Modernizing Required Readings for Students

Heya!

So I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to achieve in the world of literature. My want to go back to college and finish my degree was more about accomplishing my own goals and learning new things. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to do with my degree, specifically, besides writing bestsellers. I’ve even played with the idea of getting my Master’s or becoming a Professor but those are ideas that I have romanticized since I was a child. Things that I hoped I could achieve under the label of personal success. I’ve been reading, writing books and creating new stories since I was a young child, since before I could remember. Despite my detours in life, I always knew this is where I would land.

To translate that into academics, I want to delve deeper into the literary requirements of our youth. I remember being a young girl, inspired by big works like Shakespeare and George Orwell and also the smaller works like Summer of my German Soldier (Bette Greene) and Melusine. I always found it fascinating to read works by authors who lived long ago but realized that my fellow classmates did not. They were disinterested, flighty and annoyed. This made me really think about the works that were required and what I could do to make reading more appealing to those who would balk at the idea normally.

So I’ve realized the best way to go about this, as so far thought, is to modernize our required readings. I am a firm believer that the best writers weren’t only born 200 plus years ago. Yes, we can learn great things from our past but we can also learn a multitude of things from the present. We have hundreds of amazing writers here in this century and we need to recognize them. Do not take this as I am wanting to replace the genius works of the past. I want to give an alternative modernized literary option for teaching those students who squirm and fuss at the thought of reading outside of a text message. These are students who naturally hate reading. I want them to be able to pick up a book they can relate to and learn the same skills of tension, mystery and cultural appreciation.

Once I embark on this journey I am going to compile a list of required readings and find comparisons in the modern world of literature. I want to develop a list of books that will still teach life lessons, broaden horizons and open the minds of our youth. I will be blogging my path with this and will eventually make a static post of the comparisons that I’ve done so that you guys are updated!

I would really like some suggestions that could help me on this journey. I found a really great list on GoodReads but it’s 500 books long! That’s a great start and I will be breaking them apart, following a specific criteria, and choosing the ones I think can really transform literature. If you’ve read a modern or contemporary book that you think could rival the literature of old please feel free to let me know! Also, tell me the book that you think it parallels. This is going to be a great journey!

P.S. To make a clear distinction, I am talking about new and original stories; plays and novels written now, not revisions or rewrites of old ones.

Good Readance,

Jade

Allegory of the Cave (Plato) and How It Compares to the African American Community

Sometimes we are poisonous to our own people. 

There once was a young boy named Eric who dreamed of one day making it big. He dreamed of mansions and cars and freshly cooked Sunday night dinners. His parents worked hard to keep their family together and he was often left to raise himself in the downtrodden streets of the inner city. Eric spent the first year of high school skipping class and getting high in the bathrooms. He was good with numbers, they flew through his head like music notes and he used them to buy an entourage. His friends were soon like brothers in arms, fighting against the man and whoever else dared to keep them down. While they loved him, his parents cracked but never wavered due to a shred of hope that their hard work would soon pay off in that he would live past eighteen.

After a night of danger and sticky red hands left one friend dead and another in jail, Eric makes the decision to get his life together. His skipping school days are behind him. Books and highlighters become his new best friends and good times shooting ball on the courts fade away. His parents, still fighting their own beasts of debt, forget the pat on the back. He struggles and fails but is determined to achieve his goals.

Years later he graduates from high school with a higher than stellar gpa and scholarships  for college. He excels through college, graduating in the top of his class. His parents are older now with withered hands and sad eyes but finally proud. His heart breaks as cancer eats at his fathers pride but he keeps his head up and makes promises. His parents nod and smile, they know where they come from and no one they grew up with had ever made it out. The rays of the sun have beaten their souls and the shackles of life have torn them apart.

Eric started as an intern, with pressed collars and loafers. He learned the walk and took pride in his ability to stride. He rose through the ranks and soon a placard with his name etched in gold lines the door and desk of a corner office. He buys his parents a new house and he pays for their bills. Their eyes light up as the final grasps of freedom can be felt with their finger tips.

