"The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare is one of Shakespeare's more fun plays. It's easier to understand than most of his other plays and it...more"The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare is one of Shakespeare's more fun plays. It's easier to understand than most of his other plays and it was adapted into the film "10 Things I Hate About You," making it more modern and relatable. it's about two sisters, Katherine and Bianca, whose father won't let Bianca marry until her older sister does. However, Katherine is detestable and many would call her a 'shrew.' Lucentio, like many other men, is in love with Bianca and wishes to marry her. He knows about her father's rule though and introduces her father to Petrucio, a very self-absorbed, egotistical man, even by today's standards. He agrees to marry Katherine against her wishes because of the large sum of money he will obtain from it. While married, he begins to 'tame' her; not feeding her and having her follow his orders. Hence, where the title of the play comes from. Shakespeare brings attention the horridness of a man trying to tame his wife, but the play is truly witty and there are many scenes that are hilarious to read. It's one of his more enjoyable works and he brings his characters to life with the witty comments they make trying to win the womens affections.(less)
When I first heard of Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights," I was told it was this tragic story about Heathcliff and Catherine and how their love...moreWhen I first heard of Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights," I was told it was this tragic story about Heathcliff and Catherine and how their love for one another destroyed them and the people they were close to. However, when I began reading it, it took me a while to get into it. Heathcliff is this orphan boy who Catherine's father takes in as a child, so she and her brother are forced to be around him growing up. Catherine is above his class, but he somehow falls in love with her, though I can't fathom why; she was definitely a diva by our standards. She is in love with Heathcliff as well, but ends up marrying another man who is more suitable for her. Heathcliff dedicates his life to basically destroying Catherine's life and the people in it, but the love the two feel for each other is apparent. However, it's too late for them to have a happy ending and Catherine dies, leaving her daughter, the spitting image of her, to stay with Heathcliff. As Emily Bronte's only novel, I found the love between Heathcliff and Catherine to be very chilling and well written. I've read many novels which have tried to convey even half of the passion that Heathcliff had for Catherine, and very few have gotten right it the way Bronte did.(less)
"The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides begins very sullenly simply with the title. A book about suicides doesn't sound all that pleasant. However,...more"The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides begins very sullenly simply with the title. A book about suicides doesn't sound all that pleasant. However, as the story unfolds, we see the lives of the five Lisbon sisters through the eyes of the neighbor boys and how each of their suicidal deaths has impacted them. The deaths all happened when they were in high school and even though they weren't that close to the girls, the girls fascinated them well into adulthood. The artifacts and little things they collected about the girls makes it evident that the deaths of the girls impacted the neighbor boys for a long time after the actual deaths. "The Virgin Suicides" interested me because the story is written from the boys' perspective and how they view the lives and deaths of the sisters, not from the sisters' point of view which was interesting to take in.(less)
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare is a play about the intricacies of young loves and the tangled webs young couples weave. Hermia is...more"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare is a play about the intricacies of young loves and the tangled webs young couples weave. Hermia is in love with Lysander who wakes up and is in love with Helena who is in love with Demetrius who was once in love with Hermia and is now in love with Helena. It's a tangled mess of love and Shakespeare details how different everything is in the nighttime versus the daytime. The young couples are all punished for their actions by being forced to marry and stop acting like such fools. This is one of Shakespeare's more witty comedies and many young people can relate because when we're young, we're always changing our minds from one thing to the next and falling in love many times over the course of our younger years.(less)
**spoiler alert** "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin first caught my eye when I saw that it was being adapted into a film. The trailer inspired me t...more**spoiler alert** "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin first caught my eye when I saw that it was being adapted into a film. The trailer inspired me to read the book and I couldn't put it down. It follows Rachel, a recently turned thirty single woman who winds up sleeping with her best friend Darcy's fiancée Dexter. The two begin having an affair and eventually Dex leaves Darcy for Rachel. The huge twist comes at the end when Darcy reveals that she is pregnant with Dexter's best friend's child. What fascinated me about this book was not only the major turn at the end, but the way we get to see inside the mind of the 'other woman' and actually feel for her. Personally, I sided with Rachel, even though she was the woman sleeping with her best friend's fiancée behind her back. She truly fell in love with him and it broke her heart to lose her best friend and Giffin portrayed the emotions really vividly. (less)
"Time Windows" by Kathryn Reiss was my favorite book when I was in elementary school. The main character Miranda is a thirteen-year-old girl who moves...more"Time Windows" by Kathryn Reiss was my favorite book when I was in elementary school. The main character Miranda is a thirteen-year-old girl who moves into a new house with her family. The old house she has moved into houses an old dollhouse which mimics the house she now lives in. Through the windows of the dollhouse, she begins to see bits and pieces of the house inhabitants of the past. These scenes play out in the dollhouse and begin to make their way into Miranda's own life. The children she sees are neglected during World War II and Miranda's own mother begins to neglect her as well. The more Miranda sees in the dollhouse, the more it begins to look like her own life. Reading this book as a young reader gave me the sense that I could write about anything, even the things that were not real at all.(less)
