not interesting – ⭑⭒⭒⭒⭒
alright – ⭑⭑⭒⭒⭒
enjoyable – ⭑⭑⭑⭒⭒
memorable – ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒
life-changing – ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑
– FEBRUARY 2020 –
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE (Anthony Doerr)
SUMMARY: All The Light We Cannot See portrays two kids who both live during World War II, yet live very different lives. The girl, Marie-Laure, is blind and sees the city of Paris through a model that her father has made for her. Eventually, Paris gets attacked by the Nazis, causing her and her father to flee to Saint-Malo. Her father brings nothing but a gem that he believes is the most valuable piece of jewelry from the museum that he worked at. The boy, Werner, is an orphan that has a very special skill in fixing and building technological instruments; especially radios. He is enrolled into a group that consists of the most elite boys of Germany. There, they are ordered to service the Nazi army.
COMMENTS: From what I have read so far, I am loving this book. I find the book to be very descriptive and filling in all the blank spots in my white canvas of a brain. My friend and I both decided to read this book together – kind of like a mini book club. We constantly start most, if not all of our conversations with the book. We both are very invested as there are so many breadcrumbs to grab as well as basic character development that can inspire our writings. I am looking forward to finishing the book as well as the anticipated sadness that will come when I see the back of the book.
MACBETH (William Shakespeare)
SUMMARY: Macbeth is given three prophecies from three witches saying he will become the King of Scotland. Macbeth is then lead by his strong ambition and his wife to kill the current king, King Duncan to become the replacement. After the killing, he is overwhelmed by the feeling of guilt and darkness which eventually replaces the love within his heart. He is numbed by the evil and can’t fall back onto his original feelings, thus creating a new identity for himself.
COMMENTS: For my ELA 20-1 class, we are doing a study on Macbeth. I gave the book a low rating purely because I don’t particularly like Shakespeare. Although, I have been taking a lot of bits from the play, such as character development and the idea of the supernatural. I am in love with Lady Macbeth as her character is someone that I feel I could write a story about. As well, the personality switch between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is intriguing to me: how people’s mannerisms can transfer to another’s.
average number of pages per day: 16 pages
I am not completely satisfied with this number. Although with the two books that I am reading, I am going into immense depth with them so I can fully understand the structure of the writing and the execution of the storyline (especially All the Light We Cannot See). As I finish up these two books, I want to reach 18 pages per day for next month and read leisurely instead of making it an obligation. Some books that I am interested in are The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which I hope to complete by the end of March.
*finished February books (total of 381 pages)*
THE KITE RUNNER (Khaled Hosseini)
SUMMARY: The Kite Runner is about the life of Amir Jan. He starts off as a child that lives in Kabul, Afghanistan and is blessed to live a luxurious life with servants. One of his servants, Hassan, who is his age, becomes his best friend. Their friendship is broken by Amir’s choice to not react when Hassan needs him the most. Amir and his father leave flee to California to escape the Soviets invasion on Kabul. After many years in California, Amir is called back to Kabul to help an old friend. He asks him for a favour that will, in turn, make the wrong things in his past right.
COMMENTS: I read this book for my ELA20-1 class as it is a requirement. In the first half of the book, I wasn’t interested in the book as it felt like a very predictable ending, but in the second half I couldn’t put it down. Instead of just reading leisurely, I made many notes such as character development to fully understand the book for my class. This made me more engaged into the book as it progressively got more interesting. Overall, I liked the book and the surprises as they genuinely had my jaw-dropping. One take away from this book is the full circle effect that it had not with just the beginning and end, but the chapters individually had a very unifying effect.
average number of pages per day: 24 pages
For this month, I exceeded my goal from last month mainly because of the quarantine. Since I didn’t have much to do, I figured this is a good time to build my reading habit by reading more. I started The Kite Runner right after reading All the Light We Cannot See because I loved the ending so much and felt that I wanted to read more so I obviously read to not lose that desire. My goal for next month is to read 20 pages per day since school is starting up again and keep building the reading habit. I want to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and possibly start Mosquito Land by David Arnold.
