Reading · Writing

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho is an award winning writer who wrote many best-selling novels such as The Fifth Mountain, The Alchemist, and Eleven Minutes.  He was born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1947 and later on left for Spain to write his first novel The Pilgrimage.  He had a rough upbringing due to his parents strict rules and his rebelliousness towards them.  Being raised in Rio, his parents thought it wrong for young Paulo to become a writer, which he so desired to do, and for his rebelliousness, they institutionalized him 3 separate times.  In my opinion, these events seem to be key turning points in Coelho’s life that would have brought him closer to his desire for freedom, adventures, dreams and goals.  They would also help motivate him towards writing The Alchemist, which is heavily focused on Dreams and goals in general.



Experiencing Killing Lincoln

Experiencing Killing Lincoln

Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor

Bill O’Reilly…  He is the controversial figure with his own segment (The O’Reilly Factor) on Fox News.  Some may hate him, some may love him, but we all must agree after reading Killing Lincoln, a retelling of Abraham Lincoln written in 2011,  he is an amazing writer.


The work Killing Lincoln pieces together Abraham Lincoln’s final days alive.  It starts at the beginning of the end of the Civil War.  With the surrender of General Robert E. Lee, along with several of the last final battles, it feels as if you’re there watching them, witnessing the tragedies and death of the final moments of the Civil War.  The reader feels Lincoln’s love for his country, and John Booth’s, Lincoln’s assassinator, loathing for the Union’s cause.  It really goes into depth and quality of not just a couple, but ALL of the characters and components of these few fateful days.  From Booth’s co-conspirators to even General Ulysses S. Grant’s wife, he covers all aspects of the heroic, yet underlying tragic days.


From the very beginning of the story the reader immediately delves into Abraham Lincoln’s  perspective.  The details are startling and chilling.  Even the first chapter leaves the reader captivated as it begins the story with Mr. Lincoln pacing the steamboat known as The River Queen out in broad daylight.  Each of these events that O’Reilly captures are surprising and make up each of the characters personalities.  Such examples are Lincoln’s fearlessness of walking The River Queen in broad daylight without any protection from nearby Confederates, or the determinedness of the Confederate soldiers as they marched towards Amelia Court House in hopes of food and supplies in chapter 4. There’s even a  small detail in chapter 38 about Joseph Burroughs, nicknamed “Peanut John” who held John Booth’s horse, unknowing of the fact that Booth was about to kill the most historical man in American History.

Because all of these details are true, it makes for such a great book. O’really’s style of writing gives the reader a sort of heritage of American History, while also telling of heroic battles and detailed conversations, that even if they weren’t accurate, would still make Killing Lincoln an epic read.  While reading this, I almost felt like I had a seat at the theatre where Lincoln was killed. It was difficult for me to put the book down.


Homelessness “The Men in the Storm”

In the short story “The Men in the Storm” we can pinpoint many characteristics.  First off, it’s very cold.  We can find that detail many, many times throughout this story, but we can also find the sharp contrast between the rich and the poor.  Stephen Crane depicts two very different groups of people.  From the carriages and men bustling home from a warm meal to the poor men waiting outside of the soup kitchen, we see the wealth contrast.


Reading · Semantics

Reading Responses: Return to the Wild


If you were going to categorize Christopher McCandless and his life choices as one of two opposing extremes, which would you choose? Was he a brave soul who embraced the notion of non-conformity to the fullest and lived according to his own determination of what mattered most in life? Or was he selfish, cruelly disregarding the feelings of those who cared for him most as he foolishly followed an overly-idealistic worldview and perished due to his naivety?

I definitely think Chris had good intentions in his choices, and I definitely can relate to his situation.  In my best guess, I feel it’s your frame of mind.  Some like to live in the city, some in the country.  Some people strive for normalcy and a family in the suburbs of a town, some want to live the wild life, but I believe that Chris’s frame of mind is my own frame of mind.

I worry about being consumed in a world of phonies and normalcy.  I believe he could have achieved these things in a different way, but maybe that’s what felt right to him.  He had to leave, he wanted to see the world.  But coming from someone who can’t stand to be alone I have a hard time relating to the fact that he wanted to leave for quite so long a time.  Maybe this was his fatal flaw, his want to be alone.  However, maybe this is what helped him actually live and enjoy his life.


