Rupi Kaur is a Canadian-Indian poet known for her prose publications Milk and Honey, The Sun and her Flowers, and most recently, Home Body.
Born in Punjab, India, on 5th October 1992, Kaur immigrated to Canada with her family when she was very young. She grew up poor- her father was a truck driver who was on the road for long periods of time, and her mother was often busy taking care of Kaur’s three younger siblings. However, poetry and art were a large part of her upbringing- her father would write prose poems for her mother, and her mother loved to paint. When she was still a university student, she began posting her short prose poems onto Instagram, and gained a modest following on her social media platforms. In 2009, she began performing her poems for small events, under the simple stage name of “Kaur.” After dozens of failed submissions to publishing houses, journals, and magazines, Kaur self-published her first book of poetry, Milk and Honey, in 2014. The book was a massive success, and later re-published by Andrews McMeel- one of the leading poetry publishers in America. Three years later, in 2017, Kaur released The Sun and her Flowers. It was an even greater success than Milk and Honey, garnering Kaur millions of dollars in book sales and millions of new followers across her social media platforms. In November 2020, Kaur released her third book- Home Body. The book became one of the bestselling books of the year.
Kaur’s work deeply resonated with me personally. In her writing, she discusses prominent themes in today’s world. She succinctly and beautifully captures the niche feelings of growing up an immigrant in a new country, in a new world- especially as a young girl. She also masterfully dissects sensitive topics such as those of sexual violence, and the politicization/sexualization of women’s bodies in today’s society. Her writing is simple, beautiful, and therapeutic to read. They are truly incredible dissertations on everything from the fallacies of love to the difficulties of family to the oscillating pendulum of self-love and self-hate that people often have with their bodies. I would recommend her work to everyone!
All three books mentioned above contain some sexual themes that may not be suitable for all audiences.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is available for checkout from Mission Viejo Library. Milk and Honey and Home Body can both be downloaded for free on Overdrive.
American horror typically depicts a psycho lurking around in a motel, zombies brought back from the dead, or clowns eating frightened children. Junji Itō has shaped the way viewers define horror forever, bringing stories to life by drawings made from ink and paper. Unlike American horror, he illustrates supernatural events such as mysterious spirals, blood-sucking vampire bats, and much more.
Born on July 31st, 1963 in Nakatsugawa, Gifu, Japan, Junji Itō developed his love for horror at a young age. His older sisters would read him Kazuo Umezu and Shinichi Koga–famous horror manga authors during the 1960s–in Japanese magazines. Other authors such as Hideshi Hino, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Shinichi Koga, H. P. Lovecraft, and Edogawa Ranpo became major influences to his work as well.
Junji Itō’s career as a manga author began around the 1980s, when he won the Kazuo Umezu Prize after entering a short tale to Gekkan Halloween. The submission later turned into a Japanese horror manga series titled Tomie. Afterwards, he quit his previous job and pursued his hobby of writing and drawing as a full career.
Junji Itō’s works were popular in Japan, yet they only gained popularity in the United States late into his career. In 2019, Itō won an Eisner Award for his manga reinterpretation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Known as the Academy Awards of the comic industry, Itō became one of few foreigners to receive an Eisner Award. This year, he was once again nominated for an Eisner Award under the category of “The Best Writer/Artist” for his horror comic Jigokusei Remina.
Most of Junji Itō’s creations portray a dark, impulsive universe filled with the worst traits in any human, specifically greed, jealousy, and irrationality. There are recurring themes of grotesque horror, inevitable consequences of one’s own actions, seemingly ordinary characters that gradually submit to compulsion, and settings that break down and collapse into a state which reflects our own society. As a result, all of his mangas portray the beauty and underlying horror in every story. Itō’s most popular manga is arguably Uzumaki, a three-volume novel that depicts the journey of a teenager, Kirie Goshima, who witnesses an ordinary town fall under a curse of spirals. Another famous novel is Smashed, consisting of multiple short stories such as addictive honey that flattens those who drink it, a valley of mirrors, and “earthbound” people. These novels may be the most well-known, but Itō has a variety of underrated books, series, and movies to choose from.
As a lover of horror, I’ve grown to admire Junji Itō’s novels for their distinctive illustrations and plots. They truly allow readers to feel more than just fear. The ties between Itō’s fictional and nonfictional factors truly brings out different emotions because it reflects our own world.
Junji Itō is still alive at the age of 57. Although he may not be publishing any novels in the near future, his history of twisted tales that connect our deepest unknown fears to real life truly proves he’s the master of horror.
