Monday, January 9, 2017

A Life Lesson in The Great Gatsby

Goals are made so you have purpose, so you have something to strive for. Unfortunately, goals are not always accomplished, some are abandoned, some are forgotten and some are postponed. My reading goal, I tell you, has not been abandoned or forgotten, but the deadline might need to be expanded. My goal was to read nine books this semester and I still have a small chance to complete this goal. The semester is wrapping up in a week and I already have the book I plan on reading next, but the complication is that I only have a week to read 518 pages. I've done this many times before, heck I've read a 549 page book in one day, but with finals coming up and a great deal of homework, it'll be a challenge. Although, I am one to take on challenges. The novel I just finished, book #8, was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I chose this book as my AP book because I've heard that this is an excellent novel and that the movie is outstanding as well. I knew nothing of the book except for something that I will not say to avoid spoiling the end of the book. So, yes the book was spoiled for myself, but I thought I needed to know the events that lead up to this spoiler.

Narrated by a man named Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby's very first two sentences says:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had” (Fitzgerald 1).

When I was young, my mother always told me "if you don't having anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I feel like these two quotes connect in a way: don't condemn people. Nowadays, everyone gossips about everyone and I would be lying if I say I don't gossip about people. It's easier to be mean and judgmental than to be nice and understanding. The thing is, though, that gossiping gets no one anywhere, it just causes pain and misery. People don't have anything better to do, so they cause drama. I know it's hard not to engage in gossip when someone around you is talking about it, especially if you're nosy like I am, but like I said in my last blog self-control is key to a well-functioning life. Life is already filled with heartache and grief, why add to it?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Influences of the World vs. Self Control

Life gets in the way of things supposedly, but that's what priorities are for: putting important matters in front of life. Unfortunately, I haven't been prioritizing reading, so I have not made much progress on my 'Ms. Mayo's Class' reading goal. I just finished my seventh book approximately 30 minutes ago and am going on a AP book hunt this weekend. I'm planning on reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and while I'm at the book store, I am going to pick up a couple novels for Christmas for my brother (shh don't tell him!). Back to what this blog is really about: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves thriller, mystery, or crime fiction books. Although, I have to warn everyone that the story does involve very dark and controversial situations, but overall the book is a page-turner and very well written. 

In the novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to catch a killer, or so he expects, of a high-class businessman's niece, who he thinks of as his daughter. The tricky part is that she disappeared more than forty years before their investigation, and things turn ugly quick when they catch a break in the case. Lisbeth Salander, Mikael's investigation assistant, is extremely temperamental and a little bit of an odd thinker. When she gets upset with someone, she thinks of doing sinful actions out of impulse, but she's hasty to remind herself of the repercussions. 

Impulsive actions [lead] to trouble, and trouble [can] have unpleasant consequences.”(Larsson 226)

This quote is what many should think of when they're about to act on their urges. In fact, just like Lisbeth, people's temper can cause them to want, or actually do fatal acts, not just to them, but to others as well. There is a case in 2011 where a man, Jared Lee Loughner, shot six people dead and wounded fourteen other people because he was contempt with the government and society. Now you must think that that is not a good reason to shoot twenty people, well any reason is not a good reason to do that, and you are very correct. Why do some people act on their impulses and some do not? One answer: self-control. Self-control is more of a necessity than intelligence. Without it, we are susceptible to all kinds of influences in this influencing world. When someone says to jump off a bridge, would you do it? If someone says to quit your job and to deal drugs, would you do it? If someone says to kill someone, would you do it? A normal person with self-control would say no to all three questions. An abnormal person with no self-control would most likely say yes, if the person asking the questions were influential enough. Bringing it back to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you realize throughout the book that a lot of characters act on their impulses, not just Lisbeth. One character in specific acts on his instincts in a horrendous, hideous, hazardous way that is truly hard to read. Self-control is key to a well-functioning life, it keeps dreadful consequences to a minimal, it keeps anger from boiling out and shape-shifting into a monster who wreaks havoc in your life, it keeps life's hardships easy on your joints when you have to get down and crawl through obstacles. Most importantly, it keeps people alive when someone, like Jared Lee Loughner, has violent impulses, but unlike Jared Lee Loughner, they don't act on them.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Discovering the Truth of Real Love In A Novel About Murder

If you put the 19th letter in the alphabet together with the 9th letter and then the 24th letter, what does it spell? Instead of you counting out the letters I'll give you a hint: S-I-X. Six! I finished my sixth book a couple days ago and I'm ecstatic that I'm over halfway to my goal of 9 books for this semester. I haven't gone book shopping in while, so I'm stuck borrowing my brother's books, which are all mystery. Nothing against mystery, but in my opinion, after awhile all the mysteries become the same thing. But let's pretend I never said that and that I love all mystery books because this blog post is about (can you guess it?) a mystery book. Although, this is not just any mystery book, it's a staple, the book all mystery writers aspire to beat, it's Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (it's also a movie, click for the trailer). 

(Beware: Some spoilers ahead!)

Nick Dunne's wife, Amy, goes missing on the day of their fifth anniversary and the more evidence that pops up about the case, the more the public and the police think he killed her. Readers find out later in this suspenseful novel that he has committed a sin, infidelity. Andie, his mistress, and Nick keep their love hidden from Amy, hidden from the world, for over a year! Nick loves Andie, he can be himself around her, where Amy, he always has to be a better version of himself. Sitting, one night, with Andie (after his wife's disappearance! What a horrible husband!), Nick thinks to himself: 

"Love makes you want to be a better man - right, right. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are" (Flynn 150). 

