At the start of this school year I made a goal to read 20 books before the end of the school year.
Books I read from easiest to hardest to read:
- King Lear
- Fault In Our Stars
- Mexican Whiteboy
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
- Better Off Friends
- Dear John
- True Believer
- At First Sight
- Little Bee
- Ella Minnow Pea
- One Day
- What The Dog Saw
- Of Mice and Men
- The Dark Room
- The Sex Lives of Cannibals
- Headhunters On My Doorstep
- Let the Great World Spin
- Pride and Prejudice
Though Let the Great World Spinis more complex in syntax and the web of interlocking stories, Pride and Prejudicewas more difficult for me to read because of the old language and the tedious set up of the characters and setting before the plot set in. King Lear was one of the easiest books I read this year because it was not the original script, which when eliminated makes Shakespeare stories a very quick read.
The book I enjoyed reading the most this year would have to be Divergent, in fact I would definitely have to spread out my love to the whole series, including Insurgent and Allegiant. These books won my heart with their striking character development and the whole concept occurring in the plot. In a few pages I was engrossed; everything else in my life became irrelevant. Family? Uninteresting. Friends? Tris and Tobias were now my friends. School? Umm do you mean reading time? The first book went down in a day and a half, and then I felt lost. I needed to read the next book; I called my friends asking around for Insurgent but I could not find it anywhere. The next day, my English teacher solved the biggest catastrophe of my life by offering me Insurgent and Allegiant from her bookshelf. In the last 20 pages of Allegiant, the final book of the series, tears came quickly. On Sunday afternoon, at a girl scout event, I was crying like a two year old whose mother wouldn’t let have a cookie. I was a blubbering fool; no one could comprehend my words, only saw the book in my hand and nod in understanding. These books are so amazing because they connect on a highly emotional level with the reader.
Before abandoning books I like to give them a chance to round out their story, or somehow magically become interesting to me by reading 100 pages. When reading Dune, however, the beginning was so difficult for me to get through that I gave up a little more quickly. Another abandoned book of this year was The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. After reading a few of his other books, I knew his writing style, and was ready to learn some interesting tidbits while being amused by Gladwell’s very noticeable voice in his writings. However, soon after starting this book, I began reading Little Bee for a book project and forgot altogether about Gladwell’s book. Maybe when doing some fun reading this summer I can pick it back up again.
In my English course this year, we have had projects in small groups where we read novels and analyze each author’s craft; we call these craft studies. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night–timeby Mark Haddon, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffertus to really go into the details of the author and analyze for meaning. From each book I have picked up something that I can utilize in my writing. From The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night–time, I picked up on how small graphics can illustrate points more easily. From Little Bee I learned on how to make a dramatic ending subtle, and how that leaves the audience in an emotional state. Lastly from The Dark Room I learned about the importance of brevity, and how details are more impactful when they aren’t rambling, but short and strong. I enjoyed the book club where we studied The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert the most, because I felt that I learned the most out of that craft study and also really prepared for the AP Exam. Also, the presentations from other groups were very helpful in my writing and in preparation for the exam.
“We read to learn about and appreciate the human condition, grow in empathy, and expand our knowledge of the world in which we live.”
My reading this year has helped me to grow as a person by showing me to be more accepting of others, and to see more clearly that everyone is going through something- no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to me- that consumes their thoughts and actions on a day to day basis. Because of this, I try to be kind to everyone: give compliments randomly, ask people how they are, make sure they are okay, love my enemies. The book that most helped me realize these things was Let The Great World Spin. It made me empathize with prostitutes and drug addicts and a circus performer taking his talents to the stage above the Twin Towers. The way Colum McCann made people normally seen in negative connotations the heroes and heroines of his novel, and detailed their lives and struggles made me see that these people aren’t always bad and aren’t always given a choice in life.