You may recognize some of the famous novels Paper Towns, The Fault In Our Stars, or Looking for Alaska. As you may have guessed by the title, these iconic novels were written by John Green. John Green is an American author, who makes content on YouTube, and is a co-creator of Crash Course. He attended Kenyon College and earned his bachelor of art’s degree with a double major in English and religious studies.
John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault In Our Stars, Turtles All The Way Down, and The Anthropocene Reviewed. While the majority of these are novels, The Anthropocene Reviewed is a collection of essays that are nonfiction and awakening. He very recently went on a virtual tour for The Anthropocene Reviewed which took place from May 17th to May 22nd. His novel, The Fault In Our Stars was made into a movie, as was his novel, Paper Towns. Additionally, Looking for Alaska was made into a series on Hulu. On his and his brother’s YouTube channel (VlogBrothers) they help fight poverty by raising money and have planted thousands of trees in the past. On top of this, he teaches World History, Literature, Economics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Government, and etc., on Crash Course along with other people.
Personally, I love reading John Green’s novels and seeing them in film as well. I’ve noticed that a lot of his books are deep, detailed, and original. His books have always made me think bigger and open my eyes to the different situations the characters are in. Overall, John Green is definitely an amazing author to check out and keep up with. He’s making a great impact on the world.
Jean Craighead George is a naturalist, illustrator, and author. Born in 1919 in Washington DC, George developed her love of nature from her family. All being naturalists, together they’d hike mountains, climb trees to study owls, and make their own fish hooks out of twigs.
This love of nature carried over to her writing as George eventually graduated from Pennsylvania State University with degrees in Science and English. She is known for uniquely combining her careers into engaging fictional stories that take place in real, vividly described ecosystems.
One of her most famous books, My Side of the Mountain, takes place in the Catskill mountains and involves a boy, named Sam, who attempts to make a home for himself in the wild. The novel details the day to day life of Sam and features illustrations of some of his creations, including shelters, traps, and whistles. While the book is an amazing read for nature lovers due to its setting, the trials of surviving in the snow, finding food, and the mystery of an unstable environment makes it a tale of suspense that is perfect for adventure-lovers too.
Other novels by Jean Craighead George include:
Julie of the Wolves (Newberry Prize Winning)
The Fire Bug Connection
There’s an Owl in the Shower
Shark Beneath the Reef
On the Far Side of the Mountain (Sequel to My Side of the Mountain)
“Happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain.”
― Thomas Hardy, TheMayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June, 1840, in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England. While his father, Thomas Sr., was content with poverty and rural life, Hardy’s mother Jemima, who was well-read herself, encouraged her young son’s education. At 22 years old, Hardy entered the architecture field by studying the same at King’s College in London, winning prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects as well as the Architectural Association. Despite this, Hardy despised London and its climate, and, having fallen to poor health, moved to Bockhampton to recover after five years of urban living.
It was in this picturesque village that Hardy first tried his hand at published writing. While his first few works were not major successes, if published at all, he finally struck gold, so to speak, with Far From the Madding Crowd in 1874. Hardy’s subsequent wealth allowed him to finally marry and give up his architectural practice. While living with his wife in a cottage at Sturminster Newton, Hardy published the five major novels collectively of the theme of “Character and Environment”: The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895), and enjoyed what he himself called the happiest years of his life.
While Hardy had always dabbled in poetry, the public’s hostile reaction to the scandalous events chronicled in Jude the Obscure motivated him to become more involved in the poetic universe. The horrors of the First World War greatly influenced the dark, hopeless themes of his late works, including the epic drama in verse, The Dynasts, and a second verse play, The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall. Because of these incredible works as well as others, Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit by King Edward.
Sadly, in December of 1927, Hardy became ill with pleurisy and died on 11 January 1928. After some controversy over his burial site, it was eventually decided that his heart would be buried with his first wife in Dorset, while the rest of his body would be laid to rest in the distinguished Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Thomas Hardy left a lasting impact on the literary world, through both his award-winning novels and his stunning poetry, which inspired and continues to inspire many writers all around the world.
Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was, and still is, a well-renowned author known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novels.
Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury’s start as a writer began very early on at the age of 12. He had a fateful encounter with a carnival magician by the name of Mr. Electrico who proclaimed “Live forever!” to which Bradbury decided to never stop writing.
Soon after this encounter at age 14, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles. When the Great Depression hit, Bradbury couldn’t afford to attend college so he instead attended the local library three days a week for ten whole years to acquire his education.
