Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ALIS Recommendations

So--
What'd you read last semester?  (author and title)
Last summer?  (author and title)
Please write a book recommendation that includes the following, in your opinion:  What you enjoyed; what you wrote about; how you felt about length and difficulty level of text; readability and reader engagement; people who might enjoy it; major issues, topics, ideas author wrestles with: 


**Please be positive, yet honest.  
DUE by Thursday, 1/8 at 7:30 a.m. please


Patty Grey, Artist Book of Cousins 

27 comments:

  1. Last semester I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K Dick, and last summer I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The latter was my favorite of the two; it was heart-wrenching and made you reevaluate human nature and to what means we would go for survival. It is rife with annotation opportunities and along with I enjoying the book, it was easy to annotate and explore and question. For my in class essay, I had written about contrast - light and dark, and what that meant in reference to the characters and how they reacted upon these forces. The book is pretty normal sized, about ~300 pages, with a good sized font. It was not a hard read at all, and it kept me thinking the entire time. I think everyone would enjoy this book - it wrestles with humanity in an apocalypse setting, with good commentary on our values and morals and how beastly we really are. I loved this book, and it's a good book for conversation and debate.

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  2. Last summer I read Anthem by Ayn Rand. Last semester I read One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. I liked One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest far more than Anthem. While both books simultaneously struggled with antiauthoritarianism in a dystopian society, Kesey's story was more modern, realistic, and relateable, therefore more enjoyable. For my essay, I wrote about the struggles between authority and those who oppose it, and how, eventually, the authorities trump the opposers. This book is easy for comprehension, although some of the slang may be difficult to understand, short, unique storyline, medium length book (@ 320 pages). If you like anarchy, revolts, power struggles, and/or mental asylums, this book has it all.

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  3. This summer I read Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, and during the fall I read the Color Of Water by James McBride. The Glass Castle was an amazing book because of the struggles that the family endures and conquers throughout their life. The Color of Water is very similar in the way that James McBride and his mother have to struggle through their pains of race and religion. In both of my papers I discussed the problems that both families had and their similarities. Both books were not very long and didn't have any challenging content. Their were some disturbing things that was as middle to upper class citizens in America don't encounter, but nothing all to bad. I think that all people should read this book and would have no problem with doing so. Struggles through race, poverty, and religion are three of the main points of both books that make both books so interesting. Both books are inspiring and great reads because of their content and because of the personal thoughts, feelings, and memories that both authors bring to their books.

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  5. Last summer I read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and this past semester I read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. I definitely liked All the Pretty Horses between the two. I felt that Catcher in the Rye was very confusing and was something that you had to read in one sitting or you would forget seemingly meaningless details. This novel also repeatedly brought up themes and ideas that I still think about. For my fall ALIS essay I wrote about how people can be hypocritical of themselves as well as how we are often times scared of change. Both novels are easy to read but hard to understand, if that makes any sense. They both have much deeper meanings than that on the surface.

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  6. Over the summer I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I also read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in this past semester. I enjoyed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn much more than my other selection. It is an interesting story that gives a closer look into treatment of slaves in the south. I wrote about the bonds that were created among the two main characters. The book was an average length book being a little over 300 pages. The only challenge in reading this book was the unfamiliar southern slang. This book does include vulgar language that some may not appreciate. Aside from a few small issues I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

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  7. Last summer I read The Color of Water by James McBride, and this last semester I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I enjoyed Huckleberry Finn better, personally. I thought both were great reads, but for me, reading a memoir like The Color of Water isn't nearly as interesting. Although both were very interesting, I wasn't captivated throughout the whole book by James McBride. In my synthesis essay I wrote about the embedded racism within our culture and how both of them challenged that notion that racism is part of human nature. Both books weren't terribly difficult to read, and neither were too long, however Huckleberry Finn used a lot of slang terms and old language which makes it a bit more challenging to understand. They're both pretty interesting books with a pretty deep others message in between the lines of the novels. I thought both challenged the concept of racism within our society and how racism wasn't something in a person's human nature, but rather something they would have been taught. Overall these books were both pretty good, and I'd recommend them to really anyone looking for a fun read.

