From the Notebook: Back to School Book Haul

Now that Amazon/Chegg have finally delivered all my school books for the year, I thought that it might be cool to do a book haul! Don’t worry: not a text book in sight. In fact, these books are all either fantasy/scifi short story collections, memoirs or–okay–some really strange philosophy texts. Some of them you’ll see on the blog … some of them you won’t. Either way, here’s a really cool 16 book haul for you guys!

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Thesis Thursdays: MEETING YOUR IDOL IS COOL

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

Okay, I know that I promised something regarding Bridget Zinn and Poison for this week. I lied.

BECAUSE I MET SARAH J. MAAS LAST SATURDAY, GUYS.

I’m from a really small town in New York, where no authors ever come near. Remember that time I traveled five hours one way to see Cassie Clare, Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan? No regrets, but yikes.

Anyways. Sarah JUST HAPPENED to add a few extra stops in Pennsylvania to her Queen of Shadows tour, and ONE OF THEM WAS ONLY 4 HOURS AWAY. I couldn’t miss this chance.

So I didn’t. (Props to my best friend of six years for driving me.)

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Sarah is REALLY PRETTY, guys. AND REALLY NICE AND REALLY WONDERFUL AND AWESOME. She took time with everyone and was just … amazing. I shook the whole time and spoke in this really high pitched voice but it was okay because *shrieks loudly and incoherently with fangirl screaming*

12006142_10208002864014034_7938053637420484565_nAhem. So what makes this a Thesis Thursday post, you ask? Because I wasn’t kidding when I said last week that the basis of my thesis is Sarah’s books. Literally. My entire evolving idea has had Throne of Glass as it’s center cog. When I did my Worth It Wednesday post for this series, I also talked about last year and my academic conference presentation that centered on her books. Now that I’m a senior, I get to do my English work on books *I* pick. And right now, that’s just … SarahSarahSarahSarah.

I have most of her books in ecopy (and I forgot my hardback of 12004722_10208002862293991_682126073511519324_nACOTAR, dammit), but when I saw all of the hardbacks just sitting there behind her … I splurged. And I justified this because I need physical copies to put sticky notes in as I do my thesis. (Okay. Really just #1 but shhhh…)

Her books also exemplify the way that I would like to be as a writer, which is what I’m incorporating into the novel I’m writing for my other senior project. Not just in how much fun the books are, but also in how they’ve grown and changed as the series has been published. Her books aren’t just amazing for a reader; for a writer learning their craft, Sarah sets a great example for debuting strong and consistently getting better.

So this is a Thesis Thursday not because I did any actual work (ha!) but because I got to meet my idol and she was amazing and for this week I’m just going to revel in the fact that I am writing an honors thesis and I AM EXCITED ABOUT IT. And Sarah is a big reason why.

Thesis Thursdays: An Introduction

Okay, nobody panic. This feature sounds kind of pretentious and crotchety, but it isn’t. In fact, this feature (which may not always be weekly) will be a combination of book reviews, tirades against academia, writerly panic and frustration, rants about book tropes and fan girl freak-outs–usually about Sarah J. Maas, probably. Let me explain.

I’m a senior this year. *INSERT PANIC HERE* I have chosen to inflict upon myself the year long English Honors Thesis course that my Department offers here. Now here you might expect me to say that I’m studying Shakespeare or some post modern writer or something.

Well, you might. But you’ve been following me on this blog and you know that that isn’t my style.

First things first, remember that post I wrote about being an English and Writing double major? While I’m writing this English Thesis, I’m also completing my Writing Senior Project, which is a novel. This will come into play later.

16034235The topic of my English Honors Thesis, broadly, is YA publishing trends and female assassins. It’s conception came from me saying HOW CAN I JUST KEEP REREADING THRONE OF GLASS FOR CREDIT? Turns out, my thesis adviser really likes what I came up with. I’m not going to bore you with the academic details, I’m just going to say that I’m going to be writing about the tropes of these books and therefore reading a bunch of books like Throne of Glass to make my point. Which is where the rants about annoying tropes and the book reviews come in. I’ve actually got a short list on Goodreads about what books I’m considering.

The YA publishing trends component of this is going to mean that there are some books on there that don’t make sense, but don’t fret. I’ll explain that all in due course whenever I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

Don’t forget that novel I’m writing! It occurred to me, rather late in the game, that if I was doing all this work talking about tropes of female assassins and what they do well and what they don’t that maybe I should WRITE the book that destroys all the tropes I hate and is actually more like what I want to read. So far I’m two chapters in and while I’m way rusty (more on this later), I’m making myself laugh so that’s about the best I can expect.

Still with me? If not, that’s cool. I honestly don’t know if anything remotely interesting will come out of this besides amusing rants and more book reviews, but that’s okay. At least it’ll help me sort out my thoughts.

Tune in next week when I discuss Poison by Bridget Zinn, why I can’t tell if I like it or not and why I’m confusing myself as to whether or not to consider it for my thesis!

Perusing Poetics: End of the Poetics Journey

I started out this blog talking about the two different parts of me, and how they work together. I’m going to end it by talking about how they stand apart. Granted, I’m going to be focusing more on my Writing major, just because the Poetics is a Writing Department class, but trust me when I say that the point I’m about to make is applicable to my English major too.

Yes, this post is required as a final project. Yes, there are question guidelines. I’m about to do a very odd thing and copy them out for you (sorry Professor. I swear there’s a reason for this):

  1. What do you make and is it similar in any way to the art practices we’ve read and/or talked about in class?
  2. Why do you make it, and do you see your ideas aligning with or being similar to the “why” of anyone we have read and/or talked about in class?
  3. What is the relationship of language to what you make, and is this relationship in any way similar to anyone we have read and/or talked about in class?

