2017 in Books

I did this a couple of years ago, but I’m going to do it again. This year, I read 176 books. I was only going to read 100. Then, Goodreads let people count re-reads towards the Goodreads challenge (something I hadn’t counted before), and I got a job that gave me actually breaks during which I could read. I, also, want to credit my endo giving me plenty of time to read to distract from the pain. That might be a personal best since the last time I read that many books might have been when I was young and reading lower lexile books. I’ve finished three YA series, read several Shakespeare adaptations, even more books about strong women, and a lot of books about race relations. So, I just wanted to recommend a couple of books.

Non-fiction:

  • Sisters In Law: How  Sandra Day O’Conner and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman (This is a great story about how the first two women on the Supreme Court interacted)
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (This book is mainly about how people of color were treated after the Civil War. I would highly recommend reading this book in companion with next book.)
  • White Trash: The 400-Year-Old Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg (This one is about how poor mostly white people were treated by the rich people all throughout the history of the US.)
  • The Doctor Will See You Now: Recognizing and Treating Endometriosis by Dr. Tamer Seckin (Since I was diagnosed with endo in the summer, I’ve been trying to figure things out. This book was recommended to me by The Uterus and The Duderus podcast.)
  • Grant by Ron Cherow (I want you to read this because Lin-Manuel Miranda might go on vacation and come back with an idea of a hip-hop musical about US Grant.)
  • Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag (Especially in a world full of images, we tend to forget to think of others feelings. I read it for book club and couldn’t put it down.)
  • An American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeremy Toobin (I knew very little about Patty Hearst going in, and it’s informative)
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (I cried when I saw her onscreen for The Last Jedi. This was her last book and was published October 18th of last year.)
  • Plenty more though. I could fill more pages.

Fiction:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Would any list this year be complete without this book? It deserves all the praise it’s getting.)
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston (It’s another retelling of Cinderella but a really good one promise.)
  • Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (Atwood retells The Tempest in the way that only Atwood could. I also reread The Handmaid’s Tale two times this year, so my judgement might be biased.)
  • Bloodline by Claudia Gray (Gray is on a role writing new Star Wars books. This one is set after the sixth movie. She’s had Ben and is conflicted about telling him about his grandfather.)
  • New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (A retelling of Othello set in a 1970’s school.)
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill (A woman throws things at an up and coming politician and has to meet up with the son she abandoned decades ago.)
  • Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Atwood fictionalizes a real case about a woman who was put in jail for murdering two people.)
  • Crazy Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (I would recommend reading Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend first, but it’s great. Believe me.)
  • Plenty more as well, but I value your time.

Re-Reads:

  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (I watched it by the American Shakespeare Center. Tears were rolling down my face due to laughter and then, sadness.)
  • The Catcher in the Rye/Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger (I recommend as always to read Franny and Zooey as a complement of The Catcher in the Rye.)
  • Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me/Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (I love reading Mindy’s books. She’s very funny, and I actually watched The Office this year because of rereading these two books.)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I’ve admitted earlier that I actually read it twice this year. Once for fun and a second time for book club.)
  • Just Don’t Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain by Josh Sundquist (Sundquist was the first YouTuber that I actually subscribed to. I like rereading his books once in a while.)
Aside

