Summer reading standards: reflections


The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)

Cormoran Strike is a struggling private detective who is hired to solve the death of supermodel Lula Landry – a death that has officially been ruled a suicide, but her grieving brother is convinced she was murdered. It was a bit slow to get into, but once Strike realizes that Landry may have not committed suicide after all, you can’t put it down.

Rating: 4 stars


The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

In February 2014, I saw The Vagina Monologues performed for the first time at my school. As I was reading these hilarious, empowering, devastating monologues three years later, I was transported back to sitting next to my then-roommate in a packed Jesse Hall watching women dressed in red moan in pseudo-arousal a la When Harry Met Sally and scream about their pissed-off vaginas. The standout line: “I want to taste the fish. That’s why I ordered it.”

Rating: 4 stars


The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Published just two months before her untimely death, Carrie Fisher recounts her experiences making the first Star Wars film and entering the realm of fame, but what dominates the book is her affair with co-star Harrison Ford. This was the first book I’ve read by Fisher, who writes with whip-smart wit that often had me scoffing and laughing out loud.

Rating: 3 stars


Room by Emma Donoghue

I saw the movie at a little indie theater in CoMo last January and cried snot the entire time. Now I finally read the book and cried just as much (if not more). I devoured Room in less than three days, something I haven’t done to a book in years, and I believe everyone should give this a read at least once.

Rating: 5 stars

helter skelter

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

I had more than a few nightmares reading this (including one particularly strange dream that my boyfriend invited his “good friend Charlie” over to dinner) but it was one of the most riveting books I’ve read in a long, long time. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t believe it was nonfiction. The story of how Charles Manson built his “Family” and maintained such a strong, Christ-like influence over each of its members is astonishing, bizarre and terrifying.

Rating: 5 stars


Strangeland by Tracey Emin

Emin is one of the most well-known artists from the Young British Artists of the ’90s, and my personal favorite ever since I learned about her and saw her piece “My Bed” last summer. Like much of her workStrangeland offered brief glimpses into moments of her life. It was written simply and sparsely, no-nonsense and never deviated with unnecessary details of each scene. It offered an interesting look into her life and psyche, but did lag as much as it engrossed.

Rating: 3 stars

May the Force (Fourth?) Be With You

Today is May 4th, Star Wars day. Today is the day when the internet is overflowing with Star Wars memes, people are tweeting and updating their Facebook statuses to “May the fourth be with you,” Star Wars TV show trailers are released, and people all over the world gather to watch their favorite of the six movies.


I remember when I first saw Star Wars. I was about eight or nine years old when I discovered the VHS box set pushed to the corner of the movie shelf, which was overflowing with my countless Disney and “The Land Before Time” tapes. I scanned the cover before holding it up, inquisitively, to my mom. She didn’t tell me anything about it, but granted me permission to watch it (my parents were always very strict about what I was and was not allowed to view. I was never allowed to watch a PG-13 movie until I was 13).

I remember popping the first movie, “A New Hope,” into the VHS player in my basement, turning off all the lights, and sitting directly in front of the TV. I remember going into the trilogy not knowing what to expect. I remember being completely enthralled.

It was a December evening and my mother came downstairs and told me to pause the movie, that we were going to go to Christmas in the Park, as we do every year. Of course, I argued  — why did we have to go right then? I was right at the part of “A New Hope” where Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia were currently trapped in the garbage room with the walls slowly closing in. I had to keep watching. But, of course, I lost the argument. I paused the movie and got into the car, but throughout the multiple-hours-long escapade to see Christmas lights I’d seen a thousand times before, my mind was with my heroes who were currently trapped on the Death Star.

I devoured each movie, one after the other. It was like nothing my little grade-school self had ever seen before. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d talk endlessly about my favorite parts and my favorite characters and about how cute Han Solo is and debate with people who said “The Empire Strikes Back” wasn’t the best of the three.

Despite my enthusiasm for the original trilogy, I didn’t get around to seeing the prequels until years later when I rented them from Family Video in sixth or seventh grade. And me, being an emotional and hopelessly romantic preteen girl, got caught up in the love story of Anakin and Padme — so much so that I cried at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” and proceeded to spend my free time making tribute videos on Windows Movie Maker. (The prequels also sparked a short-lived obsession with the “super cute” Hayden Christensen, but that’s beside the point).

When I think about Star Wars, I think of the many fond memories I’ve made over the years which center around the galaxy far, far away. I think of the time my friend and I attempted (without success) to watch all six movies in one night in middle school; the many movie nights with many different people where we watched “A New Hope” or “The Empire Strikes Back;” the time my best friend who, as a junior in high school, had never seen the original trilogy and I made it my personal mission to introduce her to the movies; the time I was scrambling on layout night to write a story about Disney purchasing Lucasfilm for my high school newspaper.

Star Wars has a big place in my heart.


Last week when the cast for Episode VII was announced, I enthusiastically raved with my friends at the dining hall. Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis (who I am excitedly expecting to play some sort of alien creature) are just some of those who will be starring alongside Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. And, call me crazy, but I have high expectations for this new Star Wars trilogy and the various spin-offs that will come with it. Disney does great things and I am excited for the future of Luke, Han, Leia, et al. December 18, 2015 can’t come soon enough.

Star Wars is awesome, and may the fourth be with you.