Life Update: Long Time No Write

WARNING: Lengthy  and brutally honest post Head:

Let’s play a game. I am going to write out two truths and a lie; then dear reader your job will be to decide which statement is the lie. Ready, Go:

  1. All written works are a different combination made up of the same twenty-six letters of the alphabet.
  2.  Writing is easy.
  3. There is no foolproof way to write the perfect narrative, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

Okay, times up! where you able to find the lie?  If you weren’t able to it’s okay because I am going to tell you the answer to my little game anyway. The lie is…… writing is easy. In fact, anyone who tries to tell you that writing is easy is lying to you. Now, if you have ever visited this lovely blog before welcome back thanks for waiting for me drag myself back out of my hobbit hole. I greatly appreciate it.  To those who may be new, welcome to the California Bookworm I hope you enjoy your stay. All of this being said and you don’t mind having the shit scared out of you, please proceed.

Continue reading “Life Update: Long Time No Write”

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“For You A Thousand Times Over…”

Every once in a while there is a novel that comes along and redefines everything you thought you knew about life.The truth is that when a novel of this nature is birthed into the world nothing will ever be the same and the people who choose to read the story woven within the pages are changed forever. A powerful story has the ability to make a statement about the tangible landscape of the life we all as human beings live out on earth. However, there are few books in the world that are able to make a strong enough statement that it is able to truly become larger than itself. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is a novel that will leave a hand print on both your heart and your head long after the last page has been read. The novel tells the story of the unlikely friendship between two young boys named Amir and Hassan from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul.

The novel is able to communicate and demonstrate how one relationship can intertwine two extremely different people for the rest of their lives. Although the novel itself is historical fiction, the story offers an incredibly moving and potent commentary about life; As well as what it means to live a beautiful life in the midst of the world full of uncertainty and hardship. In all honesty, I do not believe that I personally have ever experienced anything like “ The Kite Runner” before in all my years as a reading addict. There were times where I found myself equally disturbed, moved to tears or lost for words due to the truth and beauty depicted within the story.

Hosseini wrote with so much honesty and compassion behind every word and is one of the most exquisite and humbling novels I have ever read in my life. There is a reason this novel has had the opportunity to sit on the New York Times Bestsellers List and it definitely is deserving of the honor.The novel is not afraid of asking the hard questions about life and the reader is left with no choice but to respond. Nothing about this story is sugarcoated in any way shape or form. All of the evidence of what happens within the pages is right there for the reader to read and imagine.

The “Kite Runner” was a novel that caught me off guard in every way that possibly could have. I did not expect this particular novel to influence my life in the way that it has and I definitely did not anticipate falling in love with the story as much as I have. This story was able to simultaneously rip my heart out only to thrust it back inside my body a few paragraphs later having caused a sensation of excavating pain at times. Therefore It is due to the simultaneously beautiful and at times horrific truth found within the story that I give the “Kite Runner” five stars.

Now, as far as the film adaptation is concerned that is a different story.  The film that carries the same title as the source material has a number of differences in comparison to the novel itself. However, the film still manages to capture the overall spirit of Hosseini’s thought-provoking narrative. Personally,  I will never be watching this film again simply due to the fact that I do not believe that the adaptation does the novel as much justice as it should. “The Kite Runner,” as a novel aims to communicate a particular message about the complexity that exists when it comes to human relationships among other things. This is something that the novel does beautifully. However, it is my belief that the film adaptation aims to communicate a different message than the novel. While this does not necessarily discredit the film as worthy of a viewing, it does present a slight problem if a reader is looking for an accurate visual representation of their reading experience projected onto the individualized viewing screens. With all of this to consider I would give the film adaptation of “The Kite Runner” two and a half stars.

Redefining Roses

Hello, lovely readers! After taking a two-month writing hiatus where I was struggling a bit to find my creative voice; I am beginning to find it again. Recently,  I have been going through some of the files on my computer in an effort to clean up a little and I was reminded of why I love literature as much as I do. I came across some of my work that I had written for my Into to Lit class and thought  I would share it with all of you. Most of it is my thoughts on short stories I read for class, sections of The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (the textbook from class) or  Windows to the World: Literature in Christian Perspective by Leeland Ryken (the third book I read for class).

The truth is that I am still in the process of rediscovering my voice. I know it’s not lost, instead,  it is simply wondering. Therefore I have chosen to share this work with you because I hope that it would be enlightening to you and also that I may inspire myself again.

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner follows a town’s relentless quest to discover a mystery about a woman named Emily who marches to the beat of her of her own drum. Emily Grierson refuses to abide by any standard set by the present society and ultimately strives to hold on to her own definition of self-respect and love among a society that has left her in the past.