"Crank" by Ellen Hopkins first appeared to me in snippets in my Sophomore Creative Writing class in high school. What made me go out and buy the book...more"Crank" by Ellen Hopkins first appeared to me in snippets in my Sophomore Creative Writing class in high school. What made me go out and buy the book was the fact that it is a novel written entirely in poems. Even more, the story is truly riveting. Kristina is a perfectly good example of the average teenage girl gone completely wrong. While visiting her father, she meets a boy who she falls in love with and begins the downward spiral of a life of drugs. She refers to herself as Bree when she turns into the monster because of the drugs and through the poems, we figure out her story and her struggle with life. I thought this book was truly a must read because it focuses on issues that most people do not want to deal with but that are happening with youth today. Because Hopkins portrays the novel in such a creative way, it makes the tragic story stand out and become a truly beautiful novel.(less)
**spoiler alert** "One Day" by David Nicholls is written in the sense that each chapter coincides with the particular day, June 15, over the course of...more**spoiler alert** "One Day" by David Nicholls is written in the sense that each chapter coincides with the particular day, June 15, over the course of 20 years. It follows the life of Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley from the first time they meet, spending the day after graduation together, until the very last day they have together, when Emma is hit by a car while riding her bike. Over the span of the novel, we find out bits and pieces of information told by either Emma or Dexter, but only on this particular day. Emma and Dexter's various jobs, significant others, feelings toward each other, etc. are all glazed over until this day each year. It is not until the end of the novel that we figure out what this day ultimately means, the death of Emma Morley. I found this novel to be truly different from anything I've read previously in the sense that it would speak of things like Dexter's mother being ill and that she would 'talk to him about it tomorrow' but the readers would not know about what the illness was until the next year because we only saw into the characters lives on this one day of the year.
This book was written so unlike any other book I've ever read that I fell in love with the way it was written as much as the plot itself. I learned that writing a novel does not have to follow any sort of guidelines, it is simply as the writer chooses.(less)
"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan follows two teenagers one night in New York City. Nick and Norah meet in a club...more"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan follows two teenagers one night in New York City. Nick and Norah meet in a club where Nick's band is playing and Norah has come to find the band 'Where's Fluffy,' which she and Nick share an interest for. Norah asks Nick to be her boyfriend for 5 minutes because she doesn't want to be upstage by Trish, who is apparently Nick's ex-girlfriend. The night continues with Nick and Norah roaming around town trying to find this band, while Nick's bandmates seemingly lose Norah's friend. They all eventually wind up in the same place to see the band, where Nick and Norah leave together. They have found what they were looking for and are now ready to think for themselves without the influences of others. This novel was an easy read and paired with a soundtrack of music that inspired the authors, it was very easy to fall in love with.(less)
"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk is about an unnamed narrator who struggles with insomnia and leads a double life as Tyler Durden, the founder of Fight...more"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk is about an unnamed narrator who struggles with insomnia and leads a double life as Tyler Durden, the founder of Fight Club; groups of ordinary men who are unhappy with their lives meet in basements to beat each other up and then go back to their jobs and their lives with their wounds the next day. The narrator spends a lot of his time at various support groups which he finds as the only relief to his insomnia. The narrator figures out that he is in fact Tyler Durden and attempts to stop Tyler from bombing the 'tallest building in the world.' He decides to make his first decision without Tyler influencing him, he uses the gun Tyler had to shoot himself with the gun in his mouth. "Fight Club" goes against so many traditional norms, we sense that Palahniuk knew exactly what he was doing when writing it, especially by not naming the narrator. This is why everyone knows that 'the first rule of fight club is that you don't talk about fight club.' Palahniuk is one of those authors who goes against the odds and gives every writer a sense of hope. People may not always know what he's writing about at first glance, but digging deeper, a bigger picture is uncovered.(less)
