Sunday, November 29, 2015

12 of the Best Classic Literary Quotes

In my years of middle and high school required readings and reading for personal satisfaction, I've come across my fair share of literary classics.  A lot of my books look like I painted them with highlighters, because if there's one thing I love about books, it's pertinent quotes.  Here are 12 of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite stories:

1. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
      from The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

2. "He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking."
      from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

3. "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
      from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

4. "You don't have to live forever, you just have to live."
      from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

5. "A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it."
      from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

6. "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."
     from Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

7. "Maybe there is a beast... Maybe it's only us."
     from Lord of the Flies by William Golding

8. "I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only.  I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary."
     from Variations on the Word Sleep by Margaret Atwood

9. "She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her."
     from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

10. "Sometimes we get sad about things and we don't like to tell other people that we are sad about them.  We like to keep it a secret.  Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don't know why we are sad, so we say we aren't sad but we really are."
     from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

11. "Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot."
     from Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

12. "Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life."
     from The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"It's Kind of a Funny Story" and Depression

It's not every day that you get excited to read about mental illness.  When I picked up Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story, I thought it was pretty sick to claim that depression is in any sense a "funny story".  But I shouldn't have judged this book by its cover.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is the tale of New York City teenager, Chris Gilner.  His goal in life is to get into the right school to get into the right college to get into the right job.  But the pressure is crippling, and he stops eating and sleeping and nearly kills himself.  So he gets checked into a mental hospital, where he meets a transsexual sex addict, a girl who scarred her face with scissors, and several other characters.  His experiences at the hospital finally help him confront his demons and live through his depression.

I love this story so much because it shows the true tragedy of depression.  Many stories often try to glorify or even degrade depression, but It's Kind of a Fu

nny Story is honest.  The Washington Post reviewed it as: "Funny... [Vizzini] supplies personal insights and a clever, self-deprecating tone that make the book an entertaining read."

The most tragic thing about It's Kind of a Funny Story, though, is the fact that its author (Ned Vizzini) was himself struggling with depression when he wrote this book.  He spent time in a psychiatric hospital and created a moving story about an unexpected road to happiness.  Vizzini committed suicide in December of 2013 (7 years after his most famous book was published).

In 2010, a movie adaptation of It's Kind of a Funny Story was released, starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Roberts.  While the characters stray a little bit from the book, the movie version follows the plot pretty closely, so I didn't absolutely hate it.  If you're interested in It's Kind of a Funny Story, though, I would recommend reading the book instead.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reading and Writing: Important Aspects of Your Morning Routine

As a senior in high school, I'm looking forward to spending my next few years away at college.  However, if anything, this year has taught me how to be self-sufficient.  In college, I won't have parents to nag me about getting homework done or cleaning up after myself.  I have to learn how to do those things on my own.  This year, especially, I've focused on getting myself awake and ready to face the day, even during the wee hours of the morning.  So I created a morning routine that's designed to motivate me to get out of bed and ready for my early classes.  Here's what I do.

  • Mediation
I spend the first 10-15 minutes of the morning quietly meditating so that I can cast out all anxiety.  I know it makes me sound like a spiritualistic hippy or something, but trust me, meditation works.  Personally, I like to use the Stop, Breathe, & Think app.  You select how you're feeling at the present moment and the app suggests different meditations to try and center yourself.
  • Goals
Next, I write down what I wish to accomplish during the day.  Whether it be small tasks like getting to school early or larger ones like finishing a paper, writing down what I want to get done makes me feel even better when I can cross each one off.
  • Exercise
I usually hate exercise, but this is one of the few things that gets me motivated for the day.  I use the Sworkit app for 10-15 minutes each morning.  The workouts are in 30-second intervals, so the time flies by and makes your morning speed along.
  • Reading
This is the most important aspect of my mornings.  I pick out a great, interesting book or article to read for 10-20 minutes over a cup of coffee.  It's critical that you pick out something you're interested in, or the reading will send you right back to Snooze Town.  If you can't think of a book, look up an article on NPR or even BuzzFeed.  Getting your mind flowing early in the morning will make your school work seem less dull.
  • Writing
Right after I change out of my jammies and into my regular clothes, I crack open my journal and write some stuff down.  It doesn't have to be world-changing ideas, just whatever's on my mind.  If I can't think of anything to write, I have another journal with 300 writing prompts.  Again, it's critical to get your brain used to working in the morning, or school is just going to be even more miserable.