Posted in Book Challenge, Book Review

The Great American Read

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. -C.S. Lewis

With that statement being true for me, you can only imagine my excitement when I first heard about The Great American Read, hosted by PBS. Firstly, book lists make me excited because I want to see how many I’ve read, but then secondly, I get to vote and prove to other people that my favorite books are awesome as well!? It’s an English major/teacher’s favorite fantasy.

Speaking of teaching, I can totally see this being an interactive bulletin board in my classroom. I can put up copies of the book covers and let the students cast their votes within the classroom, while also encouraging them to vote online in their free time. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire them to read some of the books they haven’t read? It might also be interesting to see if any students have read more of these books than I have.

So now are you curious about which book I’ll vote for and how many I’ve read? Well, it made me feel better to know that I can vote for a different book each day because choosing just one book on this list would be extremely hard. I mean, The Chronicles of Narnia, To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, and Little Women are listed. I’ve used all of those books as answers to the inevitable “what’s your favorite book?” question.

Let’s start first with the number of books I have read. Out of 100, I’ve only read a dismal 44. This brought me spiraling back to my lifelong conundrum of never having enough time to read all of the books out there. Then I started looking at some of the books I haven’t gotten around to reading that I really need to. For example, why did I never finish Catch-22 or Heart of Darkness? Why did I spend time reading Moby-Dick when I still haven’t read The Lord of the Rings? Oh I can answer that question: Melville was required reading for a class. Then there are some like Jurassic Park that I didn’t even know were books. Overall, I’m impressed with the list that Americans chose and hope to get my hands on these and understand the American mind even more.

So, the book I will choose to vote for? I think I will have to begin my voting with Narnia because technically I’m voting for seven books that way. I also think more people need to read the books and not focus on the movies as much. After that it’ll be a toss-up between Mockingbird and Jane Eyre. Some others that might catch votes include Little Women, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Giver, Gone with the Wind (that thing is monstrous!), and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Go to pbs.org/greatamericanread to get your own list and cast your vote(s).

Happy reading!

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Posted in Book Challenge

Mr. Darcy! What girl after reading Pride and Prejudice or watching the movie doesn’t want to get to know this pensive man more?

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I know, I know, as an English literature major I should choose a male character for more than his ability to woo from beneath the pages of a classic novel, but for today’s challenge, I’m going to sigh over Mr. Darcy for a bit.

He starts as an abominable man because he refuses to socialize at the party. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “how rude!” No harm though, because Elizabeth isn’t particularly interested in him at this point. She’s a good sister, promoting the romance of Jane and Mr. Bingley. In fact, he spends much of the book in the proverbial dog house.

She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.

Finally though he professes his love for Elizabeth first by saving her family’s reputation and her sister then through his words to her.

You must know, surely you must know, it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I’d scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I would have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love… I love… I love you. And I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.

Mr. Darcy!

His character is multi-faceted and real. He portrays a realness to romance in that he waffles. He makes mistakes and he redeems himself. In addition to his enchanting words, he’s just a well-written character. That’s why he’s my favorite male character.

Book Challenge

Posted in Book Challenge

A Favorite Desecrated

The challenge for today is to choose my favorite writer. I prefer the word author to describe those who pen books, but we’ll go with writer for the sake of the challenge. I’m really stalling here because “favorite” is a scary word. I can’t choose just one favorite because there are authors that I like some of their books but not all, and it always depends on my mood. For example, I like C.S. Lewis for his thoughtfulness. John Steinbeck is good for real characters. Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut are good for extended metaphors and allegories. Jane Austen is good for some predictable romance. Ted Dekker provides a thrill. The list could go on and on, but you get the point. My “favorite” author depends on my current needs and desires. Today, I’m thinking solely of the books I have on my bookshelves, which if you’re wondering are organized by genre/time period and author as well as books I have read and want to read. Based on those books alone, it would appear that Jodi Piccoult is my favorite author because I have so many of her books. They take up an entire shelf on my smaller bookshelf. Piccoult writes real-life dramas usually involving mystery or court cases in some way. Her books are well-researched and well-written. She tends to follow a specific writing style in which she alternates between various perspectives in each chapter. Sometimes it takes me a while to discover how the characters connect to one another. The books are a quick but intense read, and typically I can re-read them after some time because I forget how the story plays out.