Over the course of his career, Bradbury published thousands of literary works including 400 short stories and 50 novels. In addition to this, Bradbury has also earned dozens of awards including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award, and the Pulitzer Prize Citation.
I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in the 6th grade with one of his short stories titled All Summer in a Day. The story is about a group of students who live on the never-ending rainy planet of Venus that have never seen the sun with the exception of a young girl named Margot who only moved to Venus five years prior. As our class read through in monotone uninterested voices (as most children do), I remember sitting there in awe at his simple yet elaborate descriptions of simple things such as the sun or the rain, the fantastical world he created on Venus, and the development of the characters in only a couple of pages. I remember that being the first time a short story truly made me feel something, like a deep pit in my chest.
The second short story I ready from Ray Bradbury was A Sound of Thunder, a story about time travelers who have something in drastic in store when they arrive in the past and return to the present. It was in this short story that I was truly enamored by his descriptions of the dinosaurs which were so incredibly elaborate that I felt like I was standing right there in front of them. It was when I read this short story that I set my own goal of creating scenes of such immaculate sensory description.
Ray Bradbury was not only a spectacular author but a person with an incredibly inspiring story and a true passion for something he loved to do. If you’re looking for a good long read or a good quick read, this is an author that will give you something interesting to read for years and years on end.
Jules Verne was a French author, poet, and playwright. He was born on February 8, 1828 in Nantes, France. He was the author of many popular classics that are still read today by many people in the world. Unfortunately, his writing career didn’t start off as well as he would have wanted. His dad did not support Jules following his dream in writing. He wanted his son to pursue a career in law and become a lawyer. Jules Verne did not want to be a lawyer, he wanted to write novels!
In 1856, Jules Verne met Honorine Morel at the wedding of one of his old college friends. They later got married in 1857 and had their first and only child in 1861. They named him Michel Verne. Michel Verne later helped finish writing his father’s stories after Jules Verne passed away.
Jules Verne is the author of Journey to the Center of the Earth has proven to be one of his most popular books. The story is about a scientist who believes that volcanoes in Iceland have a path that leads to the Earth’s core. So, the scientist and his nephew travel into the caves that led them into the Earth. They take a journey where they find ancient fossils and evidence of huge humans. Then, they make it to the surface by erupting out of Earth inside a volcano.
He has also written another top classic called Around The World In 80 Days where Phileas Fogg makes a bet to travel the world in 80 days. He takes boats and races through the countries as he works to win his bet. Then, he meets a French servant named Passepartout, who helps him save a princess from India named Aouda. They take Aouda along on their journey around the world. Then, they race to the meeting with the people to see if they won the bet.
Jules Verne is also the author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is about Captain Nemo and his submarine named Nautilus. He takes 3 passengers on his submarine and they go on an underwater expedition around the world. They face giant squids along the way that try to attack the submarine just like they have attacked ships from all around the world. Captain Nemo and his passengers try to survive the underwater attacks by the squid and try to escape!
Jules Verne was the author of many popular books that are read by millions of people all around the world. His books have been translated into 140 languages and he is called the most translated author of all time. He gathered ideas and got inspiration for his stories while traveling around France and Europe.
The French novelist isn’t just a very important and loved author because of his adventurous stories and new ideas, but his books are read because his adventures make readers feel like they are witnessing the adventures themselves. Readers keep coming back to read more of his books because of the ways how his stories make them feel. When I read Jules Verne’s tales, I loved reading because the books made me feel excited and kept me wanting to read more and more.
Many of Jules Verne’s books were about traveling and exploring the world. In books like Around The World In 80 Days, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, are all books that include traveling whether it is on Earth’s surface, or underwater. He mainly wrote science fiction books combining world science and his creativity to make amazing stories filled with action and adventure.
In 1886, Jules was shot in the leg by his nephew, and that bullet stayed there for the rest of his life. For several months, Jules had to rest and put his leg up. Fortunately, he was able to walk with a cane months later he was shot. Later when we was 77, in 1905, Jules Verne suffered a stroke and was never able to recover. He sadly died on March 24, 1905.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is the founder of American psychoanalytic fiction and the first writer of short stories in the history of American literature. He has been called the greatest American romantic novelist in the 19th century. Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in the United States. His family believed in the Christian puritanism, and Hawthorne was influenced by puritanism. After graduating from Bowdoin college in 1825, Hawthorne returned to Salem, where he wrote and published dozens of stories and short stories. In 1839, Hawthorne worked in Boston customs for more than two years, and then entered the “brook farm”, where he was exposed to transcendentalism and got acquainted with Emerson and Thoreau, the representatives of transcendentalism.
