#BookBingoNW2017: Reread a Book You Read in School

Although we are hard pressed to think of a single drawback to Book Bingo, it is true that for some readers it calls forth unwelcome memories of required reading. Yet the popularity of bingo and similar reading challenges and groups suggests that something appeals to us about being stretched beyond our habitual reading appetites. Might those same restrictions we chafed at in school suddenly feel like a welcome dose of structure, now that we can read whatever we please?

Rereading can be an interesting way of deepening our awareness both of a text, and of our former selves. This is especially true when we willingly and with curiosity take up some book that we have previously experienced as obligatory drudgery. Freed from the need to take notes, uncover themes or prep for a quiz, we can encounter afresh some of the best and most engaging books ever written, reclaiming them for our own.

Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2017: Reread a Book You Read in School”

The Scarlet Letter Revisited

“The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.”  -The Scarlet Letter

What I love most about The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is it’s timelessness. It is just as relevant now as it was when it was first published. No matter ones opinion it sparks conversation from all sides. Here are a few items that revisit that theme:

When She Woke, by Hillary JordanThe novel When She Woke by Hillary Jordan gives us a futuristic version of The Scarlet Letter. Hannah Payne’s life revolved around God first and family second due to living in a world where faith and politics go hand in hand. Yet Hannah has always had a slight rebellious side and when the State of Texas deems Hannah a murderer with the victim being her unborn child she finds herself alone in a white room with her skin dyed red. In her society those that commit crimes are dyed and sent out to live in the world. Not willing to expose the man who fathered the child, a respected pastor, nor the physician that helped her she adds more time on to her sentence and will spend the next sixteen years as a red. After being released she begins the process of discovering who she is despite what her crime claims her to be.

Occasionally there is a teen movie that I can’t help but watch over and over again. MyEasy A, a film by Will Gluck secret shame, so to speak, is Just My Luck and 10 Things I Hate About You. My newest guilty pleasure is Easy A, which is a modern high school take of The Scarlet Letter. Olive Penderghast, played by Emma Stone, finds her life, which was normally spent in high school obscurity, the center of a false rumor of her losing her virginity. Unfortunately the rumor was started by herself to her best friend in the bathroom only to be overheard by the holier than thou Marianne. Once this rumor takes off it morphs into a whole different beast and rather than try to dispel them she claims them by wearing a red A. Although she tries to use her new found strength to help those in need she causes more harm to her reputation and it begins to affect everyone around her till she has no choice, but to finally reveal the truth.

10 American classics to add to your to-read list

You think you’ve read all of the American classics? Or perhaps you hide from them because they seem a little too close to required reading? Take a look at the 10 listed here, and then at our complete 30-novel Seattle Picks: American Classics list hand-picked by our librarians. Sure, you’ll find Fitzgerald and Faulkner on our full-length list, but we bet there’s something here that might give you a new twist on whatever it is you think when you think “classics.”

  • A Death in the Family by James Agee: This deeply poignant yet unsentimental account of what happens to his wife and six-year-old son when Jay Follet fails to return from a late night drive, won the Pulitzer Prize upon its posthumous publication.
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: During the 1950’s a young nameless Black man finds himself rendered invisible as he moves through levels of American intolerance.
  • So Big by Edna Ferber: The daughter of a Chicago gambler, Selina Peake DeJong struggles to make a living for herself and her only child, “sobig,” in this inspiring story of a journey through life.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey: Chief Broom, a deaf-mute Indian kept in an Oregon mental hospital, tells the story of Randle McMurphy’s battle of wills with the sadistic Big Nurse Ratched, a struggle between two varieties of madness. Continue reading “10 American classics to add to your to-read list”