Saturday, July 31, 2010


So, I'm kicking back and relaxing here on the beach looking for something to read. I exhausted my magazine stash before we evern arrived at the hotel, so my choices were few. After the disaster that was Wuthering Heights, I was not too keen on reading another romance, but I wasn't about to do my (still unfinished) summer reading work at the beach, so I settled down with The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks.

My mom was surprised that I was even attracted to this book at all. I'm usually into the classics, mostly the wordy, hefty ones that pack a wollop along with it's textbook buddies when you swing your backpack around a crowded hallway. However, I thought it would make a good beach read because 1) setting in the book: beach, and 2) it doesn't require much brain power. And I really wanted to see the movie, because Miley Cyrus is pretty cool. Mom thought Nicholas Sparks was too chick-lit for me, but I was already aware of it's girliterature status from the get-go (see Miley Cyrus' face on the cover).

All in all, it was pretty good. It was a solid, emotional novel, about one young woman's coming of age journey over the course of a summer, and also explored themes like love, betrayal, forgiveness, loyalty, trust, and pain. It was a really cute story, and I regret not going to see the movie in theaters. I'm interested to see how Miley portrayed the main character, Ronnie Miller, through her eventful summer. From this novel, I can understand why Nicholas Sparks is a popular author for women, though I did find the ending a little drawn out. I'm not going to rush out and buy Dear John or A Walk to Remember or anything, but if I'm ever in need of a tear-jerking romance ever again, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for his books.

Friday, July 30, 2010


In reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, in our English class last year, it rapidly became one of my favorite books. The darker, supernatural style of writing thrilled me, and the book possessed some of my favorite plot pieces: a strong, independent heroine; a dark, brooding male lead; the conquering of obstacles; and finally, a happy ending. It was a great book, and I was eager to read more.

However, as you probably know, Charlotte Bronte wrote only Jane Eyre, and not much else. Undaunted by this, I chose to read Wuthering Heights, written by her sister, Emily. Also lauded as a stunning work of Gothic nature, and boasting one of the most popular romantic male leads of all time (besides Mr. Darcy), I was excited to get started. Not soon after starting, I realized this: There is barely a single likable character in this novel.
A lot of people said I came down too hard on it, but it is a truly truly truly dark Gothic. Their favorite romantic hero is a conniving, evil man, frequently referred to as "goblin", "vampire", etc. The woman he's in love with is a spoiled, petulant, overdramatic manipulator. The only tolerable characters in here are Ellen Dean, the narrator, and Mr. Lockwood, to whom the story is being told. Some people said that I would appreciate the book more when I got older, and I assure you, I will definitely not. Nueromancer, I 'll grow to understand, but Wuthering Heights? I'd only recommend it if the life you're leading is far too light and cheerful, and you need to become as bitter and depressed in as short a time as possible.

The one thing the book was professed to have, and actually did, was a happy ending. That's because it ended, and I was happy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The first book I read that introduced me to Hispanic culture at all was called Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, in the third grade. I remember our teacher reading it to us in class, all of us sitting in a circle on the floor, criss-cross applesauce, hands in our laps, and cherishing the few beautiful Spanish words that were included. The strong, loving main character Esperanza worked hard to help her mother recover from illness, and provide money to bring her Abuelita up to California from Mexico. One of the things I loved most about her was her name, Esperanza, which in Spanish, means "hope".

So many years later, I find I am reading about a new, entirely different, but no less inspiring, Esperanza, in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. This story is about a young Latina girl growing up in a hard Chicago neighborhood, and her longing to leave all of the hardship behind. This neighborhood, full of lecherous older men, abusive and controlling fathers and husbands, mothers who don't know how to handle their children, and girls who feel trapped in it all, made me wince as much as smile. I remember friends who had to read it, analyze it, cut it up into little tiny peices and suck all the symbolism, tone, and story out of it in Freshmen English class, and they completely hated this book. However, if you are steel enough to get through the unfairness, and empathetic enough to go through Esperanza's life with her, then I would definitely read this short compilation of vignettes told from Esperanza's point of view, about the neighborhood she lived in, and the hope she had for getting out.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Bit About Books and I, a.k.a A Happy Beginning

Reading has always been my main source of entertainment. In elementary school, I remember waking up before the sun, sitting in the corner of the room I shared with my sister and, regardless of the time or whether I was even fully awake, sitting with a flashlight perched on one knee and a book propped up in my hands, transporting myself to an entirely different world until the world I lived in interfered, namely my father coming in to wake us up. In those simpler times, I would tear through a Magic Treehouse or Nancy Drew before I shrugged on my school uniform and ate my Cocoa Krispies. Now, as a high schooler, the reading material has aged as I have, and though I find I am available less and less to enjoy the pasttime which I had previously devoted so much of my life to, I am not above sneaking my well-worn copy of Pride and Prejudice underneath my math desk, or cramming my new copy of Beastly into the crevice in my science notebook. I love the written word, and will always cherish printed books.
Books have always permeated my life, even leaking into some of my other passions, like cooking, or fashion. A breif stint in the sport of fencing may have been caused by books like Treasure Island or Pirates!, and R.L.Stine's Dangerous Girls series coupled with an obsession with Dracula were definitely behind an ill-fated 3 day stint as a wannabe goth in the fifth grade.
I pursue cookbooks by M.F.K. Fisher as voraciously as I do books by Ian Fleming, and I am not a half bad cook (I am actually just an okay, "meh" sort of cook :) ). It is impossible to think of food and not have Alice's tea parties in Wonderland come to mind, as it is impossible to think of gardening and not have the image of Mary, Dickon and Collin playing in their Secret Garden spring into my head. And as I grow older, and read more and more books, more characters seem to crowd my mind and project their stories into the world around me.
Books will always be a part of my life. Through this blog, I will be able to share my thoughts on such things, and hopefully get some good feedback in return. Book recommendations are always welcome, and I look forward to sharing my love of the written word with others, particularly ones my own age. The kids in High School nowadays do read, and I hope that this blog will encourage and invite more to join in on the fun.
And me, I'll always be here to listen. Until next time, I'll just be Playing in the Pages. :)