Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ten Best Books I Read in 2016

So, yes, 2016 has not been an active year for me when it came to blogging, but it is definitely something I am strongly planning to reconsider. My networking roots come from writing and blogging, which began as an offspring from my high school column and Caponomics has been active on Blogger since 2011. Unfortunately, this year, I have only written and released four posts. Much of my time and energy has been shifted toward Literary Gladiators on my YouTube (more specifically Booktube) channel, which has garnered 630 subscribers and is closing in on 30,000 views. Most importantly, though, I have met some outstanding people and made some great friends through Literary Gladiators. I would think that not releasing any new posts would see a decline in viewership on this blog, but to my surprise, I am still picking up at least 1,000 views per month and my discussions about literature and other topics still seem to be attracting readers. I may use this blog to critically discuss different things I read, like I did with my post of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on this blog. These posts would be subject to spoilers and serve as discussions, but with my four posts from this year picking up at least 100 views each, something of that nature may be worth it.

As for the books themselves, I completed 32 complete books and a few smaller selections. Out of the 32 complete books, I put together a list of my ten favorites. I am doing this on my Booktube channel as well, but it seems like writing down my thoughts has always been a great way to allow my thoughts to flow before I went forward with talking about them. This year, my top four books obtained five stars, while the others were in the four and a half to four star range based on my Goodreads reviews. Without further due, let's get right to the list.

#10- Great French Short Stories by Paul Negri- During the month of February, I spent the entire month reading works of French literature, for it was something I was looking to familiarize myself with and what better away to acquaint myself than with short works of theirs. While there were so many fine authors, the ones that stuck out to me the most included "The Attack on the Mill" by Emile Zola, "Micromegas" by Voltaire, and "Mateo Falcone" by Prosper Merimee. Not only does this collection give French literature a solid ground, but it also allows readers to learn more about Emile Zola, Voltaire, Guy de Maupassant, Gustave Flaubert, and others without reading their larger testaments. I became familiar with Zola's straightforward use of realism and naturalism by reading his story and admired his brutal honesty about the human species so much that I went forward and read The Fortune of the Rougons later in the year as a buddy read with Ely from Ely Jayne. I think that reading shorter collections is a great way to diversify in reading and this less expensive one is quite a gem.

#9- I Am Legend by Richard Matheson- Richard Matheson is brilliant! Along with Ray Bradbury, I feel that Matheson is the most important speculative fiction writer on the note that both of them write stories and novels, but yet they do not conform to any specific genre. One could assume that Bradbury's works have a science fiction leaning, while Matheson leans toward the horror genre. Nevertheless, I Am Legend is an accomplishment in how it shapes vampire fiction. In this novel, Robert Neville is a war veteran and also the only remaining human not affected by a bacilli that wiped out the population and/or turned them into zombie-like vampires, which leads to Matheson's being accredited as a pioneer of zombie fiction. Most people are familiar with the film adaptation where Will Smith stars as Neville, but there are key differences between the two. To sum it up briefly, Robert Neville in the original Matheson novel is a common man that is practicing survival skills because he needs to, while most of the characters around him play a minimal role, which includes the dog. While Neville in the movie has a background as a doctor, Neville in the book researches as a basic method of survival. I really like this original novel, for I feel that any person can stand in the shoes of Neville and imagine themselves in his situation. Richard Matheson IS legend.

#8- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Harper Lee passed away this February, a little less than a year after her only other novel, Go Set a Watchman, was released. I never read To Kill a Mockingbird back in high school, but read it this year in order to prepare for a discussion on Literary Gladiators. I am really glad that I read this, for this novel gave me a great idea of the American South and how very few details have actually changed from its formation to the present day. The story of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her brother Jem, and their dad, Atticus, and his efforts to save a black man on trial named Tom Robinson who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell is one that is bound to spark a reaction no matter who you are. I can also say that the biggest piece of excrement I have come across in any work of literature happens to be Mayella's dad, Bob. Bob Ewell is lazy, racist, threatening, and abusive toward children. These are ALL qualities I despise, but in a way this form of hatred is what leads me to care for Scout and the stories of her brother and dad even more. I am definitely one that would argue in favor of keeping this novel on the curriculum, for it does the greatest job in getting under one's skin in talking about history and racism and how it is really not too different in many areas.

#7- The Crucible by Arthur Miller- I originally read The Crucible during my junior year of high school and the project we were assigned for this play was to create a comic about it. I had a fun time using Google images to find the closest things that came to certain details, like Abigail drinking the chicken's blood being a picture of a blond party girl drinking a red alcoholic beverage. While I studied the play, I felt like I wanted to return to read it a bit more closely and as a reader as oppose to a junior in high school that was only looking at it for a grade. While this novel certainly has its quirks, such as inaccurate information that is meant to be historical, I felt that the message can be deemed as relevant to the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s as it is to when it was written during the Joseph McCarthy era and on top of that be as relevant today. John Proctor, the play's central character, seems like such a decent, live and let live kind of guy that has his flaws, but THAT is why readers can relate to him. Between the church and its religious authority, the court and its lawful authority, and the teenaged girls and their desire to "do God's duty," the antagonizing forces accusing people of witchcraft go after the common sense in society. The eternal idea that everyone feels it is within their ability to play God contradicts the true meaning of God and his will and THIS is what makes this play brilliant.

#6- A Time to Kill by John Grisham- John Grisham is rightfully a successful author for his ability to use his knowledge in law and politics to create top quality works, while engaging in deep research to flesh out the areas where he is not as knowledgeable. A Time to Kill was his very first novel, which follows a black man named Carl Lee Hailey who is on trial for shooting two men while they were on trial for raping his daughter, Tonya. His lawyer, Jake Brigance, is willing to serve as his lawyer against all of the odds. The case takes place in Mississippi, where there is still racial tension and a looming presence of the KKK. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, A Time to Kill explores how things have not gone away for good in 1989. Also like the Harper Lee novel, A Time to Kill makes one think heavily about race and I held a great amount of sympathy for Carl Lee Hailey. Despite the fact that there is no way around the fact Carl Lee killed the men, wouldn't the idea of one's children or loved ones being unjustifiably hurt impair anyone's judgment? After reading this, I learned so much about the court system from someone that clearly knows what they are talking about.

