Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Biographies #1: Night - Elie Wiesel

I started my biography month just a tad early because I wouldn't have had enough time to finish another book by the end of May and because I can't not be reading something. I started with "Night" because I'd heard great things about it from many people.

Elie Weisel was only thirteen when he was forced with the rest of his family to leave their home and board a train destined for a Nazi concentration camp. "Night" follows his journey through his life during World War II and the multiple c a story, with concentration camps he was placed in.

This was not an easy read. While with other books you can tell yourself that it is only a story,  with biography you can't do that. There is no denile that this didn't' happen and that a real human being dint' go through all all of these things. Weisel's story in painful to read but a story that will truly reach down to your soul. Weisel's recounting of this painful period in his life is so vivid and real that I couldn't help but feel like I was there with him, while still knowing that as much as I was feeling, for him it would have been at least twice as much. I'm not really one to cry at books and movies not matter how sad, however, once I finished reading this book all the emotions that had been building up as I read poured over and I cried. I highly recommend this book. It is a story everyone should hear.

Classics # 4: Anne of Green Gables - L M Montgomery

Again this month I wasn't able to read as many books as I would've like to, but it was another crazy month. As my last book for my Classics challenge I chose. "Anne of Green Gables" for a couple of reasons. One was because almost everyone I know was telling me what a good book it was. The second reason I chose this book was that when I was about five years old my family went on it's first and only vacation to Prince Edward Island, where this book is set, while there we visited Green Gables. 

Anne is an orphaned girl who has never known a real home and has come to Green Gables on Prince Edward Island completely by mistake. Here she finds a home, a home she always wanted and never had. Here she struggles with growing up and trying to fit in, in a place where she can't help but stand out.

I enjoyed this book. It wasn't lie a lot of the other books I read. Most of them are book with mystery, action, or science fiction, whereas this book was about the human experience, real life, no frills , nothing extra, just real people in real situations. Montgomery's writing is person and realistic Anne personality jumps right off the page making you fall in love with Anne. While you could easily imagine this story becoming sad and sappy but it doesn't. This story is excellent and well done a story any little girl would fall in love with.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Classics #3: The Crucible - Arthur Miller

The great thing about classic books is that they come in all shapes and sizes. No one would dispute the face that William Shakespeare's works are classics yest mostly they are plays and poems. Embracing the the diversity that comes with reading classics and opted for a play as my third book in this challenge.

In 1692 in a small Massachusetts village was plagued by witchcraft hysteria. This incident would go on to be remembered long after those involved were dead and gone and the village of Salem Massachusetts changed beyond what the victims would recognize. In this short play Arthur Miller takes a look at the hysteria that consumed Salem Village and follows the lives of some of the major people involved.

First I want to state that from when I first heard about it I have be absolutely fascinated by the Salem  Witch Trials. It was my favorite part of history class and my favorite destination on my eighth grade class trip. Reading this was enjoyable and interesting. Aside from getting to read about one of my favorite topics I also got the challenge of reading a play. Plays are a little more difficult to read only because they are meant to be seen visually and not necessarily read. Thankfully I have an active imagination which helps me to see the play staged out in my head without the aid of actors. Another interesting thing about reading this particular play an knowing when it was written is seeing the correlation in the topic chosen and the politics of the time. You draw a line of parallel between the hysteria of the witch trials in 1692 and the McCarthyism that was plaguing our nation in the 1950's. "The Crucible" was  a powerful piece bringing to life a dark period in American History giving it's perpetrators and victims a face and a voice.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Classics #2: To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Again this book was another cross over book from the previous challenge. This book was recommend to me by my friend Ann. She said I would love this book and I should give it a try. So I did. Now not really what most people would term a classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" fits in this category because it is a book that has stood the test of time and is one of the books a lot of teachers in this country require their students to read. Having said that I will state that I was never required to read this book in any of my English classes in high school or college.

For six year old Scout Finch the world is about to change. Set in a time when race was a much bigger issue in this country "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a tale about race, justice, love, and doing what your conscience tells you to. Scout is the daughter of lawyer Atticus Finch and along with her brother Jem and their friend Dill they are about to face some of the hardest things they will ever have to face. When a black man is arrested and accused of raping a white woman Scout and Jem come face to face with the realities and harshness of racism and intolerance.

