Required Reading

classic books in book shelf

The other day, my younger son, who’s in high school, informed me that he’d be reading the Hunger Games for his English class. Last semester he read In Cold Blood by Capote.

Times have changed, or it may have, depending on the school.

I’ll tell you the books I had to read (I hated reading when I was in school at any time from 1st-12th grade), but was pleasantly surprised, when I actually did read some of them. I actually liked them very much. Here are some that I had to read from junior high through high school and which ones I actually read (the ones I truly read are bolded):

The Hobbit

Call of the Wild

Romeo and Juliet

The Merchant of Venice (read in class)

For Whom the Bells Toll (didn’t get past the first page. Didn’t care for Hemingway’s simplistic writing)

Huckleberry Finn

A Tale of Two Cities

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Great Gatsby

The Scarlet Letter

Out of the ones I read, the only one I didn’t care for was The Scarlet Letter. I really like detailed descriptions, but Hawthorne took it to the nth degree, and there were portions where he’d go off on tangents, and I’d forget where the characters were and where the scene was taking place.

But as for the others, I loved A Tale of Two Cities, The Hobbit, Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby.

In college, I had the good fortunate to be able to read all kinds of wonderful classics and interesting literature as well:

The Yellow Wallpaper

Frankenstein 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (portions)

Metamorphosis

Pride and Prejudice

Lady Susan 

Othello

The Last Man (portions)

Things Fall Apart (portions)

Twelfth Night

Taming of the Shrew

Beowulf (sorry, didn’t like this one!)

And other books from other countries, like the Thirteenth Night.

Lots of great stories. I especially loved The Yellow Wallpaper, Twelfth Night, Metamorphosis, The Last Man, and Frankenstein.

The portions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were brilliantly written. Stevenson’s words are like reading a psalm. Beautiful.

Mary Shelley’s writing is similar in that regard, as well. Poetic and stunning.

I read To Kill a Mockingbird on my own back in 2010 just because I wanted to. Great book.

So, I’m wondering when my son will be reading any of these or other classics. Perhaps I’m a literature snob, but the classics are incomparable and vital reading material for teens, in my opinion.

I wrote my son’s English teacher to see if he had a list of the books the students would be reading the rest of the semester. I’d like to see if there are any really good books on the list–classics, I mean. I’ve not gotten an email back as of yet. Hopefully, I will.

The previous private Christian school my sons were in in Lancaster, PA, had amazing reading lists with some of the books I mentioned above.

My older son took British Literature and World Literature his junior and senior years, and he read Fahrenheit 451, Wuthering Heights, Things Fall Apart, The Kite Runner, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name a few.

Am I being too picky? A literature or book snob? Do public schools not offer the classics anymore? Are In Cold Blood and The Hunger Games considered “classics” now? If the old classics aren’t being offered in English classes anymore, that’s a big disappointment to me.

I may have my son read Frankenstein on his free time over the summer. It’s a short book, and it’s awesome, with lots of important messages.

 

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The Final Countdown: 13 Weeks To Go!

light tunnel 2

Friends, I recovered from senioritis last month and am now seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel.  The finish line is in the distance but visible!

13 WEEKS LEFT OF UNIVERSITY!  

I’m currently half way through my Wellness IDS course.  Then onto my last course:  Advanced Creative Writing.  I can barely wait for that class. It’s back to my core and major. 🙂

October 28th is the last day of my final course.  Following that will be graduation.

And then it’s several hours of freedom a day to concentrate fully on my fiction writing!

I leave you with this fun song via youtube from the Broadway musical of which I’ve seen twice in my life called Starlight Express.

 

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When Art & Math Unite

colored fractal

In 2015 through my online college, I took a required general education math course on math concepts for which I chose thinking I could maybe get through that seeing how horribly I did in math in my high school years.  That most math above the basics was something to avoid and something appearing too foreign like a lost prehistoric language with strange and cryptic symbols.

Ahem…All you math geniuses out there, please humor me and follow me through this post.

How naive I was to think math concepts would be easier.  So many of these concepts I’d never heard of before, but by week two, I was to choose one for my final 10-page paper on this concept.

This discovery caused me great anxiety, and I wrung my hands and shed tears of fear and panic allowing these scary unfamiliar math theories and formulas to balloon up to a major overwhelming hurdle over which I didn’t believe I could jump.

I beseeched my advisor that perhaps it had been a mistake to take this class, and really, I needed to go back to square one and take a basic algebra class first before my brain could wrap itself around any of these heady applications.

But alas, I’d missed the window to withdrawal from the course and with a gulp and shaky body, I braced myself for the onslaught of cryptic, confusing, symbolic hell.

By week two, I was introduced to the Fibonacci sequence, and immediately, my mind was blown.  The same numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …) found on pinecones were found on other objects in nature, such as flower petals and the nautilus. Yes, I’m sure you all already knew this, but for me, this was all new and fascinating!

Cool video by Khan Academy on the Fibonacci Sequence:

(credit to Khan Academy)

There was a dark, cobwebbed, spongy crevice in my brain that opened up like the detachable hood off of a convertible, and God’s universe glistened bright and infinitely vast before me.  The mathematical number sequence and how it joined with nature screamed the hands of God, for nothing perfect in this world can be accidental or just be.  Something perfect has to be created by Someone Perfect–God.

Suddenly, math had taken on a totally different view for me, and I liked it.

Reading over and looking up the meaning of the list of math concepts in which we students were to choose from, I finally chose the knot theory because it sounded less scary and perhaps even something my simple, elementary math brain could comprehend.

So, for the next few weeks, in between weekly assignments, I read the history of knot theory, its formulas, how it’s used in life, and watched videos of professors teaching the knot theory by scribbling many different knots on the chalk board and explaining the negative and positive integers used in them.  Frankly, I enjoyed watching those lectures!

While researching how the knot theory is used in life, such as in our DNA and mountain climbing, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in art, and not just any art, art by sculptor, John Robinson.

immortality sculpture

The first one shown above titled Immortality, sculpted in 1982, resembles a trefoil knot.  The meaning behind this great work of art is profound and beautiful.  He created this trefoil to represent the three generations of his family, he being the oldest of the three.  It shows the continuous movement and connection through time, becoming infinite.  Robinson said, “I believe that Immortality is made up of one’s memories of the past, as well as those one leaves behind.  I see this Symbolic Sculpture not only as a continuous journey, but also the scroll of which all life’s experiences (DNA) is recorded.”

rhythm of life pic

In the second picture, his sculpture, Rhythm of Life,  was also done in 1982. When creating this piece, he had wrapped a ribbon around an inner tire tube.  The last wrap was the fourth time around, and it returned to its original starting point.  Ronnie Brown, an English mathematician, had explained that this happens in Torus knots in math.  Robinson said, “I created the sculpture about the time that the miracle of DNA had just been discovered, and for me, this delightful flowing ribbon summed up the continuity of Genes.  I found I could balance the 18-inch maquette on a single point.”

Through this math course that was called The Heart of Math, I truly learned there was a lot of heart to it, and a lot of soul and beauty.  It may have taken decades for me to have found an appreciation for math via this class, but I’m just grateful I did discover it.

 

Works Cited
Symbolic Sculpture:  The Collected Works of John Robinson.  (n.d.).  Rhythm of Life.  Symbolic Sculpture:  The Collected Works of John Robinson.  Retrieved from
http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/jr/rhythm_of_life.php