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  8. Last summer I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Kidd Monk; last semester I read All My Sons by Arthur Miller. I enjoyed All My Sons more. The conflicts in the story were more realistic and the characters were more developed, as well as showed more growth. Both were more complex than those of The Secret Life of Bees. All My Sons is a very short play (84 pages!!!), though the interesting plot presented lots of usable material. Technically, however, it’s not an incredibly difficult read. The first act of the play is a bit confusing - there are a lot of names to learn, and you’re sort of thrown head-first into the conflict, so it takes a while to catch on to exactly what’s happened and what’s happening. This play deals a lot with sacrifice and morality, as well as happiness and stability. I wrote my essay about the conflict between happiness and sacrifice, and how this connects to morality. I think anyone interested in humanity/human nature, economics, or even history would enjoy this book.

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  9. Hello lovely classmates! For my two ALIS books, I read Anthem (Ayn Rand) in the summer and the play A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) in the fall. If any of you are interested in reading A Streetcar Named Desire I would strongly recommend it. Don’t be scared off by the summaries! The main character, Blanche, goes through a lot of suffering while putting an air of invincibility around her. Williams, throughout the play, uses the suffering of his characters to portray that their desires lead to their destruction. He ultimately asks the question: If selfish desire leads to death, what is the purpose of life beyond satisfying these desires? In my essay I focused on Blanche’s dependency disorder and her desire for attention because that she one of the symbols Williams uses to ask his question.
    The play is not a difficult read, but to write about and truly comprehend it a reader needs a deep understanding of symbolism and a willingness to read inbetween the lines. The vocabulary is not hard, but the formatting may be different, because it is a play. It is only ten short acts, no scenes. I feel this is purposeful because too much, well, it would just be insignificant fluff. Also, it was written in 1947, so don’t forget about the time period while reading.
    I enjoyed this play very much, not only because of the writing, but the symbolism and personal searching that takes place really speaks to what Williams is wondering about life. If you want to read this, I would suggest not only reading it, but watching it. Plays are meant to be performed! Watching some of the scenes on YouTube really made the characters more real to me, instead of just words on a page.

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  11. I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou last semester. My summer book was The Secret Life of Bees. I liked The Secret Life of Bees way more than I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography, which automatically makes it harder to read than a fictional story. A lot of the book is centered around when Maya Angelou was raped at a young age. The author also wrestles with insecurity and racism and homelessness. It was a much heavier book than The Secret Life of Bees. I love The Secret Life of Bees. I really enjoyed the metaphor of bees that was carried out throughout the book. I liked the action and storyline, and I usually like books that are set during the time of the Civil Rights movement. In our in-class essay, I wrote about the motif of the quotes about bees at the beginning of every chapter. The book is fairly easy to read and is engaging. It’s probably more a book for girls than for guys, as a lot of the book is about the main character’s coming-of-age. Civil Rights is a major theme, as well as the role of women in society, emerging from a traumatic childhood, and perseverance. I really enjoyed reading it, and have no complaints about it, although if you are looking for a challenge, this book is probably a bit too simple.

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  12. Last summer I read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and last semester I read Turn Of The Screw by Henry James. I, personally, enjoyed OF Mice and Men more than the latter, because of the relationship between the characters, the symbolism of animals compared to people, and the dark and light themes presented. The book is full of symbolism, metaphors, and many other literary devices. For my essay I wrote about how darkness cannot exist without light which is shown through the actions, words, and symbolism in each character. The book is very short, and a nice read, the text is not all that difficult. The vocabulary and author’s style are easy to decrypt, but you have to be able to read between the lines, and figure out the symbolism and motifs in the book. The book’s content moves rather quickly and is not boring. It is easy to read; the font isn’t too small, and the book is shaped in a smaller format compared to the sizing of other books. The book is a great for anyone looking for a book that is shorter with powerful content, or someone looking to focus on relationships between the characters, and the symbolism of good, bad, light, or dark. There are many major issues and topics in the book, it can focus on a character’s development; like curley's wife’s need for attention, or how Lennie is admit against fighting yet he still manages to hurt people.