I have to say Ann didn't lie when she said I would love this book, I did. Lee created a wonderful story that talked about real, hard issues and put it through the eyes of a child. Children see things that we as adults don't. There is no gray area, it is black and white and they want to know the reasons for why something is happening whereas as adults we tend to ask fewer and fewer questions instead of more.There is an honesty in Lee's story and a blinding truthfulness that comes from being told from the point of view of a child. Scout doesn't have a bias, or the agenda of an adult. This is an excellent way to get a message across to a wide variety of people without the claiming of prejudice. I loved this story and am finding it hard to put into words at the moment all the other things I think about this book. The piece is fantastic and everyone should read it. It is relevant to all people of all generations.

Classics #1: Persuassion - Jane Austen

Ok so initially this book was supposed to be part of my friends and family challenge but since that didn't work out I decided it would make a great transition book in to the second challenge of Classics. My friend Sunni is a huge Jane Austen fan so when I got her recommendation for my book challenge I wasn't surprised. This was a perfect book to transition over with because it was initiated last month but worked for this month as well.

Anne is the youngest of three daughters and the one most often forgotten and left out. Now twenty-nine years old Anne's young life has one major regret that she let herself be persuaded that the man she loved wasn't worthy enough and so she broke it off with him. When the man she loves come back into her life after being gone so long will Anne get another chance to right the wrong she made all those years ago or will she continue to be persuaded by others?

This is actually the first Jane Austen book I've ever read. Shocking I know it seems to be a requirement to read at least one of these books by the age of 20 if you're a woman. Now while it has taken me a while to come around to fulfilling this requirement by the unseen forces that determine the rules and requirements I am glad that I finally did get around to reading one of Austen's books. The story was well written and the characters were vibrant and alive. The way Austen weaves her story is strong and enticing and you can't help but get ensnared in the lives of the characters she creates. I have to say that upon reading a description of this book it isn't the kind of book I would normally have been drawn to. Now, however, I see that this is exactly the kind of book I like. The characters are strong, true, and real; while the story is well written, captivating and enjoyable. Austen has created a wonderfully strong female character that I can relate to.

Friends n' Family #4: Ender's Game -Orson Scott Card

Okay so in my Friends and Family challenge I have been unable to read as many books this past month as I would have liked to. Also all of my books this past month have been family recommendations except for this one. My roommate Adrienne recommended this book to me along with a great many others. She reads just about everything and her recommendations are all over the map, which I like.

Ender Wiggin is growing up in a world constantly at war with an Alien race known as the Buggars. In a world constantly at war the military needs soldiers and brilliant ones to lead the armed forces and put and end to a neverending war. Ender, along with his brother Peter and Sister Valentine are all candidates to enter the Battle school but for one reason or another both Peter and Valentine are rejected for the program but Ender makes the cut. He is sent into space to Battle school and bred to be a solider. He is only a child but he will be a solider. His brother and sister are also only children but have power all their own. The human race needs a leader and they need it now otherwise humanity as they know it may cease to exist. h

I liked this book. It's not any secret that I like science fiction so this book was pretty interesting. Orson Scott Card weaves an interesting tale about what the future could be like. We have no idea what could be waiting out in space and while a race of bug-people does seem unlikely the threat to Earth  may not be. Now if you haven't decide that I'm completely insane and are still reading this blog than I would like to add Card captured me with an interesting story and a unique one. I loved this book so thank you to my roommate for recommending this book.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Biographies #2: Happy Accidents - Jane Lynch

I jumped right into this book after finishing "Night". With all the emotion and imagery conjured up by "Night" I needed something light to read before going to sleep. I'd been wanting to read Jane Lynch's biography since it came out so I grabbed it.

Jane Lynch has been the ultimate guest star, a wonder on stage, and laugh out loud scary as Coach Sue Sylvester on Glee. But behind the scenes after the curtain falls there is more to her story. How Jane Lynch discovered she had the acting bug and how she struggled and came to terms with her sexuality.

Ripe with Lynch's well known dry wit and sarcasm "Happy Accidents" is a wonderful journey of how Jane Lynch followed her dream of becoming an actress. More than just another run of the mill celebrity biography "Happy Accidents" also talks about the struggle that is far more common than celebrity, the difficulty in accepting yourself. With wit and humor Lynch talks about the accidents that culminated in getting her where she is today. Though not all of her story is a funny one her writing and ability to accept herself make even parts of the tough stuff funnier. This is a wonderful biography about a truly remarkable person.