Books I’ve Read In Spring 2020

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be going over all the books I’ve read in the past couple months. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been keeping track of everything on Goodreads, which makes it much easier to make this post. If you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been reading and my opinions on each book, keep on scrolling.

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany – I don’t know how, but I was never really aware that this add-on to the Harry Potter series was a thing. I didn’t love everything about it (no spoilers here though) but I was happy to have anything added onto the series. In some ways, I think the series would’ve been fine without this add on, but I’ll take what I can get. I would love to see the actual play live someday. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  2. Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan – My mom got this on Amazon as a whim and I read it after her. It falls under the umbrella of Instagram poetry, but since I write a decent amount of poetry in that style myself, I was still able to appreciate it. I also like work that relates to the moon/astrology so that was interesting for me. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  3. Almost Home by Madisen Kuhn – This was another book my mom ordered and I ended up reading. I thought the separation of the book into different rooms/parts of the house was clever, and I related to Kuhn’s sentiments about never really feeling at home, but I wasn’t particularly in love with any of the poems. Kuhn is another Instagram poet, so I’d avoid this if you don’t like that style. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – I read this for English class, and I really enjoyed it. I had actually been thinking a lot about the nature of man lately just because of everything going on in the world right now and our (our meaning society’s) reaction to it all. It was a short and easy read, and I was able to pick up on the symbolism in it. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – We were supposed to read this in my English class but it got cut from the distance learning curriculum. I had already bought it in advance, so I read it on my own. Although I know the message behind the story is important, it was very hard for me to get through despite it being a short read. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  6. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer – This is an outlier on this list since it’s a spiritual self-help book, but I still wanted to include it. It’s enlightening but still in the way of being hard to take action and follow the book’s advice in everyday life. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  7. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – LOVED this. It was suggested but not required reading for my writing workshop. It was a super fast read and honestly my dream book since it incorporated supernatural elements with an otherwise realistic fiction plot. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  8. I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark – This is a book of poetry that’s required reading for my writing workshop. Clark’s poems are moving and I think everyone should read this and support her as a talented Black poet. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  9. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson – This is a book with multiple short stories, all somewhat different from one another. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Nothing to See Here, but I definitely do love Wilson’s work and hope to read more of it soon. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the books I’ve read recently, and that this inspires you go to spend some time reading. Whether it’s an old favorite or something new, reading is always such a relaxing and nice pastime. Plus, it’s summer! Congrats to everyone who is finishing up/has just finished their school year. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

How Using Goodreads Changed My Reading Habits

Hello everyone!

If you’re an avid reader, you’ve most likely stumbled across the Goodreads website at some point in your life. I was no exception, but I didn’t use it myself; I would only peruse the website if I wanted to read reviews on a specific book or find a recommendation. However, about a month and a half ago, I made a Goodreads account and started actually keeping track of the books I was reading and rating them. I also have been steadily building a giant “want to read” list of books I’ll have to check out at my library once it’s back open. If you want to find out how it’s changed my reading habits, keep on reading.

I’m kind of an organization-freak when it comes to lists and keeping track of things I’ve done/want to do/need to do, so I’m not sure why I just came around to using Goodreads. I love the idea of being able to look back on everything I’ve read and remind myself whether I liked certain books or not, and being on the website in general motivates me to read more.

It has a feature where you can set your goal of how many books you want to read in 2020, and I found this to be motivating as well. I personally chose 20 books. I’ve already met that goal and read over that amount, so I’ll probably change that limit soon.

I’m more motivated to read because I know that I’ll get to check off that I finished a book on my Goodreads. This is probably a questionable mindset, but since I love reading and this motivates me to make time for it, I’m okay with that. 🙂 I’m just that type of person, so Goodreads has been helpful for me in that regard.

It’s also useful in case you’re looking for new books to read! They suggest book recommendations off of the categories you choose or the books you’ve read, and of course you can read the reviews to get a taste of whether you’d actually like them or not.

