A bit of a grab bag of recommendations this month, which is always the best type of column.  So…

  • I read the November 2022 issue of “The Atlantic.”  I got it from the free book exchange at the Starbucks in Carleton Place, Ontario when I was in Canada.  Nice little town, that one.  You should visit if you are ever in eastern Ontario.  In addition to the Starbucks, they have a newly revitalized main street which is home to a variety of shops and services!  From the magazine, you might enjoy Let Puerto Rico Be Free, which is a detailed history of the American territory’s independence movement.  That movement is experiencing something of a rebirth, as some residents of the territory feel neglected and let-down by the US government.  It’s an issue to keep an eye on in the months and years ahead.


  • I also read the May 2023 issue of the same magazine.  I think Vermeer’s Revelation is an absolutely perfect bit of TOEFL reading practice.  It’s longer than a typical TOEFL reading passage, but it has a whole bunch of circuitous paragraphs that you’ll need to chew over before you can understand them.  Art history is a topic that comes up quite frequently on the TOEFL, but which I don’t often write about here.  Check it out right away.


  • Meanwhile, my final discovery at the library back in Canada was Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond by Charlene Gill.  I liked the book a lot, and actually used a few sections with some students I was preparing for the ALP Essay Exam that incoming students take at Columbia University.  The book resembles “They Say, I Say,” which I recommended here a few months ago.  In addition to teaching students how to place their writing in the context of an ongoing dialog, the also contains great advice about how to use and integrated quotations from assigned readings.  Do check it out if you want to polish your writing skills before heading off to college.


  • Lately, I’ve really been enjoying The Norton Library Podcast. Produced by Norton (an important publisher of literature in English) each episode features a conversation with the editor of one of their recent editions.  Check it out if you want to hone your listening skills with some academic conversation.   Episodes are released every second week, so you can subscribe without feeling overwhelmed.  For bonus points, you could read the discussed works!  I’ve started doing that, and this month I started with The Great Gatsby.  Indeed, that is one of the books I recommend to students who want a taste of classic American literature.  Not only is it a fun and accessible read, but it is quite short.


  • I read the March/April issue of “Analog Science Fiction and Fact.”  Analog doesn’t put its stuff online, so I can’t link to it, but I really enjoyed the guest editorial by Richard A Lovett.  It discusses the problem of unintended consequences and highlights a few situations which could be turned into great integrated writing questions.  Apparently, a number of American states have highway signs that mention how many people have died on particular stretches of road.  They are meant to encourage safe driving, but might actually increase the rate of accidents.  Whoops.  And apparently when we let people know exactly how much energy they’ve consumed some people will consume even more.


I’ll leave it at that.  I’ll spend some time on the road (and away from my bookshelf) in August, so next month’s column might be a little boring.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments