Stay Home – Don’t Stay Bored

2020 has proven to be a difficult year. Each and every one of us is trying each end every day better than the one before it. Even if we are not directly affected by the Corona Virus either by loss of a loved one, a family member on the front lines or an essential worker, we can all do our part by staying home. In an effort to ease the pain and self control required for this, we turn to the media to keep us entertained and content. This leads to us powering through our pile of “to read” books, binging Netflix and catching up on YouTube series. The next day we turn around and all of the things that we thought we were never going to get to are done. We are like the hero of a story just after the climax. We are in the “what now?” period of the resolution in the narrative of our media consumption journey. Below are 11 different types of book suggestions to restock your inventory of “to read” books so you can have a new goal to work towards.

  1. A series:  Eye roll, I know.  But hear me out when I say completing a series over Quarantine will make you feel accomplished.  You know how you feel when you finish a book and pride comes over you?  When you read a series, multiple storylines together, you just one the book Olympics!  Series can be daunting to some but they are very rewarding.  Sure they take more time to finish that just one book but in the end you will ultimately feel refreshed.  Besides, you have time nowadays anyway, right? 

Some suggestions for book series that are tried and true are:  The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, The Harry Potter series, The Giver Series and the Time Quintet Series (Starts with A Wrinkle In Time).

  1. Books all by the same author: Similar to a book series but different storylines.  Reading different books by the same author is a good way to study their writing style.  This can be immensely 
  2. helpful for people who would like to become a writer themselves.  This can be extra effective when you read a set of books by one author and then another set from a different author to compare their styles.  Want to take it a step further?  Read a group of books from different authors from relatively the same timeframe to set them in an even playing field.  This can be a really insightful tool to study writing styles and techniques.  Some author suggestions who have a large assortment of books to choose from who tend not to write in a series are:  Charles Dickens(Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol), Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma), and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns).
  1. A fairytale:  If you’re anything like me you are a sucker for the videos on YouTube that harold, “The True story of Peter Pan!” or “What Really happened in Alice in Wonderland?” and even, “The Untold Truth of Cinderella!”.  Yah, I’m a little addicted to these.  Maybe it’s because I feel cheered by society that they altered the story.  Maybe it’s because I genuinely want to know what happened in the story.  Maybe, if I accept the video’s version of truth, I can infer so much more about the societies which told these stories.  In any event, seeing a different take on these classic stories makes me think.  So, reading a fairy tale could be fun for you to.  Sometimes you can buy or listen to just one story but more likely they will come in a collection with other stories so you can see all of the ones Disney rejected.  However, if you think that these are going to be cute and all have happy endings like the Disney movies, do yourself a favor and don’t use them as a bedtime story as you are led to believe that they were.  Some suggestions for collections of fairy tales are: The Brothers Grimm Stories(Most copies should include Repunzel, Hansel and Gretal, Cinderella, Little Red Cap aka Little Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty or it may be revered to as Briar Rose, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Iron John etc.), The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, The Ice Maiden etc,) and also even though it is not really a classic Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling is a really quaint book and you don’t have to know anything about Harry Potter to read it.  
  1. Plays, screenplays and scripts:  Tired of watching shows?  Read one instead!  I always like to read the screenplay of different shows or movies that I have watched and come across a certain line where I couldn’t tell what the character was saying and see it laid out on the page so I can finally tell.  Moreover, sometimes it’s just nice to read something straight on without all of the prose that is in an ordinary book.  Some suggestions of plays, screenplays and scripts are: The works of William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc.), The screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Truman Show Screenplay.
