All posts tagged: required reading

Time Will Tell

My eight-grade English teacher recommended The Bell Jar to me. She thought I could challenge myself to take on extra reading. She allowed me pick whatever I wanted from the class library. And although I remembered little to nothing of the story, I remember liking it. It was the first book I’d read in school that clicked in a different way. Not that I had too much in common with Esther, but reading a book about a young woman, written by a young woman, made an impression. Outside of The Bell Jar school reading was all Mark Twain, JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. But Sylvia Plath was different. That English class added a lot to my love of reading. And in my adult life I’d always wanted to revisit The Bell Jar. Rereading it felt like recalling a vague memory, but through an entirely new lens. I’m 20 years older, I have two young daughters, I see a therapist, I’ve been married for 9 years, I’ve finished my education…  everything theme in this book was brighter this …

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 …

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 …

May/June Book

Images © http://www.collider.com May and June are two of our combo months (along with December and January). We read just one book for May & June. It makes it a good time to catch on some other things. And this month (these months) the theme is: School’s Out! So, drumroll please… dun dah dah dah!!! Ok. That’s enough. For May & June we’ll be reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a modern young-adult classic. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard. It’s one of those books that’s always on our TBR (to be read) lists, but somehow we’ve gone years without picking it up. And, maybe, watching the movie instead. Ahem. Well, enough procrastinating. It’s time to officially give this one a go. You in?? Well, you should be. And if the movie trailer doesn’t grab you (trust us, the story is about a lot more than it seems), here are a few more fun facts… The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written by Stephen Chbosky and first published in 1999. Chbosky is a native of Pittsburg, as is our protagonist Charlie. …

…Were Watching Love

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Although the vernacular was hard to read through at times (just slowed things down a bit), I thought the pacing was well done (her use of time pulls you through the story… 25+ years in less than 200 pages) and her writing style was captivating. After reading the last page, I went back and read the first two paragraphs: “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by the Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” Rereading this intro gave the book a clarity for me. It’s as though Hurston puts the thesis of protagonist …

All the Parts

Their Eyes Were Watching God was a profoundly communicative summation of parts that created a rhythmic narrative of the many lives of Janie.  Janie, herself, is certainly a workhorse character embodying many lives. Each of her lives served a distinct purpose to describe the struggles of mankind (man or woman, black or white) – the struggles of balancing the innate desire to stand alone, free, and independent with the crushing need for love and the struggles of defining community and oneself within community. Zora Neale Hurston created Janie as a heroine for the African American woman. While their eyes were watching God, Janie’s were strictly focused on determining her own path. As complicated as the many lives of Janie were the decidedly varied narrative techniques. Oscillating between vernacular speech and highly rhetorical narration, Zora Neale Hurston’s diverse writing style helps define Janie’s loves and lives.  Janie moves from a stifled relationship with Jody wherein she does not speak rather is spoken for to her verbose, solid relationship with Tea Cake.  The intercut use of Southern …

September Book

American Broadcasting Company © 2005 “Their Eyes Were Watching God” TV Movie Okay folks, Summer has come to a close and school’s back in session (or soon to be). But have no fear, that means fall is on its way! Maybe you all don’t feel the same way, but we look forward to this colorful season of cooler weather, layers, and school supplies (is our inner nerd showing?). So for this month’s book choice we’ve gone with the theme: {Back to School}. There are so many great options to choose from, but we’ve decided to go with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). Set in Florida in the early 20th century, the story follows Janie Crawford on an extended flashback as she tells her story in three parts from her grandmother’s plantation shack to the Everglades—until a tragedy brings her home. Janie narrates her life story to her best friend, satisfying the “oldest human longing—self-revelation.” Maybe a lesser known option, but the more we learn about this book the more excited we …