MOSQUITOLAND (David Arnold)
SUMMARY: Mosquitoland follows the journey of Mary Iris Malone (Mim) who leaves her father and new stepmom unannounced. Her motive for her sudden road trip is because she learns that her mother is sick back in Cleveland and insists on making it to her. Along the way, she is kept busy by the numerous people that she encounters on the Greyhound bus and the many stories that each of them holds. The people on the Greyhound challenge her morals, priorities and her social skills as a teenage girl that has gone rogue. The narration of the book switches between Mim’s thoughts and actions to her writing to Isabel in her notebook.
COMMENTS: I’ve had this book on my shelf, collecting dust for years. Upon buying it, it was 50% off and had a cool cover so I figured I’d give it a try. As said in my March reading ladder, I was planning on reading it but never got to it till now. The storyline and the whole idea of a runaway teenager is very intriguing in the sense that I wish that I could do that (not because I have things to run away from or to, but because it sounds like a cool experience. For the record, I won’t be running away). I am a sucker for meeting new people and finding out cool and interesting facts about the world that they’ve experienced. From what I’ve read so far, this seems like just that book. I feel like I am getting second-hand experience from Mim’s adventures and feeling all the genuine things that she is feeling. It also helps that I feel like I relate to Mim’s character as she is very upfront and observant of everything and everyone.
- “When you are born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”
- “…difference between stepping over a person and stepping over a body.”
- “History of Me.”
- “Have a vision Mary, unclouded by fear.”
- “She’s with white pillows underground.”
TO THE LIGHTHOUSE (Virginia Woolfe)
SUMMARY: Uhhhh… I just started and don’t know exactly whats going on. From what I understand, it’s set in Scotland in the 1920s and Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay have eight wonderful children.
COMMENTS: When I told Mrs.Hunnisett I was taking this book, she told me it was a hard read as it taps into her thoughts and her actual dialogue. I must admit, she was right. It’s taken me a lot of time to read the text as I sometimes can’t fully understand what is going on at that point in the book. There have been multiple occasions where I would have to reread a line, sentence or whole page a couple times to finally feel good enough to move on (so technically I would say I’ve read like 40 pages). One moment that I can fully recall is when Charles Tansley is walking with Mrs.Ramsay and he mentions how she is “the most beautiful person he had ever seen.” Even though it’s a hard text, I still am pushing myself to read it because I want to challenge myself with a difficult book that isn’t contemporary.
- “She liked him warmly, at the moment.”
- “…and all at once he realized that it was this: it was this – she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.”
- “…for he was walking with a beautiful woman for the first time in his life.”
- …ephemeral as a rainbow.”
average number of pages per day: 9 pages
For this month, I have really decreased in the amount of reading that I’ve done, even over summer, I would still read at least 18 pages a day. However, with school starting and getting back into the groove of the work ethic, I’ve definitely slacked in the reading department. I read what I can in class for creative writing and nothing more, not even on the weekends. For October, I am aiming to rebuild that reading habit and get an average of 18 pages per day. I realize that it is a big jump from this month, but I know that I will make it a priority and not see it as a side task. There is no specific book that I want to read, however, in my February 2020 reading ladder I said I was interested in In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, so I might have to revisit my crime fiction interest. I also physically awed at one cute moment in “To the Lighthouse”, so I am tempted to read a romance novel but not one of those corny ones.
*I finished the rest of Mosquitoland (222 pages). As for To The Lighthouse, I read 100 more pages then got confused and gave up. So 322 pages from the previous books.*
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Tennessee Williams)
RESPONSE: This is the first play I’ve read other than the annual Shakespeare studied in every ELA class. Thinking I was going to do the ELA diploma, I was focused on each of the character’s arches and the theme of self-perception and imagination versus reality. Because of the fact that it is a play, I felt like every line had so much meaning and had me constantly analyzing how that scene would play out according to the diction and tone. This had me interpreting many of the important lines in different ways to find the right tone or a different perspective that that line could be said in.
It was interesting to see the effects of imagination and how it can cloud a person’s perception of reality. Especially with Blanche, she was constantly twisting and hiding the reality of things so that she is able to live in her imagination. Her character was very intriguing and felt like a kid stuck in an older person’s body because of how she handled the truth and confrontation.
