All posts tagged: back to school

September Book

School’s back in session, and it has us craving new school supplies, pumpkin spice and a literary classic. September’s our favorite time to read something straight off the required reading lists. And this go around we’ve selected The Bell Jar. First published in 1963, it’s the only novel ever published by writer and poet Sylvia Plath. Born in Boston in 1932 and the daughter of academics, Plath’s story is one of great success and tragedy. She suffered the loss of her father when she was only eight years old. A strict authority figure, his life and death held a strong influence on Plath’s work. But Plath was an early writing talent. She kept journals starting at age eleven and was often published in regional publications. She achieved her first national publication when she was only eighteen. A graduate of Smith College, Fulbright scholar, and acclaimed poet, Plath reached high levels of success in her professional life, yet her personal life was conflicted. {trigger warning: depression and suicide} Plath suffered from clinical depression for most of …

Seven Brief, Though Thorough and Therefore Sort of Difficult to Follow, Lessons on Physics

If you read Katie C.’s review, you already know that I gave her a heads up that I found this hard to read. And it was. Despite being brief, the lessons were still lessons on physics, and physics was never really my subject. HOWEVER. I still very much appreciated Rovelli’s “brief” book of essays. I highlighted more passages in this book than I expected to and than I have in most other books. And I highlighted for a lot of reasons. In some places I highlighted words, like “phantasmagorical,” because I simply can’t think of a better word, or phrases, like “Genius hesitates,” because they were awesome. Sometimes I highlighted because the prose is simply beautiful. For example: A reality that seems to be made of the same stuff that our dreams are made of, but that is nevertheless more real than our clouded, quotidian dreaming. I highlighted because I felt gobsmacked by what I read, because I certainly had no idea that “If a person who has lived at sea level meets up with …

Humanity in Two Forms

I’d been looking forward to both of these books for awhile. The Giver is one I wish I’d read as a young adult, but never did. I still wish that, but better late than never, right? And Seven Brief Lessons on Physics initially hooked me with the beautiful cover and tiny size. But let’s take this one at a time… I first read The Giver by Lois Lowry, a long awaited check off my must-read-eventually list. But I think I made a mistake before even picking it up. A few years ago I saw the movie (2014), and I wish I hadn’t done that. As I was reading I was picturing the movie set, the actors, and turning over in my head the differences between the movie and the book. It ruined some of the magic. At least it’d been quite awhile since I’d seen the movie so it wasn’t fresh in my mind, but it was present enough to color my first impression. So if you haven’t read this one yet, definitely don’t watch the movie …

September Books

We’re doing a little something different this month. Like always, we’re reading in the theme of “back to school,” but when voting among the four of us on what to read we ended up with a tie. So we’re reading them both! Don’t worry, they’re very short. And this way you can read one or both along with us. The first is a brief and approachable 80-page instruction on the subject of physics by Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. In this tiny international bestseller Rovelli offers relatively easy explanations of general relativity, quantum mechanics, gravity, black holes, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. So if you have any interest in physics, or more likely if you just feel like getting a taste of those school years again and learning something new, read this one with us this September! The second, The Giver by Lois Lowry, is a classic school days favorite. Some of us are reading it this month for the first time, and some are revisiting a childhood favorite. …

The Perfect Diary

I read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in three sittings and probably three hours. It is a FAST read. Fast enough that when I reached the end I thought I couldn’t possibly be finished. Not that the ending wasn’t satisfying, because it was. But there was something that felt incomplete to me. I liked how it ended, but I wanted more. In fact, I felt that way about the book overall. I wanted a little something more than what I got. I frequently felt like I was missing something. Sometimes it was details that seemed to be eluding me. Sometimes it felt like I was making huge leaps in time without anything in between. At the end of the book I was pleased, but also felt like so many areas were left open. All the plot points weren’t tied up in a neat little bow. And then…. And then I thought about the title again. The Absolutely True DIARY of a Part-Time Indian. And then I thought about who was writing this diary …

The Underdog

I really didn’t know what to expect with this book. As someone who judges books by their covers, I’ll say that the cover art set my expectations fairly low. But I was intrigued by the mixture of novel and illustrations. At exactly 230 pages I FLEW through this book. Between the pacing, illustrations, quick-read story, and short chapters, I think I read it in under 48 hours. I loved Junior, the main character. He was the epitome of underdog. And his outlook on things, beautiful. Despite all the shit, he ended up hopeful. The luxury that it might be, it was nice to read a book for a change that left you feeling hopeful. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the fiction out there is the dark and scary type. And with the state of the world as it is I don’t feel like I need to spend all of my reading time further depressed. I can’t say I’d recommend this book to my peers (30 somethings) as a must read…  it’s not tremendously …

September Book

September marks a change in pace. New weather (so glad fall is almost here!), and a new school year. So we’re changing it up, too. This month we’ve picked something that’s been on many schools’ required reading lists (and taken off many) since it’s publication in 2007: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Written by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Ellen Forney, this young adult novel follows the story of Arnold Spirit Jr., a unique protagonist. He’s a 14-year-old amateur cartoonist living on the Spokane Indian Reservation who goes by “Junior.” The story begins when he makes the controversial decision to venture off the reservation to go to an all-white high school in a border town. The son of two alcoholics, a victim of bullying, and the epitome of awkward; Junior’s story is endearing, brave, funny, and a coming of age story for the ages. This is the first YA novel by Alexie, who’s had careers in stand-up comedy, screenwriting, film production, songwriting, and other fiction genres. The Absolute True Diary of a …

I Read a Classic and I Agree

I, much like Katherine C., somehow made it this far in life without having read this American classic. It has never been that I didn’t want to or didn’t intend to. Perhaps I was afraid of not liking a classic. Or perhaps, much like the concept of cleaning out my closet, eating more greens, and timely filing of taxes, reading To Kill a Mockingbird has had a permanent place on my back burner. Until now….thank you fellow Kathryns for pushing me over the edge.

Slow on the Uptake

I’ve finally finished our September read and my final opinion of this one is FAR from where I thought it’d end up. To Kill a Mockingbird has been on my list for a long time. But for reasons too long and boring to explain, it was never covered in any of my English courses. I’ve been hearing for years about what a classic it is, and I’ve always wanted to cross it off my list. I’m very glad I finally did. However, it took me a lot longer to get through than I thought it would. Truly, it wasn’t until about 200 pages in that I started to like it. Those first hundreds of pages were entertaining, yes. But they seemed aimless. Meandering stories of a young girl and her brother going on playful adventures in the summertime. Although, with the scene set for such a childhood, it makes what happens in the later half of the novel that much more powerful. It just takes a little while to see what all those stories are leading up to… 200 pages to …

September Book

Image from the 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird” Um, it’s September. We’re not sure how that happened. But, none-the-less fall is upon us (almost)! Which also means that school is back in session, so we’re in the mood for a classic. We’re sure you’ve all seen the back to school commercials lately. Anyone else craving a shopping spree for school supplies? No? Just us? Okay. Anyway, let’s get to the point. For September we’ll be reading the required-reading staple To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee! Most of you are probably very familiar with this book and/or have already read it, but not all of us are/have. So, bear with us as we go through a little Mockingbird 101. It was published in 1960 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. This book has become one of the leading American classics, receiving numerous awards and continuous notoriety. The story it tells is based on an event that Lee observed in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936 when she was just 10 years old. Overall it deals with public attitudes toward race …