#5- Night by Elie Wiesel- Elie Wiesel's Night is an accomplishment in how it tells a direct story about the Holocaust from someone who survived it. Wiesel does not just tell his story, though, but also those that did not survive. I have read a few accounts about the Holocaust or of stories that took place in Nazi Germany or during World War II, but there was something about this memoir that really proved to be straightforward and simply told things as they are. Wiesel cleared up certain details I was not too aware of, such as the fact that fellow Jews and other "undesirables" in the eyes of Hitler ran the camps. While I was aware of the fact that those found least useful to the Nazis were killed first and those found to be a threat were killed on the spot, the details at hand were still quite powerful and saddening. Wiesel told his story the way he felt it was meant to be told in the way he felt it should be told. The nature of the book felt like being locked in a cold, concrete room, but that is exactly how it is meant to be. Wiesel would go on to carry the burden of those that did not survive and made it his lifelong mission to tell their story. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and just passed away in July. Wiesel's Night will remain an important work that chronicles a moment in history that everyone needs to be aware.

#4- Sleepwalkers by Nicole Lanier Montez- I met Nicole Lanier Montez at the Collingswood Book Festival in 2014 while I was with the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, promoting our anthology, Speculations from New Jersey. This was a purchase that I made while I was there and I am certainly glad that I made such a selection. Montez's area of interest when it comes to her poetry is societal injustice, where she writes about race, violence, poverty, prostitution, dysfunctional upbringings, and so much more. A poem of hers that clearly stuck out to me was "Xtra Naked," which explores race and how one could really distinguish the difference between skin color. This poetry collection is one that should be sparking discussion the way that poetry in its resurgence is sparking. Just about every poem in here is bound to spark a reaction and I really thought a lot about societal injustice upon reading this. I feel that more people need to become familiar with Montez and how brilliant she truly is when it comes to her artistry with words and her ability to give them powerful meaning.

#3- The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi- I read the first Persepolis as a buddy read with Michelle from MichEllisLife on Booktube, while I read the second on a own these past few days. In this graphic novel formed from multiple comic strips, we follow Satrapi's life of how she grows up in Iran and attempts to make something of herself in a country where women are seen as inferior and as potential distractions to men if not covered properly. Right from the beginning, Satrapi demonstrates the attitude that as a human being, she has the opportunity to be what ever it is she wishes to be. The fact she set high expectations for herself and did not let gender get into the way is a great accomplishment within itself. The first book chronicles her childhood up until her moving to Austria, while the second book cover her failed stay in Austria, return to Iran, and right into her adulthood. Eventually, we get a foundation as to what direction she wants to take in accomplishing her goals and we just about get the idea as to what is bound to follow. Satrapi's story is so powerful that it has the ability to make you laugh just as it has the opportunity to make you choke up or feel anger. The illustration is very much witty the way that Maus and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were. The fact that I learned much more about the Middle East from an Iranian's perspective was also a great accomplishment. Persepolis is another graphic novel that succeeds at catching my interest and provides a sense of eager feelings when it comes to exploring more graphic texts.

#2- A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk- I read A Strangeness in My Mind as another buddy read with Michelle from MichEllisLife on Booktube and she suggested it as it was a nominee for the International Man Booker Prize and I am certainly glad she made such a selection! This work of Turkish literature follows the life and times of Mevlut, who moves with his father to work on the streets as a yogurt and boza seller. As time goes by, so does society, and selling things on the street presents its challenges. At the same time, he falls for a girl at a wedding, but is tricked into marrying her sister. This really sets up the stage for the events to come in Mevlut's life. At the beginning of the book, one can find a family tree, which reveals details as to when certain characters are born, who they marry, their children, and inevitably when they die in the event that they die. While these may be viewed as spoilers, the "what" and "when" are overshadowed in interest by the "why" and "how" and while Orhan Pamuk may be the kind of driver that takes back roads and paths you would have not figured out, I can guarantee that the routes Pamuk took made for an outstanding experience. Most of the events do take place in chronological order, though. What Pamuk really succeeds at is giving us a greater, more clearer understanding of Turkish culture while also making it accessible to a global audience. I found the point of view that was possessed on the topic of 9/11 to be quite thought-provoking, which is exactly what a good novel is supposed to do. Pamuk is a Nobel Prize winning author for a reason and I am definitely inclined to pick up more of what he has to offer.

#1- Demian by Hermann Hesse- Prior to reading Demian this year, I read Siddhartha in 2012 and Narcissus & Goldmund in 2014. Both of these novels were good, but I felt that Demian was outstanding, for it explored the idea of individual thought and the divinity of one's intuition and made for such an enlightening experience. In this novel, Emil Sinclair (who was originally written as the author of this text) is living an intense life as a teenager, with a somewhat compassionate family, a bit of an inferior relationship with his father, but overall something he feels dissatisfied with. At the same time, he is dealing with a psychological bully in Franz Kromer, who manipulates him into taking advantage of a misdeed of his. Then, Sinclair meets Max Demian, who has the ability to stand up to Kromer and takes a liking to Sinclair, serving like a mentor to him in the subject of individual thought and the Transcendental idea of seeking satisfaction with one's intuition. Demian is a short novel of just 145 pages, but I saw myself taking my time with this text and am so happy that I did so, for there is so much that I got out of it as I made my way through it. It is definitely a novel that is philosophy first, plot second kind of work, but I think that this was the great intent of what Hesse was attempting to get at. I feel that instead of The Catcher in the Rye, students should be assigned to read Demian, for both texts revolve about estranged teenagers, but unlike Holden Caulfield and his sense of cynicism, Sinclair is given the opportunity to move in the right direction and approaches the opportunities that come to him with a greater sense of optimism. I feel that readers will benefit from reading Demian and that this novel will provide them with a greater sense of confidence in themselves and at everything life has to offer.

2016 was such a great reading year for me in both the amount that I read and the quality of the text at hand. While the top four on this list received five stars out of five on my Goodreads and numbers five to ten received four and a half stars, it was still a solid reading year that I hope to top off in 2017. I will leave a link down below to my Goodreads page, where you can find complete reviews of everything on my top ten and also everything else that I read from this year.

