The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is an incredible book about the power of literacy and hope in desperate situations. The story is centered around Sang Ly and her family, who live in the biggest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia and pick trash for a living. Her young son is very ill- she has spent years trying every medicine she can find, but nothing has helped. Sang Ly rents her home from Sopeap Sin, an irritable drunk known as “The Cow” to the residents of the dump.
But Sopeap knows something that the residents don’t. She knows how to read and write. Sang Ly, desperate to change her family’s circumstances, goes to Sopeap and begs her to teach her how to read and write. But soon, Sang Ly doesn’t only want to read and write- she wants to learn about literature. And what she finds in literature changes her life forever.
This book was absolutely amazing, especially considering that it was based on a real story. It was fascinating, gaining an insight into how, even in a dump, a sense of community, and love abounds. The novel itself is an incredible insight into the power of education, especially literature, which is something that many of us take for granted in our day-to-day lives. The novel also explores how some concepts are universal in literature, like love, luck, and happiness- common threads that tie all literature of the world together. The author did an amazing job of showing the kindness and humanity that are present even in the most adverse of circumstances.
I would give this book a 9.5 out of 10. Although it became a bit bland in places, it was absolutely a life-changing book about knowledge and compassion.
The Million Pound Note is a novella written by American writer Mark Twain and published in 1893. It tells the adventures of Henry Adams, an American boy who is an impoverished clerk in London. Two rich brothers in London made a bet to lend Henry an uncashable million-dollar note to see how he would wind up in a month. Instead of starving or being arrested, Henry became rich and won the heart of a beautiful lady. This article reproduces the satire and humor in the master’s novels with slightly exaggerated artistic techniques and exposes the money-worship ideology in the early 20th century.
At the beginning of the novel, Henry floats too far out to sea in his small sailboat. When he arrived in London, Henry had no one with him. After using up his last dollar, he was left without food and clothing. While Henry loitered hungrily in Portland Square, a child threw a pear with a bite thrown into the gutter. Henry stared hungrily at the muddy treasure, drooling. Just as the reader was nervous that Henry was about to grab the “treasure”, “Please come in” — just five short words, like a bolt from the blue, released the reader’s nerves. Henry’s life changed.
The young man in the novel is a true portrayal of Mark Twain. In Nevada, Mark Twain was a journalist in Virginia City, Nevada’s gold and silver region. Mark Twain was not immune to the gold rush, and he was sensitive to rumors and new opportunities. At that time, many miners who had discovered gold and silver mines were selling their shares in New York City to raise money, and Mark Twain invested all his savings, and even all his royalties, in buying silver mines.
John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 — December 20, 1968) was an American writer of the 20th century. His representative works include “Of Mice and Men”, “the Grapes of Wrath”, “the Moon Went Down”, “East of Eden”, “Winter of Trouble” and many more great American classics. John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, in 1902. His father, John Ernst Steinbeck, moved west after the Civil War to run a flour mill and served as treasurer for the Monterey County government for many years. His mother Olivia Hamilton was an elementary school teacher. Steinbeck read a lot in his childhood. He later graduated from high school in 1919, serving as class President in school. Steinbeck mostly spent his holidays on the nearby ranch as a hired farm hand.
In Steinbeck’s literary world, the observation and description of various living states under the poor material conditions of human beings have a prominent and decisive position. This is a common feature of his novels (including most of his journalistic and documentary works). He contemplates about the essential problem of human existence and even the transcendent dilemmas of society. In Steinbeck’s novel, “poverty” mainly refers to a state of extreme material deprivation. Steinbeck’s characters generally live in a state of considerable material deprivation — or rather, he persists in depicting the conditions of human poverty. In this specific creation, his writing about the causes of poverty directly correlates to the characteristic theme of realism. Steinbeck’s deep obsession with poverty and his discussion of it exemplify his artistic concerns and is reflected through many of his writings.