  1. Poems:  I know, eye roll again!  You’re not a poem person, I get it.  Poems can be very small.  Just try some tiny ones.  Like vegetables, if you have a little of them every day, eventually you will like them, I promise.  Poems get stereotyped as “old fashioned” and “boring”.  I say to those haters that they just have not found a poet that they like.  There are so many great modern poets who write in words that anyone could understand.  Please give these poems some consideration: The House on Mango Street (a novel written in vignets) or anything by Shel Silverstein and/or Robert Frost and if you do like poems challenge yourself with something like the Iliad and the Odyssey, epic poems accredited to Homer.
  1. Historical Fiction:  While you are sitting at home complaining about quarantine, read a historical fiction book so that you remember how good you have it while you are “suffering” with running water and electricity.  Ooh, burn!  But not all historical fiction is dark and depressing.  Some of it has happy endings.  For example, if the protagonist is an American soldier in the Revolutionary War and survives or an enslaved individual who makes it to freedom.  Historical fiction can be a great way to reflect on the past and appreciate the present.  Some examples of historical fiction include Number the Stars, Johnny Tramain, and (eye roll, I know you will it’s okay) The Magic Treehouse Series!
  • As a side note, biographies or autobiographies about or by a certain historical figure can tell you a lot about a certain time period that you are interested in.  Examples include Anne Frank’s Diary and Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave.
  • Also, any piece of text written during the time period you were interested in can teach you about it.  So, if you like the Victorian Era, read  Harlem’s Dickens who wrote books which took place in Victorian England.  
  1. Short Stories:  Short and sweet, these stories give you a little taste of literature without commiting to an entire book.  I find that short stories are often more passionate than a full length novel because they are more condensed.  Some short stories that I deeply treasure are:  The Mongoose by Rudyard Kipling, Harrison Bugeron by Kurt Vonnegut, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
  1. Books for kids!:  Maybe you are a kid.  Maybe you know one.  Maybe you want to pretend that you are a kid.  In any event, kids books are fun to read.  I love looking through my old books just to remember old times.  Should you find yourself in any of the above three descriptions, here are a few recommendations:  It’s Mine by Leo Leionni, The Story of Zachary Zween by Mabel Watts, Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake, The Madeline Series by Ludwig Bemelmans and anything by Rohld Dahl.
  1. Choose your own story books:  A surprisingly few people know about the wonders of choosing your own story books.  For those who do not know, a choose your own story book is exactly what it sounds like, a book where the plot pitchforks and you choose what happens next.  For example, let’s pretend that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a choose your own adventure book.  The book would go something like: Now it was Harry’s turn to get sorted into a Hogwarts house.  He comes up to the stool and Professor McGonagal places the hat on his head.  “Hm” the hat said, “You would do well in Slytherin or Gryffindor, which one would you rather have Harry?”.  Then there is a pause in the story and there are two options.  One would go something like: If you choose option A, Slytherin, then to page 72 and If you chose option B, Gruffindor, turn to page 85.  From there, you would get a different version of the story that goes back and forth and all around making each reader’s experience different.  These are really cool books that you are sure to have a good time with; Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton, My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran, To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North and Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure also by Ryan North.
  1. Mystery:  With your new skills from choosing your own adventure books, you will be able to envision dozens of ways a crime could have worked out in a mystery book!  Don’t be scared, not all mystery books are bloody and gruesome with vivid descriptions of a corpse, although as a full disclaimer many are.  In my view, mystery books are a great way to get your mind “up off the couch” while you have not moved all day.  Without even realizing it, mystery books keep your brain sharp which is something we could all use right now.  You will end up spending all of your free time trying to riddle out “who done it”, thereby working your brain’s reasoning and logical thinking muscles.  They say that you may as well use the time spent in quarantine to work on a skill.  Your friends may come out better at art, better chefs, some may have knit scarfed for everybody, but you my friend will be ready to be a full on detective.  Up to the challenge?  Try these gripping mystery books:  The Nancy Drew series by Mildred Wirt Benson and anything by the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, such The ABC Murders, And Then There Were None, and Death on the Nile.

I know you are bored, I am too. I know you are tired of quarantine, I am too. But if these book suggestions tempt you to stay in bed and stay home to read for a little while, making quarantine just a little more bearable, then I feel that I have done some good in our ever-changing world.

