Ally’s Book Database

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Enriching my passion for writing and fine tuning my self editing abilities, this book taught me to create masterpieces without destructing my own creativity. While reading this book, and after finishing it, I could feel the sparks bursting through my pen and onto the paper more fantastically than they have ever been able to before. I have become a much better writer through reading this book, and this has also helped me to become a better reader.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse takes the reader through the quest for wisdom of Siddhartha, later known as Buddha. This artful retelling of Buddha’s story allows readers of any belief system to feel spiritually involved. Beautifully written and captivating, the reader is sure to find themselves on their own spiritual journey of self discovery. Siddhartha helped me to understand Buddhism on a much deeper level, and challenged me to analyze ancient India so that I could fully appreciate the enlightenment of Buddha and his journey of self discovery.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë tells a symmetrical story of two generations, and the conflicts of love and lust elevating as time progresses. Classic language and dialect make this book a delightful challenge, rewarding the reader with beautifully written passages once they are able to grow with the demand of the book. The characters have made a lasting impression on me, forcing any reader to fall in love with the problematic behaviors of Catherine and Heathcliff, and the surrounding personalities that only enrich the story.

Paper Towns by John Green

John Green takes the classic route of a “quirky” girl and an “average” boy with an “unexpected” love. This cliche book did not challenge me as much as others I have read this year, although it did introduce me to a new genre and stressed me out with the engaging plot and suspenseful story line. The characters are endearing as always, but easily comparable to other John Green books. I did enjoy this funny and enchanting story, that is to me more of a story about friendship than one about romance. I related to the thrill of the friendship more than anything in this story, and it was a really fun book to read.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

As a reader, this book took me on a journey that both emotionally impacted me and challenged me as a reader. There is a very unique writing style, coming from the perspective of a high school boy, facing an ethical dilemma that will impact him forever. I read this over winter break in one day, and that night watched the movie. Although it only took me one day, I thought about it for days after and I experienced many moments of temptation to give up. But clearly, if I was able to keep myself still for a whole day to read this book, I very thoroughly enjoyed it- after all, it was humerus, and that is the most important quality in a book (or a person) in my opinion.

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen Kings

This book challenged me to face the fears that we often ignore. As a compilation of short stories, it also changes voice, characters, theme, and plot often, which is hard to adjust to. This helped me to grow as a reader in many way through many different stories. For example, one story may challenge me with a unique perspective, another with a difficult plot, and another with a theme that teases my mind. With an easily distracted mind like mine, it is hard to commit to a full novel- especially during the school year when I cannot focus on anything for long periods of time. Bazaar of Bad Dreams was very enjoyable to read during this time, because the short stories did not require much commitment, but they challenged and entertained me.

La Malinche by Laura Esquivel

This book challenged me by introducing me to many new perspectives of the conquest of the Aztec empire by Cortes. The language used is very complex and poetic, as if the whole book is a work of art. This forced me read passages multiple times before fully understanding the meaning in order to appreciate how it contributed to the story. I am a lover of poetry and lyricism, so this book was particularly enjoyable to me, and I loved to read it every night before going to sleep.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I enjoyed reading The Graveyard Book because it has such a unique and interesting story line. I was enthralled by the story of a boy being raised by ghosts in a graveyard, because every day was an adventure for him. The main character (Nobody Owens) is so fascinating, and the characters surrounding him only enrich the story, as the ghosts come from so many different backgrounds and time periods. There were times when it felt kind of like a children’s book because Nobody is a child for so long. However, the plot grows with him, and the language and vocabulary mature the book.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The challenge of Things Fall Apart was less concerning the adult writing and vocabulary, and more about grasping the ideas and cultural differences. This book took place at the turn of the century (1900), so when we began reading I expected the cultural and social normalities to be relatively similar to modern day America. I was surprised to see how wrong I was. The culture still consisted of polytheism and worshiping natural gods and ancestors, which was almost nonexistent a few centuries before 1900. Social standards still allowed extreme beatings on wife and children, which was also far gone by this time period in most parts of the world. This was hard to adjust to, and in order to completely understand and appreciate the story I had to research different African traditions and common words.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The intricacies of the language and vocabulary challenged me as any novel would written during this time period, which made it all the more enjoyable. Through reading this novel, I was able to better understand Russia during the Russian revolution and World War II. Because I was learning about these historical events in World History while reading Animal Farm, I was able to fully appreciate the satire and references, which made it really enjoyable. As I mentioned before, humor is the most important aspect of any book (or person), so the fact that George Orwell intertwined dark humor into his story and essentially called Joseph Stalin (or any political figure like him) a pig, I very much enjoyed reading this book.

1984 by George Orwell

1984 was one of the most psychologically impacting books I have read this line year, making it extremely challenging and very enjoyable. As it was written in 1948 by George Orwell, it had very complex sentences and challenging ideas that plagued my mind for days after finishing the book. There were times when the story line was slow, because George Orwell was explaining this unique dystopian society through the perspective of Winston, who lives a boring life, as do all of the citizens of this society. However, it was very entertaining as the story line picked up speed, and I gained insight on the inevitable cycle of human society (as well as a plethora of new vocabulary words).

Blindness by José Saramago 

This book was especially impacting an challenging, making it one of my favorites from this year. The challenges were not frustrating; Instead, they made the experience of reading and the journey of the characters more interesting. The most challenging aspect of this Blindness was the unique writing style- the characters remain unnamed throughout the whole book, and dialogue is distinguished with commas, not quotation marks. This made it demanding to read at first, but eventually made the story flow more naturally.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This book is one of the many classics I have read this year, and a great one to end the year with. The character development in Little Women is phenomenal, causing me to fall in love with all of the sisters. A challenging aspect of reading this book was understanding the personalities and connecting to each character separately to remember them. At first I got the sisters mixed up a lot, which confused me. Another challenging aspect of this book was the classic English sentences and vocabulary, which will help me in the future when I read classics.


Books I want to Read!

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffry Eugenides
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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