Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
I finished this highly enjoyable book a few days ago. The book is somewhat imbalanced structurally, with sometimes entire chapters devoted to individual ballplayers, but each section is enjoyable nevertheless. And it's always nice to hear someone rip into former FOX baseball commentator Joe Morgan. The book felt like it carried lessons for teachers, and I asked some of my fellow teachers whether the book's premises are applicable. At the very least, it made me think—in its ruminations on why some ballplayers succeed and some never make it to (or in) the majors—about how incoming students might be better evaluated for their chances at success, and how we might better those chances.
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, by Janet Malcolm
Malcolm's journey into the dark heart of Plath scholarship is really an investigation of the ethics, artistry and compromises built into any biographical endeavor. Malcolm (over)states the case that nonfiction always comes from a place of narrative uncertainty, since there must be many versions of the "truth," whereas fiction possesses greater narrative certainty, since the writer knows what's what; given the longstanding existence of the unreliable narrator—often intentionally—it's odd that Malcolm would describe the contrast in such terms. But I take her point about nonfiction, that what it describes is just as much a product of authorial voice even though we don't like to view it that way. A terrific book, it has sent me back to Plath's later poems as well as to Hughes's Birthday Letters (which I own), the posthumous collection of previously unpublished poems directed (mostly) to his late wife.