Other factors that sold the book for me was the time period and the prominent motifs. Imagining the play in the 1950s created a whole new era for me as I learned about the lingo and what was considered normal during those times. As for the motifs, I found a connection with the light and how it symbolized Blanche’s past life. She strayed away from it by covering up a lightbulb in the apartment with a lantern and never wanting to leave the place during the day. Additionally, she is scared of seeing her shadow in the sense that it is her past life that she is constantly haunted by. This idea of light also plays into her self-perception as she is afraid of seeing herself for who she is physically thus never seeing herself in the light.
QUOTES THAT I LIKED:
- “The blind are leading the blind.”
- “Death is expensive.”
- “You’re not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother.”
- “Oh, you can’t describe someone you’re in love with.”
- “I never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good looking or not without being told.”
COMPLETED PLAYS -blasted • phaedra’s love • cleansed • crave • 4.48 psychosis • skin (Sarah Kane)
RESPONSE: I figured after reading A Streetcar Named Desire I want to read another play, but something more sinister and more of a thriller. When Mrs. Hunnisett suggested this book, I was ready for a wild psychological adventure (not saying I did not get a thriller), but I wasn’t expecting the mature content. Despite the immense amount of maturity the plays have, I found the ideas and the underlying motives behind every character’s actions interesting to analyze and deconstruct. For example, in Phaedra’s Love, it was interesting to see what intense love can do to a person and how it affects them to the point where their actions are purely for and based on another person. Obviously, she was driven by her own desire for reciprocated love, but her actions that followed seemed so horrific yet justifiable.
Since it is a play, I would love to see how these would pan out on a stage and how literal the director would be with the text. Directing this stylistically rather than realistic is certainly more reasonable, however, I feel like the horror and weight of the show may not show entirely translate.
As a drama 30 student this semester, I read this book with the intent of finding actor’s true needs and wants. In class, I find there is always a simple answer to the question, “what is your character’s needs and wants?” However, saying a word that resonates with you off the board seems untruthful. Specifically, with this book, I found that every character had their obvious “off the board” need but once analyzing deeper, the underlying truth seemed so much more embedded in the characters.
average number of pages per day: 21 pages
This month I exceeded my goal that I set in September! Obviously, it was mainly due to the fact that I read/am reading two plays but I don’t regret it. Being that it is my first time reading plays, I genuinely enjoyed it as it is easier to visualize the separate scenes and the interaction between characters. Additionally, knowing these plays are meant to be on stage made me look at the text from a different point of view. I felt at no point was any line just a line because it slightly enhanced the setting but each had a purpose ( I mean you can only fit so much in a 10-minute play – everything is intentional). As for next month, I am starting A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, finishing Sarah Kane’s Completed Plays, and am interested in reading historical fiction. My goal for pages next month is 20 pages per day as I feel like what I did this month was a good amount of daily reading.
*I finished the rest of Sarah Kane’s “Completed Plays” so that is 117 pages from last month*
A MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (Viktor E. Frankl)
RESPONSE: Last month I mentioned that I wanted to read this book and I actually got to! Along with it, I also achieved the historical fiction part in a way because this book captures a man’s journey during the holocaust and the psychological troubles that he and others were troubled by. This book took me a while to read because there were so many great epiphanies and moments that I had to reflect on and write about. Personally, I am very interested in psychology and human condition topics so I felt this book was right up my alley. I am quite the overthinker when it comes to reading someone’s text, speech, or body language but this book brought me a new perspective on those actions.
One major thing that I can pull from this is the concept of logotherapy; that the primary motivator for one’s actions is due to their curiosity to find the meaning of life. People’s actions, I feel, are always motivated by something. Whether that be doing something rebellious because you haven’t felt alive in a while, or subconsciously getting a sandwich because deep down you need the satisfaction and comfort. These motivators are definitely important and are more “in the moment” type of drives. But, ultimately, the thing that prompts everything is to get the most of this life and find what works in your world to find what your niche is.
QUOTES THAT I LIKED:
- “If a man in a concentration camp did not struggle against this in a last effort to save his self-respect, he lost the feeling of being an individual, a being with a mind, with inner freedom and personal value.”
