As I look towards the AP English Literature Exam, I find that my favorite book can be applied to almost any prompt.

When you truly admire a work of literature, you can find obscure concepts within it. The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book to analyze and read. Once you finish a class, you can feel the literature being put behind you as you close each of the books. However, AP English Literature class has given me an opportunity to revisit old stories and use my newer skills to analyze these works further.

I look forward to using my personal collection of stories I’ve read to answer prompts on the AP exam, as it will allow me to reflect on my academic highlights from school. As I recall each story, I can remember the class conversations I’ve participated in and the numerous essays I’ve written. I hope to remember these stories into my older years and apply them to my own life.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Art by Francis Cugat

A Letter to John Green

Dear John Green,

I’m writing to you because Banned Book Week gives a good opportunity for students, like myself, to share my opinions on Looking For Alaska being the #1 most challenged book of 2015. Looking For Alaska was mainly challenged due to its “sexual content” and for its “inappropriate language.” However, as a high school student, I can attest that the content of Looking For Alaska is a realistic portrayal of many aspects of the teen experience.

One of the two scenes relating to sex in the book is the epitome of how unattractive, undesirable, and empty physical intimacy can be without deep emotional connection. The other potentially “sexual” scene depicts how much more powerful, rewarding, and  meaningful something as little as a kiss can feel when a deep emotional connection is present.

The “sexual” concepts in the book are in no way “pornographic” as they have been perceived. If anything, the book teaches essential lessons in a non-direct, non-experimental way. As for the so-called “inappropriate language,” it is nothing but real. The language used in the book is a realistic look into a conversation between teenagers, which Looking For Alaska is meant to reflect. The novel did an excellent job of doing so and I would highly recommend it to others.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to appreciate your writing which reflects the strong, authentic narrative of contemporary teenagers. Your books deserve to be read.

Respectfully yours,


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I Miss Reading

If summer means free time and free time means reading, summer therefore means reading…and catching up on shows.

Summer fever has hit hard. With new books on the way and old ones staring me down, my fingers physically itch. My brain angrily pounds at the inside of my skull.

All I want to be doing is reading the Devils of Loudun or Sherlock Holmes or A Court of Wings and Ruin.

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

This year especially, I have had difficultly finding moments to read. I never realized how integral it was to my life and happiness.

Not that I’m not happy, but this year has weighed heavier. I miss reading all the time. I feel less like me, just a little more unhappy, busy, insecure.

I miss the years where I could a read a book – and I mean a substantial book – every two or three days.

I want it to be summer so I can get back to taking time for myself, soaking in different worlds, recharging from a full year of nearly constant work.

J.K. Rowling, You’ve Given Me an Identity Crisis

I have spent most of my years wondering what Hogwarts house I would belong in. And when I say that, I mean I’ve spent way too many hours obsessively tapping my fingers in introspection.

For about half of those many years I have been told time and time again that I am unquestionably, undoubtably a Ravenclaw. So when Pottermore launched, part of me was just itching to go and check, but something stopped me. I did not go to Pottermore, in fact I waited approximately seven years before I visited.

I now know that I was terrified, as dorky and riddikulus as it sounds, yes I was terrified. What if I ended up in a house I didn’t feel like I was part of? Part of me had always held onto this idea that I, like the trio, was part of Gryffindor, but I knew that I was probably Ravenclaw.

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I have spent years avoiding my inevitable sorting, but I finally caved. I’m not sure how I feel now that I have. I took every other quiz I could before this one, including an Ilvermorny house quiz, which I was surprised to find I am not a Horned Serpent, I am a Wampus, known to be the body of a wizard and the warrior. So maybe that should’ve been my first warning flag.

When I finally took the sorting quiz, I came out Slytherin. I understand to a degree, but I wanted a second opinion. So I did something taboo, I cheated the system, which, thinking about it now, may make me more Slytherin than I thought. But still, I made another account. It never hurts to get a second opinion.

This time Ilvermorny was not a Horned Serpent, instead a Thunderbird, known for spirit and adventure. Both for Ilvermorny and Hogwarts I tried to answer very similarly to the first sorting and as true to myself as I felt I could be.

For Hogwarts, this time I came out Gryffindor. I should be ecstatic, the secret hope has been partially confirmed. But something still doesn’t sit right.

I feel the most closely linked to Ravenclaw and the Horned Serpent, the houses of the wise, studious, and intellectuals. How could my results say traits, that yes, I do have and pride myself on, outweigh what I believe to actually be my strongest characteristics?

I have spent so many years of my life wondering about this… to the point where I am just straight up confused now.

Understandably, the houses together form one complete concept – everybody has a bit of every house. The point of the sorting is to identify the strongest of those traits, so why do I feel that the traits identified by a J.K. Rowling-approved computer algorithm as my strongest are wrong?

