Tag Archives: book club

Mission Accomplished. Thank You, and Good Night.

So at the beginning of this year (it is still 2009 while I’m writing this), I was all “I’M TOTALLY GOING TO READ 50 BOOKS IN ONE YEAR!” And I was doing it—reading books, turning them out LIKE A MACHINE. But then… the machine started to slow. And then it just quit working. And I had to change a few of the rules. You see, I bet you thought I stopped doing this. I thought I stopped as well. Which is why I changed some rules around a bit. So let’s take a moment to review these “official rules”:

Rule #1: I can not include the Twilight series because I just read them three times in a row. I need to stretch out a bit.

I made this rule last as long as I could. But then I caved. There is something about those books, as flawed as they are, that just pulled me in. I caved. I needed books and they are an easy read.

Rule #2: I can not include any school assigned book. This means any book I am assigned while in college. I can however, go back and read some books assigned in high school. Which I plan to do.

Yeah, totally broke this rule when I realized there was NO POSSIBLE way I could get 50 books in there with no school assigned readings. I mean, maybe 30 at the most. Whatever.

Rule #3: (I’m regretting this rule already) but I can not read Hamlet. I have read that so many times and I am actually going to be reading it in my Shakespeare class this semester, so I shouldn’t really count it even though it is my favorite Shakespeare play. I want to try and read those I haven’t before.

Well I broke rule #2, and one of the assigned books was Hamlet. I can’t help it. That is like dangling some heroin in front of an addict and being all “oh, no, just *look* at it. You can’t have any. Sorry.” Totally mean and uncalled for.

So basically, I threw out all the official rules and decided to read 50 books (or plays) of any nature. The time is now 11:52 and I finished my 50th book not ten minutes ago. That is just how I roll Internet. So, without further ado, here are my 50 books, in no particular order, with a few notes about each one. I’d like to say a big thank you to myself for actually completing this, and a big thank you to all of my relatives who pestered me every day to read.

1. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I loved this book. Maureen is a genius and has cleverly set everything up for a sequel, which will debut sometime in 2011 (I believe).

2. The Burmudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

Not at all what I expected, but a delightful read. (I totally sounded like a snobby book reviewer there.) Can’t decide if I liked the ending, or totally hated it.

3. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

For some reason I thought the plot of this book was something completely different. I really liked this book though, and I suggest reading this before Burmudez Triangle.

4. Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle

Three different authors tell sort of kind of the same general story from three different character’s perspectives. Basically, this book is awesome.

5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

This book is so fun. Definitely the funniest of John Green’s books; the footnotes are pretty much what makes this book. I love it.

6. Paper Towns by John Green

I love Margo and I hate Margo. I will never be able to decide which, although I lean more towards I hate Margo. Read it and let me know what you think.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

My favorite book by John Green and, no exaggeration, one of my favorite books in general. **Possible spoiler alert- this is not a happy ending book.

8. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Ronald Dahl

This was my favorite book as a kid; I love everything about it and would read it a million times.

9. Broken Glass by Arther Miller

A BRILLIANT play. I adored it, and would love to see it performed!

10. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is my hero.

11. Naked by David Sedaris

Seriously, there is nothing he can write that I would hate.

12. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

You should read David Sedaris’ books.

13. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

This is definitely a “first book”—meaning her books get progressively better as the go on. Not my favorite of the series by far, but not my least favorite.

14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I adore, simply ADORE Professor Flockheart.

15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Very nicely done J.K. You are the master of entertainment.

16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

The book was about nine-hundred-millin-zillion-bajillion times better than the movie. I cannot stress this enough.

17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Good book. Sad, and I hate Umbridge, but I suppose that is the point.

18. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Hands down, favorite book of the series.

19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

So sad to see everything come to an end. Epilogue SUCKED.

20. Twilight by Stephanie Myers

Good book; very captivating. I couldn’t put it down.

21. Eclipse by Stephanie Myers

You’re probably wondering, so I’ll just tell you. I don’t read Breaking Dawn. I sobbed the entire time I read it the first time through, so I don’t read it. Eclipse is good.

