Top 5 Favorite Books

A few days ago it suddenly dawned on me that I created a list of my favorite movies, but failed to ever create one for my favorite books. I’ve decided to rectify the situation.

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5. Paper Towns by John Green

I’ve been watching John Green and his brother Hank Green on YouTube for probably over a year now, and finally decided to read John Green’s novels. Paper Towns is a really great novel about finding yourself. What I love about John Green is his ability to relate to his younger teenage audience. He doesn’t simplify his messages or talk down to his readers, but rather talks to them.

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4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This novel has just stuck with me over the years. There’s just something about it that keeps it on my list. Maybe the fact that it takes place within a traveling circus keeps it there, but it’s most likely the surprising love story.

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3. Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, and Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

I love everything about this series from its main character Jessica Darling to the journal/diary style it’s written in. Jessica is the type of character you can’t help but try to relate to. Her quick wit, insecurity, and intelligence makes her a lovable character and A force to be reckoned with. I’ve loved this series since the first book came out, and have just discovered the 5th and final one’s existence. An Amazon order has been placed and I’m eager to start reading it to what happens to Jessica and her on again off again love interest Marcus.

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2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I’ve read this novel over and over again. This is undoubtedly my favorite love story because it transcends all other love stories for me. The two characters are meant to be together so completely, and it’s actually hard for me to imagine loving someone so much that something so big as time doesn’t play a factor.  Edward and Bella have nothing on Henry and Clare.

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1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

I love this book not only for the story, but the experience I had while reading it. I ended up staying up until 2 a.m. on vacation to finish it. I hid out in the bathroom so the light wouldn’t bother people sleeping. Just picture me sitting on the floor in a bathroom in the middle of the night crying over a book! I’ve never experienced such a range of emotions while reading. I laughed one page and cried the next. John Green became my favorite author after reading this one.

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Review: ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman

A plus to working at a job where, on a whole, all you do is sit for hours on end: you get a lot of reading done. Before I was weary of this idea and stayed away from it, but now I’ve embraced it to the point that I have no idea what I did to pass the time before it. This week I began and finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

In a nutshell, the book is a mix between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia for more mature readers. The main character Quentin isn’t happy with his average life (parallel to dear ol’ Harry?)–and keeps returning to the dream that a magical, fictional land from books of his youth will bring him happiness–until he is admitted to a college for magicians. He still clings to the idea that Fillory (the magical land) will solve all his problems if only he could find a way in (maybe through a wardrobe?), but he meets a group of friends and of course falls in love. Once he finally ends up in Fillory he realizes that it’s not the key to bring him happiness, but rather what destroys all the happiness he did have.

In an attempt to summarize yet leave out incredibly interesting parts, I’ll conclude my summary there. In my opinion, this book had some very epic moments, but also some low, disappointing ones as well. The great moments made the few bad ones seem minor, but they are still worth noting. The fact that Fillory could have easily just been called Narnia–it’s similarities where that blatantly obvious–left me feeling that Grossman took the easy way out with Fillory in order to focus on other aspects of the story. He could have at least attempted to mask the similarities a little bit better or worked to make his differences stand out more.

The writing style is fantastic. It’s mature, vivid, and you don’t feel like you’re reading a book written for children. All of the characters major and minor are alarmingly complex. Although the novel is attempting to create imaginary worlds, it does it in a way that makes it somewhat believable. There aren’t scenes whose sole purpose is to show off the imagination of the writer which help to increase the realism.

The ending left me unsatisfied which I’m sure was the purpose so I would purchase the sequel (said to be coming out in summer 2011). I think I will end up getting the second in order to feed my curiosity, but that won’t change the fact that the last 50 or so pages of the book just did not do it for me.

All in all this book was well crafted and contained an enticing storyline that was very real even in worlds that are not. Quentin stood out as a clearly flawed character, but surprisingly, not the hero of the story. I think that’s why I do actually like this novel. The main character isn’t the one who saves the day, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. He makes bad choices and has to live with the consequences of his actions.

I always hated how at the end of reviews it goes into “if you like this and this, then you’ll really like the book I’m talking about” because each book is different, even if it does contain traces of others. The Magicians is a brilliant book that took the ideas of other beloved stories and morphed them into something dark, real, and ultimately wonderful.

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‘Julie & Julia’ Changed My Life

I’m fairly confident with that statement.  I’ve watched enough movies over the years to know when one has had an actual impact on my life. Movies like A Walk to Remember or (500) Days of Summer, sure, but others like I-Spy or Ghost Rider, not so much. My recent Netflix Watch Instantly viewing of Julie & Julia can definitely be considered life changing.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and buy a duck and attempt to de-bone it. I don’t even have the faintest idea where to get a duck in the first place.

It’s not the cooking that struck home, but the conviction Julie had to cook those 524 (I think?) recipes for no other reason than to say she had done it…and to later write a book about it.

 

The relationships in the film were incredibly motivational as well. Julie’s and Julia’s marriages are easily enviable. There was nothing spectacular about them, which made them not only realistic, but more obtainable. I find that very important in films. Realism is obviously a must, but making the viewer feel as if they themselves could obtain what the characters have is vital.

Julie’s blogging can be credited for my return to Under the Microscope. Well that, and the boredom of Spring Break when the rest of Grand Blanc is in Florida. She kept at it, with or without feedback. I lost sight of why I started blogging in the first place, and Julie helped bring me back with her triumphs over crustaceans.

 

You know why this movie is brilliant? It’s a true story. This actually happened.  The blog is real and everything! That’s why this movie is so freakin’ amazing.

Julie & Julia surprised me. I was just looking for a film to pass the time, and I found a movie that’ll stick with me.