March 2011. Yup, again. edit: I put this aside for a couple of weeks because I knew what was coming and didn't want to get to that part. I finished todMarch 2011. Yup, again. edit: I put this aside for a couple of weeks because I knew what was coming and didn't want to get to that part. I finished today, and it was just as devastating as the first time I read it, so my putting it off did not help a bit. I LOVE THIS BOOK.
May 2010 rereading
This is the best book I've read this year, and only the second book that's ever made me cry.
Narrated by Death, the story details the young life of Liesel Meminger in Nazi Germany. This is not a story about Jews or other persecuted people; this is a story of the regular Germans, those who joined the Hitler Youth groups and went along with the Fuhrer's commands.
I liked seeing WWII from a different perspective; everyone tends to focus on Holocaust victims or the soldiers at Normandy (not that these aren't important stories to tell). But what about the people who were on the other side? What did they go through?
Throughout the book, Liesel's reading helps her and her family to learn to think for themselves in a time when that was pretty dangerous. The power of books! ...more
You'd think I would get tired of this, but I never, ever do.
I read the Goethe back in college and I could have sworn it ended with Faustus getting offYou'd think I would get tired of this, but I never, ever do.
I read the Goethe back in college and I could have sworn it ended with Faustus getting off the hook. I guess it was just my brain implanting a pleasanter memory for me. Or maybe I watched Bedazzled around the same time and they got blended ... ?
At any rate, my students' response is never disappointing: they're in from beginning to end. And while I admit that I'm always hoping that, maybe, this time, Faustus will redeem himself, those bloodthirsty kids are always happy that he's dragged off to hell. No deathbed confessions for them, I guess....more
A one-handed orphan boy, Ren, is adopted by a man claiming to be his long-lost brother. His relationship to Ren may be shadowy, but his criminal tendeA one-handed orphan boy, Ren, is adopted by a man claiming to be his long-lost brother. His relationship to Ren may be shadowy, but his criminal tendencies are very clear.
Ren's adventures include resurrectioning, hanging out with a dwarf and a murderer, running across rooftops, dodging bullets, and, of course, thieving.
The blurbs compare the writing to both Dickens' and Stevenson's, and I can definitely see their influence.
This would be a great book for reluctant readers: lots of action, accessible storytelling, no need to decipher metaphors or whatever.
One star lost because I got adventure fatigue; it was just one thing on top of another on top of another. ...more
The residents of Guernsey are given the opportunity to write about books--their favorites,5/4/10- rereading, because I want to
LOVED! Read in one day.
The residents of Guernsey are given the opportunity to write about books--their favorites, why they ARE favorites, and how the books changed them.
This is probably what saved their sanity during WWII: talking about books. When they were burning banisters and chairs for firewood and boiling vegetables in saltwater for taste, the could, for a little while, reflect on the books--the words--that lifted them out of their desolate surroundings for a little while.
In real life, this is the same: when I feel too many things pressing in on me, I can read a book. Then I can talk about that book and I get that great feeling of "rising above." Analysis doesn't always apply, but it's okay if it does. More often, it brings out tales of personal experiences that create and/or strengthen the bonds of the readers.
When you talk about books, you're talking about friends, and the book is like a mutual friend that's introduced you to someone else.
1. Lamb also taught Hunt's youngest daughter to say the Lord's Prayer backward. You naturally want to learn everything you can about a man like that.
True. Quirks and oddities are always far more interesting that right living and volunteer work.
2. Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.
Possibly the reason I remain single.
3. Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.
I wouldn't say this is always true; it certainly makes one aware of the differences between good writing and bad. But there is enjoyment in making fun of bad writing.
4. I didn't keep hens until the war came--then I had to, but I am never easy in their company. I would rather have Ariel [the goat:] butt me on my bottom--that's open and honest and not like a sly chicken, sneaking up to jab you.
As the victim of the Sly Chicken Jab, I wholeheartedly agree.
Hopeless and angry, Frank and April Wheeler almost go out of their way to hurt each other. Why? I don't know; maybe to make sure that they're on the sHopeless and angry, Frank and April Wheeler almost go out of their way to hurt each other. Why? I don't know; maybe to make sure that they're on the same level, unhappiness-wise.
I really loved the movie, but the book provides information that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio--as good as they are--couldn't put across. There's so much internal struggle that can't really be expressed in facial expressions or gestures.
It's not fun to read, and the characters aren't even close to likable. But this is a GOOD book....more
I thought this was a young adult novel about a British hero who smuggles French aristocrats headed for the guillotine (haha, see what I did there?) ouI thought this was a young adult novel about a British hero who smuggles French aristocrats headed for the guillotine (haha, see what I did there?) out of France, much like the Scarlet Pimpernel.
A contemporary grad student trying to identify the Pink Carnation--the aforementioned hero--gets her hands on some journals that further her research. Through a series of flashbacks, we find out who the Pink Carnation really is, and how that whole thing got started, and it's a pretty good story.
