Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Challenge Day 17: A book that is made into a horrible movie

I am not the biggest fan of the Scarlet Letter, but I do think it is a good book. Symbolism, Allegory, there is a lot to get into in the book. This is a literature lovers book and it did not deserve to be turned into this:

The love scene is one of the most disturbing things ever captured on film. This movie has nothing to do with the book, and it is poorly acted and directed. If you are inclined to watch a movie that is based on The Scarlet Letter watch Easy A. It is pretty brilliant.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Challenge Double Whammy

I missed yesterday, so today I am doing a two for one.

Day 15: Best book about a foreign culture

This is the first book I read in my Frosh English class at WOU. That turned out to be the only English class I enjoyed, and a lot of it had to do with this book. Allende's depiction of Chile's turbulent society under Pinochet's rule is shrouded under a cloud of magical realism. This is a beautiful book.

Day 16: Best adaption to a movie

Atonement is one of the best books that I have ever read. The tightly crafted story is entrancing. It is a book you can't put down. The movie does a very good job of capturing the book. Both the movie and the book maintain an air of mystery and slight discomfort. You know something is wrong, but you can't quite place your finger on it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 13: A book that should be on every hs/college reading list

based on the debate that occurred with my very first post, I want to adapt today's prompt to "A book you think every American should read" Here is mine:

In my opinion, this is the greatest American novel. No other writer comes close to the masterpiece that Twain created. He perfectly captures life on the Antebellum Mississippi.  It is a snapshot of who we were, and in some ways, who we still are. It isn't just about a boy helping a runaway slave. Twain weaves in themes of friendship, loyalty, the loss of innocence, the danger of ignorance, and much much more.

To this day, it is a controversial book. Twain's honest use of the language of the time, means that many teachers, schools and districts are choosing not to teach it. Personally, I find this to be wrong. You cannot white wash history. People used, and still use, the "N" word, they treated, and still treat, people of other races, creeds or lifestyles poorly, and literature is a powerful tool in educating teens about these issues. I am saddened that some schools and teachers turn from it not because of contreversy, but because they see the syntax as too difficult for students to understand.

Great literature is a mirror that we hold up to ourselves. Over 100 years after it was written, Huck Finn still speaks to America. It has influenced countless authors.Many of the other books that could compete for "greatest American novel" were written by men who have cited it as an inspiration. It was one of Steinbeck's favorite books. I am begging you to read it. Read it!!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 13: Favorite Childhood Book

I loved this book. I remember reading it again and again. Lyle, his family. It was all awesome.

This was another book I read over an over again. What can I say? I had simple tastes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Challenge Day 11: A book so emotionally draining you had to stop reading or take a break.

I don't know that I have ever read a book that was so emotionally draining I had to put it down. I have read books that have made me cry, see my post about Little Women. There are books that cause me to be upset or angry, but I can't think of a book that is overly emotional. Here are books that took me off guard and caused some tears:

The end of this book signaled a shift in the tone of series. We found out that Voldermort truly was evil and that he was willing to do anything to return to power. A truly innocent character pays the ultimate price for being a good person, and I cried with Harry.

I recently read this and cried when Claire writes her letter to Bree, and when Jamie looks at Bree's pictures.

Rue+flowers+signing+plus the signal= a sobbing Juli Ann.

Once again Rowling raises the stakes, and Harry loses someone else he loves. The lose of a mentor and surrogate father in an intensely tragic situation was heart wrenching.

This book gets you with Hedwig and keeps punching till the end.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Challenge Day 11: The book that made you fall in love with reading

This is the first book that I remember ordering in the Scholastic Book order. I got the whole series for my 7th Birthday, and I devoured it. I loved Ramona. She was the youngest, and always behind everyone, and she had a big sister who thought she knew everything. Ramona's life was my life. Ramona's struggles with Beezus, spoke to me more than any other aspect of this book. I was 7, and my sister Wednesday was 14. We didn't have a lot in common, and at the same time she stopped being my playmate and was always wanting to be with her friends and did not want me and Nicole hanging around.  Ramona helped me figure out that my sister still loved me, and that I wasn't the only baby of the family who felt like everyone got to do what I wasn't allowed to do. I loved her family, and her adventures.  When I was younger I could read these books nonstop. They made me love books. 

