When you enter a Barnes and Noble bookstore, the feeling you get is relaxing and soothing. Surrounded by all those words, ready to sweep you in and fall in love with fictional characters that you will end up laughing and crying over (or both at the same time). Some people love getting Barnes and Noble gift cards and spending them on all kinds of new reading materials. However, there are people like me who are very picky and particular about the books they purchase. For example, I can probably count on maybe two hands the number of books I’ve actually bought myself; the rest were given to me or just for free. I only buy books that I’ve read, and they have to be really good ones, like Gone With the Wind. Most of the books I read are from the library or borrowed from friends, never usually from a bookstore. I like testing out a book to make sure it’s a good fit for me before making a purchase. Honestly, I go into our Barnes and Noble more for the Starbucks than the books because I already know I’m not going to buy any. I think I do this because I want to know if my investment is going to be worthwhile. I would hate to buy a book and end up not liking it, that would be a waste of money. However, sometimes I deviate from my routine, go out on a limb, and buy a book I’ve never read. Recently, I bought Les Miserables and I’m hoping that it’s more than one thousand pages are going to keep me enthralled and entertained during the summer (have you seen Les Mis? If books were made of bricks, you could build a hurricane-proof house with copies of it). Do you purchase books you haven’t read before or do you read and then buy?
Everyone always says it’s the best four years of your life, the ones you’ll never forget, and I for one agree. So bear with me because this is a cliché post on everyone’s favorite thing to hate: high school. Personally, I freaking love high school, I love every aspect of it, even the drama. To me, that makes it so much more like high school. For some reason when I say these things, people think I’m crazy and need serious help. But high school is honestly one of the best things that ever happened to me, like if I would’ve been homechooled I think I would’ve ran away. I love the work and the people and the craziness of it all. Especially in my school, where not a day goes by that something spontaneous happens. However, like all things in life, I’m going to have regrets. I’m going to regret that I wasn’t as involved, that I didn’t join show choir, that I didn’t meet more people. But we have to look past those regrets and remember all the great times we had with the people we did meet. We have to remember that even through the bad times, high school is temporary. Life goes on. But even so, we need to cherish it while we still can because it is truly, I believe, the best freaking four years of anyone’s life, especially if they choose to make it that way. So do what you want, try out for the musical, take another AP class (since you already have five, why not even it out at six?), ask that guy you’ve been fawning over to prom, because when you have your high school reunion, you want to say, “I can’t believe I did all that!” rather than, “I wish I would’ve done more.”
We have all been taught to believe since childhood that in 1492, a man got on his boat, traveled across the ocean, and ended up in America. Every year on the second Monday of October, we take time to remember the efforts and discoveries of this man and the fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today if he hadn’t killed all the natives and begun the colonization of the Americas. Oh, you thought that was going to end pleasantly? Columbus is a moron. You can lie to your kids about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy but do not lead them to believe that a man who went to the Bahamas FIVE TIMES thinking it was India discovered the New World. Last year in AP world history, I was enlightened. I learned all about Columbus’s voyage and the havoc it later caused (for example, we wouldn’t have Jersey Shore or Teen Mom 2 if it weren’t for Columbus). I have a few things I would like to say about Columbus: first off, you can’t “discover” a place when people are already living there. The Taíno Indians living in the Bahamas (not America) welcomed Columbus and his men, the hospitable thing to do when someone visits your home, but Columbus wasn’t really interested in niceties. He was mainly looking for a passage to the Asian trading markets. You see, Columbus thought that the Pacific Ocean was much much smaller than it actually is, and that the distance between Asia and Spain was just a short boat ride away. He completely didn’t take into consideration that TWO WHOLE FREAKING CONTINENTS could be in the way of his riches. However, he wasn’t the only stupid one because the royals of Spain funded his expedition. Anyway, after the natives were so kind and generous, Columbus wanted nothing but their gold. He was ravenous for it. You can learn more about the whole story of Columbus and details about the chaos he caused at http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day. He ended up causing many deaths from killings and new diseases that the natives had never been susceptible to. Really the only thing we should remember Columbus by is that we now have Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but we also have a whole lot less native Americans then we did in the 15th century. So when you tell your kids about the “discovery” of America, tell them that people were definitely already there and whatever lies schools are feeding to them about Columbus are false. Heck, tell them the pilgrims on the Mayflower found it or make something up. Just don’t tell them about that murdering moron from Spain did that. Oh and by the way, on the next Columbus Day, wish everyone a happy Bartoleme Day.