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe new year! For now, keep reading!

My Goodreads

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Literary Gladiators- Season 5 Discussions

I have not been active on my blog for the last several months and am currently part of what I can now declare as being a hiatus. I did, however, notice that there is still a great deal of viewership on this channel, especially for the literature based posts. This is leading me to go in-depth to discuss specific arguments found in short stories, poems, novels, plays, and other forms of literature, which in turn sparks ideas for what I may want to discuss on Literary Gladiators.

Speaking of which, we taped the great bulk of our fifth season of Literary Gladiators and it will be premiering on Thursday, September 15th on our channel. This season, aside from myself, returning Gladiators include Charlie Gulizia, Ari S. Gans, Larry Romano, Kim Broomall, Kaila Rotsma, Kelsea Rowan, Morgen Condon, Dan Marseglia, Breanna Little, and Dr. David Bordelon. New members of the Gladiator family include Gina Andrews, Andrew Bartholomew, Austin Greitz, and Lenny Apa. Zach Lawless, Dan Marseglia, and of course, Laney Burke, return to moderate. We do, however, have two more sessions planned for November and December, which means there may be a few more individuals taking part.

Here are the 36 discussions we have filmed for Season 5 (in the order we plan to release them):

NOVEL: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
CHILDREN'S: Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka
POEM: "The Vices of the Modern World" by Nicanor Parra
SHORT STORY: "The Boy Who Drew Cats" by Lafcadio Hearn
POEM: "I Am Waiting" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
POEM: "Xtra Naked" by Nicole Lanier Montez
POEM: "Cut" by Sylvia Plath
SHORT STORY: "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
MISCELLANEOUS: Halloween, Part 3
NOVEL: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
POEM: "Dulce Decorum Est." by Wilfred Owen
SHORT STORY: "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway
MISCELLANEOUS: Works From Childhood, Part 2
SHORT STORY: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
MISCELLANEOUS: World War II Poetry
MISCELLANEOUS: 100th Episode
NOVEL: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
ESSAY: "Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
POEM: "London" by William Blake
NOVEL: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
SHORT STORY: "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison
SHORT STORY: "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane
MISCELLANEOUS: Comic Book Episode
NOVEL: Demian by Hermann Hesse
NOVEL: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
GRAPHIC NOVEL: V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
POEM: "Mary Magdalene at Sunday Mass in Castlebar" by Paul Durcan
SHORT STORY: "Micromegas" by Voltaire
MISCELLANEOUS: The Poetry of Allen Ginsberg
POEM: "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
NOVEL: To Kill a Mockingbird (which includes discussion about Go Set a Watchman) by Harper Lee
MISCELLANEOUS: Dystopian Fiction
NOVEL: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
FAIRY TALE: "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen
FAIRY TALE: "Rapunzel" by The Brothers Grimm
MISCELLANEOUS: Poetry About Cheese

In addition to the 36 discussions that have been mentioned and filmed, we have 11 more being planned, five of which will be created to form music week, six of which will be general discussions.

This includes:

Music Week

SONG: "My Anthem" by Christina Grimmie
SONG: "Armor" by Colin Chandelier (aka. Ari S. Gans)
SONG: "In the Year 2525" by Zager & Evans
SONG: The Winner of a Planned Poll
MISCELLANEOUS: Music Survey (with elements of "what's your favorite_____" and "this or that")

General Discussions

MISCELLANEOUS: Christmas, Part 3
PLAY: King Lear by William Shakespeare
WORK: Night by Elie Wiesel
PLAY: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
SHORT STORY: "The Storm" by Kate Chopin
POEM: "Home Burial" by Robert Frost

These 11 discussions will be distributed accordingly based off of when and how they are filmed.

Here are other places you can find the participants on Literary Gladiators:

Literary Gladiators Channel

YT Channels:

Colin Chandelier/oopdoop44 (Ari's Channel)
Zach Lawless

Goodreads:

Josh's Goodreads
Kelsea's Goodreads
Kaila's Goodreads
Larry's Goodreads
Kim's Goodreads
Breanna's Goodreads
Lenny's Goodreads

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

All That Matters is Matter in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

I conducted a smaller review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my Goodreads, which I will leave a link to down below. In this review, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the existential genius that went in to telling this story from the universal perspective, while expressing a bit of disdain for the pacing and sequence of events. Ultimately, though, the positive outweighed the negative and I rated it somewhere in the range of an 8/10 or a 9/10, which is 4-4.5 stars on Goodreads. This post is more of a critical analysis than it is a review: so it is subject to spoilers. If you are interested in reading this and you have either read the book or do not mind be spoiled, I encourage you to stay along. Otherwise, I would encourage you to read the book first. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is known greatly for its universal meaning and the exploration of the meaning of life as we follow the steps of an Earthling (from Britain) named Arthur Dent, saved just before his planet was destroyed in favor of a galactic freeway.

Taking this story into the context of the universal perspective, Earth is seen meaninglessly, which makes any of its inhabitants even more meaningless. So meaningless that as we draw ourselves back further and further, each being becomes a speck among a speck. Earth is described on the very first page of Adams' novel as being, "An utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea." Humanity is bound to be criticized for multiple reasons, but to say that their ideas remain "primitive" compared to the rest of the world definitely takes into account the meaning that inhabitants of Earth see within themselves and (in some cases) others and watching it become incredibly pointless when placed among the greater scheme of the universe.

As far as the universe is concerned, naturalism can be applied to the idea that there are only two types of things that exist: living matter and dormant matter. Living matter is what ever is alive, while dormant matter is what ever was once alive and is currently non-living. Depending on one's belief, dormant matter has the potential to become living matter. For instance, if an item, like a cardboard box, decays, it will eventually turn to dirt and develop purpose among the land once again. Douglas Adams was a confident atheist, denying any higher being. Whether or not he followed the idea that death was "going out of one car and into another" theory that John Lennon mentioned or that death was just "the lights shutting off" remains in question, but one that believes that death follows Lennon's ideas or just in reincarnation in general would believe in dormant matter having the potential to become living matter. The universe sees both as being the same.

