Category Archives: Books

100 LEGAL Sources for Free Books Online


The Classics

Browse works by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and other famous authors here.

  1. Classic Bookshelf: This site has put classic novels online, from Charles Dickens to Charlotte Bronte.
  2. The Online Books Page: The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia hosts this book search and database.
  3. Project Gutenberg: This famous site has over 27,000 free books online.
  4. Page by Page Books: Find books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, as well as speeches from George W. Bush on this site.
  5. Classic Book Library: Genres here include historical fiction, history, science fiction, mystery, romance and children’s literature, but they’re all classics.
  6. Classic Reader: Here you can read Shakespeare, young adult fiction and more.
  7. Read Print: From George Orwell to Alexandre Dumas to George Eliot to Charles Darwin, this online library is stocked with the best classics.
  8. Planet eBook: Download free classic literature titles here, from Dostoevsky to D.H. Lawrence to Joseph Conrad.
  9. Bibliomania: This site has more than 2,000 classic texts, plus study guides and reference books.
  10. Online Library of Literature: Find full and unabridged texts of classic literature, including the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain and more.
  11. Bartleby: Bartleby has much more than just the classics, but its collection of anthologies and other important novels made it famous.
  12. Fiction.us: Fiction.us has a huge selection of novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Flaubert, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
  13. Free Classic Literature: Find British authors like Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus other authors like Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and more.


Textbooks

If you don’t absolutely need to pay for your textbooks, save yourself a few hundred dollars by reviewing these sites.
  1. Textbook Revolution: Find biology, business, engineering, mathematics and world history textbooks here.
  2. Wikibooks: From cookbooks (handy for those enrolled in online bachelor’s degree programs for culinary arts!) to the computing department, find instructional and educational materials here.
  3. Online Medical Textbooks: Find books about plastic surgery, anatomy and more here.
  4. Online Science and Math Textbooks: Access biochemistry, chemistry, aeronautics, medical manuals and other textbooks here.
  5. MIT Open Courseware Supplemental Resources: Find free videos, textbooks and more on the subjects of mechanical engineering, mathematics, chemistry and more.
  6. Flat World Knowledge: This innovative site has created an open college textbooks platform that will launch in January 2009.
  7. Free Business Textbooks: Find free books to go along with accounting, economics and other business classes.
  8. Light and Matter: Here you can access open source physics textbooks.
  9. eMedicine: This project from WebMD is continuously updated and has articles and references on surgery, pediatrics and more.


Math and Science

Turn to this list to find books about math, science, engineering and technology.
  1. FullBooks.com: This site has “thousands of full-text free books,” including a large amount of scientific essays and books.
  2. Free online textbooks, lecture notes, tutorials and videos on mathematics: NYU links to several free resources for math students, even those outside of New York!
  3. Online Mathematics Texts: Here you can find online textbooks like Elementary Linear Algebra and Complex Variables.
  4. Science and Engineering Books for free download: These books range in topics from nanotechnology to compressible flow.
  5. FreeScience.info: Find over 1800 math, engineering and science books here.
  6. Free Tech Books: Computer programmers and computer science enthusiasts can find helpful books here.

Children’s Books

Even children’s books are now available online. Find illustrated books, chapter books and more.
  1. byGosh: Find free illustrated children’s books and stories here.
  2. Munseys: Munseys has nearly 2,000 children’s titles, plus books about religion, biographies and more.
  3. International Children’s Digital Library: Find award-winning books and search by categories like age group, make believe books, true books or picture books.
  4. Lookybook: Access children’s picture books here.

Philosophy and Religion

For books about philosophy and religion, check out these websites.
  1. Bored.com: Bored.com has music ebooks, cooking ebooks, and over 150 philosophy titles and over 1,000 religion titles.
  2. Ideology.us: Here you’ll find works by Rene Descartes, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, David Hume and others.
  3. Free Books on Yoga, Religion and Philosophy: Recent uploads to this site include Practical Lessons in Yoga andPhilosophy of Dreams.
  4. Religion eBooks: Read books about the Bible, Christian books, and more. This is especially useful for those pursuing online bachelor’s degrees in Christian Studies.

Plays

From Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw to more contemporary playwrights, visit these sites.
  1. ReadBookOnline.net: Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  2. Plays: Read PygmalionUncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World here.
  3. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT inMassachusetts has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories.
  4. Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
  5. ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.

Modern Fiction, Fantasy and Romance

These websites boast collections of graphic novels, romance novels, fantasy books and more.
  1. Public Bookshelf: Find romance novels, mysteries and more.
  2. The Internet Book Database of Fiction: This forum features fantasy and graphic novels, anime, J.K. Rowling and more.
  3. Free Online Novels: Here you can find Christian novels, fantasy and graphic novels, adventure books, horror books and more.
  4. Foxglove: This British site has free novels, satire and short stories.
  5. Baen Free Library: Find books by Scott Gier, Keith Laumer and others.
  6. The Road to Romance: This website has books by Patricia Cornwell and other romance novelists.
  7. Get Free Ebooks: This site’s largest collection includes fiction books.
  8. John T. Cullen: Read short stories from John T. Cullen here.
  9. SF and Fantasy Books Online: Books here include Arabian NightsAesop’s Fables and more.
  10. Free Novels Online and Free Online Cyber-Books: This list contains mostly fantasy books.

Foreign Language

For books in a foreign language like French, Spanish and even Romanian, look here.
  1. Project Laurens Jz Coster: Find Dutch literature here.
  2. ATHENA Textes Francais: Search by author’s name, French books, or books written by other authors but translated into French.
  3. Liber Liber: Download Italian books here. Browse by author, title, or subject.
  4. Biblioteca romaneasca: Find Romanian books on this site.
  5. Bibliolteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes: Look up authors to find a catalog of their available works on this Spanish site.
  6. KEIMENA: This page is entirely in Greek, but if you’re looking for modern Greek literature, this is the place to access books online.
  7. Proyecto Cervantes: Texas A&M’s Proyecto Cervantes has cataloged Cervantes’ work online.
  8. Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum: Access many Latin texts here.
  9. Project Runeberg: Find Scandinavian literature online here.
  10. Italian Women Writers: This site provides information about Italian women authors and features full-text titles too.
  11. Biblioteca Valenciana: Register to use this database of Catalan and Valencian books.
  12. Ketab Farsi: Access literature and publications in Farsi from this site.
  13. Afghanistan Digital Library: Powered by NYU, the Afghanistan Digital Library has works published between 1870 and 1930.
  14. CELT: CELT stands for “the Corpus of Electronic Texts” features important historical literature and documents.
  15. Projekt Gutenberg-DE: This easy-to-use database of German language texts lets you search by genres and author.

History and Culture

Refresh your memory of world history, the classics and U.S. history here.
  1. LibriVox: LibriVox has a good selection of historical fiction.
  2. The Perseus Project: Tufts’ Perseus Digital Library features titles from Ancient Rome and Greece, published in English and original languages.
  3. Access Genealogy: Find literature about Native American history, the Scotch-Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, and more.
  4. Free History Books: This collection features U.S. history books, including works by Paul Jennings, Sarah Morgan Dawson, Josiah Quincy and others.
  5. Most Popular History Books: Free titles include Seven Days and Seven Nights by Alexander Szegedy and Autobiography of a Female Slave by Martha G. Browne.

Rare Books

Look for rare books online here.
  1. Questia: Questia has 5,000 books available for free, including rare books and classics.
  2. JR’s Rare Books and Commentary: Check this site for PDF versions of some rare books.

Arts and Entertainment

This list features books about celebrities, movies, fashion and more.
  1. Books-On-Line: This large collection includes movie scripts, newer works, cookbooks and more.
  2. Chest of Books: This site has a wide range of free books, including gardening and cooking books, home improvement books, craft and hobby books, art books and more.
  3. Free e-Books: Find titles related to beauty and fashion, games, health, drama and more.
  4. 2020ok: Categories here include art, graphic design, performing arts, ethnic and national, careers, business and a lot more.
  5. Free Art Books: Find artist books and art books in PDF format here.
  6. Free Web design books: OnlineComputerBooks.com directs you to free web design books.
  7. Free Music Books: Find sheet music, lyrics and books about music here.
  8. Free Fashion Books: Costume and fashion books are linked to the Google Books page.

Mystery

Here you can find mystery books from Sherlock Holmes to more contemporary authors.
  1. MysteryNet: Read free short mystery stories on this site.
  2. TopMystery.com: Read books by Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton and other mystery writers here.
  3. Mystery Books: Read books by Sue Grafton and others.

Poetry

These poetry sites have works by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  1. The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
  2. Poetry: This list includes “The Raven,” “O Captain! My Captain!” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.”
  3. Poem Hunter: Find free poems, lyrics and quotations on this site.
  4. Famous Poetry Online: Read limericks, love poetry, and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Lord Byron and others.
  5. Google Poetry: Google Books has a large selection of poetry, from The Canterbury Tales to Beowulf to Walt Whitman.
  6. QuotesandPoem.com: Read poems by Maya Angelou, William Blake, Sylvia Plath and more.
  7. CompleteClassics.com: Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Lord Tennyson are all featured here.
  8. PinkPoem.com: On this site, you can download free poetry ebooks.