22. New Moon by Stephanie Myers

I mean, if you don’t focus on the fact that there is absolutely NO WAY ON EARTH Bella could get pregnant, then it is a good book.

23. The Victim by Saul Bellow

Good book, but a bit dry at times, but I didn’t hate it.

24. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

Good grief I thought this book would never end. I want those five years of my life back.

25. The Chosen by Chiam Patok

Simply fantastic. Everyone should read this.

26. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Oh my goodness if this wasn’t one of the saddest books I read this year. The movie followed it almost exactly. Very good adaptation.

27. Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth

Phillip Roth became one of my new favorite old authors after reading this. I LOVED Goodbye Columbus and hope to read more of his books.

28. Lovingkindness by Anne Rophie

A good book; very entertaining and interesting.

29. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

Good book, but a bit dry and boring in places.

30. America and I by Anzia Yezierska

Fantastic short stories by women moving to America. Loved it!

31. Maus Volume I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

I didn’t care for the characters of the story, but the story was really good. If that makes sense.

32. Maus Volume II: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman

It is mainly told in flashback, so I didn’t like the “current” characters. I liked the flashback characters. They changed over time.

33. Documents of the Holcost by Edited by Yitzhak Arad, Yisrael Gutman,
and Abraham Margaliot

An all around fascinating book; more of a “text book” than a novel, obviously, but this was a very interesting read.

34. The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945 by Michael Burleigh and Wolfgange Wippermann

I read this book for class, but I’m including it on the list because I read every, single, stinking page. Very, very dry. But quite a few of the chapters were interesting enough to keep me reading.

35. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Fantastic book. Very different from the movie. I liked them both in different ways. Overall the book was just fantastic.

36. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Very different from the movie. Ending was abrupt, but overall I liked it well enough. Definitely want to read more of Capote’s works.

37. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Duh. This is my favorite Shakespeare play and I just adore Hamlet. Even if he is one of the most emo characters ever written.

38. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous

Actually, this was a very, very interesting story.

39. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

I read the majority of the Canterbury Tales. I thought they were good, but I don’t know why my professor is so OBSESSED with Chaucer.

40. Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

Feel free to never read this. Boring and slow and dry and I wasn’t a fan. Although, this IS where we get the famous, “Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?” Which was quite funny.

41. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Great! I love, love, loved it. Different set up than the psychedelic Disney version, and they left out some interesting things.

42. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Yes, I am counting this because I’d never read it before.

43. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

I cannot tell you how unbelievably good this book was. I read it in four hours. FOUR HOURS. Just… go read it.

44. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

You either love this book or hate it. (Or so I’ve been told.) I loved it and recommend it to everyone.

45. Speak by Laurie Halse Aderson

Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic book. I loved it!

46. The Bro Code by Barney Stinson

Technically, according to Bro Code Article 4, I shouldn’t even know about this book. By my mother bought it for me for Christmas and if you know me you know how much I love How I Met Your Mother and, more importantly, Barney Stinson. So it just makes sense.

47. Spring Awakening by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik

My mother wouldn’t take me to see this controversial musical, so the book version of the play is as close as I’m going to get. I LOVE Duncan Sheik and his music has truly made this play so much better.

48. My Teacher Ate My Homework by Dan Greenburg

This was actually a really, really good book! Meant for little kids, it was funny, sarcastic, entertaining, and most important—interesting. I wish someone would adapt it into a young adult book.

49. Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

A classic. I read this while on one of my many doctor visits.

50. Leaping Beauty by Gregory Maguire

This is the man responsible for WICKED. He is amazing. I definitely suggest this book to any and everyone. It was fun to read about fairytales all mixed and changed up. As the stories went on they got funnier and funnier. Definitely will be reading this one again!

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Only a passing thing.

For one of the classes I’m taking in New Zealand (yes, I’m actually studying not just gallivanting around) I am required to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I watched the second of the movies tonight, The Two Towers, and while it is my least favorite (I find it dreadfully boring) it does contain my favorite moment from the trilogy– Sam’s “motivational” speech to Frodo. I think this is one of the most beautiful speeches in any movie I’ve ever seen.