This image of similarity among matter is seen by the two mice, Benjy and Frankie, when they are looking to continue their research on humanity (like mice did on Earth through human experiments for human interests). In order to continue, they need Arthur (since he is a human)'s brain. Of course, this is much to Arthur's dismay, especially since they plan to chop it up and do what ever they need to come up with the results that they need. They are, however, willing to provide Arthur with a mechanical brain, which works the same. Like most humans, the idea of having a mechanical brain is not the same as having a real brain, but when you look at this universally, both the living (Arthur's brain) and dormant (the mechanical brain) matter are viewed equally.

The greatest question at hand in the entire novel is one we ask ourselves: What is the meaning of life? In this novel, the answer is 42. Why 42? Why not something more basic like to do good, to be successful, or to follow your religion faithfully? The answer lies in the question. The reason the answer is so absurd is because the question is just as absurd, given the facts that the ideas regarding matter do not just cover people, places, and things, but also ideas. Like the physical things in life, ideas and things that are found among processing systems on the computers also come from a matter known more commonly as "0s and 1s." These 0s and 1s develop what we see. As you are reading this post, the 0s and 1s are developing the words I am typing and the background to which it is appearing. The question about "42" being the meaning of life is really "Is there really a meaning of life among matter?" One can also ask as to whether or not the meaning of life is the same or if there really is a meaning to life.

Of course, the meaning of life as portrayed in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is only a reflection of what Douglas Adams believes or possibly what he wants his characters to convey, which I believe is one of the same. Whether you agree or disagree with his universal point of view, taking that perspective really does away with humanity and what any and all of them believe. As far as this novel is concerned, Earth is just another one of the universe's creations and in the bigger picture, humanity from Earth has not exceeded itself, but instead created so much confusion. The "end of the world" may prove to be detrimental to the world that is being affected, but from the universal perspective, those inhabiting that world will simply return to being the matter that makes up the universe. The question is whether or not the matter will amount to anything spectacular, whether living or dormant.

Like dystopian novels, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy takes an aspect of absurdist literature and does its best to explain its meaning. For Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll concentrates on what it really is to be normal and questions the practices of society when compared to the abnormal (abnormal to us) practices of Wonderland. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams concentrates on the meaning of life according to the perspective of the universe. While he directly says this meaning is "42," I feel that the meaning of life being conveyed is that "all that matters in the universe is matter."

You can find my Goodreads account here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5687551-josh-caporale

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Five Years On Blogger & A Recap of the Last Three Months

I am back! I am back where I began in the art of written discussion, which is where I began years ago, throughout high school, and on this blog. I wrote my first post on March 9, 2011, and am still around after five years of posting. I need to ask for your forgiveness, for my posting on Caponomics has fallen behind since I have done so much more with Literary Gladiators on YouTube, reviews on Goodreads, and the need to get back into my fiction writing while also balancing my reading time, work for income, and tasks that involve housekeeping and yard work. I came back to pay a visit and from what I saw, my page view numbers and followers have just about remained along for the ride. I cannot be more thankful for having such a great group of followers. Before I made friends who love books, literature, reading, and writing on Booktube, I made friends with people on Blogger, and I must say that all of you are outstanding! I was fearful was what was going to happen, but I saw that I have 24 followers and 66,502 page views. People are still reading my commentary on different topics and I am getting 1,000 to 2,000 views per month. I need to return the favor by writing more posts and on a more consistent basis. I have put together an uploading schedule for Booktube and I feel that it would immensely help to put together an uploading schedule for Blogger. Booktubers who also blog, such as Katie from Books & Things and Shannon from Shannon Rose Reads, have put together consistent schedules that have helped in the long run. I cannot confirm details just yet, but I will definitely keep everyone in touch.

To celebrate five years, I am going to break from tradition and instead of sharing my ten most popular posts in details, I am just going to recap everything that has been going on, as it relates to what I have posted on Caponomics. This will include my top ten popular posts, but will summarize everything I feel you should know.

My Short Work Reviews Have Surged in the Top Ten- My poem review of Anne Sexton's "The Starry Night" is my most popular post with over 5,000 views. While other noteworthy posts have remained in the top ten, this one is consistently surging and picking up attention. It is quite a surreal feeling when you Google "the starry night by anne sexton summary" and this is the third thing you come across. Emily's Poetry Blog also put together something quite nice. I enjoy and recommend her blog as well. My reviews for "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon and "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs also saw an immense surge, which is spectacular, for it brings attention to works of literature I feel that everyone should check out, especially "The Lottery Ticket," because it currently does not have the attention it deserves. My original surge on this blog came from my review of Ebert Presents At The Movies, where viewership has since become dormant and has dropped to eighth place. My distaste for orange juice pulp is still grabbing the attention of readers, while my post about the Hey Arnold! Jungle Movie has caught the attention of readers. This leads me to this...

The Jungle Movie is Being Released in 2017- Nickelodeon gave the green light to the much awaited Hey Arnold! conclusion following the end of the series, which ended with a two-part special called "The Journal." In this special, Arnold comes across his father's journal and it goes over how his parents left to help the Green-Eyed people, but their plane was never heard from since. This special will provide answers as to everything that happened, but was not disclosed. There will also be mention to Arnold's last name, which creator Craig Bartlett hinted to as "Shortman." This special will definitely lead me back to Nickelodeon for the first time since I have no idea when.

Response to NFL Predictions- My NFL predictions for 2015 were a bit of a mixed bag. I predicted the Super Bowl would be the Seahawks over the Colts and that certainly did not ring true. The Seahawks reached the divisional round before being defeated by the Panthers, while the Colts barely missed the playoffs in a crappy division battle. As for what really happened, I felt the Broncos would make the AFC Championship and lose to the Colts, while the Panthers would regress. Both the Broncos and Panthers have a good chance to continue with their success, while at the same time, dark horses could definitely emerge. As for what is to come, I am quite happy that Hue Jackson is getting an opportunity to coach again, while many of the other coaching selections leave me in question. I also feel that Peyton Manning retired at the right time, turning 40 this year, shaken up to the point where Brock Osweiler started a good chunk of the season, and being able to exit with a Super Bowl victory that was heavily associated with a strong defense. Peyton Manning will leave football as the player I would argue to be the greatest.

