Books I’ve Read: 13 Reasons Why

I have a habit of adding books to my reading list and only getting around to them when someone decides to turn them into movies and tv shows. This is no exception. I heard about 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher months ago on another WordPress blog (I would link, but I can’t for the life of me remember what blog it was!) and immediately added it to my growing list, then never picked up a copy. Fast forward to the future, and I finally got my hands on the book now that Netflix has made an original series out of it.

I have not watched the series. I wasn’t going to start until I finished the book. But I don’t know if I want to watch it now. I don’t think the series will be able to compete with the power of this book.

Synopsis: High school student Hannah Baker committed suicide. Before she did, she recorded 13 stories on tape and sent them posthumously to 13 people explaining how their words and/or actions contributed to her decision. Clay Jensen is on those tapes, but he has no idea why. And so he spends the night listening to this story to which he only knows the end, following the path that leads to it.

This story is dark. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you’ve ever been bullied, heard rumors, or really even gone to high school, this story might sound familiar. And that’s why it’s so powerful. Everything in it is real, plausible, believable, because these things have happened to us, or to someone we know, or we’ve read a news story or heard someone speak on the issues in this book. And while this story is set in high school, it could have happened in college, or at work, or across several settings. It’s relatable. And it hurts.

I will provide a trigger warning. If you have been bullied, or sexually assaulted or harassed, or are suicidal or know someone who is or has killed themselves, this book might not be for you. But it could be a good tool for reaching out to people, for helping them understand your struggle or the struggle of others, and just how impactful words and actions can be, long after the fleeting moments in which they occur.

Would I recommend this book? I cried and wanted to stop reading because it broke my heart, but I had to find out what was on those tapes. So yes, I think you should read it.


There’s No Such Thing As BookWorms Anonymous

The Carl Spitzweg image strongly associated wi...

The Carl Spitzweg image strongly associated with Leary’s Book Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Books and I get along well. A little too well. So well, in fact, that I have a hard time leaving them all alone, unwanted and unloved, on the shelf of a bookstore. I feel better knowing that, even though I may not be able to give it all my love for quite some time, it has still found a better home on my bookshelf, and that one day, I will be able to devote to it as much time as I want.

But alas! This is not an ideal situation. It is an addiction, a terribly beautiful addiction. I say terrible because it drains addicts of finances, shelf space, and the will to do anything other than pick up a novel and rifle through the papery angel wings that are its pages, becoming intoxicated by the smell of the ink that forms the divine words within. And even more terribly, yet also an element of its beauty, society encourages this addiction. Bibliophiles are commendable for this habit. They’re thought to be intelligent and educated human beings because of their literary consumption. If only those unperturbed by the throes of bibliophilia knew what it was really like…

I am a self-proclaimed book addict. It started when I was little, when my parents and grandparents started reading stories to me. Then I wandered into the wrong part of the house one day, that dark little alley known as the library. It only took one book. I was hooked. From that moment on, I read whenever I could, whatever I could. I was constantly looking for the next dose of literature, and even was caught catering to my addiction in class, when I was supposed to be doing math.

But it was worse than that. While reading made it very difficult for my parents to punish me (no good parent can take books away from their child!), it also deprived me of things essential to human existence, particularly food and sleep. The power that books had over me was so great that I would simply forego eating in order to finish a section, or ignore the fact that I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours because I had to find out how a story ended. I would push myself to the limits of existence just to continue feeding my lust for literature.

Now, I’m suffering from withdrawal. English major though I may be, the writing I consume for classes is not enough to fulfill my cravings. It is the wrong type of drug for this addict, and I am suffering from withdrawal. Required reading simply adds insult to injury. I have not read a book (or at least finished one) out of sheer pleasure since the middle of the summer, a whopping 8 months ago, and my inner bookworm is crying out for attention. It leads me to the campus bookstore, a place almost regrettably not devoted exclusively to text books. Popular fiction and classics not required for class take up a quarter of the shelves, and it is to this quarter that I am so often drawn. My wallet is endangered every time I step foot into that sanctuary of paperbacks, for though I know I cannot read them right away, I still feel compelled to make a purchase, simply to salve my withdrawal ever so slightly. It is despicable, and yet oh so sweet when I carry a new addition back to my dorm and cradle it lovingly for a few moments before tucking it in with my other drugs. “Someday,” I say longingly, “I will pick you up and let my eyes caress your pages, the sweet type imprinted on them flowing in and coursing through my mind as blood through my veins.”

But until that day arrives, I must wallow in the depths of requisite reading, of knowing that recreational reading is only a few feet away and still so far out of my reach. The only thing that keeps me from relapsing into sleep-deprivation and unintentional anorexia is that I only have to hold out for a little over a month. On May 4, 2012, I will finally be able to become a bookworm once more.

Bookworms Unite!

My Private Stock: Small But Tasty (Oh, and I have granola bars on the bottom shelf, just in case)

My name is Caelie Orlosky, and I am a bookworm. I was one of the kids who wouldn’t sleep at night because I couldn’t stop turning the pages of the latest novel I had picked up. I’ve perfected the art of walking and reading at the same time (sometimes I even throw in some gum-chewing). Flashlights and paper cuts are a normal part of my life.

Unfortunately, my species has ended up on the endangered species list, right under the Zulia Toad Headed Sideneck and the Palanda Rocket Frog. Obviously, the list is not in alphabetical order…

Movies and television shows have threatened the source of our brain food, the now rare good book, leaving us with few alternative meal options. Magazines and newspapers provide a small amount of sustenance, and blog posts are a nice snack, but novels are what we crave. And the underwhelming number of readers has frightened off many potential producers.

I do believe there is hope, however. Walking to the bank the other day, I ran into a fellow bookworm, still in the juvenile stages. Actually, I didn’t run into him because, like all good bibliophiles, he had developed his walking-and-reading skills. But I did take notice of him, a ten-year-old boy catering to his appetite with a nice hard-cover novel. I felt a little like a pedophile, since I turned and gazed after him for a moment with a goofy grin on my face. But I SWEAR it was only because I was so surprised and happy to see a younger child reading a real book. If we could create a younger generation of bookworms, then I wouldn’t be compelled to act like such a creep, though my intentions are completely innocent. Seeing people, aside from myself, reading while out for a walk wouldn’t be such an anomaly.

So this is a call to arms to all the other bookworms out there who don’t want to see our numbers dwindle further in future generations. Somehow, we have to keep our species alive and thriving. I’m not sure how, but we need to find a way to breed the next generation of bibliophiles. Perhaps the next time a child — a niece, nephew, son, daughter, etc.– asks to go see a book-based movie, promise to take them only if they read the book first. Offering a reward is a rather dirty trick, but just maybe it could ignite the spark that will lead to a lifetime of reading, and a reemergence of the bookworm species.