I’m leaving for my trip in just TWO DAYS. I’m really excited and really, really nervous. (I’m not the biggest fan of flying. I mean, once I’m up in the air I’m fine. It is the taking off and the landing that terrifies me. Oh, and terrorists.) I know I’m going to have the time of my life, and hopefully meet some amazing people, which means I will be terribly busy. So starting January 1st I will be taking a little hiatus from Improbablefiction. I do plan on blogging, but this will be for uploading pictures, and video, and journals and whatnot. I’ve created a whole website for this trip which you can find by clicking on any one of these highlighted words. Expect my full report on the book club challenge. I’m three books away from my goal! Tune in to see if I’ve completed my mission.

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Book Club Book #42: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Okay, okay. I haven’t mentioned the book club challenge in A WHILE. But I finished a book today that I really wanted to share with you guys. An official blog is coming soon, filled with broken rules and a list of the books I’ve read. But for now…. I will talk about this amazing book.

Book: Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Number of Pages: 198

Okay, synopsis from the back of the book:

Melinda Sordino busted and end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance. It’s no use explaining to her parents; they’ve never known what her life is really like. The safest place for Melinda to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she admitted it and let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have no choice. Melinda would have to speak the truth.

I want to start this post off with a disclaimer. It doesn’t matter how old you are; there are amazing– simply AMAZING books in the young adult section of the book store. I am 21 and I can not tell you how many great books I find perusing the shelves in the young adult lit section. Don’t let the concept of Twilight (or even Harry Potter) freak you out. Not all books revolve around love, or men with sparkly chests, or wizards. I’m telling you that you need to read this book, and the only place to find it is in the young adult section.

Moving on.

This book is told from the perspective of Melinda Sordino. You don’t actually find out the cause of her sudden “muteness” until a nice ways into the book. But that is a good thing; the tension builds, you don’t know who did what or why everyone hates Mel. Now, having read my share of books, I pretty much figured out what happened at the party (hint/possible spoiler: think of what happened to Veronica at the party in Veronica Mars.) The way Laurie Halse Anderson paints the details of the book, the smallest, tiniest details that you don’t think are significant but really are, is brilliant. I will definitely be reading this book a second time next year, but I’m surprised at how much I picked up on the first time around. (That is what happens when you’ve read 41 books over the course of a year. You pick up on things.) The main character says, roughly, 20-25 lines in the entire book, and you would think that hinders the story telling. Except it enriches it that much more. You are in Melinda’s head; you know what she is thinking, what she really wants to say, but her character has, quite literally, lost her voice. She can’t talk; she tries and nothing comes out. This thing, this event that happened to her, has turned her into a mute and she spends a portion of the book wondering if she is crazy and insane, or just a freak.

I connected with this book more than I thought I would. Not that what happened to Melinda happened to me, but the things she thinks- they are so real. Often an adult writer will compose a high school character and often the dialogue and thoughts of that character aren’t exactly what teenagers are thinking. But at some point or another I’ve felt A LOT of what Melinda feels, but I just couldn’t tell anyone. So it felt as though I was going through this with her. And that is one of my absolute favorite things about books. To be able to experience the story first hand; to imagine you are there and you know what this character is going through. It is just wonderful.

The story itself was a hauntingly beautiful and melancholy tale. I managed not to cry once…but then I got to the last paragraph and I teared up. Then I got to the last line, and before I closed the book I was crying. I don’t want to really explain why it made me cry, for fear of ruining the ending. Just know that it is a beautiful tale of a beautiful girl who has experienced a horrible tragedy and has to live with it in silence.

I really, really recommend this book to girls, guys, adults, and teens and everyone.