These days, everyone is focused on the science, medical, and mathematical fields. After the USSR launched Sputnik into space in 1969, the Space Race between us and them was on. NASA was founded and jobs in science and math were highly sought upon, all to produce better and faster technology that would make us unprecedented globally. Nowadays, and even locally in my own school, there are classes specifically for S.T.E.M. jobs, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These jobs, for some reason, are highly fought for. A lot of people I know are going to major in different branches of engineering. Rockwell Collins is a local industry where I live and many people need degrees that relate to S.T.E.M. jobs. However, the people racing to become physicists and chemists are trampling the people who want to be writers or historians. I would like to major in history education when I go to college and hopefully end up teaching world history to high schoolers. We need to know our roots before we create new branches. People may ask why we need to care about history or reading, and I honestly can’t answer that. I just care about them because I enjoy them and I want other people to do the same. History is so intriguing to me, you can learn all about the past, a place you can never ever travel to (unless the science people I mentioned above figure out time travel or the Tardis pays a visit). My friends at least understand my love for the past because they bought me an AP world history textbook for my birthday. But some people will never understand. This goes for writers and musicians as well; people who want to publish the next great American novel, or write a hit song that will stay at the top of the charts for weeks are looked down upon, and even scorned by society, especially by those older than us. Maybe it is because of their experience, or maybe it is because they had similar dreams that had to be given up for practicality and security. Schools also discreetly force science and math into curriculums in the hopes that it will spark something in a student who isn’t willing. Personally, I believe by the time you’re in high school or if you know for sure what you want to do, you should be able to plan your coursework accordingly. I always joke that the only math I really want to know is the history of math, not math itself. Basically, governments support and fund science because it is seen as an economic and technological gain to them. History has shown what can happen when governments get too hungry for war and defense. The Cold War is a good example of this. The USA and USSR were the superpowers of the world at the time with the nuclear means to completely obliterate each other. There were many close calls, especially with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This is just one event that we can use to tell future generations the consequences of increased technologies used for negative purposes. In conclusion, I believe that more emphasis should be placed on history and especially the arts, like how many times do your parents get excited when a song from the 80s comes on? People remember places, events, leaders. When equations and formulas fail, history makes up for it.
Recently for an AP Lang project (I’m starting to notice that all the reading I’m doing lately is usually because it’s required and that makes me really sad) I went to the library to look for a nonfiction book that I could possibly write an essay on. Being really into history, I saw a book called A Short History of Nearly Everything and I was instantly intrigued. The book is by Bill Bryson and it is literally what the title says it’s about. I could end this blog post here, but it has to be a minimum of three hundred words so I’ll continue. Honestly, I don’t normally just pick up books because they look or sound interesting so that fact that this book somehow did that to me is amazing. I’ve only read the first few chapters but what I have read is really just awesome and I can tell the rest of the book is going to be as well. It begins with the beginning-the creation of the universe and moves on to talk about stars and supernovae and the like. From just skimming through the book, I can see that he talks about humans and historical events. It’s basically like a mini textbook that it written for people to actually absorb and understand, because let’s be honest, who actually understands textbooks completely? I am just all-around excited to read more of this book, and that was definitely nerdy but I think we’ve established that already. Also in AP Lang we are doing the last author study of the year and Bill Bryson was on the list of options but unfortunately I did not get him because the selection for authors could be comparable to the hunger games. I ended up with my second choice, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Have you read anything by either Bill Bryson or Ta-Nehisi Coates? If so, what did you think?
