In Honor of Finals Season…

Get yourself to a nearby coffee shop and drink up!

Original video found here: http://visual.ly/how-coffee-affects-your-brain

Designed and animated by Jorge Cham

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Guilty Pleasure: Should You Really Feel Guilty?

Gif source: http://howdoiputthisgently.tumblr.com/post/50068246575
Gif source: http://howdoiputthisgently.tumblr.com/post/50068246575

I like literature with a capital L. I like reading “good” books, partly because it’s fun to challenge yourself, and partly because I like looking smart – even when I maybe don’t actually love reading that particular book (Jane Eyre, I’m looking at you).

But these books aren’t always the ones that catch your attention or influence you in a deep way. Sometimes that comes from books (or even television shows) that you would rather not admit you were reading or watching.

And even if Honey Boo Boo doesn’t resonate with you on a deep level, is there value to that type of media consumption? Or is our world being taken over by weird interest in the daily lives of people who don’t ultimately add value to our lives?

As an avid watcher of reality television, I have to argue that guilty pleasure TV and books have their place in the world – and don’t deserve as much scorn as they get.

I used to love the Twilight series in high school. I admit it.

Looking back, I’d say there were some moral lessons about treating yourself with respect regardless of who you love that probably should have been included, but regardless, the story captivated me and my imagination.

Now, I’m not going to say it is particularly good literature or art. But it also isn’t worthless.

Stories like Twilight, and TV like Honey Boo Boo offer another view on the world, a different reality from the canonical classic literature that gets stuffed down our throats. They offer the types of stories about love that we as human beings are drawn to–the impossibly intense romantic love and the unconditional familial love, respectively.

While much of the capital L literature is beautiful and will change your perspective on the world, it’s also important to branch out, and understand what the life of a particular family in Georgia might be like – because that’s why we are interested in stories, I think. They offer us a different perspective on the world.

Now, I know some argue that reality TV is far from real – but so is fiction, and we find plenty of value in that.

By writing off those stories that don’t fit into a structured view of what is “good” you may miss out on some really interesting stories and lives that may, in their own way, change the way you look at the world.

Literary Look: Hamlet

My description:

Hamlet is generally speaking a very dark, brooding character, who is constantly soliloquizing about  the essence of life, and what the point of it is. He’s also either crazy or crazy enough to pretend to be crazy, so I wanted to have a sense of discord in this outfit. That’s why the shirt is soft and feminine, paired with leather leggings and some shoes that could murder a uncle-turned-step-father. The skull necklace is an obvious connection since the iconic image of Hamlet always includes him speaking to the skull.

From the book:

“’Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born, he that is mad and sent into England.’
‘Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?’
‘Why, because he was mad. He shall recover his wits there, or, if he do not, it’s no great matter there.’
‘Why?’
”Twill not be seen in him there. There the men are as mad as he.'”

How To: Make a Clutch out of a Book

Warning: Some content may be too graphic for those bibliophiles who are offended by the destruction of books. Viewer discretion is advised.

For everyone else, this is a fun craft that took me about 45 minutes to finish, and was very inexpensive. I bought the book for about $2, and used extra strength Elmer’s glue and a pair of scissors.

I only thought through the beginning of this craft before I began, so I stumbled about halfway through and had to kind of figure out what I wanted to do.

But that’s how crafts often go – you just have to figure out what works with the supplies and ideas you have.

I hope you guys can try this out and make a cool finished product! Let me know how it went for you in the comments!

Divergent Review

Okay, so I know it’s sort of bad that as a book blogger I reviewed the movie instead of the book (I’m glad I’m typing this and not saying it in person or I’d be afraid you diehard book lovers might throw something at me). But I have every intention of reading the book, and even began reading it, but with homework and everything going on at the end of the semester, I just haven’t had the time to read the whole thing. In the review, however, I do critique some plot points and overall storyline, which is relevant to the book, as long as it wasn’t changed drastically, which I don’t think it was.

Let me know what you think of the review!

 

“Mommy, what’s a hermaphrodite?” – The Question of Reader Age

As a kid, I loved reading, and even though I read plenty of books for kids, including any one I could find which starred talking dogs, I also prided myself on reading above my age expectation. In middle school, I tackled The Once and Future King, and loved (almost) every minute of its 600-plus pages.