Book Challenge

Speaking of Jodi Piccoult, the next challenge is a book that was turned into a movie but completely desecrated. Can I just pause here to say what a wonderful word “desecrated” is? It might be used a bit out of context here. I suppose if I was to answer the prompt in a way that reflects the sacredness this word connotes I would have to choose a movie based on a book of the Bible. I’m going to take the word more loosely though and stick with the theme of this post to say that Jodi Piccoult’s My Sister’s Keeper was completely ruined by the movie industry. I remember being so very excited when the movie was released. We were reading it in my creative writing class at the Governor’s Scholar Program during the summer before my senior year of high school. After convincing the teacher to schedule a field trip, we left the movie theater disappointed that the book wasn’t respected. They changed the entire ending! I completely understand taking out scenes, adding characters, or even re-ordering scenes, but it’s just wrong to change an ending to a book. The story was perfectly fine as it was written in the book. Why change it?

Posted in Book Challenge

With a Little Help From My Friend

I had to get my best human friend’s help with this next challenge because I was having a tough time finding a book that I’ve loved but hated at the same time. We landed on the definition that it’s a book that I really enjoyed but that there were characters or plotlines that I didn’t enjoy. Without going too far back in my memory, I would choose A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I’ve posted about a couple of times if you’ll remember. (If you don’t remember, click here and here.) This book is one that I really enjoyed reading, but Owen’s character annoyed me sometimes. I was also slightly put off by the format of the book going back and forth between present and past. The present wasn’t as interesting to me. All in all though, I’d say there’s more love for this book than there is hate.

 

My friend also helped me parse out the meaning of the challenge that I skipped. She helped me see that the characterization “overrated” is an opinion, and it doesn’t mean I am saying no one else should read the book nor am I saying it’s a bad book. I am simply saying that Twilight does not deserve as much hype as it has received. There are better stories out there. It’s a sensational novel that garnered a lot of buzz and now can be found in many peddler’s malls. I enjoyed it while I read them, but they’re not ones I will re-read or rush to see the movie (I did get caught up in the first one). There are just better books out there.

Posted in Book Challenge

A Hard Thing to Say: Hate

Hate is a really strong word, but the next category is a book that I hated. I hesitate to say I hate a book because usually on a second read-through I find something to like about the book. Before you get up in arms about the book I will discuss because you like it so much, know that I realize it probably has redeeming qualitities and someday I plan to go back and re-read to find those.

The book I choose I read during high school. It was a time when I was doing independent work in the hallway, so that might have impacted my understanding of the value of The Turn of the Screw. I remember it being somewhat cheesy as a ghost story and hard to read. I just don’t remember enjoying it and wishing I could finish it. That’s all the negative I want to say. Now I need to put it back on my list of books to read.

Posted in Book Challenge

Reminiscent of Kentucky

If you’ve been following along, I’ve been making (sort-of) daily posts based on a list of categories I found on the internet. Today’s category is a book that reminds you of home. This is another hard category because I generally read books because they take me other places. It’s not that home is a bad place; it’s just that quickly trekking through other character’s adventures is generally more thrilling than living my life slowly.

For the sake of this challenge though I’m going to attempt to choose a book or at least an author that takes me to my home in Kentucky. I’m going to choose books by Barbara Kingsolver. She grew up in Kentucky, which is probably why her books feel somewhat like home. Even though it’s been a while since I peeked into one of her stories, the characters still feel real. The Bean Trees reminds me of people I know here in Kentucky. Prodigal Summer brings to mind places I know. While The Poisonwood Bible is set in Africa, the situation of a preacher’s family is reminiscent as well.