Photo Credit: The Odyssey Online

Maybe because that’s just it. Despite my unerring geekiness and absolute worshipping of J.K. Rowling, I am not going to trust a computer to tell me what house I’m supposed to be for Ilvermorny or Hogwarts. The decision is for the Sorting Hat and the Carvings alone to make, and it is widely recognized that the Sorting Hat takes your belief into consideration and it is a personal belief that the carvings of Ilvermorny do too.

I, to give Pottermore some credit, as I stated before have an unerring belief in almost anything J.K. Rowling approves. That being said, I believe that this was partially correct both times and partially wrong both times.

The readers are what bring the story to life, and believe me, I am a reader and Harry Potter is definitely very much real life to me. So shouldn’t what I believe to be true mean something?

I feel that I have the ambition, resourcefulness, and many other characteristics of a Slytherin, but I also feel that I have the boldness, daring, and countless other traits of a Gryffindor, and equal to both of the previous I feel that I have the curiosity, drive for wisdom, and basically everything else that Ravenclaw treasures. My feelings on the Ilvermorny houses mirror my feelings on the Hogwarts houses – I value adventure, strength, and wisdom.

Simply put, I will continue to stand by my allegiance to all: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Wampus, Thunderbird, and Horned Serpent.

But those of the steadfast Pottermore belief will have to forgive me for my terrible sin: I am going to take Pottermore as suggestion.

I will continue to believe that I am a Ravenclaw/Horned Serpent who has very strong tendencies toward the many other houses, like the well-rounded person, with an inclination toward intellect, I believe myself to be.

Am I a Bonafide Hipster?

Am I a living stereotype?

This question occurred to me last night as I leaned against my kitchen counter. I had a bent copy of The Great Gatsby held lazily in my left hand, an uncapped, drying, pink highlighter in my right, and a black pen tucked in my shorts pocket. There was a weather-beaten espresso percolator heating on the stove, I was wearing a second-hand cardigan and hand-knit socks. A Portuguese cover album of David Bowie, from a Wes Anderson film, was playing softly in the background.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I am actually a tangible version Andrew McMahon’s Art School Girlfriend.

Am I an actual un-ironic indie hipster?

I wear oversized cardigans, I have a collection of vintage Classic books, I have a pocket copy of War and Peace, I have a cracked 5 versions late phone, I embroider, I knit, and I drink my coffee black.

How has this happened? Has my own psyche sabotaged me and turned me into a poster child?

I am the Wreckage Left Behind

There is no feeling in the world like finishing a good book.

It’s like a slap in the face, or getting a bucket of ice water poured on your head. It’s a jolt that causes me to realize that I haven’t been in my body for the past – a glance at the clock – seven hours.

Nothing mattered. I was running through the streets of Ketterdam, a thief fighting the odds alongside Kaz Brekker, I was battling he who must not be named with my fellow students and professors, I was Aelin Galathynius and no one could stop me.

But once my eyes greedily devour what’s left on that page, I’m back to being me.

Just a girl with cold feet, a stiff posture and the most marvelous one pound object in front of me.

I’ll spend the rest of the day in a blind daze. Wondering why I am no longer in Ketterdam, or at Hogwarts.

And it hurts. A physical ache in my chest. Why isn’t this me? Why aren’t I living this kind of life?

And its an awful realization that I’m not.

For the rest of the day I’m shaky, seconds away from crying for no good reason. I’m hyperaware of whatever I’m doing in the world around me, but lost, aimlessly drifting in a world that seems like it’s not quite real.

I’m lost, just wanting to be able to read the book for the first time again. To get lost all over again.

I wander through the house, wanting that life, wanting to just disappear into the books that I love, to live these incredible lives.

Despite the struggle, the scars, the damage, the truly horrendous pasts that give dimension to the people who I am closer to than anyone else in the world, I want to be these people.

And **** the writers who create these worlds and these people. I run from my emotions and yet I can’t run from reading, and emotions are all I get from reading. I can’t bring myself to run from these writers. I’m like a junkie who hates what they do to themselves but loves the ride too much.

All I want to do is read and never reach the end. But equally so, the end is the best part. I am constantly tempted to rip out the last page and toss it to hell but I can’t. I always walk through the fire for it.

Photo Credit: BBC

It’s not like finishing a movie or a show. That is me watching someone else doing something. When I finish a book, I have been put through the same ringer the characters have. I have lived the same life.

Part of my soul is fulfilled and yet a larger part of it is missing. Finishing a book is losing a part of myself. A part of myself that I have committed hours to, I have paced for, I have lived for.

When I finish a book, I finish a lifetime. I say goodbye to friends who never knew me but I knew them. I say goodbye to a family that I loved in that time more than I have ever loved. I say goodbye to a reincarnation of myself. I say goodbye to something that doesn’t even know I exist and yet has wrecked me.

There is no feeling in the world like finishing a good book.