Miscellaneous

For even more free book sites, check out this list.
  1. Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
  2. World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopedias, children’s books and a lot more.
  3. DailyLit: DailyLit has everything from Moby Dick to the more recent phenomenon, Skinny Bitch.
  4. A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
  5. Free Online Novels: These novels are fully online and range from romance to religious fiction to historical fiction.
  6. ManyBooks.net: Download mysteries and other books for your iPhone or eBook reader here.
  7. Authorama: Books here are pulled from Google Books and more. You’ll find history books, novels and more.
  8. Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.
Now get to reading, because you have a lot of work to do.

-XOXO-

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I decided to read this book for a few reasons:

  1. Many people recommended it to me,
  2. I think the title is intriguing, and
  3. I have a rule about not seeing movies before reading the book, but I wanted to see the movie since Emma Watson is in it. 🙂

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a marvelous coming of age story. The main character, Charlie, writes letters to an anonymous stranger throughout his first year of high school. He is generally misunderstood, his peers regard him as a freak, and his only friend dies before the school year starts through an act of suicide. When two half-sibling seniors, Sam and Patrick, take him under their wing his world begins to change.

The book is a quick and easy read but don’t let the simplicity fool you. The story has a depth. The reader learns that Charlie was molested by a family member, causing him to become a passive person, who allows others to do what they want with him. He witnesses a rape, he accepts drugs and alcohol, he has a girlfriend he doesn’t really like and he even allows his gay friend Patrick to kiss him during his post-breakup grieving period. Charlie doesn’t recognize that these things upset him because he sees they help others and he internalizes his own thoughts and feelings. Sam, encourages Charlie to express himself and show passion for his own desires.

Charlie learns about being a friend, sex and intimacy (though he himself does not have sex), drugs such as LSD, marijuana, and alcohol, homosexuality, homophobia (a scene where a father beats his gay son), Rocky Horror Picture Show, abortion (his sister), suicide, rape and molestation. He earns straight A’s in school and displays heartwarming relationships with his family (mom, dad, older sister, and older brother). Charlie also has a tender relationship with his English teacher who assigns him extra reading and work because he recognizes how special and intelligent Charlie is.

It’s hard to determine the way this book made me feel. I believe the writing was excellent and here’s why. I felt uncomfortable reading something so private (from a fictional character, yes! How can this be done?) Needless to say, it’s not a feel-good story but rather a question-humanity-and-your-very-existence kind of book.

My Favorite Quotes:

  • “We are infinite”
  • “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
  • “Zen is a day like this when you are part of the air and remember things.”
  • “I really think that everyone should have watercolors, magnetic poetry and a harmonica.”
  • “I don’t think we should base so much on weight, muscles, and a good hair day, but when it happens, it’s nice. It really is.”
  • “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” 

What did you think?

The Casual Vacancy

I finally had the chance to actually read a book that wasn’t for school (let alone write the review, I finished this book weeks ago!) So here we go: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Where do I begin to describe my feelings about The Casual Vacancy. I guess I’ll start by saying I did not have high hopes for the novel because it was bound to be a disappointment with Harry Potter not on the list of characters and the complete absence of the magical world Rowling is known for creating. In fact what Rowling delivered was a novel about very Dursley-esque, small-minded, self-absorbed, snobbish and judgmental people (Muggles) living in the small, fictional village of Pagford, England.

It is understandable to me that Rowling wanted to stray from Harry Potter and the global phenomenon one boy-wizard caused, especially after spending over a decade within the realm of the wizarding world, and I commend her for taking the risk especially under the crushing pressure of public expectations.

As usual, Rowling drew me in from the get go, not because of the story, which quite frankly was fairly dull, but because of the writing. She certainly has a way with words. At some points I did think some of the scenarios she described or details she included were a bit excessive and did not add to the storyline. I assume she included these things (the grotesquely-described used condom, which was “glistening in the grass beside her feet, like the gossamer cocoon of some huge grub”) to really differentiate herself from children’s writing.

She definitely succeeded in that respect: this story is NOT a children’s book. The pages are full of instances of rape, heroin addiction, domestic abuse, suicide and thoughts of patricide. It is bleak to say the least.

The story begins with a slow-moving description of the political squabbles in the town generated by the sudden death of one of the parish council members, Barry Fairbrother. The most notable face-off being between one faction that is opposed to a public housing project and a clinic for addicts, and another that has a sense of duty toward the less fortunate.

As Rowling wrestles with the dark inner secrets of her characters the story gains momentum with brief flashes of drama and humor, ending abruptly with an unsatisfying solution. The reader is left feeling whatever the opposite emotion is of how we felt at the end of the Harry Potter series. Lost? Depressed? Disheartened?

Instead of absorbing valuable lessons from the characters and plotline (see 15 Things I Learned From Harry Potter) such as bravery, loyalty and kindness, we lose faith in the human spirit, and are left with the a dismaying sense of human weakness and selfishness. It’s as though writing about the real world inhibited Rowling’s miraculously inventive imagination.

Overall, Rowling’s first attempt at writing an “adult” novel was not terrible, let’s just hope she doesn’t try to map out this particular story in seven novels and instead moves onto something a bit more meaningful. I still love you J.K. Rowling, good luck with the next novel!

Shoot the Moon

Billie Letts give us another novel full of small-town charm, a little mystery, and some romance in her novel Shoot the Moon. Dr. Mark Albright, a veterinarian to the stars of Hollywood, discovers that he was adopted shortly after the death of his father. He heads to DeClare, Oklahoma in hopes of discovering his birth parents, and quickly discovers that the story of his past is a bit of a mystery.

Gaylene Harjo, the woman Mark knows to be his mother, was murdered when Mark, or Nicky Jack Harjo, was a baby. Most people assumed Nicky Jack had been killed as well, but the body was never found. The wrong man was arrested for the murder, and took his own life while in prison. When Mark returns claiming to be the long lost baby, it causes quite a stir around town.

I don’t want to give too much away but the central characters also include Ivy and Teeve Harjo who take Mark under their wing, helping him in his investigation. Oliver Boyd  “O Boy” Daniels is the rather nasty local sheriff. His wife is Carrie and they have a son, Kippy, who is not much older than Mark. O Boy’s half-brother Arthur McFaddon is another not very nice character who runs the local radio with his stepson Kyle. I especially enjoyed the domino boys, a group of four geezers who play domino’s at Teeve’s pool hall. They add humor and character to the novel.

We learn about Gaylene’s life through snippets of her diary, which Letts has woven seamlessly into the fabric of her story. Her childhood friend was Rowena Whitekiller, she worked at Arthur’s radio station with Kyle and she played basketball well enough to get a scholarship for university.

While this novel is another great work of Letts’, I found it somewhat predictable, considering I had the mystery pretty much solved about halfway through the book. Even so, I still took pleasure in the journey and would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes fast-moving, well-told novels crafted with wit.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

What is your opinion of Shoot the Moon?

Shoot the Moon

Billie Letts give us another novel full of small-town charm, a little mystery, and some romance in her novel Shoot the Moon. Dr. Mark Albright, a veterinarian to the stars of Hollywood, discovers that he was adopted shortly after the death of his father. He heads to DeClare, Oklahoma in hopes of discovering his birth parents, and quickly discovers that the story of his past is a bit of a mystery.

book cover, book review, shoot the moon, billie letts, mystery, oklahoma 


Gaylene Harjo, the woman Mark knows to be his mother, was murdered when Mark, or Nicky Jack Harjo, was a baby. Most people assumed Nicky Jack had been killed as well, but the body was never found. The wrong man was arrested for the murder, and took his own life while in prison. When Mark returns claiming to be the long lost baby, it causes quite a stir around town.

I don’t want to give too much away but the central characters also include Ivy and Teeve Harjo who take Mark under their wing, helping him in his investigation. Oliver Boyd  “O Boy” Daniels is the rather nasty local sheriff. His wife is Carrie and they have a son, Kippy, who is not much older than Mark. O Boy’s half-brother Arthur McFaddon is another not very nice character who runs the local radio with his stepson Kyle. I especially enjoyed the domino boys, a group of four geezers who play domino’s at Teeve’s pool hall. They add humor and character to the novel.

We learn about Gaylene’s life through snippets of her diary, which Letts has woven seamlessly into the fabric of her story. Her childhood friend was Rowena Whitekiller, she worked at Arthur’s radio station with Kyle and she played basketball well enough to get a scholarship for university.

While this novel is another great work of Letts’, I found it somewhat predictable, considering I had the mystery pretty much solved about halfway through the book. Even so, I still took pleasure in the journey and would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes fast-moving, well-told novels crafted with wit.

What is your opinion of Shoot the Moon?

Night

For the longest time I refused to read Night by Elie Wiesel. I kept telling myself that it was just another heart-breaking story of a young boy who lived through the Holocaust. I didn’t want to face the unsettling and depressing account that has haunted my bookshelf all these years. Eventually I realized that hiding from something doesn’t make it go away, in fact, it usually gets worse. If every person on this planet denies the stories of these people and avoids talking and thinking about that horrible time, what’s to stop it from happening again? So I read it.

night, ellie wiesel, book cover, book review, holocaust 


The story follows Eliezer (a character invented to distance the author from the experience) through his experiences in Auschwitz, Buna, and Gleiwitz. His experiences jump out and possess the reader. We follow his complicated love-hate relationship with a God that has abandoned God’s most devoted followers. We wonder with him why the rest of the world remained silent in the face of such brutality. We see inhumanity toward other humans through the eyes of one who experienced it. We celebrate the beautiful father-son relationship while regretting that this relationship results in a sacrifice.


I don’t really know what else to say about this book except that it was exactly what I expected: gloomy, heartbreaking, horrifying, and shocking. It’s not a good book since the events that take place within these pages are certainly not good, but it is well written and worth reading. It is bleak and blunt; Elie Wiesel does not hold back in the recounting of his tale.


