I only read 3 books in February, putting me 2 books behind on my goal of reading 70 books this year. Hoping to catch up in March but with school and studying for the CSET I am not sure how viable that will be. Regardless, this month I read the last book in an amazing Sci-Fi series, a classic, and a popular novel that holds wide acclaim for its movie adaptation.
The Silver Linings Playbook was a quick but great read that delves into the convoluted and troubling lives of two people who have lost touch with reality because of trauma in their lives. It is hysterical and haunting as it presents some very serious and realistic aspects of mental illness.
Breakfast at Tiffany's, short as it was, could almost be described as a complex character study of Holly Golightly; her joie de vivre, her uncanny look at life, her ambiguity, and her loneliness. It was a great read.
Morning Star completed an amazing Sci-Fi trilogy with real cultural and current implications. It follows the life of a Red (or lesser human being) who tries to outstretch the social limitations that have been thrust on him and his people in a effort to "break the chains." This was one of those books that captivates and guts you. I will miss these characters.
In case you missed it, famed and beloved author Harper Lee passed away earlier this week. She is most well-known for her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Below is a short video that describes, rather succinctly, Lee's fame, humble life, and literary prowess. Please enjoy and remember this literary legend.
Found these wonderful graphics on The Reading Room, an interactive and interesting trove of writing help, tidbits, and author material. The pictures (provided below) can be found at The Reading Room (along with a few others) and depict some famous authors and their strange writing habits.
Do you have strange or unique writing habits?
In observance of Black History Month I figured I'd share my experience with a very prominent, very well-known author, James Baldwin.
I've had a lot of exposure to Baldwin in my academic career but honestly didn't give him much thought until mid-Masters degree when I read Sonny's Blues. This short story is evocative and so, so disheartening. I won't give too much away here, as I'm hoping you've read it or will read it in your lifetime. It is short and compelling and though I am not much of a short story enthusiast, it stuck with me.
In my class we moved on to his more known novels, "Go Tell it on the Mountain," "The Fire Next Time," and "Giovanni's Room." These works are so filled with pain, with hard-pressed hope, and with endurance that I couldn't help but to appreciate them.
I think I've mentioned more than a few times that in the past year I've really expanded the types of novels I read, Baldwins works came right in the middle of that. His works struck a chord with me and played on a favorite trope of mine -- struggle and pain but everlasting endurance and perseverance. It may sound strange but I love to read about people, or characters, struggling and enduring the struggle. I appreciate their strength and hope that I, too, can have strength in my own struggles. It motivates and inspires me.
Baldwin is a treasured author and not because he is African American, but because he wrote about real things, things that masses could relate to, things that made people think and feel. So, during this Black History Month I challenge you to read one of his short stories-- not because of his ethnicity but because he writes honestly and beautifully, and this is really all we can ask of our author-folk.
Please enjoy a short reading by Baldwin of "The Price of the Ticket," below:
One of my not-so-secret literary passions is travel writing, specifically European travel writing. Frances Mayes of Under the Tuscan Sun fame, Bill Bryson of A Walk in the Woods Fame, Julia Child of French culinary cooking fame, and more. Peter Mayle is another favorite. He tends to focus on Provence and pastoral France and his works are simple, fun, beautifully written and vibrant in their description and depiction of French life -- a lifestyle so at odds with American day-to-day life.
If travel writing or travelogues are not in your TBR, I recommend them immensely. Below I've added an interview with Peter Mayle (author of A Year in Provence) to introduce you to the art of travel writing and introduce you to a new favorite genre.
I read all sorts of books: classics, fiction, travel writing, nonfiction, fantasy, YA, etc. Some are better than others and some affect you in an inexplicable way. In the last year, as I've expanded the types of books added to my TBR, I have had the happy accident of reading some truly beautiful books. Books that are devastating in their truthfulness and uncanny in their depiction of the human condition. As I reflect on this type of book, the type that casts the world in a different light, I can think of several just in the past year that fill this niche.
Have you read a book, recently or in the past, that has altered your perception of the world? Given you better insight into yourself or others? Or just made you happy to be human?
Below are some of those that I have read in recent memory that have filled me with a new-found respect and acceptance of people in general.
These books focus on people of all different cultures, religions, and life experiences and depict them overcoming life, war, loss, love, and perseverance. The first is a fictional, yet very realistic tale of Japanese internment during WWII, the second follows the growth of a young, severally mentally devastated, boy who struggles with the loss of his father (and the idea of loss in general) after 9/11, and the third is a classic tale of travel, luck, hard work, and learning about ones relationship to nature and the world.
Comment your own examples of books that have given you new insight into the world, or reminded you of something you already knew but had forgotten.
Movie Review: **/***** (2 stars out of 5) **SPOILER ALERT*
Having just read the 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey I was eager to see the movie, feeling confident that it would be brutal, violent, exciting, and interesting. The novels contain all of these elements and more, as well as a truly brave and courageous female protagonist in Cassie. The novels are fast-paced, unique, and crippling in their use of empathy, compassion, and fear to propel the characters and the reader along.
That being said, the movie did not contain any of these features. Cassie was reduced to a Bella Swan, for lack of a better description. Her developing relationship with Evan Walker (alien? Human? Who knows?) takes focus and becomes too vampire-human for my taste. While the novels do have a minor relationship aspect, that component takes a very distant backseat to the prime focus -- saving Cassie's brother from Alien invaders who have infiltrated the American army.
While the action was entertaining and the explosions as ridiculous as possible, many of the key features of the story were removed. Rather than telling the tale of survival, love, loss, peril, violence, compassion, fear, and humanity (as was in the books) the, too corny, relationship between Evan and Cassie became the primary focus. It was disappointing.
For those who have read the books you know that the novels are morbid and sometimes difficult to read. There are violent child deaths, child soldiers forced to handle and rift-through dead bodies, and a blood-plague that was nicknamed "The Red Tsunami" because the victim inevitably drowned in their own blood. The movie contained none of these things and instead focus on matters of more trite and pedestrian importance.
If you are a fan of the novels and were expecting a movie along the lines of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter caliber you will be disappointed.
It has been almost an entire year since my last post and I am posting today to share with you all some of the books I have read in the past year. I set a goal for myself to read 45 books and ended up reading 63! 2015 was a year of literary open-mindedness. I read a litany of books; non-fiction, fiction, literature, fantasy, YA, travel writing, memoir and felt that I learned so much more about the human experience. Because of my success last year I have set a 2016 goal of 70 books and feel confident that I will reach this goal.
This past year I also had the absolute pleasure of meeting one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss. If you haven't read his novels, The King Killer Chronicles (soon to be adapted into a TV series), I strongly suggest you do. Meeting him certainly was a bucket-list item that I was more than happy to check off. I hope this year brings more signed novels, more author events, and even more books.
An update on me: It comes as no surprise that one of my primary focuses in life is to share my love of reading with others and to (hopefully) guide others to find literary success and inspiration. So it comes as no surprise that now, having completed my Masters in English/Literature, I am now working on a Teaching Credential in hopes to someday teach AP High School English.
Pictured below: A snapshot of some of the books I've read in 2015 and a photo of me meeting Patrick Rothfuss at The Last Book Store in LA.