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Over the summer I read several different books, but the two that stuck out the most to me was Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky and SUB 4:00 Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile by Chris Lear. When I am asked which author was more successful in creating a good piece of literature I would say Lear was.

The book Salt was structured in the way to inform the reader and not so much to tell a story. You’ll be greeted by a gigantic wall of text as Kurlansky quotes other works on the same subject left and right. I thought at first this would be a good characteristic for this kind of book but it turned out to be an annoyance when Kurlansky started quoting old recipe books that told you how to make sauerkraut or pickles and seemed rather pointless. Kurlansky also throws in words and phrases in different languages and then would tell you more about the origin of those words and there significance. For example on page fifty four it says this,

It is a sad fate for a people to be defined for posterity by their enemies. Even the name, Celt, is not from their own Indo-European language but from Greek. Keltoi, the name given to them by Greek historians, among them Herodotus, means “one who lives in hiding or undercover.” The Romans, finding them less mysterious, called them Galli or Gauls, also coming from a Greek word, used by Egyptians as well, hal, meaning “salt.” They were the salt people. The name of the town that sits on the East German salt bed, Halle, like the Austrian towns of Hallein, Swabisch Hall, and Hallstatt, has the same root as do both Galicia in northern Spain and Galicia in southern Poland, where the twon of Halych is found. All of these places were named for Celtic saltworks.

The book talks about salting fish every five pages so you can expect to learn a lot about fish. There are many graphics throughout the book like maps which greatly help as the author jumps around from place to place basically every chapter. The book gets extremely hard to read because of these facts and a reader will struggle to finish the huge book. Salt is an interesting subject but the Kurlansky didn’t do a great job keeping the reader tuned into the book wanting to finish it.

SUB 4:00 Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile, by Chris Lear tells the story of Alan Webb’s high school and college running career. The book contains several photographs. If you’re not much of track and field fan or athlete you’ll most likely never pick up this book or enjoy it much. You have to be able to relate to Webb and now what it’s like to go through injuries, the disappointment of doing terrible in cross country and becoming a star in track, and being coached by coaches whom you dislike. If you were looking for a book that focuses on what an athlete has to go through in high school to run a sub 4:00 you’ll be greatly disappointed as the book mostly focuses on Webb’s stay at University of Michigan. The author does a great job showing Webb’s struggle to make that life changing decision many good athletes will go through, to go pro or finish up school.

SUB 4:00 Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile, by Chris Lear is a great book for anyone who’s a mid distance track athlete. Like I said before if your not a track fan then you won’t be able to get into this book. The book does get rather boring after a while but not to the point of dragging it out like Salt. I enjoyed the book more than salt because if you haven’t guessed it already I’m a track athlete myself and can easily relate to all the suffering Webb has had to go through. I specialize in the mile and am very good at track but when it comes to cross country I’m right on level with every one else and not insanely far ahead of everyone. So I found it rather interesting to see another athlete just not understand why I’m so good at track but suffer miserably when it come to the longer distances. That’s not to say that Salt is a bad book. It’s very well put together and I greatly enjoyed it. Salt is the only rock the humans eat and I hope it’ll be the last time I have to read it.

If I wasn’t a track athlete I would of most likely hated the book because track is a very hard sport to get into if you don’t run it yourself. With 8-8-08 you’ll see a lot of more of track on TV then you normally would. The next time I count how many grams of salt I took in a day I’ll now it’s a huge amount even though I’m not eating the rock plainly or adding it on myself to other foods.

In a five-paragraph persuasive essay, discuss which author was more successful in creating a good piece of literature. Use example from both books to explain your thinking.

The student demonstrates an uderstanding of both books.

The student demonstrates judgments about the literary quality of each book

The student supports these judgments with examples from both books.

The student prepares an insightful anyalysis of the literary elements in the books.

All of them are out of 25 points

I know my essay is bad but it's a start. I was really stuck on what to write about sense both of these books aren't novels. I can't talk about charecter development or anything. If you can give me some ideas on what I should talk about that I forgot to mention that would be great. Also the formating and the order of the paragraphs. And anything else you think needs to be fized. Don't worry about spelling and stuff of the sort just yet because I'm most likely am not going to have to rewrite the whole thing again but I'm going to have to update it a lot.

  • English -

    I think that was a good essay :]
    Keep up the grreat work!

  • English -

    What a terrific improvement, Dylan. Marvelous!

    Now let's go over those requirements again.

    ~~ 5 paragraphs -- but I see 7. How can you fix this?

    ~~ student demonstrates understanding -- definitely -- that comes through loud and clear

    ~~ student demonstrates judgments about the literary quality of each book -- you need to make sure you are clear on what the teacher means by "judgments about literary quality" so here are some definitions:

    http://www.answers.com/literary and
    Be sure to read definition 3.a.

    Your first paragraph in which you discus Webb's book starts out and ends okay, but I'm not sure all the references to your being a track athlete have a place here. What the teacher will want to know is what you think of these things: plot, conflict,
    symbolism, character change or character development, and any other literary terms that are fitting:
    (Broken Link Removed)

    Needless to say, there's little that can be done with some of these standard literary terms for Kurlansky's book since there's no "story," as you have already pointed out. But I think you've done a better job analyzing this book than you did Webb's book.

    Think again about Webb's book in these terms:
    ... and in terms of literary terms listed above and in the above links.

    ~~ student supports these judgments with examples from both books -- yes, done, but far better with the first than the second.

    ~~ student prepares an iinsightful analysis of the literary elements... -- since you haven't discussed many literary elements at all, this is almost entirely missing.

    So -- first of all -- how will you make this a 5-paragraph paper? What will you combine? What will you take out?

    Then -- address the other concerns I named above and let us know what you decide. You should probably tackle each point separately, but once you have a handle on what "literary elements" are, your revision should move better.

    Let us know what you decide.


  • English -

    It's suppose to be 5.
    the second third and forth are all one but sense I'm not really sure how to make paragraphs here I couldn't show that.

    Paragraph three is really a quote from the book.

  • English -

    Be sure they clearly show up as 5 paragraphs on the paper you turn in.

    Let me know how you will handle the literary elements.

    My suggestions:

    For Kurlansky's book, you can focus on symbolism if you find any. I think there's lots there.

    For Webb's book, you can focus on plot and character development, as well as conflict. Conflict is what builds/develops the main character, usually. Conflict drives the plot:


  • English -

    great thanks a lot
    I'm going to take a couple of minutes to read everything you've posted then start fixing it up.

    Then I'm most likely am going to go running myself and won't post the updated version tell later late tonight or sometime in the evening if not tommorow. I'll just create a new topic I guess.

    Thanks for the help again.

  • English -

    You're very welcome. I'm looking forward to seeing the next version.


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