Tag Archives: read

Book Recommendation: Eleanor & Park

High school is rough. It’s a time of confusion about who you are, and where you’re going, and what you want in your life. There’s bullying, and unrequited crushes, and arguments with your parents. These are all simply a part of what made Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell so unbelievably relatable.

This book is the story of two misfits who find solace from their troubled lives in music and comic books and time together. Eleanor is a heavyset teenager with wild red curls who wears men’s clothing, and things like curtain ties for hair decorations. She lives in a two bedroom rickety house with her mother, stepfather and four siblings, and things are not ideal in her home life. To make things worse she’s the new girl, making her even more of a target for bullying at school. Park in the meantime is a half-Korean who does Tae Kwon Do and is constantly trying to live up to his father’s expectations. He does his best to blend into his high school, though when he gets forced to sit next to Eleanor on the bus, all of that changes.

Set in Omaha Nebraska in 1986, the story weaves a tale of romance and high school drama intermixed with the two difficult lives of two teenagers just trying to survive another day.

This book was one of the most touching love stories I’ve read in a while. I found it relatable in many aspects of its portrayal of teenage life, but also beautiful in the uplifting story beyond the stereotypical high school drama. I loved that it pointed out how silly romance can be, making fun of the stereotypical Romeo and Juliette star-crossed lovers motif, but also continuing to give hope in finding comfort and strength in friendship and love.

This book caused me to cry multiple times. It was interesting because Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl is one of my other favorites, but it never made me feel quite so emotional in spite of the fact that the main character was even more relatable to me. Even so, the way Rowell writes simply inspires a level of understanding for these two strange protagonists, even if neither is like any other character I’ve encountered before.

tumblr_nich9iSXeZ1tv8vcro2_r1_500

One other aspect I loved in this novel was the defiance of gender stereotypes. I’ve rarely read a novel with a female protagonist who wasn’t described as attractive in some respect. Certainly, Park finds Eleanor lovely in her own way, but the fact that she was overweight and a redhead made her stand out to me. In the same way, I loved that Park struggled with figuring out how to please his overly masculine father while trying to be himself, constantly being told he was being a pussy. In terms of encouraging kids to be themselves and not worry about living up to a gender stereotype, I thought this novel hit that message right on the mark.

In fact, one of the most relatable sections I’ve ever read in a book was from this novel.

Eleanor is letting Park’s mom, a beautician, fix her up with a makeover.

“But I don’t wear makeup.”

“Why not?”

Maybe Eleanor should say that she wasn’t allowed to. That would sound nicer than, Because makeup is a lie.

“I don’t know,” Eleanor said. “It’s just not me.”

I have never in my life encountered a female protagonist who I could relate to in this aspect. Those words “makeup is a lie” are something I’ve felt and said before, and I really appreciated having someone who understood me in that respect.

EleanorBut even in the aspects I couldn’t understand, like dealing with being torn between two different cultures, or struggling with poverty, or dealing with an abusive stepparent, I thought Rowell communicated these characters well enough that I had a level of sympathy for Eleanor and Park regardless of having not experienced the same things.

I highly recommend reading this book. I think it speaks a beautiful amount of truth in multiple areas of life, and Rowell’s style is one that never fails to amuse me. It’s a good book if you love romance and young adult fiction, or if you’re just looking for a fun and easy read with unique characters and a touching story.

Also, there is a plan to make it into a movie! So it’s always good to get the book read before the movie comes out. Just a little extra motivation.

EPbannder_edited-1

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Reading

21 Favorite Young Adult Books

This is a continuation of the series I’d posted earlier talking about my favorite children’s books. Again, I’ll reiterate some of these books I haven’t read in a long time, but my impressions of them have stuck around, hence why they’re on the list. Hopefully in a bit I’ll have my favorite adult books out too. Also, some obviously are torn between the children’s genre too, it just depends on classification (same with my children’s post). Regardless, here are a few books I liked in the young adult genre in no particular order.

Inkheart  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke– I definitely read these as a kid, but they are perhaps a bit dark for the kids genre. I loved the plot, especially as a writer imagining the possibility of characters coming to life. Great characters, funky magic, and wonderful literary references.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater–  More recent reads that I really enjoyed. I found these more original considering many of the teen fiction books often follow very similar plots.