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Book Club book #25: The Lovely Bones

Just an update: the last time we checked in I in the middle of reading book 19 which was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I finished that book, as well as the rest of the series and then immediately jumped into The Lovely Bones. I am not talking about the Harry Potter series as I plan to continue my book vs. movie discussion over on Bullshish. Now if you did the math you would realize I should be on book 23, but I forgot to include two books in my previous post. So now I should be between 28 and 32. Meh, I will catch up! And now, for the latest review. **Oh, and I tried my hardest not to include any sort of spoiler. I think I did a good job, but just sort of be warned there may come a piece or two of information that could be considered “spoiler” worthy.**

The Lovely Bones

Book: The Lovely Bones

Author: Alice Sebold

Number of Pages: 328

Plot, according to the back of the book:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her—her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Plot, in my own words:

Susie Salmon was just a normal girl who was brutally raped and murdered. She spends the entirety of the book narrating her story from Heaven as she watches down on her family, friends, and killer.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:

One day I walked into a bookstore, picked up a copy of The Lovely Bones, paid for it, went home, sat on my bed and began to read the story of Susie Salmon. (A story that was rapidly becoming a much talked about topic among the literary world.) One chapter later I put down the book and did not pick it up again for at least five years.  There it sat, lonely (no pun intended) on my bookshelf just waiting to be read, but every time I looked at the thing I got the most horrible feeling in my stomach. Then I heard a rumor that it was being adapted into a movie. I thought about reading the book. Then I heard that the rumor proved to be true. I thought about reading the book. Then I went and saw a movie, and can you guess what one of the trailers was? Go on, I don’t think you will get it. IT WAS THE LOVELY BONES. I then went home, picked up the book, pushed myself through that darn first chapter and fell in love with the stupid thing.

As previously stated above, The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl, told in first person narrative, who was raped and murdered by her neighbor. You find all of this out within the first two sentences of the book, so I don’t know what I was expecting, but by the end of the chapter it was as if you had witnessed Susie’s rape (which I believe was so realistic because of Sebold’s own rape that occurred during her college years). One of my biggest fears in life (as I am sure it is with a lot of women) is getting kidnapped and raped. I mean honestly, when I had to walk the streets of London alone to get groceries I was terrified. Not because I didn’t trust the city of London, but it is just this fear instilled inside of us. It has increasingly grown over the past few years and when I first picked up the book I couldn’t read past the first chapter. Now, I’d like to think that within the past five or so years I have grown up. Rereading the chapter wasn’t as bad as it was the first time; I was able to push through and read the entire novel, but Sebold is such an exceptional writer that no matter what point you are at in the book you are feeling some kind of emotion whether it be happiness, grief, fear, hatred, suspense, or even confused.

And that right there is what makes this book exceptional. You are seeing everything through the eyes of a girl sitting in Heaven, and yet you are able to sympathize with a grieving father, a heartbroken sister, a brother who is too young to fully grasp the situation, a mother who is on the slippery slope of severe depression, and a girl who can see her family, hear her family, but not talk to her family. Without giving anything away, all I can say is one minute you find yourself crying, the next SHOUTING at a character, then laughing, and maybe some more crying, and finally coming to grips with the ending. The characters are all lovable in their own unique way (with the exception of the killer who is one of the creepiest characters I have come across in a long, long time) and it has been a while since I have read a story of fictional characters set in the “real world” (as opposed to a wizard’s school) to which I have felt so connected.

The imagery and details Sebold uses to describe the events as well as the setting for such scenes is brilliant. You really do get a sense that you are there, alongside of Susie, watching this stuff unfold. Sebold has such a creative, unique style of writing as well. In the middle of a chapter when she finished a thought or a scene, she finishes it, skips a few lines, and then jumps to the next thought, scene, or flashback. There are no unnecessary fillers between the stories. She gives you the facts, slightly veiled by mystery, and then she sort of brilliantly strings them all together in the end. This is definitely a book that requires your full attention as things are often mentioned in one chapter, and then slightly (and sometimes quite sneakily) referred to in future chapters.

Bottom line:

Read this book. Read this book, read this book, read this book! I’m not going to lie and say it is happy all the time and everything ends up nice and pretty and perfect. It doesn’t. But sometimes books NEED to end this way to remind the reader that life doesn’t happen this way. People aren’t perfect; they make mistakes. You can’t bring people back from the dead but you can keep them alive in your memories. The final message of the book is about understanding, acceptance, and moving forward with your life. This book is a beautiful representation of how life really works. I absolutely recommend this to anyone and everyone.