– Ainsley H

Don’t Let Age Kill To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, is a beloved work of fiction that has definitely left its mark in the world of literature. That being said, many modern readers roll their eyes at the thought of reading “classic” literature and opt for more current works to fit their current palette. Classics, Little Women, A Tale of Two Cities, Tom Sawyer, etc., tend to get a bad rap for not being applicable to today’s obstacles. However, if we take these books out of their settings, they have valuable lessons to teach us. To Kill A Mockingbird is a prime example.

For Starters, The Strong Female Heroines

From Scout to Miss Maudie to Helen Robinson, To Kill A Mockingbird is chock-full of heroines. Scout, with her “tomboy” appeal and rugged attitude, throw off the social norm. Refusing to give in to the petty gossip of Aunt Alexandra’s lunch group, Miss Maudie is a strong advocate for girls. Helen Robinson going to work to support her family in place of re-marrying. All of these ladies are heroines in a town where Atticus gets to be the ringleader of morality.

Secondly, The Timeless Appeal

Despite the fact that the story is set in the time of the Great Depression, the story has minimal markers of its period. For example, if the characters were traveling in a covered wagon, we would presume that the story took place in the past. Also, the characters are not time traveling. By not adding these elements, the author shows that the story is not set in another time period. Because there are not factors that make you feel that you are indefinitely stuck in one time period or another, you can imagine the story in your own context, therefore personalizing it. When a reader can personalize a story, the theme resonates more strongly with them.

The Theme

Today, the world is undergoing major construction in the frontier of equality. The most prominent theme of To Kill A Mockingbird is to treat others as one would like to be treated. Considering the tremendous strides in activism that have happened recently, To Kill A Mockingbird will stoke the flames in today’s advocates just as it was meant to do when it was published. Now more than ever, as a society we need this energy to keep up the good fight for justice.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was a phenomenon in its day. Due to being deemed a classic of literature, it has lost the appeal in today’s reader’s eyes. However, it still has so much to offer from the strong female heroines, it’s a timeless theme and the way that it can empower us to keep fighting for equality.

-Ainsley H. 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Harry Potter: Pets

Among its enchanting world, characters, plot, and locations, the Harry Potter series possesses numerous pets that add charm to the books and, at times, contribute to the plot. From some perspectives, their importance to the story of Harry Potter may not seem of importance; however, some of these pets have invaluable parts, either in the story or their owners’ lives. Here are a few of these treasurable little creatures. Please note that there might be spoilers from books 1-6.

Hedwig: The snowy-white dignity of Harry’s loyal owl is one reason to admire Hedwig. She keeps Harry company when he is trapped at the Dursley’s house, and she delivers many important parcels to and for Harry throughout the series. One of my favorite moments with Hedwig is when she flies to Harry’s friends to make sure they remember to send him a birthday present.

Trevor: Even though his attempts at escaping are constant, I think Trevor really likes Neville Longbottom as his owner–he always seems to (however unwillingly) let Neville find and care for him. As with Neville, his dedication to his pet toad is admirable, for another boy might have long ago given up searching for a rebellious pet. Trevor’s relationship with Neville enriches Neville’s perseverant character and his ability to overcome difficulties–in his classes, with his grandmother–with resilience.

Crookshanks: Even though it is this ginger-haired cat that causes so much tension in Ron and Hermione’s friendship in their third year, Crookshanks proves his intelligence and dependability when he sees Sirius and Scabbers for who they are. Nearly all the other characters believe Scabbers harmless and Sirius a dangerous villain, but Crookshanks knows the truth about both–Scabbers is the danger, while Sirius is not. The courage and insight of Crookshanks shines in the third book so brightly that even Ron can no longer deny the loyalty of the cat.

Scabbers: It is true that Scabbers results in being Voldemort’s servant disguised as Ron’s (at first Percy’s) rat for many years. However, he does contribute admirably to some scenes in the series. On their initial trip to Hogwarts, Ron’s unsuccessful demonstration of a spell on Scabbers plays a part in the building of his friendship with Harry. Furthermore, Ron grows fond of the rat before he knows its true identity, and many games of chess and laughs in the common room no doubt occurred in Scabber’s presence.