Book Challenge Day 10: The first novel I remember reading

I was given a beautiful copy of this book for my 7th birthday, I still have it, and it was the first "big" book that I read without my Mom. It is a beautiful story. I read it over and over again and have revisited it every few years.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Challenge Day 9: A book I have read more than once

I struggled with this prompt. At first glance it seemed pretty inane, but Justin pointed out that I read books like other people watch movies, and that helped focus me. I read most books more than once. There are a variety of reasons I do this, rereading is a good habit, I teach the same books from year to year, or I know that as I age classic stories teach me different things. However, the books I read over and over again until I know them by heart are my friends. I know these books. They represent a moment or a memory. I love the characters, or the setting. These are the books I pick up when I am stressed out, tired, sad or anxious. They are embedded in the fabric of who I am. Here are the books I would consider to be my best friends:

Anne Shirley is a good friend of mine, and I love all of her books. This particular part of the series is my all time favorite, because she realizes all of her dreams and after a long "Jonah Night" she finally admits that Gilbert is her true love. When I have a "Jonah Night" day or week, this book makes it better. In the end Anne and I will both be fine.

I am a mystery buff, and the little Belgium has always been one of my favorites. When he is using his "little gray cells" to solve a murder that appears unsolvable, I am swept away. Whether reading, watching or listening to these classic mysteries, I am a happy camper.

Jamie, Claire, history, time travel and sweeping romance, what more could a girl ask for? I love this whole series. It just makes me happy.

Steinbeck traveled an America that is almost impossible find today. I love road trips. I choose driving over flying anytime. There is something very special about driving across this country and experiencing just how different we are. Steinbeck did it before there was a huge interstate highway system. There is no author whose voice appeals to me more than his. When I feel a bit of wanderlust and am unable to go anywhere, I am happy to climb into Rocinante and go with Steinbeck and Charley.

One of my favorite myths and my favorite author. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Justin is currently reading all the books to Harrison and I. Rowling created a world comparable to Narnia and I am happy to delve into it. It never gets old.

A modern Agatha Christieesque mystery series set between WWI and WWII. Maisie is a fascinating character who keeps me guessing. I love the time period that she lives in and how her experiences as a nurse in WWI effect her ability to connect to others.

Justin gave me this series for Christmas two years ago and I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. I love them. Longmire is a Wyoming Sheriff who has flashbacks from Vietnam. Johnson style is Steinbeckesque, I can truly see remote part of northern Wyoming that the series is set. I can't put these down.

There are so many more choices I could make. As I am writing this blog, more and more books are rushing to my mind. I may have to revisit this post again later.....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Challenge Day 8: A book that is unpopular

Today is supposed to be about a book that is unpopular and should be a best seller, but I am bending the rules a bit. This book was very popular with women of my generation. I love it. Meg is not perfect, and the situation she is placed in is strange, but the adventure she goes on is marvelous. This book made 11 year old me, more open to sci fi and fantasy.  Every year I suggest this book to a girl who is sitting in class and reading about vampires, or witches, or werewolves, and every year they go get it from the library and hate it. I don't know why. Maybe it it too 80's? I think it is wonderful and I am so sad that none of students have ever liked it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Challenge Day 7: A book that is hard to read

Wiesel's autobiographical description of the inhuman treatment he and the Auschwitz's prisoners undergo is always difficult to read. I have read and taught this book several times, but it still has moments that horrify  me. This novel retains it's power, because it simplistically describes the realities of the  world's largest concentration camp and the genocidal depravity that was fostered and celebrated in the Nazi regime. Wiesel shows his readers the ugliest side of humanity. The side of us we pray goes away and doesn't return, Reading this books requires paying attention to the plight of others, no matter how uncomfortable that may make us.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.” 
― Elie Wiesel

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Challenge Day 6: A book that makes you cry

Alcott's novel about life on the Civil War home front, is a moving piece of literature. Jo is one of my all time favorite characters, and they dynamic of her family is precious. This book makes my cry for two reasons 1. Beth, I won't ruin it, but man it gets me every time 2. Amy and Lori coming home. When I was younger, I was always angry at Alcott for not giving Jo the romantic ending that I longed for, but as I get older, I appreciate the end and the message it shares with young girls.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Challenge Day 5: A non-fiction book you actually enjoyed

I would like to say that I resent the prompt for today. There are so many nonfiction books that I have enjoyed that this may be the hardest day of all.

1. As a huge mystery buff and a history junkie, this book hit my ultimate sweet spot. Larson weaves the tale of  America's first documented serial killer with the background of the Chicago World's Fair. His narrative is so well written that it is difficult to remember that this is a nonfiction book.  I love it.

2. This book changed the way that Justin and I looked at food and the food industry. It was one of the books that you can't forget about. It led to a change in our diet and a healthier life. I think everyone should read it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Challenge Day 2: A book that reminds you of home.