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1)The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth NixThese are very dark, but I think that’s part of what drew me to them. Definitely a little funky but interesting, and I really liked the hero Arthur for some odd reason, very compelling I suppose. Plus Suzy Turquoise Blue was an awesome sidekick.

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale– It’s funny how so many of these are series, however, this first book remains my favorite. I love twisted fairy tales, especially slightly lesser known ones like Goose Girl. Ani is a fantastic heroine and her powers are so different and yet wonderful!

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan– I loved the sarcastic dry humor in Percy’s tone, the modern take on Greek mythology. Of the more “popular” teen fiction series, this is definitely one of my favorites just because I felt it displayed some of the greatest level of creativity.

No Shame, No Fear (No Shame, No Fear #1)The Quaker Trilogy by Anne TurnbullThese books were perfect due to my love of historical fiction, romance, and stories on faith. I loved the forbidden love aspect between Susanna and Will, though this of course felt more real than the usual romantic drivel. Again, my memories are a bit blurry, but as a young teen I know I at least liked the first two books. As I now attend a Quaker college, I’m a bit terrified someone will think my love of these a bit shaming, but I’m not going to allow myself any as I was an impressionable teen at the time.

The Squire's Tale (The Squire's Tales, #1)The Squire’s Tales by Gerald MorrisI love Arthurian legend, and nothing is better than having classic stories retold from new points of view. The first books begin with the ever lovable Terrence, squire to Sir Gawain and then proceed to cover several other stories from Parsifal’s page, to the brother of Sir Tristan, to a brave and savvy damsel who doesn’t need a knight. They never failed to make me laugh, but they also excited in me a sense of adventure and a continued love for Camelot.

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell– My friends might kill me if I don’t add this, since they believe it’s based on my life. I agree I found many points of Cath’s life to be very relatable, and even cried once or twice. A funny coming of age story that every “fangirl” should read.

BeastlyBeastly by Alex Flinn– Again with the fractured fairy tales. An adorable love story, a clever modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and a fun and easy read. I liked the use of the modern chat-room start to this novel incorporating other fairy tales in as well. It’s one I’ve read twice, because I enjoyed it so much.

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider, #1)Alex Rider by Anthony Horrowitz– I was obsessed with these for much of my teen years. I liked the spy stories containing the reluctant yet amazing Alex. These were fast paced and entertaining, though (slight spoiler) I HATED how they ended.

Zach's Lie (Zach's Lie, #1)Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith- I remember I loved the suspense of these books! I think they’re probably one of those that bridge the children’s and young adult area, not really sure where to put it. However, these interesting fast paced books kept me reading til the end.

Gideon the Cutpurse (The Gideon Trilogy, #1)The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer– Time travel novels can be fun if they’re well done. I liked these ones quite a bit since they entered into 18th century England (one of the times and places that most interested me). Thievery and adventure and two times clashing, I thought these were a fun collection of stories. The adventure in these was entertaining, though like with many fiction series, I remember being somewhat disappointed by the end.

Storm CatchersStorm Catchers by Tim Bowler This book is one of those really random one that I believe I remember most of the main details. Since it seems to be so memorable (I think I may have read it more than once), I had to include it here. Great story of mystery and suspense with a touch of surreal (ghosts and divining). It definitely kept me guessing all the way through.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)Warm Bodies by Isaac Morrison– I know what you’re thinking, isn’t there a movie? Yes, but it’s very different from its inspiring novel. This book is dark and odd. I liked the writing and only read it a few years ago, so it’s fresher in my mind. The movie is hilarious, but if you’re looking for a darker zombie story, look here.

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli– I had a book club on this novel once, and I remember we raised some valid points about this book’s value. It has good messages on identity, peer pressure, fitting in, and plenty of others as well. Stargirl herself is a very interesting character.

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner– So in case it isn’t obvious, I like stories with princesses, I like stories about Greek myths, and I like stories about women who are empowered (especially princesses)- and this one on Helen of Troy is fantastic. Definitely takes the “face that launched a thousand ships” and gives her a brand new definition. Such a great read for any fellow myth lovers, especially ones that love tough female role models.