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Book Club Update!

Oh dear, sweet Internet. Remember that time I said I was going to attempt to read 50 books in one year? And then I would write a review on each book? (Here is a link in case you don’t have the slightest idea to what I am talking about.) Well I don’t deny that I haven’t been keeping up with my book club like I said I would. I have been reading, of course, but I haven’t had the energy time to write on each and every book. But fear not! I really plan to before the end of the year. But for now, here is a list of the books I have been reading, in no particular order, in case anyone has slightly wondered where I’m at.

1. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Read my review here.

2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Read my review here.

3. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Ronald Dahl

Read my review here.

4. Broken Glass by Arther Miller

Read my review here.

5. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Read my review here.

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Read my review here.

Read my book vs. movie review here.

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Read my book vs. movie review here.

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkiban by J.K. Rowling

9. The Victim by Saul Bellow

10. American and I by Anzia Yezierska

11. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

12. Goodbye Columbus by Phillip Roth

13. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

14. The Chosen by Chiam Patok

15. Lovingkindness by Anne Rophie

16. Looking for Alaska by John Green

17. Paper Towns by John Green

18. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

I figured at the beginning I could read four books a month and then six books in December or something. So right now I should be at book 28. This puts me at 10 books behind. JEEPERS! This is terrible! I have flown through the Harry Potter series, so I expect to be catching up sometime soon, where I will hopefully stay afloat! Golly. I need to get to reading!


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Book club book #6: Me Talk Pretty One Day


Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author: David Sedaris

Number of Pages: 272

Plot, according to the back of the book:
There was no plot on the back of the book.

Plot, in my own words:
There is no plot. The book consists of a collection of short essays written by Sedaris ranging in topics from childhood memories to living in Paris as an adult.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:
I had no idea what this book was about when I bought it. I just liked the title. So imagine my surprise when this turned into a collection of short essays rather than a story. I wouldn’t really call them short stories, because they seem to be little glimpses of memories he has from going to a speech therapist, and failing miserably, to teaching a college English class, and failing miserably, to living in Paris and attempting to learn French…and failing miserably.

This book was quite hilarious from start to finish. I mean, there was at least two or three things from each story that had me laughing out loud (literally, not the LOL where you type it, but you never really do LOL). The book was split into two parts. Part one was random essays about his life growing up, taking drugs, attempting to be an artist, etc. The second part of the book recalls his time living in Paris. They are equally amusing; though I did enjoy reading about the situations he went through in Paris that were somewhat similar to my own.

The language he uses is so descriptive that sometimes you felt you were right beside him, experiencing these things first hand. The opening story about the speech therapist is brilliant and had me laughing the entire time. His parents make for hilarious characters and part of me wondered if any of this was exaggerated, because no one could possibly have a parent like that. And then I thought about some of the things my parents have done, and some of the things my friend’s parents have done, and I realized yes, yes you could.

And now for one of my favorite excerpts:
“For the first twenty years of my life I rocked myself to sleep. It was a harmless enough hobby, but eventually I had to give it up. Throughout the next twenty-two years I lay still and discovered that after a few minutes I could drop off with no problem. Follow seven beers with a couple of scotches and a thimble of good marijuana, and it’s funny how sleep just sort of comes on its own. Often I never even made it to bed. I’d squat down to pet the cat and wake up on the floor eight hours later, having lost a perfectly good excuse to change my clothes. I’m now told that this is not called “going to sleep” but rather “passing out,” a phrase that carries a distinct hint of judgment.” (pg.248-249)

Bottom line:
This book was hilarious, and quite an easy read. The good thing about the essay form is when you do not have a lot of time to sit down you can just read a few of the entries without feeling as though you would be lost if you sat it down for a few hours or even a couple of days. The manner in which he tells the stories is hilarious. Some are sad, though only for a brief moment or two, others downright awkward and disturbing. I really recommend this book. I liked it so much I went and bought one of his other books- Naked, and I really can’t wait to read it.


