Monthly Archives: August 2014
This was my second time reading The Hunger Games. I normally don’t reread books because I enjoy having the fresh anticipation of new stories and new writing but The Hunger Games drew me in for a second time. I was surprised by how much I had forgotten about the book and the writing itself.
Things I Rediscovered about The Hunger Games book:
- Its written in present tense, a unique style in today’s literature. Before this, I don’t remember the last time I read a novel in present tense yet after only a few pages I failed to even notice it. It lends well to the quick, suspenseful plot. Like Katniss, the reader is living from moment to moment, without even a hint of what lies ahead.
- The flood of Young Adult themes in the book. Katniss is exploring love and sexuality for the first time. She is trying to figure out who she is compared to her family and dealing with the loss of a parent. She is having new experiences (though most are not the typical…) and she is starting to question authority. Bullying and “clicks” are even portrayed through the careers. These are all typical YA themes. I think the popularity of the series as well as the darkness of the movies made me forget that the story originally targeted youth. Katniss’s internal dialogue really exemplifies the confusion of a teenage girl, no matter what kind of world she’s living in.
- How oblivious Katniss is to Peeta’s and Gale’s love for her. The movie certainly doesn’t portray this as well as the book. The movie makes her seem more unconcerned with the boys’ love for her where the books really capture her confusion.
- How fast-paced the novel is. The reader never has time to take a breath. From the first page to the last, we are hooked. New secrets are always being revealed, new dangers crop up as soon as old ones pass, and new mysteries always keep us wanting more.
- Excellent cliff hangers at the end of every single chapter. I don’t think its possible for anyone to get bored while reading The Hunger Games. Its unbelievable writing and unbelievable editing. There is not a wasted line in the entire story. And the popularity of the book can attest to that. Tell me you haven’t heard someone say something along the lines of, “Oh yeah, I read The Hunger Games in a weekend/day.” That’s because there is never a good stopping point, especially at the chapter breaks! This is a lesson all writers, young and old, can learn from.
I think its pretty common to rediscover new things when re-reading books and because of that, I don’t think it’s a waste of time at all. There is a certain comfort about re-reading your favorite books or re-watching your favorite movies but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take something new away from an old story.
Have you re-read any of your old favorites lately? What did you rediscover?
You heard me right… its a floating library that drifts around one of Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes. The librarian and creator of the Floating Library sits at the center, surrounded by unique art books for rent or purchase.
Thank you to the Star Tribune for sharing this story! Check out The land of 10,000 lakes now has a floating library here.
In my previous post 5 Things Every Writing Room Should Have, I promised I would share my redecorated writing room. I really wish I had taken “before” pictures so you can all see the total transformation but you’ll just have to take my word for it. Previously, the room had pale, faded yellow paint and hideous red carpet. It was outdated, claustrophobic and boring. Now it looks like this…
I painted the walls with a two-tone roller with a dark green and light green paint. The two colors mix when placed on the wall, creating a wide variety of tones. The roller also has a unique texture that when used with the greens gives quite the leafy forest feel. I was pleased to find this beautiful wood floor under the red carpet. Together, the walls and floor create the perfect nature feel that I’m crazy about!
I’m lucky enough to have room for this large bookshelf and a reading chair.
One more bookshelf because you can never have enough…
I purchased this quill sticker to place above my desk to add a little flair. (I love the entire room but this just might be my favorite part!) I’ve also started collecting books that are either really old or have unique spines/titles to place on an independent shelf next to this sticker. Although the collection is pretty minimal so far, you get the idea.
So that’s my new writing room! I feel very lucky to have such an amazing space to chase my dreams and I think I truly captured all 5 of my requirements for a great writing room:
1. A Sense of Comfort
2. An Abundance of Writing Tools
3. Lots and lots of Books!
4. Resources and…
5. Something that Reminds me Why I Write
An excellent post! Sometimes we all just need a little fresh air!
I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. I love it for the way it connects me with people and makes it easier to do research and write. I hate it for how fried I am after sitting in front of it for hours at a time. And as much as I can accomplish with a computer, I find that sitting in front of it isn’t the best place to find those epiphanies that can change everything.
Some of my best ideas come when I’m taking a shower, going for a swim, driving my car, and going for a walk. As it turns out, scientists have proven that people generate more creative ideas when they walk than when they sit.
Santa Clara professor of psychology Marily Oppezzo was the lead author on a study that measured creativity among participants based on if they were walking or sitting. Oppezzo and professor…
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Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Published in 1999 by MTV Books/Pocket Books.