Just One WishJust One Wish by Janette Rallison– This one is cheesy, but bear with me. I loved the cute and quirky romance in this, but also the bravery of the main character in fighting for her little brother who is suffering from cancer. Rallison has some very fun and cute romance novels, but I liked this one for the values beyond just the teen love aspect. Sad and yet heartwarming, it may be cheesy but I loved it as a girl.

Enter Three WitchesEnter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney– Have I mentioned my love of Shakespeare? This fun play on Macbeth takes the story from the point of view of more minor characters such as Fleance, or the author’s creation of Mary (the Macbeth’s ward). The story gave a new perspective to this theater piece, but still maintained some of its classic darkness.

Princess BenPrincess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock– Another empowered princess story. Benevolence may sound like a frilly princess, but she faces some tough challenges and overcomes them quite well. The story was quirky and fun, but also continues to promote female empowerment through the use of some classic fairy tale themes being played with.

How the Hangman Lost His HeartHow the Hangman Lost his Heart by K. M. Grant– This book was ridiculously funny. Again, old London is one of my favorite settings for stories, but this one is different than any I’ve read before. A cute and funny love story with some good action and adventure to go along. I mean what could go wrong with a main character named Dan Skinslicer?

Brief CandleBrief Candle by Kate Pennington– My first introduction to Emily Bronte. I found it funny to read Wuthering Heights this year having read this book as a young person. An intriguing adventure to be sure, and it had a fantastic twist at the end if I remember correctly. Regardless, interesting historical fiction read.

What young adult books do you love? Any good recommendations for me? I’m always looking for more as these are something I still read in my spare time.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Top 10 Favorite Literary Characters

I was tagged on twitter to blog on this, so here I go, trying to narrow down my favorite literary characters out of all the books in existence.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling– yes, she comes as one of my first because I loved her so much as a young girl. I remember as the class nerd I felt comfort in smart Hermione. I cried with her at Ron’s rudeness, I laughed with her at the boys’ illogical behavior, I rooted for her to win all throughout. Such an inspiring female character.

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis– Well, following along those lines I can never forget my Narnia heroine. Although I liked Peter better as I read them later (older sibling problems), I still couldn’t help but admire Lucy’s faith and bravery, her belief in Aslan even in the hardest times.

Nancy Sykes from The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens- Oliver Twist is one of my favorite novels of all time, and there are so many fantastic characters in Dickens. He creates such masterpieces, so funny and random and inspiring. But I always liked Nancy and her tragic story, her amazing heroic role in spite of her immoral living situation. Had to include a Dicken’s character, that’s the main thing.

Richard III from Richard III by William Shakespeare– this seems funny after my other very noble heroes to start with, but between him and Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare really does a fantastic job creating some remarkable villains. Sure, he’s pretty much a flat character in some rights, completely evil almost just for the sake of being evil, but he is a puzzling and remarkable character and Shakespeare portrays him so stunningly. Even as a Ricardian, I like this play simply for the genius of the Bard’s storytelling.

Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-  Jane speaks to me so wonderfully. She is plain and small, poor and defenseless, and yet she remains strong and smart, passionate and talented, even in the face of all her trials. I admire her so much and never tire of reading her story.

Cyrano de Bergerac from Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand- He’s so brave, intelligent, poetic in spite of his obvious insecurities about his outward appearance. I love this story so much, but mostly I love listening to Cyrano woo his lady, or even better, insult a challenger who dares to mock his hideous nose. Such a wonderful story with a fantastic main character.

The Monster from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley– This character is so utterly complex, amazingly tragic in his own story (not the horrible creations of Hollywood that have destroyed him). The monster is a character to whom I’m oddly sympathetic. He is rejected by the one who made him, turned away by all who meet him. I love the complexity Shelley managed to give him, and cry over the fact that he’s somehow been reduced to a grunting green thing that has no personality.

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee– Such a brave and inspiring man, and yet also just a loveable father figure. I know one of my earliest essays I was very proud of proclaimed Atticus as a true hero to his story.

Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien– I think I mostly picked him since he bridges Tolkien’s The Hobbit with this series. Nonetheless, I’ve always loved Gandalf. I think I love him most dragging Bilbo out his door, but his little bits and pieces of wisdom are also very inspiring.

Jack from Room by Emma Donoghue– Mostly I’m running out of characters I know I love, but I read this story over Christmas break and liked Jack’s unique take on the world. He’s funny and clever for his young age, somehow possesses wisdom alongside his lack of understanding. His story made me cry, cringe, laugh, and wonder.

So there, 10 characters I’ve liked or loved or at least been able to put onto a list. Voila, there you have it!

What characters do you love and why? What do you think are the main qualities you like in a character? Do you have any villains you particularly enjoyed in spite of all his or her badness?

11 Comments

Filed under Reading

Window to the Past- 24 Favorite Childhood Books

As a writer, it’s interesting to trace the inspirations that have come through life. One undeniably big influence are the books that we consume over time.

I hope to do a three part series, one on childhood books, one on young adult, and one on adulthood, but I figured I’d start young and work my way up. As I started I realized how many books I love, and I couldn’t include them all. But here are a few that randomly sprung to mind.

DISCLAIMER: I haven’t read some of these in a long time, so if I get something wrong, I’m sorry, and also if you’re a parent please review the book before reading it to your kid, because I am not responsible if it goes against something you want to instill in your child because you didn’t double check. I’ve included links to Goodreads where you can find summaries, reviews etc.

The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7)   The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: I have to begin with Narnia, because it’s one of my happiest and earliest memories of reading. My parents took turns reading the first book to me when I was probably five or six and they’ve stuck with me ever since. I can’t deny the beauty of these simple and magical stories.

Where the Red Fern GrowsWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawles: One of the books that made me cry a ridiculous amounts. I love my dog stories, to be sure. A great tale of adventure and friendship between a boy and his pets out in the wilderness.

The Little Prince  The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery: I read this in high school, so I can recognize the values even as an adult. However, even if children might not recognize all of the beautiful life lessons, it has value just as a beautiful and fun story.

Oscar And The Lady In PinkOscar et la Dame Rose by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt: Again a read in high school for French class, but nonetheless beautiful and inspiring. Not sure I’d recommend it for children even though it’s short. A beautiful tale about cancer, young dreams, conversations with God and so much more.

The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: A fantastic tale of adventure filled with dwarves, maps, magical mountains, ferocious spiders, and of course the terrifying dragon Smaug! A great read for people of all ages (though I believe this was a read-aloud for me as a child which probably helped!)

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: a beautiful and potent story on eternal life and love and youth. The thought of this book brings up some warm reminiscence within me, sort of a sweet and meaningful sadness.

The Witch of Blackbird PondThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: I hardly remember anything about this book, and yet for some reason I’ve still held onto it as a childhood favorite. I know I greatly admired the main character, that her struggle against the expectations around her always felt meaningful to me for some reason. A book that seems to prize individuality and difference in a world that says they’re not so important. Definitely a story I’d have to pick up again, but I’m still going to recommend it nonetheless.

Harry Potter Boxset (Harry Potter, #1-7)Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: I can hardly deny putting the books on here that inspired me to want to be a writer. An inspiring and magical reading experience that I recommend to all ages (although later books in the series are a bit dark for young kids perhaps). These books offer stories that not only are captivating in plot, but also hold valuable themes about friendship, love, bravery, and the power of doing what’s right. I could go on for a whole post, but that’s for a later day.

A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: A strange yet oddly captivating story involving an odd mix of science and fantasy. L’Engle writes so wonderfully, and I remember as a little girl being so inspired by the character of Meg as an old sister and as a young girl coming to a bigger understanding of myself.

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain #1)The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: For any Lord of the Rings lovers, any kids who like fantasy and legend and adventures I highly recommend these books. They detail the misadventures of Taren, assistant pig keeper, his companions Princess Eilonwy, Gurgy, and Fleudor. And yes, there was a Disney spinoff movie but it’s terrible and the books are fantastic.

