Why It is Hard to Enjoy Required Reading

Everyone has experienced required reading throughout their years in school. But I found them so much harder to even like or love, but why is it? For starters, you are kind of forced to read them and cannot read them at your own pace. Required reading is the hardest to enjoy in high school and college. I am reading a lot this semester, which is for Western Civilization. I have lots of books to read or required pages in those books and in the middle of one and I am so slow faced at getting it done. A lot of that comes from it being required to finish in only one week so required reading has a lot of pressure put on you. But every so often you can enjoy reading a required reading.

Back in high school, I never liked any of the required reading that we had to read over summer. Those were “Of Mice and Men”, “The Giver”, “Great Gatsby”, and “Frankenstein”. Many of the books I did not like were the sad ones. Some were ones I did not give a fair enough chance or ones I had no clue they would be sad in the first place. I discovered that yes tragedies exist in theatre so I thought they were pure sad so I literally ignored them when we had to read a Shakespearian tragedy in class. I did like “Taming of the Shrew” due to it being a comedy. I also loved “And Then There Was None”, “Illiad” and “Odyssey” so there were stories that I did love.

But required reading is so hard to appreciate. I like reading at my own pace instead of at this kind of forced pace. When you choose to read a book, it is easier to appreciate because you have the power to actually read the plot and decide whether or not you will actually read it. Required reading can drive you nuts because you have no power to decide what to read because teachers pick out the books you have to read. I did love required reading at times. Books I choose to read and loved included “Les Misérables”, “Great Expectations, “Oliver Twist”, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “A Christmas Carol”,  “Tale of Two Cities”, “Uprooted”, “Lord of the Rings Series”, “Land of Stories Series”, and so on.

Do you agree? Do you think it is harder to love required reading and why do you think that is?

Review of Oliver Twist

I am happy to say that I finished Oliver Twist yesterday. I started reading it on the 13th of May. Of all the classics I have read into between semesters, this book has taken me the shortest amount of time to read. On this post, I will try to review this book even thought it is difficult to come up with many reasons why I loved the book.

Spoilers ahead:

In this book, Dickens does a good job in grabbing you in just about three pages. Once I only read like that many pages, I started to fall in love with the story and Oliver. The entire book I was very fond of Oliver. He was actually my favorite character in the entire book. In my opinion, it is important to love the protagonist in order to get the most out of any piece of literature. Oliver was born an orphan and raised in a workhouse, which has poor conditions.

I love the spirit and goodness and innocence that Oliver shows even when people mistreat him at times, he always stays a good person. Even when he is in the hands of Fagin and Sikes, he does not turn to their criminal ways because of the goodness he has. I do love some of the characters that treat Oliver fairly such as Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie.

When it comes to the book, I just didn’t like Fagin or Sikes. They are two of the villains in the piece. While I don’t like the two characters, they provide conflict to Oliver’s journey and that is important. Oliver encounters Fagin first and did not understand he was training kids to be pickpockets at first. He did not figure that out until he saw the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates steal a handkerchief from a gentleman, who turns out to be Mr. Brownlow. Oliver just wouldn’t let Fagin or Sikes corrupt him at all.

I find Sikes to even be more evil than Fagin is. True he is also a villain like Fagin, but he is quite abusive. He does work for Fagin and later hated the fact that he killed Nancy. He only did that because Nancy gave away Fagin and Sike’s latest scheme of trying to recapture Oliver for the second time. The first round, Oliver was staying with Mr. Brownlow. It was Fagin’s goal to recapture him the first time. But the second time was when Oliver was staying with Rose Maylie and her family. When Oliver was staying with both of him, he was recovering from sickness and just did not want to be sent back to both Fagin and Sikes. Later in the story, there is another villain involved, who is Monks, who did plan with both Fagin and Sikes to recapture Oliver the second time.

I actually enjoyed Nancy more than both Fagin and Sikes. I found it hard to like her at first. But when she gave away Monks, Fagin, and Sike’s schemes to recapture Oliver, I loved her at that moment even though she knows that if she gave them away, she could possibly be killed and that was an act of courage right there.

This has to be the easiest Dickens book I ever read. He always makes you want to know what it going to happen next. Whenever he was with Mr. Brownlow and Rose, I always hoped that he wouldn’t be sent back to misery. I am so glad at the end that both Sikes and Fagin did die. I also am glad that Oliver got adopted by Mr. Brownlow, so Oliver’s journey did lead him to salvation. Now I am wondering should I watch the musical adaption? I honestly watched the musical live in middle school, but I have no recollections of seeing it.

If you like Oliver Twist, why did you love it?


