Category Archives: Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

Rory Gilmore Update Number Five

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

TimeTraveler'sWifeAudrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
I read this book in high school at a time when every I knew loved it. I remember parts of it, but I don’t remember being in love with it as much as the rest of my peers were. It’s a pretty typical love story and I had thought that the time travel element would be really cool, but I was wrong. The time traveling was pretty depressing and, spoiler alert, the ending is sad. It was written well, and a good story if you’re into that kind of thing, but tragic modern day romances just aren’t really my thing.

Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Code (2003)DaVinciCode
Oh Dan Brown. I don’t even really want to talk about this book anymore I read it so long ago and there was so much hype surrounding it. It really is an interesting premise and a very suspenseful read, but it is also a work of fiction. All these people who got up in arms over the plot and themes of this book really just need to chill. It’s a murder mystery that uses some historical elements (some very well researched and some totally fabricated) to move the plot forward. Add in an Indiana Jones-esq historian and a sexy sidekick looking for vengeance and of course this book is going to end up on the New York Times Best Seller List.

GobletofFireJ.K Rowling – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
Only two Harry Potter Books appear on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge, the first one and this one. Like everyone else in the world I love the Harry Potter series, but this book was not my favourite. It is however, the pivotal book in the series. It is in this book that the story gains an edge and loses some of that whimsical-fantastical-ness and really becomes about the fight between good and evil. While it starts out innocently enough, school is basically cancelled due to a inter-school tournament, at the end Cedric, an innocent bystander dies, and we’re all brought back to Harry’s reality. Life is not all about Quidditch and Butterbeer, Voldemort is now a real threat, not just a part of a ghost story. While books One, Two and Three, are almost standalone books, The Goblet of Fire does not have a neatly packaged conclusion. It is the beginning of the end which will be drawn out over the next three books (and four movies).

Rory Gilmore Update Number Four

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with children’s books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

babeDick King Smith – Babe (1983)
The actual title of the book is The Sheep-Pig in the UK or Babe the Gallant Pig, in the US. Another children’s book featuring a pig that will always bring me back to my own childhood. Babe the pig is brought to a sheep farm and quickly picks up the talent of herding sheep. His owner enters him in a sheep herding trial (yes its a real thing), and the pair score full marks. The book ends with those famous words, “That’ll do pig.”

Also if you’re at all intrigued by sheepherding watching this video about a bunch of sheepherders in New Zealand who clearly have too much time on their hands.

E.B White – Charlotte’s Web (1952)charlottesweb
No matter how old I get I will always cry at the end of this book. It’s such a classic story, but is so touching and just reminds me of childhood summers spent reading on the back porch. It is also one of those rare books that is as enjoyable to children as it is to adults. If I ever have children I will read to them and cry alongside them when Charlotte dies and Wilbur guards her eggs. I’m tearing up just writing this right now.

Encyclopedia_Brown,_Boy_Detective_(1963)Donald J. Sobol – Encyclopedia Brown (1963)
The male counterpart to Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown was the boy detective who could crack any case in the neighbourhood. Interestingly enough, I never read Nancy Drew growing up, but my dad would read an Encyclopedia Brown mystery to me every night. After the story we would debate how exactly Encyclopedia Brown was able to crack the case before checking the solutions at the back of the book. I was a little shit as a kid though and would often cheat, looking at the solution before my Dad came into read and would put on a whole show about how smart I was for cracking the case. Pretty sure he knew I was cheating all along, but I’ve never asked him about it.

Rory Gilmore Update Number Three

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

AnneFrank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
Another book that I had to read in middle school before I was mature enough to fully grasp the gravity of the Holocaust. The beauty of this novel however, is that it introduces the Holocaust to young readers in a way that is accessible and easier to take than a lot of other literature dealing with the subject. It’s written by a teenage girl, probably around the same age as many reading her diary. As a young person you understand the tragic circumstances surrounding Anne Frank, but are also sheltered from the more nightmarish aspects of the Holocaust. All that learning will come later. Anne always wanted to be a writer, and she clearly had a talent for it. The tragedy is that we will never know what she could have done had she lived.

S.E Hinton – The Outsiders (1967)TheOutsiders
A timeless and classic coming of age story, if you didn’t read this on growing up, you missed out. Essentially a story about two rival gangs separated by socioeconimc status, the story focuses in on Ponyboy Curtis, the narrator, and his brother SodaPop. Hinton himself was only 15 when he started writing this book so the characters are very easy to identify with for teenagers. I also highly recommend watching the 1983 movie starring Emilio Estavez, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, and Patrick Swayse, and remember “Stay Gold Ponyboy…”

PerksofbeingwallflowerStephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)
A book that was relatively unknown when I first read it, but is now being heralded as a classic coming of age story. It is a very well done coming of age story following the life of Charlie through a series of letters written to an anonymous stranger. I feel like its one of those books that is so amazing to read in high school, but loses its appeal upon graduation. Thats because it’s about high school and when you read things like this, everything feels so relatable. (This book totally gets me!). Its a great read, but if your high school days are long behind you, I’d leave this one off your list.