How did you react to Night?

Night

For the longest time I refused to read Night by Elie Wiesel. I kept telling myself that it was just another heart-breaking story of a young boy who lived through the Holocaust. I didn’t want to face the unsettling and depressing account that has haunted my bookshelf all these years. Eventually I realized that hiding from something doesn’t make it go away, in fact, it usually gets worse. If every person on this planet denies the stories of these people and avoids talking and thinking about that horrible time, what’s to stop it from happening again? So I read it.

The story follows Eliezer (a character invented to distance the author from the experience) through his experiences in Auschwitz, Buna, and Gleiwitz. His experiences jump out and possess the reader. We follow his complicated love-hate relationship with a God that has abandoned God’s most devoted followers. We wonder with him why the rest of the world remained silent in the face of such brutality. We see inhumanity toward other humans through the eyes of one who experienced it. We celebrate the beautiful father-son relationship while regretting that this relationship results in a sacrifice.

I don’t really know what else to say about this book except that it was exactly what I expected: gloomy, heartbreaking, horrifying, and shocking. It’s not a good book since the events that take place within these pages are certainly not good, but it is well written and worth reading. It is bleak and blunt; Elie Wiesel does not hold back in the recounting of his tale.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

How did you react to Night?

About a Boy

In honor of National Book Lovers Day yesterday it’s only fitting that this post be a book review. I believe About a Boy by Nick Hornby is just the ticket. The story is nothing more than a slice of life with real characters in real situations feeling real feelings and thinking real thoughts. I bought the book at a local bookstore because I had seen the movie and loved the story.

nick hornby, book review, book cover, about a boy, british humor 


Really, there are two boys in this story: Marcus, a 12-year-old boy, and Will, a 36-year-old boy-at-heart. Will is a superficial bachelor who lives off the royalties he earns from his father’s one-hit-wonder Christmas tune, a song he despises. He treats life as an experiment, always trying new schemes to fill in the void, which he doesn’t understand. Marcus is an odd, blunt, and worldly young boy who both puzzles and startles his depressive mother, Fiona.

Through a random series of events these three characters come together. They each learn from the others some of life’s lessons they had been missing out on. Will learns what it means to be a grown-up and develops from an empty shell into someone with substance. Marcus opens up to some harsh truths of life and learns the importance of staying true to one’s self, no matter how peculiar. Fiona ascends from a very dark place and discovers a new reason to live. All this occurs through their ups and downs of life.

Briefly, I would like to compare the book with the movie, though it was not National Movie Lover’s Day yesterday (it doesn’t exist… I looked). I have to say that it was a true representation. There were some completely invented scenes present in the movie and many plot twists were abandoned (though plot twists were few and far between in the book). However, Will’s character practically screams, “Hugh Grant,” and the general idea was translated appropriately.

While the characters and the writing fall a bit flat, I appreciated the genuine humor Hornby presented and the realness of their struggles. This book is worth reading, especially as a quick summer book and if you enjoy British humor.

How did you like About a Boy (the book or movie)?

About a Boy

In honor of National Book Lovers Day yesterday it’s only fitting that this post be a book review. I believe About a Boy by Nick Hornby is just the ticket. The story is nothing more than a slice of life with real characters in real situations feeling real feelings and thinking real thoughts. I bought the book at a local bookstore because I had seen the movie and loved the story.

Really, there are two boys in this story: Marcus, a 12-year-old boy, and Will, a 36-year-old boy-at-heart. Will is a superficial bachelor who lives off the royalties he earns from his father’s one-hit-wonder Christmas tune, a song he despises. He treats life as an experiment, always trying new schemes to fill in the void, which he doesn’t understand. Marcus is an odd, blunt, and worldly young boy who both puzzles and startles his depressive mother, Fiona.

Through a random series of events these three characters come together. They each learn from the others some of life’s lessons they had been missing out on. Will learns what it means to be a grown-up and develops from an empty shell into someone with substance. Marcus opens up to some harsh truths of life and learns the importance of staying true to one’s self, no matter how peculiar. Fiona ascends from a very dark place and discovers a new reason to live. All this occurs through their ups and downs of life.

Briefly, I would like to compare the book with the movie, though it was not National Movie Lover’s Day yesterday (it doesn’t exist… I looked). I have to say that it was a true representation. There were some completely invented scenes present in the movie and many plot twists were abandoned (though plot twists were few and far between in the book). However, Will’s character practically screams, “Hugh Grant,” and the general idea was translated appropriately.

While the characters and the writing fall a bit flat, I appreciated the genuine humor Hornby presented and the realness of their struggles. This book is worth reading, especially as a quick summer book and if you enjoy British humor.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

How did you like About a Boy (the book or movie)?

The Hobbit

I think there is rather a lot of hobbit in each of us. I don’t mean in appearance as the race of hobbits are half as tall as men, are round and plump, and have fuzzy, leathery feet, which help them to disappear quietly and quickly when trouble comes along. I really mean the ordinariness of them. Bilbo Baggins, lives very comfortably in his quiet hobbit hole, burrowed into a hill: The Hill, Hobbiton, The Shire. He likes to take at least two breakfasts every day, an early and a late one, and smoke a pipe of tobacco sitting at ease on the doorstep by his own round, green, front door.

The Hobbit, The lord of the rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, book review, book cover 


Actually, that is exactly what he is doing a the beginning of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo is smoking his pipe when his ordinary day at his ordinary home is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of an old family friend: the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo is persuaded to accomplany 12 dwarves (Thorin Oakenshiled, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur) on a quest to reclaim stolen treasure from Smaug, the marauding dragon. Bilbo’s role is to be as “burglar,” a role that neither dwarves nor Bilbo himself believe him capable of. Only Gandalf, and his claim that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye, reassures the party.

Bilbo, who has lived in happy ignorance of the happenings in the rest of the world, is about to discover the evils and marvels that occupy the Wild. He encounters trolls, obtains a magic blade, which he later calls Sting, rests with the high elves in Rivendell, escapes goblins in the Misty Mountains, outwits Gollum, a vile, hissing creature, and comes across a magic ring.

You see, this ring can make the wearer invisible and Bilbo uses it (not fully understanding the power) to escape Gollum, the goblins and the underground tunnels through the mountains. This is the first time Bilbo doesn’t rely on Gandalf for rescue; though he still views himself as ordinary, Bilbo the Ring Finder has a very special part to play yet in the great events which shape his world.

He rejoins Gandalf and the dwarves. Evil wolves called Wargs pursue them, but Bilbo and his comrades are helped to safety by a group of great eagles. They visit Beorn, a creature who can shift his shape from man to bear, at his home before beginning their journey through the dark forest of Mirkwood.

Gandalf leaves the party to see to some other business involving the Necromancer just before they enter Mirkwood. Bilbo rescues the dwarves from many dangers in the forest. The dwarves call it luck but I believe that as Bilbo’s adventures unfold he become a rather different kind of hobbit. He learns to rely on himself and stops hoping for outside help. Gandalf, always seeming to know more than he reveals, was right: Bilbo was the right hobbit for the job. As his self-confidence and keen judgement increase he plays an increasingly significant part in the great events, which unfold on the journey to the Lonely Mountain, to Smaug, and to his hoard.

This is a tale that seems to grow in the telling. The characters, while seemingly lifted from fairy tales, have real motives and emotions, which are entirely compelling. Bilbo began as a somewhat unlikeable homebody and grows into the most lovable, courageous, and decent character in the story. And while, Bilbo again and again daydreams of being home by his quiet fire, smoking his pipe on the front step, or preparing a grand meal, his return home turns out to be bittersweet.

Who’s excited for the movie this December?

The Hobbit

I think there is rather a lot of hobbit in each of us. I don’t mean in appearance as the race of hobbits are half as tall as men, are round and plump, and have fuzzy, leathery feet, which help them to disappear quietly and quickly when trouble comes along. I really mean the ordinariness of them. Bilbo Baggins, lives very comfortably in his quiet hobbit hole, burrowed into a hill: The Hill, Hobbiton, The Shire. He likes to take at least two breakfasts every day, an early and a late one, and smoke a pipe of tobacco sitting at ease on the doorstep by his own round, green, front door.

Actually, that is exactly what he is doing a the beginning of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo is smoking his pipe when his ordinary day at his ordinary home is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of an old family friend: the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo is persuaded to accomplany 12 dwarves (Thorin Oakenshiled, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur) on a quest to reclaim stolen treasure from Smaug, the marauding dragon. Bilbo’s role is to be as “burglar,” a role that neither dwarves nor Bilbo himself believe him capable of. Only Gandalf, and his claim that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye, reassures the party.

Bilbo, who has lived in happy ignorance of the happenings in the rest of the world, is about to discover the evils and marvels that occupy the Wild. He encounters trolls, obtains a magic blade, which he later calls Sting, rests with the high elves in Rivendell, escapes goblins in the Misty Mountains, outwits Gollum, a vile, hissing creature, and comes across a magic ring.

You see, this ring can make the wearer invisible and Bilbo uses it (not fully understanding the power) to escape Gollum, the goblins and the underground tunnels through the mountains. This is the first time Bilbo doesn’t rely on Gandalf for rescue; though he still views himself as ordinary, Bilbo the Ring Finder has a very special part to play yet in the great events which shape his world.