If you already have an ongoing list of books you’d like to read, it definitely makes it easier to keep track of them. I’ll get recommendations from friends or hear about different books in passing that I’d like to read, but I’ll easily forget about them if I don’t write them down somewhere. Even if I do manage to write them down, I rarely end up following through with reading the book and I usually end up losing the note to myself. Not anymore!

My “Want to Read” list is at least 70 books at the moment, so I definitely have a lot to go through. I’m proud to say that during quarantine I’ve reread almost every single book on my bookshelf and rated it on Goodreads for future reference. I can’t stress enough how helpful the five-star rating system and shelves are for an organized yet forgetful person like me.

Quarantine is also a huge part of this equation. I wouldn’t have had time to play with Goodreads or read so many books in the past couple months in general if it wasn’t for being stuck in my house. That’s one of the few upsides of this situation, and one that I plan on continuing taking advantage of.

This probably sounded like a weird ad for Goodreads- I know it’s been around forever and so it’s not exactly groundbreaking news, but using it is a new habit of mine and I wanted to share how it’s impacted my reading. I hope you still enjoyed it and are inspired to go check out the website if you’re like me and haven’t before. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Why You Should Read and Write Often

Welcome back everyone!

While we’re in quarantine and have nothing to do, there’s no better time to pick up a good book or write the story you’ve always wanted to read. I know in this day and age with hustle culture and all the pressure to constantly be busy and productive, people often push pastimes like reading and writing to the side unless it’s their absolute passion. I happen to love reading and writing and always have, but I think it’s important for everyone to read and write, especially now while they have the extra time. Why exactly is this so important? Keep on reading to find out!

Reason #1: It expands your vocabulary.

I know, I know. You’ve probably heard this before from your teachers, parents, and other adults, but it’s true! You pick up new words and phrases from reading (which you can use in your writing) and you’ll tend to start using them in real life. If you’re in high school and starting to prepare for standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, being well-read can cut down on the amount of vocabulary words you need to study or be familiar with. You’ll be able to interpret the passages on the tests better as well.

Reason #2: It’s an escape and a way to explore new worlds and ideas.

If you’ve always wanted to travel somewhere but can’t for whatever reason, read a book about that place! If you’re obsessed with the fantastical, read fantasy books filled with witches and goblins. If you can’t find a story that suits the world you want to explore, do some research and start writing it. I’m sure there’s a million-dollar book idea floating around in everyone’s heads somewhere- you just have to do some digging. On the more realistic side of the spectrum, writing is also just a way to get out your thoughts. Journaling or making a story out of your life can be therapeutic in so many ways.

Reason #3: You’ll learn random tidbits of information and be smarter because of it.

Sometimes the most random things will be slipped into books, and all of a sudden you’ll be invested in niche disciplines or topics you’d never given thought to before. After reading a couple kids’ books that mentioned synesthesia when I was younger (A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass and The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch in case you’re wondering), I became fascinated with it. That’s not exactly a common thing that people talk about a lot and I don’t personally know anyone with synesthesia, but I learned so many random facts throughout those few books I read. You never know what you’ll learn from a book, and often it’s not the most obvious things that will stick with you.

Reason #4: It helps you learn more about yourself.

I know this sounds cheesy, but it’s held true for me. When you write a lot, you’ll notice what sorts of subjects appear over and over again in your work. As you develop your voice in your work, that voice reflects who you are and what you want others to see you as. It’s kind of crazy what kind of magic can happen when you put pen to paper, and a lot of it happens subconsciously as you’re just thinking and going through the motions of making your ideas concrete.

Reason #5: It’s a good skill to have no matter what your future plans are or what you do for a living.