So I'm rolling along, thinking, "Hey, I could donate this to the school library and tell my students about it when we study the French Revolution!"
Except that, NO, I can't, because there are some fairly graphic, COMPLETELY GRATUITOUS sex scenes, which are not only unnecessary, but SO FAR OUT of left field that it's almost offensive. Like the author couldn't decide if this was going to be a young adult novel (which it should be; it's perfect for that) or an erotic one (which it shouldn't, because it took me right out of the story and that makes me cranky).
Anyway, both the main characters--the historic one and the contemporary one--are kind of bitchy and I didn't really like them. The secondary characters were better.
I'm mostly disappointed, because I felt like this could have been such a good book; the idea is so good, and there's so much potential. But it didn't deliver. ...more
I tried to read this book several years ago, but I put it down before finishing the first chapter, simply because I found Holden to be such a whiner.I tried to read this book several years ago, but I put it down before finishing the first chapter, simply because I found Holden to be such a whiner. Maybe my tolerance has increased, or my empathy zone has widened, but I found him easier to take this time around. He's still no picnic, don't get me wrong, but I can understand him a little better. I didn't immediately hate him.
I guess I can see why a teenager would love this book--Salinger definitely has the right tone, and certainly Holden holds and articulates the typical teenager's attitude: everyone in the world is fake and no adult can ever be trusted and everyone is stupid but me.
However, I am not a teenager.
However however, I work with teenagers all day every day, and I can say with some authority that the Holden Caulfield Worldview (tm) is still in effect seventy years later.
I was pretty smug, going in, about knowing that Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. However, I realized, while reading this book, that everytI was pretty smug, going in, about knowing that Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. However, I realized, while reading this book, that everything I thought I knew about Frankenstein is false. Upon reflection, I believe that most of my misinformation came from Young Frankenstein and Saturday Night Live."
Throughout the book, I found myself siding with the monster over Frankenstein, even when the monster ... you know, killed people. Still--and I realize this is due to the specific time and culture in which I live--I lost patience with Frankenstein's constant tears and fainting. He seemed really weak to me, perhaps because I generally expect people to fight rather than immediately surrender.
--continuing my WWI education, since my world history textbook SUCKS SO HARD--
It seems to me that the author really emphasized the idea that soldiers--continuing my WWI education, since my world history textbook SUCKS SO HARD--
It seems to me that the author really emphasized the idea that soldiers find it difficult to transition from battlefield to homefront.
This is something I've been thinking about for a while, inspired by an episode of MTV's True Life, "I Have PTSD." I think we really hurt returning service men and women by insisting that they immediately re-enter ... I don't know what to call it ... peaceful living? the un-battlefield? civilization?
When he's home on leave, Paul (the narrator) says he doesn't know how to go back, that he's not the same person he was when he left, and that he doesn't fit his family's expectations. "Oh, you must be glad to be home," people say to him, but he's not; he may be happy not to be fighting at the front, but "home" doesn't have the same meaning for him any longer.
There's also quite a disparity between Paul's experience of battle and his neighbors' expectations of what it must be like. This, too, must be true today; while we armchair generals fight for glory and honor half a world away, real soldiers are getting sand in their eyes and shells in their backs and not showering for days and there's no glory in it at all. I feel, too, that some of those returning soldiers, as Paul does, give us the truth they know we can handle, rather than the truth they actually lived.
2013: This class liked the play, probably because I emphasized the importance of stepping outside their own experience to remeread in my theater class
2013: This class liked the play, probably because I emphasized the importance of stepping outside their own experience to remember that everybody doesn't think or behave the same way they do. It's an unusually empathetic bunch this year, anyway. They got it, and I love this play so hard right now.
It was a struggle to get my class to see Blanche as anything but a crazypants ho-bag lying cheater-face, but I think I got them to dig a little bit.
I almost straight up started a fight when we finished, and they refused to believe that Stanley would face any consequences.
"He got away with everything!" they said. "But isn't Stella going to think of him differently?" I asked. "Won't that make him less arrogant and sure?" "Maybe for a little while," they allowed, "but eventually they'll go back to the way they used to be." "Really?" I used an outdoor voice. "REALLY." "He's unbuttoning her shirt!" they pointed out. "That's the only way he communicates. It's how he feels safe expressing his emotion! Is she going to be able to forget what he's done?" "Yes, she'll forget after a while." "REALLY??????????????????????? REALLY????????????????"
lather, rinse, repeat
However, just for my own self, I enjoyed this play more this time than any other time I've read it. I thought about it, reflected more on the characters, and tried to understand their motivations. I was super-aware of Williams' phrasing and how he used music as a back-up to the action of the scenes. I asked a lot of questions of my students that I was also asking of myself for the first time, and there were some sparks of perception in our discussions.