He rejoins Gandalf and the dwarves. Evil wolves called Wargs pursue them, but Bilbo and his comrades are helped to safety by a group of great eagles. They visit Beorn, a creature who can shift his shape from man to bear, at his home before beginning their journey through the dark forest of Mirkwood.

Gandalf leaves the party to see to some other business involving the Necromancer just before they enter Mirkwood. Bilbo rescues the dwarves from many dangers in the forest. The dwarves call it luck but I believe that as Bilbo’s adventures unfold he become a rather different kind of hobbit. He learns to rely on himself and stops hoping for outside help. Gandalf, always seeming to know more than he reveals, was right: Bilbo was the right hobbit for the job. As his self-confidence and keen judgement increase he plays an increasingly significant part in the great events, which unfold on the journey to the Lonely Mountain, to Smaug, and to his hoard.

This is a tale that seems to grow in the telling. The characters, while seemingly lifted from fairy tales, have real motives and emotions, which are entirely compelling. Bilbo began as a somewhat unlikeable homebody and grows into the most lovable, courageous, and decent character in the story. And while, Bilbo again and again daydreams of being home by his quiet fire, smoking his pipe on the front step, or preparing a grand meal, his return home turns out to be bittersweet.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Who’s excited for the movie this December?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is a somewhat biographical coming-of-age story about living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Mary Frances Nolan – Francie – is the central character and I was addicted to her from the start. I was surprised at how quickly I became fascinated with Francie. As a young girl Francie is keenly observant, and sensitive to the beauty of her world. Maybe I see myself in her. All I know is this was a book that was hard to put down.

betty smith, a tree grows in brooklyn, coming of age, book review, book cover 

“There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly . . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.” – Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Storyline

At the opening Francie is 11 years old. She is the oldest child of Katie and Johnny Nolan. Her brother, Neeley (short for Cornelius) is 10. We are given a tour of their neighborhood as Francie runs errand for her mother, takes her daily trip to the library and watches her neighbors from the fire escape. We find out that Katie cleans houses in exchange for free rent of their apartment, and Johnny has unreliable income through waiting tables and singing.

The story then flashes back to the summer of 1900 when Katie and Johnny first meet. Katie decides she will go through any hardship just to be with Johnny when they first dance together. Within six months they are married and support themselves by working as janitors at a school. Stress begins to set in when Francie is born in December 1901 and Neeley just a year and a week later. As the stress of living in poverty and having children eats away at Johnny, he begins drinking.

Katie and Johnny are both second generation Americans. Katie’s family is a line of strong women from Austria. She has two older sisters, Sissy and Evy. Johnny, with Irish heritage, comes from a family of weak, yet talented men (he has three brothers).

Neeley and Francie start school the same year, though they are a year apart in age. Francie, a lover of learning, always looked forward to the day she could go to school but finds it to be cruel and harsh. She changes to a school where there is no discrimination against poor children, though she still makes no friends. The flashback then catches up with the beginning of the story.

The plot line continues with various events throughout Francie’s childhood. Francie’s first encounter with sex of any kind occurs around the age of 12. She comes face to face with the sex offender who has been terrorizing the neighborhood. Her mother saves her and Francie emerges relatively unscathed. Francie starts her period around this time and witnesses women of the neighborhood stoning a young girl because she became pregnant out of wedlock. This leads Francie to become more aware of the social taboos surrounding women and sexuality.

Francie gradually sees her father’s problem with alcohol, which worsens as she grows up. He is set over the edge when he is dismissed from the Union. When Johnny discovers Katie is pregnant again he weakens further and finally dies of pneumonia (and alcoholism) on Christmas Day, five months before Annie Laurie is born.

Johnny’s death changes Francie. She stops believing in God after a lifetime of Catholic faith. She stops writing the flowery compositions that had no relation to her life experiences but earned her high marks in English, replacing them with “sordid” compositions about her father, which concerned her teacher.

Francie’s sensitive and caring nature is lost as she becomes more and more like her mother. Katie was once romantic and flighty, but turns hard and determined as she takes on the burden of earning money and sacrifices “luxuries,” such as heat and meals, for her family.

After graduating from eighth grade, both Neeley and Francie must work because Katie cannot afford to keep them in school. Francie starts working at a factory then moves to a clippings bureau where she reads newspapers all day, learns about the world outside of Brooklyn, and desperately awaits the day she can return to high school.

Unfortunately Katie, who can only afford to send one child back to school, sends Neeley instead of Francie. Although Francie never returns to high school she does take summer college courses and with Francie’s job the Nolans are able to live more comfortably.

When the United States of America enters World War I, Francie first experiences romantic love. It comes in the form of Lee Rynor, whom she falls in love with within the first 48 hours after meeting. He leaves Francie heartbroken when he marries his fiancée before heading off to war. Then Francie discovers that she enjoys the company of Ben Blake, a boy she met in summer school.

Officer McShane, a kind older man who has admired Katie from afar (and she him), asks Katie to marry him. He says he will make it possible for Laurie to grow up without hardship in exchange for the chance to be her father. He also gives Francie and Neeley a chance to go to college. Francie gets ready to attend college at the University of Michigan with Ben and the Tree of Heaven continues to grow in her backyard.

Themes and Patterns

Poverty is major themes throughout this story. Nearly every anecdote and character deals with poverty in some way. Poverty applies not only to a lack of food and heat but also results in the growing worthlessness of Johnny and ultimately his death. Resources are limited, people are exploited, but poverty is presented as the evil, not people. Everyone is thinking of his or her own family first.

Class is another theme that Smith often shows through encounters between the lower class and people of privilege. Having money may lead to an easier life but the lovable characters are those who are or once were impoverished. The rich doctor who vaccinates Francie is presented as a villain and Francie’s English teacher, who claims to have grown up with hardship, misunderstands Francie’s compositions. Neeley and Francie pity Laurie for growing up with privilege because she will not have as much fun.

A prominent theme in this book is education. Johnny, Katie and Mary Rommely (Katie’s mother) have very different personalities, but they can all agree on one thing: education is the way out for the Nolan children. Through a combination of schooling and life lessons they lead the children out of poverty; each generation receives more education than the last.

Gender roles stands out to me as a further theme. Mary Rommely states upon the birth of Francie, “to be born a woman is to be born into a humble life of pain.” This comment can be applied to both life’s pains and the pain of childbirth. Women of all faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds experience the same pain in labor. However, all the women in this book are more than equipped to handle these pains and depicted as strong while men are generally shown as the weaker sex.

Katie and Johnny are presented with the same life choices and Katie is determined to give opportunities to her children in the face of hardship while Johnny slips into a drunken dreamworld. Francie is more eager to return to school but Katie send Neeley because both women understand that Neeley would not find a way to go back where Francie will do whatever it takes to learn more at school. Aunt Evy is independent and tough and Uncle Flittman is inadequate.

Since this is a coming-of-age tale it is only natural that a fall from innocence would be not only a theme but a motif. Francie learns more and more about the world, poverty, class, status, gender, and sex, which in turn causes her to become less and less innocent. Her appreciation of small material things as a young girl turns into her realization of their hardships. Often Francie presents her fall from innocence as feeling as if she is dreaming.

The “fall” refers to both things that brought Francie pain and things that brought her knowledge. The Tree of Heaven can be viewed as a Tree of Knowledge. The tree grows up and out of very difficult situations in the same way that Francie learns through reading and life events in order to get out of poverty.

Tree of Heaven

This symbol is most interesting to me, perhaps because I love trees so much or perhaps because the idea is appealing. The tree in the title grows only in tenement districts, because it “likes poor people.” It represents perseverance in times of hardship. When Francie is born, Katie likens her life to the tree’s: Francie will keep living no matter how sick she becomes. All over Brooklyn this tree grows where no other can and out-competes those that do. When the Nolans have a fir on their fire escape they care for it with water and manure but it dies. The Tree of Heaven that grows from the concrete in their yard was cut down and a new one grew out of it’s trunk.

The tree is abundant throughout Brooklyn and is familiar to Francie, who sees it every day. It isn’t stately like the sea or mountains majesty. It is humble, and this humility makes it all the more powerful.

When Francie leaves Brooklyn, Florrie Wendy symbolically takes her place. The tree grew for Francie, it will grow for Florrie, too, as it must have for Flossie Gaddis before Francie.

Do you agree with my analysis? What themes do you find in this story?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is a somewhat biographical coming-of-age story about living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Mary Frances Nolan – Francie – is the central character and I was addicted to her from the start. I was surprised at how quickly I became fascinated with Francie. As a young girl Francie is keenly observant, and sensitive to the beauty of her world. Maybe I see myself in her. All I know is this was a book that was hard to put down.

“There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly . . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.” – Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Storyline

At the opening Francie is 11 years old. She is the oldest child of Katie and Johnny Nolan. Her brother, Neeley (short for Cornelius) is 10. We are given a tour of their neighborhood as Francie runs errand for her mother, takes her daily trip to the library and watches her neighbors from the fire escape. We find out that Katie cleans houses in exchange for free rent of their apartment, and Johnny has unreliable income through waiting tables and singing.

The story then flashes back to the summer of 1900 when Katie and Johnny first meet. Katie decides she will go through any hardship just to be with Johnny when they first dance together. Within six months they are married and support themselves by working as janitors at a school. Stress begins to set in when Francie is born in December 1901 and Neeley just a year and a week later. As the stress of living in poverty and having children eats away at Johnny, he begins drinking.

Katie and Johnny are both second generation Americans. Katie’s family is a line of strong women from Austria. She has two older sisters, Sissy and Evy. Johnny, with Irish heritage, comes from a family of weak, yet talented men (he has three brothers).