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Book club book #5: Broken Glass

broken glass

Book: Broken Glass

Author: Arthur Miller

Number of Pages: 138

Plot, according to the back of the book:
It’s the late 1930s in New York. Phillip Gellburg is an executive and the only Jew among the WASPs at a very Establishment Wall Street bank. His wife, Sylvia, is obsessed with news of Nazi Germany. After seeing a photo of old Jewish men forced to scrub the sidewalk with toothbrushes, she becomes mysteriously paralyzed in the legs. The only one who perceives Sylvia’s fears and longings is Dr. Hyman-a man as passionate and empathetic and Phillip is repressed.

Plot, in my own words:
I actually thing the back of the book covered everything quite nicely.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:
Okay, okay, I know I said that books (or in this case plays) that I had to read for school would not count towards this book club challenge. But as Joey Potter once gracefully pointed out, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. So expect some of the books I read for class to be part of this discussion.

Now, with that out of the way, I shall go on. This play was required reading for my Jewish American Lit class. I was rather interested in reading this, though I should probably say I have not read a play written by someone other than Shakespeare in almost a year and a half. Let me just say, as much as I like the Shakes, and we all know I do, it was a refreshing change. The characters were interesting in the fact that I never really got attached to anyone but Sylvia. I liked the main characters well enough, but I connected with Sylvia. When I read books I often picture them in my head as if I were watching the movie to go along with it. (I think this is very common for anyone who has ever read a book.) But when I read plays, I tend to pick a character I identify with, or a character I like best, and instead of picture this as a play I am watching, I picture myself in that role. I try to feel what the character feels, think of how she feels or what she would be doing in each scene. Miller’s stage directions are very helpful in the fact that he gives clear-cut sentences on what should be happening with the characters. For example, in the middle of a speech you find,  “she hits her own head” or “grinning familiarly” or “pause, thinks…” or any other number of feelings the characters need to show on stage. Not only does this help you to put yourself in that characters shoes, it also helps to get a better understanding of how the scene plays out. This is how you get into a playwright’s head.

The story itself is quite interesting. Sylvia has gone mysteriously paralyzed. Why? No one knows. Two doctors (one a specialist) have done extensive tests, and there appears to be nothing wrong with her; that is, nothing wrong with her physically. Dr. Hyman seems to think there is a mental problem that is the base of everything going on in her life. Throughout the entire play he is led to believe the husband, Phillip, is the cause of stress and fear in Sylvia’s disorder. There is also much speculation about her fixation on the Nazi party in Germany. Being a Jew Sylvia is naturally frightened, though being a Jew in America tends to have everyone thinking she has gone insane as she is safe.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is the matter of Sylvia faking everything. Is she able to walk when no one is looking? Is she doing this to spite her husband Phillip? Is she doing this to gain attention from her sister, doctor, and really anyone else who is willing to give her the time of day? She seems quite content with life and with her condition. But just when you think you have it figured out, Miller starts to dig deeper into the characters lives and uncover many secrets and lies that lead you down a different path entirely.

Bottom line:
This play was an extremely short, easy read. If you are not big on plays, but you are going to give them a chance, I suggest starting with this one or one similar. (Don’t go straight for Shakespeare, as you will end up right where you started.) The characters are really something else, and the plot is very, very intriguing. I really suggest giving this play a chance.


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No more studying! Please!

Found this on Facebook while taking a break from studying for French.

[The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?]