You can be a writer at any stage in your life, there are many different types of writing you can do, and it’s something you can take up as a side hustle. It’s a valuable skill to have, and good writing can even shine through in something as mundane as business emails. It’s definitely important in school no matter what class you’re in/your major in college and teachers will definitely be impressed by someone who has solid writing skills no matter what they’re writing about. In most industries/jobs, it’s important that you can communicate eloquently, and writing is a huge part of that; if you can write formally, you can definitely speak formally, as writing requires a lot more editing and thinking.

I hope this convinces any of you out there who need to force yourself to crack open a book. There are always going to be reasons not to, and it definitely can take a good amount of time to finish a book or write a story, but it’s so worth it and I guarantee you’ll learn something throughout the process. I continue to learn about both the world and myself every time I read or write something. Stay safe and healthy!

Brooke

How I Got Back Into Reading and Writing

Hello everyone!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might’ve seen me mention a couple times that I used to be an avid writer and reader when I was younger, but went through a dry spell for quite a few years. I really only got back into it a little over a year ago, halfway through my freshman year of high school. If something similar has happened to you for whatever reason and you’re trying to get back to your old book-loving self, or you’re trying to get into these two amazing habits for the first time, keep on reading to hear about my journey.

I think the biggest thing is just to treat it like any hobby that you have to make time for; just because you used to be super into it doesn’t mean it will automatically fall into your life and become an automatic part of your schedule again. If it does, that’s great! But don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t. That’s the most important distinction to make, but other than that, let’s dive into my story and tips.

In the middle of freshman year after my cheer season was over, I found myself with a lot more free time than I’d had since starting high school. I was evaluating what I wanted to do and how I wanted to spend some of my free time, and there were a lot of activities I was interested in doing- I started volunteering more, and I joined some other groups outside of school. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much time I used to spend writing random stories, and reading books. I’d read a poetry book or two in freshman year, but other than that I was only reading and writing in my classes at school.

I was also going through kind of a hard time, so I decided I would start journaling and just write about all the thoughts I was having. My journal entries turned into pages and pages of writing, and eventually I realized how much it was helping me to just get everything out on paper. I started writing poems that reflected my current thoughts and feelings as well, and just writing as often as I could. I applied to be on my school’s yearbook staff for the next school year with a writing sample, and I got in! Writing was becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life. I think the catalyst for me to really get into writing was starting this blog in June 2019. I knew I wanted to do something different and write in a new way, and I figured I would have plenty to write about on my summer trip to France and Italy, so I started the blog under the guise of covering my trip.

I kept writing for this blog throughout the summer (and throughout this year, and I plan to keep writing), but my next writing endeavor was signing up to be on the editorial staff at Polyphony Lit, an international teen magazine. I’ve learned so much about writing and read so many amazing pieces during my time as an editor there, and I even got a promotion a few months ago from First Reader editor to Second Reader editor (the level above)! If you’re in high school, I highly recommend checking out Polyphony Lit and the opportunity to be an editor; if you’re not a teenager, I just recommend checking out the publication in general because the work is amazing!

After being inspired by starting to edit submissions for Polyphony, I started to write more poetry over the summer. I would sit in a lounge chair in my backyard and just write, drawing inspiration from anything and everything and trying to make it into something beautiful. As I wrote more and more, I started submitting some poems to contests, and I had my first poem chosen for publication in the fall.

As you can tell from my journey so far, for me it was easier to incorporate writing back into my life first, and reading came shortly after. I realized that in order to improve my writing and develop my own style, I should read more and get inspiration from other authors. At first, I just reread some of my old favorite books to get my feet wet in the book world. Next, I asked for poetry books for Christmas and read a bunch of poetry. I signed up for Poem-A-Day to get a poem in my email everyday and get exposed to different authors and writing styles. I got books from my parents’ bookshelves and just started reading them, and I asked my English teacher for a couple book recommendations.

Now that we’re in quarantine, there’s more time than ever to experiment with reading and writing. Hopefully my story gives you an idea of how an inkling of wanting to read or write can eventually lead to a complete rekindling of your love for them, but if you’re looking for more specific tips, here’s a little list!