Favorite Books of Mine

As everyone knows by now that I love musicals. Musicals is a type of storytelling so I thought it would fun to write a list of some of my favorite books. I even love to read and here is my list of favorite books. I will put series together.

  1. Les Misérables- my favorite book, but wow what a brick
  2. Don Quixote- story of the tragicomic knight errant
  3. Tale of Two Cities
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Lord of the Rings Series
  6. The Hobbit
  7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  8. Harry Potter Series
  9. Chronicles of Narnia Series
  10. Land of Stories Series
  11. Uprooted
  12. Hound of the Baskervilles
  13. The Last Unicorn
  14. Percy Jackson Series
  15. Wizard of OZ
  16. And Then There Was None
  17. Other Agatha Christie Mysteries
  18. Sister’s Grimm Series

My taste in book are classics, mythology, fantasy, magic, and adventure. What exactly makes a good book? A good book is always home to a incredible plot along with incredible characters as well. As for the classics, I love reading them due to the challenge that they bring and as for now, reading them in between semester and reading them in a limited amount of time gives me the motivation to actually finish them

Books to read in the future: thought it will be a nice addition to this post

  1. Oliver Twist
  2. Hunchback of Notre Dame
  3. Nicholas Nickelby

Review of “The Brick”

Why is Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables, known as “the brick”?

Just last summer, I decided to read the unabridged version of the “brick”. The reason why Victor Hugo’s book is called “the brick” is because of the length. The unabridged book is over one thousand pages and seems intimidating at first. The title also seems to lead people away from the book because it means “the miserable”, which indicates that the book is going to be a heartbreaking and tragic book.

But there is way more to the story then heartbreak and tragedy.  It takes a lot of work to see beyond that and once you realize what is at the core of the book, it makes the storyline so much better.

I decided to set a goal and told myself I will finish it by the end of the summer. I was inspired to read the unabridged book  because of the musical. I was interested in learning more about the book that Les Mis was based off of. Coincidentally, just like the musical, the book was also panned by critics. Victor Hugo once said “I don’t know if everyone will read this book, but it is meant for everyone”. Victor Hugo wrote a book that is about the survival of the human spirit. Les Misérables is one of the greatest stories ever told.

This is a  basic summary: a bit lengthy, possible minor spoilers

Its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is one of the most memorable and best characters in the world of literature. Jean Valjean had a terrible background by serving nineteen years in prison just for stealing a loaf of bread in order to provide for his sister and her children. This experience turned him from a good man to a man filled with anger and hatred. After being released, he had to be on parole forever. No one would give him a place to sleep or a place to eat just because he was an ex-convcit. That made him believe society will always hate him. But he was offered mercy, grace, compassion, and forgiveness by the humble bishop. The bishop gave him a meal and a place to sleep.

But Valjean was desperate and stole the bishop’s silver and was caught. But the bishop lied and said that the silver was a gift and gave him the silver candlesticks, which will serve as a reminder of the bishop’s kindness. The bishop was able to forgive him and taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. From that point on, Valjean decided to live by the example of the bishop. On top of that, there are is the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, the tragic tale of Fantine, and the uprising  that the students are planning.

This story is about Valjean’s journey from a harsh man filled with anger and hate to a man filled with compassion and goodness to saintlike. He dedicated his life to the Lord and made a promise to the prostitute, Fantine, that he would raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. Cosette was the first person he ever loved. Cosette and Valjean were both broken and they helped heal each other.

Overall, this book gave me a better glimpse into the time period that these characters lived. Victor Hugo created a book that realistically described early 19th Century, France. He  actually created some of his characters based of experience. The love story between Marius and Cosette  was based off the love between his first lover and him. He saved a prostitute from being arrested after a customer harassed her, which made him wonder if she had a child and Fantine was created. Hugo actually witnessed the June Rebellion of 1832.

It is hard to give a basic summary of the book. That shows that the storyline line is extremely  complex, but very real. It may be heartbreaking, but the book gives you a wonderful glimpse of spirituality. It is ultimately a story of sacrifice, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption. That is why Hugo’s story manages to uplift you and why it is so inspirational.

One of the most annoying and frustrating things about the book is that sometimes Victor Hugo interrupts the plot with boring history lessons. He would go into fifty or so pages about the battle of waterloo or twenty pages about the sewers of the Paris, etc. But I did not skip over them because my goal was to finish the entire book. But I understand why he wrote that way. You realize it helps you understand the storyline.

Victor Hugo is so clever with his book. He somehow was able to connect all these different characters though several coincidences. The characters all happened to be at the right place at the right time. For example, the Thenardiers and Marius ended up being neighbors at the same place Valjean and Cosette once lived. Cosette also seems to link the characters together. She is Fantine’s daughter, was adopted by Valjean,  part of a love triangle with Eponine and Marius. Because she was Valjean’s adopted daughter, she was always on the run to stay away from Javert and because Marius was a reluctant revolutionary, she connected to the students.

