Originally published 2/27/2016. Lead image via Wikipedia. 5 STARS You may have heard the phrase “Brave New World” before. It’s from Shakespeare. And a character in Brave New World doesn’t just happen to say it; he actually quotes Shakespeare all the time. This was, once again, a book I was required to read in English class (though … More Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
Casually combining chocolate and dragons, as children’s books should.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart follows the story of a young dragon named Aventurine who is turned into a human by a “food mage” who tricks her into drinking cursed hot chocolate. Once a human, her dragon family no longer recognizes her so she has to join human society and get an apprenticeship, which she chooses to do at a “chocolate house.”
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to kids and even teens, but I’m not too certain if it holds up for adults. … More The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (2017)
He could have made his audience feel something with his writing, but English class had taught him that writing isn’t meant to be felt: it’s meant to be studied. … More On Symbolism, Part 5: The Dangers of English Class Symbolism
So from that quick class analysis, we learned that… Shakespeare was Christian. Seriously, we did not go any farther on this topic other than to say that the handkerchief symbolized the Garden of Eden. That’s it. Nothing more. No questioning the human subliminal or why it’s the “forbidden fruit” and not the “forbidden meat.” We identified the alleged symbol (since it’s Shakespeare, I give it 50/50 chance of being intentional), and then we moved on to look for the next. … More On Symbolism, Part 4: Digging Deeper
One of the biggest downsides to how symbolism is taught in English class is that it gives students the wrong idea of what symbolism is. By graduation, students are split into two camps: one camp where all symbolism is a myth made up by academics and another camp where the blue-curtain brand of symbolism is sacred.
Symbolism is a real thing, but its name has been so warped by public English classrooms that I’m more tempted to call it something like “associative meaning,” “connotation,” or “object emotion.” But the most basic definition of a symbol is something that has meaning beyond what it is in a literal sense. The key here is that the meaning has to be understood in order to be an effective symbol, even if that understanding is subconscious.
In other words: people don’t need to be taught how to find symbolism. If it’s an effective symbol, then the intended audience should register on some level that the symbol is important. Symbolism analysis, then, should focus on articulating the feelings that one already experiences when coming across a symbol, not digging to find made-up symbols. … More On Symbolism, Part 2: What is a Symbol?
In early middle school, we began annotating for metaphors, imagery, similes, and character development in our books. Once we’d reached the 8th grade, it was time to stop identifying the elements of a story and start identifying symbolism. We began by picking apart The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Did you know that Santiago was a Christ figure? Or that the fish was also a Christ figure? No, you never noticed that? There’s a reason for that: that religious symbolism likely isn’t really there. At best, most of the symbols we analyzed for the next five years were analogous to conspiracy theories. At worst, they were completely imaginary.
I remember complaining to my parents about how much I hated the The Old Man and the Sea, and they were shocked. They’d loved it! They asked me what I didn’t like about it, and I told them simply, “The religious symbolism. It’s too pedantic.”
They looked at me with utter confusion. “I don’t remember any religious symbolism. That doesn’t sound like Hemingway.” … More On Symbolism, Part I: What I Learned in English Class
I’m not sure whether to call this “Girl Power: the Novel” or “PTSD: the Novel.”
The Alice Network is a historical fiction novel telling the combined stories of Charlie Sinclair and Evelyn Gardener, who both lost a close, spirited friend to the cruelties of the two world wars. They team up in search of Charlie’s missing cousin, Rose, and in the end discover that their experiences were quite similar, embrace independence, and finally hunt down the person who wronged them both.
Now, I don’t think you should read this book. … More The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (2017)
Many of you have heard that there is only one story, and it keeps being retold in different forms. Is this real, and should we even care?
The side you take in this debate boils down to your definition of a “story”. Of course every combination of letters in the alphabet is different. But the “one story” theory states that every story ever told asks the question, “Who am I?” or “What is man?” or something along those lines. In a way, this is true. Every human wants to find herself, and every society wants to know its place in the world.
But in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t entirely matter.
Today, we’re talking about the implications of “cliches”, and how many people believe that it’s impossible to have an entirely original story. … More Is there only one story?
Originally posted 1/3/2016. Lead images from Amazon. 5 STARS and 3 STARS (respectively) So the full titles of the books are: Epigenetics: How the Environment Shapes Our Genes by a professor named Richard Francis and Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life by Len Fisher. These are both non-fiction books, so I won’t exactly be focusing … More Epigenetics (2012) and Game Theory (2008)
Why don’t creative jobs pay? … More Why doesn’t your passion pay?