Literary Gladiators- Our show has seen a drastic amount of growth. We have been on Booktube for two years and since May, we have been able to release videos at a greater rate. In addition, we have been releasing individual videos that do not follow the structure of the standard episode involving a discussion panel. These videos allow us to go beyond the topics of discussion and talk more about our personal reading expeditions and take part in the Booktube activities. As of this morning, we have 340 subscribers and over 12,000 views. This is ten times the amount of subscribers from last year at this time and six times the amount of views. Our fourth season is currently active, while we are planning a fifth season that will be taped this summer and released in September. We have 52 episodes planned at this time. In addition to many of the regulars, we have new interested individuals that will likely take part, while we are also planning to have interested Booktubers on our panel. Our next episode to be released will be a discussion of "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton, which will hopefully garner the attention that my blog post has garnered. Our channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ6qvTMy4NPqaRnVdsuJLLg

What Have I Been Reading- During the months of January and February, I read both a mixed bag (as I did in January) and more themed reading (as I did in February). I read The Little Giant Encyclopedia of One-Liners by Gene Perret and Terry Martin and Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow in January, then went on to read A Happy Death by Albert Camus, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, and Great French Short Stories edited by Paul Negri for French February, a reading challenge I set for myself during the particular month. I started She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir and continued Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, but have yet to finish them. I also started and finished Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City. I read this during late February and early March. I am currently engaged in a buddy read with Lauren from Lauren and the Books and we are reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham, which I am really enjoying. John Grisham puts everything into what he writes and I get a lot out of what he has to say. I will be doing a lot of reading for the fifth season of Literary Gladiators, which will definitely be something I look forward to. Here is a video where I go into greater detail about what I have been reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj9mnnwKve8

What is to Come?- Much of my online activity has been shifted to Literary Gladiators, which I am really hoping to grow into something great! We upload videos three days a week and we are looking at uploading between the fourth and fifth season, as well as the structure of how things will work when we begin filming and then uploading the fifth season. Regarding my blog, I plan to continue my traditions of making NFL predictions for 2016 and naming the ten best books I read in 2016. Outside of that, it sounds like reviews for books and shorter works have picked up attention most recently. I definitely plan to take more notes and do more research in order to put together the best posts I am possibly able to on this blog. From there, I am hoping to write more fiction and read as much as I am able. The question will come down to the balance that comes with my changing work schedule. I will definitely keep everyone posted.

I appreciate everyone's support and readership during the last five years and hope to continue entertaining you with witty, but most importantly informative posts that encourage you to pick up a particular work to read or just catch your attention for the time being. I am happy to be back and while I am not sure when I will be posting again and what I will be posting about, it is definitely my intent to provide with blog with the necessary reading material. As I close off my Booktube videos, Keep Reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

When it comes to my blogging based activities, 2015 has been a year of good and bad news. The bad news is that I have not been blogging as much as I should have, for I have been doing a lot with Literary Gladiators, which is really beginning to come together and is only seeing the beginning of something that can be really special. I will say, though, that the good news certainly outweighs the bad. The list of books that I read in their entirety has more than doubled from the last two years, we are closing in on 62,000 page views and at least 1,000 page views each month, and on a personal note, I graduated from college with a Bachelor's in English, Summa Cum Laude. As for Caponomics, I am going to do my best to make 2016 a better year with more book reviews, poem reviews, short story reviews, play reviews, literature based discussions, and maybe even some collaborations. I had a great time having Will Hoheisel from Reviews You Can Use, Literary Gladiators' very own Kelsea Rowan, and my friend Kathryn, who was formerly a part of On the Read. Once I begin to pick up a rhythm again, I will reach out and see if there is anything that is interested.

I always enjoy this time of year on Caponomics, where I get to name my ten favorite books that I read from this year. Need I mention that I will be naming TEN books instead of five, which I am able to do for two reasons. One, I read more books. Two, I am confident with the top ten that are in this selection. In fact, every book on this list received at least a 9/10, whether a review has been written or not. Determining what was going to make it into the top ten was an intense task, for I read so many outstanding books and they were so close in what I thought that deciding what was going to make the list and what was not was bound to involve crucial choices. Nevertheless, the task was accomplished and I can now present to you my top ten...

#10- Heroes by Robert Cormier- Robert Cormier has finally made it into my top ten on Caponomics. I have read The Chocolate War, I Am The Cheese, and The Rag & The Bone Shop, and while they were all really good reads, I read them all before I set up this blog. I read this particular novel, because I was looking for inspiration for my senior thesis. While I ended up using other novels instead, this novel definitely continues to linger through my mind in a world where one can discharge from war in the physical sense, but they can never discharge from war in the mental sense. Francis Cassavant has returned home from war after he lost much of his face, leading him to wear a scarf over the lower part so that no one can see what remains. Francis was inspired by his high school mentor, Larry LaSalle, to join the military after he was able to make a greater name for himself in doing so. However, a drastic interference into Francis' very own life and that of his friend Nicole's leads him to want to kill his mentor and hero. Cormier is the kind of author that tends to grasp his readers and take them on such an emotional thrill ride with what ever he puts together. I feel that more young adult readers familiar with the likes of Lois Lowry, S.E. Hinton, and Jerry Spinelli should check out the collection of novels that were written by Cormier, for he can captivate an audience by talking about teenagers that hold out on selling chocolate, teenagers be questioned in an institution, and also teenagers that take part in a great war, and leave a mark!

