Types of Literary Narrators I Hate

Hello everyone! I am currently catching up on the last new novel I got so, hopefully, I will be giving you a review of that soon. I’m coming up on spring break so I might wait till then. In the meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about certain story telling styles I don’t click with. These mostly apply to first person narrators but there are some things in third person stories that I can’t stand. There are certain things writers do when it comes to their narrators that just piss me off and make the story less enjoyable. Now, I’m going to share with you the kind of narrators that I am tired of reading about.

The Skeptic: The is narrator mostly shows up in horror or science fiction. From the beginning of the story, they have to remind you that they don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural. This narrator has to remind you every other sentence that they have always thought ghosts were stupid. You don’t have to remind me every five seconds that your are skeptical. This is when the “show, don’t tell,” rule should come in to play.

scully

The Philosopher: This narrator loves to ask sweeping, broad questions or statements in order to get the reader thinking about the meaning of life or something like that. When a story begins out with some line like, “since the dawn of time, there have aways been things hidden from humans…” then I start to roll my eyes. If you want to incorporate philosophy in your story, that’s fine but there’s a way to include without immediately boring the reader.

philosophy

The Romantic: This narrator has the biggest crush on another character in the story and they will stop everything to go on and on about the love of their life. Their crush breathes and the world stops turning. Their crush has the most amazing eyes in the whole entire universe and not a single other person’s eyes compare to it. Listen, I like romance as much as the next person but there’s a better way to convey a relationship between two characters.

romance

The Pessimist: Life sucks and this narrator won’t let you forget it. This narrator is hard to read because you start to feel depressed over fictional things. I want to enjoy a book to a degree and I can’t do that when the narrator won’t give me anything to enjoy. Believe it or not, there’s always some sort of “silver lining.” Don’t let this narrator get you down.

eeyore

The Narrator Who Is Not Like Other People: This narrator is just so unique and different. They are not like average people. They are so extraordinary because of whatever talents or features they have. You mostly find this narrator in YA novels because teens want to live vicariously through this super special character. The author takes great care to let you know how different their character is from the rest and it’s exhausting. Again, “show, don’t tell” is a good rule here.

special

The Hardened and Angsty Soul: This narrator is a step up from the pessimist. This narrator has seen some sh*t in their time and everything they do comes back to whatever traumatic even they experienced. They always refer vaguely and bitterly back to this event and all of the other characters tell them that they need to move on but they just can’t because angst. I’ve seen this one pop up in plenty of detective stories and it’s pretty common in action movies as well. You’ll probably know who I’m talking about.

angst

Note: This is not meant to shade any specific authors. These are just observations I have made while reading. Feel free to debate me or agree with me in the comments. I like to hear your feedback.

Celebrating the Feminine: Some quotes in honor of International Women’s Day

Hello Everyone! I wasn’t planning on posting again until my next review. I finally got a new book to read but I haven’t been able to sit down and read it yet. Hopefully, I will get you that review soon. In the meanwhile, I decided to celebrate International Women’s Day with some quotes from famous female authors. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to share your favorite quotes in the comments or make your own post.

“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.” – Bell Hooks

“Above all, be the heroine of your own life…” – Nora Ephron

“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I only have myself.” – Simone de Beauvior

“I am not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” – Jane Austen

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We already carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.” – JK Rowling

“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“The beginning is always today.” – Mary Shelley

“If theres’ a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” – Malala Yousafzai

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Short Stories I Must Recommend You Read

I know the title sounds like click bait but it got you to read my post, didn’t it? I’ve read more than my fair share of short stories over the years. I’m currently trying to write my own with little luck. There are a few that I absolutely love that you might enjoy too. The art of the short story is one that takes a while to master. It’s hard to convey a powerful message in just a few pages. These ones I have picked have a made an impact for me and I hope that they make an impact for you too.