Hard Times is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 1854. It describes life in an industrial town. Dickens was now 42 years old. The setting for this book is a time of intense industrial tensions in British society. Josiah Bounderby, a banker and textile mill owner, was friends with Thomas Gradgrind, a retired hardware wholesaler, Congressman and educator. Together they controlled the town’s economic system and educational institutions. They are materialistic and unsentimental, pretentious, and live by the principle of utilitarianism. Bounderby was attended by the widow Mrs. Sparsit. He taught his children to be practical and down-to-earth. When they learned to walk, they were put into classrooms and spent their days dealing with numbers. They were not allowed to read poetry or stories. Gradgrind marries his young daughter Louisa to the much older Bounderby, and the widow Mrs. Sparsit, jealous of her, inflicts pain on her, leading to the breakup of her marriage. At Gradgrind’s own educational initiative, his son Tom was forced to help Bounderby with his work. He led a dissolute life and was heavily in debt. He stole money from The Bounderby Bank and ran away, hiding in the circus and playing the role of a clown. After a series of painful lessons and the influence of Sissy Jupe, a circus girl, he gradually changed his attitude towards life and was sent to America by his father. Bounderby liked to boast of his self-made wealth, and to accuse workers of being dissatisfied with their delusions of luxury. Five years later Bounderby died of a stroke on the streets of Cookstown, and Louisa remarried.
Carrie Meeber is from a small city who seeks to go to her sister in Chicago to have a better life. However, when she gets there she realizes the fact that her sister and her brother in law are in a very wretched condition together with their daughter. Unable to endure their apathy when she fails to secure herself a job, Carrie decided to leave. Before she even arrived in Chicago, she met Druet, a wealthy young man on the train who really likes her due to her beauty. So right after quitting her job at the factory, Carrie accidentally met Drouet around the street corners. He treats her a meal and often buys her beautiful clothing and jewelry which made her think in his favor. And thus, soon they were living together in a comfortable flat.
But it wasn’t soon when Drouet introduced Carrie to his manager friend Hurstwood. Lured by his gentleness and suave manner, Carrie fell in love with him and he with her. However, since Hurstwood was not in a relationship with his wife and his children, he lied to Carrie and said that he was unmarried. One day, Hurstwood under the influence of alcohol accidentally took ten thousand dollars from the cashier’s unlocked box and decided to flee to New York. He wheedled Carrie into escaping with him as well and so the two left for New York. However, life was not as easy there because everything was more expensive. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding a satisfactory job, Hurstwood depended on Carrie to earn and they again fell into the state of poverty.
Just then, due to her looks, passion, and aptitude for singing and acting, Carrie made a career in the theatre. She was well-liked by a lot of rich people and thus deserted Hurstwood. Although she regularly supported him somewhat, she severed the relationship at last when Hurstwood, due to his pride, stopped asking money from Carrie and suicided at last.
The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeanette Walls describing her turbulent childhood years, and how she and her siblings survived poverty and neglect against all odds. Her father was an alcoholic who she longed to trust, but who let her down time and time again. Her mother was an artist with her head in the clouds, with little grip on the realities of hunger and child safety. The Walls family lived a “nomadic” lifestyle, often voluntarily living without a roof over their heads. Despite the many struggles of their childhood, the Walls children became successful in life. They succeed in spite of their parents.
The tone of the novel is set when within the first chapter, Jeannette burns herself cooking food over an open flame (at age three) and her father subsequently breaks her out of a hospital. What follows are the many, some humorous, several depressing, exploits of Jeanette’s father Rex Walls. One of the main focuses of the memoir is Jeannette’s relationship with Rex, who cares for her deeply, but who can’t give up alcohol for his children. An ongoing question that the reader must ask is whether this love is genuine, and whether his stated care for Jeanette justifies his many flaws. Rex always promised his children that he would build them a house made entirely of glass- a glass castle. It is up to the reader to interpret whether this castle was ever intended to be built.
This book truly is a must-read. It is not simply a novel; it is a recording of real life. It is full of danger and emotion, and brimming with moments that will make you laugh, and (quite often) cry. If you are looking for a page turner of a success story, look no further.