BuckbeakStormy gray and confident, Buckbeak is a key player in Harry and Hermione’s rescue of Sirius. The hippogriff also saves Sirius from some of the loneliness of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place during Harry’s fifth year. Held dear by Hagrid as well, Buckbeak (or “Witherwings”) has the respect and appreciation of many characters who fight on the side of Dumbledore’s Order.

The pets named above are merely a fraction of the many that hold importance in the Harry Potter series. Their interactions with the characters–comforting, assisting, escaping–lead to a better understanding of the characters, while establishing the pets as individual characters themselves.

– Mia T.

Books set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded online for free from Overdrive

How Mission Viejo Differs from Seattle

I moved from Mission Viejo, California to an island in Washington by Seattle. I lived in Mission Viejo for the first 18 years of my life, and never moved. Moving to Washington, I don’t know how much of what I’ve noticed is specific to cities or is state-wide. Nevertheless, here are the random differences I’ve noticed.

  1. Axolotls are Illegal in CA

Axolotls only exist naturally in one polluted lake in Mexico, so catching and taking home wild axolotls is highly illegal due to their high endangerment in the wild. Because of California’s proximity to Mexico, axolotls are not allowed as pets to prevent axolotl trafficking. They are also illegal in New Mexico, New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, and Washington D.C. Don’t ask me why they’re illegal in the other states. But they’re legal in most states, including Washington, because they are distributed humanely.

  1. People Aren’t as Friendly

In Mission Viejo, everyone is always smiling and trying to look happy. Washington? Not so much. The gloomy weather leads most to not want to leave the house and gaze sadly out the rain-spattered window. It’s hard to seem happy when it’s always raining and foggy, and people in Washington just don’t care enough to portray themselves as happy. There are ups and downs to this. I feel people in Orange County are more fake nice and always trying to get on your good side to cash in the favor later, while people in Washington aren’t concerned about what you think of them and are more honest with their feelings.

  1. It’s Rainy

California is very sunny. Growing up 15 minutes from the beach, I didn’t realize how special that was. In Washington, if it’s sunny out, vendors will abandon their shop to stand outside in the sunshine. It’s a state-wide event. People will wear sundresses and constantly be talking about how nice of a day it is. When it’s sunny in California, it’s just a day. It’s crazy how a lot of the world only sees the sun a few months of the year.

  1. Everyone is Pale

I didn’t realize how much sunscreen I was using in California! Up here, you don’t need sunscreen. Ever. And everyone is super pale. In Orange County, everyone is always talking about how they need a tan. Here, everyone is pale and proud of it. I have not seen a tanning salon. It’s nice to be so comfortable with my pale self, as I always felt ashamed of not having a tan in Mission Viejo. But it’s weird having people not care about having a tan after being in Orange County!

  1. They Drink Coffee All Day

I thought people in California drank a lot of coffee. But I hadn’t been to Washington. Coffee is their water. Everyone always has a cup of coffee in their hand, even at 6pm! There are cafés everywhere, as well as drive-up coffee stands in every parking lot. I’ve never seen one in California, but they’re everywhere in Washington! Starbucks started in Seattle, and I think that says it all. People up here drink coffee all day, every day. I have never heard someone say, “You shouldn’t drink coffee right before bed!” They do not care. They drink it as their dessert. Washington is also the only state to have free coffee at every rest stop. They really love their coffee.

  1. Racial Diversity

Both Mission Viejo and Seattle are diverse. Both have mainly Caucasian people, but Mission Viejo has significantly more Hispanic people and Seattle has significantly more African American people.

  1. Storage Units

There are storage units everywhere here. I don’t know why, but here’s my theory. Orange County is newer, so people move there with few belongings, knowing how high rent is going to be. In the Seattle area, there are many retired people who don’t have space for their growing belongings and can’t afford a new house. But that like folding laundry and having band rehearsals. Storage units are used more actively here, opposed to dusty places you forget your own.