My High School Analysis As You Like It

I did this before with High School Me Writes Poetry. I like looking back to see the growth in my personal writing. The summer before my senior year in high school, we were supposed to read As You Like It and The Count of Monte Cristo. I decided to “blog” my reading of As You Like It on Facebook Notes. I will be doing minor edits because someone didn’t believe in using the shift key and the APA format has changed. But, I’m keeping the many spelling errors. I’m even going to make some comments because these were just that bad.
Part 1:
I will be writing in here my adventure through the wonderful world of As You Like It. I can guarantee that this will very funny.
[No. No, it wasn’t high school me.]
Part 2:
As You Like It is really not that bad. In Act 1, it got funny. I think. I had to look it up on Sparknotes. I am not the person to get with Shakespeare. I am supposed to do a summary and then a reflection. All you people who have not graduated from [redacted] have to do that. You former seniors got lucky. At least you had to do this… maybe… once? I don’t know! I doubt the teachers will take it up though. It was extra credit the last time. I did venture into Twelfth Night this school year. That was a disaster. If drama is elective and an English, should I get a credit to graduate with?
[Dear high school me, you end up being a person that does Shakespeare. You actually volunteer at a Shakespeare theater for basically three years. As You Like It is in your top ten Shakespeare plays. And yes, you did get extra credit.]
Part 3:
More adventures!!!!!!!!!! I have no clue what Shakespeare is saying. I think this book I checked out from the libray might help. It is call The Complete Idoit’s Guide to Shakespeare.
[It’s called a proofread. You misspelled library and idiot.]
Part 4:
I have memorized one line. “Now brothers and comates in exile.”
[You are going to learn in about two years that accurate quotes matter. It’s actually, “Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile.”]
Part 5:
I had to return The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Shakespeare because I will be going on vacation next week. I feel very lost. The next week I have youth camp so I will be dragging the play As You Like It all over the place. That should be fun.
[Are you being sarcastic? Because, I remember that you didn’t even read As You Like It at camp. You have no room for being sarcastic, you procrastinator.]
Part 6:
I finished it. After weeks of reading, I have finished As You Like It. I loved that I have finished reading it, but now, I have to write summaries and reflections. How do you write a persuasion essay on how running away is good? I won’t be able to do that. That would be a little too hard.
[I guess this whole thing is over. It’s not as bad as I thought…]
Part 7:
I am so behind in As You Like It. I really shoukd be writing reflections and summaries. It was just youth camp and district conferance. Oops! I should really start writing the summaries and reflections. Bye!!!!!
[How are you behind if you’re finished reading it? Why are you online when you should be writing? Why don’t you use contractions? These are only some of the many mysteries of these postings.]
Part 8: 
I am not behind everybody reading. I might even be most ahead. I watched the movie and they deleted a whole lot of good lines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another horrible movie is The Crucible. The ending is alittle flat. It is so serious, and then it is so hilarious. i want to speak with the writer of it. Stick to the script!!!!!! I don’t care if Arthur Miller said you could do it. Was he in the classroom when the half the class erupted into laughter. I was one of those people laughing. Come on, when people are saying the Lord’s Prayer, you do not kill them. I need to end this blog. It is not critiquing movies.
[Don’t cut yourself on that edge, now. Also, this is only the first of many disappointments with plays as movies.]
Part 9:
I lost the book!!!!!!!!!!! It is somewhere in the basement. I looked everywhere! I have not finished my summaries and reflections! I would not be this paniced if i did not get my first college application today. SWU sent me my first college application ever!!!! It will be so cool going to SWU. Go Warriors!!! But I really am freaking out about this. It has my notes in it. Basically 4 weeks until school starts. At least I finished As You Like It. I am still working on The Count of Monte Cristo. It is really boring. I don’t even know what to compare it to. Teeth drilling sounds fun. The process of reading it is so slow. As You Like IT really does not have any action. It does have wit though. Wit or witout wit, it is pretty cool. Remember, SWU Wariors rule!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are blue and yellow. this seems really random right?
[I’m going to not call out the witout because I think you are trying to be funny. Man, you misspelled warriors which would be bad enough if it was only your mascot in college, but your high school mascot. Also me from the past, panicked.]
Part 10:
I found my book and my notes. The Count of Monte Cristo is going along slow. I am still on page 26. It takes forever. I really should be reading it instead of writing this note. It is so boring. Is this what i get for joing an ap class?
[Translation: “I’m so smart because I’m in an AP class. You should pity my struggle of reading classic literature.”]

High school me, you have to learn a lot. But, you eventually learned a lot. Just tone down on the exclamation points.

Top Books

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

In the book market, there is an emerging trend called New Adult literature. Rainbow Rowell is leading the charge it seems. Rowell creates her own homage to Harry Potter called Simon Snow. While mentioning that, Cath and Wren are twins going to college. Cath writes her own fanfiction to the Simon Snow series. She is also a little socially awkward which is great to see in fiction that not everyone is gifted in socializing. You also get to see Cath and Wren drift apart which is something that sometimes happens. Rowell also published Eleanor and Park this year. I would also recommend that.

2. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher (2013)

Yes, it is as gimmicky as it sounds. It takes Star Wars and translates it to Early Modern English (not Old English). Doescher uses a Chorus. Shakespeare does use this in Henry V, and I cannot think of a better play to use. In addition to the Chorus, Doescher takes some of the famous speeches and intertwines them into the Star Wars story. Shakespeare might have even written Star Wars in this way if he lived in a galaxy far, far away. Oh and, R2-D2 has several asides and is given depth as a character thus fulfilling his and C-3PO’s roles as clowns. Just wait for my wonderful production of this play.

3. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth (2011, 2012, 2013)

I am including the three books into one slot. I know it sounds like a cop-out. Roth invited us to imagine Chicago in the future. Now, this was one of two controlled societies that I read this year. The other one was Matched and the first two chapters of Crossed. Roth had the better of the two. I really want to give away spoilers. But, I won’t. People are always looking for lessons within books to justify reading them. Consistently, Divergent and its sequels give the lesson of self-sacrifice starting in the first book. And, that is all I can say without getting too much into the plot.

4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (2013)

Yes, I really liked the feminist propaganda by a privileged white woman. I was even planning on writing a post about women in college student government. Yet, Sandberg gives readers an inside look to women in major companies. One thing that really stuck with me was the mentoring of people with less experience. It really does not matter where you are working. Everyone needs encouragement when starting something new. I did realize that this was needed. I knew that people needed other people for support. Women should be the ones supporting women. The age of the queen bee should be a thing of the past.