Neeley and Francie start school the same year, though they are a year apart in age. Francie, a lover of learning, always looked forward to the day she could go to school but finds it to be cruel and harsh. She changes to a school where there is no discrimination against poor children, though she still makes no friends. The flashback then catches up with the beginning of the story.

The plot line continues with various events throughout Francie’s childhood. Francie’s first encounter with sex of any kind occurs around the age of 12. She comes face to face with the sex offender who has been terrorizing the neighborhood. Her mother saves her and Francie emerges relatively unscathed. Francie starts her period around this time and witnesses women of the neighborhood stoning a young girl because she became pregnant out of wedlock. This leads Francie to become more aware of the social taboos surrounding women and sexuality.

Francie gradually sees her father’s problem with alcohol, which worsens as she grows up. He is set over the edge when he is dismissed from the Union. When Johnny discovers Katie is pregnant again he weakens further and finally dies of pneumonia (and alcoholism) on Christmas Day, five months before Annie Laurie is born.

Johnny’s death changes Francie. She stops believing in God after a lifetime of Catholic faith. She stops writing the flowery compositions that had no relation to her life experiences but earned her high marks in English, replacing them with “sordid” compositions about her father, which concerned her teacher.

Francie’s sensitive and caring nature is lost as she becomes more and more like her mother. Katie was once romantic and flighty, but turns hard and determined as she takes on the burden of earning money and sacrifices “luxuries,” such as heat and meals, for her family.

After graduating from eighth grade, both Neeley and Francie must work because Katie cannot afford to keep them in school. Francie starts working at a factory then moves to a clippings bureau where she reads newspapers all day, learns about the world outside of Brooklyn, and desperately awaits the day she can return to high school.

Unfortunately Katie, who can only afford to send one child back to school, sends Neeley instead of Francie. Although Francie never returns to high school she does take summer college courses and with Francie’s job the Nolans are able to live more comfortably.

When the United States of America enters World War I, Francie first experiences romantic love. It comes in the form of Lee Rynor, whom she falls in love with within the first 48 hours after meeting. He leaves Francie heartbroken when he marries his fiancée before heading off to war. Then Francie discovers that she enjoys the company of Ben Blake, a boy she met in summer school.

Officer McShane, a kind older man who has admired Katie from afar (and she him), asks Katie to marry him. He says he will make it possible for Laurie to grow up without hardship in exchange for the chance to be her father. He also gives Francie and Neeley a chance to go to college. Francie gets ready to attend college at the University of Michigan with Ben and the Tree of Heaven continues to grow in her backyard.

Themes and Patterns

Poverty is major themes throughout this story. Nearly every anecdote and character deals with poverty in some way. Poverty applies not only to a lack of food and heat but also results in the growing worthlessness of Johnny and ultimately his death. Resources are limited, people are exploited, but poverty is presented as the evil, not people. Everyone is thinking of his or her own family first.

Class is another theme that Smith often shows through encounters between the lower class and people of privilege. Having money may lead to an easier life but the lovable characters are those who are or once were impoverished. The rich doctor who vaccinates Francie is presented as a villain and Francie’s English teacher, who claims to have grown up with hardship, misunderstands Francie’s compositions. Neeley and Francie pity Laurie for growing up with privilege because she will not have as much fun.

A prominent theme in this book is education. Johnny, Katie and Mary Rommely (Katie’s mother) have very different personalities, but they can all agree on one thing: education is the way out for the Nolan children. Through a combination of schooling and life lessons they lead the children out of poverty; each generation receives more education than the last.

Gender roles stands out to me as a further theme. Mary Rommely states upon the birth of Francie, “to be born a woman is to be born into a humble life of pain.” This comment can be applied to both life’s pains and the pain of childbirth. Women of all faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds experience the same pain in labor. However, all the women in this book are more than equipped to handle these pains and depicted as strong while men are generally shown as the weaker sex.

Katie and Johnny are presented with the same life choices and Katie is determined to give opportunities to her children in the face of hardship while Johnny slips into a drunken dreamworld. Francie is more eager to return to school but Katie send Neeley because both women understand that Neeley would not find a way to go back where Francie will do whatever it takes to learn more at school. Aunt Evy is independent and tough and Uncle Flittman is inadequate.

Since this is a coming-of-age tale it is only natural that a fall from innocence would be not only a theme but a motif. Francie learns more and more about the world, poverty, class, status, gender, and sex, which in turn causes her to become less and less innocent. Her appreciation of small material things as a young girl turns into her realization of their hardships. Often Francie presents her fall from innocence as feeling as if she is dreaming.

The “fall” refers to both things that brought Francie pain and things that brought her knowledge. The Tree of Heaven can be viewed as a Tree of Knowledge. The tree grows up and out of very difficult situations in the same way that Francie learns through reading and life events in order to get out of poverty.

Tree of Heaven

This symbol is most interesting to me, perhaps because I love trees so much or perhaps because the idea is appealing. The tree in the title grows only in tenement districts, because it “likes poor people.” It represents perseverance in times of hardship. When Francie is born, Katie likens her life to the tree’s: Francie will keep living no matter how sick she becomes. All over Brooklyn this tree grows where no other can and out-competes those that do. When the Nolans have a fir on their fire escape they care for it with water and manure but it dies. The Tree of Heaven that grows from the concrete in their yard was cut down and a new one grew out of it’s trunk.

The tree is abundant throughout Brooklyn and is familiar to Francie, who sees it every day. It isn’t stately like the sea or mountains majesty. It is humble, and this humility makes it all the more powerful.

When Francie leaves Brooklyn, Florrie Wendy symbolically takes her place. The tree grew for Francie, it will grow for Florrie, too, as it must have for Flossie Gaddis before Francie.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Do you agree with my analysis? What themes do you find in this story?

Every Book In the Entire World

Many of you might know that my first project this summer was my patio garden and the hanging gutter garden. Now that my only responsibility in the garden is to water once or twice a day and harvest what comes up, I’ve been working on my next project: reading.


I was inspired to read ALL the books after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (***UPDATE*** read the review here) to read because she has a goal to read all the book in her library starting with A and ending with Z. I’m taking the opportunity to start now.

Over the years (since high school or maybe earlier) I’ve kept lists of books I want to read. Some can be found on odd bits of paper, other on my Pinterest board and still more in notebooks. I finally compiled all of these lists into one massive list, and I mean MASSIVE. It’s an excel spread sheet with tabs for which list the books came from and is conditionally formatted so that once I’ve read the book the box will change color (I have a lot of time on my hands).

Some of the books are classics, some are modern, there are fiction and non-fiction, poetry and history and everything else you can think of and I will be reading, quite literally, until I die.

I don’t just want to read the books; I want to analyze them as well. The way I did in high school, which is why I am also planning to write reviews for each book as I finish it and post it here, on my blog. The first one was Life of Pi (read it here). I also wrote a bit about Harry Potter (read it here). So that’s the plan.

 If you’re interested in my books lists…

Books that were recommended to me by friends, family, professors and/or my own bookshelf:

Websites with other booklists:


What’s on your book list? What is your favorite book?

Every Book In the Entire World

Many of you might know that my first project this summer was my patio garden and the hanging gutter garden. Now that my only responsibility in the garden is to water once or twice a day and harvest what comes up, I’ve been working on my next project: reading.

I was inspired to read ALL the books after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (***UPDATE*** read the review here) to read because she has a goal to read all the book in her library starting with A and ending with Z. I’m taking the opportunity to start now.

Over the years (since high school or maybe earlier) I’ve kept lists of books I want to read. Some can be found on odd bits of paper, other on my Pinterest board and still more in notebooks. I finally compiled all of these lists into one massive list, and I mean MASSIVE. It’s an excel spread sheet with tabs for which list the books came from and is conditionally formatted so that once I’ve read the book the box will change color (I have a lot of time on my hands).

Some of the books are classics, some are modern, there are fiction and non-fiction, poetry and history and everything else you can think of and I will be reading, quite literally, until I die.

I don’t just want to read the books; I want to analyze them as well. The way I did in high school, which is why I am also planning to write reviews for each book as I finish it and post it here, on my blog. The first one was Life of Pi (read it here). I also wrote a bit about Harry Potter (read it here). So that’s the plan.

 If you’re interested in my books lists…

Books that were recommended to me by friends, family, professors and/or my own bookshelf:

Websites with other booklists:

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

What’s on your book list? What is your favorite book?

Summer Lovin’

I was riding my bike over to CSU campus. My mission was to deliver my boyfriends Kindle Fire to him at work. It’s about a 15-minute bike ride from our house along a bike path. I was suddenly struck by inspiration on this ride, like lightening… it was electrifying. My discovery was that I love summer. I mean I already knew that I love summer but I never knew exactly what it was about summer that I love.

 

I love riding my bike. There is nothing as freeing as riding a bike. The wind in my hair, my own two legs propelling me forward, a quick smile or a wave to those I pass along the way. Summer is the best time for bike rides, no ice, no rain, no gloves, no coat; only warm temperatures and sun on skin.

 


I love riding my bike close to the edge of the grass, where the sprinklers miss their target and droplets land on the sidewalk. It’s a refreshing burst in the heat of the afternoon when those droplets hit bare legs and arms. There’s nothing quite like that feeling.