"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin is about a young woman Edna who feels trapped in her life of being a wife and mother. After the attraction between Edna...more"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin is about a young woman Edna who feels trapped in her life of being a wife and mother. After the attraction between Edna and Robert, Edna begins to see her life in a different light. She moves into a small apartment when her husband is away on business and begins an affair with another man. After assisting a friend with childbirth, she returns to the place she first met Robert, Grand Isle, where she ultimately drowns in the ocean. This becomes Edna's 'awakening' as she was not enjoying her life while she was living and it is only through death that she feels free. This novel was one of my favorites that I read in high school because it is all about a woman breaking free of what she is expected to do in society and the consequences it has. By reading this, Chopin taught me that writing about unspoken desires makes for a very engaging book.(less)
"According To Jane" by Marilyn Brant begins when Ellie Barnett is in high school. Her English class begins reading Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"...more"According To Jane" by Marilyn Brant begins when Ellie Barnett is in high school. Her English class begins reading Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Ellie begins to hear a voice in her head. The voice seemingly belongs to none other than Jane Austen herself. We follow Ellie through her life through high school, college, and beyond; all with Jane Austen's commentaries throughout the years in Ellie's head. Austen urges her to stay away from Sam Blaine, a boy Ellie has known since high school as he is her "Mr. Wickham." Ellie follows this advice, until the end when Sam Blaine turns out to be her "Mr. Darcy" after all. This book stood out to me when I read it because it's very modern and Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors so I wanted to see how another author could adapt her as a voice in the late twentieth century. It is an easy read and very witty, and one of my favorite things to read were the snarky comments Austen has about things happening in our century.(less)
"Looking for Alaska" by John Green follows Miles Halter, also known as Pudge, as he transitions to life at Culver Creek Prep School in Alabama. Pudge...more"Looking for Alaska" by John Green follows Miles Halter, also known as Pudge, as he transitions to life at Culver Creek Prep School in Alabama. Pudge is roommates with the Colonel, who introduces him to Alaska Young, a carefree, unique girl whom Pudge is attracted to. We see Pudge become increasingly interested in Alaska, even though she has a boyfriend and even sets him up with a girl she knows. However, one night Alaska, Pudge, and the Colonel are drinking and Pudge and Alaska share a kiss. They soon fall asleep and Alaska is woken up by a phone ringing in the middle of the night. After the call, she is hysterical and Pudge and the Colonel devise a plan to get her off campus to where she needs to go. The 'After' part of the story begins with the knowledge of Alaska having been killed in a car accident and follows Pudge in his grief. At the end, Pudge turns in a paper which answers a question that Alaska had asked him much earlier, "How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?" His answer: forgiveness. I believe this novel details the extremely complicated path a teenage boy is going through while adjusting to life in a new state and how he deals with the tragic death of the girl he likes. This book was set in "Before" and "After" which was unusual for a novel, but it definitely helped the story flow and I was constantly guessing what was going to happen next.(less)
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer is about a nine-year-old Oskar Schell who is searching for answers across New York City...more"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer is about a nine-year-old Oskar Schell who is searching for answers across New York City about the key he found in his father's closet inside a vase. Oskar's father died in the 9/11 attacks and this story takes place two years after the fact. We follow Oskar as he searches for the lock that this key belongs to, hoping that it will help him understand more about his father's untimely death. Along for the ride are the the old man from upstairs, who has not left his apartment in many years and later, his (unbeknown to him) grandfather. This emotional journey Foer takes us on lets us understand how this child is searching for some hint of his father in a big city. While experiencing Oskar's journey, we also get to view the grandfather as a narrator through his letters and it's truly a story about fathers and sons and the lengths a young boy is willing to go through to find answers about his father. By not reading Foer's first novel, I read this blindly, not knowing what to expect. What I found was a book written by a young boy, which is rare because we get to see into his mind when something tragic happens, which taught me to break free of the norms when writing.(less)
Blue Angel, Francine Prose, HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
Francine Prose’s novel Blue Angel opens with Ted Swenson, an average professor of a creative...moreBlue Angel, Francine Prose, HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
Francine Prose’s novel Blue Angel opens with Ted Swenson, an average professor of a creative writing class at Euston, a small college isolated in the Northeast Kingdom. Enter Angela Argo, a quiet, uniquely dressed girl with neon colors in her red hair and facial piercings covering most of her face. An unlikely match for a sexual harassment case, but nonetheless Prose has depicted Swenson’s character as the perfectly average professor, husband, colleague, and friend who still winds up with sexual desires for one of his students after becoming immensely transfixed by her writing style.
