Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Working at a publishing company means it’s never hard to get book recommendations, and one of the books that has been passed from cubicle to cubicle lately is The Handmaid’s Tale. I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood, but always wanted to, so I was excited when a coworker lent me a copy. Little did I know what I had been missing.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, my favorite books are ones that take me out of my own world while teaching me something about it. I love learning through defamiliarization because it challenges the assumption of normality in our everyday lives. It gives a different perspective on things we have become accustomed to experiencing every day—so much so that we don’t even notice them anymore. But authors like Margaret Atwood make us notice.

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A Bit of Greece!

Long time no see! I know it seems like I’ve dropped off the face off the Earth, but not quite—I’ve been in Greece! My dad’s side of the family is Greek, and they organized a huge family reunion (150+ people) on the island of Crete. It was absolutely amazing and I already can’t wait to go back. Crete is the biggest island of Greece and sits in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the highlights of the trip was hiking through the Samariá Gorge (I may dedicate a whole post to the topic later). It was really long and really challenging, but very beautiful.

We also visited Athens, where I of course got to see the Acropolis and other ancient ruins. While seeing the ruins was amazing, the city was extremely hot and I was sad to see that there is graffiti and abandoned buildings everywhere. It seems like the economy is doing okay in Crete, but not so much in Athens.

I’m hoping to be able to post more frequently now that I’m back, but I also just got a new job which is taking up a lot of my time! Hopefully I’ll be back to reading and reviewing books very soon.

In the meantime, take a look at some pictures from my trip!

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Liebster Award!

Big thanks to Lisa at The Most Happy for nominating me for a Liebster award! She has an excellent blog, so I’m very happy and humbled that she chose mine to share. It’s my first blogging award, so now I feel like an official blogger! In order to accept the award I must share 11 facts about myself, answer 11 questions from Lisa, and nominate 5–11 others. Sounds like fun!

11 Facts:

1. I am a twin! I have a twin sister, but no, we aren’t identical. And I’m a minute older than her.

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Book Review: This Star Won’t Go Out

I never got to meet Esther Earl, but I feel like I just spent the past few days with her. Esther was an enthusiastic and loving girl who passed away from thyroid cancer at the age of 16. Before she died, she inspired people everywhere to make the world more awesome. One of these people was the author John Green, who wrote The Fault in Our Stars in her memory.

Esther dreamed of becoming a published author, and at the beginning of 2014 she finally got her wish posthumously. After being diagnosed with cancer, this strong girl decided to write extensively about her feelings. Her parents compiled Esther’s journal entries, letters, blog posts, and drawings into a book called This Star Won’t Go Out. It’s a very special book, and I’m going to try and explain why it was so touching.

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Book Challenge Day 26: An Opinion Changer

I’m getting close to the end of the 30-Day Book Challenge, and today’s prompt is “a book that changed your opinion on something.” This might seem like an odd choice, but my answer to this one is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

I took a class solely on Chaucer in college, expecting it to be very boring. Old language, old topics, old people. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the class and how much I learned from it. Many of the issues that Chaucer wrote about (misogyny, adultery, corrupt religion) are issues we still deal with today. People are still writing about the things Chaucer wrote about, but with different words.

And half the fun of reading Chaucer was learning Middle English.  It’s a beautiful language, especially when read aloud, and it’s interesting to see the origin of some words we use today, as well as words that fell out of use. I’m still trying to bring words like “weylawey” and “corage” back into everyday use. I wonder why they ever disappeared!

Ultimately, The Canterbury Tales showed me that old literature does not have to be boring and outdated. Chaucer was actually hilarious, and had a knack for coming up with ridiculous situations. But even when being funny, he wrote about issues that many would be too scared to write about back then and even now. He wrote about gender roles and abuse, although there are many interpretations on what his messages were “supposed” to be. In any case, through Chaucer’s writing I realized that humans have not changed very much over the past 700 years, and neither has storytelling. It has always been a way of commenting on the human experience and shared struggles.