  • Sign up for Poem-A-Day. I know I already mentioned this above, but it is a great way to make sure you’re reading a poem everyday and getting exposed to so many different poems and writing styles! It’s free, and it’ll only take you a few minutes each day to read the poem.
  • Look up writing prompts or exercises. If you’re in a writing mood but aren’t used to writing or you’re not sure where to start, look up some writing prompts! Your creative juices will start flowing and it’s always great to practice.
  • Keep a journal. As I mentioned, starting to journal and get out my thoughts that way was one of the things that really got my writing going. When you’re putting pen to paper all the time, eventually the magic will happen or you’ll be inspired to write something else.
  • Ask your friends what they’re reading and read it. This way, you’ll have people to talk about the book with, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy it if the recommendation’s coming from a friend! It can be a loose/informal book club.
  • Read the book version of your favorite movie/TV show. This is something that’s overlooked- you already know you like the story, so why not read it and compare the differences? It’s always interesting to see what scenes/details aren’t translated to the film/TV version.

Hopefully this helps you all out or inspires you in some way. I’d love to talk to some fellow readers or writers, so let me know what you’re reading/writing at the moment 🙂

Brooke

My Childhood Favorite Books

Welcome back everyone!

When I was younger, I used to devour books. I would get ten at a time from the library, and read them all within a weekend- I lived and breathed to read. I still love to read, but I definitely can’t keep up with my younger self’s dedication to seeking out new books and series to binge-read (Is binge-reading a term? If binge-watching is, it should be…). As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently re-read a bunch of my old favorite books as I was figuring out which I was ready to part with and pass on to the next generation of young readers. If you’re interested in my list of the best kids’ books, keep on reading!

I would like to clarify that these vary in age-range. I read most of them between second grade and seventh grade, but I read at a higher reading level throughout elementary school, so the books I read in elementary school aren’t very different from what I read in middle school. Some of these recommendations are very basic, but I included them anyway if they were truly some of my favorites, since that’s the topic of this list.