Back home, despite his attempts to give back to the community that raised him, Eric’s old buddies curse his name. They spit on his shoes and call him a traitor. How dare he make a better man out of himself? They ask him who he thinks he is and refused to take his so-called charity. Estranged family members, who’d dapped in between video game wins, now show up with hands out stretched and angry faces. You owe us, we had circumstances. Blood means give. After dishing out all he can bare to give, Eric is worn down and even though they see his bleeding eyes they keep asking for more. Eventually he retreats back to his office and donates from afar. He’s got places to go and promises to keep. Now with a family of his own, he’s the man in charge and makes sure his kids know what it means to give to others but not give until there is nothing left.

While reading The Allegory of the Cave, something really struck home for me. You might think that I would glean something about religion or believing the government’s lies but my thoughts went down another path. I thought about the prisoners in the cave as us, African Americans and the shadows on the walls as the so called truths we’ve been fed from others about ourselves. Outside opinions that we take on faith because it’s been ingrained in our upbringing.

We, as black people, have been oppressed, yes. We’ve been beaten down, run over and held back. We’ve been taught about the violence of our own people, warned against the false intelligence of our own people and suspicious of our own people. Generations trickled self hatred and ignorance. We poured the inability to rise above our limitations down the throats of our youth and branded anyone who squeezed through the cracks a deceiver, a Judas, an Uncle Tom.

For generations we have been stuck in this phase of anger. It is all the evidence we need to believe that we are stunted. We have a fixed mindset of what the truth is. To some, the truth is that we can not make it. We dream to, we aspire to but do we honestly believe we can? The shadows on the walls of our ancestors who couldn’t fight back make no noise due to their stolen voices. We watch them with our heads locked forward unable to turn away from the lull. When one of us dares to break free of his chains we smile and nod but block out the noise of their excitement. He will be back, we say and we continue to stare at the shapes stretching before us.

He begins his journey, continuously pulled down and degraded by his own people. As he struggles forward, he starts to believe. I can make it! No one believed me but I did it! He returns to the cave, staring up at the shapes of his ancestors, hoping to enlighten his peers. Look, look what I’ve done! I told you this could happen. Come, join me. They deny him.

Do we expect to fail? How many times do we trash our wealthy brothers and sisters just for making better decisions in life than we did? Especially the ones who come from our same streets. The ones that we can’t use the excuse ‘they had it better than me’. How many times do we say ‘I knew he’d be back’ when one of our own returns to the nest after failing their great try?

Another thing that hit me was that this goes both ways. Will he remember how hard it was for him to see others succeed? After he’s achieved his goals and reached the top tier, does he say to himself “I understand how they feel, I remember being that kid that would say ‘this old black man with his tailored suits just don’t get me!’ ” One thing that I wrote down while taking notes was “Eyes can be confused in two ways”.

Anyway, I know this was something different than what I usually do but I really wanted to share my thoughts on this. I’m not really one that will spend my time spouting about “The Man”, etc but this is something I definitely think about. This is one of the major reasons why I wanted to go back to college and finish my degree. I love to learn, to experience new things, new ways of thought. I’ve already opened my mind more than I thought possible and I still have far to go.

Please let me know what your thoughts are. Did you get this from The Allegory of the Cave? If not, what did you take from it?

Good Readance,
Jade

Hearing From You! My favorite people!

Questions!
I’d love to hear from you! Comment below! Please answer any of the questions below or feel free to ask any of your own.

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What do you like to read?
What’s your favorite genre?
Do you like to write? If so, what?
Have you read any of the books I’ve reviewed? New or older posts?
What books would you like to see reviewed?
Do you like the posts not related to reading and writing? If not, what would you like to see?

Jade

Reading Black Authors

I recently read a book by a black author and I loved it. It had nothing to do with the author’s race or our connection through ‘blackness’. I never really cared what race wrote what book, it’s never had any bearing on my thoughts of the book. I have never wanted to limit myself and I refuse to let anything stop me from reading. If it’s a great story, I’ll read a book by any race.

Recently, I joined a facebook group for black women that love to read and it’s really blown my mind. The camaraderie, the honesty, and the uplifting comments really made me feel like I belonged. As an introvert, that’s a huge deal. Members posts the books they are currently reading or their views on an upload. So I chose one book they suggested to me, and I will be doing a review on it, but I really liked it and in turn I picked up 3 other books I saw posted to the group. Once you gain my trust, I might just start listening to you.