*UPDATE*: Today I asked if I could possibly be switched to Bill Bryson for the author study, and it happened! I might add some Ta-Nehisi Coates to my list and read his works eventually. I’m excited to read Bryson (for a reason). Just kidding, you shouldn’t need a reason to read.
Recently a friend and I saw the movie based on the popular young adult trilogy called Divergent. Having read the first book some time ago it was a little difficult to remember what all went on in it, especially little details that dedicated or more recent readers would’ve been angry about the filmmakers missing. The movie stars Shailene Woodley as the main heroine, Tris, and Theo James as Four. Woodley is also in The Fault in our Stars that comes out on June 6th, a day that I think that I will never be emotionally prepared for (really, go read the book). She did a decent job of playing Tris, a shy girl that ends up being a major player of the rebellious faction called Dauntless. If you need a refresher of the plot you can go to my posts here and here. I say she did decently because she just seems like a meek person overall and I didn’t really see her playing a character that risks it all to join a faction that jumps off trains. However, she had nice hair and that’s really all that matters. Theo James played the love interest, Four. I honestly think he was cast because of his sex appeal because that boy was fine. He played the part well, though and I liked how caring he was with Tris even though he wanted people to think he was all tough (typical). Since I haven’t read the book in a while, the movie seemed to follow it pretty accurately but some have said major characters are left out. According to Flixster, the next installment of the trilogy Insurgent is set to come out on March 20th, 2015 so I’ve got a little time to read the other books and find out what happens to the dystopian society that Tris and Four are revolting against (Hunger Games reference, anyone?). The movie theater I work at had a big promotion for the movie coming out. We had faction bowls like they had in the books where people could submit their names to win prizes. We also had a big board where you could anonymously write down your fears. Some people were less-than-intelligent and wrote twitter usernames or inappropriate things but others wrote clever things like “oblivion” or “daleks”. All the employees got to dress up according to what the factions in the book wore. The first day I was Dauntless and I wore leather leggings and combat boots, along with some temporary tattoos I got at Hot Topic that were identical to the ones Tris gets in the book. The second and last day I was Erudite, and I wore a blue dress. A lot of the employees participated and it was a really good promotion overall, regarding participation. Did you go see Divergent when it came out in theaters?
Everybody wonders where they are going to go when they die. Christians believe that if they believe in God they will go to heaven when they die. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, that their soul will continue in another living organism. These concepts of life after death are interesting and can also be controversial. Author Mary Roach turns away from the spiritual aspect of life after death and does in-depth research on the physical in the book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In this book, Roach introduces the reader to what happens to their physical bodies after they take their last breaths. Some bodies are naturally donated to the science and medical field so students can learn more about how the human body functions. Others are used for unorthodox purposes, like crash test dummies, or even to prove a point about the crucifixion of Jesus. This book was astoundingly factual with a whole lot of comedic relief from some of the more gory sections of the book. The author used footnotes to enrich what she was talking about and I feel that I learned a lot while reading it. It takes a lot of complex writing to make the reader feel nauseous from gore and laughter at the same time. I’ve never been into morbid and gory books but this one was definitely an exception. In my previous posts I have talked about how I really like historical novels, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. This book also involves the historical side of cadavers and I found that really interesting. Now before you judge me for being interested in dead bodies (I’m Hayley, not Hannibal) read the book. I never thought a book about cadavers would be hilarious but this one proved me wrong. Basically, if you are looking to read an educational but hilarious book about dead people, this would be the one to go with. This book has also been considered kind of controversial because of the lighthearted way Roach talks about the dearly departed. I liked it however because we as a society always make death a serious event, at least in America. In Mexico, they celebrate Día de Los Muertos, where they are happy that the deceased had a good life with great memories. If you have read this book, what do you think about the author’s nonchalant perspective on depicting the dead?