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – What would this list be without the Harry Potter books? I read them starting at the end of first grade, but didn’t finish the later and longer books in the series until second grade. These rocked my world and made me fall in love with the fantasy genre, and every time I go back to read them again I’m reminded of the magic they held in that first read. My personal favorite has always been the Goblet of Fire.
  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is another classic series that I started in first grade but didn’t finish until later in elementary school. My grandmother adored these books and bought me a box set of the first few for Christmas one year, and I remember being fascinated by them, wanting to experience prairie life for myself. My grandmother has now passed away, and although I haven’t read these in quite a few years, I know that when I eventually revisit them I will be reminded of her.
  • The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch – I forget how I stumbled upon this series, but all I know is I loved every minute of it. The humor (especially coming from the narrator) and the mystery are perfectly intertwined, and each book actually gets better rather than worse as in some kids’ book sequels. It’s a fairly intricate storyline in terms of trying to sum it up, but the reveals towards the end of the series are worth waiting for and actually not predictable (I’m bad at predicting events though, so maybe find out for yourself on that one).
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I actually didn’t like this book at first. I’m still not the biggest fan of the other books in the series, but I will say this book grew on me more than I ever thought it would. The world Madeleine L’Engle creates is mind-boggling yet completely realistic (funny how that works) and made me appreciate science and theoretical thinking more. I love how the Murry family is relatable in some ways, yet incredibly special in their talent and intellect- it’s the perfect balance and makes you want to root for Meg and Charles Wallace even more.
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funk/e – I got this book in a random store in upstate New York the summer after second grade, looking for a book to read during long car rides on that trip visiting my grandparents. I wish I had the same ability to make words come to life that Meggie does, but reading this book was magical enough. However, I didn’t enjoy the other two books in the trio (Inkspell, Inkdeath) nearly as much.
  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle – This book series isn’t a classic or a series with a complicated plot, but it meant a lot to me as an anxious pre-teen awaiting middle school. It’s a fairly accurate portrayal of late elementary school and middle school, and I went through a lot of the same things that Winnie did. I recommend it for girls who are in the pre-teen age range and just need something light and fluffy to relate to.
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – My mom loved the plot of this book so she read it out loud to me in early elementary school. I think it teaches some important life lessons with a creative manner of events unfolding, and the twist at the end was both unexpectedly beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a sad one, but the ending only shows how great the beginning of the book/everything leading up to the end is.
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass – As someone who’s been having an existential crisis since forever, it made sense I would love this book. When I re-read it a few weeks ago, I cried just as much as I did the first time. I saw a lot of myself in Jeremy, and you’ll enjoy following his journey- it’s a really beautiful storyline.
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – This book is another sad one, but it’s just as beautiful. It follows the story of Mia, an eighth grader with synesthesia (someone in The Secret Series also has synesthesia!) and her discovering what exactly that is and how it relates to her self-identity. I found this book fascinating as it introduced me to something new, but it also managed to be relatable just because everyone struggles with their identity in some way. It perfectly captures those growing pains.
  • A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin – Another heartbreakingly beautiful book my mom read to me when I was younger, this story is set in a 1960s summer where a small-town-girl meets her mentally-ill uncle that was previously hidden from her. The ending is abrupt and sad, but twelve-year-old Hattie was all too relatable to me at the time of reading this, and her growth throughout the story is inspiring.
  • A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler –
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman – I remember liking this book a lot, but I didn’t even realize how wonderful the plot and the protagonist’s journey was until I re-read it a couple weeks ago. It follows ten-year-old Allie moving cities (to a street named Strawberry Hill) and experiencing the struggles of making true friends as well as anti-Semitism. It clarifies what a true friend is, and it also has a couple cute pictures in my version of the book.
  • The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall – I LOVED this series when my second-grade teacher first introduced me to it. I always wanted sisters (I just have a younger brother) and I envied the Penderwicks’ tight-knit family. It’s a fun read that still touches on life lessons and serious issues like most kids’ books do.

I hope this list helps anyone out who’s looking for good kids’ books! Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or just someone who likes to read and was curious on if we shared the same favorite kids’ books, this list should have something for everyone. Honestly, I enjoy most of the books I read, and I’ll dabble in pretty much any genre if someone encourages me to read a certain book or I’m gifted one. I could’ve included more, but these are the ones that I would re-read again and again and that really stuck out to me. Let me know what your favorite children’s books are/were!

Brooke

How to Fit Reading and Writing Into Your Life

Hello everyone!

I used to think I simply “didn’t have time” to read or write often, even though it was what I enjoyed. Obviously I worked on my time management skills and tried to free up my schedule so I had more free time to do so, but I think it’s even more about your attitude and your love for reading/writing that will make it a bigger part of your life than your actual schedule. If you’ve been trying to get yourself motivated to read and/or write more often, keep on reading!

It sounds silly, but just like with anything you’re trying to make time for in your life, the first and most important step is to truly make it a priority in your head and tell yourself you need to read and write. Obviously not in a way where it puts pressure on yourself, but in a way where you’re making time for it just like any of your other “needs”, like eating and showering. When I first started this blog, I decided I would work on my posts every Saturday morning, and that would dribble into Sunday morning if I didn’t finish. That became a part of my schedule; it’s my sacred time for blogging.

I think reading also helps with motivating you to write, and vice versa; if you’re doing one, you’ll be more inclined and inspired to do the other. Once I started writing more often, I realized being more well-read would improve my writing, and then I dove into whatever books and reading material I could find in my spare time. If you already do one a lot, eventually I think you’ll find yourself doing the other. In this case, try to balance the two- if you’re trying to read a really long book, maybe don’t set a goal of writing a novel at the same time- that sort of thing.