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (x)
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien ()
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte ()
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (x) Shouldn’t this count as seven?
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (x)
6 The Bible – (x) not the entire thing, but a vast majority of the O.T. and the complete N.T.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte () Its on my list!
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell (x)
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman ()
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (x)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott ()
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy ( )
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller () It’s on my list!
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare () I haven’t read some of the histories…
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier ()
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien ()
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk ( )
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger () It’s on my list!
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger () It’s on my list!
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot ( )
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell ( )
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (x)
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens ( )
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy ( )
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams ( )
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh () It’s on my list!
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky ( )
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (x)
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (x) Well… In the process of reading it. Whatever, I’m still counting it.
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame ()
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy ()
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens ( )
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis ()
34 Emma – Jane Austen (x)
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen ()
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis () Read Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That one is fantastic.
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini – ()
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres ( )
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (x)
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne (x)
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell (x)
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown () “I would take the Da Vinci Code. So I could BURN the Da Vinci Code.” Where is that quote from??
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins ()
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery ()
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy ()
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (x)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan (x)
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel (x) I don’t remember much about this one though…
52 Dune – Frank Herbert ()
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen ()
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth ( )
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon ( )
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens ( )
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley ( )
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon ()
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck ( )
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov ( )
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt ( )
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold () It’s on my list!
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (x)
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac (x) I’ve read part of it. It’s on my list!
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy ( )
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding ()
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie ( )
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville (x)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens ( )
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker ( )
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett ()
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson ( )
75 Ulysses – James Joyce ( )
76 The Inferno – Dante ( x)
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome ()
78 Germinal – Emile Zola ( )
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray ( )
80 Possession – AS Byatt ( )
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (X)
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell ( )
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker (x ) Again, part of it. I need to finish it…
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro ( )
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert ( )
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry ( )
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White (x)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom ( )
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( )
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton ( )
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (x )
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery ()
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks ( )
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams ()
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole ( )
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute ( )
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas ( ) It’s on the list…
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (x) I’ve read this many times…
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl () It’s on the list.
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (x)

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley ( )
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson ( x)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson ( )
The Time Machine – Jules Verne ()
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
The Crucible – Arthur Miller ( )
Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller ()
The Iliad and The Odyssey – Homer (x )

Perks of Being a Wallflower( ) It’s on my list!
Grimms Fairy Tales ()
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie ()
A Separate Peace ( )
A History of Love ( )
Marley and Me – John Grogan ( ) Hahaha. No.
The Princess Bride – William Goldman () Tis on my list!

I’ve read 28 out of 115 unless I counted wrong. Which probably happened. This is insanity. I need to get to reading right now. How did you do?


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Book club book #4: George’s Marvelous Medicine


Book: George’s Marvelous Medicine

Author: Ronald Dahl

Number of Pages: 90

Plot, according to the back of the book:
George is alone in the house with Grandma. The most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. She needs someone stronger than her usual medicine to cure her grouchiness. A special grandma medicine, a remedy for everything. And George knows just what to put into it. Grandma’s in for the surprise of her life-and so is George, when he sees the results of his mixture.

Plot, in my own words:
George is a nine-year-old boy. One day George is left alone with his horrible, creepy, stinky, nasty, wench of a grandmother. Besides staying out of trouble his one responsibility is to feed the old hag her medicine. So George decides to teach her a lesson and put his own little twist on things.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:
I wasn’t planning on reading this for a while, but I sort of couldn’t get into my other books. I needed something short, something made for kids, and something I could read in one sitting. I finished Marvelous Medicine in about 45 minutes.

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I read it all the time. There are only four main characters, because with kids you have to keep it simple. There is Mr. and Mrs. Kranky, George, and the grandma. Now this grandma could give the Dursley’s a run for their money in terms of all out nastiness. I mean this woman is extremely creeeepy. Mr. and Mrs. Kranky go out of town and little George is left alone with his grandmother who immediately sets out to terrorize the kid. At one point she pulls him close and offers to “tell him secrets” and then goes on about all of the “secrets” she could tell him. I mean pure, all out, creepiness. But that is what makes the rest of the book so amazing.