I love the smell of a black as night, freshly re-paved parking lot baking in the sun. To me it smells slightly minty; I can’t describe it in any other way. Not the mint you smell in chewing gum or tea leaves, but it’s own unique kind of minty. And it’s so black you can almost see your reflection shining in it. The heat waves rise up from the tar, making everything look hazy. Some might say it’s so hot you could cook an egg on it. The air temperature above the pavement is noticeably warmer than anywhere else around you, and you let it embrace you as you race across.


I love the greenness of the environment. Everything seems to be pulsing with life, growing and changing. I stretch out over grass in the shade of a big elm tree staring up through the leaves at the patches of a blue sky. Fluffy white clouds pass overhead creating shapes and telling stories.

I love having an open schedule with full days I can devote to reading a book. Not a book required for my college education but one I choose to read for a different kind of education.

 
Pinterest (original source lost)


I love the heat bouncing off the sidewalk, the sweat running down my back, the tank tops and shorts, the sandals, the nighttime bonfires, the chilly showers after lunch, the pool days, my garden, picnics in the mountains, the smell of sunscreen, the frappuccinos, the flowers, the swim suits, etc. etc. etc.

Ah, the joys of summer. What’s your favorite season?

Life of Pi

I’ve never been shipwrecked, or out at sea for that matter. But author Yann Matel has written a story that made me experience the hunger, and the thirst, the cold, and the heat, the dryness, and the wetness, the fear, and the joy, the disgust, and the beauty of being lost at sea in his novel Life of Pi. The story, which is centered around antagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is broken into three parts all told through the eyes of a middle-aged Pi Patel: Pi’s childhood, Pi’s experience in the open sea, and Pi’s conversation with Japanese officials.

life of pi, yann martel, book review, book cover, philosophy, religion 


I love this book because all the events throughout the story, set in 1977, are so unbelievable that you can’t help but want to believe them. The story-telling is so fantastic that even in the face of doubt you trust his story. I feel what Pi feels, see what Pi sees, smell what Pi smells, and I believe it to be true.

In a question and answer session with Yann Martel, he says that he loves the idea of the name Pi as a nickname for Piscine. Pi tells us the story of his name: his uncle was a lover of swimming and talked of the pools in France, one called “Piscine Molitar“. Martel says, “I liked the irony of a boy named after a rational volume of water being adrift in an uncontrollable volume of water, the Pacific.” Pi spends years of his childhood teased about this name, (sounds like “pissing”) so that when he switches schools he decides to call himself Pi, after the Greek letter used by mathematicians to stand in for an irrational number. Martel says it stuck him that a number used to bring understanding could be called irrational, which is how he sees religion as well: something irrational that helps make sense of things.

Pi was born Hindu, but at 14 he was introduced to Christianity and Islam. He follows all three of these religions because he just “wants to love God.” Pi is searching for meaning in the world and he looks through the lenses of these three religions to help him find perspective on this journey. He sees a portion of truth and a portion of error with each religion but all have similar messages for him.

Pi’s father owns a zoo in Pondicerry, which has provided Pi with a gateway into animal psychology during his youth. When his family decides to sell their animals and move to Canada due to political concerns in India, they board a small Japanese freighter carrying some of their animals. So begins part two of the story.

A few days after leaving India the ship sinks. Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, A spotted hyena, an injured zebra and an orangutan: the only survivors.

During the first few days of Pi’s voyage in open seas he witnesses heinous violence from the hyena, which eats the still living zebra bit-by-bit. The hyena also kills the orangutan in a vicious manner. Then Richard Parker kills the hyena, leaving Pi alone with a 400-pound tiger.

Pi finds food, water and supplies in the lifeboat; steadily the supplies run out and he begins fishing. Pi feeds himself and Richard Parker, he wants to keep Richard Parker alive to avoid complete solitude, but he also know that he cannot outlast Richard Parker and he wants to avoid being eaten. Pi refers to his knowledge of animal psychology and decides he must make sure Richard Parker knows that Pi is the alpha and Richard Parker the omega animal, this way he can keep his territory and hopefully stay alive. He goes through many training sessions with Richard Parker using a whistle, treats, and seasickness to drive the point home.

The story gets very bleak when both Pi and Richard Parker become blind. I believe this was due to bad nutrition and excessive exposure to sun. During his blindness Pi encounters another blind seafarer, a French man with an obsession for meat. Pi naïvely welcomes the man into his boat where the man reveals his cannibalistic nature and becomes a snack for dear old Richard Parker. Two days, and much rinsing with salt water, bring back Pi’s sight.

Then comes the strangest part yet. The pair encounter a mysterious island, seemingly constructed of edible algae supporting a forest and a large population of meercats. Each day Richard Parker and Pi venture onto the island and each night they return to their lifeboat. One night Pi decides to stay on the island at night and sleeps in a tree, which is quickly over run by meercats who also sleep in the trees. When Pi discovers a “fruit” in the tree with a single human molar at the center he discovers the carnivorous nature of the algae and becomes frightened of it. Richard Parker and Pi return to their lifeboat and continue on their way.

Finally the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico where Richard Parker escapes into the jungle without so much as a goodbye. Pi is disappointed by this unceremonious departure but is quickly found by his rescuers.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****


*****Read on at your own risk*****


***You’ve been warned!***


Part three of the story is written like a transcript of an interview (because that is what it is). Two official from the Japanese maritime department question Pi about the sinking of the ship. Pi tells them his story, which they do not believe. In hopes of having his suffering validated, he tells them a second story without the animals. He recounts a story of human brutality, being adrift on a lifeboat with his mother, a sailor with a broken leg, and the ship’s French cook, who killed the sailor and Pi’s mother and cut them up to use as bait and food. Parallels to Pi’s first story lead the Japanese officials to believe that the orangutan represents his mother, the zebra represents the sailor, the hyena represents the cook, and Richard Parker is Pi himself.

After revealing that neither version of Pi’s story ascertains why the ship sank, and that no one can really know the truth, Pi asks which version the officers prefer. They both prefer the version with the animals to the version without animals. Pi thanks them and says, “and so it goes with God.”

Martel shares that he wrote the story to become more and more unbelievable as it goes on. He says that he understands readers will have doubts but hopes they will choose the first story as the better story. For that reason he included something unbelievable in the story we choose to believe.

To me it is interesting that Martel included a cannibalistic Frenchman in both versions of the story. If you interpret his appearance in the first story, when Pi is blind, he might appear to be a ghost of the French cook Pi killed in the second story. Just a thought.

Have you read Life of Pi? What are your interpretations? 

Life of Pi

I’ve never been shipwrecked, or out at sea for that matter. But author Yann Matel has written a story that made me experience the hunger, and the thirst, the cold, and the heat, the dryness, and the wetness, the fear, and the joy, the disgust, and the beauty of being lost at sea in his novel Life of Pi. The story, which is centered around antagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is broken into three parts all told through the eyes of a middle-aged Pi Patel: Pi’s childhood, Pi’s experience in the open sea, and Pi’s conversation with Japanese officials.

I love this book because all the events throughout the story, set in 1977, are so unbelievable that you can’t help but want to believe them. The story-telling is so fantastic that even in the face of doubt you trust his story. I feel what Pi feels, see what Pi sees, smell what Pi smells, and I believe it to be true.

In a question and answer session with Yann Martel, he says that he loves the idea of the name Pi as a nickname for Piscine. Pi tells us the story of his name: his uncle was a lover of swimming and talked of the pools in France, one called “Piscine Molitar“. Martel says, “I liked the irony of a boy named after a rational volume of water being adrift in an uncontrollable volume of water, the Pacific.” Pi spends years of his childhood teased about this name, (sounds like “pissing”) so that when he switches schools he decides to call himself Pi, after the Greek letter used by mathematicians to stand in for an irrational number. Martel says it stuck him that a number used to bring understanding could be called irrational, which is how he sees religion as well: something irrational that helps make sense of things.

Pi was born Hindu, but at 14 he was introduced to Christianity and Islam. He follows all three of these religions because he just “wants to love God.” Pi is searching for meaning in the world and he looks through the lenses of these three religions to help him find perspective on this journey. He sees a portion of truth and a portion of error with each religion but all have similar messages for him.

Pi’s father owns a zoo in Pondicerry, which has provided Pi with a gateway into animal psychology during his youth. When his family decides to sell their animals and move to Canada due to political concerns in India, they board a small Japanese freighter carrying some of their animals. So begins part two of the story.

A few days after leaving India the ship sinks. Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, A spotted hyena, an injured zebra and an orangutan: the only survivors.

During the first few days of Pi’s voyage in open seas he witnesses heinous violence from the hyena, which eats the still living zebra bit-by-bit. The hyena also kills the orangutan in a vicious manner. Then Richard Parker kills the hyena, leaving Pi alone with a 400-pound tiger.

Pi finds food, water and supplies in the lifeboat; steadily the supplies run out and he begins fishing. Pi feeds himself and Richard Parker, he wants to keep Richard Parker alive to avoid complete solitude, but he also know that he cannot outlast Richard Parker and he wants to avoid being eaten. Pi refers to his knowledge of animal psychology and decides he must make sure Richard Parker knows that Pi is the alpha and Richard Parker the omega animal, this way he can keep his territory and hopefully stay alive. He goes through many training sessions with Richard Parker using a whistle, treats, and seasickness to drive the point home.

The story gets very bleak when both Pi and Richard Parker become blind. I believe this was due to bad nutrition and excessive exposure to sun. During his blindness Pi encounters another blind seafarer, a French man with an obsession for meat. Pi naïvely welcomes the man into his boat where the man reveals his cannibalistic nature and becomes a snack for dear old Richard Parker. Two days, and much rinsing with salt water, bring back Pi’s sight.