Sometimes I’m not too sure about the suggestions I get. Before, when I was just randomly asking out to the world, I’d have people suggest political books, which I’m not very fond of (Am I going to read Fire and Fury? I have no idea). I’ve had someone suggest I read overly religious books, fire and brimstone types, and I’m usually iffy on those as well. I can be a stickler, with no real guidelines, but usually I will pick it up and crack it open.

Whenever I ask for suggestions people want to know what I’m looking for and I can’t really answer that question. I tell them to just give me their favorites, nothing political, nothing religious but people like to push their favorites so…eh.

I love to read different genres. As a kid I started with Julie Garwood’s The Wedding and fell in love with romance. I went through phases of Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie and wild wonders like James Patterson’s Angel Experiment series and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I didn’t move into non-fiction and biographies until I got older. On Writing by Stephen King, Steve Jobs, and Shark Tales by Barbara Corcoran were a few that I loved.

I can’t really choose an ultimate favorite genre because I’ve read so many books and I’ve loved so many that fit different criteria. I’m a big fan of mystery, romance, and psychological thrillers but I’m also an avid reader of paranormal romance, futuristic science fiction and oddball humor. I like to hear about different walks of life but I love it to be in story form. I’m not a fan of the fifth grade history book biography theme.

I am African American and I write but I never thought it was a big deal. There was nothing in my upbringing that told me black people can’t be writers. No one, other than those who told me to choose a career that was going to make money, told me I couldn’t succeed at being an author. I’ve been reading adult novels since I was seven and it never crossed my mind that people thought this was incredulous. I’ve never pulled up the authors profiles to check and I’ve never seen a “Written by a Black Author” sticker on any covers in Barnes and Nobles. Have you?

That being said, I do want to support my own people. I do feel that it’s important that they know we are reading their novels and are behind them 100 percent. Since joining this facebook group, I’ve heard about more black authors than ever in my entire life.  As a bibliophile and book addict I’ve obviously added a ton of novels to my To Be Read file. I’m very excited. Hopefully I will find more gems like Allegedly, a book by Tiffany D. Jackson. I have a few more on my list, suggestions from the group, and will be doing reviews on them here. If you have any thoughts on this or if it’s a thought you’ve had let’s chat!

Good Readance,

Jade

 

P.S. If you have any suggestions send ’em right over! Don’t be afraid!

Book Review: His Lover’s Little Secret by Andrea Laurence

Hi! So I am actually glad that I dug into my boxes of books. I just recently moved into my new apartment and I brought maybe ten boxes of books with me. I have been collecting books ever since I was a young child. Yes, I say collecting because at first I would just buy books I couldn’t find in the libraries and then I realized…with the amount of books I have I could start my own library. That’s what I plan to do. I plan to start a library and have the ability to say I’ve read each and every one of them.

Oh yeah, so I dug into my boxes and found a few random gems. His Lover’s Little Secret was one of those gems. I read it while I was at work because it was on of the slowest days possible and the book isn’t a hard read nor is it very long. The characters written in the novel are so deep and complex. You wouldn’t think so if you were to judge it by the fact that it’s a Harlequin but it’s true. Gavin is definitely one of my favorite antagonist ever. He’s strong, matter of fact, put together but not necessarily controlling. Yes, as a CEO he spends a great deal bossing and giving orders but he’s such a sweetheart you forgive him. His true and honest love for his son is every girls true dream in a father for their child.

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When I read the back of the novel again, I was taken aback for a minute. The story plot is not uncommon and I half expected it to be one of those that irritate every nerve. I hate it when girls call a guy a deadbeat or not a good father but didn’t even tell him that he had a child. It really grinds my gears because they then spend the entire book making demands and statements like “you don’t deserve”, “prove to me…” and “he’s MY child”. It makes me want to reach into the pages, grab the woman by the neck and shake. Knock some sense into them and say “HE COULD’VE BEEN THERE FROM THE BEGINNING HAD YOU ONLY TOLD HIM!” Luckily, I didn’t have to do that this time. Of course, she spent the first few days trying to convince him she was right in not telling him but she redeemed herself by allowing him to be involved.