#9- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien- A major part of my senior thesis, about "telling the untellable in war," was driven by Tim O'Brien's noteworthy collection of stories about a fictional Tim O'Brien and his experiences in the Vietnam War. This has shaped itself into the defining novel about the Vietnam War and it does quite a nice job in earning the reputation as being such. The Things They Carried has little to do with the skirmishes, the schemes, and the political actions, but more so the motives, the emotions, and the common soldier that is fighting and the gritty mentality that one should be thinking when it comes to the instated glorifications of war. "How to Tell a True War Story" really breaks things down to a science, while "The Lives of the Dead" remains the story that lingers into my mind. "The Lives of the Dead" is told last, because it shapes the impression that one has about death, and how this is a building block to the story that one carries and then develops in something so drastic as war. In addition, this is the one story where any person, whether they served in war or not, has the opportunity to develop emotions about sudden loss. It is true that not every story in this collection to going to speak in the same way to one person than it will the other, but it is a great perspective that has demonstrated its relevance to what the emotions of war are like, but with an individual mentality that may or may not be repeated. Tim O'Brien certainly has shaped himself as a storyteller on the topic of what it is like to fight and tell the stories of one's own experience, in addition to those who never had that opportunity.

#8- Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell- Gordon Comstock is the young man that everyone in his age group want to be, but maybe one in a thousand have the fortitude to attempt, because even for someone like Gordon does a difficulty in rebelling against money take place. Gordon worked as a copywriter for an advertising copy before becoming a bookseller upon the realization that he did not want to take part in something he did not believe. At the same time, Gordon is living in a shabby apartment with tight restrictions and barely making ends meet. He has a great support group from his friend, Ravelston, his girlfriend, Rosemary, and a long distance sister, Julia, who is tied up in issues of her own. There is nothing special about Gordon, for he just wants to become a writer, yet is having difficulty getting his name out there AND the motivation to write. It is definitely assured that this is an anti-Capitalist novel, but it is just as much an anti-Socialist and anti-Communist novel, for Gordon finds that each of these factions are tied down in some way by the strong arm that is money. Gordon is looking for the way to accomplish this feat, but the question is this: is he willing to hurt all of the people he cares for in order to make a point? I have read Animal Farm and 1984 by Orwell and his political themes are his greatest obsession. This is the perfect example as to the mindset of society and how money has become such a driving force that it has become impossible to escape its presence, but only if you are a human being! Keep the Aspidistra Flying is an Orwell novel that needs to be explored far more often.

#7- Macbeth by William Shakespeare- Yes, I have one of Shakespeare's plays on my top ten list. I never saw myself doing this, for he has not been a writer I have read for pleasure. In this case, I read Macbeth for our discussion on Literary Gladiators. I must say, though, that this was a play that I liked from his collection. What I liked about Macbeth is that it was not over the top in the way that many of his plays can become. There is an obvious issue and Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, are clearly guilty due to their power hunger that has led to them slaying several individuals that they have found competition to their throne. I also found that there were moments of humor and self-deprecation that I really enjoyed, my favorite being a scene from the porter (knock, knock, knock). In addition to being honest and humorous, I felt that Macbeth was clever in how it thought outside of the box. In particular, there was a specific projection from the three witches, which came with it a loophole. I will say no more! I prefer watching Shakespeare's plays while I read them and this case was no different. The intent of a play is that it be performed. Looking at the strength of the work, though, the only other play of his I enjoyed just as much as this was Julius Caesar.

#6- Voices From Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich- Svetlana Alexievich is most familiar for being the Nobel Prize in Literature winner of 2015. This title was rightfully deserved, for not only did she convey such a powerful story, but she did so by allowing the real-life participants to tell it themselves. Alexievich is a Belarusian journalist that has reported on multiple accounts. This particular account involved those that were affected, whether directly, secondhand, or being within the realm of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986. The fact that these stories were told by the victims only made it more tragic and heartbreaking, with the choking up and tears included. The stories that were told by the victims were not just about death, though. They ranged from living conditions to physics to the quality of the salami, which allowed me as a reader to learn more about Belarus through these voices. The fact that Alexievich was able to weave this together was just outstanding and as a result, she deserved the Nobel Prize.

#5- Wit & Wisdom From Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin- Alongside Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin was responsible for developing America's culture. In addition to his creation of bifocals and discoveries regarding electricity, he also developed the fire department, postal service, and library in America. He also was the driving force behind Poor Richard's Almanac, which included different stories and weather reports. As a source of light-hearted entertainment, Franklin would include a proverb in the back, much like a word search or comic strip has proven to serve to the newspaper. Dover Thrift put together a reasonable collection of some of Franklin's most noteworthy proverbs, which are quite relevant when you think about it! They made me laugh and made me say to myself regarding Benjamin Franklin: "what a wise man!" Some of my favorites in this collection include:

1. "Content makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor."
2. "If passion drives, let reason hold the reins."
3. "Many foxes grow grey, but few grow good."

The reason I included this skinny book of proverbs on my top ten list is because it was a book I read during the year, specifically for an episode of Literary Gladiators featuring Dr. Frank Esposito, that I feel that everybody should take the opportunity to read at some point in their lives. Franklin's proverbs are not only informative, but they are also quite humorous! I am sure that one will react with positive emotions, whether they come out smarter or just more entertained!

#4- Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham- Thomas Jefferson was such a brilliant man! He was our third president, an innovator, an inventor, a scientist, a pioneer to meteorology in America, a political figure, the founder of the University of Virginia, a renaissance man, and perhaps the most important figure with regard to shaping the United States in the way we think of it when we think of the country that broke away from England (remember, while George Washington confirmed American freedom, he did want to keep some British customs, as did John Adams, while Jefferson felt we needed to develop our own). The reason that this book is so outstanding, though, is because Jon Meacham tells us about Thomas Jefferson exactly how we should be told about the man. He was straightforward and told of both his strengths and his weaknesses. I knew about Jefferson's marriage that ended with his wife's premature death and his affair with Sally Hemings, but the details were so specific that they proved to be efficient bits of brain food. I learned much more about the political commotion between the Federalists and the Democractic-Republicans, the members of Jefferson's cabinet (including his Secretary of Treasury, the Swiss Albert Gallatin, and how James Madison was perhaps the greatest of Jefferson's protégés. I did a thirteen-page paper on Jefferson's importance as a renaissance man that shaped America and also concluded with how I agree with the common argument that he had Asperger's syndrome. Research has shown that Jefferson had this condition and the traits shared in this book, including his position on peer pressure, social habits, and speaking habits (his only speeches were his two inaugural addresses in 1801 and 1805). In addition, his interests in various areas from keeping track of the weather and of his spending (he was in debt at the time of his death, though) to his keen interest in learning as much as possible about areas that interested him only strengthen this argument. I felt that this book was very reliable in allowing me to learn much more about our third president. It made me feel a bit more like an expert! There is no need to worry, though, because while the second book tends to leave you confused, I have read additional accounts and got some similar bits of information. The collections that talk about all of the presidents may not be as in-depth, but they are reliable at-large!