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  13. Last semester I read "In Cold Blood" by Trueman Capote. I enjoyed the story progression, points of view, and factual accuracy. For the ALIS essay I wrote about the main character Perry's ambitions and dreams compared to reality. It was 368 pages long. A little long for an ALIS book but readable. The reading difficulty was easy besides a few words/phrases of the time period or location.The story progresses well and keeps the reader engaged with curiosity.The author writes about how normal people become murders, what it is like, and how it affects others. A unique thing about this book is that it is entirely true, a non-fiction novel. Overall it was a good book and I would recommend it to someone.

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  14. Over the summer I read "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. I had read this book twice already and I thought I knew what the book was about. To my surprise, when I thoroughly read the book, annotating ad sucking up every hint that Steinbeck leaves, reading the book is a totally different experience that leaves one thinking. I enjoyed the underlying themes, "behind the scenes" things. You know when you read a book and you get all excited because you notice foreshadow, or you notice a theme that you feel no one else has discovered? This book is chock full of themes like so. I wrote about the effects of innocence on others. All of the characters in the book have a nostalgic mindset. There are all suffering from regret, the regret of not following through with their dream at one point in their lives, leaving them in a nostalgic mindset because its all that they can think of. When they find innocence within Lennie, their dreams seem to be able to come back to life- but for only a short moment. I wrote about how innocence allows an individual to dream bigger, and push past the sky making space the limit. It's only about 112 pages long, short read with what at first seems like a lot of boring text. John Steinbeck in my opinion has a bit of a stale style, one that you really have to look deep in to in order to understand. There is no fictional elements really, of course its fiction but its more of a story to reflect on where society was at during the time frame. More of a cultural piece versus a fun read. It's short- but you really gotta pay attention to appreciate it. The author wrestles with innocence, nostalgia, somewhat reputation. It's a great book, if you decide to read it and pay good attention I'm positive you'll love it

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  15. Last Summer I read "The Secret Life of Bees". Last Semester I read "The Help". They are both fantastic books to read. I think they could certainly be more interesting than other options out there, if thats what you're looking for. I really enjoyed the characters in these books. Both authors developed them well, which helped with some aspects of our writing. I found that "The Secret Life of Bees" was the perfect length, and it had a lot of motifs. It was easy to understand. "The Help" on the other hand was a monster on a book to read and annotate in the time that was allotted. It was too long. But the story was great, and yes it was still a fairly easy read, despite the length. I found that both of these authors wrestled with the overall idea of race, but also building a life for yourself. I think anybody would enjoy reading these books.

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  16. I read "Anthem" by Ayn Rand ad my summer ALIS. My fall ALIS was "The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury. I loved my summer ALIS and is a great choice if it is what your looking for. I really enjoyed this book because your are able to connect with the main character and connect what he is going through to modern day society. I wrote about the motif of fear and how it can cause society to change and act a certain way. The book is short and the reading level is mid to high, however, the book is very entertaining, which made it a fast read. If you enjoyed themes from last year you will really enjoy this book, because it makes them more exciting to read about, there is little to no controversial content in the book.

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  17. Last summer I read "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, and "The Secret Life of Bees," By Sue Monk Kidd. What I enjoyed most about each text was the humor. Despite addressing unsettling topics such as discriminations, child abuse, and death, each author expertly planned scenes of humor to lighten the overall serious mood. For my "Secret Life of Bees" essay I wrote about how a suitcase is used to represent change throughout the story, and in my "The Help" essay I wrote about how Abilene's characters shows how a persons darkest moments can push them to make a change, whether that be in their life or their world. "The Secret Life of Bees" was a nice length and an easy read, as well as a captivating one. "The Help" however was considerably longer, yet still held my attention, and was harder to read, because of some characters dialect. I would recommend this book to people who like a story with lots of character. Both authors make you fall in love with their characters and attach you to their back story and future. Major issues discussed in these books would include racism, discrimination, and how a persons childhood environment affects their life.