- “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Harper Lee)
RESPONSE: I remember reading this book in grade 10 and wanted a comfort book that I’ve already read before. However, reading it a second time made me love it even more. I’ve always admired how its themes are so topical and relevant to any day in age.
There were many aspects that I noticed this time that I don’t recall being as significant to me before. For example, I really appreciated the writing style being written with the intent of a Southern accent. This further emerged me into the setting and the different time periods that life existed in. I was struck by one particular quote that I felt is still relevant to this present day; “I think there is just one kind of folks. Folks.” Scout showcases to Jem the fact that people can physically look different but in the simplest form, all bleed the same blood. This quote made me reflect on how the theme of judgement still carries on through society and will constantly be a battle for many people to face. Another thing I noted was Scout and her father’s relationship throughout the book. The heartwarming and comforting relationship demonstrated that Atticus never forced feministic ideals upon Scout and rather let her personality take her own course of action, letting her become her true self.
average number of pages per day: 19 pages
This month’s reading was a nice and easy read. With finishing the plays book and having a good balance between the philosophical book and a comfort book, I felt this was a good balance. For November, I found myself actually reading over going on my phone or doing nothing productive, especially while being in isolation for one week. I’m really starting to appreciate books a lot more and finding the specialty in the craft. For next month, since we are doing online learning, I plan on reading more and start writing more rather than only in class. The goal is again, is 20 pages which I didn’t hit this month but it’s close at least. As for books that I am interested in, I’m going to read more plays because we’re starting class acts in Drama 3o.
I’M NOT SCARED (Niccolo Ammaniti)
RESPONSE: As much as people say to never judge a book by its cover, that is exactly what I did when choosing this book. I was both intimidated and drawn by the book’s cover and the mysterious title that can really be anything.
From the beginning, I was instantly captivated by the sentence structure and immense detail that everything was described in. Especially with sentence variety, I saw a common theme going on: a series of long sentences then followed by a jaw-dropping one-liner. When writing a story, I’ve always been told to try and start in the middle of the action to instantly hook the reader; this was a perfect example of how effective it was. I was inspired by the subtle story progression and how the little detail pushed the story so far. One aspect that I connected with is the childhood innocence and the idea of playing outside only to be called in by the bright street lamps. It made me miss my childhood and had me wishing to go back to those simpler times. Another factor that had me on my toes, was the dynamic between Michele and his dad and how they are both lovers but approach it differently.
QUOTES THAT I LIKED:
- “The lamb that took away the sins.”
- “His sadistic mind went to work.”
- “I shouted for help. Only the wind replied.”
- “Finders keepers. If that is so then the boy at the bottom of that hole is mine.”
- “Then he put it back in the basket and gave a tug on the cord. As if it was something he did. Everyday.”
THE SHAPE OF THINGS (Neil Labute)
RESPONSE: Ahhh here we return to the plays… I honestly read this one in one sitting. Like with the other plays that I’ve read, I try to play out the script as if it was on a stage and I was directing it. Also, Paul Rudd on the cover got me excited so…
With this play in particular I was instantly captivated by the structure of the play, specifically the lowercase. The simplicity of the lines made it an easy read prompting me to think more about why the lines are like this or what is the subtext of this line to fully understand the writer’s choices. I was drawn by the blunt nature of Evelyn and the reserved personality of Adam; two complete opposites that I figured never really worked in the beginning. I saw their relationship to be quite parasitic and dominant. Obviously, the ending was jaw-dropping and that long monologue, which was probably about 8 minutes, had me on the floor. Having a hunch from the beginning, I knew something was going to happen but I didn’t think that it was going to be as bold as it was. Evelyn is one of those characters that you read about and never let go of mentally. Her outgoing and shameless personality made her the type of person that would walk confidently and purposefully make eye contact to assert her dominance. To a lesser extreme of that, I want to be bolder and take a stand in myself, my ideas, and my work.
HOMELAND AND OTHER STORIES (Barbara Kingsolver)
RESPONSE: Another random book off the shelf because it has a cool cover. Finding out it was a compilation of short stories made me more intrigued because of the meaning and symbolism that short stories typically have. Also, having to write the fiction/non-fiction piece in January, made me more inclined to pay attention to how they introduce conflict and progress the story in a short amount of time. I took note of the sentence structure and the emotional rollercoaster.