Then comes the strangest part yet. The pair encounter a mysterious island, seemingly constructed of edible algae supporting a forest and a large population of meercats. Each day Richard Parker and Pi venture onto the island and each night they return to their lifeboat. One night Pi decides to stay on the island at night and sleeps in a tree, which is quickly over run by meercats who also sleep in the trees. When Pi discovers a “fruit” in the tree with a single human molar at the center he discovers the carnivorous nature of the algae and becomes frightened of it. Richard Parker and Pi return to their lifeboat and continue on their way.

Finally the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico where Richard Parker escapes into the jungle without so much as a goodbye. Pi is disappointed by this unceremonious departure but is quickly found by his rescuers.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

*****Read on at your own risk*****

***You’ve been warned!***

Part three of the story is written like a transcript of an interview (because that is what it is). Two official from the Japanese maritime department question Pi about the sinking of the ship. Pi tells them his story, which they do not believe. In hopes of having his suffering validated, he tells them a second story without the animals. He recounts a story of human brutality, being adrift on a lifeboat with his mother, a sailor with a broken leg, and the ship’s French cook, who killed the sailor and Pi’s mother and cut them up to use as bait and food. Parallels to Pi’s first story lead the Japanese officials to believe that the orangutan represents his mother, the zebra represents the sailor, the hyena represents the cook, and Richard Parker is Pi himself.

After revealing that neither version of Pi’s story ascertains why the ship sank, and that no one can really know the truth, Pi asks which version the officers prefer. They both prefer the version with the animals to the version without animals. Pi thanks them and says, “and so it goes with God.”

Martel shares that he wrote the story to become more and more unbelievable as it goes on. He says that he understands readers will have doubts but hopes they will choose the first story as the better story. For that reason he included something unbelievable in the story we choose to believe.

To me it is interesting that Martel included a cannibalistic Frenchman in both versions of the story. If you interpret his appearance in the first story, when Pi is blind, he might appear to be a ghost of the French cook Pi killed in the second story. Just a thought.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Have you read Life of Pi? What are your interpretations? 

15 Things I Learned From Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has been a big part of my life ever since I read the first books in third grade. I have devoured the series more times than I can count, soaked in the movies (which I love however disappointed I was in most of them), and researched every drop of information I can sponge up. You can imagine that something that I can still honestly say I adore, more than 13 years later must have given something to my soul. Harry, Ron and Hermione are my family, Dumbledore, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Dobby, Fang, Sirius, Lupin, Fred, George, Seamus, Dean, Lavender, Parvati, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fleur, Victor, Lee, Cedric, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Angelina, Katie, Alicia, etc. etc. etc. They’re all are my friends. They will live in my heart. After all this time. Always.

So the list begins…

1. Don’t Fear the Reaper

Death is a theme, particularly emphasized in the Harry Potter books. Harry, who was orphaned as a baby, has led a life that has been considerably influenced by Death. Gradually as Harry grows and evolves into a man his journey takes him to a place where death is not something to be feared. After all, a fear of death is what led to the Hogwarts ghosts, something Harry realizes when Sirius Black dies.

King's Cross chapter art, Harry Potter, Deathly Hallows 
Source: Book Chapter Art

In the great words of Albus Dumbledore, two quotes:
“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”


2. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Severus Snape, the Potions Master at Hogwarts is the best example of this; he is presented as the sneering, bullying villain with a vendetta against Harry. When his motivations are revealed in the Deathly Hallows we learn that his actions were born out of love rather than hate (or mostly love).

Dumbledore: “After all this time?” (Referring to his love for Lily Evans, later Lily Potter)
“Always.” said Snape.


3. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

After six books of bickering, pining, sulking and pretending to be indifferent toward each other, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger finally share a passionate kiss in the Deathly Hallows.

ron and hermione, harry potter, fan art, deathly hallows 

There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There’s a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
“I know, mate,” said Ron… “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”


4. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own

Harry, throughout the series, continually feels (sometimes aggravatingly) that he must face his destiny alone, only to have his friends prove invaluable. In the Sorceror’s Stone, Ron and Hermione use their respective abilities of chess-playing and logic to help Harry through to the stone. And how can we forget Ron and Hermione’s defiance about helping Harry collect and destroy Horcruxes?

chapter art, harry potter, ran weasley, hermione granger, 12 grimwauld place 
Source: Book Chapter Art

“We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron…
“No—“ said Harry quickly…he was undertaking this dangerous journey alone.
“You said to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was a time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”
“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron.


5. Decisions, Decisions

Harry and Tom Riddle, both extraordinarily proficient wizards, led different lives not based on their skills but rather on the various choices they made along the way. Harry makes the choice to become a Gryffindor (rather than a Slytherin) when he puts on the sorting hat because he trusts his new friendship with Ron. Tom uses the Slytherin house, his irresistible charm, and his desire for power, which led him down a dark path.

The Sorting Hat, chapter art, harry potter, slytherin, gryfindor, hufflepuff, ravenclaw 
Source: Book Chapter Art

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that— no? Well if you’re sure—better be GRYFFINDOR!”
Also a quote from Dumbledore: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”


6. The Power of Love

His inability either to love or to fathom its power is what prevents Voldemort from killing Harry from the beginning. Harry’s father, James, died in a fight while his mother, Lily, died protecting baby Harry.

baby harry, harry potter, lily, love, fan art 

Yet another quote from our favorite wizard, Dumbledore: “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”


7. The Easy Way Out

Choices are an integral part of any good story. In Harry Potter we find that the more difficult choice are inevitably the right choice, which must be made. Voldemort’s rise to power is the result of those facing him choosing the easy option (to live under his rule, rather than fight or perish). Cornelius Fudge’s refusal to admit the return of Voldemort was easier than preparing for the first stages of war.

harry potter, mugglenet, the only one he ever feared, dumbledore, voldemort, tom riddle ministry of magic 

Another wise Dumbledore quote “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”


8. Hell Hath No Fury, Like a Woman Scorned

This is made perfectly evident by the reaction Hermione has to Lavender Brown and Ron’s (short-lived) romance.

yellow canaries, ron weasley, hermione granger, lavender brown, harry potter, fan art 

The door behind them burst open. To Harry’s horror, Ron came in, laughing, pulling Lavender by the hand…
“Oops!” said Lavender, and she backed out of the room, giggling…
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head…
“You shouldn’t leave Lavender waiting outside,” she said quietly…
She walked very slowly and erectly toward the door. Harry glanced at Ron who looked relieved that nothing worse had happened.
“Oppugno!” came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: The little flock of bird speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.


9. Heart’s Desire

The Mirror of Erised shows those who look upon it the “deepest and most desperate desires of one’s heart. It is presented as a device with a destructive, almost maddening influence on the beholder. While when Harry’s sees his parents at first it is a comfort to him, he begins to become obsessed with the mirror, until Dumbledore is forced to step in.

mirror of erised, heart's desire, harry potter, lily and james, mugglenet 

One more quote from Dumbledore, that sage old wizard: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember, that.”


10. Money Can’t Buy Me Love

The Weasley family has hardly two knuts to rub together, and yet Rowling presents them as the happiest and most loving of all her characters. The Malfoys on the other hand are rolling in galleons, and yet they spend much of the saga wracked with guilt, worry and anxiety.

“…my name is Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.
“Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.”


11. Fear Can Be Conquered

During Remus Lupin’s time as Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, he explains that the reason Harry suffers so much in the presence of the Dementors is because of his fear of fear. In time, Harry masters his fear, and the art of the Patronus charm, using focus and determination (and a memory he isn’t even sure is real).

dementor, remus lupin, harry potter, boggart 

“I assumed that if the Boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”
Harry stared…
“Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, still frowning at Harry. “But I didn’t think it a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialise in the staff room. I imagined that people would panic.”
“I did think of Voldemort first,” said Harry honestly. “But then I – I remembered those Dementors.”
“I see,” said Lupin thoughtfully. “Well, well… I’m impressed.” He smiled slightly at the look of surprise on Harry’s face. “That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.”


12. Protect the Nest

Even with her evil reputation, Bellatrix Lestrange makes a critical error when she threatens to kill Ginny Weasley. Molly Weasley might have seen one child die at the battle of Hogwarts, but when threatened again she proves that she won’t let ANYONE repeat that trick.

molly weasley, harry potter, bellatrix lestrange fan art 

“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”…”OUT OF MY WAY!” Shouted Mrs. Weasley… “No!!” Mrs. Weasley cried as a few students ran forward, trying to come to her aid. “Get back! Get back! She is mine!”
“What will happen to your children when I’ve killed you?” taunted Bellatrix… capering as Molly’s curses danced around her. “When Mummy’s gone the same way as Freddie?”
“You — will — never — touch — our — children — again!” screamed Mrs. Weasley…
Molly’s curse soared beneath Bellatrix’s outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart… and then she toppled…


13. Diversity is Might

Where Voldemort might tell you “Magic is Might,” I say “Diversity is Might.” Throughout the saga, Harry finds himself befriending society’s outcasts, again and again. There’s Rubeus Hagrid the half-giant, Dobby a house-elf, Firenze a centaur, and “Loony” Luna Lovegood who lives by her own rules. Even Griphook, a goblin who might not be considered a friend, helps Harry because of his reputation for loving all beings. These are the characters who often dig Harry and his friends out of the tightest situations.

chapter art, harry potter, dobby, s.p.e.w., house elf, hermione granger 
Source: Book Chapter Art

“You dirty little monkey!” bawled Bellatrix. “How dare you take a witch’s wand, how dare you defy your masters?”
“Dobby has no master!” squealed the elf. “Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!”


