Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nonfiction, Nonfun?

AKA: True crime only fueled my paranoia. And yet... I liked it?

So, at this big interview thing, my interviewer (seems like bad word choice) asked me what genre I disliked the most. And I just blurted nonfiction. I don't know, I guess I was thinking of my social studies text book (which does include tidbits of fun; like really fancy people in the middle east used to have parties where people would admire their super expensive, imported tulips, at night, by candlelight. Candles on top of turtles. Yes.). But generally, that book is awful. The lady tries to butter me up, talking about this book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. It's about a shipwrecked Olympian runner who fought in World War II.
We were selecting nonfiction to read for Lit, and for who knows what reason, I started looking for In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. I saw Unbroken near by, and honestly, it looked so much better. But In Cold Blood is a classic, and I felt like impressing my teacher by subjecting myself to reading it in a ridiculously tight timeframe.
The book takes place in the late fifties to mid sixties, so it'd be a lot of fun. Except, the book starts out from the perspective of the Clutter Family (alternating between a religious father, Herb Clutter, a quiet fifteen year old son, Kenyon, a popular sixteen year old daughter, Nancy and a mother with depression, Bonnie), and then to the perspective of Perry Smith, and Richard Hickock, their murderers, as it recounts the last day of their life.
After that it goes from the alternating perspective of the killers and the detectives.
The thing about the book is that... when you read a good fictional book, you are pulled into a different world. And when you read nonfiction you're generally aware that it's the real world. It's weird that for me, this means that nonfictional people- real people- are the two-dimensional ones, they're dead and gone, or they exist in a world that's unnatainable to you, but that you are still aware of... so I don't care. They're doing what they do... or did what they did, and unless they say or do something really prolific I don't feel like I'm the one keeping them alive (Yeah, apparently I am a host for parasitic fictional characters).
But in In Cold Blood I felt like I was keeping the Clutters alive, and more powerfully than that, that I was keeping Perry Smith alive. It was said that Truman Capote fell in love with Perry Smith. Half of the book is actually from Perry's perspective. This man is a killer. A heartless killer. And no one lies about that. He's despicable. But this book explores the other facets of the human personality. It's a book that doesn't objectify people to a single aspect of their personality.
I'm not one to sympathize with killers, out of the blue, or because of a 'troubled past'.  And at the same time, I wanted to cry at Kenyon and Nancy's childish naivety. The Clutters were portrayed as truely as possible, and as wonderful people. So you read this book and you have these conflicting emotions. A good family that you feel like you knew, was killed. And for forty bucks. So you want justice, but at the same time, you see Perry as this abused child who still wets the bed, cries, and sucks his thumb. A boy who was treated unjustly because of his ethnicity, a friendless, loveless man who dreams of traveling the world. A musical genius who loves little kids, who declares no prejudices, whose fingers are stained with paint and loves animals.
After I read this book, I haven't looked at recent mass murderers and thought, 'That guy just needs a hug', and sometimes when I was reading the book I had to pause and think, 'This isn't fiction. These people are evil'. Have you ever wondered how you would feel if a friend was a murderer? You felt like his friend. A friend of the murderer and the murdered. And it tears you apart a little.
So Nonfiction can be fun. And traumatizing? Maybe. OH! I finished reading Looking for Alaska, by John Green, speaking of traumatizing. It was great! I'm super sorry I waited so long to post anything. I'm a terrible person. But I hope that this convinced you to... read a book about your friendly neighborhood mass murderer. If it did, then my job is done. Bye!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Les Obsession That's Gotten Entirely Out of Hand

LES MISERABLES: One of the saddest longest most depressing wordiest best books out there!