  1. Everyone is Sad

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. It’s depression due to lack of sunlight, and it’s very present in Washington. For example, there is only light out from 7:52am-4:16pm in WA on Dec 15, 2019m only about 8 hours of daylight. On that day in California, there are about 10 hours of daylight from 6:47am-4:44pm, California almost has two more full hours of daylight! Having less Vitamin A causes depression, which is probably why Washington’s suicide rates are above the national average, while California’s rates are below.

  1. There Are Fewer People

Just Orange County has a population of roughly 3 million, while all of Washington is 7.5 million! And Washington is half the size of California. There’s is a much lower population density state-wide in Washington, but Seattle is very packed. There are also just fewer people overall. California has a population of almost 40 million, over 5x that of Washington despite being twice as big!

  1. It’s Right by Canada

In California, people go to Mexico on the weekends, but in Washington, people go to Canada on the weekend. Both states border another country and seem to have more people visiting the US than Americans traveling across the border. Washington is the go-to for Canadian gamblers due to legal casinos and is more of a place to visit for foreigners, while Mexicans seem to move to California.

So yeah! Those are the random things I’ve noticed from basically moving from the Mexican to Canadian border of the U.S.

-Jessica F.

Comparison: High School Musical vs. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Flashback: It’s January 20, 2006, you’re sitting in front of the TV, as the beginning credits play for the new Disney Channel Original Movie: High School Musical. Now fast forward 13 years (crazy isn’t it?), you have the Disney+ app opened on your device, about to play the first episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Now, if you were a big fan of HSM like I was when you were younger, chances are, there probably was some speculation, wondering if the new HSM would be just as good as the original. In my opinion, I personally think that the new version is actually quite good. It’s not as good as the original, of course, but it isn’t a complete fail.

Basically, the new version is like a musical inside of a musical (if that makes sense). It’s kind of like in Teen Beach Movie, where the main characters were stuck inside of the movie, in the actual movie. It revolves around the kids who attend the actual East High School, and are putting on their own rendition of the musical itself. The characters of the actual show (Ricky, Nini, EJ, Gina, Big Red, Kourtney, etc.), then audition for the parts they want (Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad, Taylor, etc.).

So far, there have only been four episodes released, packed with tons of drama, comedy, romance, heartbreak, and of course, tons of singing. If you were a High School Musical fan when you were younger, the new version might be a little too young for you, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

-Phoebe L.

Fictional Food: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

There are many reasons I love to read: the characters, the settings, the story … and sometimes the food. Not that it’s the force that drives me when I pick up a book to read, but I enjoy reading about what the characters eat. Maybe it’s because the little culinary details make the story so much more immersive, or because seeing the characters eat makes them more relatable. Ultimately (however silly it may seem), food can add extra depth to a story.

In her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling adds little comments about what the characters are eating, which is one of the many reasons I enjoy reading her stories. Here is some of the food mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that may or may not interest you.

“Stale cornflakes and … tinned tomatoes on toast” (Rowling 50): This is the breakfast eaten by the Dursleys and Harry during Mr. Dursley’s failed attempt to evade the senders of Harry’s Hogwarts letter. This slightly dreary meal matches the mood of Harry and the Dursleys on this random, unplanned trip.

Hagrid’s sausages: When Hagrid appears at the little shack where Harry and the Dursleys escape to, he roasts some sausages over the fire and offers them to Harry. After sleeping on the floor of a shack in the middle of a storm, this warm food must be a relief to Harry–a relief which parallels what he feels during his departure from the Dursleys into a wizarding world that treats him with warmth.

Chocolate and raspberry ice-cream with nuts: Harry is given this ice-cream from Hagrid after he first meets Draco Malfoy. Despite the doubtless deliciousness of this treat, Harry eats it a bit unhappily as he ponders his unpleasant conversation with Draco (but he soon learns not to place value in Draco’s statements).