Later, Hawthorne went to Salem’s customs office, where his work experience there has a direct impact on his writing “The Scarlet Letter”, which consolidated his solid position in the American literary world. Hawthorne was evaluated as a spectator of life, and his attitude to life determined his interest and insight into people’s inner and psychological activities. He was deeply influenced by the thought of original sin, and the original sin was passed down from generation to generation. His representative works include the novel “The Scarlet Letter”, “The House of the Seven Gables”, “The Blithedale Romance”, “Twice Told Tales”, and “Mosses from an Old House”. Among them, “The Scarlet Letter” has become the world literature classic where Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville and other literary masters are deeply influenced by it.
In the middle of the 19th century, Russian society was full of contradictions and crises. The tyrannical rule of the tsar and capitalism weighed heavily on the psyche of the people. Dostoyevsky’s novels mainly depict the misery, contradiction, hardship and desperation of people living at the bottom of the society, reveal the depravity and destruction of human nature and the split of human spirit in this pathological society, and show the darkness and filth of the Russian society under the shadow of the autocratic rule and the capitalist system. His novels depict the bullied and insulted, and try to show the misery of the characters hidden in the dark corners of the slums. Dostoyevsky describes people who are divided by themselves, reveals multiple personalities and shows the return of human nature. Dostoyevsky is an expert in psychological description. He is obsessed with pathological psychological description. He not only writes about the results of behaviors, but also focuses on describing the psychological process of behaviors, especially those abnormal behaviors, near coma and madness.
The characters’ abnormal thinking and behavior are exactly the characteristics of his works. The intensity of Dostoyevsky’s psychological description is in proportion to the bewilderment of his thoughts. Dostoyevsky mainly adopts a non – temporal narration in dealing with the timing of the novel. Because he preferred to choose the most intense, terrible and extreme events as the subject matter of the novel, and was keen to show people’s psychology in the crisis, the overall rhythm of the work was extremely unstable. In the description of characters, Dostoevsky broke the tradition of describing characters in Russian literature since Pushkin. He not only described their impoverished situation, but also revealed the soul of the characters, not only sympathizing with them, but also associating with them. The strong is a story element opposed to the weak, mainly referring to those who have money and power but disregard any moral principles. Their most important characteristic is to get their own way. The rescuer and the rescued are another pair of story elements in Dostoyevsky’s novels.
If the antagonism between the strong and the weak constitutes the first clue of the narrative of the novel and highlights the author’s humanitarian feelings, then the second narrative clue composed of the rescuer and the rescued reflects the author’s thoughts full of religious meaning, which is of more metaphysical significance in thinking about the way out of the society. The latter two narrative elements are gradually developed in his novels. The story element of the savior is the perfect Image of Christ in Dostoevsky’s novels, the embodiment of the supreme good. At the beginning of creation, the image of the savior appeared in the form of a kind of good behavior, namely self-sacrificing love. After his return from exile in Siberia, Dostoyevsky shifted his focus to religious exploration, and the rescuer began to appear in his novels as a concrete and sensible figure. His character gradually became full and distinct, and he was no longer confined to the scope of love, but had a broader social content. In the novel, this element is the external manifestation of the author’s thoughts, and the author mainly reflects his own religious ideal of salvation through it.
Therefore, such characters are flat and are the “mouthpiece” of the author’s thoughts, often giving people a sense of paleness. The rescued person is the most important story element in his novels. Compared with the rescued person, this kind of character image is more abundant. The image of the rescued first appeared as the image of the visionary in Dostoevsky’s novels. This image inherits the tradition of superfluity in 19th century Russian literature and has the characteristics of superfluity: dissociating from the society, holding a critical attitude towards the society and possessing the characteristics of thinker. So his novels end with the triumph of the savior’s mind. But as an artist, Dostoyevsky always triumphs over himself as a moralist. He was deeply aware of the social reality at that time when people still had no way out depending on religion. The contradiction of his thoughts makes the main part of the novel present an open structure, and the ending presents an open state in a closed form.
The foundation of Dostoevsky’s novels is binary opposition, mainly composed of four story elements: the strong, the weak, the rescuer and the rescued, among which a theme of “salvation” runs through. Secondly, the structure of Dostoevsky’s novels is inconsistent. The construction of elements in his novels mainly consists of three parts: the antagonism between strong and weak — the conflict between good and evil in the heart of the saved, and the conversion of the save and the saved. However, due to the mutual influence, interweaving and inhomogeneity of various contradictions, the novel is open and incomplete in content. The reason why Dostoevsky adopted such a structure pattern in constructing novels is closely related to his religious thoughts and perplexities. Dostoyevsky’s novels mainly adopt two perspectives: inner perspective and omniscient perspective. First of all, his novels mainly show people’s self-consciousness. All kinds of consciousness have a relationship of equal dialogue, so the first-person inner perspective and the third-person indefinite inner perspective are the perspectives often adopted in his novels.