I was aware when I read the unabridged book that characterizations were going to be different, but that wasn’t going to stop me from loving the characters from the stage show. The Thenardier family was one of the most obvious difference in the book. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier were more wicked in the book and did not serve as comic relief.

You get a better glimpse into the poverty that the family faced. You become aware that Gavroche was indeed a Thenardier, which is not referenced in the musical. Eponine, one of my favorite characters in the musical, was slightly different as well. She was less loving in the book and she lives a more darker life in the book. She wasn’t that pretty in the book either. At times, she does become jealous between the love between Marius and Cosette, which makes her act in selfish and self-destructive  ways at times.

This book gets you a better glimpse into the bishop. The bishop plays a small, but crucial role in the story. Without him, you technically don’t really have a story. Without him, Valjean’s journey would not have been wonderful. The bishop helped Valjean raise above from where he came from.

Other characters include the obsessed Javert, the wicked and abusive Thenardiers’, the streetwise and tough Eponine, the self-sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, and the innocent and angelic Cosette and passionate and revolutionary Enjolras.

I may have read the unabridged book last summer, but had a lasting impact on the powerful, epic, and inspirational musical. This book helped make me appreciate the musical even more and it made the spirituality become more alive in the musical. The musical faithfully reflects the book despite all of the characterization differences, but those differences are for the show’s benefit. The book is so powerful and covered in several emotions. It spans over seventeen years.

You become more impressed at how the over one thousand page book was condensed into a three hour musical. I used my knowledge of the musical to understand the book. I was able to mark up major characters and write in song names. In a lot of ways, I find this story to be more inspirational then heartbreaking. These characters feel so real to you and you truly can care about every one of these characters even if you don’t like them.

Hint: if anyone wants to read the unabridged version of this book, make sure to have a dictionary at hand and mark up things that will help you understand the story. If you are a fan of the musical, I suggest you use your knowledge of the musical to read this book. I know it helped me.


Expert Quality of Les Mis

One of the things that comes to mind when I think of the word, expert, I think of Les Mis. As shown through this blog, you may have noticed that I talk about Les Mis a lot.

I say that because I am literally a walking talking Les Mis encyclopedia. I know a lot about that musical. What I know about the musical ranges from Victor Hugo, the Time Period, the “brick”, the movie and the musical. I still don’t why I am so obsessed with the musical, but I know why I love it so much. There is just something about Les Mis that truly moves you at the deepest part of your soul.

Victor Hugo wanted a story that would reflect 19th century France. He based his book off of things that he witnessed and incorporated himself into some of the characters. The love story of Cosette and Marius was based off of his relationship with his first love. He actually prevented a prostitute from being arrested after she was assaulted and that made him create Fantine. He actually witnessed the June Rebellion, which is the forgotten, but known uprising in the book. He wanted the book to represent the outcasts, the fugitives, and the underdogs. His book is covered with so many emotions, which perfectly is reflected in the musical.

I  think the emotional impact is what sets Les Mis apart from other musicals. It takes you on one of the most powerful, epic and inspirational emotional roller coasters. It takes its emotions very seriously and makes you feel so many. Yes, it is heartbreaking, but through experience, I really learned what is truly at the core of Les Mis. It is ultimately a story of love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, and redemption. That is why the show is so inspirational. The songs are so brilliant and truthfully and soulfully reflect the storyline and the characters. The songs are filled with so much heart and soul, which is why I am always moved by them.

I really love the characters in this show. They are so strong, complex, and vulnerable. They may live very difficult and tragic lives, but they manage to thrive. These characters teach you that you can become a better person and that you can rise above from where you come from. They teach that that if you are in the middle of a dark time in your life, that there still is hope and that you can get through it. Most of them may die, but they will always live in your heart and soul. You end up caring for every single one of them even the ones you don’t like. Having an emotional connection really matters in musicals and the emotions hit me like a wreaking ball, but I feel the emotions in a good way including the negative emotions. The emotional nature of Les Mis is so special and I cannot describe that experience at all.

It is such an epic story. I don’t know how to describe its epic quality. As far as I know, it takes place during a time span of seventeen years. When time passes, you are always introduced to a brand new character. The story is so complex and I always find myself discovering something new about either the characters or the emotions. It has the conflict between Valjean and Javert, the tragic tale of Fantine, the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, and the June Rebellion of 1832. One of the most clever things about the storyline is that it is full of coincidences, which is what connects the characters.

So, what your thoughts on Les Mis? Why do you think this tragic and inspirational musical  is so successful?