Book Talking? A New Spin on the Book Report

Today’s guest post, written by current English student Amanda Drozd, discusses a recent class project she created which gave a new spin to the traditional book report: book talking. The project explored the possibilities of incorporating technology into more and more facets of education. See Amanda’s full post below.

Talking. Another one of those things that is simultaneously the easiest thing and the hardest thing to do at times. How is it people can yell at toasters for burning their bagel, table ends for jumping out at their big toe, or a movie screen for showing you a scripted person running towards the killer? At the same time people quiver at the thought of giving a speech or presentation, stumble over a conversation with a loved one, and would rather listen to a menu and press buttons on their phone instead of speaking to a representative.

I recently did a book talk for one of my courses. Yeah, I quivered.
Record myself?
Talking?
About a book?
Present it?
In front of the class?
Where’s my cell phone menu for that one?

We had to choose a book, give a small synopsis, talk about themes, why we enjoyed it, and why others would enjoy it. And, we were encouraged to record it as an audio or video podcast so others could listen to it to.  Seems simple enough. It’s that whole, record yourself doing it, remember your audience, don’t give away too much, talk about all the right themes, stuff that got to me. Most English courses just make you write a paper over a book. What I understand now, though, is that I don’t understand why this assignment was so misunderstood by me—poor me, having to talk about a book that I really like and tell people why they should read it also. It is not the same as giving a speech to a sea of people. Or finding the correct scholarly sources to argue with.

This assignment became one of the coolest things I’ve done in any of my courses. We realized that this wasn’t something that had to be taken in the same serious tone as an academic paper, but instead something that had passion behind it because our task was to talk about a book we felt should have been included on the reading list for the course. It was such a nice change from continuously writing and typing.  My audience was other people who like to read but find it hard to do in free time because school reading is taking that time away. I got to share one of my favorite books with a room practically overflowing with fellow readers and writers. I calmed down and explained why I loved this piece of literature as if I was in my car with a friend explaining why I love the way Indiana smells in the fall.

Personality driven, literary discourse—I guess that’s what I’d call it in a paper. But for this course, and for so many librarians, teachers, professors, readers and writers, it’s simply a book talk. Let someone know what you’re thinking about a piece of literature, even if it’s just for fun and even if you know nothing about the latent themes and can’t quite explain what you love about the figurative language. As readers we should be talking to a book, demanding a conversation with it. As writers and lovers of communication, we should be talking to one another about books, even if it’s not academic.

See the player below to listen to my book talk:

To hear another example, listen to Daniella Flemings’s book talk in the player below:

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