Rory Gilmore Update – Number Two

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. Some are classics that don’t require a full page review. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with dystopian futures from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

George Orwell – 1984 (1949)
1984I can understand the hype with this book. I get why Orwell wrote it and I get why it was so powerful and popular. Lately however there has been so much incredibly science fiction and dystopian futures published that 1984 feels like it’s lacking something. I know that it basically inspired the genre, but after reading things like Oryx and Crake I found I constantly had to remind myself that this book was published in 1949 and was a big deal at the time. Or maybe I’ve just grown desensitized to the thought of Big Brother. Don’t get me wrong, parts of this book are terrifying, namely the torture at the hands of the Thought Police, but I personally don’t find the idea of my T.V watching me to be frightening. With today’s technology, does privacy even exist anymore? Even though, I find it dated, it is likely that 1984 will remain a part of school curriculums for the foreseeable future. It is representative of a time and a place and maybe it’s time that we all concede that Big Brother has finally won and move on.

Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
Farenheit451Despite the similarities to 1984 I really enjoyed this book, probably because its main message is about the importance of books. Its funny how Orwell and Bradbury, writing around the same time (1948 and 1954 respectively) have the same kind of idea of what the future looks like, both socially, but also aesthetically. The descriptive elements of houses, streets, cars, and the idea of perpetual war are almost identical in both books. As is the idea of a Big Brother type of government which watches the people’s every move. In 1984 this control is exercised through the thought police, in Fahrenheit 451, they burn books. Through his novel Bradbury reminds us of the power that books hold and the importance of knowledge in our society. Writing at the height of the Cold War Bradbury’s novel could be seen as being a critique of the Communist Witch Hunts and banning of books during the McCarthy Era. Even in our digital age, censorship remains a real concern, and Bradbury’s book is an important reminder about the power of knowledge and information.

Kurt Vonnegut – Galapagos (1985)
galapagosA dystopian future shaped and twisted by Darwin’s ideas surrounding natural selection. The narrator of the novel is Leon Trout, the son of Vonnegut’s recurring character Kilgore Trout. I like that Vonnegut does this with his characters, but that was pretty much the only thing I liked about this book. While the references made to Darwin and natural selection were interesting, I just didn’t really find the story all that compelling. Out of these three dystopian futures, this held the least amount of appeal for me.

Rory Gilmore Update – Number One

Doing the Rory Gilmore reading challenge means reading works that are almost impossible to read, or works that you may not have a great deal to write about. So here I have three short reviews of my experiences with books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge that I read in high school many years ago.

Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
HuckFinnI  had to read this in school so long ago, and while I don’t remember exact plot details, I do remember very clearly that reading this was the first time I became aware of the existence of slavery in the United States and the racial tensions that existed in the South. That was around grade six or seven, and it seems strange to me now that that was the first time I kind of realized that racism was a real tangible thing. I led a pretty sheltered life, and even though the plot of this book is a bit fuzzy in my memory, I remember the realizations I had while reading it. Being so young, I think a lot of the satire and indictments of racist attitudes went over my head, but  I do know this book was kind of a turning point for me. I would go on to be fascinated this period in  American History and would complete a thesis dealing with the Fugitive Slave Laws of the 1850s.

William Golden – Lord of the Flies (1954)
LordoftheFliesYet another book found on every single high school reading list. It’s about a group of schoolboys who end up stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash in some post-apocalyptic era like setting and details their descent into savagery. The two main characters are Ralph, a fair skinned likeable boy and “Piggy,” an overweight unpopular one. Unsurprisingly Ralph becomes somewhat of a leader to the band of survivors. There a loads of allegories about the different characters and what they represent, (Jack as the epitome of the worst characters of human nature, Simon as a Christ-like figure, etc.).  It should be noted that there are no girls on the island, and I do believe that I wrote a pretty convincing report in grade eight about how the outcome would have differed if girls had been stranded on the island as well. Anyways, the main theme is that all humans (although in this case just prepubescent boys) will resort to savagery when it comes to a survival. Its a fair claim, but the image of a pigs head on a stake haunted my nightmares for weeks and was something that I could have lived without.

Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
To_Kill_a_MockingbirdProbably my favourite book I had to read in high school. (I considered myself lucky, I had to read it twice). By this time, I had already read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and had made myself aware of the history of racial tensions in the Southern United States. I pretty much knew everything that a white girl living in Toronto could about 1933 Alabama, which prepared me to be a stuck-up know-it-all when it came to discussing this book in class. I got into a lively debate with my grade 10 English teacher about the different characters that were representative of the titular “Mockingbird” and everyone in the class hated me. (I maintained that Mayella Ewell represents a mockingbird but my teacher disagreed). It’s an American classic and is one of the only books that I feel deserve to be kept on high school reading lists.

There is a lot of talk going on right now due to the releasing of the unpublished sequel. I too have my concerns; was Harper Lee tricked into this some way? Does she really want to publish Go See a Watchman? Should everyone just leave the classics alone? Regardless I’m still pretty excited.