Also, with the quarantine in many states/countries because of the coronavirus, a lot of you probably have a lot more free time on your hands. If reading and writing more has always been a goal of yours, now you can dive straight into it, without having to worry about as strict of time constraints. If you’re still busy working from home/doing online school, you can incorporate a reading hour/half-hour before bed. During my busiest times of the school year, I know I don’t usually end up reading or writing that much either beyond this blog, but it’s all about making the most of the time you do have.

Here’s a few little suggestions I have that are more specific:

  • Sign up for the Poem-A-Day email newsletter here! I did this when someone recommended it to me, and it cheers me up to see a new poem in my email inbox everyday. If you don’t get them right away- check your spam, as sometimes mine get directed to there.
  • Sneak in some reading time by reading on your phone. There’s always reading material online. Whether it’s checking the news and staying informed that way, or reading a blog (hint, hint), you can easily have a few minutes of reading here and there.
  • Read books you’ve already read before. This is nostalgic and usually makes you feel good (I read a bunch of my old childhood favorite books recently and made a post on it that you should go check it out!), and I find it’s also less time-consuming because you already understand everything and it’s more about remembering the story than actually diving into it.
  • Make an informal book club with your friends. It doesn’t have to be an actual book club, but just an agreement that you and some/one of your friends are going to read the same book and discuss it at some point. This holds you accountable in a low-pressure way, and gives you a book buddy so you can motivate each other to read!
  • Write in the notes section of your phone. When I don’t have time to sit down with pen and paper, sometimes I’ll jot the beginnings of poems in my notes, and finish them later. This can also be interesting because once you sit down and think about the idea with fresh eyes, you may take it in a completely different direction.
  • Write a poem every day. This is basically the same thing as reading the Poem-A-Day newsletter but in writing form. It helps you get a feel for your voice and what you like to write about.

I hope this inspires and motivates you to go read a book or write something. Also, remember that writing and reading are supposed to be fun, relaxing pastimes, and it should be something you can look forward to doing, not force yourself to do or dread. I truly believe there’s a type of book/writing for everyone, and I challenge you to find yours.

Brooke

What I Learned From Rereading My Childhood Books

Hello everyone!

Due to all the free time I’ve had at home, I decided I would declutter my bookshelf in my room. I had an idea of which books I had long outgrown and would be able to part with, but I kind of wanted to read them one last time before letting go of them, just to reflect on what my younger self saw in them. I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts on what I read and how I felt during this little process of decluttering, so if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts and possibly doing this yourself, keep on reading!

I’m not going to go too into depth about each specific book that I reread, but in case you’re curious, here’s the list for reference:

  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle (Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One)
  • Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart (20 books so I won’t list them all!)
  • The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life by Lauren Myracle
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison
  • The Ashley Project by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Ten Rules for Living With My Sister by Ann M. Martin
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • A Corner of The Universe by Ann M. Martin (this one’s more serious and sad)
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

They’re all pretty childish, each centered on girls around 10-13. I read them all in the later portion of my elementary school years, but remained attached to them in middle school. I haven’t looked back on any of them in a few years at least, but there were many other books I’ve donated and let go of since I was younger; these were kind of the stragglers remaining on my bookshelf from long ago. Reading them was a huge awakening as to how much I’ve matured, considering I used to think they were such thrilling storylines packed with drama. Now, a few of them just seemed like, well…typical young person problems. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of them tackle more serious issues for youth and teach important life lessons, but a lot of the books were simply obnoxious (The Clique, The Ashley Project).

It was crazy to think about how the girls in these books (middle school age) seemed so old to my fourth and fifth-grade self. Honestly, now I know why- because middle schoolers don’t act like that. At least in my experience, I didn’t have the independence a lot of the book characters did, and that greatly influences the events in the books/what the characters do. The types of books I read also said a lot about the person I aspired to be. A lot of the books focus on privileged, independent preteens with some sort of exciting lives (boarding school, living in the city, take your pick). This is not exactly the type of life I’ve experienced, but I am 100% okay with that now.