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  18. Last summer I read, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. In the fall I read, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I loved the perspective that Angelou brought the the subject of racism, and how she described every detail. She made her book easy to relate to and carried the reader from powerful moment to another as if an emotional rollercoaster. I wrote about how Maya to suggest that if we endure life with our chins up even though such an approach may hurt in the present; it will pay off in the end. The book was not unbearably long, but it also wasn’t a quick read. It took time to work through the whole book because nearly every sentence has another meaning. However, this was one of those books that made me feel as if I wasn’t reading but actually walking in Maya Angelou’s shoes. The author wrestles with issues involving racism and the struggles to a young, black, girl. I found that this text connected quite nicely with The Secret Life of Bees.

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  19. ALIS Recommendation- I read "The Things the Carried" by Tim O'Brien this past semester and "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck over the summer. Both books were very readable and could be easily understood. That being said, neither of the books were very challenging in comprehension, however each book had interesting character development and growth. I do not recommend reading "Of Mice and Men," it has a solid ending however I could not keep myself interested during the majority of the book. I found the author repeating himself a lot not only literally in the text but also in setting, actions, and plot twists, to the point where it became predictable until the very end. The relationships between the two characters are interesting so I chose to write about the motif of companionship. Let me tell you, this isn't an easy book to write a paper on. I would recommend the book "The Things they Carried" because it is modern and easy to grasp but also has an interesting point of view. This author writes about other people's war stories and his own to give a rounded out view on his experience with war. Although there were tragic and heart tugging elements to this book, I also found it uplifting in the way that the main character found who his 'true self' is; so I chose to write about that. I found many great quotes in this book and found it relatively easy to write about. This book is twice the length of "Of Mice and Men," however, it seemed to go by so much faster because of the sympathy and reliability to the characters. If you get the choice I would recommend choosing "The Things they Carried" by Tim O'Brien rather than "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.

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  20. Last semester I read Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and last summer I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I personally enjoyed The Road more, and would recommend it over Cat's Cradle. I enjoyed The Road more than Cat's Cradle because they both were apocalyptic stories, but The Road was much more believable and realistic. People who enjoy darker stories and realistic fiction would enjoy The Road. The text was not very difficult but some of the events were foggy in what was actually happening. The Road is also written in a very simplistic manner, as Cormac McCarthy wants readers to feel as if the characters natural instincts are taking over and preventing deep and unnecessary thoughts. All in all I would recommend The Road as an ALIS book to readers who enjoy dark stories and stories of survival and adventure.

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  21. Last summer I read The Color of Water by James McBride and last semester I read My name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. I enjoyed The Color of Water more than my other selection. Most of the language was simple and the length was decent. Unlike my other book, My Name is Asher Lev the comprehension was a little more difficult probably unless you are Jewish. The most interesting part of The Color of Water was putting together his family dynamics, and how he and his mother interacted with others. It discusses issues; such as, racism, religion, parenting, and expectations. My Name is Asher Lev discusses topics;such as, religion persecution, expectations, and following your passion. For this book, I wrote about the social expectations that were put upon Asher (the main character) by the religious community. Both of these books are good if you are looking for a book about being an individual.

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  22. Last semester I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Over the summer I read Anthem by Ayn Rand. Fahrenheit 451 was not to difficult to read, easy to annotate with a lot of depth. The length really wasn’t too bad either, only about 250 pages. I found it very engaging and I really enjoyed the plot. This book had very interesting character development and growth. Fahrenheit 451 really wrestled with intellectual freedom and how that effects our society. Anthem is a very good with interesting view on a completely different society. I enjoyed the fact that the society was so different, for it gave me new perspective. It is a fast read and only a little difficult to understand at first because of the author’s style/point of view. Between the two, I would say I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 better because Bradbury’s main character is more dynamic then the Anthem’s. Either way, both books are great and deal with questioning authority in dystopian societies,