He has inspired me in this way.  I want to live other than just existing, and maybe in the future I will do something to this crazy extent.  That is go somewhere I’ve never been and experience it alone.  But maybe not for a whole 4 months…



Reading · Semantics

Open and Closed-Ended Questions Regarding “Self Reliance”

“Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three most thought-provoking questions from other students

  1. Does being misunderstood mean you’re different in a good way?
  2. What does he mean by “Everywhere there is conspiracy against manhood?”
  3. If we can only experience ourselves, our mind, and no one else’s, then wouldn’t mean that all actions are carried for our own selfish reasons?

I believe these three questions could lead to a very thought-provoking conversation with another.  They are all very thoughtful questions which couldn’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Two questions from students that wouldn’t be considered thought-provoking

  1. Can cowards get work done?
  2. When was this written?

Maybe I misunderstood the purpose of these two questions, but in my personal opinion I don’t believe these questions could lead to anything really “thought-provoking”.  The former I don’t believe makes much sense, but maybe thats due to miscommunication. The second is a very closed-ended questions that could only be answered by a specific date, which happens to be 1841 in this case.  However, maybe they asked in regards to why the text was written in such a way, or maybe why Emerson thought in this perspective?  Both could be answered with the fact that it was written in a different time period.

One random question and response to it…

  • What is Transcendentalism?
  1. 1.
    an idealistic philosophical and social movement that developed in New England around 1836 in reaction to rationalism. Influenced by romanticism, Platonism, and Kantian philosophy, it taught that divinity pervades all nature and humanity, and its members held progressive views on feminism and communal living. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were central figures.
  2. 2.
    a system developed by Immanuel Kant, based on the idea that, in order to understand the nature of reality, one must first examine and analyze the reasoning process that governs the nature of experience.

    (Taken from google)


Mark Twain – Is Truth stranger than fiction?

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

-Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar

Do you agree with the statement? Is the truth more strange than fiction? Why or why not?

I feel I comprehend this statement in a different light.  While it holds a lot of thought and meaning, I don’t necessarily think we know what is true.  There are diagnosis’s to mental problems, weird looks for people who believe in conspiracies, and disbelief when someone has a theory that doesn’t regulate to the norm, but do we actually know if someone is crazy?  Can we actually put all of our faith in evolution or that aliens are not real?


Reading List 2016

  1. The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearson
  2. Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  3. Edge of Never – J.A Redmerski – 02/22/2016
  4. Girl Code – 02/23/2016
  5. Mythology101 – Kathleen Sears – 03/11/2016
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone – 03/11/2016 – J. K. Rowling
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K Rowling
  9. Street Car Named Desire  – Tennessee Williams
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 03/30/2016 – J.K Rowling
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 04/15/2016 – J.K Rowling
  12. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – 04/24/2016 J.K Rowling
  13. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 05/05/2016 – J.K. Rowling
  15. Annihilation – 05/12/2016 – Jeff VanderMeer
  16. Eleanor and Park – 05/14/2016 – Rainbow Rowell
  17. Marked – 05/17/2016 – Kristin Cast and P-C Cast
  18. Fated – 05/23/2016 – Alyson Noel
  19. Carry on – 05/26/2016 – Rainbow Rowell
  20. Fangirl – 05/29/2016 – Rainbow Rowell
  21. Throne of Glass – 06/04/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  22. Crown of Midnight – 06/12/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  23. Heir of Fire – 06/15/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  24. 40 Things to Teach your Children – 06/23/2016 – Gregg Jackson
  25. Queen of Shadows – 07/18/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  26. Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J. Maas
  27.  Empire of Storms – 10/13/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  28. Born at Midnight – 10/16/2016 – C.C Hunter
  29. Awake at Dawn – 10/18/2016 – C.C Hunter
  30. A Court of Thorns and Roses – 10/29/2016 – Sarah J. Maas
  31. A Court of Mist and Fury – 11/11/2016 Sarah J. Maas
  32. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
  33. Requiem – 12/2/2016 – Lauren Oliver