#3- This Side of Time by Ko Un- Ko Un's poetry should be required reading for Eastern literature enthusiasts, those intrigued by Korean literature, and just about anyone else from any other background. Ko Un's poetry tends to remain at just one stanza, sometimes reaching the point of just one sentence. With such small space, though, Un's poetry is so remarkable! He can present an argument and you would absolutely be in line with what he is saying. The poems are sorted out into his different selections, but include just certain poems from each. You can tell that Un's Buddhism plays a heavy influence as to what he is writing, but either way, it tells the truth! The one that sticks out the most goes:

"The autumn leaves fall dancing.
I'll dance my way out too
when it's time to leave this world." (p. 26).

This connection to nature only contributes to such great beauty that is worth the money and the attention. I can guarantee that if any amount of time should be spent reading a poetry collection, this is definitely a good choice!

#2- The Human Comedy by William Saroyan- I first read Saroyan's works during a Reading class I took while I was in middle school. I was wondering where one story, "The Telegram," could be found. The story always hit home, for it told about a teenaged boy and how he delivered a telegram to a woman that held the message of her son's death in the war. This is how I was led to The Human Comedy, which told the story of the life that was occurring in a California town while World War II was taking place. It was a bit comedic in the antics that occurred, such as Ulysses getting caught in the animal trap, but the term "comedy" seems to refer to humanity in general. It is the expectation that humanity has to remain as close to their ordinary flow as possible, despite having a loved one putting their lives on the line in what has been said to be for their country. The even greater concern is whether or not they will have the opportunity to make it home alive. The idea of how this could be deemed a "comedy" has to be measured on the basis of life at-large or just the way things go at-large, for the way many people see things is with a very narrow perspective. The Human Comedy is brilliant in how it weaves these serious, tragic moments with those light-hearted moments of optimism and cheer. When all is said and done, there is so much that is bound in happen in a day in a life.

#1- East of Eden by John Steinbeck- I could not think of a more powerfully written novel in any possible area this year than I could with this magnum opus from Steinbeck's collection. East of Eden is meant to be a retelling about the Book of Genesis and I must say that after reading this novel, I am definitely convinced to pick up a bible and make my way through the Book of Genesis and how its foundation played a major impact on the Christian view and of the view that is casted by these characters among the world that they live. Not only are the characters very well developed, but Steinbeck also paints a picture of the setting so well and the plot is definitely effective in how it is used. Steinbeck is known for describing those specific details, like the turtle crossing the road in The Grapes of Wrath, but in this case he will take the opportunity in some chapters to discuss the period of time with which he is speaking, so that he can develop an idea in the reader's head regarding what kind of background they should be looking at the clearer picture. This clear picture is the Cain and Abel inspired sibling rivalries, first between Charles and Adam, then between Adam's two sons, Cal and Aron. In addition, the characters of Adam's servant, Lee, and Adam's temporary wife, Cathy, create a sense of unity and conflict, respectively. In my mind, the contrast between Lee and Cathy is the leveling factor that really creates a sense of compassion and a sense of bitter evil that is creating the struggles that take place. What East of Eden reminds us is that there is so much more to the way that one is assembled. One could be fed the idea that one person is definitely good and pure, while the other is evil and filthy. In reality, much of what dictates the status quo is what is deemed preferable by the almighty figure, whether it be God or in this novel a parent. East of Eden was the best novel I read in 2015, because it presents a timeless message that was carried over for thousands of years and recreates it in such an appropriate, but at the same time original manner. This is the novel that has made my desire to read more Steinbeck even greater.

I was hoping to complete Les Miserables by Victor Hugo by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but I do plan to finish it sometime during the early part of next year. My goal will be to complete it in the month of January. As for this year, it was certainly a successful year that introduced me or reintroduced me to some amazing writers. The fact that a 6/10 was my lowest verdict also says something about my reading expeditions. I hold high hope that 2016 will bring a great range of novels of top quality as well. In addition, I will be putting together a fifth season of Literary Gladiators, which will reflect my reading habits, but to good accord. I am really excited to work with Charlie, Kelsea, Larry, Kaila, Ari, Laney, and plenty of other new and familiar guests. I am also planning to invite Booktubers that live near or are interested in visiting my area, in addition to some other book and literature bloggers, literary enthusiasts, and writers. We shall see how this goes!

Regarding the top ten, I feel that every area of interest has been represented. Yes, I had many more literary reads as oppose to the horror, thriller, or speculative reads that are usually mixed in, but that does not mean that they have fallen out of my reading schedule. I read a nice batch of horror and speculative reads that just fell out of the top ten and I plan to read more in 2016. I am definitely going to make a great effort to increase my reading and definitely want to do more on my blog, on Booktube, and with my fiction writing. I feel that 2016 is going to have a lot to offer!

I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe new year; in addition to high hopes that your year is a prosperous one! I am going to do my best to make 2016 a prosperous one for myself, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: "The Things We Keep" by Sally Hepworth

A friend of mine from Goodreads named Inge, who has two blogs, one about reading and the other about optimistic thinking, read this book and wrote a poignant review about how this novel reminded her about how her grandfather dealt with Alzheimer's and while he forgot just about everyone in his family, he continued to remember and love his wife until the day he died. This review really caught my attention and I liked and commented on it, which caught the attention of St. Martin's Press. They sent me a review copy for this novel that they plan to release in January 2016 and in exchange, I have read the book and will be presenting you with an honest review. If there is anyone that this story reminds me of most, it is my great-grandfather. He did not have late stages of Alzheimer's, but he went to live in an assisted living facility and later a nursing home before he passed away just last month. When I think of these facilities, I think of my great-grandfather's experience. He was in high spirits and in great hands during the two and a half years he spent in assisted living and few months in nursing care. It shows that this is a great elevation to when my great-great grandmother was in a nursing home, for the effort is placed heavily on making their residents feel as if their lives are still as precious, despite the fact that there is not so much life left to live.