Personally, I am not one to not be interested in things like myths and legends which were some of the short stories. I can respect the craft and the imagination that it holds but I am too much of a realist to be able to allow myself to get into that mindset. One story that stood out to me was Quality Time where the protagonist has an immense feeling of loss from many deaths of family members. As result, she is addicted to worrying about death and the power that it has. I personally related to this one specifically because the topic of death is so obscured to people. I like to think about these realistic hypothetical outcomes of death to reassure myself from the unknown and keep myself present. A lesson I pulled from this story is the idea that for one’s plans to go off course is at first shocking, but with adjustments and acceptance of the change, balance will be gained.
average number of pages per day: 19 pages
For this month, I feel like I had a good diversity in reads. With a novel, a play and some short stories I got to directly see the difference in writing for all three types of books. Even though I read, I found it is a bit of a chore this month because of being quarantined and having to do more homework than I feel like I would’ve normally had. Funny how it is quite the opposite of how I felt last month. For the first month of 2021, I would like to say that I will have good reading habits but considering how much work I have coming for me I don’t see myself reading more. I am going to aim for 18 pages a day which is less than usual but seems more attainable than setting a 20 page per day goal. As for the books I’m going to read, I will most likely read the same diversity of books this month because I feel it was a good balance.
THE NEW YORKER
PAGES: (3 issues that are 85 , 81, and 103 pages = 269/269)
RESPONSE: So, long story short, my grade 8 teacher had a magazine rack for reading time and at the end of the year I asked for all the New Yorker magazines and he said yes. In celebration of Joe Biden being the new president of The United States, I wanted to go back and read some issues around the time Donald Trump was first elected to see how much has changed. Then I read two more (not Trump-related). Reading magazines is like a bunch of short stories about real people during the time. What I find so fascinating about them is the fact that you are reading about history that happened yesterday or you get to read responses from people you will maybe, maybe not, meet just on the street.
Issues I read: (March 21,2016)(January 23,2017)(February 23, 2017)
What I like about The New Yorker specifically is the unifying art that is tastefully distributed throughout the book. They have a monochromatic doodle (link to their Instagram) that draws enough attention but not a significant amount to draw the reader away from the story.
The issue that I was most interested in was January 23, 2017, because, for one, it says La La Land came out that week, and secondly, there was a fiction piece called “Constructed Worlds” by Elif Batuman that I related to. It covers the main character’s first-semester college experience. it circles around the idea of discovery and a bit of innocence that comes with finding out new experiences. Since I’m going to university next school year it was cool to see a perspective of an experience that I will hopefully soon encounter myself.
IN COLD BLOOD (Truman Capote)
RESPONSE: I have finally started the book. The one book I have been wanting to read since the end of last year. When picking the book up from Mr. Halas, he was telling me that the book is a bit challenging and messes with your mind a bit, and boy was he right. At first, I found it difficult to pay attention and stick to the storyline. At points, I was thinking, “where am I?” or, “how is this relevant?” Eventually, as each section slowly started to clear up, all the detail and the buildup makes sense. I really haven’t read much and most of the information now is just back story but I’m taking mental note of the small details that I feel like will repeat themselves later on in the book. Really, I feel like my own detective reading this because I know it is about an investigation for murder and it would just be so satisfying to figure out the killer or whatever happened before it is revealed. The amount of backstory that Capote put into the detail is insane and I feel like the specificity is replicating the amount of information a detective or investigator would need. So far, I am in love 🙂
average number of pages per day: 23 pages
I honestly surprised myself this month. I thought I would get in 18 pages a day but I guess I just tailored my reads this month to the topics and varieties that I like. On the contrary from last month, I found myself reading over doing homework – it felt like an escape and a chance for me to breathe. I guess there’s no goal to set for February :((( but I will certainly keep up my reading habits. I’ve honestly read more books this semester than I have my entire life. Before creative writing last year, I would never think about reading as a fun past time because I was so addicted to my phone but I found living carelessly through these stories and books (especially during quarantine) made me appreciate the craft and the various types/genres that someone will find interesting. Overall, I am happy with my reading this semester. Thank you Mrs. Hunnisett <3