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  23. The book I read 1st semester was "Black Boy" by Richard Wright and last summer I read "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.
    I enjoyed the book "Black Boy" the best out of the two books. It kept me interested until the end and followed the difficult life that Richard Wright led in a time of racism and inequality. I wrote my paper about the individual's perspective/ideas vs. society's perspective/ideas. The book itself was quit lengthy, but the text itself was not too difficult to read or understand. Altogether it was an engaging book that I loved. It showed Richard growing and struggling to understand and accept the beliefs/ideas in the time period of his childhood. The major issues/ topics that Richard Wright writes about are about his lack of education, constant hunger, violence, anger, and the tension between the individual and society.I highly recommend the book despite the fact that it is lengthy and slow at parts because its an easier read. Overall the theme of the book keeps you engaged and gives you an accurate and unique glimpse into what growing up in that time period as a black living in poverty was like.

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  24. For my summer ALIS novel I read Ayn Rand's "Anthem" and during the fall I read "The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury. Between the two, I enjoyed "The Illustrated Man" more. When I read I tend to have a very short attention span, if a book isn’t fast paced there is a high chance that I’ll get bored and have to struggle through it instead of enjoying it like I would most other books. “The Illustrated Man” kept me intrigued the entire time. Since it is a collection of short stories instead of a normal novel, it was constantly shifting into a new storyline always leaving me wanting more. Similarly, while the book did challenge my thinking, it was not a difficult book to understand. The genre of science fiction in nature deals with controversial concepts in creative ways. Manly it deals with how humans deal with fears in classic scenarios such as the end of the world. “The Illustrated Man” discusses modern ideas such as corruption caused by advancing technology to ancient conversations like racism and discrimination. The one downside of writing about a character motif for this anthology was that the main character was only around for three pages. This made quite the challenge to write about him. So for that essay I used the other stories to infer information about him, my main point was that discrimination changed him into a monster. This book is great for anyone who enjoys a fast, constantly changing novel that may not leave you with a firm resolution but it does challenge you to go outside your comfort zone and think in new ways.

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  25. Last summer, I read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers for fall. Both stories wrestled with the much deeper emotional impact of the Vietnam War. This war, due to America's loss, is commonly ignored despite it's prominent psychological effects. Of the two books, I would recommend The Things They Carried because O'Brien constantly keeps the reader interested due to his writing style. He writes his accounts of the war and mixes in mental dialogue of his characters at different points in the war. Much of this dialogue is written simply enough to get the idea across, but he includes many metaphors that evoke a deeper emotional connection and understanding of the character. He portrays the effects of wars, especially PTSD without directly addressing it; he writes about this serious mental illness without sugar coating it. Many times people will shy away from war novel because of gore or disinterest, but the very few times O'Brien does mention any gore, it is vital to the story and for a raw description of the pains of the war. This story only requires basic knowledge of the Vietnam War and is a thought provoking book that explores deeper into war.

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  26. Over the school year I read "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury and then "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick. I would recommend "The Martian Chronicles" because it delves deep into how humans think and is not as confusing as "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". "The Martian Chronicles" explores the idea if humans traveled to a foreign planet and how they would handle certain foreign situations. The novel is separated into stories in chronological order. This makes the novel very interesting as each story connects to each other in an abstract way. It is also an easy read and does not require any trips to the dictionary. However, the novel is hard to write an essay about as there are not many motifs and the stories make the novel more scattered. Also it requires a very open mind to alien cultures and impossible predicaments. I would absolutely recommend this book as a "must read", but would not recommend it if your essay has nothing to do with ignorance or human nature.

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  27. Okay so my first one didn't post for some reason so I shall do another. This summer I read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and this last semester I read Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. I enjoyed Fallen Angels much better. It was a fascinating story following 17-year-old, African American, boy named Richie as he travels to Vietnam to fight in this brutal war. It's story line is easy to follow, but it has many complex aspects as Richie struggles with the moralities of war. It is a very good book and I strongly recommend it, especially if you're already reading war books for ALIS.

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