Pumpkin pasties: The pasties are among the assortment of sweets Harry purchases from the trolley witch on his first journey to Hogwarts. They have a part in the beginning of Harry’s friendship with Ron, for it is a pasty that Harry offers Ron in exchange for one of Ron’s sandwiches. A pasty may also be the first wizarding sweet Harry tastes.

In J.K. Rowling’s stories, the food assists in conveying the characters’ emotions along with adding interesting facts for the readers. Knowing what the characters are eating adds a new layer of complexity to the books.

-Mia T.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone) is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

How Fiction Can Give Us a View Into Reality

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” Tom Clancy’s analysis on the divergence between the realm of fantasy and the confines of the real world shows us that reality and fantasy are really not as different as they may seem. One example of this is Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, which centers around the trials and triumphs of a former U.S Marine lieutenant turned history teacher as he becomes entangled in the world of international espionage and warfare.

The series’ first book, Patriot Games, depicts Ryan’s chance encounter with Ulster Liberation Army terrorists in England and sets the tone for how this will alter the course of his career and family life in the books to follow. Although this book was written for entertainment purposes, it does give us a window into the international political climate at the time of the book’s release(July 1987). The Provisional Irish Republican Army was fighting to end British influence in Northern Ireland and reunite Ireland at the time of publication. This book was not based on a true story, but it does allude to the real-life political climate in the UK at the time, which helps readers gain a greater understanding of a time period that they may not have experienced.

Another author who drew inspiration from the world around him is John Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s famous Of Mice and Men is a book many read during high school English courses. It tells the story of two close friends, George and Lennie, as they attempt to seek work in California during the Great Depression. This story is categorized as fiction, though some of the characters and events Steinbeck described were people and things he met and experienced during his time working on a ranch in central California. Of Mice and Men’s setting helps readers understand the desperation that unemployed Americans faced in trying to find jobs during the Great Depression. Lennie’s character also shows the rejection, stigmatization, and ignorance of mental illness during this time period, which was a very real and prevalent issue in the real world. Many believe that books categorized as fiction are simply nothing more than stories created to entertain literary enthusiasts on a rainy day.

History, politics, and social structure are all topics that are traditionally reserved for textbooks or newspapers. However, Clancy’s series and Steinbeck’s works are some of the many examples of how fiction can give us a glimpse into the past or present reality. It is interesting to see just how much we can learn about a past time through our favorite novels and fantasy stories and may encourage those who stick to the world of non-fiction to branch out into other genres.

-Katie A.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel, published in 1960 by Harper Lee, deserves every ounce of fame it has thus far received. Although the subjects that are addressed by the novel are shrouded by controversy, it addressed issues that needed to be addressed, such as racism and the crimes that can be committed under its name.

The novel is told from the perspective of six-year-old Caucasian Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, is the most reliable lawyer in her town, Maycomb. He takes on a case defending a black man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, and this sends the entire population of their town into a frenzy. Scout and her brother, Jem, experience the metaphorical splitting of the town as everyone takes a side. They are attacked and harassed for the actions of their father.

The plot deepens and thickens, unfolding with an uncanny message: racism is a real issue, and it remains as such, even though To Kill A Mockingbird was first published in 1960. In fact, Scout and Jem are attacked at night and nearly killed in retaliation of their father’s case. The town is violently over-involved in Atticus Finch’s case, and most of its citizens actually attend the trial for sport and entertainment. People are quick to take sides and are adamant and passionate about whichever one they end up on.

To Kill A Mockingbird is also semi-autobiographical- Scout’s childhood is based loosely off of Harper Lee’s. However, Lee quickly became reclusive due to her book’s fame and all the attention it received. The novel was groundbreaking, but Harper Lee hardly did any interviews, book signings, or any public event of the sort. In fact, Harper Lee was barely involved in the making of the movie adaption of the novel, which became a box-office hit (it made over three times its budget!).

