Bringing Shakespeare Back

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A while ago, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon some OMG Shakespeare books and I found them so incredibly cool. This lead to my boyfriend surprising me and buying me all the books that were currently out for the series. As a teacher in high school, I find that these books can be used to bridge the gap between Shakespeare and the modern reader. Shakespeare’s language can be intimidating for students, but once they overcome it they begin to realize that within the Early Modern English lies very modern ideas. When I taught Romeo and Juliet for the first time, my students were fortunate enough to have access to a dual book, allowing them to transition between both languages. These books stand out to me because they take Shakespeare a step further into modernity. If you think about it, emojis have created an entirely new language – one that our students are fluent in. Of course I would not teach these books as substitutions for the actual plays, but they are excellent supplemental materials. When reading Romeo and Juliet, I had my students perform character analysis through documenting what would be found in a select character’s phone, and they loved it. I can only imagine how much they would love OMG Shakespeare and I certainly plan on using the series in a future curriculum.

I came across Romeo and/or Juliet recently and I was intrigued right away. Many times students question a character’s decision and ask about alternative choices – but it only ends in speculations because we can only go as far as Shakespeare allows us to. Yet with this book, students (and myself) can take an active role in determining the course of the story. Although I have yet to read this book, I feel like this would be a fun activity for students all while teaching them the importance of character choices and author’s intention.

Some people are thrown off because of books like this because they assume that it distances the reader from the authentic text, but I would argue against it. If anything, texts like this cause a new audience to form – one that may not have existed without such books.

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On to the Next One: Saga

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Now that I have finished Wonder Woman, well Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s story, I can devote my interest to another series, Saga. This series is one that I often stopped upon as I browsed through the shelves in Barnes and Noble tempting myself and taking notes of my “To-Reads.” I was with my boyfriend and we were going through our typical routine, heading straight upstairs to the comics and graphic novel section, and I began telling him how much I have heard about this series, but I was torn because I did not want to start a new series before finishing all of my other ones. Now this is not because I cannot invest my time into different books at once, I have been trained to do this and I am convinced that I am genetically programmed to do this as well. Instead, I need to have and usually own the physical copy. I don’t like to begin a new series because it adds onto the volumes that I have to collect which lessens the amount in my bank account as well as my already incredibly limited shelf space. As my birthday was approaching, my boyfriend gifted me these 5 volumes. I read the first two immediately and became hooked, but all the craziness due to mid-semester as well as preparing for my sister’s bridal shower caused me to place Saga on the back burner. Seeing that I am done with the spring semester and have a minor break until the summer semester starts, I am going to re-read the first two volumes as well as the rest that I own. I am fully aware that I do not own the entire series and that it is still being produced, but remaining on a cliffhanger is a consequence that I am willing to take because I am dying to find out what happens after Volume 2.

My Recent [And Warranted] Purchase

So I just got my books (these purchases are exceptions as they are for school) for one of my summer classes in the mail today, can you guess which author I will be learning about? I decided to take a Shakespeare class because I have come to the realization that I know very little about his wok, despite being an English major. For some reason, I haven’t been
exposed to “the classics,” as I found myself primarily taking elective courses that focused on contemporary novels aside from my mandatory survey courses. In the survey classes, we learned from image1 [8085833]anthologies, so I read bits and pieces of different classics but rarely a classic in its entirety. I seem to have more knowledge in contemporary texts, which is why I enrolled in summer courses that focus on readings I am “expected” to know. I constantly have people asking me if I read certain works and once they hear: No, I have never read Jane Eyre. To Kill a Mockingbird? Yeah I heard of it, I did not read it though, I find that their eyes widen as they say, “Well aren’t you an English major?” Yes, I am an English major, NO that does not mean that I have read every popular American literature that exists. I am aware that these books appear on lists such as “Books that Everyone Should Read” or “The Greatest Novels of All Time,” but my major in English stems from my love of reading literature – any kind. This is why I used my electives in college to expose me to texts that are not as accessible, to broaden my horizons, but now that my college experience is coming to an end, I decided that I should turn to authors, or to be politically correct, playwrights, like Shakespeare because I will probably be more inclined to pick up Jane Eyre over the summer to read (which I will do since it is one of my unread and owned books) than I will be inclined to pick up A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I believe that a course on Shakespeare is necessary because his writing is so important but it often needs a certain amount of guidance to fully be appreciated.

The first time I read Romeo and Juliet was last year while I was student teaching, I read Macbeth in 9th grade, I read excerpts from The Tempest during a Comparative Literature course, and in middle school a theater company came to our school and performed Othello. That is the extent of my familiarity of Shakespeare and I feel like it is such a shame considering that he is highly influential in literature and I will most likely be expected to teach one of his plays at one point in my life. Part of me is happy that most of the works that I am required to read are not the plays that you typically think of when you hear Shakespeare, yet another part of me is a little upset that I will not be reading his more well-known works because I feel like those are the plays that I will most likely find on a future curriculum. Yet seeing that I already have a basic knowledge on Macbeth, Othello, and having read and taught Romeo and Juliet, it will be interesting to discover works by Shakespeare that I would not have selected myself.

Book Barn

Recently, I made a vow that I would not buy a new book until I have read all of the books that can be found in my personal library.

Recently, I also took a mini road trip to Connecticut because that is the hot spot for spring break. While there, I visited Old Mystic Village that contained a few variety stores, one of which was a kite shop. As this was a small shop, and Connecticut, the man behind the counter was rather friendly.

In the midst of the conversation that he started with my brothers and I, the man asked us if we were the type of people who still liked books. Still liked books, as if I would associate with anyone who stopped liking them. He then informed me of this store called Book Barn that sells used books and serves cheez-its and coffee while you shop. He said the last two as if I needed them as incentives to visit the store.IMG_1579 [392383]

This is what I arrived to:

This was heaven for my bookworm/vintage lover self. Among caddies of dollar books, there is a chess table, a basketball hoop, a fairy garden, a children’s playground, and even goats! The house seen all the way in the back held fiction books.

 

 

Then to the right was haunted/mystery books:

 

IMG_1585 [392387]The main shop was essentially a barn that held children’s literature, teen fiction, history books, and so much more. There was even a cat inside! And cheez-its along with a coffee machine and plenty of coffee mugs. Needless to say, I found myself spending a good amount of time here and constantly wishing that this was located in New York. The ability to sell your books and then buy books at such a bargain along with such aesthetics was a dream come true.

However, I am very proud to say that I did not buy a single book, even though all I wanted to do was throw my money at every employee I saw.

If you are a book lover and are ever in Connecticut, I highly recommend this place. Yet, I would advise to visit this location (as there are multiple ones). I first arrived to the Downtown location and thought that the kite man set me up because all I found were theology books, car manuals, humor, and DVDs. It was a tad small and nothing like the midtown location. I suppose it depends what books you are interested in though.

However, if you are someone with incredibly low will-power when it comes to buying books, or you are attempting to maintain a vow that you publicized, it can be a bittersweet experience.

 

The Vow

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That moment that it hit me that I had a problem.

Today I went to Strand, and as this picture that captures me in my natural habitat shows, I got quite a few books.

I then went to a comic store and got quite a few comics.

I then vowed to myself that I would not buy a new book until I have read all the books that I own (I have a bad habit of buying new books before reading my other books and they then become forgotten place-holders on my shelf).

Unfortunately this means that even though some of my books are part of a series, I will not be able to continue it before everything else is done.

This post is meant to keep this vow in writing so that I am physically bound to it, of course if I do become weak I can always delete this post and claim it never happened but I like to think that I will be stronger than that.

Excited to soon be able to say that I have read every book that I own!