Andrea Laurence did a great job of bringing it full circle and making them very well rounded. I’M even in love with little Jared! Thanks!! Read to find out if this duo can get it together and how they survive a kidnapping! Love it!

Jade

Book Review: Shadow Rider by Christine Feehan

Hey guys! So I have a weird review to write today. I was not really a fan of this novel. In my honest opinion, I would not recommend it for anyone to read. This is the first novel of the Shadow series and I believe the newest Christine Feehan novel.

I’m not sure if the reason I disliked the novel was because I just went through a victim and domestic abuse class or something else but it seems pretty logical. I spent almost the entire novel cringing at how often the relationship reminded me of Stockholm Syndrome, verbal abuse and uncontrollable behavior. Stefano spent most of the book threatening to chase her down if she tried to leave, threatening to tear anyone’s head off should they dare to look at her for too long or having his family members chase her around.

Hey, I understand that she was scared and that she needed to be protected but gosh…like, can a girl breathe? At one point, he even told her that she could feel free to speak her mind but it wouldn’t matter because he’d do what he wanted. I also understand that since the Fifty Shades of Grey women came out of the woodworks, “romance” authors are starting to make their alpha men even more controlling and strong willed. They have to feed into the fantasies of the women who want to be dominated, told what to do and forced to stay.

I am not one of these women.

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The actual story plot seems to have a very great foundation. It does seem like it has a lot going on, though. It’s as if someone took a jumble of ideas, narrowed them down to…100 bullet points and crammed them into one novel. I like the idea of shadow riding and using the tubes but…I’m not sure, its something about it that’s just…too much.

If you’ve read this novel, please let me know how you felt. Did you get the same vibes I did or were you completely taken away by the novel?

Tell me, tell me!!!

Jade

Book Review: Chesapeake Bay Series by Nora Roberts

Hey all!!

I just read the first two romance novels in this series. It is a very beautiful series. I have cried several times reading it but then again, I am a very emotional woman. The series circles around the Quinn brothers, kind of a catch all family for the unwanted, the sold and the broken. Often times, I wonder how some authors come up with the basics for these stories.

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Ethan’s back story (Rising Tides) really hurt my heart. I can identify with his unease around strangers and the want to be somewhere comfortable. The raw emotions he emits tear you up inside. Nora’s descriptions really sell these men as if they were living and breathing beings.  Cameron’s (Sea Swept) made me laugh and I also understand how it feels to be used and abused. His anger towards his adopted father and yet grief at his sudden death is felt through the pages. I’m currently reading Philip’s story (Inner Harbor) and I’ve cried in the last chapter. His charming personality hides an inner turmoil that makes you laugh but also wonder what he’s really thinking.

 

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Nora Roberts plucks at the heartstrings in each story she tells in this series. She’s found a way to wrap the Quinn brothers around your fingers and make you fall in love with them. I didn’t know there was a fourth book in these series until I looked up the covers to do the review. I will definitely be acquiring that as soon as I finish Inner Harbor! Will this be Seth Quinns story? Who will it be!? I’m excited to find out.

 

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Jade

Long Little While

You’d be surprised how much you missed something when you’ve been away for a while. I talked to someone recently about my love of reading and they mentioned how I should write reviews. I thought to myself ‘I do!’ but I knew that I hadn’t been consistent with writing them. I don’t think there is any real science behind it, I just think that my love for reading has suddenly outweighed my love for writing reviews.

Don’t get me wrong! I love love love to review novels but I just get so caught up in the stories that I end up reading the next novel and not writing the review. I have sooooo many book reviews to write. I’ve at least read 4 books a week for the last month and a half. Each of them will be getting a review, it’s just a matter of time.

I look forward to the long nights until I get them all done and I hope that you enjoy them.

I love feedback guys! If you hate my reviews, let me know! If you love my reviews, let me know! If you have read the book before, please…let me know and tell me how you felt about it!

 

Jade

Book Review: Loves Music, Loves To Dance by Mary Higgins Clark

Hi!