  1. “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe – I’ve a been a huge fan of Poe for years now and own several different editions of his complete collections. Though I absolutely love his other famous short stories, I love this one in particular for the sensory picture that Poe writes that creates a sense of impending doom and suspense as you read it.
  2. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – In only 6,000 words, Perkins Gilman provides a scathing indictment of the American mental health system. As told through the diary entries of a woman suffering from postpartum depression, “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows how improper treatment of mental illness in women can have devastating effects on the mind.
  3. “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri from The Interpreter of Maladies – Lahiri’s bold and intimate writing provides an inside look at the struggles of people’s lives that others might overlook. In this particular story, a young couple must come to terms with the loss of their child and deterioration of their marriage during the nightly blackouts that occur in India. This story is has a heavy and poignant message that is palpable as you read it.
  4. “October in the Chair” by Neil Gaiman from Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Other Wonders – Gaiman is well known for his surreal, humorous, and profound writing. His short stories are no exception. In this story, the personifications of the months gather around to listen to October’s turn to tell a story about a young boy find out more than he wanted when he decides to run away from home. Gaiman artfully crafts a fable-like tale for fairy tale characters who come to life on the page.
  5. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – This story is a classic one that I read back in high school. I was initially confused but soon found out that this story provides a much darker message than it gives away. Jackson paints the picture of a quaint little town built on dark traditions. It is hard to create the perfect plot twist and Jackson doesn’t fail to deliver a shock at the very end.
  6. “The Dead” by James Joyce from Dubliners – Last year, I went to Dublin on spring break specifically for Joyce. One of my professors is a leading Joyce scholar so it would be foolish of me not to mention any of Joyce’s short stories. Dubliners is a tricky read but it is endlessly fascinating. “The Dead” is the final story in the collection and it takes an introspective look into the life of a man who is struggling with his identity. The very last line of the story is profound and brings the whole novel into perspective. Even if you haven’t read Dubliners, the story is still just as powerful.
  7. “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury – I’ve been a fan of Bradbury for a while and, in particular, I remember reading this story in grade school. “There Will Come Soft Rains” follows the daily goings on of an automated “smart house” that continues to operate despite the fact that no one is living there. The story serves as a warning for how technology may develop and how it could change the environment. Bradbury’s haunting and detailed science fiction story is another great example of how to master the plot twist.
  8. “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver – One of the more famous short stories out there, Carver’s message of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is just as powerful with each read. When a man wife invites a blind man to their house, he is reluctant to let him stay. However, he soon learns how to understand how other people live as he spends more time with the blind man.
  9. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe – Yet another classic Poe story, this one is a bit more famous. Poe was famous for his unreliable narrators and this story is one that makes the reader question what truly makes someone insane.
  10. “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes – Much like Gilman’s story, this one also calls into question the ethics of how mental health is treated. Though it involves science fiction, Keyes is still not too far off from reality. This story follows Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68, who undergoes a surgery to increase his intelligence. He and a mouse named Algernon who also received the surgery are then subjected to scrutiny as they are thrust into the spotlight.

How My Reading Habits Have Changed Over the Years

I don’t know if any other bookworms have done this but, on occasion, I realize how much my taste in books or the way I read books has changed since I was young. Now, I do certainly have staples. I still generally read fiction and I’m always reading more than one book at a time but some slight changes have come up in my reading life. Maybe some of you have experienced similar things or maybe you haven’t. Here is a quick list of what I’ve noticed has changed.

  • Series: I haven’t read a book series in a rather long time. As a kid, I read a lot of series and I believe the most recent one I read was The Song of Fire and Ice series, which I read back in high school. Most of the books I read now are standalone. Why is it that there are very few series for adults? Maybe I’ve simply lost patience for book series. I still have favorites but I haven’t been interested in any book series in a while.
  • Romance: I’ve never been a huge fan of romance novels but I used to get more invested in romantic relationships in books. Now, unless it’s intended to be a romantic novel, I could care less if my characters are in relationships or not. Is that weird?
  • Fantasy: I do still like fantasy novels but it no longer catches my interest as much. I don’t pick up books solely because they belong to a particular genre I enjoy. I used to do that more when I was younger. Fantasy elements no longer hook me in like they used to.
  • Trends: When I was kid, the Twilight phenomenon had struck the pop culture scene and I was one of the many preteen victims. Like others, I do regret it now but it made me think that I can’t think of any book trends that are popular right now. Harry Potter is making a comeback, which is great, but I haven’t noticed any huge trends in the literary world. Maybe I’m just getting old and I no longer notice this stuff.
  • Classics: I’ve found myself wanting to read more classic novels. You know, authors like Woolf, Hemingway, Austen, the Brontes, Dostoyvesky, and other authors that are worshipped by writers and readers alike. I almost feel like I have an obligation to read these authors. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy any of these or not but I would like to try at least.

That’s my stream of consciousness for now. I’m still stalling until I read enough to write another book review. I would definitely by interested in hearing if any of you other book worms feel the same way that I do or maybe you haven’t noticed any changes in how or what you read. Either way, don’t stop reading what you love.

Breaking It Down: Reviewing Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

I don’t know about anyone else but I didn’t have very good creative writing classes in my school career. I did competitive writing in grade school in a competition called Power of the Pen, which is a regional thing in America. I didn’t have anything available to me in high school and the classes I took in college were tedious. This hasn’t squashed my passion for creative writing but it has dampened my confidence in being able to execute my ideas on a technical level. I was browsing around the bookstore when Prose’s book caught my eye. Normally, I don’t gravitate towards non-fiction but I was certainly interested in this. I am happy to say that it was the right choice to take home.

Francine Prose, a prolific author with a fitting name, takes a realistic and informative look at the art of fiction writing. Like most authors, she learned from reading other famed authors and studying their techniques. Starting with a chapter just focusing on words and building up to the full story, Prose teaches you how she and other authors craft their stories in ways that are succinct and impactful while still being unique. She also reflects on her time as a teacher and how she found her way in the literary world. With an honest and friendly voice, Prose provides a helpful and detailed way to improve your writing and reading skills.

