Category Archives: in my humble opinion

50 Books to Read Before You Die

A list of 50 books to read before you die, though I’m not sure according to who…but nonetheless, a great group of novels here. I’ve bolded the books I’ve read.  Anyone make it through the entire list already??

“50 Books to Read Before You Die” bookmark

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  8. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
  9. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  11. A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul
  12. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  14. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  16. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  17. Don Quixote by Miduel de Cervantes
  18. The Bible
  19. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  20. Ulysses by James Joyce
  21. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  22. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulke
  23. Money by Martin Amis
  24. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
  25. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  26. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  27. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
  28. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  29. Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
  30. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  31. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  32. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  33. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (side note to Heart of Darkness–I have never hated a book with as much passion as this one. A hatred that burns with the heat of 1,000 fires. But I made it through…)
  34. The Way We Live Now by Antony Trollope
  35. The Outsider by Albert Camus
  36. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  37. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Selley
  39. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  40. Man Without Woman by Ernest Hemingway
  41. Gulliver´s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  42. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  43. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  44. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe
  45. One Flew Over the Cockoo´s Nest by Ken Kesey
  46. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  47. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  48. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  49. The Divine Comedy by Alighieri Dante
  50. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

True Love and High Adventure

I can’t believe I’d never read The Princess Bride until now.

Written by William Goldman, of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men fame, this deliciously layered and adorably comedic novel was a delightful read. Of course, I’d seen the movie (who hasn’t?), but the book is so much more endearing than I thought possible.

In various asides and interjections, Goldman explains that The Princess Bride was written by an “S. Morgenstern” from the (very fictional) country of Florin, and all Goldman is doing in this version is taking the interesting bits and condensing them.  He even claims to have met with professors specializing in Morgenstern’s literature and to have visited the Morgenstern Museum in Florin. The multiple layers of the novel (Morgenstern’s “original” story combined with Goldman’s ongoing conversations about his abridgment process) and the very sweet and silly diction (“He had written to her just before he sailed for America. The Queen’s Pride was his ship, and he loved her. [That was the way his sentences always went: It is raining today and I love you. My cold is better and I love you. Say hello to Horse for me and I love you. Like that.]”) made me fall head over heels for this fantastic story.

Goldman promises true love and high adventure, and, if you’re in the mood for a little laughing on the side, I highly recommend The Princess Bride.

A bonus: a map of the fictional Florin and Guilder!

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(As stolen from the delightful Bridget at!)

1. What are you reading currently? I’m in the middle of reading Baked, by Mark Haskell Smith.  Hilarious, full of adventure, and about the weed scene in LA–plus Mormons. What more do you need?

2.  What did you just finish reading? Ok. I cannot tell a lie. I just read A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin, the second book in the Game of Thrones series. Yes, the books are kind of poorly written, and yes, there’s not a whole lot to think about when reading them, but man, does good old George R. R. sure know how to make likable characters and immediately kill them.

3.  What do you plan to read next? That is an excellent question, sir or madam! I think I might go with 50 Shades of Grey….

I’m totally messing with you.

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My Thesis, Or I Know Why the College Senior Cries

For the past year and a half, I have been slaving away/researching like a fiend/typing so much I got carpal tunnel while working on my honors thesis. I laughed, I cried (a lot), and a generally amusing time was had by outside observers.

But it’s over! (I guess it’s been over for a few months now). And, without further ado, I present to you….

KASSANDRA’S HONORS THESIS. (This is extremely long, and should you feel the need to use any of my research, please do- but give a girl some credit, yes??)

Close Encounters of the Caribbean Kind–click for more.


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An Eternal Abyss: House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielweski

Never before have I encountered a more complex, haunting, and sorrowful novel than Mark Z. Danielewski’s 400+ page tomb House of Leaves.

Eerie, sad, visceral, and yet highly experimental and cerebral, House of Leaves tells the story of a young man named Johnny Truant, who discovers a manuscript in the apartment of a dead man named Zampano.  This academic dissertation explores a movie entitled “The Navidson Report,” a tale of a family who moves into a house, inside which lives, quite literally, an ever-changing abyss of a labyrinth.  “The Navidson Report” is written as scholarly article, citing sources, providing charts and graphs, and using footnotes to cite and recommend further reading.  However, Truant discovers that the movie never existed, and nor do any of the sources referenced in the manuscript.  And yet Truant begins experiencing strange phenomenons-hallucinations, insomnia, increased paranoia, and a haunting growling sound that follows him like an angry lover.

Danielewski uses an extremely interesting technique to present this story, as the reader experiences the novel through three layers of narration: first, the primary author, Zampano, of the original manuscript on “The Navidson Report,” second, Truant, who reads the manuscript and comments on it through footnotes interjected within in the manuscript, and third, the “Editors” of the book itself, who pitch in their own two cents every so often, too.  Additionally, by choosing to have Zampano deconstruct the central story (the story of “The Navidson Report”) in an academic (and, admittedly, at times rather dense) way, Danielwski both denies the reader the (dis)pleasure while also creating a criticism of academia itself.

Furthermore, the purposeful textual layout of the novel is highly representative of both the state of mind of the characters, as well as the labyrinth itself (see below).

A claustrophobic logophile’s worst nightmare.

While many might classify this novel as a horror story, it is so much more.  Perhaps a love story with no happy endings, or a reminder of the enduring and permanent darkness that exists within every facet of life, would be better categories in which to shove this unconventional, yet frighteningly relatable, book.

After all, aren’t each of us attempting to navigate our own personal labyrinth?

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Adios, 2011!

This last year was a wild one, to say the least. I’ve learned so much (maybe too much) about myself, the people in my life, and who I want to be.  2011 was, for lack of a better description, hard, in every sense of the word, and if I want to be completely honest (I do), I was either constantly on the verge of tears or on  the verge of laughter. Let’s just say this: if I had to pick a “theme” that defined my 2011, it would be:

“EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER: This ride is a fast-paced roller coaster that takes you on a series of loops, twists, turns, and sudden drops, and entirely lacks all adequate safety equipment should anything go wrong. Not for the faint at heart, those with high blood pressure, heart disease, motion sickness, or for younger riders.”

So here’s to you, 2012! You’re the year we elect a new president. You’re the year the sun reverses it’s magnetic poles. You’ve got the London Olympics, and you’ve got an extra day (whattup Leap Year!). You’re the year the world is supposed to end, and you’re the year I graduate from college (those last two may be the same thing). Here’s to more friends, more celebrations, more adventures, more late nights, more love, and more books.

Lookin’ good already, kid.

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