Thinking of a book that reminds you of home is difficult because I had to define what home meant. To me, home means safety, comfort, and love. This book brings that back to me every time I read it. When I was little, I would sit on my Grandpa's lap and he would read this book to me. For a girl who had no Dad, I was blessed to have one of the most loving, supportive, and outstanding Grandfathers that anyone could wish for.  For me, this book represents a legacy. This is a story that was read to me before my naps, and I would fall asleep dreaming of fawns, lions, and grand adventures. I have noticed that whenever I read it, I instantly feel calmer. In my mind, I can still hear my Grandpa's voice describing Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan's adventures in Narnia.

This book reminds me of home, because it connects me to a man who represents the foundation for a lot of the good things in my life. I can't wait to for my son to be old enough for us to be able to read it together. It will be my opportunity to not only pass on a wonderful story, but to be able to share with him stories of the man who's name will be his middle name.  Narnia will always have a special place in our home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Challenge Day 3: A book that completely surprised you (good or bad)

I resisted reading this book for years. Someone told me that it was written as a diary and, as I posted yesterday, I am not a fan of books that take the form of diaries. I decided to read it in order to see if it was a novel we could do in the 8th grade, and was blown away by it.  I loved that Arnold wasn't a perfect kid making perfect choices. I was intrigued by Alexie's description of life on a modern day reservation, the book takes place just outside of Spokane.  I loved the illustrations. This was a great book. I am sad I waited so long to give it a try.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Challenge Day 2: My Least Favorite Book

I cannot decide between two so I am including them both.

1. A friend suggested that I read this book on my long flight from Portland to Paris. It was the only book that I brought along and I loathed it. I have since read other Vonnegut books and I just don't like him. Catch 22 is ok, and I could read it and not be annoyed the whole time, but this book just bored the crap out of me. I hated all the characters and I didn't care what happened. I made myself finish it, but I was so angry I did.

2. This may make me an awful person, but I find Anne to be very, very annoying. I know she is caught in a tragic event, and I appreciate that she provides a face for the millions who were slaughtered in the Holocaust, but I can't stand her writing. For the past five years, I have taught the play, which is actually worse than the novel, and I just feel bad about it. I think their are better novels about a teen in the Holocaust. To me Night is a much more powerful story. I know that she is in hiding and Wiesel in a camp, but I also think that there is value in the fact that he wrote the book after his interment and it isn't based on a diary.  My diabolical plan is to switch to teaching Night next year. I admire what this book does for educating people about the various sides of the holocaust, but I just can't stand Anne.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Challenge Day 1: My Favorite Book

I love this book. I first read it when I was 12 and I wanted to be Scout. I read it once a year, and every time I do a different character or scene appeals to me. I am currently working in a 9th grade classroom where they are reading it, and I want to stop and discuss each paragraph with students. This time around, I am considering the character of Mayella in a way that I never have before. Harper Lee's masterpiece stands the test of time. The Trayvon Martin case has shown how the themes of this book are as applicable to our current world as it was in 1952. I love how the characters stay with you. Every time I read it, I hope it will somehow have a different ending and I still cry when the jury finds Tom guilty, and my heart breaks when Scout realizes that Boo is as scary as she thinks he is.

30 Day Book Challenge

I have decided that I need a distraction from the baby countdown. We are officially in the 8th month and I can't wait for my little man to arrive.  In an effort to keep from obsessing about when he is going to come, I have decided to do the 30 day book challenge. It looks fun and I am hoping some of you will join in with me. Here is a list of what you are supposed to do each day:

Day 01-Your favorite Book
Day 02-Least Favorite Book 
Day 03-A Book that completely surprised you (bad/good)
Day 04- A Book that reminds you of home
Day 05- A Non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed
Day 06- A Book that makes you cry
Day 07- A Book that’s hard to read
Day 08- An unpopular book you believe should be a Best-Seller
Day 09- A Book you’ve read more than once 
Day 10- The first novel  you remember reading
Day 11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading
Day 12- A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit
Day 13- Favorite childhood book
Day 14- Book that should be on hs/college required reading list
Day 15- Favorite book dealing with foreign culture
Day 16- Favorite book turned movie
Day 17- Book turned movie and completely desecrated
Day 18- A Book You can’t find on shelves anymore that you love
Day 19- A Book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)
Day 20-A Book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person
Day 21-A guilty pleasure book
Day 22-Favorite Series (Edit)
Day 23- Favorite Romance Novel
Day 24 - A Book you later found out the Author lied about
Day 25-Favorite Autobiographical/Biographical book
Day 26-A Book you wish would be written
Day 27- A Book you would write if you had all the resources
Day 28- A Book you wish you never read
Day 29- An Author that you completely avoid/hate wont read
Day 30 - An Author that you will read whatever they put out