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: Another one of those female characters I remember feeling very similar to and loving. Harriet’s adventures are entertaining, heartwarming, and perhaps even a little heartbreaking too. Definitely a good way to learn about the power our words and actions have in the lives of others and how careful we need to be.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Rats of NIMH, #1)Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien: A book I remember fascinating me as a young child. I quickly devoured the others in the “series” even though they’re not by the same author. It’s a bit of a quirky story really, but I think that’s part of why I like it so much.

A Little Princess A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: As a little girl I wanted to be just like Sarah. I wanted to have that same level of grace and dignity, kindness and compassion even in the midst of sorrow and hardship. As a young teen I remember feeling motivated to try to reach out to others even while feeling very confused about myself. A lovely and sweet story.

Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1)Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede– A very odd little thing to throw on here, but I think part of it comes down to my women’s studies class and thinking on what makes me who I am. I loved fractured fairy tales, and this one does fracture a few fairy tales. Essentially the princess runs off to go take care of the dragon herself, only to make a friend and find a happier life there than her boring one in the castle. I appreciated even at that age the princess not needing saving, and the fact that the dragon at one point wanted to be a King even as a woman (because a Queen is a completely different role). Fun and quirky and magical.

The Thief Lord  The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke: Going to Venice last year made me recall this book in a nostalgic way. I think it’s one of those books that made me want to travel, if only to see the magic of the places Funke described so beautifully. A magical story full of adventure, mischief, enchantment, and history.

The Two Princesses of BamarreThe Two Princesses Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine: Ella Enchanted falls a close second, but this was my favorite book by Levine. I related so much to the principle character in never feeling brave enough. Again, I enjoyed the atypical princess story, the inspiration it gave me as a young woman. I would have included Ella on here as well, but I figured this part could serve to glorify the both. A great author with many fantastic books.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: Quirky and odd with a failure of a finale (see Snicket…see what I did?) these books were pretty entertaining to me as a child, even if they disappointed me at the end (guess it shows they had me hooked). I loved the vocabulary and random facts I learned reading these. They never failed to make me scratch my head and ponder a little bit what madness had affected the author.

The Complete Charlie Bone SeriesMidnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King) by Jenny Nimmo:  I think part of the reason I loved this story so much was that it had a slight hint of similarity to Harry Potter. I liked the imagination and creativity behind the works, and I adored all of the characters.

The Forgotten DoorThe Forgotten Door by Alexander Key: Alexander Key is an obscure author I fell in love with (though I think it might have been as a teen rather than a child). A fascinating thought on the possibility of utopia, with a unique boy from an alien world coming to earth. It definitely gave me a lot to ponder at the time.

Catherine, Called BirdyCatherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman: I thought I should include at least one “historical” book since I loved these as well. The famous women in history diaries were one, but I liked this one for being more fictionalized, not about anyone real but wondering what it might have been like to be a woman back in the days of arranged marriages. I adored Catherine’s wit and cleverness, her clear dislike for the traditions of her day and longing for more.  A very fun story with a great heroine.

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, #1)Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series) by Margaret Peterson Haddix: Haddix is a master storyteller. I love lots of her works, but these ones were particularly suspenseful and interesting. Great dystopian fiction. I remember it brought a lot of pondering for me about population laws and government control and other important things like that.

The Castle in the Attic (The Castle in the Attic, #1) Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop: Again, my love of fantasy playing out. A fun and interesting adventure that followed in a series of books. I think one of my favorite things about this one was that my brother and I both enjoyed it, and I like remembering books that were shared in interest by both of us, because those are doubly special.

Half Magic (Tales of Magic, #1)Half Magic (Tales of Magic Series) by Edward Eager: More oddballs. I guess I was just a weird kid, what can I say. I loved the concept of this book taking little traditional storytelling elements (like making wishes) and playing with them. Summing it up, four kids find a magical item that gives them the ability to make wishes, but only in halves. Misadventures ensue. I have a childhood fondness for all of these books for some odd reason.

The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes, Volume 1The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes by Anne Mazer: One of the earliest books I remember making me want to be a writer. Really a very simple series with several books, but I still know as a little girl I had a diary I filled out with green pen (I think Abby’s is purple) and I would put little quotes on it and I would try to motivate myself to do great things. Cute memories attached in spite of the lesser nature of this one.