5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1598/1599)

I actually did not read the play. I watched it. That is the only way to really experience a play. I actually watched two versions of the play. The first was the David Tennant/Catherine Tate version, and the second was the Joss Whedon version. I love Shakespeare in general and have used this play to against Bard haters. Beatrice is a strong speaker along with Rosalind and Viola. Nothing is as it seems throughout the play. There is a masque in the play. This is only a foreshadow of things to come. Shakespeare uses illusions to make the entire play a masque of sorts.

6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

I read this book for a Contemporary Literature class earlier this year. So, I read half of the book for the first week and then, the second half. I, then, reread the book to remember everything. It is the story about the aftermath of 9/11. The protagonist is a 10 year old boy whose father died in the attacks. Yet, there was a subplot involving the grandmother who was from Dresden (yes, this Dresden). This book made it on the list because of what I did during the rereading. It includes a letter from the grandmother which ends with the grandmother asking herself if she should tell her sister that she loves her. I, then, Facebooked messaged everyone in my immediate family “I love you.” This was also the book that I was studying when I found out my grandfather had died. So, it is very important to me.

The Disney/Shakespearean Ending

Recently, I have gone onto the Internet type places, and this was there:

someecards

someecards.com

I can tell you the exact plays that a majority of these people have seen. They are Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Why would I say this? These are all part of the curriculum in most schools. Also, these are all tragedies. The definition of a tragedy is that the hero of the play suffers a great fall. This is normally from pride. Yes, this also means that a majority of people die in the play. Shakespeare has a lot of other plays that end in death. In the histories, Richard II and Richard III both end with death of the main character. King Lear ends with the death of the king’s youngest daughter. The very definition of the main character has a fall. I can see why people would really see why Shakespeare seems depressing. There are bad ends to relationships. This point should have also been discussed in the English classes. It more likely than not involves a death or a murder or a combination of the both. This post is mainly going to talk about the tragicomedy style which Shakespeare is also known for. These are plays that are heavy in many places yet are light in the end.

Now for less tragic endings, let’s look at another history. This one is Henry V. It is also a rallying point for Britain. This play is about the invasion of France during the reign of King Henry V. There is the death of Falstaff at the beginning of the play is overshadowed by the main fools talking. Still, comedy is reigning even with the death of the king’s friend (See Henry IV). There are the people who tell Henry V that the plan may be impossible. Yet, this leads to the second famous speech in all of Shakespeare (“To Be or Not To Be” being the first). The play ends with a majority of the French dead. But, the French do not even count, since they are the great evil with the British. So, there is not that bad of a loss in their deaths. Also, the guy gets the girl, a French princess. He blunders speaking French to he initially. There are two possible reasons: he cannot speak French or is pretending to make himself more sympathetic. There is also the scene in which there is a man who is forced to eat a leek. In looking at the comedies, a couple of the plots which would have been tragic. I just want to remind everyone reading that a comedy ends with a wedding.

In recent months, I have had an almost unhealthy obsession with Much Ado About Nothing. Claudio is a young soldier who falls in love with a girl named Hero. He has a superior officer Don Pedro  help him woo Hero. The brother of the superior officer gets jealous or has some other motivation to stop Claudio from marrying Hero. In a side plot, Don Pedro sets a plot to have Benedick and Beatrice fall in love. Comic hilarity ensues while they are trying to get the pair together. Then, tragedy strikes the members of the play. It almost comes to an ending in the Fourth Act! Hero is accused of being unfaithful, and a priest suggests that Hero pretends to be dead. This is to see Claudio’s reaction. Yet in the process, Benedick and Beatrice fall in love because Beatrice wants Benedick to kill Claudio. Long story short, there is not one wedding but two. Yes, there are tons of sad materials like the family pretending like Hero was killed by her father, but does that make the story tragic? Possibly. Yet, that does not take away from the ending. The people live in harmony.

Another play that almost has a tragic plot yet happy ending is The Winter’s Tale. A king accuses his wife of having an affair with his friend. Then, she dies after giving birth to his daughter.  An oracle tells the king that there will be no peace in the kingdom until he finds his heir. The kings sends his infant daughter to a foreign country to die. Lucky for the baby, a bear attacks the man in charge of killing her and she is found by a shepherd and his son. 16 years pass. The girl falls in love with the prince of the country, the son of the man accused to be having the affair with her mother. The king of this country does not like her son being in love with a peasant girl. So through a set of magical coincidences, the second king, prince, and girl (along with her adopted family) go back to her native country.  She meets up with her father.  This fulfills the prophecy of the oracle. But wait, there’s more. The first king and his daughter go to the wife of his adviser where there is a statute of his wife/her mother. The queen has been alive this entire time waiting for her daughter to return. Happy ending!

All of this is to say that you cannot not judge an author or playwright on the most famous/taught work from his or her collection. I know Shakespeare is considered boring and tragic. But as any other author, you have to look further. Maybe then, you could accept a Disney/Shakespearean Ending.