Thursday, February 21, 2013


Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive ---
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" ---
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page ---
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribblings.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil ---
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet ---
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

--Billy Collins

What is your opinion on writing in the margins, both when the book is your own copy and when it isn't?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Apologies

Sorry readers!

I've been really busy with school lately, and haven't been able to post any book reviews! So sorry! Hopefully I'll be able to get a few down over Christmas Break. Hang in there!

I hope you all have lovely holidays!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Switching it up

Hey guys,

A word here.

What do you feel writing should be about? What sort of topic deserves an audience? Does writing need to engage the reader -- does that include making them think? Does the work need to say something?

What does writing mean to you?

To me I feel at times it needs to be raw and truthful, no matter the cost. Other times I feel it just needs to spout originality and creativity. Then again it needs to be both, adding some spontaneity.

What makes you want to read a book? Which books inspire you, wishing everyone would read them and share the same experience you absorbed through the pages of a book? What books make you want to read them over and over again? What stories have you fallen in love with?

If you've found a book like that, by all means, please share. If you've come across a work that makes you feel, by all means, please share. If you've encountered that with one of the books on this site, share even more!

I would love to hear from the audience of this blog. I want to know what readers think and feel. I want to hear your opinions, even if they seem to differ from mine.

I want you to live and have great experiences with literature and authors' writing.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

"The most influential novel...since Salinger's Catcher in the Rye." 

"Lord of the Flies [is my selection for the Book That Changed My Life] because it is both a story with a message and because it is a great tale of adventure. My advice about reading is do a lot of it." 
-Stephen King, for the National Book Foundation, The Book That Changed My Life

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. 
But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued... 

"This brilliant work is a frightening parody on man's return [in a few weeks] to that state of darkness from which it took him thousands of years to emerge. Fully to succeed, a fantasy must approach very close to reality. Lord of the Flies does. It must also be superbly written. It is." 
-The New York Times Book Review 

I think you're starting to get the idea of just what kind of book this is. Lord of the Flies is ethereal, eerie, and definitely can keep you up at night. It changes the way you think about the world and the nature of human beings. You question how you would act in that situation, what your behavior would be like. It scares you to think that you just might behave like these boys. Or would you? 

This book can be disturbing in places, but it also strikes really close to the true nature of humanity. It's scary just how real this work of fiction is. William Golding was a brilliant author, and everyone should read this novel introspectively. It has the power to change the views and behaviors of humanity. 

Right now in my AP Literature class, we just finished reading this book a few weeks ago. We now, as is usual in English classes, are writing an essay on it. I'll post my essay when it's finished, and maybe Kelsey will as well. There are so many different interesting topics you can discuss with this book. I could talk about the symbolism alone all day. 

I encourage everyone to read this book. It will change the way you think about your life. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

A BYU-Idaho choir tour in British Columbia turns out to be anything but ordinary when soloist Stacie Cox spots a kidnapped child from Rexburg during a performance. Before Stacie can alert the authorities, the little girl disappears. Stacie vows to find and rescue her, a choice that forces her to deal with her guilt-ridden past and another little girl that haunts her dreams. When the handsome Matt Brennan helps Stacie in the search, she tries to resist the attraction she feels for him. Yet as he gains her friendship and trust, her resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. And after a series of harrowing events, Stacie must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her life -- and a possible future with Matt -- to save a stranger.

Don't avoid this book just because it is by an LDS author. Yes, it does take some religious views on things, but so does any other religious novel.

The plot is intriguing, and the beginning definitely surprised me. I don't know what I would do if I were in Stacie Cox's place. It's an easy read, and definitely keeps you turning the pages.

It's probably geared more towards young adult, but don't let it exclude you from reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


Rating: 4/5 stars

Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham

Roxanne: glamorous, self-confident, with a secret lover -- a married man

Maggie: capable and high-achieving, until she finds the one thing she can't cope with -- motherhood

Candice: honest, decent, or so she believes -- until a ghost from her past turns up

At the first of every month, when the office has reached its pinnacle of hysteria, Maggie, Roxanne, and Candice meet at London's swankiest bar for an evening of cocktails and gossip. Here, they chat about what's new at The Londoner, the glossy fashion magazine where they all work, and everything else that's going on in their lives. Or almost everything. Beneath the girl talk and the laughter, each of the three has a secret. And when a chance encounter at the cocktail bar sets in motion an extraordinary chain of events, each one will find her biggest secret revealed.
In Cocktails for Three, Madeleine Wickham combines her trademark humor with remarkable insight to create an edgy, romantic tale of secrets, strangers, and a splash of scandal.

All right. While the book may sound a little "edgy", it really isn't. It's actually fairly mild, as far as writing goes. This book was a quick read, and was definitely entertaining. It was a fun book to start the summer off with.

I would recommend this book to women for sure, because we all know how much men dislike anything feminine (just kidding, guys). It has a great plot and kept me turning pages. The ending was satisfactory, and it provided me with a different take on a lifestyle so unlike my own.

But I want to know what you all think of it, so go out and give it a read!


Rating: 4/5 stars

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

When your son can't look you in the eye . . . does that mean he's guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject--forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.
But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

OK guys, I really loved this book. It was definitely a page turner, one that you stay up until two in the morning reading (literally) because you don't want to put it down. Or maybe I'm the only one that does insane things like that.

The plot was brilliant, and I love all the rhetorical strategies and ironies strewn throughout its pages. Jodi Picoult really is a genius of an author. My goal in life is to read all her books someday. (Although if we're being realistic, most of them will be read this summer.)

Not only do you understand Asperger's better, but you gain an appreciation for the kind of things Jacob's family has to put up with. You don't judge them, you don't judge Jacob -- it's hard to imagine anyone really treating him like an outcast. I find it hard to believe that people are cruel enough to ignore him or anyone with Asperger's really -- it just doesn't seem realistic to me.

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. If you love mysteries, it's for you. If you love books that give you insight to something you may never have experienced before or is hard for neurotypical people to comprehend, it's for you. If you love crime dramas (which I definitely do), it's for you. And if you just love a good book, it's for you.

So go find a copy and start reading! Check your library, your friend's house, your grandmother's, your parents', a bookstore, or even a thrifty book exchange. And have fun reading!


Rating: 5/5 stars