I find these books could greatly skew a young, impressionable child’s impression of middle school, but it’s all in good fun. Even as a child, I don’t think I took them too seriously. However, I’m glad I decided to reread them and experience them one more time before letting go of them; I was worried I would get too sentimental and want to hang on to them, but reading them only confirmed I was ready to pass them on to someone else who can enjoy them. The feeling of clearing space on my bookshelf and that these books will get read by others is super special. I’m not sure where to donate them yet and will obviously still be hanging onto them because of the current quarantine, but I’ll figure it out soon.

Overall, I can definitely see how much I’ve grown as a person through even the books I’ve gravitated towards reading. Most of these books were realistic fiction, but now I prefer to read almost anything but realistic fiction, as books are truly an escape. However, at the time I read them, I think these books still were an escape to me, an escape to my ideal middle school/preteen life. I also learned how important it is go through your books and belongings in general to donate things you’re no longer using. I hadn’t even questioned getting rid of these books before, but I’m glad that I finally did since they’ll go to much better use.

I used to be extremely attached to everything I owned and hesitant to get rid of/donate anything, but now I’m almost the opposite and am eager to give away anything I feel I’ve already gotten my use out of. I suggest you also go through your books, reflect on the person you used to be when you read them for the first time and how they helped you grow, and pass them onto someone else if you’re ready. It’s rewarding, I promise!

I hope you enjoyed hearing my perspective on this. I didn’t want to go too into detail on each book since that’s not the most relevant part of this little process, but let me know if you’d like to hear more about any of them 🙂

Brooke

My Current Reading List

Hello everyone!

As I’ve had more free time on my hands lately, I knew I wanted to do some reading while I had the chance to explore new books. I made a mini list of the books I wanted to read before spring break was over, and I’m trying my best to read everything on it, if not even more books beyond it. If you’re interested in seeing what books I’m currently reading/going to read, keep on reading! A few of these I’ve already read since originally making this reading list, but they’re all books that my English teacher or other people have recently recommended to me.

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – I actually read this in 8th grade in English class so I already have a copy, but we’re reading 1984 in my current English class and my English teacher suggested we read Animal Farm if we were interested in more of Orwell’s work. I remember really liking Animal Farm, so I want to revisit it, especially now that I’ve learned about all of the history behind it in AP Euro this year.
  • A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova – Another recommendation from my English teacher, this again sounded intriguing since I’ll understand the historical context from AP Euro. It’s also not something I would normally read, so I figured I would give it a try.
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell – My English teacher gave us a brief synopsis of this, and I was immediately drawn in. I ordered it on Amazon and I can’t wait to read it! I really like Orwell’s work if you can’t tell.
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell – This was added to my list last minute since the edition of Down and Out in Paris and London that I ordered from Amazon also includes this work. I don’t really know anything about it, but I’m excited to read it.
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – I read Jane Eyre in my English class at the beginning of the year, and my English teacher suggested we check out this prequel sort of book after. I had made a mental note to read it at some point but never ended up taking initiative to do so until now, so I’m excited to revisit the world of Mr. Rochester. It sounds intriguing and I’m a sucker for a good prequel type story.
  • Walt Whitman (Selected Poems Collection) by Walt Whitman/State Street Press – This is a little weird since it’s just a book I found on my parents’ bookshelf full of classics and “fancy” books, but I’d heard of Walt Whitman before and since I know a lot of his poems relate to history, I figured it would be an interesting read. I’ve read about half of it so far, but it’s been taking me some time to digest each poem and interpret it.
  • W.B. Yeats (Selected Poems Collection) by W.B. Yeats/State Street Press – This is from the same publisher and it’s the same style collection as the Walt Whitman one, which I also found on my parents’ bookshelf. The name Yeats sounds familiar, but beyond that I’m honestly just trying to expose myself to as much poetry and different work as possible.