So I am beyond excited to do a review on this novel! When I was in private school I found myself as a definite outcast amongst the other students. You might say that it was because I didn’t come from a rich family like many of the others and that i just didn’t relate to them in anyway. The honest answer is just that I was very shy back then. I didn’t really know a lot of people and wasn’t very good at making friends.

You might’ve guessed, I spent most of my childhood with my nose stuck in chapter books. The majority of the books I read were romance novels. I  was caught up in the whirlwind of what it meant to be in love, the tug and war of the relationships and how the heart comes together. Then it was like the flood gates of everything amazing opened and rained down on me. I came across a novel by Agatha Christie and my heart swelled. All things mysterious, intriguing and thriller flowed out. I was referred to read Mary Higgins Clark by a teacher and I was skeptical. Agatha was the only step I’d taken to broadening my horizons and I balked at the idea.

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I fell in love with her style of writing. I had no idea what I was in store for. A few days ago I found one of her novels in a thrift store and I instantly knew I had to buy it! The story was one of my favorite in all of the books and genres I’ve ever read. The entire time I was on the edge of my seat. I literally jumped up, screamed and did a little dance when the killer was revealed. It was a really great story!

It was basically like reliving my childhood, curling up and unable to put the book down. I was angry, at one point, that the other characters in the story weren’t paying attention. I screamed “pay attention” at least ten times! To my hearts content, there was even a romantic storyline at play!

You have got to read this novel!

Good Readdance!

Jade

Book Review: Renegade by J.A. Sounders

Hey all! I’ve been away for a while so I figured I’d come back and do all the reviews for the books I’ve been reading over these last few months. I was looking through the Orlando paper and I saw that it has really great  suggestions for fun things to do in Orlando. Most of the events are very low priced but alot of them are totally free!! Anyway, so I found out that there was a Book Convention going on at the library and I just HAD to check it out!

Once there, I walked around and talked with a few of the authors that were there. Most of them I hadn’t heard of. I was just leaving when I walked past J.A. Sounder’s table. I had been by earlier in the day when the writers hadn’t arrived yet and was instantly drawn to her cover. Brandished on the table was a note saying “Free novel…just come say hi!” and OF COURSE that was a hook, line AND sinker! So I stopped by, quite oddly I might add, and she said hello. She was super nice and I introduced myself.

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She gave me a book for free just as the sign said! After signing it, she gave a big smile and I knew it’d be the first one I’d read out of all the books I’d bought that day! I saw in the cover that this was the first book she’d written and instantly I was worried. I wasn’t sure what to expect and for some reason wasn’t feeling like being all that adventurous! Boy, was I in for a great surprise!

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Now, on for the review. I absolutely loved the novel! It was crazy, it was filled with gore, it was filled with blood and fighting! As most people know, I am a sucker for romance! It had a great romance plot, one that I was on board with the entire time! I loved this new world that the author formed! The beauty of it just made me want to go there, not to get killed of course but to be under the ocean and watch the fish swim by. I wanted to go through Evie’s garden and take the tube from one sector to another. The story is very well crafted and thought out. It was filled with mystery, intrigue and true eye-opening surprise. It took me less than a few days to read this novel because I did NOT want to put it down at all. I was hooked from the first chapter!

 

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It seems like the further I got into the book I kept wondering why no one has snatched this novel up yet. It has everything that you’d want to see before you. I mean come on people!!! After all of these other novels turned major motion pictures!? Why has no one made a movie out of this story yet? Where is the screen play? Where is the great following? If I’m so excited about this YA  novel that so should you be! Ugh…it actually seems weird to me how much I loved it. I can’t wait until I get the second sequel. I believe it’s called Revelations? I’ll have to check it out. I can’t wait to see what is next for Evie!

Thank you J.A. Sounders for catching my eye and thank you for being a great writer! I definitely look forward to the next book and sharing a review of that one as well! Below you can find a link to her page, a few links to where you can buy the book.

Have you already read this book? Let me know what you thought, if you enjoyed it and how you felt! I would love to know!

Jade Elyzabeth

P.S. Stick around, I have more reviews coming up soon!

 

 

J.A. Sounders’ Author page:

http://jasouders.com/

Where Can You Buy It?:

or

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/renegade-ja-souders/1109152281?ean=9780765332486