Their Eyes Were Watching God

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published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God was written by Zora Neale Hurston. This novel starts with a person named Janie Crawford, a black woman living in southern Florida in the early 20th century. She is returning home after a long period of time away. As she is walking though the town many people criticize her for what she is wearing and her past experiences. A friend named Pheoby comes over to her  house to find out where she has been and what has happened to her. She begins her story from the beginning of her life and explains everything up until the date she has returned. Her grandmother was slave ,who even after slavery has ended was still working for a white family as maid. Janie  never had a mother around and was raised by her grandmother in a white family. Her grandmother tried to control her life, telling her to marry a white man  who would provide money and a home for her. Janie who is a naive young girl listens to what her grandmother has told her. Janie figuring out her sexuality realizes she does not want to marry so young  and to a man that she doesn’t love. Janie’s husband treats her as a slave which causes her to run away to another man who has big dreams for the future. This second husband gives her the luxury of never working if she doesn’t want to but he isolates her from the outside world. This isolation angers Janie because she wants to be independent and free. As her husband’s health depletes and passes away , she gains a surplus of money and her freedom. She wants to find a true love that she has been speaking all of her life. This novel which continues and follows Janie’s life shows her search for perfect love shows the importance of independence and perseverance for a minority back in the 20th century. This inspirational book is good for readers trying to understand love or looking for self-identity.

Thirteen Reasons Why

This lifeThirteenReasonsWhy changing novel by written by Jay Asher has been known for its ability to expose the major problem of bullying. This story starts with a box of audiotapes being sent to a young boy’s doorstep. The tapes are recorded by a girl named Hannah Baker who as committed suicide 2 weeks earlier. As the boy starts to listen, Hannah explains that the tapes are the reasons behind her ending her life and that he is one of the reasons. Each tape is a reason and is for a different person that they must pass it on too. This mystery uncovers many problems that people are dealing with in schools all over the nations. Bullying is a real issue that has only been noticed with the last couple of years. Suicide is the 2 leading cause of death among the youth of the nation. I believe that all children must read this book to understand how their actions can affect another human being. It shows the importance of heathy relationships and acceptance of others. The book was nominated a New York Times best seller.

Citizen: An American Lyric

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Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine is a novel containing critical perceptions about racism and self-identity though a series of poems, pictures and artwork. This novel which was published in October, 2014 has informed readers about racism today. It explores Claudia Rankine’s childhood where she experienced racial prejudice. She engulfs you in the perspective of her life and many others who are experiencing the same ordeal. She explains the concept of “microagressions” which is a term that has come to encompass the verbal action casual degradation of any socially marginalized group. This topic is encompassed throughout her novel giving a meaning to racism in today’s world. She uses her poems and selected pieces of artwork to express her experiences and the experiences of others to touch on the problems that many minorities in the United States are having. It focuses on modern issues that prove points about racism and self-identity. If you are a person who likes to read about controversial issues and loves deep poetry, this is the book for you. While reading this boligon-art-1990-001-ifeelmostcoloredwhen.jpgok your eyes will be opened to the wild world we live in today. This book is a good read for people being introduced to sensitive topics like race. Students will gain knowledge that they can apply to their everyday lives. This book make readers more aware of there surroundings and more aware racial issues that are happening all around them. This book’s poetry and artistic will allow the reader to connect deeply to the text allowing a better understanding of what Claudia Rankine is trying to portray.

This image to the right is a painting by Glenn Ligon who is a artist from New York City. It conveys an important message that Rankine uses as an example in her novel. It explores the idea of minorities in america. “I feel most colored when i am thrown against a sharp white background”. This message in black ink is written over and over again on a white canvas. This symbolism is expressing the feeling that minorities have in america. Minorities might feel as if they stand out compared the rest of “white” America.  Claudia Rankine uses this message and artwork like this to express her thoughts.

It is a finalist in the National Book Award and a New York Times Best Seller. You can purchase it online for as low at $10.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

LoraxThe Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr Seuss, notable author of many bestselling children’s books. This is a classic book that everyone enjoys. It is about the Lorax’s quest to help the ecosystem and to prevent the extinction of the Lorax tree. The Lorax faces a man who industrializes his lorax trees and ends up polluting the ecosystem. Eventually, the man chops down every single lorax tree to make his “Thneeds”, a multi purpose sweater. This children’s book is said to represent industrialization and the harmful effects of it on our environment. This book is a great read for kids in elementary school and also a great read for a parent to read to a child. The story is filled with fun rhymes that are sure to keep your child entertained. Most of all, this book teaches children the priceless lesson that it a good idea to take care of nature. This book reinforces the message that pollution is wrong and I really enjoy that Seuss is spreading this message to the younger generation. This is a book that I would  recommend to everyone to read because of its good message.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

things fall apartThings Fall Apart is a novel about the tragic fall of the protagonist, Okonkwo, and the Igbo culture. Okonkwo is a respected and influential leader within the Igbo community of Umuofia in eastern Nigeria. Okonkwo is the son of Unoka, who is an unsuccessful man who owed many money and could never repay his dues. Okonkwo has become very wealthy because of his many successful yam harvests and is respected throughout the village. Throughout the course of the book, Okonkwo struggles to choose to do what he believes is right or to agree with his village’s traditional customs. The book is more of an adult read rather than a book for kids, because of the violence and actions that occur in the book. It is a informative book as well because it displays the subordinate point of view from the countries that were being imperialized, instead of the common story which the point of view is of the imperialists. This novel displays intense emotions of how the Umuofian felt when the white people whom they have never seen before take control of their village and put all people to work.