14. Treat All With Kindness

Along the same lines as number thirteen, Harry treated every being he met with the same kindness no matter their social standing, when they deserved it. (Dolores Umbridge, and Draco Malfoy are notable exceptions, also, Voldemort, of course). Kreacher, the Black family house elf, helps Harry because Harry was kind to him, Sirius’s mistreatment of Kreacher led ultimately to his death.

harry potter, chapter art, kreacher, sirius black, 12 grimwauld place 
Source: Book Chapter Art

“I warned Sirius when we adopted twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters that Kreacher must be treated with kindness and respect. I also told him that Kreacher could be dangerous to us. I do not think that Sirius took me very seriously, or that he ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human’s.” (One last Dumbledore quote)


15. When You Believe

Self-confidence is presented as a key component in magical prophecy. We watch Neville Longbottom’s journey from the very first book, in which he is a hopeless wizard due to low self-esteem brought on from his grandmother. As he grows older and begins to be self-assured he matures into one of the most important figures in the story.

neville longbottom, gryfindor, house points 
Couldn’t resist using this photo 😉

Voldemort: “You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.”
“I’ll join you when hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd…


Adapted from 50 Things We Learned From Harry Potter by Total Film

My favorite Harry Potter sites:

How has Harry Potter changed your life? What themes that I didn’t share are important to you?

15 Things I Learned From Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has been a big part of my life ever since I read the first books in third grade. I have devoured the series more times than I can count, soaked in the movies (which I love however disappointed I was in most of them), and researched every drop of information I can sponge up. You can imagine that something that I can still honestly say I adore, more than 13 years later must have given something to my soul. Harry, Ron and Hermione are my family, Dumbledore, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Dobby, Fang, Sirius, Lupin, Fred, George, Seamus, Dean, Lavender, Parvati, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fleur, Victor, Lee, Cedric, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Angelina, Katie, Alicia, etc. etc. etc. They’re all are my friends. They will live in my heart. After all this time. Always.

So the list begins…

1. Don’t Fear the Reaper

Death is a theme, particularly emphasized in the Harry Potter books. Harry, who was orphaned as a baby, has led a life that has been considerably influenced by Death. Gradually as Harry grows and evolves into a man his journey takes him to a place where death is not something to be feared. After all, a fear of death is what led to the Hogwarts ghosts, something Harry realizes when Sirius Black dies.

Source: Book Chapter Art

In the great words of Albus Dumbledore, two quotes:
“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”

2. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Severus Snape, the Potions Master at Hogwarts is the best example of this; he is presented as the sneering, bullying villain with a vendetta against Harry. When his motivations are revealed in the Deathly Hallows we learn that his actions were born out of love rather than hate (or mostly love).

Dumbledore: “After all this time?” (Referring to his love for Lily Evans, later Lily Potter)
“Always.” said Snape.

3. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

After six books of bickering, pining, sulking and pretending to be indifferent toward each other, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger finally share a passionate kiss in the Deathly Hallows.

There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There’s a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
“I know, mate,” said Ron… “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”

4. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own

Harry, throughout the series, continually feels (sometimes aggravatingly) that he must face his destiny alone, only to have his friends prove invaluable. In the Sorceror’s Stone, Ron and Hermione use their respective abilities of chess-playing and logic to help Harry through to the stone. And how can we forget Ron and Hermione’s defiance about helping Harry collect and destroy Horcruxes?

Source: Book Chapter Art

“We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron…
“No—“ said Harry quickly…he was undertaking this dangerous journey alone.
“You said to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was a time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”
“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron.

5. Decisions, Decisions

Harry and Tom Riddle, both extraordinarily proficient wizards, led different lives not based on their skills but rather on the various choices they made along the way. Harry makes the choice to become a Gryffindor (rather than a Slytherin) when he puts on the sorting hat because he trusts his new friendship with Ron. Tom uses the Slytherin house, his irresistible charm, and his desire for power, which led him down a dark path.

Source: Book Chapter Art

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that— no? Well if you’re sure—better be GRYFFINDOR!”
Also a quote from Dumbledore: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

6. The Power of Love

His inability either to love or to fathom its power is what prevents Voldemort from killing Harry from the beginning. Harry’s father, James, died in a fight while his mother, Lily, died protecting baby Harry.

Yet another quote from our favorite wizard, Dumbledore: “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”

7. The Easy Way Out

Choices are an integral part of any good story. In Harry Potter we find that the more difficult choice are inevitably the right choice, which must be made. Voldemort’s rise to power is the result of those facing him choosing the easy option (to live under his rule, rather than fight or perish). Cornelius Fudge’s refusal to admit the return of Voldemort was easier than preparing for the first stages of war.

Another wise Dumbledore quote “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

8. Hell Hath No Fury, Like a Woman Scorned

This is made perfectly evident by the reaction Hermione has to Lavender Brown and Ron’s (short-lived) romance.

The door behind them burst open. To Harry’s horror, Ron came in, laughing, pulling Lavender by the hand…
“Oops!” said Lavender, and she backed out of the room, giggling…
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head…
“You shouldn’t leave Lavender waiting outside,” she said quietly…
She walked very slowly and erectly toward the door. Harry glanced at Ron who looked relieved that nothing worse had happened.
“Oppugno!” came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: The little flock of bird speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.

9. Heart’s Desire

The Mirror of Erised shows those who look upon it the “deepest and most desperate desires of one’s heart. It is presented as a device with a destructive, almost maddening influence on the beholder. While when Harry’s sees his parents at first it is a comfort to him, he begins to become obsessed with the mirror, until Dumbledore is forced to step in.

One more quote from Dumbledore, that sage old wizard: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember, that.”

10. Money Can’t Buy Me Love

The Weasley family has hardly two knuts to rub together, and yet Rowling presents them as the happiest and most loving of all her characters. The Malfoys on the other hand are rolling in galleons, and yet they spend much of the saga wracked with guilt, worry and anxiety.

“…my name is Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.
“Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.”

11. Fear Can Be Conquered

During Remus Lupin’s time as Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, he explains that the reason Harry suffers so much in the presence of the Dementors is because of his fear of fear. In time, Harry masters his fear, and the art of the Patronus charm, using focus and determination (and a memory he isn’t even sure is real).

“I assumed that if the Boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”
Harry stared…
“Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, still frowning at Harry. “But I didn’t think it a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialise in the staff room. I imagined that people would panic.”
“I did think of Voldemort first,” said Harry honestly. “But then I – I remembered those Dementors.”
“I see,” said Lupin thoughtfully. “Well, well… I’m impressed.” He smiled slightly at the look of surprise on Harry’s face. “That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.”

12. Protect the Nest

Even with her evil reputation, Bellatrix Lestrange makes a critical error when she threatens to kill Ginny Weasley. Molly Weasley might have seen one child die at the battle of Hogwarts, but when threatened again she proves that she won’t let ANYONE repeat that trick.

“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”…”OUT OF MY WAY!” Shouted Mrs. Weasley… “No!!” Mrs. Weasley cried as a few students ran forward, trying to come to her aid. “Get back! Get back! She is mine!”
“What will happen to your children when I’ve killed you?” taunted Bellatrix… capering as Molly’s curses danced around her. “When Mummy’s gone the same way as Freddie?”
“You — will — never — touch — our — children — again!” screamed Mrs. Weasley…
Molly’s curse soared beneath Bellatrix’s outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart… and then she toppled…

13. Diversity is Might

Where Voldemort might tell you “Magic is Might,” I say “Diversity is Might.” Throughout the saga, Harry finds himself befriending society’s outcasts, again and again. There’s Rubeus Hagrid the half-giant, Dobby a house-elf, Firenze a centaur, and “Loony” Luna Lovegood who lives by her own rules. Even Griphook, a goblin who might not be considered a friend, helps Harry because of his reputation for loving all beings. These are the characters who often dig Harry and his friends out of the tightest situations.

Source: Book Chapter Art

“You dirty little monkey!” bawled Bellatrix. “How dare you take a witch’s wand, how dare you defy your masters?”
“Dobby has no master!” squealed the elf. “Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!”

14. Treat All With Kindness

Along the same lines as number thirteen, Harry treated every being he met with the same kindness no matter their social standing, when they deserved it. (Dolores Umbridge, and Draco Malfoy are notable exceptions, also, Voldemort, of course). Kreacher, the Black family house elf, helps Harry because Harry was kind to him, Sirius’s mistreatment of Kreacher led ultimately to his death.

Source: Book Chapter Art

“I warned Sirius when we adopted twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters that Kreacher must be treated with kindness and respect. I also told him that Kreacher could be dangerous to us. I do not think that Sirius took me very seriously, or that he ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human’s.” (One last Dumbledore quote)

15. When You Believe

Self-confidence is presented as a key component in magical prophecy. We watch Neville Longbottom’s journey from the very first book, in which he is a hopeless wizard due to low self-esteem brought on from his grandmother. As he grows older and begins to be self-assured he matures into one of the most important figures in the story.

Couldn’t resist using this photo 😉
Source: http://leverredelamode.tumblr.com/

Voldemort: “You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.”
“I’ll join you when hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd…

Adapted from 50 Things We Learned From Harry Potter by Total Film

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How has Harry Potter changed your life? What themes that I didn’t share are important to you?