The short story A Rose for Emily explores what it means to grow up in a world that has never truly been yours, to begin with.When Emily kills her lover and then later dies beside his corpse, she doesn’t kill him because she does not love him. Emily carries out her murderous act because she is afraid of losing yet another thing that means the world to her. The Story of Emily is a tragedy, however, it brings to light some important lessons about society and generational differences. Emily suffers from being a part of a society where rules about personal relationships defined with each new generation,  prevented her from living her life the way she wanted.I think what Faulkner is trying to say about the inner struggle an individual feels when attempting to please oneself while still trying to abide by societal obligations is important.

The lesson for people today as they read this story lies in making the choice to stay true to what each of us wants in our relationships as well as the other areas of our lives. However, as active citizens of our society, we need to still be a part of everything that happens within it.  Emily felt confined by all of the different standards of every generation she lived through and so she took matters into her own hands. She decided to no longer define herself through the lens of her society in terms of her love life.In the end, though she chose to do her basic civil duties such as paying her taxes. For this reason, I believe that Emily can serve as a reminder to everyone that walking to your own beat isn’t always bad as long as you are not afraid to let go of things that are not concretely your’s to have.

This is something that needs to be remembered during every day of our lives especially now when our world has become so diverse and crazy at times. I am not suggesting that we as people should stop walking to our own drum. I am simply asking that Emily Grierson is remembered.

Literature and the Power of the Imaginative Christian

Hello, I know that it has been a long time since my last post but being a full-time college student is busy.Therefore I thought I would pass on some thoughts I had about the power of literature and the Christian life as my freshmen year of college comes to a close within the next two weeks. It is simply something I ask you as readers to consider, I know that it’s a little different from my normal review. However, please know that if you read this I am not in any way asking you to agree with my beliefs or my opinions. Your belief system and opinions are your own to decide not mine.

The two worlds of literature and the imagination have always been intertwined with each other from the very beginning of time. In my mind, it is impossible for even the concept of literature to exist without imagination.In fact, the world that we live in would not be in existence without imagination and creativity. God is the most creative and imaginative being I personally have ever had the privilege of knowing. It was His imagination and creativity that brought the creation of the world about in the first place. In order to create the world, He had to come up with every idea from scratch because He did not have anyone who came before him who had created anything.

Therefore, knowing that nothing had come before God and everything that came after he was created and shaped by God, makes me come to the conclusion that He is the greatest artist and author that I have ever seen the work of. From the beginning of time, God created mankind to have free will and likewise He created them to be creative. Mankind was not created by God as a second thought or to be clones of one another. It Is true that mankind was created in “the image of God,” but it is also true that God took the time to personally create every detail about who I am as an individual. This means no two people are ever the same even if they are identical twins.The same is true about how each person chooses to live out their walk with Christ in their lifetime here on earth. My faith walk is different from the person who sits next to me in every one of my classes here at Simpson.

Literature, in my opinion, is one of the many ways that the Lord chooses to communicate his purpose for my life and his redemptive power for all of his people throughout history. God wrote the most beautiful book in history, which is known as the bible. Throughout every short story, book or play there lies within its pages the story of redemption even if it is not blatantly looking the reader in the face. Even when an author is unaware of the redemption story line being present within their novel God places it there for everyone to see and experience. The idea that God could write a book that combines every single genre of literature in one work of writing is both fascinating and wonderful to me as an English major. It would be nearly impossible for a normal writer to incorporate every genre into a single piece of literature. Therefore the fact that a single story line about the redemptive power of love is successfully communicated throughout all sixty-six books of the bible is impressive.

Literature in all of its forms is a reflection of the human experience and how we choose to live it out in our everyday lives. As Christians living and working alongside Christ, we are called to be knowledgeable about what the bible says.On the surface level living, the Christian life asks believers to in some way receive the word of God rather it be oral, by turning pages or in some other form. In some way, though we are asked to know the literature that the Lord has provided us with. Then we are expected to take what we read in the bible and apply it to our own lives because if we do not practice what we believe through our actions faith ceases to be real. If I sit and think about all of the written work that either writer before me have created or that I have written myself nothing is original in origin except that which is created by the Lord.

The heavenly father is the one that places most ideas in our heads and then we as creatures of free will get to decide what to do with what we are given. However, when we as human beings decide not to do anything creatively with the ideas that are gifted to us by God I believe that we are not living the lives that we are meant to live as Christians. Our imagination is one of the ways we are able to express ourselves for the kingdom of God and something is lost to our soul when it is not being used. Personally, I believe imagination and creativity can play out in the way we worship as well as in the different ways that we show love to one another.

The most fundamental belief of the Christian life is showing love to all people and the truth is each person experiences love in different ways. Therefore, I have the ability to love people by sharing my personal love of books with them by physically giving them the book to read. Or on a deeper level, I have the ability to love better solely based on the idea that by reading literature I have a better understanding of the world around me and I am more empathetic as a result. The world of literature was created by God to be universal in its nature.

This means that stories and the boundless imaginations that create them are ageless. As a result, these stories rather they are written down on paper or told orally by mouth transcend cultural barriers and languages. Similarly, the Story of Christ is not confined by time, Language, place or by the medium in which it is told because its power is unending.

A person’s imagination, therefore, has great power when it comes to sharing the Gospel because there are a number of ways that the Christian life can be reflected in the art form that is literature. The imagination has the power to take the message of Christ to anyone no matter their age.  For example, the Chronicles of Narnia series has been pointing readers to the love of Christ for years and some who choose to read it may not ever be aware of its influence.Therefore, it is my opinion that literature and the imaginations of human beings hold more love and power in them then the world may ever realize

 

Nothing Hates you….

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful story about life and the demons that come to meet us at the front door every day of our lives and ultimately what is done in the hopes of overcoming them. An adaptation of the 1999 epistolary novel of the same name written and directed by the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky makes the movie all the more worth watching.

In a film that is in a number of ways reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s The Breakfast Club, Logan Lerman (Noah) goes above and beyond as the film’s protagonist Charlie. A troubled high school freshman hunted by death while also being an extreme Introvert. However, challenged by his parents he embarks on a journey to participate in life rather than sit back and simply observe and with the loving support of his older siblings (Nina Dobrev and Zane Holts) Charlie is able to do just that. After befriending his English teacher played by Paul Rudd, Charlie courageously decides to attend the high school football game which he finds to be rather stupid until he meets two seniors with unique opinions about the world. Together Sam and Patrick (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) along with their friends help Charlie to experience the world how it was always meant to be experienced. The world complete with high school parties, college applications and a much-needed weekly reenactment of Rocky Horror Picture Show the film is a true triumphed.

The film offers a fresh take on the all too familiar coming of age story line while still keeping to the traditional outline. The creative talents of Lerman, Watson, and Miller are able to breathe new life into a film adaptation that is as raw and as captivating as the original work. It is a story that if allowed by its audience members will change their perception of life forever and will have them singing Simple Minds’ Don’t Forget About Me for a whole new reason.

As far as my personal thoughts on the novel itself, they are extremely similar to my thoughts expressed about the film adaptation. If anything I believe that the film added to my overall love of the story and its characters. I remember immediately connecting with Charlie on all different levels one being that I personally am an introvert. I connected with Sam and her all around thirst she has for life and to be more than people see her be. I concreted with Patrick and his overall feeling of wanted to be accepted and not having to hide who you truly are or how you feel. Although, the story is one with some very hard subject matter it is absolutely beautiful. It is a young Adult novel that refuses to sacrifice truth in favor of sugar-coating. It is a story that needs to be shared with the world and that needs to remember forever. And, in that moment, I swear we were infinite…

A Tale as Old as Time

Hello, readers, I am truly sorry for the little break I took from writing over the past three weeks. However, now I have returned and am ready to explore the many lessons of film and novel. I have decided that it is only right to reward you for your patience and so I am going to write three separate blogs. Therefore, I invite you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and enjoy.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words once upon a time I wonder? When I hear those iconic words I personally think of two distinct things. The first thing I think of is the tv show that airs every Sunday night at eight on ABC by the same name. The second,  thing that comes to mind is fairy tales. Every classic fairy tale that I can think of begins with these words or at least some variation of them. With this in mind, I would like love to express some thoughts about my favorite fairytale Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.

The tale is as follows:

A wealthy widowed merchant lives in a mansion with his three daughters. All are equal in beauty, but the youngest, Beauty, is kind and pure of heart; while the two elders, in contrast, are wicked, selfish, vain and secretly taunt and treat Beauty more like a servant than a sister. The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth in a tempest at sea. He and his daughters are consequently forced to live in a small farmhouse and work for their living. After some years of this, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent off has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots. He returns to the city to discover whether it contains anything valuable. Before leaving, he asks his daughters if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. The oldest two ask for clothing, jewels, and the finest dresses possible, thinking his wealth has returned. Beauty is satisfied with the promise of a rose, as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship’s cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him without money to buy his daughters their presents.

During his return, the merchant becomes lost in a forest. Seeking shelter, he enters a dazzling palace. A hidden figure opens the giant doors and silently invites him in. The merchant finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the palace’s invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning as the merchant is about to leave, he sees a rose garden and recalls that Beauty had desired a rose. Upon picking the loveliest rose he can find, the merchant is confronted by a hideous “Beast” which tells him that for taking his most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must die. The merchant begs to be set free, arguing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant will return.
However, Beauty agrees to go in place of her father and live with the beast for the rest of her days…

Although there are many different versions of Beauty and the Beast, it is my purest belief that Walt Disney does it the best. Yes, it true that it is a movie full of fun musical numbers and in a lot of ways it’s geared toward the younger generation but, it still captures the true lesson of the story. Beauty and the Beast preach that people should not love for what is seen from the outside, but what is seen in the heart. God tells us that He looks at a person’s heart, not their outward appearance. This is why Beauty and the Beast remain to be my favorite fairytale. At its core, the story is about two people who are able to look beyond what they see with their eyes and look inward at each other’s heart. This is what love is truly about loving someone because of what is in their heart and not just their washboard abs or because they have nice hair. This is why in my most humble opinion it is the most beautiful fairytale of all.

Disney was able to stay true to the fairytale itself while adding their signature fun and entertaining elements. It is able to not only teach its important lesson to children while keeping it relevant for even the adults in the room. It is a beautiful story that needs to be told especially in a society like this one. A society where so much of our value is dependent on our looks and who we hang out with. Therefore, readers, I challenge you to take time out of your life and revisit a tale as old as time

 

I Like Good Strong Words That Mean Something

The first time I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott I was eleven and it wasn’t planned. When my fifth-grade self walked out of library time one day I had not planned on leaving with classics in my hands by choice. The way I came to read this book is a matter I now consider to have been an act of God because it completely changed how I viewed the literary world. It also changed the way I viewed myself as a person. I say that finding Little Women was an act of God because I strongly believe I may not have decided to become an English Major if I hadn’t found this book.  Before picking up Little Women I had always been a reader but when I open this classic something inside me shifted. It was like the entire world was being shown to me in a new but familiar way.

The Story is so simple but complex and the character development is one of the best that I ever have seen or read.  The basic plot line follows the four March sisters during and after the Civil War, as they each journey from childhood into adulthood each with different goals. Meg the eldest longs to marry for love while Jo longs to do more with her life. Beth is simply happy with where she is and Amy wants a different nose and to be an artist.

I felt something with each and every character in the novel for various reasons but Jo was the one that physically changed me for the better. When I read from Jo’s perspective I felt for the first time in my life I was looking at myself. Which, is why I know that the character  Jo March didn’t just show me the world in a new way. She was able to touch my soul and I  don’t know if she has ever left me. I heard this message at church a couple of weeks back about how God speaks to each of us by using different love languages. Well, I know that one of my love languages is books. And, I am one hundred percent sure that He spoke to me through Jo March.

Here’s the thing about Jo, she is a Writer and she reads books like they are a drug. Words are her medicine and her addiction. I’m  pretty sure that if she could have gone to college she would have been an English Major. She is possibly the most stubborn character In the world of books that I have ever known. I fell in love with her passion for life and the way that she thought outside what was considered to be normal for the eighteen hundred. She was daring enough to go where no women had ever gone before and that was exciting. Jo was the first character that showed me what it really meant to ask the important questions and live life with no regrets. She embodied everything I wanted to do and be in my own life. I have since eleven read Little Women at least five times and I can tell you that Jo has had every thought that I have had at least once in all my nineteen years of living. She loved everything  I loved and felt everything I felt, which is something that I can rarely say about a single book character. I can honestly say that she was one of the things God used to plant the English Major seeds in my heart. To be completely honest I think He used her to bring the Jo March out of me that previously was hiding away somewhere. So I  would like to take a minute to thank her. Thanks, Jo, because Without God or you I don’t know who or where I would be today. I can honestly say I love you.

The book was the first book that ever made me cry and I won’t say why, because, doing so would be a major spoiler and I don’t  want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it.I will just say that it had an effect on me. It changed everything about how what, and when I read. It was the first classic novel I had ever read.I can now say it’s why I own as many classics as I do and why classic literature is my favorite genre to read. It then makes sense to tell you that Little Women Is one of my favorite books of all time but that is me.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been turned into every format of entrainment imaginable. It has been everything from a movie to an opera and I have seen a good amount of them.They are all wonderful in their own ways and for the most part faithful to the original.  I would recommend any of them. Although, the films are most likely the easiest to come into contact with. I have seen all of the film adaptations and have no complaints, but some are longer than other. Therefore if you don’t wish to sit for more than two hours I would choose a shorter one. My personal favorite is the  1994 version with Winona Ryder.

Little Women Is a beautiful book which I venture is why the book is a Classic. I will promise you that if you give it a chance and read it; the story will be worth it. I know it was and if you’ve read it before I challenge you to read it again and discover what new things there are to discover from an old friend.