12 Books to Read in 2020

Happy New Year! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time reading new books, and I hope that this post inspires you to do the same. With that, here are 12 books you should read during the 12 months of 2020: 

  1. 1984 by George Orwell: This book highlights the importance of individual rights and freedom, and serves as a cautionary tale meant to warn readers of the dangers that the future may hold.
  2. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett: This classic mystery novel is a must-read for any enthusiasts of the genre. This suspenseful story is filled with action and intrigue and will keep you guessing until the very last page.
  3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: This is a very popular book read by students, and is known for its authenticity and powerful life lessons. Its characters are very relatable, and teach readers the importance of friendship and family.
  4. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck: Steinbeck tells the story of multiple characters living in Monterey, a town that relied on its fishing and canning industry. This story teaches readers resilience and the importance of a community.
  5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Oftentimes, history is told from the perspective of the victors. However, this novel illustrates the Great Depression from the perspective of people that are struggling to find work, which makes it feel genuine.
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This popular novel takes place in Nazi Germany, where a young orphan named Lisel learns to read and befriends a Jewish boy named Max that is hiding with her foster family. This story illustrates the importance of friendship and kindness and shows just how powerful words can be. 
  7. That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton: Although this is one of Hinton’s lesser-known works, it is an incredibly authentic and moving story that shows readers how our experiences change and shape who we are. 
  8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: This well-known story is one of the greatest horror stories and works of science fiction in literary history. Frankenstein is an incredibly intriguing story that teaches integrity and compassion.
  9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Life of Pi is a survival story that uses metaphor to depict the dark side of human nature. Its gripping suspense and powerful symbolism make it a literary masterpiece, and a must-read for everyone.
  10. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: This book tells the inspiring true story of a soldier in World War II, who is captured and held in a Japanese prison camp until the end of the war. He endures torture and abuse during his time at the camp and teaches readers resilience, strength, and perseverance.
  11. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist tells the tale of a boy on a search for treasure, and along the way, learns about the world and himself. This book teaches the importance of personal growth and discovery and shows that the real treasures in life lie within our hearts.
  12. 12. Wonder by R.J. Palacio: Wonder is an incredibly moving story about a young boy who faces bullying due to his appearance, but finds friends that support and help him. Another version of the book also tells the story from the perspective of one of the boy’s bullies, who is facing difficulties of his own that he tries desperately to hide. This books teaches compassion, empathy, and the importance of friendship, and is an essential read for everyone.

-Katie A. 

Film Review: Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein

frankensteinAs it is that time of year again, I decided to revisit one of the most recognizable horror movies Frankenstein and its comedy counterpart, Young Frankenstein. The classic movie Frankenstein is about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who is obsessed with using the power of electricity to bring life into a dead body. After years of work, he finally reanimates a corpse with a brain from a recently deceased corpse. However his assistant “Fritz” (Also commonly known as Igor), drops the good brain, and gives Frankenstein an abnormal brain. Due to this, the creature has a short temper and is [rone to violence. After a few incidents, the town decides to hunt down this monster and end it once and for all. They corner Frankenstein’s Monster in a windmill and burn him to death.

Young Frankenstein is hilarious comedy that really pokes fun of the original film. The main character is Fredrick Frankenstein, the son of Victor Frankenstein. Fredrick wants nothing to do with his father’s work and to disassociate himself with the family name, he pronounces the name as “Fronkensteen”. Fredrick learns that his grandfather recently passed and willed him the family’s estate in Transylvania. He travels to his family’s homeland and meets the hunchback Igor and Inga, a lab assistant. When the three of them arrives at the castle, they are greeted by the mysterious housekeeper Frau Blücher. Her name is a running joke throughout the film, as Blücher means “glue” in German, and during that time people used horses to make glue.  youngfrankensteinSo whenever her name is mentioned you always hear the horse in the background neighing.

After a short time Fredrick starts to get into his father’s work, and begins to follow the same obsession as his father Victor. Just like the classic he sends Igor to fetch the brain of a recently deceased historian, but Igor drops it and instead grabs a brain that is labeled “Abnormal! Do not use!”. Igor reads this as a name “Abby Normal” and unknowingly says it is the correct brain. When Fredrick installs the brain in the corpse  and reanimates the body, it starts to attack Fredrick and they have to sedate the monster. Fredrick then confronts Igor who confessed that he got the brain of “Abby Normal”.

This monster goes on a rampage and is hunted by a mob but is lured to the castle and Fredrick invents a machine to give the monster some of his intelligence, and then the monster is able to negotiate with the crowd, and be accepted as a sane human being. This film was a hilarious comedy that was a great comedic counterpart to the classic film, but maybe not for the younger audience.

-Max G.

Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.