I also tried reading Wicked, which was way over my head at the time. Its philosophical reflection of the nature of evil, corrupt politics and references to the main character being a hermaphrodite both turned me off from “liking” the book, and sort of confused me. (Yes, I did ask my mom what a hermaphrodite was, but I was old enough not to actually say “mommy”). It was not the fun Wizard of Oz story with a simple change of perspective that I imagined it being when I picked it out.

And Animal Farm wasn’t exactly the fun book about talking farm animals that I expected either.

So why did I read these books? And should I have been?

I read them because I wanted to be a book snob at a young age, I looked up to my sister who was eight years older than me and was a good reader, and I felt accomplished to be reading a book I could hardly lift off the table.

And I think the answer to the second question is yes, I should have been reading those books – because I should have been reading, period.

Young people should be reading the books they want to read, regardless of “how much they get out of it.” First of all, you don’t know how much they might get out of it, and neither do they yet. And secondly, reading is good for them, and tackling difficult material shouldn’t be discouraged, or you may end up discouraging them from reading at all.

“But what about books with moral deficiencies, trauma, or things that are too mature or disturbing for kids?” you may ask.

I think this is a fair question, depending on what age the reader is. It’s also interesting to note that besides the general categories of Children’s, Young Adult, and (for lack of a better term) regular fiction, there aren’t any ratings on books.

You can’t look at a book and know whether it will have a million swears or none – and in what context that language is used.

While part of the answer depends on what the parents allow, obviously, reading a book about debauchery won’t make kids go do terrible things. If Grand Theft Auto doesn’t make kids go chainsaw a prostitute, then reading a book about people doing drugs won’t make them go do any.

The books I read at a young age affected me a lot more than I realized, but not because they told me what to think – they let me do my own thinking without expecting me to answer them right away, the way teachers, parents and other kids might. They let my brain slow cook some big questions and ideas without me really needing to explain to anyone my process, which has made me a deeper, more thoughtful person now, I believe.

I’ve noticed whenever I start a post about reading, lately, I look back to when I was discovering my reading identity, and I think that’s why this is an interesting question to me – my reading identity has created my overall identity in large part.

Animal Farm didn’t really teach me about communism, because I didn’t know the reference, but it did teach me about hypocrisy and damn good endings to novels.

There were some Young Adult novels I read secretly at the library because I was embarrassed that my mom might know, just by looking at the cover, that they had swears in them or talked about sex, but these novels stuck with me.

They embarrassed me at the time but they showed me perspectives I didn’t even know I didn’t know about, like a book I read about a transgender teen. That novel both showed me that people like that exist in the world, something which our public school sex education classes didn’t ever mention, and gave me immense empathy for that character.

And now, as a 21 year old college student, I read YA books and I eat them up. I love being brought right back to high school, and remembering feeling embarrassed at my locker, or walking through the halls trying to catch the eye of someone you liked.

But even these novels aren’t only “fun” or easy reads, they also handle big issues, questions of identity, and making a place for yourself in the world, which are things that I don’t ever think you totally outgrow.

So, I suppose, long story very very long, reading ages don’t really make sense. You should read that book that interests you now – and then read it again in 10 years. Read the novel you bought when you were 15 and never got around to cracking open. Read for nostalgia and then read something different to challenge yourself.

And I don’t think we should discourage younger readers from doing the same.

What do you think of age groups for reading? Should kids have free reign when picking what to read? Do you regret reading things that were above your head when you were younger? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Anna Karenina Cityscape

This image is from an art project I did for my digital design class, but I wanted to share it because, of course, it’s book-themed. The assignment was to use Adobe Illustrator to make a cityscape that is panorama shaped, and I had the idea to make it look like a scene was sort of emerging from the pages of a book.

I chose Anna Karenina because I always get really strong sensory images from that novel, and I also wanted to make a Russian cityscape. So I copy and pasted in the text from the very beginning and the very end of the novel on the two pages you can see, and created the  Moscow cityscape in between with the train, because the train is so central to the novel.

Hope you like it! Let me know what you think in the comments.