This perspective reflects Dostoevsky’s religious confusion and exploration. Secondly, the omniscient perspective of Dostoevsky’s novels is mainly reflected in the beginning and the end of the novels, which has two functions: one is to serve the characteristics of the perspective inside the main body of the novels, and the other is to serve the religious thoughts of Dostoevsky, thus forming the characteristics of the closed form of the novels. In addition, there are some “meta-novel” narrative modes in Dostoevsky’s novels, which also convey the confusion in his religious thoughts, no matter for the narrator, the hero or the reader. Thus, we can conclude the perspective mode of Dostoevsky’s novels: the main body of the novels mainly narrates from the inner perspective, and the beginning and end of the novels often adopt the omniscient perspective. Dostoyevsky’s construction of the time mode in his novels is mainly reflected in the following aspects: first, he no longer places events in the process of time like traditional novels, and is keen to describe the process in detail; instead, he cuts time, adopts a non-temporal narration, and pays attention to the synchro meaning of time. Secondly, it is also reflected in the psychological time intervention in the novel. He always likes to put the characters in the two poles of contradiction and in the atmosphere of tension, so as to describe all the secrets of the human heart. Hence, the psychological time is much longer than the story time.
Tolstoy has done a lot of thinking on human nature in his novels. From these thinking, we can see the most real aspect of Tolstoy’s spiritual world. Tolstoy’s reflections on human nature were inspired mainly by the history and reality of Russia at the time. On the one hand, traditional Russia was a patriarchal society, and the Orthodox Church determined the way people thought and felt. Tolstoy was also deeply influenced by the Orthodox Church, whether his attitude was one of acceptance or reservation. On the other hand, the European spirit of enlightenment also exerted a deep influence on Russia, which shook the foundation of traditional Russian belief to a great extent.
The influence of the spirit of enlightenment on Tolstoy was also significant, which made Tolstoy suspect the basic doctrinarian system of Orthodox Church, and he would not think about the issue of faith like ordinary believers. However, Tolstoy did not fully move towards the Enlightenment position of individualism in Europe, so his thinking on human nature often drifted between the two, sometimes like a believer, sometimes like a humanist. The utopian thoughts in Tolstoy’s works are mainly reflected in the resistance against violence and slavery, the opposition to private land system, and the opposition to the promotion of capitalist material civilization and evolution.
He demanded the return to a healthy farming life through the work and moral practice of everyone to establish brotherhood, equality, harmony and fraternity of all human beings. Tolstoy created epic novels. The historical facts are blended with artistic fiction, and the bold and unrestrained brushwork is mixed with delicate description. Tolstoy shows his personal face in a large group portrait. The epic’s solemnity is interspersed with lyrical monologues, which are varied and magnificent. He is good at handling the structure of many clues and the threads are all joined together seamlessly. He can break through the closed form of the novel as magnificent as life has no beginning and no end.
Tolstoy’s artistic charm lies not only in reproducing the macro world, but also in portraying the micro world. Tolstoy has mastered the dialectical development of the mind unprecedentedly in the world literature and described the evolution process of the mind under the influence of the outside world in detail. He dives deep into the subconscious and show it in a harmonious connection with the conscious mind. Tolstoy’s artistic power is real, and it is evident in the shaping of character. He faithfully describes the multifaceted, rich, and complex nature of his characters, not just their dominant side or a dominant state of mind.
He does not conceal the faults of his beloved, nor does he stifle the glimmer of light that flashes in the heart of the character he reveals. He does not sugar-paint, exaggerate, idealize or caricature, but always shows his true nature by the help of real and objective description, thus seeing greatness in the ordinary or, conversely, showing its horror in the ordinary phenomena. Tolstoy’s style is chiefly characterized by its simplicity. He strives for the fullest and most accurate reflection of the truth of life or expression of his own thoughts. Therefore, although he is strict in art, he does not seek to win by skill alone, nor does he seek formal delicacy and avoid long compound sentences, but only seeks the maximum expression. In order to show the disillusionment of the characters in structure, he often adopts the method of flashback. In language, the novel strives to be simple and concise and easy to understand, close to folktales.