This is a great read for anyone who is interested in imperialism during the eighteen hundreds or in the rich culture of the Igbo people in preimperialism Africa. Some of the ritual and customs of the Africans that are shown in this novel are shocking, but are true portrayals of what occurred during that time period. I was hesitant about the book at first, but once you start reading there’s lots of information to be obtained and many things that are very interesting. I suggest that if you are to read this book, you should research some knowledge about the Igbo society. This is book is great because it is a fictional story with real life context. Chinua Achebe, the author, does a great job of a creating a story that fits in with the timeline of imperialization in Africa. This is a great book and I would recommend adults and students in high school/college to read it!

Fatal Puzzle

Fatal Puzzle  by      Catherine Shepherd Catherine Shepherd

Who is she?

Thriller author Catherine Shepherd lives with her family in the medieval town of Zons, Germany, the setting of Fatal Puzzle. Since leaving her successful career as a project manager at a major German bank, Shepherd has devoted herself to writing full-time. Fatal Puzzle, the first book in the Zons series, hit number one on Amazon’s bestseller list in Germany.

What’s the book about ?

1495: In the peaceful medieval city of Zons, on the banks of the Rhine, a young woman is found hanging from a parapet, raped and mutilated. A month later, another maiden falls prey. Bastian Mühlenberg, head of the City Guard, is determined to decipher the murderer’s gruesome code, unaware that he and the woman he loves are in the killer’s sights. With the help of an old psychic, a priest, and the stars above, Mühlenberg must solve the “fatal puzzle” before it’s too late.

Present day: Journalist Emily Richter is thrilled when she’s assigned a series of articles about the historic Zons killings. However, right before her stories are to be published, a young woman’s body is found hanging from a city tower—grossly maimed and wearing a linen gown, like her medieval predecessors. Detective Oliver Bergmann leads the investigation, tapping the knowledge of the attractive young journalist. Working together—and using Mühlenberg’s old notes—they race to stay one step ahead of the copycat killer.

What’s interesting about this book?

– do you think the person who committed the crime in 1495 is related to the person who did the similar things to the young woman ?

– do you think detectives solve the fatal puzzle?

– what’s the fatal puzzle ?

Fatal Puzzle book 2??

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— Mingming L.

The Casual Vacancey

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JK Rowlings book about a community in England more tangled than a spider web. Its’ cast includes two boys about to graduate, an abusive husband, an unhappy wife, A sister with great love for her brother, and an unsociable social worker. It begins when an unremarkable man dies, and local chaos ensues.

“Yes, well, principles are sometimes the problem, if you ask me,’ said Miles. ‘Often what’s needed is a bit of common sense.’
‘Which is the name people usually give to their prejudices,’ rejoined Kay.”

Even though Rowling attempts to distance herself from the writing of Harry Potter, her writing style is unmistakable. From her character names to use of detail, Rowling spins an intricate tale.
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While culturally different (from an american perspective), the tight knit town seems cozy and sleepy, a classic English Village.  Behind the pretty façade, however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils. Pagford is not what it first seems.

BBC created a Mini series based on Rowlings book:

Speak by
Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak is the first person narrative of Melinda, an almost average teen starting her first year at high school. After her friends abandon her without knowing the truth about what happened before school started, Melinda must battle herself in order to fined her voice. Pick up a copy here

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Note to the reader:
This book is definitely worth your time to read, seriously do it. However you should be prepared to encounter difficult concepts, such as depression and rape. Anderson does a fanatic job portraying it properly without alarming the reader, yet you should still understand what type of book you might read.

Don’t have the time?
Try watching the movie featuring Kristen Stewart.

1984 by George Orwell

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The incredibly talented author George Orwell crafted a masterpiece. 1984 is arguably one of the first dystopian novels created.
This novel takes place in the futuristic year of 1984, in London. Since the book was written in 1949, 1984 was considerably in the future. The protagonist, Winston Smith is subject to the propaganda and lies spread by the government, he even helps bury the truth in his daily job. What sets him apart from his fellow mindless party members is his ability to question, which almost all other upper class humans have lost the ability to do. Question the way modern people accept the facts they are told, and join Smiths quiet rebellion against the totalitarianism of Big Brother.

For anyone whose read a dysutopian novel they know the criteria
-Cruel dictator
-Bad food/clothing
-Strange values
-Every person is part of a mindless collective
-One person realizes it is wrong
This book is worth reading even if you are well versed in this type of novel. It is one of the original books tackling such intriguing topics such as manipulating truth and people, and power over many.

After reading the book, try the movie!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

“People always did like to talk, didn’t they? That’s why I call myself a witch now: the Wicked Witch of the West, if you want the full glory of it. As long as people are going to call you a lunatic anyway, why not get the benefit of it? It liberates you from convention.”
― Gregory Maguire,

WickedBookCoverAnyone who has experienced the craze of Wicked, the musical must have wondered where the story came from. Gregory Maguire tells a time loved story from the perspective of the classic villain, the wicked witch of the west.

Elphaba, daughter of the local minister and society lady, is born a ghastly green color. This story follows Elphaba through her youth, years at school, and eventual interactions with Dorothy. The Oz created by Maguire, is far darker than the movie starring Judy Garland.  Maguire uses The land of Oz to make a commentary on our society. The religion in Oz is chaotic and destructive. And he alludes to discrimination in the treatment of Animals, a human animal hybrid. Maguire questions the origination of good and evil in the soul.  Similar to the musical is the presence of romance. in this book, however, the characters that fall for each other are different. Reader be warned; this novel is rather racey, and reader digression is advised.

Wether the book musical or original movie is how you experience Oz, don’t forget to click your heels three times!

-gal