I’m varying from my typical structure for this book review because every time I think about or begin to write about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is one central point that I cannot get away from, Charlie. Charlie is the 15-year-old narrator of the story. The book is written in the form of letters, from Charlie to an unnamed “friend.” They are very casual and journal-like. The letters balance between accounting Charlie’s day-to-day life and mining the diamond-like thoughts he unearths before us.
Charlie writes his first letter the day before his first day of high school. He is a loner, a listener, an observer, a wallflower. His only friend committed suicide the year before and his brother, whom he was very close with, left home to attend college. He reads an obsessive amount of books, enjoys walking around his neighborhood alone, and cannot seem to stop the tornado of thoughts from swirling 24/7 inside his head.
There are parts of Charlie that we all wish we could be
and parts that we all fear we are.
But through all that, I think the most important part about Charlie is this: there are parts of Charlie that we all wish we could be and parts that we all fear we are. He’s a thinker. He thinks about why he thinks things. He does not tunnel his thoughts; he lets them lead him. Because he thinks so much but rarely speaks, he uses writing to get the thoughts out of his head. That is where we, the readers, come in.
The quote on the back of the book says Charlie is “caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it” and I surrender to the fact that I could not have said it better myself. The books he obsessively read is a way for his to escape, especially from his own thoughts. Its not a mistake that Charlie doesn’t think deeply about the books because if he did, it wouldn’t be much of a mistake.
We don’t worry about Charlie being a reliable narrator
because his thoughts, his interpretations
are all we grow to care about.
This next quote from the book struck me so true, it still puts a smile on my face months after I’ve read the book. “I almost didn’t get an A in math, but then Mr. Calo told me to stop asking “why?” all the time and just follow the formulas. So, I did. I get perfect scores on all my tests. I just wish I knew what the formulas did. I honestly have no idea.” Being able to plug Charlie’s personality into something as boring and irrelative as math class proves how well Chbosky was in-tuned with his character. It’s brilliant.
I connected with Charlie (as so many people have). I felt bad for him and I felt sad with him. Written in any other point of view, this book would not be so successful. We don’t worry about Charlie being a reliable narrator because his thoughts, his interpretations are all we grow to care about.
The Long Walk was published by Signet Books in 1979. It was written by Stephen King but published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. In King’s essay “The Importance of Being Bachman” he says “Bachman, a fictional charter who became more real to me with each published book which bore his byline, was a rainy-day sort of guy if there ever was one.” The Bachman essay was place at the beginning of my copy of The Long Walk and interested me very much. The full essay can here read here on Lilja’s Library.
The novel is focused on an annual event where 100 boys under the age of 18 walk as far as they can without stopping. The event, called The Long Walk, begins in northern Maine and goes on until only one boy is left walking, several days later. If a walker falls below 4 mph, they are given a warning and after their third warning, they are out of the competition. Sounds like all fun and games, right? Wrong. Because what I left out, what the author leaves out until the moment the first boy gets his third strike, is that there are armed guards lining the road and after the third warning is given, the boys are shot and killed. With guts spilling out of their stomachs and pools of blood drowning their teenage bodies, the boys are killed on the spot in front of thousands of onlookers. Do I have your attention now?
The Long Walk is a very dark, brutal story. Much darker than other King novels I have read. In many ways, it is a psychology study of the boys. “Why did we volunteer to do this?” is a question that periodically rises in the boys’ conversation. Our main character, Ray Garraty, never even expected to win when his name was drawn out of the national pool, yet, ignoring the persistence of his parents and girlfriend he lets the drop-out dates pass by. “We want to die,” was one of the boy’s theory, “we all want to die.” Of the many walkers we are introduced to, only two, Stebbins and Scramm, portrayed any confidence that they could win.
That poses an intriguing question: Does our society rely so much on pride that we are willing to give up our young, blossoming lives just so we don’t have to say that we backed out of a competition?
In a story where the only present characters are 100 teenage boys, you would think they would all mesh together with vague differences but that is not the case. There is a good variety of personalities, with traits that help them stand out from one another. Some are self-righteous while others are humble. There are hick country folk as well as city boys. Some are smart and ambitious young men, others were content high school dropouts. This mix of personalities made that resurfacing questions even more interesting, “Why are we here?”
The story beings when our main character, Ray Garraty, gets dropped off at the Long Walk and ends at the conclusion of the event. There was no filler, no afterword, no flashbacks, no perfectly wrapped up conclusion. In my opinion, it was a perfect timeline for the story. Clean and clear with no thrills.
FIVE STARS!!! The Long Walk is an outstanding character study focusing on human’s most natural instincts; friendship, love, hope, pride, fear and most importantly, the desire to live. The story shook my bones and rattled my soul. It may be a slow moving plot but it will keep your mind racing the entire way through and for some time after.