Getting to the end of this I begin to realize how many wonderful books I’ve left off. I mean how could I forget about the wonderful Spiderwick Chronicles? Or the funny Bruce Coville alien series? Or the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? Honestly, there are too many books I loved as a girl to list here. Oh well, this is just a sparse selection, some of the first that come to mind.

What are your childhood favorites? Why do you love these so much? What books made you want to be a writer or inspired you to some future goal?

6 Comments

Filed under Reading

In Dedication to the Love of my Life

Oh calm down all those who know that I’m single and are suddenly severely worried you’ve missed something. No need for panicking. This love has been around for quite some time, and I’m not quite sure why I haven’t chosen to write about him before….or well not in great depth. Sure I’ve had a post or two where I’ve throw in his name, but it’s time he earned his own post. I’m talking about none other than my wonderful amazing and utterly lovable William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare

10 Things I Hate About You fits a little too well in this respect

I have a literature professor who often refers to Emily Dickinson as solely Emily because he adores her work so much, so don’t take it as too much of an offense if I do the same for my darling Will.

Will and I were first formally introduced when I was in second grade. I had no idea how much I’d come to adore him, although I remember being interested at the time by the comical spectacle of Much Ado About Nothing. We met again in fifth grade when my school gifted and talented section put on Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But nothing could prepare me for the lifelong romance that would ensue after my first encounter with an actual text.

At fourteen I was able to travel to London for the second time in my short life. I remembered before liking it, but it was December and something about Christmas magic in the air made it all the more enchanting. And after visiting the Tower of London, some interest caught hold of me and refused to let go. And between the beauty and the history and the enchantment I found myself surrounded in, I became determined to learn more of the mysterious stories which governed this mystical land. Thus, I began reading on Richard III.

2014-09-11 003

Now, besides Sir Thomas More, the most well-known account of what happened to this enigmatic king falls into the hands of my brilliant Will himself. With my obsession in mind and free-time on my hands during Christmas break, I decided to pursue the play itself to discover more. And though William makes a poor historian, he’s a genius playwright.

Many might scoff at the thought of a fourteen year old choosing to read a history play as her first Shakespeare, on her break no less. But the moment I began I knew I couldn’t stop. “Now is the winter of our discontent–” the words drew me in, created images of monstrous kings, and murderers, and innocent princes, and ghosts, and battles, and the little traditionally romantic (literary term, not in the general sense…trust me, it’s not a super romantic play), found herself engulfed in something she had trouble understanding, but nonetheless enjoyed.

2014-09-14 006

Richard III was my first. And it remains a long standing favorite in the way I believe many first encounters do. It has something nostalgic about it, a little hint of the future years of joy and tears and marvel to come. I checked out movie versions, watched them multiple times, even with commentary on a few times. It wasn’t altogether surprising I wrote my senior high school thesis on the play, exploring the propaganda affects it had on historical readers and the assumptions it still causes today.

Shakespeare plays started becoming my main Christmas gift. Our festival in my local hometown does two a year during the summer, and my parents consistently would promise we could go. I began watching as many different productions as I could, and soon had set one of my first bucket-list goals of seeing all of the Shakespeare plays on a stage before my death. Thus far, I believe I’m about a quarter of the way through. And each summer I’d sit beneath the stars and greedily watch yet another of my beloved Will’s plays, and dream, and imagine the way any young person in love will.

2014-09-14 007

College welcomed me to a class featuring my idol, devouring more than ten plays in the course of a semester, watching our theater company put on the witty and adored Twelfth Night. And I continued to realize that I had thoroughly and completely besworn myself to my Will, that each day he offered further enchantment, more and more material to adore and swoon over.

My final paper played an imitation game with his style, attempted to mimic the well loved hyperboles and phrases, earned a lovely comment from my professor on my talents at sounding Elizabethan. But that was no surprise considering how much I spent time with my Will, that my words might begin to sound a bit like his.

