Thursday, April 1, 2010

Renaming the blog

New Title
I've changed the blog's title from Ludis Inventio to Riotous Reading. Why? Because, quite frankly I hate how pretentious and annoying ludis sounds. It seemed like a good idea at first, but the new title better captures my personality and goal for the blog. Let me explain.
I teach English in a juvenile correctional facility. At times it can be violent but violence rarely occurs in my classroom. I have a good relationship with my students, largely because I bring dozens of books for them, most of which are fantasy, sci fi, and graphic novels. As a teacher I have unique opportunity to turn them into readers. They come to the facility for a 6 to 9 month stay, during which there is no television, movies, or video games. Reading is their only form of entertainment. I was amazed at first at the idea that most of them, being innner city kids accustomed to a very violent and brutal lifestyle, should find spec fic so engaging. I've had students who have never read a novel finish the entire drizzt books, as well as the wheel of time series, before they left the facility. They never cease to amaze me with their perspectives on the stories, the writers, and the characters that become part of their daily interaction: True story: I almost had to break up a fight over who is the better swordsman: Artemis Entreri, or Drizzt. You would think R.A. Salvatore had settled the argument.
The name of the blog then comes from an incident that happened two years ago. The facility had several groups that on the outside battle regularly. Though the staff had done what they could, one day it erupted into violence during school. This happened on a friday, which in my room is always silent reading day. The amazing thing is you walk in my room and it is absolutley silent for forty five minutes. If someone starts to talk the others shut them down.
The riot erupted while we were reading. As teachers we often have a list of safety procedures to follow. One of which is to lock our doors and remain in a classroom should a riot occur. Do your best to keep the students from getting involved and exposing yourself to danger.
I did so. None of my students was particularly motivated to join the fray. Most of them had only a few months left and didn't want to jepordize their release date. Many of them were glad for the opportunity to sit quietly for forty five minutes and just read a good story.
I was 2/3 through The Shadow Rising. Rand had just recruited the Aiel and the world shaking consequences had me reluctant to tear myself away and deal with the real world.
So, with the door locked, we read our way through the riot. When asked by my coworkers how I kept the students contained and myself safe I replied "By reading."
My supervisors were pleased and somewhat stunned. My students took it as a matter of course. I explained to a friend any book that galvanizes your attention to the point that you can forget your surroundings so completely is a rare experience.
The riot did not last long. Maybe twenty minutes at the most. The ringleaders were shpped off to max secure settings for three year sentences, and the place went back to business as usual.
Riotous reading became a euphemism my students and I used to describe a book whose power over the reader is nearly occult. Also for the havoc it can wreak in the mind of the reader: overturning previously held beliefs, shattering expectations, and kicking a cliché's trope in the ass.
Some examples of books that became riotous reading: A Storm of Swords, The Name of the Wind, Last Argument of Kings, Tigana. Some of my students would add Exile and Sojourn but I am not inclined to agree.
So the quest for books that can conveniently fall into that category continues. Hence the name of the blog.

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