A little bit of English and a little bit of that

20/08/2011 § Leave a comment

Literary History:

1. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak. The Book Thief is currently one of my favorite reads after reading it a few years ago during summer when I was twelve or thirteen. It was suggested by a friend and I took a chance and bought it but when I read it, I loved the characters, I loved the ideas and the end of the story was so terribly tragic that I loved that, too. Also, the story was set during World War II when many of the Jewish people in Europe were in hiding and because of the added historical events, the story was much more fascinating that way. Kirkus Reviews writes a review here.

2. Deception Point by Dan Brown. Suggested to me by a friend, Deception Point is a mystery/action/thriller book that involves a lot of science and technology but Dan Brown manages to explain everything in a way that is intelligent but also manages to keep me in the loop even if the level of science is above my knowledge. I’d never read Dan Brown before because I thought he was for very, very advanced readers but when my friend suggested it to me, then I was convinced that maybe I could read his work and I was quite entranced by the way he writes — possibly because everything is usually so exciting. A review is written here about Deception Point by Kirkus Reviews.

3. Teddy Bear by A. A. Milne. In sixth grade, we were required to choose a poem that wasn’t too easy nor too difficult to understand and memorize — and later, perform, in front of the class and a handful of parents. A. A. Milne’s Teddy Bear poem is 12 stanzas, 8 lines each, giving me 96 lines to remember. That seemed like way too much back then but I really liked the poem and it was about a really cute story, so I worked on it and memorized it (and had fun doing so!). Teddy Bear is about Winnie the Pooh, a character almost everyone is more or less familiar with, and his temporary struggle with loving himself with how ‘tubby’ he is. It was overall really a sweet poem that I, as a sixth grader, enjoyed and still do find entertaining.

These pieces of literature were significant in my life because they did something each to increase my interest in reading, writing and discovering more about English and literature. The Teddy Bear poem by A. A. Milne, for example, gave me something challenging to work on but because of the content of the poem and how fun and light it actually was, it helped me learn to love poetry a little more than I already did. I was eleven years old when I first found it for my project in sixth grade and that was also when I was required to memorize its entire length. That changed my life in a way because I’d never done something so heavy in Elementary so it was a good wake up call that told me what to expect in later years (challenges and tasks you wouldn’t expect at all).

Deception Point was significant in my life because for the longest period from around the beginning of ninth grade to the end of Spring, I read absolutely nothing for fun anymore. Thankfully, one of my friends (a very avid reader) suggested the book to me and let me borrow it almost immediately so when I actually had time, I read it and just couldn’t stop. I’m glad the book that I first started reading after a long hiatus was by Dan Brown because that’s the kind of book that will probably make you want to read more, which is what I wanted to do. (I read more during the rest of the year after that book.)

The Book Thief was very significant because it showed me how to appreciate great writing and fantastic novels. Before, I’d read books just for the fun of it and not really thinking about how well the author writes or how complex the plot is; I’d only read a book for the story and finish it like that. The Book Thief was different because it’s set in a World War II setting therefore it’s a little more serious and sadder, definitely, than other books. With that in mind, when I read it, I could almost feel how much pain the characters were in, how confused Liesel, the protagonist, was at times, and I could grow to love her foster parents as she learned to love her foster parents. Almost everything about the book (especially the ending) showed me the greater things one can do with words and novels.

Last year, English wasn’t what I expected at all because I’d just come from Humanities in 8th grade but this year, I’m expecting that there will be a lot of difficult challenges I’ll have to work through and I’m glad because the only way I know I’ll fix my writing and improve it is to have it critiqued harshly. I also hope I can learn to actually take critiques, not just shy away from them in embarrassment or ignorance. I am excited about the class, a little nervous, yes, and I hope the novels and stories we’ll read this year will be compelling and interesting, something everyone will talk about (because class is so much better when everyone’s interested in the same thing). Some ways I work well in classes just involve communication between fellow students or to teachers themselves so that they can tell me directly what I can improve on and I usually get to work on improving those qualities however I can. Discussions worked really well with me last year, especially if people were participating, and when we were given freedom to do projects and only a couple of instructions, I could thrive with my own imagination — that’s usually how I work best: few limits.

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