Friday, January 2, 2015

December Book Wrap-Up!

Welcome to 2015 everyone! As per usual, it is time to take a look back at the books I read during the month of December. Over all, I will say that these books were a great way to end the year, and I'm very excited to share my thoughts with you.

The first book I took a crack at this month was The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I actually was required to read this play for Creative Writing. Requirements aside, I did really enjoy this play. It tells the story of a family Amanda, Laura, and Tom as they struggle against each other, time, and with the absence of their father and husband. Amanda dreams of regaining her youth as a Southern Bell, and forces this yearning on her daughter Amanda, where as Tom finds himself slipping into a version of himself that is to similar to his father for comfort. 
Overall, this play is so well written and the symbolism is so potent, that The Glass Menagerie brought me into the world of this family. I was emotionally affected by the characters actions and feelings, and in such a short play, this speaks volumes of Williams talent. 
I especially find myself feeling sad for Laura as her disillusionment and comfort are constantly destroyed, however, I also believe that this stress on Laura's life is a learning experience. It made me think about my life and my tendency to draw back into my comfort zone. I can't say that my life has been changed by this play, but it certainly has caused me to realize some things bout myself, and I think that's something important that good literature should always do.

Favorite Quotes:

“How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken.” 

“In memory, everything seems to happen to music.”

“You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don't plan for it.”

“Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged.”

The month of December also marked the start of winter, and therefore I felt it was time to dig out Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. From the start, I loved the idea of three interconnected novellas making one book, and I as I progressed through it, I was not at all let down by this.
The first story is written by Maureen Johnson, and in it we meet most of the major characters in her story. I really enjoyed her story, especially since her main character came from around where I live, but I will say that of the three it seemed the least realistic and it was harder for me to buy into the story. However, it was so classically ooey, gooey, and mushy that I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters, Johnson definitely took the cliche love story route, and sometimes that's exactly what you need.
John Green's novella came next, and while we hadn't met a single of his characters, we had already met the driving force of the story, a bunch of stranded cheerleaders at a local waffle house. John Green delivered everything that I love and appreciate about him, including his nerdy sense of humor and wit, best friends falling in love, and teenage angst and drama. Green has a way of crating characters that I love, and I was not let down by this group of friends in the slightest. I had originally bought this book because John Green was a writer, and his part solidify the purchase for sure.
The last story by Lauren Myracle was actually my favorite (despite that rant above about John Green). I liked hers the most, because it wasn't all about loving another person, but it was about fixing yourself to fix a relationship. I read a lot of reviews where people didn't like that, but I was excited to read more about the main character trying to change her selfish ways and less about her romantic interest. The love story was there, but it was also a story about loving your friends and others around you, and I really appreciate that aspect. 
Favorite Quotes:

"Debbie was one of those parents who still hadn't quite grasped that using the Internet was not exactly wizardry, and that we could all find anything online. I didn't say this, because you don't want people to feel that they've missed something really obvious even when they have."
-Maureen Johnson

"The expression is: a boy's best friend is his mother. It's not: a boy's best pimp is his mother. It's that way for a reason."
-Maureen Johnson

“I responded to this development with the kind of sophisticated language for which I am famous. 'Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid crap.'” 
― John Green

"'I've kissed guy's where nothing is at stake, and all it ever made me was to do was to have a kiss where everything-'"
-John Green

"'Oh, no, Christmas is never over, unless you want it to be.' She leaned on the counter and propped her chin on her palm. 'Christmas is a state of mind."
-Lauren Myracle

"'You've got this... light about you,' he said, turning red. 'You make people feel special, like maybe there's a light in them, too.'"
-Lauren Myracle

I then got around to reading the second Percy Jackson book, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. I didn't like this book as much as the first one. I felt like it was rushed, and by the end of the book I really hadn't felt much excitement or like much had been accomplished, even though I knew a lot had. This might be in part to the fact that it is meant for a middle schooler to read, but I just didn't feel much of anything as I was reading. I laughed at the jokes, and I followed the book just fine, but nothing really mattered to me. I didn't care how the book ended, and that's not a great place to be.

Favorite Quotes:

"You'd think getting chopped into a million pieces and cast into the darkest part of the underworld would give him a subtle clue that nobody wanted him around."

"I remembered the myth about Andromeda and how she had been chained to a rock by her own parents as a sacrifice to a sea monster. Maybe she'd gotten to many F's on her report card or something."

"'Heroes embody that struggle. You fight the battles humanity must win, every generation, in order to stay human. Do you understand?'"

The last book I read for the month was by far my favorite. I learned about Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because of the movie that is in theater's currently, and I am so glad that I decided to read it. It's amazing what the human mind, body, and spirit can handle, and Louis Zamperini handles more than I could ever fathom. It's so hard to write about this book, without giving everything away! I could honestly spend hours talking about this book, because I feel so passionate about it. I'm a huge fan of history as it is, but this a side of World War II that I've never really learned about in depth. This book takes you through the joy, trials, and biggest moments of Louie's life, but it's not just about Louie. It's about the depression, about the war, and about any man who served in the military and/or was forced into a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It gave me a deeper and more profound respect for Veterans, but also broke my heart even more for everyone affected by World War II. 
I feel in love with Louis Zamperini, and I think anyone who reads this book will find the same thing.
Favorite Quotes:

"When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him."

"It remains a mystery why these three young men, veterans of the same training and the same crash, differed so radically in their perceptions of their plight. Maybe the difference was biological; some men may be wired for optimism, others for doubt."

"Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food and oxygen."

"For these men, the central struggle of postwar life was to restore their dignity and find a way to see the world as something other than menacing blackness."

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