...I'm certainly not shamelessly promoting this book in the vague hope that I'll become annoying enough to where you'll *cough* Sara *cough* read it....seriously, you should've seen this post coming. I've only been ranting about it for weeks on end, stalking around Tumblr, and furiously pinning anything remotely Les Mis related on's getting really bad actually. I'm going to annoy all my friends away. HA! What friends? Anywho, this post is going to be a spoiler free review/rant/feels vent (hopefully my Pinterest board hasn't already spoiled it...seriously...DON'T LOOK AT IT), so here we go!

Okay, first of all, if you can't tell by the picture, this book is ginourmous. I'm not kidding. Even the fandom affectionately calls it 'The Brick'...I'm relatively sure that you can severely injure someone with it. It clocks in at around 1,088 pages and is among the longest books ever written. To be honest, I may have never read it if I wasn't forced to for my English class (and we read the abridged version that was 500 pages; I'm currently wading through the full version). But I'm telling you, if you simply ignore the length, this book is jaw-droppingly beautiful and entertaining; just as any good book should be. In my opinion, the book wouldn't be the same without being so long. Since Victor Hugo (the author) writes so densely, the reader is forced to slow down and absorb the material; there's no way you can speed through this book AND comprehend it in, say, a weekend. The characters in this book must endure a long, winding journey and the reader is encouraged to experience that journey with them.

Les Miserables takes place in 19th century France, and the better half of the book centers around not the French Revolution (as most who have not read the book incorrectly believe), but rather, the June Rebellion of 1832 (I suggest not googling it unless you don't mind minor spoilers). The main character is a convict named Jean Valjean (NO, it is not pronounced Jeen Valjeen) who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Sounds harsh, right? Admittedly, he did try and escape prison one or two...okay, LOTS of times which may or may not have piled on more years in prison, but still. It's prison. Who wouldn't try and escape? Anyways, I don't want to give away too much, but Jean Valjean basically breaks his parole and for the rest of the book, he's on the run from a justice-obsessed police officer named Javert (it's not Jah-vert by the's Jah-ver). And of course, there's a ton of coincidental run-ins with an entire cast of characters who are, you guessed it, miserable in one way or another. Fair warning: YOU WILL CRY. It isn't literally called The Miserable for nothing. And since this is a literature blog, I'll spare you from hearing me rant about the amazingly wonderful and beautiful and awesomely fantabulous musical and recently released musical movie...but seriously, once you read the book, WATCH THEM BOTH. Well, goodbye for now, and I'll see you all next week unless I decide to procrastinate again ! 

P.S. Don't worry, I'm going to read Howl's Moving Castle as soon as I finish Graceling (I'm almost done with it and it's AWESOME!).

Friday, January 4, 2013


That’s right. I’m going to go through all of the books that I read in 2012, in no particular order, excepting the first series. Finishing this post was like trying to remember everything I've eaten since last January.  The new year started out with myth and magic and Quidditch. And I’ll start… NOW!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- Sometimes when you’re young… and me, you don’t get on board with all of the trendy books; that was a bad idea. I’ve decided I’m going to run off and attend Hogwarts… even if I'd be a little too old to be a first year.  Honestly, the characters and the beautiful writing were just as magical as the plotline, and all of the charms in Hogwarts, with plenty of gut-wrenching character deaths to keep things interesting.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte- I thought this book would be scary. But it was dark and romantic and kind of morbidly hilarious. So I read it, and reread it, and I still laugh at all of the wrong times; it’s kind of one of my most favorite books now.
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L. J. Smith- Where the heck was Ian Somerhalder? Haha, no. It was so different from the show, I mean, it was kind of it's own world- no universe. But I have to give it credit for spawning a brilliant tellivision show and I'm setting out to finish the series.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver- At Samantha’s urging I read this book… and I would say I fell in love with it, but that’d mean I’d face some serious surgery in this lovely dystopian world. I mean, I’m reading this book and then everything explodes- love.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – AND THEN I READ THE SEQUEL! In practically a few hours, which I’m sure is horribly unnatural. This is the series one must read when they’re facing withdrawal from The Hunger Games.  