The ending ***SPOILERS***
I normally hate giving away the ending of books but this one had such great symbolism and emotion that I had to discuss it. So, if you haven’t read The Long Walk but plan to, DO NOT READ FURTHER! At the end of the book, Garraty approaches Stebbins to tell him that he was done, he was going to surrender. Stebbins seems to have gone crazy and surrenders himself. Going into this scene, the reader is not aware exactly how many boys are left but after Stebbins dies, its clear that Garraty is the last boy standing, he has won The Long Walk! But up ahead Garraty sees the dark figure of another boy, unsure who it is, but clear that he is still walking. Like the reader, he is somewhat lost, he does not immediately realize that he has won. Because he never expected to win and was prepared to give up only seconds before, the win shocks him too deep to be put into words.
Garraty was unique in the way that he cared about the boys, more than anyone else he became friends with many of them and the other boys often confided in him in ways that they would not to the others. (Examples: McVries told him the story of his scar; Baker asked him do something for him if he won, “I’m scared to ask anyone else,” he’d said.) Because Garraty felt for the other characters, he will carry them with him forever. He may have won the competition, but the dark, ambiguous figure Garraty sees in front of him on the road indicates the walk will never end for him. Those dead boys—his dead friends—will haunt him forever.
As I currently redesign my “writing room,” I’m constantly thinking about what I want the room to be. What color should I paint the walls? What kind of decorations do I want to hang? What should I fill my bookshelves with? What do I want the general feel of the room to be? I understand not everyone is lucky enough to have an entire room they can call their “writing room” (and I feel very grateful to be one of the few) but I think every serious writer needs a “writing space.” Somewhere they sit down and immediately feel like writing is the right thing to do. If you want to be a writer and don’t already have a writing space, make one! It could be the desk in the middle of your living room or the corner table at the local coffee house. It could be the porch in your backyard or a park bench with a notebook on your lap. Wherever it may be, however big or small, keep the following in mind when you choose a new spot or perfect your current one.
1. A Sense of Comfort
If your not comfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your work. If your too cold or too hot you’ll be strangled by blankets or wishing you were jumping in your neighbors swimming pool the whole time. If your in public and worried about that creepy barista staring at you, get out of there! If your roommate’s giggles are echoing through the apartment as she watches that movie with her new crush, put your headphones on. Control the things you can control, put distractions out of reach.
2. Writing Tools
At the minimum you need a notebook and a pen/pencil. Maybe also a desk, a computer, a chair, post it notes, inspirational photos, a window, a whiteboard to sketch an outline, music, headphones. Not everyone will need all of these things but everyone’s writing space should have all the tools they need to make Number 1 a reality.
Is this not the thing that inspired us to write in the first place? Then it should be there to always remind us and to teach us. Reading is essential to any writer’s success, so make sure to have books close at hand. We’ve all heard Stephen King’s quote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And he is right. Reading is how we learn as writers, its how we figure out what we like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t, what makes our eyes zoom across the page and what makes our eyelids heavy. Not to mention that if you enjoy writing, I’d be shocked to hear you don’t enjoy reading. So keep your books close!
This will most likely be more books; a dictionary, thesaurus, a book of interesting facts or jokes. Books on writing. I know what you’re thinking, why do I need books when I can search all that stuff on the internet? Well, when you’re hunched over your keyboard for hours and you suddenly can’t spit out the word on the tip of your tongue, why keep hunching over the keyboard to Google it when you can lean back in your chair, grab a book and flip a few pages until inspiration strikes?
5. Something That Reminds You Why You Write
Place your favorite book on your desk and mark your favorite passages. That quote that puts it in perspective, paint it on the wall above your desk. Pictures of people and places that inspire you. A collage of beautiful, mysterious, interesting, curious, unique thought-provoking Google Images. A Wordle image that includes everything you need to remember while writing. Make it personal. Make it something that when your head feels completely empty and you throw your head back in despair, this something will catch your eye and say to you, “There’s a reason you’re doing this, don’t you remember? This is what you’re suppose to do. This is your art.”
Check back for pictures of my remodeled writing room!! I’ve had a lot of fun decorating it and am excited to share pictures!! 🙂 Should be in a week or two!
“Amazon Won’t Kill the Indie Bookstore” a great story from The Daily Beast.
My favorite quote from the article about an independent bookstore in North Carolina: “…the place is buzzing with life, a magnet not only for book buyers, but also for meditation sessions, children’s story hours, talent shows, young writers’ groups, and readings by everyone from seasoned novelists to poets to homeless people.”