thoughtful complexity, a poet’s eye and an
engaging voice. Read about Lanier’s first impressions of West Baltimore
and the school she would be teaching at in this excerpt taken from
Chapter 1, “The School Beside the Cemetery.”

Making Myself at Home in a Nursing Home (Vanderbilt
University Press, 2012) by Sandra Gaffney is the personal account of
the author’s long-term care in a nursing home after being diagnosed with
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s
disease. Over 16 years, Sandra lived in nursing homes in Florida,
Virginia and Minnesota.  During this time she became an acute observer
and strategist about how to “live a good life” and navigate day-to-day
issues such as how to furnish the room, talk to staff and understand
nursing home culture. Read Chapter 1,
About Myself.”

During the last two weeks of the Federal Convention of 1787,
delegates found themselves perplexed by, in the words of James Madison,
“a point of great importance” — who should rule over a newly created
nation? In Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive (Alfred
A. Knopf, 2012), Ray Raphael recreates the formation of the executive
office, giving those interested in political history a narrative insight
into the decisions behind the creation of American presidential power.
In this excerpt from the book’s prologue, Raphael sets the tense and
questioning scene. 

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.