The first thing I enjoyed about this book is that it doesn’t feel like its too technical or condescending. I’ve taken literary theory classes and those made my head ache. Prose, however, provides an honest look at how to better improve writing and reading skills. As fun as fiction is, it is still a pain to master and Prose understands that completely. This book is a great learning tool for writers and readers alike. It dissects famous short stories in a way that shows why they are so effective. This has already taught me more than I have learned in actual classes.

Magic Number 21

For those who may not know, 21 is pretty significant in America. You can legally drink alcohol. It kind of solidifies your status as an adult. I certainly still don’t feel like an adult still but it’s nice to know that others might see me as more mature now. I decided that since I’m 21, I will share with all of you 21 quotes from and about books and writing that have inspired me through the years. I hope some of these inspire you too.

“…I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.” – Daphne du Maurier

“I am half agony, half hope.” – Jane Austen

“And here you are living, despite it all.” – Rupi Kaur

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” – Natalie Goldberg

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.” – Neil Gaiman

“The worst enemy of creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly, sometimes it’s like drilling a rock then blasting it out with charges.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – JK Rowling

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“A writer is someone who has taught their mind to misbehave.” – Oscar Wild

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare

“I have always imagined that paradise will be some kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges

“I have put my heart and soul into my work and lost my mind in the process.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” – John Green

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.” – Donna Tartt

“To a great mind, nothing is little.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” – JK Rowling

“Never forget who you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used against you.” George RR Martin

“I picked up a pen. I wrote my own deliverance.” Lin-Manuel Miranda

“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” – Annie Dillard

 

 

An Insider’s Look: Reviewing My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Before I entered college, I knew that I was going to dive headlong into the literary world. Thankfully enough, I managed to find classes that specialized in editing and publishing fiction and non-fiction. I have learned much in these classes through my brutally honest and hilarious professor. As part of the curriculum, she had us read this particular novel. I went into it not thinking I would enjoy it that much but it ended up teaching me more than I expected.

My Salinger Year is an autobiographical account of Rakoff’s experiences working for a literary agency. To her surprise, she finds out that this particular agency represents the famed J.D. Salinger. Rakoff recalls as she tries to find a balance between the demanding and fast-paced work of keeping up with Salinger and her turbulent relationship with her boyfriend. She gives an in-depth look into the business side of literature and the struggle that college graduates go through when finding a life after school. Rakoff’s funny and honest narrative offers a relatable and cautionary tale for those looking into the literary field.

Though My Salinger Year is a rather short book (it’s just under 300 pages), it is full of depth and insightfulness. I like to describe as The Devil Wears Prada for book worms. Anyone who is interested in the literary industry will enjoy this particular autobiography. Rakoff’s writing feels as though she is telling you the story face-to-face and she is not afraid to get personal. I appreciate her open narrative and her message to just keep pushing through no matter how tough the problem is.

 

Beauty is Terror: Reviewing The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Note: This is all simply my opinion but I hope you find it helpful nonetheless. I am avoiding spoilers, as well.

The Secret History was the first novel by Donna Tartt I had read. I decided to pick it up again after finally finishing a rather generic but well written crime novel. (I had gotten that book for free so I couldn’t complain too much.) The Secret History, which was Tartt’s first novel, is elegant, cynical, dark, and gripping, It is told through the eyes of Richard Papen, who is reflecting on his years at Hampden College in New England (Connecticut, to be specific.) Richard moved from a boring life in California to start over at Hampden. While he is there, he is drawn to a private and elite professor who teaches a small group of secretive students about the intricacies of Greek and Latin. Richard soon finds himself in over his head in a world of murder, drugs, sex, ancient Greek rituals, and the private lives of upper class.

This novel is particularly unique in its writing style. Tartt, in Richard’s voice, describes rather mundane college happenings in a way that is Shakespearian. Richard, who is simply trying to reinvent himself, is relatable for anyone who has ever wished to get away from their hometown. Also, like other college students, he learns that looks are deceiving. While his experiences are a little more extreme than the average college students’, it is still easy to understand what he is going through. Tartt does an excellent job crafting characters who are complex, dangerous, and painfully human. Hubris is the word that comes to mind when describing the downfalls of the cast of characters in this novel. Anyone familiar with Greek tragedies can recognize the trademarks that Tartt weaves into her novel.

You don’t have to necessarily be interested in Homer or know Latin to enjoy this novel. While these drew me into the novel in the first place, anyone who is interested in dramas or thrillers will definitely enjoy Tartt’s novel. I highly recommend this book for those seeking an intelligent and well-crafted novel that keeps you wanting more. It’s combination of realism and drama is compelling and hard to stop reading. The Secret History is an engaging novel with a depth and eloquence that few can capture.

(Also for more images of Greek statues in modern clothing, check out this link: )

Intro to my New Blog

Hello everyone, this is my very first post on this blog. I have never really done something like this before so here goes nothing. I mostly want this blog to be about book reviews that are both honest and extensive. Hopefully, I can also talk about writing, authors, book-to-movie adaptations, and anything else happening in the literary world. I am not a professional author or anything like that but I am currently majoring in English and hope to enter a profession in the literary world. I will try to post something soon. I look forward to starting this new blog. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have an enjoyable day.

– Emily