Prose’s major strength in this novel is how she depicts the main character Swenson. We’re reading from his point of view, which creates an atmosphere of uncertainty when reading into Swenson’s character. Prose continuously contradicts Swenson’s character; making it apparent that he loves his wife Sherrie and has never lied to her before, but he is seemingly attracted to every woman he comes in contact with in the novel. Magda, his best friend who he had a fling with once, Lauren, the leader of a Faculty-Student women’s group who he checks out at a dinner party, and of course Angela, the student he engages in sexual activity with.
This attraction to every woman was both vital and not vital to the novel because while it continued to show the kind of man Swenson was throughout, I feel like the fact that he would have relations with a student was apparent from the beginning when the meeting about sexual harassment foreshadowed his later actions.
While we get the sense that Angela is not attractive from Prose’s description of her, Swenson is solely attracted to her writing which makes him want her. Because he’s having writers block, her novel becomes appealing to him, which in turn leads him to pursue her.
The only woman in the novel whom Swenson does not have an attraction to is his daughter Ruby. Ruby has an underlying hatred for her father for breaking up her relationship. We know this from the beginning, and even see the distant relationship she has with her father vaguely when she visits for Thanksgiving. However, when Angela convicts Swenson of sexual harassment at the end of the novel with a recording of his confession, we learn from Ruby’s ex-boyfriend (Angela’s current) that Swenson molested Ruby as a child. This accusation is never confirmed, so the reader is left to interpret if it is true or not depending on how they view Swenson’s character.
While Prose wants us to have an uncertain view of Swenson, I tended to not sympathize with him. While we know he is a well-respected colleague who would not hurt his wife, he still has relations with his student! At the trial, he knows there is nothing he can do to redeem himself. “This is Swenson’s big chance to make his Dostoyevskian confession of sin, his impassioned, reckless plea for forgiveness and redemption. And in fact, Swenson is sorry.” He tries to justify it, tries to tell himself it was nothing, but in context, it is wrong. He’s not only committed adultery, he’s engaged in sex with a student of his which causes him to lose his job, his marriage, and his dignity. (less)
"Mr. Maybe" by Jane Green follows Libby in her search for 'Mr. Right.' She's twenty-seven and is desperate to find the love of her life. While playing...more"Mr. Maybe" by Jane Green follows Libby in her search for 'Mr. Right.' She's twenty-seven and is desperate to find the love of her life. While playing the dating game, she meets Nick, a casual fling who holds nothing that she is looking for in a husband but who she is deeply attracted to. When Ed comes along, he embodies the perfect husband Libby is looking for; he can support her lifestyle. However, she is not attracted to him in the slightest. This novel follows a woman in her late twenties who thinks she knows what she wants until it's actually staring her in the face. Once she actually has what she thought she wanted all along, she realizes that having a man who can support her in the long run means nothing if she is not truly attracted to or in love with the man, which leads her to ultimately going back to Nick, but taking things slowly this time around. This book is classic "chic-lit" but I'm a sucker for love stories and second chances, which let me enjoy this because it has both.(less)