I hope this reading list inspired you to make your own, or possibly even read some of these books! I know it’s kind of a strange mix, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone as well as read some books that my parents already had around the house. Let me know if you have any recommendations 🙂

Brooke

An Eternal Second – Poem by Me

Hello everyone!

The slow passing of time is a topic I’ve wanted to discuss on my blog for a long time. It was another one of those things where I didn’t know how to formulate it into a formal blog post, but I knew what I would say if I was making it the subject of a poem. I’ve been so happy to see positive feedback on my poetry, so I took this as an opportunity to write another poem to share with you guys.

An Eternal Second

tick, i hear the clock- but it doesn’t tick again. here we are in this moment together. it feels like just yesterday you and i met, yet it’s been years. years filled with memories, memories stuck to now-yellowing pages filed away in a cabinet in the back of my mind. i’ve been with you so many times while staring at a clock just like this. sometimes i’m wishing for time to go by faster, sometimes i’m praying that we can stay in this moment. if time’s going by so slow yet so fast at the same time, then all we really have is now. maybe time isn’t passing at all…

tick, i hear the clock again. i blink; the noise snapped me out of my thoughts. it’s proof the moment’s gone, but at least we’re still here together.

I hope you enjoyed this poem. I know my poem’s have kind of a weird structure/lack of structure, but hopefully that makes them more relatable and easy to understand. It makes me so happy to come up with new work that I can share with you guys- I’ve never really had a designated place to share my writing before.

Brooke

5 Ways to Make Reading Fun (for Book-Haters)

Welcome back everyone!

I talk about this a lot, but I love to read. I can’t imagine my childhood without the hundreds of books I pored over, and weekly trips to the library. I’m really lucky that my parents introduced me to reading so young and encouraged me to keep reading and find books I loved. However, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to grow up the same way, or even if they are, not everyone ends up liking reading as they get older.

Reading is so beneficial even if you’re not a book-nerd; it helps you grow your vocabulary, it provides an escape from the outside world, and books will always teach you something new. If you’re one of those people who dreads required reading for school or can never follow a plot line: never fear, here are five ways you can make reading more enjoyable.

  1. Try nonfiction – I know nonfiction sounds boring at first; there’s no creative fantasy worlds being carefully crafted by the authors, that’s for sure. However, in a lot of cases, people who don’t like reading fiction can find nonfiction books specifically catered to their interests. For example, read a book written by your favorite celebrity, or read a self-help book related to something you’ve been struggling with. There’s a book for everyone out there, and nonfiction books catered to your interests are often easier to find than that of fiction.
  2. Find your niche/genre – Similar to how trying nonfiction can open you up to a world of books you enjoy, exploring different genres can completely change your perspective on the reading experience. Maybe you hate fantasy novels, but you’d really like murder mysteries, or vice versa. Think of what TV shows/movies you enjoy watching, and try to find something comparable in book form.
  3. Look for storylines or plot elements you can relate to – I always found I loved stories that brought in elements of relatability. This is why I tend to gravitate towards realistic fiction when I need something new to read. I think when people can relate to the main character or something about the main character’s life, they’re so much more invested in the story and can often connect with the overarching message of the book.
  4. Join a book club or create a discussion group with friends – If your friends are up for it, this is a great way to get more immersed into books. You’ll have a reason to keep reading on a timeline, and you can get some insight on why other people with different perspectives are enjoying the book. A shift in perspective can be just what you need to start enjoying reading!
  5. Read to learn – This is a more vague tip, but it honestly has helped me so much. This works more for required reading where you can’t choose what the book is, but you can use this outlook on whatever you read. Look at everything you read as an opportunity to gain insight on the world and learn something new- whether it’s a vocab word, something about history, or something specific to the themes and topic of the text. You’ll begin to enjoy the consumption of all this new information.

I hope this inspires you guys to get out there and read something new. If you happened to stumble across this post even though you do, in fact, enjoy reading, then I would love for you to leave some book recommendations down below. I plan to be doing some more book reviews and book-related content soon.

-Brooke