Set during the Great Depression, this novel follows the story of the Joad family on their journey from Oklahoma to California. We as the readers are able to truly see the hardships that many farmers faced during this time, both with difficulty in growing crops and in difficulty moving westward. Steinbeck narrates this novel in an interesting way, with every chapter about the Joad family being followed by “interlude” chapters that offer somewhat of a broader perspective of events happening throughout the nation. Though these interlude chapters do not directly have any relation to the story of the Joads, they are still quite important as they are Steinbeck’s way of voicing some of his opinions with what he saw in society during that time.
Throughout the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck really develops the theme of community and togetherness. Whether it be family, friends, or the nation as a whole, Steinbeck shows throughout the novel that people are better and stronger together, and that family is one of the most important things of one’s life. The loyalty of the Joads to one another, and friendship gained along the way help display this point that Steinbeck is trying to get across. Though the novel was highly controversial around the time it came out, it is an extremely important novel that gives an in-depth perspective of the Great Depression, and strongly pushes forward the importance of togetherness.
The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck, one of the most acclaimed authors of America, was written almost a century ago about the Dust Bowl, but still manages to evoke emotion to this day.
The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family and some friends, who have lived in one home as farmers in Oklahoma for many generations, but are forced off the land by the government as a devastating drought wrecks the Midwest. They, along with thousands if not millions of other unfortunate families, head to California in search of a better life as fruit pickers, but it’s an extremely difficult journey. With one creaky caravan that can hardly go a hundred miles without breaking down, and very little cash or backup, it’s a risky trip that eventually leads to two family members dying along the way and one deserting. But even when they finally reach the promised land of California, the Joads face discrimination and realize that what the poster advertising the help needed on farms of California didn’t tell the entire story.
Steinbeck has a unique diction and syntax. He often writes a chapter composed entirely of dialogues without quotes and no narration, choosing instead to let snatches of conversations of nameless characters set the mood and paint the scene. It’s very effective, even more so as Steinbeck writes the words as they sound in Southern accent that catches your attention. He is also very descriptive and incorporates a plethora of literary devices. But most importantly, the issues he wrote about are still relevant and relatable today, and the death of a character feels as real as it does in life. The Grapes of Wrath is a very good read and there is no wonder why it’s deemed “the most American of American classics”.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive for free.
An orphan boy named Tree-ear lives in a village in 12th-century Korea. Tree-ear lives under a bridge with Crane-man, a very nice but destitute vagabond. Tree-ear’s story begins after watching a potter named Master Min make flawless potteries.
Nowadays, it’s hard for us to imagine how bad conditions might be if our parents passed away. Often times, books are not just elucidating a story to us, but also teach us lessons for life. When children in our modern society are asking for a brand new iPhone X, Tree-ear was busy scrounging for food.
One day, Tree-ear was a little avid to take a peek at Min’s pottery, so he sneaked into his backyard but accidentally broke a pot. You can’t really say it’s a calamity for him, but a surprise. As recompense, Tree-ear lived in Min’s house and learned how to make potteries until one day he was being sent to the King and exhibit him Min’s masterpiece. It wasn’t until the village dwindled its shabby shadow he realized that his life’s been edited.
This book incorporated a lot of life lessons that everybody needs to learn. If life gives you an absinthe, someday you will receive a fondant.
This story is set in a place called Tortilla Flat in Monterey, California. It’s about five men that are paisanos (compatriots). They are Danny, Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria, and Pirate. These men are attracted to money and content with being friends with each other, they all walk their own bitter life path.
Danny was an heir who inherited two huge houses from his grandpa and invited his friend Pilon to stay. Through his innocence, Pilon’s rent money is postponed but he accidentally burns the house down. To cover compensation, the other men introduced earlier joined the group, but still, nobody offered rent money to Danny. And amazingly, Danny never mentioned the money to his astute tenants.
In real life, we all know that if you don’t pay the money, the next day you will be finding yourself without a house. Such a character like Danny really doesn’t exist at all in our brutal society. This book to me mainly molded the variety of personalities beneath the harsh satin of this world, but we all have similarities with each other: we are gullible to our friends and we all have greediness hidden within us for the cravings of money and wealth.