It is a feeling akin to finding the one thing in all of life that you search for, and losing the one thing in all the universe that you cannot stand to lose.

The Injustices of Book Release in Fall

I have a bad habit of reading a lot of good books very quickly. I’ll pick one up and think hmm seems interesting enough and then all of a sudden my Saturday is gone. I realize that somehow I am now reading in the dark.

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So, it’s January.

The last word has been read, the cover closed and I want the rest of the story right then and there instantly in my hands. Forget food or anything else. After a cursory search of my shelves I realize I don’t have the second, third, fourth, tenth, or umpteenth book. My heart breaks.

In point two seconds my phone is in hand as I research the next book.

I religiously read the description hoping to glean just a little bit of information before my greedy fingers move to order it.

I move the mouse down till I find the order button.

My heart more than breaks it is razed, obliterated, ground into nothingness.


Receive order on November 2.

I slide out of my seat into a puddle on the floor. The middle of the school year. I can’t help but think, I’ll bet a million bucks I’ll have a calc test to study for, and goodness knows how much other homework.

So I give up, I order it and put it on my shelf to look at me and shake it’s head in disappointment. Every once in a while I’ll look up at it like a scolded kid as I try to figure out the slope of a tangent line before it costs me my grade the next day.

America’s Finest News Source

WARNING: Do not read if easily offended.

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The Onion, a satirical newspaper that exists primarily to mock America’s antics, is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. While scrolling through Facebook, articles randomly pop up on my news feed, and never fail to provide amusement.

Even funnier than the articles themselves though, are the headlines – I cannot explain my love for them. I admit, I don’t always get around to reading the actual stories – that’s a big commitment – but the headlines, a short and easy read, are simply genius.

Impeccably sarcastic and wittily worded, these headlines are the epitome of satire  – I love it.

Here are ten of my all-time favorites, in no particular order.

  • ‘I Am Under 18’ Button Clicked For First Time In History Of Internet
  • Miracle Of Birth Occurs For 83 Billionth Time
  • Taylor Swift Now Dating Senator Joseph McCarthy
  • Secondhand Smoke Linked To Secondhand Coolness
  • Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian
  • Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day
  • Dwarf Falls Equivalent Of 10 Stories
  • Fun Toy Banned Because Of Three Stupid Dead Kids
  • Alcoholic Father Disappointed In Pothead Son
  • Buddy System Responsible For Additional Death

It doesn’t even matter if you read the articles themselves– the headline is all you need.

Enjoy, and thank me later.

Live by Curiosity, Not Fear

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Friday October 23rd my parents and I made the relatively strenuous drive at 8:30 at night to Redlands University to see my brother at his college Homecoming.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less about football. In fact, I chatted the whole time and not about the plays being made on the field.

But, on Saturday, the day of the largely anticipated game (admittedly, not by me), I went to see something truly unforgettable.

A few hours before the game, Redlands hosted a guest speaker and that speaker was Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.

I read the book a few years ago and loved it, so I was looking forward to her speech. The main idea of Gilbert’s speech was her desire to live a creative life, her journey to attaining that life, and to encourage others into also living this life.

First of all, she was very clear: to live a creative life, you must follow curiosity rather than fear, and the two are closely intertwined.

This deeply resonated with me, as I am the type of person who thinks of every bad side to a situation and lets those (usually improbable) reasons sway me from not doing something.

Gilbert was inspiring, intuitive, and an amazing speaker. The speech was definitely worth having to watch a football game afterward, though I did leave at halftime.

Sweet Sting Sunday.

I had my first bee sting of the year today, and man it hurt a lot more than I remembered.

So I was casually reading my book as you do on a Sunday afternoon, admiring the view from my porch chair and relaxing in the shade of the huge oaks over head. The birds chirped away singing sweet songs as they played and splashed in the water of the bird bath unaware of the dangers that accompanied them in their play.

Yes, it turns out bees like water too. In fact one may say it is the typical hang out or meeting spot during the spring/ summer months. Little did I know reading my book sweetly would I become a target for their fun.

Now I’m no wimp, and if a bee were to buzz around me I would remain calm and still but when one lodges itself in your finger it’s not that easy to do either of these things.

It was well and truly stuck, chained down by the sting that was embedded in the tip of my middle finger and you know what I was scared to pull it out incase it stung me. Obviously it had done that already but in a moment of panic I just let it stay there wiping it off carefully, after a few minutes, with a pair of tweezers afraid of its next move.

Little did I know its next joke was to leave the sting in me, how cleaver, leaving me deal with the pain for a little longer. I’m sure it sought amusement from that.

I eventually managed to get it out after a refusal for help from my father “because he didn’t have his glasses,” but luckily my Mum came to hand proving her skills on Mother’s Day.

So now I have the biggest swollen middle finger ever. I may just have to go and use it swearing at the rest of the bees.