Divergent by Veronica Roth- Books with typology attract people- or maybe, again, this might just be me. But either way, this was a year of Dystopian novels, and this one was also explosive (Aside from being descriptive and fun and terribly frightening).

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchel- Scarlett, for being a bitch, is one of the most hilarious, honest characters. And when I say honest I mean to herself- to her audience. Rhett and Ashley didn’t know the half of what went through that girl’s head. BAH! I just want to own Tara and marry Rhett Butler and tell Melanie that she is a fantastic person! Books. They do this to me.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold- Well this was tragic. One of the many tear-jerkers I divulged in this year. And boy did I cry! It was a beautiful, horrible tragedy, a dream-like book with an ending that just makes everything in the entire freaking world worthwhile.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- Ah! Here’s another one of those beautiful tragedies. Literally. Have you ever cried for half of a book? And I don’t mean shed a tear. I mean you couldn’t FREAKING see the words on the page and you had to stop reading to calm yourself down before you could finish. And you just doubted everything in the world and everything was sad. But this book was more than that it was funny and dreamy and wonderful.  

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas- 5000 odd pages of craziness. It was told in such a way that made the pages fly and made you feel like you were really living on the edge.  I mean what would you really do with a butt-load of money and a ton of enemies that had totally wrecked your life? Well just go at them! And then in the end, do something ridiculous, because you freaking can.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones- I initially doubted my decision to read a book written in the eighties for sixth graders. And by initially I mean, before I began. And then I read it and bleh! I fell in love with a narcissistic wizard and just want to live in this fairy tale world forever. I mean, this is one of the best books I read this lovely year, albeit designed with a much younger audience in mind.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordin- I fell in love with Mr. Rick Riordin’s amazing interpretation of Greek and Roman Mythology, when I thought I wouldn’t. It had been so long wince I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians that I didn’t realize how much I loved these books. Everything is right again.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan- It was the weirdest Christmas book I’ve ever read. Well… not the weirdest. I mean, it was a story with an epic mismatch of personalities. And a love story that came together in a beautiful, nerdy way.

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton- it was a brutally honest book, and although I might not give it enough credit, it was required reading after all, it was sort of enlightening, in a weird way. I mean it was about a spiritually aware man that had more than his share of faults trying to come to terms with everyone else’s faults, but better than my explanation of it.

Night by Elie Wiesel- This was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. Not in a sob-fest sort of way, just a ‘well there is no hope for humanity’ sort of way, which is awful. But it was all true. Which is even more awful.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz- It’s a Dystopian novel… I think… it was really, really cool, and completely atypical. It’s kind of that wild, crazy, amazing dream. You go to a mall every day to follow this really loose interpretation of ‘learning’… what could go wrong? But really. Can I live in this book?

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- This was freaking hilarious and kind of perfect. I mean  it’s John Green, right. So perfection- bound to happen. But honestly, it was clever and cute and beyond hilarious. It was a rough start. I mean, I liked one Will Grayson better than the other. And then I realized they were both sidesplitting, so all was well.

Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan- I read depressing things. This is a conclusion I have recently come to. This book was indeed, sad. Most of the book felt kind of hopeless, but it was a book about the beauty in your struggles and the hopefulness of friendship, only in more words.

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S. G. Browne- Haha, this was the weirdest Christmas book I've ever read. And yet, as promised in all the reviews it was endearing, and funny. It really got me thinking about more plausible zombie apocalypses, ya know? (I am obsessed with zombies o_O)

I feel like I should have read more books than this. Perhaps I’m just slacking… or maybe my memory is awful and I have read more. Who knows? Here’s a funny quote from a book I’ve never read.

 “It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting "Cathy" and banging your head against a tree.” ― Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary

Just keeping it interesting. I’m a sucker for a good quote, and I admit, I’m a sucker for Heathcliff, even though he’s a freak. Sorry for posting so late! And happy almost birthday Sam!