Overall, To Kill A Mockingbird is a magnificent literary tapestry, with intricately woven characters and artfully spun plots and subplots. It addresses issues that were relevant in its time and, some may argue, even more, relevant today. It is a novel that has affected people’s lives, in ways that are clear but also subconscious, and has educated many on the subject of racism amid the early 1930s.

-Arushi S.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Its Finally Summertime. Now What?

We have all have staring at the clocks in the classrooms waiting for the minutes to slowly pass by until finally the bell rings to let us out of school. We have been staring at our calendars meticulously counting down the days until school gets out. We have all sat through the stress of finals. Gotten that last test done. Until finally that school bell rings for the last time of the year and school is officially out. Most of us have been waiting for this day since summer ended last year. Wanting some free time to ourselves, instead of pouring every extra second of the day in studying, doing homework, and reading. And the day finally comes.

It is always great for the first couple of days. Sitting around doing nothing. Not having to stress about the next test or the next big project. But yet, every summer is always the seem. We all want to get to summer but yet we get there and realize how boring it is. Sitting around all day with nothing to do, a sharp contrast to the constant motion of the school year. We get here and we do not know what to do with ourselves. Every second spent sitting around it seems as if there is a little voice in the back of our heads telling us, be productive, there is still so much to do, so much work to get done for next year. So many projects to be done to get ready for college applications.

So then comes the question, What do I do with all this free time?

Well, the best part about summer is that it is finally time to relax. Have fun, go out with your friends. It doesn’t have to be something productive. Because, you are still a teenager so enjoy being young.

But also instead of spending countless hours bored staring at a wall, pick up a new hobby. Read the book you’ve been dying to read. Find a new project to do over the summer. It can be something completely new like learning how to sew your own clothes or making things to redecorate your room. Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do. Get outside and be active.

Even though it is summer too, you should remember to get ahead a little bit for the next year of school. Don’t procrastinate on that summer reading assignment, instead read it little by little whenever you are bored and by the end of the summer it will have been finished stress free. Don’t let these nagging school projects stay in the back of your head nagging you and stressing you out while you’re also trying to enjoy yourself.  Instead just get them done before the summer all of a sudden ends.

Summer to is a time to get ahead. That SAT prep that you have been holding off from because you don’t have any time. Get it done so it is not there stressing you throughout the school year and all throughout the summer. All that volunteering that you wanted to get done to help the community out as well as make sure you graduate high school. Just get it done and over with.

Overall, summertime is a time to finally relax and enjoy yourself. It is a time to try new things and finally get to do all those activities you’ve been thinking about.  Just because it is summer it doesn’t mean you have to coop yourself up in your house and be antisocial. But still, summer time is an important time to get work done that you would have never had time to throughout the rest of the year.

-Ava G.

Authors We Love: James Agee

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Born on November 27th, 1909 and died on May 16, 1955 was this brilliant American poet, novelist, and writer for and about motion pictures. Written about in Encyclopedia Britannica, Agee grew up in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountain area, went to Harvard University, and wrote for Fortune and Time after he graduated in 1932. Although his movie criticisms weren’t widely known, his humorous comments on movies still gained a lot of support from the audience instead of merely evaluating musicals and movies like an insider.

If you don’t know yet, his book A Death in the Family actually won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Now, I think this has a lot to do with his experience as a child, as this is an autobiographical novel. Not only the name “Rufus”, who was the main character in that particular novel but moreover it was James Agee’s middle name. His father, Hugh James Agee, like Jay Follet was killed in an auto accident when he was merely seven.

In addition, just when he was ten years old, his mother enrolled him in Saint Andrew’s boarding school. Remember something now? Yes, this is exactly the same setting as his other book The Morning Watch.

Although I haven’t read or watched all his other plays and featured stories, there is one thing I can tell: James Agee is a legendary author who utilizes his own family background and experience to produce outstanding stories and mold characters into the best shapes he can.

-Coreen C. 

The works of James Agee are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library