You see, George is fed up with her horrible antics, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. At 11am on the dot he is to give his grandmother her medicine, something she hasn’t forgotten. Basically she is stuck in this chair and hasn’t moved in oh, something like 20 years, so anything George does she wont really know about because the old broad can’t move. So George takes the time to create a special medicine to give to his grandmother, instead of her regular stuff, which George is positive doesn’t do a thing for her. He goes into all different rooms in his house and dumps the contents of all sorts of household items in a big mixing pot. The first room hit is his parent’s bathroom. Some of the items to go into the medicine are: shampoo, shaving cream, face cream, dandruff cure, hairspray, and paraffin wax, among other things. Next is his mother’s nightstand, then on to the laundry room where he adds laundry detergent, floor polish, flea powder for dogs, and canary seed. In his father’s work shed (they live on and run a farm) he added all sorts of animal products and medicine. In the garage he found antifreeze and glossy brown paint to make the medicine brown, so grandma doesn’t get suspicious.
Well George boils all the ingredients together and, after dumping out the old medicine, he filled the bottle back up and served his grandmother her daily tablespoon of medicine. The results weren’t exactly what he was expecting.

(I’m just going to go ahead and tell the rest of the book in the next paragraph. If you don’t want to find out what happens skip to the bottom line.)

Grandma, who is already extremely thin, takes the medicine and pretty soon her insides basically catch on fire. Smoke comes out of her ears, mouth and nose. Once that calms down grandma starts to grow, something she doesn’t consider “a good thing.” Grandma grows and grows and grows and then six pages later her feet are on the living room floor and her head is sticking out the roof. Mr. and Mrs. Kranky come home and while Mrs. Kranky spends the rest of the book freaking out and being, well, cranky, Mr. Kranky tries to figure out the exact recipe to use on all of his farm animals so they can become rich.
Needless to say, they don’t figure it out. But in all of their other attempts they did stumble upon a recipe that would make people shrink. And Mr. Kranky gives it to the grandma. And she disappears. And everyone actually lives happily ever after, accepting the fact that they technically, sort-of killed someone.

Bottom line:
I absolutely love this book. And every time I read it I remember why. It is so darn funny and I love the catchy little poems and how the drawings, as simple as they are, help to set the ugliness of the grandma and the cuteness of George. Dahl is a classic, which automatically makes this an amazing book. The characters are great. Mr. Kranky is insane, Mrs. Kranky lives up to her name, George is a crazy kid who I’m assuming doesn’t have much parental supervision, and Grandma who is one of the nastiest children’s lit characters I’ve ever read. I think the funniest thing is what the medicine actually does. Like I said it made her grow, when in reality she would have dropped dead the second after she tasted the stuff. But I suppose that is just the magic of make believe. Oh how I love children’s books.

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And I…will always love you

Things I accomplished today:

1. Got out of bed and dressed before 11 in the morning! That is a rare thing for me these days.

2. Did the dishes. I didn’t even have to be asked! Internet- look at me go! Daughter of the year!

3. Watched The Bodyguard for the first time in my life. I plan on watching it again tomorrow; that is an utterly amazing movie. (…thank you mother…)

4. Got the course descriptions for every college class I have taken so far (around 80 credit hours…30ish classes), put them all into a word document, grouped them according to the department they were in, found the matching department on the University of Delaware’s website, emailed each particular professor the matching course descriptions to be evaluated so I can receive transfer credit. A ton of work, but maybe I will be able to graduate on time…fingers crossed.

5. Ate a lot of Popsicles. But not as many as my sister.

6. Listened to a recording of Patty LuPone stop in the middle of a (Broadway) song performance of Gypsy to yell at people in the audience taking pictures…with the flash on. I mean, yes, they should obey the rules like everyone else, but if I am going to pay 90+ dollars to see you sing, then darn it all, YOU BETTER SING WITHOUT STOPPING. I mean, seriously. Can someone say DIVA??

7. Watched How I Met Your Mother!!! So freaking funny.

8. Watch John and Kate Plus Eight!!! I like shows with particularly long titles.

9. Got mad at my cat Clementine because she scratched my arm and caused me to bleed. Grrr.

10. Typed this blog.

So as you can tell, it was a pretty productive day. Oh and no worries, the book club is coming along nicely. I am making my way through the next one. I am planning on having it up by Wednesday Thursday! Friday at the latest! Go literacy!


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