Using your digital archive and ideas, address

  1. What are your influences and how have they influenced what you have made up to this point? Who or what do you admire in your field, and why? (Use videos, images, other archives, etc.)
  2. What do you aspire to create, and what have you learned or encountered in class (if anything) that may affect your processes going forward? (Note: this can be a negative effect. That is, “Now that I’ve seen how horribly wrong thing XYZ can go, I want to avoid that route…)
  3. What was the most influential/important reading and/or concept to your own processes of making?

You know what I’m absolutely sick of? Realizing there are two ways I want to answer these questions. Then realizing that one of them is just another story I’m afraid to tell.

“What I mean is that within the University there could exist a relationship with word, language, thought, tradition, and power that might run counter to the relationship a poet might want to have with word, language, thought, tradition and power.” – Sarah Vap, End of The Sentimental Journey

Recently, in my Renaissance Literature class, the professor asked us what we were going to be reading over the summer. My answer would have been Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses. But I didn’t answer, because people starting saying “Milton” or “Absalom, Absalom.” My answer didn’t seem like it fit.

So, today, when I answer these questions, I’m not going to do any of us the disservice of lying or telling you half-truths. I’m going to tell you BOTH truths. I’m going to answer you from the

Academic

and from the

Personal

Bear with me.

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Perusing Poetics: Plato is Annoying, and Other Reasons I Want to Apologize to Poets

You may or may not know this, but this blog was originally a poetry blog. DO NOT GO BACK INTO THE TAGS AND FIND IT. It was bad and it’s all really old now, like pre-college, beginning of high school aged. But I just wanted to preface this discussion with that.

So this week’s readings for my Poetics class was Plato’s Republic, Book X and Aristotle’s Poetics. If you haven’t read them, don’t worry. Basically the point of them–especially Plato–is to crap on the life and the work of the poet.

Plato has this point where he says poetry corrupts people, emotion is bad, and poets should be confined to hymns and praises of the gods. Aristotle is a little better, because technically he’s confirming that tragic poetry is better than epic poetry, but basically it’s all about how poetry is only good if it conforms to this little proper box. (Yes, anyone who’s read these is probably spitting fire because of over-simplification. Bear with me.)

What’s important–and frustrating–is the effect that this kind of philosophy has had on poets since Plato decided to open his mouth. You can Google lists of pieces titled, in essence, “In Defense of Poetry” or “Apologies for Poetry.” It’s ridiculous, especially considering poetry’s past power.

Confused about what I mean? Well, what do you think of poetry right now? If one person says they’re a novelist and one person says they’re a poet, who do you rank on top? Poets have been characterized as goths at coffee houses (perfectly valid life choice for poets, but not the only one) or cryptics saying nothing in the media, and that certainly adds to the effect.

I know I’m not a poet. I’ve written more recent poetry for school and I’m basically the kind of poseur that Plato would like to kick out of his Republic. I’m aware of that. That’s why I’m not a poet. But, thanks to school, I have studied multiple forms inside and out in accordance with both my English and Writing degrees and I RESPECT POETS SO MUCH. I can barely rhyme let alone formulate a sestina (look it up – the form will make your head hurt).

I write short stories and novels. This is a kind of writing I understand the conventions of. You can master a basic plot pretty quickly. Poetry? Dear Lord. I’ve studied Shakespearan sonnets since grade school and when I was required to write one for class I STILL ripped the end-rhymes from a sonnet Shakespeare had already written because I couldn’t get the rhyming down.

My point is: I never thought I’d be disappointed in someone like Plato, who I’ve been told to laud as a philosopher since PBSKids morning TV shows. I understand that there is a certain time period that he’s writing from and all that, so maybe it’s more correct to say that no one has thought to update their opinion much since then. Poets remain a feature of the classroom: an annoying period of English class or a specialized class in college. They aren’t all that mainstream and they certainly don’t get the buzz of NYT bestselling novelists.

The one thing they do have going for them is their community. When I blogged poetry, as bad as it was, I was welcomed without a second thought into the poetry blogging community with open arms. I have yet to have an online experience since then that has felt as natural and warm as that. In the real world there are also magazines, retreats, etc, that might not (always) be big, but they are proud.

So you tell me. Am I crazy? What do you think of poetry? There’s a comment section for a reason! (Extra points go any comment-writer who responds in some form of verse.)

Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught In Schools

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Hey, Gretchen here, and I have a confession. Due to the unconventional nature of my high school experience, I have no freaking idea what is actually on a general required reading list for anyone. So I decided to do the secondary topic this week, Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught in Schools. Again, I have absolutely no idea what SHOULD be on this list, so I came up with a bunch of my own for my own reasons. Cool? Cool. Here they are, in no particular order.

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All Goes to Pieces

I’m proud to say this is a piece I performed today, but it’s not really a piece that I think I should record. I’m currently playing with different ways to do that, and we’ll see if I actually do or just type it up at let you act it out. 😀

All Goes to Pieces

A girl kneels beside her bed
As if in prayer but not
She is staring at the blue vein in her wrist
Wondering how she got so low that she knows opening it won’t help
The house shelters her from the weather outside
Wishing it could kneel in prayer to a God she does not believe
Because it would be something more to give than four walls

But it helps the boys more
Welding the lock to their door
Not to keep them in but to keep the shouting out
The parents are upstairs
Shaking window panes and slamming doors
The house cannot keep the screaming contained
They hear it through failing walls

So the girl changes her Facebook religion to atheist
Saying “This I now know”
As the brothers lie in their bunk bed
Ashamed to admit the comfort of their solidarity
And the parents plan a vacation
That would send them each to a different corner of the country
And they welcome it

As they sit around the TV
Drowning out the wind that’s lashing the outside
The girl and the house stare at each other through the two-faced window
Both wondering if this is where it all goes to pieces