Nick, who may lies about other things in his life, is not lying about this. Yes, I am only a fifteen year old, I can hear you shouting at me through the computer: "You're a baby, what do you know about real love?" I'm here to tell you that even though I may be young, I still know what real love is. And I know this because I am privileged enough to say that my family loves me unconditionally, thus granting me the knowledge of real love. From the day I was born, even before that, I knew I was loved. I am an in-vitro baby, meaning my parents desired, yearned to have meThey spoiled me like all baby siblings are spoiled, but also taught me to be a strong, independent woman, and for that I know how much they care for me. I never have to worry if I'm being annoying or nosy around them because I know I am and they don't mind it. I can walk into the kitchen for breakfast after I just woke up and don't care if I have bags under my eyes from only getting four hours of sleep, or if my hair looks wild and crazy (which it usually does). They're my family and I am theirs and we'll always have each other's backs because that's what real love is: being loved for being 100% yourself. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Impossible IS Possible

Four books completed and only five more to go to complete my sophomore reading goal of nine books. I've now made a plan instead of nine books being my 'sophomore' reading goal, it's going to be my 'Ms. Mayo's class' reading goal. I, honestly, have impressed myself on how diverse the genres of books I've been reading. Usually, I'm only reading young adult fiction, aka all the teen girl books, but I've ventured out into mystery, historical fiction, and even non-fiction and enjoyed it! I enjoyed my non-fiction book so much that my post today is going to be all about it. This revolutionary book I'm ranting about is (drum roll please) Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. 

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is the astounding story of Louis "Louie" Zamperini's life. Between his Olympic running dream, fighting against the Nazis, and having a Japanese POW guard dedicate his life to making Zamperini feel dehumanized, his life seems fiction. Towards the end of this inspiring novel, Louie is listening to a man preach the gospel and he starts to reminisce about the miracles that occurred during the war“Louie found himself thinking of the moment at which he had woken in the sinking hull of Green Hornet, the wires that had trapped him a moment earlier now, inexplicably, gone. And he remembered the Japanese bomber swooping over the rafts, riddling them with bullets, and yet not a single bullet had struck him, Phil, or Mac. He had fallen into unbearably cruel worlds, and yet he had borne them. When he turned these memories in his mind, the only explanation he could find was one in which the impossible was possible. What God asks of men, said Graham, is faith. His invisibility is the truest test of that faith. To know who sees him, God makes himself unseen.”  Mankind can do anything, even the impossible, with the help of Christ. The only way Louie Zamperini overcame what he did was because God was there to untie the cords around him, to redirect the bullets away from the men, to protect him from the horrors of war. Louie had faith, even though the terrors of war made it seem as if He was not real, so God cradled him and told him that he is strong, he can overcome. Louie may not have known then that he was being watched over, but God has ways to show people that he's there by granting miracles, making the impossible possible, to those that are deserving. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bikes & Harry Potter

At the beginning of the 2016 school year, I set a goal to read 9 books. I have finished one and am almost done with another. The books I have been reading aren't as challenging as I thought they would be, but one of the goals I set was to read more mystery books and they are included in the mystery genre. Because the book I am currently reading and the one I just finished aren't as thought-provoking, I'm going to focus on a book I recently finished: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the 8th book in the Harry Potter series, is not written like a typical book, but written as a play script. The storyline is based on the adventures of Harry Potter's son, Albus Potter, and Albus's friend, Scorpius, who happens to be the son of Harry's archenemy, Draco Malfoy. Albus gets hurt during an adventure and ends up in the hospital. While Harry is waiting for Albus to wake up, Dumbledore appears in a picture frame on the wall of the hospital room. Harry asks Dumbledore for advice on how to protect his son from danger, “DUMBLEDORE: You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come. HARRY: So I’m supposed to stand and watch? DUMBLEDORE: No. You’re supposed to teach him how to meet life” (112). This passage really speaks to me because life isn't easy and pain will come, physically and mentally. I remember my dad trying to teach me how to ride a bike and I would always fall over on the sidewalk. I would angrily push the bike off me and stomp back into the house with scrapes down my legs. Learning to ride a bike made me physically and mentally exhausted because I couldn't keep from falling over, I couldn't keep the bike balanced, I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't. Riding a bike is just a life skill that every little kid learns after going through bumps in the road (literally), but our parents taught us that if we're falling over, steer towards the grass to cushion our falling. Even though we still got hurt, they taught us a way to lessen the impact, so we can stand up and get back on the bike that is life. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Me, Myself, and I

Hi everyone! I'm Cassie and this is my English reading blog. I'm a sophomore and a big fan of reading and have loved doing it all throughout my life. I believe reading is an essential part of life because it helps your emotional mentality, makes you smarter and overall betters people as a whole. Some of my favorite books are Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, the Harry Potter series, and the Divergent series. If you're into historical fiction, fantasy and dystopian all with a twist of romance, you should love the three books/series listed above! 

I have set a goal to read 9 books my sophomore year and I plan to achieve success! This year I also want to broaden my horizon and indulge into more non-fiction books, such as Lord of the Flies and A Child Called It. I'm not a big fan of these types of books because they just seem so boring, but I hope to change my mindset. Additionally, I want to find some mystery books I will enjoy, because who doesn't love a good mystery? Another goal I've set is to read more advanced books, like A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Remember: books are good for the soul!