I was trying to focus more on different styles of writing then I usually read. In the past I have tried to challenge and grow myself as a reader by reading books that are very long or have difficult words but I found myself still going back to books written in first person with chapters and classical layouts. They are what I have always read and enjoyed, but I was getting kind of bored. This lead me to think that maybe I shouldn’t get the thickest or so called “hardest” books to help me grow, but instead change it up. The books following mostly consist of those that are written in multiple perspectives and times in history, as a screenplay, as diary entries, letters, and even audiotapes. Some of these books also contained difficult subjects or words but for the most part, the way it was written caused this challenge. I can’t say that I loved every book that challenged me and that I want to run away with every book written completely in a screenplay, but I can say that I am thankful that I encountered them. It is important to read the books that you don’t fall in love with them because in the end they make you a more experienced reader who can find more books they do love. In the case where you find a book that is both to you, you’re very lucky.
Station Eleven was one of my favorite books ever but also very challenging for me. Station Eleven is set in different times, but it is all based around a highly contagious epidemic taking over the world and killing off almost the whole population. The book covers the stories of multiple people before and after this happens but focuses on a traveling symphony. My parents and brother had all read this book and kept recommending it to me. I was a little bit worried because I usually only read young adult books and Station Eleven was an “adult book”, but then I decided that I should branch out. I found that it took a long time to read because the perspective and time period it was being told from changed a lot and narrator was not always clear. For me, Station Eleven was not a book that I could just pick up in a place where there was a lot happening and give it half of my attention. When I tried to do this, I would end up having to reread because if I didn’t pay enough attention and it would fly over my head. Reading this book taught me how to pay more care and awareness to my reading. Now I feel like I am not afraid to branch out to higher level books because I know that I can get through them if I focus and put time into the book.
I would never see myself reading an entire book written in brief diary entries and mostly a screenplay for a movie but when I read Monster, I did just that. The story of Steve Harmon, a 16 year old boy on trial for murder, was told from the perspective of him writing down all of the events as a screenplay for a movie. Usually I stay away from books written in different ways but I was assigned this book. I found that it was hard not getting information in a straightforward way. You had to make a lot of inferences when reading Monster which was hard for me to get used to. Overall this was not a favorite of mine. I didn’t find it particularly engaging but can recognize that I was grown and stretched in my ability to read different types of books. This was an interesting experience because it didn’t take me a long time to read the book but when I was asked questions I had to go back and read closely. I really feel like this book made me appreciate straightforward plots more but also helped me become a closer reader which is very helpful.
Thirteen Reasons Why was a book that I read last semester and really enjoyed but also found different than my usual pick. The book is written from the perspective of Clay Jensen who is listening to audiotapes made by Hannah Baker just before she committed suicide. Almost the entire book is written in audiotapes from Hannah with Clay listening and reacting to them. This is the first time I have ever read or heard of a book written this way. I have heard of letters or diary entries but not transcripts of audiotapes. This was an interesting book for me to read. Not only because of the way it was written but also what was in the audiotapes. It made me think about topics like suicide and why it happens. Although this wasn’t something I wanted to think about, it is important that I do. Thirteen Reasons Why expanded my thoughts and pushed me to keep going through a book even if the subject is difficult.
Feeling Sorry For Celia tells the story of Elizabeth who lives in Sydney with her mother and only sees her father a couple times a year because he ran off to Canada with a new family. Celia is her best friend, her only friend, but she keeps running away leaving Elizabeth with no one. She has a boring life filled with bus rides to school and spending more than half her time with her dog Lochie or making cakes for her mother’s poetry club. That is until
she has to write to a stranger from another school for English. All of a sudden she finds herself living a life filled with chasing her best friend, heartbreak, and being a normal teenager. I have to say that I’ve picked up Feeling Sorry For Celia many times and abandoned it later on without even really giving it a chance. I am guilty of abandoning many books and have been working on powering through those books that don’t immediately hook me. I was looking on my bookshelf for a book to read before bed and thought that I would give it another chance. I can’t say that Feeling Sorry For Celia was one of my favorites, but reading books I don’t love helps me grow. Like I said, I am guilty of abandoning books and getting through this book was a step for me. Going along with my theme of books written in different styles, this was written in letters back and forth and from mysterious “societies” which I surprisingly did not mind. Overall, I feel like the mix of the writing style and my interest level in the book made it teach me a lot. I learned how to get through books and not abandon them, which grew my reading habits.
A lot of my favorites also challenge me but some don’t challenge me quite as much. I think that reading the books you love is just as important as reading the ones that challenge you.
One of my favorite books I read last semester was The Outsiders. I always heard it was a classic and a must read so I gave it a try. It was one of those books that I gobbled down so fast because I loved it so much. I will probably go back and read it again more slowly because I feel like I didn’t take enough time the first time I read it. I am someone who never cries at books or movies. Not even The Fault in Our Stars. But The Outsiders made me cry. That is how I knew it was one of my favorite books, if it can make me cry it must be. I wouldn’t say it was easy for me, but it also wasn’t a challenge book.
Another favorite of mine was Monday, Monday. I was amazed by the speed and density of this book. The book covered the entire life of Shelley, a victim of the UT Tower Shooting in 1966. There were so many twists and turns that I was sucked in and held there until the end. Monday, Monday did have some dark and difficult themes but really it just told the story of life, which is the cruelest of all. I never thought that you could pack so much into a book, but I really loved it. I also learned a lot about the shooting that happened. I had definitely heard of it but wasn’t sure what went on. I also found that having the story set in Austin for the most part was really fun because I could make so many connections.
I found that reflecting on books I read in the past has reminded me of the ways I challenged and rewarded myself with my reading. In the future I plan to focus one reading some nonfiction and historical fiction books. Nonfiction are something I have avoided but I feel like they would help me grow my reading a lot and I used to read historical fiction but haven’t in a long time. Historical fiction books teach me so much and I plan on reading some higher level books of that genre. I think that an important part of being a strong reader is planning. I like to have a list of books that I want to read in the future so I am never without a book to read. Here are some books that are on my to read list at the moment:
Into the Wild by: Jon Krakauer
Replica by: Lauren Olivier
Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys
The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak
“Career” (man on mountain clip art) https://fthmb.tqn.com/WJryqVAfGCnNOTt9xLTcI2Ky9Ig=/3333×2500/filters:no_upscale()/about/success-57ae27f53df78cd39ca1fe57.png
“Thirteen Reasons Why” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b2/ThirteenReasonsWhy.jpg
“Feeling Sorry For Celia” http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1439595992l/82783.jpg
“Monday, Monday” https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5135FXKgHRL.jpg