2014-11-09 001

I was sorrowful as I ended the course, even more so on realizing I had to return my now much revered textbook to the renter. But to be sure my romance does not end even as this small part of life has. That is the joy of loving a man on a page, that he never leaves you, that the love is undying. Isn’t that indeed what he writes in his most famous sonnet 18:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

And so as his sonnet lives, the love of this great man lives on with it, bits of affection and kindness and genius all tucked within the lines for me to discover each and every time I delve into the sonnets or the plays or any bit of this man’s beautiful work.

IMG_0711IMG_0712IMG_0713

But in all seriousness I will say this, I admire greatly the genius of Shakespeare. Though I hope I don’t come off quite as obsessed as I may have jokingly suggested above, he is probably one of the greatest founders of my writing inspiration. My last finished book picked little bits of sonnet, and suggestions of King Lear, and a touch of thought on justice from Merchant of Venice, and my latest gathers a sense of destiny and fate from Macbeth. And though I may not really love the man romantically (yes let out that sigh of relief any who thought they had a crazy woman on their hands), I do love what he does on a page and hope desperately I can emulate the same laughter, tears, and thought from my own works. It’s good to have mentors in works…maybe even to an extent of feeling some sense of love.

Who do you greatly admire? Any obsession confessions anyone feels led to give? What were some early works that inspired you in writing, in life, etc? For any fellow lovers of the bard, do you have a favorite play or sonnet?

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ok Really- In Defense of Reading

2014-09-16 003

I jokingly posted a funny video about how reading is important earlier this week. However, I figured I might as well share a little bit about reading more seriously, just because it is something I am passionate about.

I’m an English major. So I’m constantly reading. But even in those parameters I try to branch out and read for pleasure too, not just to try to absorb information as quickly as possible.

This week, for example, I managed to continue reading one of my new favorite book series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third book in The Raven Cycle. But how did I manage that? Well, I’ll get down to that with a few easy tips on managing to get some reading time in.

1. Read what you like- if I was trying to make myself read a classic book, or something of a higher caliber, it never would have happened this week. I probably would have read a page or two and given up to go back to my Criminal Minds marathon. So reading an easy teen fiction fantasy book was a good choice.

2. Find a time that works and stick with it!– one of the best ways to keep reading is to get in the habit. For me it’s become a good pre-bedtime activity, helps me calm down and relax before I go to sleep better than television does. If I’m really interested in the book though, I like reading at the breakfast table while having my cereal and coffee.

3. Audiobooks– audiobooks are fantastic inventions I highly recommend. I love using them at the gym, or when cooking, or when driving. I survived my Shakespeare class last semester by listening to the plays usually while playing games on computer or phone, or even while drawing or coloring. It makes for a nice change of pace and gets that same literary joy in.

4. Every bit counts– Even a few minutes a day is a great start, especially if you’re a busy person like me. Take stock of small bits of reading too.

5. Libraries are magical places– use libraries to your advantage. Ask for recommendations from librarians, or do online searches. Seriously, go to the library. Maybe make it a weekly occurrence if you can, or biweekly, or monthly depending on your reading speed.

6. Reward yourself– Maybe a good way to do it is say you have to read twenty pages before you open your computer for the day. Maybe you want to use reading as a check on the to do list before you allow yourself to get distracted. Find methods that work for you.

7. Reward in itself– If you are starting to really enjoy reading for fun (which hopefully if you’re finding the right types of books and spending time regularly pursuing that you should!), then I recommend using books as a bit of a reward in themselves. I personally motivate myself to get homework done by saying after it’s finished I can watch an episode of TV, but lately it’s started being a reward of reading either added or instead of the screen time. And I’m finding I’m enjoying it and looking forward to getting alone time with a book. My roommate even had to hide my book yesterday because I was worried I might be tempted to ditch homework instead.

My roommate hid my book from me so I’d do homework instead!

So voila, a few easy tips to get you going on improving your language skills, and writing skills, and all the other wonderful things that books can do for you.

How do you get yourself to read? What are some challenges to you personally in picking up a book? Share whatever thoughts you have! I always love to hear from readers.

1 Comment

Filed under Reading

The Benefits of Reading

I wanted to get another post up this week, but I couldn’t think of much to say. I considered writing some about the benefits of reading, but then I was watching one of my favorite comedians Brian Regan, and realized instead I could simply share this little segment. After all, what more do you really have to say after seeing this:

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading