The Book Reviews I Couldn’t Give My Teacher

I’m pretty sure all of you know how it goes. You walk into an English class and then stare for ages at the reading list in front of you. Sometimes it isn’t very long, sometimes it is. Sometimes you’ve heard of a few of the books on it, sometimes you haven’t. All you know is that they’ve got strange names–but titles and authors–and they sound like they’re going to be awful. Past experience tells you they probably are.

This year, in my AP Literature and Composition class, the list was no different. In fact, it seemed the ultimate attempt to drive me into depression and bring out my inner feminist. Given that I should get something out of it besides a grade I trudged through the depths of despair to get, I’m gifting you all with my unedited-for-the-teacher mini book reviews of the 7 classics I read for school this year. (If you enjoy classics, uh, you should probably stop right here. This is pumped on snark for my own amusement. What? I’ve been bit by senioritis and it’s time to have some fun!)

1. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

First off, this isn’t a novel, guys, it’s a play. In my opinion, plays should be performed, not read. So, now being politically correct, I can tell you that this is a PLAY about the ultimate manipulative woman. Seriously. Every guy in this thing is eating out of her hand. Every girl too. She is the meanest, rudest person but you are supposed to feel sympathetic because you are. I did not feel sympathetic. Instead, I felt sick, because this woman drives a man to kill himself because she thinks it’s “beautiful.” And then kills herself in the end because she didn’t think the first guy committed suicide beautifully enough. Pretty sure if Ibsen published this in this day and age, the media would ream him out.

2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

You know, this one was not entirely unreadable. Just a little bit. A lot bit in places, but what do you expect? Until about halfway through, I actually enjoyed it. Then its discovered that Blanche is actually a cougar and Stella enjoys having her husband beat her and then Stella’s husband rapes Stella’s sister, Blanche and they send Blanche off to a nuthouse because they don’t want to deal with what actually happened. The only redeeming quality you get is that maybe Stella might leave Stanley. Maybe. But you’ll never know.

3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I have never read such a bipolar book. The juxtaposition between Hurston’s poetic prose and the dialect of the dialogue was WILD. It made me beg and beg and beg for the prose to continue and leave the dialogue behind. No matter the dialect, I don’t like it in books. Not even in moderate amounts. Janie also wasn’t a horribly written female character, which was nice, but I just felt so … defeated, in the end. Like the book had taken every bit of strength I had and SQUASHED IT TO PIECES. As if reading the dialect wasn’t draining enough.

4. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

I have been told that I hold several opinions on Shakespeare that offend a great many people. However, this is a free country and I say freely that I don’t like Shakespeare. Ever. Don’t get me started on Romeo and Juliet. Twelfth Night, I admit, wasn’t as bad, but the ending left me scratching my head and annoyed as all get-out with the females, again. Also, I must just say this: if you can only devote one page a turn to the play because the opposite page is all explanations for what the words on other page mean, something isn’t right.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

You know what? I actually enjoyed this one. Mostly. It was actually wasn’t horrible to read or understand. It was long as all get-out because I was, uh, rushing and behind and stuff, so I had to swallow it forcibly, but I actually didn’t mind. Jane is actually a fairly strong character until, you know, the end. I guess the idea is supposed to be that Jane needed time to become Mr. Rochester’s equal but…er…at the end of the book, Jane has acquired more money and Mr. Rochester has lost several body parts. Pretty sure that message is a little convoluted.

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

YES, I UNDERSTAND F. Scott Fitzgerald has issues with his wife and the “New Woman” of the 1920s. But ARRRGH can no one write a female and have her have at least one redeeming quality? Really? Also, this was meant to be depressing and therefore totally is. People even kill each other and then commit suicide. Fantastic. Someday I hope people can make social statements without including suicide or other forms of death.

7. Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

…you know what? I enjoyed this one. I ENJOYED THIS ONE. It’s like Kincaid took every ounce of teenage rebellion out there, bottled it, and then soaked it into the pages. I’m not a fan of the whole “I hate my parents so much I’m going to leave the hemisphere” thing, but I can over look it because the voice was so REAL. I’m rather glad my novel-reading journey ended here.

So there you have it! If YOU have opinions about these books, drop me a comment! Clearly, I have plenty of things to say about these books and there is nothing I enjoy more than a lively debate! (If you haven’t guessed, this is a discussion piece. :P)


Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This one is a hard one! Let’s see if I can get to 10, shall we? (Any links go to my reviews.)

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

OHMYGOD GUYS. If you haven’t read this yet, what in the world is wroooong with you? Just plan on it sometime. 😛 This, as Rae Carson said over Twitter, is rather “as YA as my coffee table” beside the fact that it has teenage narrators, but it is just so amazing. I laughed. I cried. I cried some more. And loved it so much.

2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Not one of his books has touched me in such a way as this one. I was literally bawling my eyes out towards the end, but I COULDN’T STOP READING. I just had so much love for this story.

3. Annie John by Jamaica Kinkaid

This is one of the few classics I have ever really liked, and the only one from my readings for school this year that I think should have been kept in the cirriculum. The teenage angst in this book is almost picture perfect, pulsing off the page. (Like my alliteration? Yeah, I’m using big words!)

4. Countess Below Stars by Eva Ibbotson

Another classic I enjoy for being a classic. I love Eva Ibbotson books in general, but this one has always been my favorite.

5. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Few dystopians feel, to me, like classics. This would be numero uno. Plus, they are just freaking amazing, and that alone should require much reading in the next 30 years.

6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is probably on EVERY list you’ve stopped by today. I don’t care, because that’s how true it is!

7. Any and all books by Cassandra Clare

What? If, 30 years from now, they don’t know how to have fun, then they are really screwed up. No set of books makes me laugh as hard as EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

If someone can manage to capture falling in love, being in love, the troubles of love, etc, so perfectly, they should at least be honored with a really long shelf life for their work!

9. Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Classic historical fiction right here, which really takes a new view into the lives of two of the most memorable queens in Egyptian history. Any lover of historical fiction at any time should read these.

10. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

What? I’m a Sparks fanatic. You can’t tell me this isn’t a powerful novel in its own right about a very real thing in American culture. So READ IT, FUTURE.