Review of ‘The Haters’ by Jesse Andrews

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 11.10.12 AMSex jokes, cynicism, and risky formatting choices all crammed together in a chaotic masterpiece of a book? Yes, please.

Not many books can make me laugh out loud in public, but The Haters did so repeatedly.

I’m a big fan of Jesse Andrews, ever since I saw the film version of Me and Earl and The Dying Girl and immediately bought the book. A close friend of mine pre-ordered The Haters and kindly lent it to me as soon as he’d finished*. So my expectations were very high, considering how much I loved Jesse Andrew’s first novel. Continue reading

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Review of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All-the-Bright-PlacesAll the Bright Places puzzled me. While reading it, I was never sure what to think. After reading it, I’m still not sure what to think.

The story certainly shines with its own light. It’s about two teens, Violet and Finch, who meet each other on the roof of the school tower during a rough spot in their lives. It explores the irony of someone wanting to die but teaching someone else how to live and is based off a true experience the author had. It’s cute and funny–hitting upon some deep topics about loss and recovery in an elegant way. Continue reading

Literary Persuasion–The Hunger Games

In an age where easy-to-watch films are everywhere, what makes us continue to dedicate our time to reading books?

I was kindly invited to guest post on the blog Propaganda for Change. I tried my hand at a more scientific post that talks about the persuasive content hidden in the pages of our papery friends, using the impressive Hunger Games Trilogy as an example.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you like to read. And you almost certainly like stories.
 
From an evolutionary viewpoint, the reason for loving stories is clear; prehistoric man could listen to his friend talking about a close encounter with a wolf in a cave and then he could use that knowledge to stay alive on his search for food. Stories were sugar coated pills of important information. They were also a way of creating beauty to bond with other humans and increase one’s survival (1). Even today, it’s a well-known fact that we tend to enjoy things that lengthen our lifespans–mother nature is funny that way.
 

Granted, the ‘don’t eat those red berries, because…’ story is extremely different from the modern fictional sagas, but we’re captivated by them just the same.
However, this still doesn’t explain our love of books in particular. These days, most books have been turned into films, which require little effort or time to watch. Reading a 700-page book is an entirely different form of crazy. It requires days, and sometimes weeks, of dedicated page flipping. Why do we do this?
 
One simple answer could be ‘the book is better than the film’. But why would we say this? What powerful force would make us struggle through not just one book, but a whole series because it’s ‘better’ than anything on the screen?
 
I believe the answer is ‘persuasion’. The writer is trying, and often succeeding, to convince you that those 100,000 words are worth your time. Essentially, a book is a never-ending stream of propaganda that tells you to read more propaganda.