The loved ones I recall being in assisted living or nursing care were older. In this novel, we follow two people that are younger and in need of medical assistance. The idea of premature Alzheimer's and dementia has been explored in the book Still Alice, a Lisa Genova novel that was adapted into a film, and is now being explored as a bit of a love story told by Sally Hepworth. In this case, Anna Forster enters Rosalind House in Short Hills, New Jersey at the age of thirty-eight. She does this voluntarily, after her Alzheimer's reaches a point that she becomes a danger to herself and her loved ones. Her brother, Jack, intentionally finds this home, because he heard that a younger man dealing with similar struggles resided here and she would have a peer to interact with. This peer turns out being a handsome man (to Anna's tastes) named Luke who is two years older and dealing with dementia that leaves him with a stutter. To Anna, Luke is "Young Guy," and they become closer and closer as time goes by, picking up the feeling that the other makes their life worth living.

Anna tells her story prior to when things are presently occurring. Her story begins fifteen months before and progresses month after month as her Alzheimer's becomes worse and things around her are changing. The story is told during the present day by a woman named Eve Bennett that takes on the job of chef... which includes an earmark that is maintenance and her daughter, Clementine. Anna, Eve, and Clementine switch off on chapters, though not uniformly and the former two tell most of the story. This novel is as much about Anna and the rest of the Rosalind House as it is about Eve's very own struggles. Eve's husband, Richard, was involved in a Ponzi scheme were he falsified documents in order to collect money. Knowing that he was going to get caught, Richard went into his study while his wife and daughter were away and committed suicide. Eve and Clementine were left with the burden that was Richard's "legacy" and were shunned by the school district and those around them in town. In order to make a living, Eve's only opportunity is to serve as the cook as the Rosalind House. Here, she comes across Anna and learns about the story between her and Luke and while by this time they are separated due to each family's wishes, she does what she can to encourage their unity and their love for one another.

Though she does not tell her story as often as Anna or Eve, I feel that Clementine's story was the most interesting to follow along. Hepworth does a nice job getting into the mind of a witty seven-year-old girl and her story is just as important as the others, because she is definitely feeling the struggles that are occurring in her very own life. She loved her dad and to see that those around her are bashing him is creating a great strain on her life. She does, however, express a sense of being the center of attention at a nursing home that features an interesting group of individuals. There is Clara and Laurie, who seem like an ideal couple living at the home, but there is much more to their relationship than meets the eye. Then, quite notably, there is Bert, who is still having difficulty detaching himself from his deceased wife, Myrna. He still leaves an empty seat for her and interacts with her as one may interact with an imaginary friend. Then, those that operate the facilities include Eric, who manages the place, and Angus, who is a gardener that forms a bit of a bond with Eve.

The structure of the characters in this novel prove to be a great strength on Hepworth's behalf. Just about every character has depth to them and provides a sense of importance to the novel. In some cases, though, this depth proves to overshadow the main concentration regarding the love that is shared between Anna and Luke. I feel that both Anna and Eve tells meaningful stories, but these stories are so strong that one would have trouble figuring out which one drives the novel. I feel that I could have gotten more of Anna's story while getting a relatively concrete idea as to what Anna's struggles consisted of. At the same time, Eve and Clementine's story catches my attention in a different way. It is interesting to read about direct relatives of those that committed a crime, and a high profile one at that, and then ask "is it right to blame the relatives of bad people who were not aware of what was going on, let alone did nothing wrong?" I felt a sense of sympathy for Anna, Eve, and Clementine, but I have that feeling that a different equation could have occurred.

My other gripe involves a checklist of sorts that deals with whether or not this has what it takes to be a movie. I would say that this novel has what it takes to become a movie and I would find it quite an intriguing film adaptation. This would definitely make for an attractive movie. On the other hand, I am not necessarily interested in books that follow the "does this have what it takes to be a movie" cutout and in turn, just about every box office movie follows a cookie cutout of its particular genre. I do, however, think that this is adaptable.

I feel that for the reader that is looking for a light novel that deals with a bleak subject, but in a way that it can be taken with humor, will probably enjoy reading The Things We Keep. It has the attraction to its particular audience that The Fault in our Stars has on theirs. I preferred The Fault in our Stars not in the way that it is closer to my age group, but its area of focus is much clearer and it does not have a side story that overwhelms or overshadows. Nevertheless, it seems like Sally Hepworth definitely has the ability to create characters that possess great dimension and have stories that will certainly grab your attention and your mind.

Verdict: 7/10

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nobel Prize in Literature 2015

It has been confirmed that a Nobel Prize winner in the area of literature will be announced on Thursday, October 8th at 1 PM Swedish time. Most recent winners of this award have included French author Patrick Modiano (in 2014), Canadian short story writer Alice Munro (in 2013), Chinese novelist Mo Yan (in 2012), and the late Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer (in 2011). This year, the field of nominees is relatively large, which should not come as a shock to any. Of course, there are frontrunners, but the decision that is made by the committee remains a challenge to predict and project until the name has actually been announced. I know that in my case, Patrick Modiano was not a name I would have predicted to be the winner of the 2014 prize, but that may be due to the fact that his name is not too familiar to the American reader. I was able to pick up a book of his at Barnes & Noble during a trip following a filming session for Literary Gladiators. During the month of September, I read five novels that were written by nominees for this particular award and came out with mixed feelings. Of the five, there were two books I enjoyed, two that I felt were okay, and another that I am in the middle of completing. Nominees that I have read include Svetlana Alexievich, Ko Un, Philip Roth, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Joyce Carol Oates. I read Haruki Murakami earlier in the year.

Svetlana Alexievich and Haruki Murakami has been deemed the frontrunners according to many outlets that measure the odds that different nominees have in winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. In my mind, these statuses are rightfully so. Alexievich is a journalist from Ukraine known most for her Voices from Chernobyl, which capture statements and stories from individuals that were affected in some way, shape, or form by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986. I felt this was an amazing testament that was very well arranged so that heartbreaking stories were able to be shared next to some really witty accounts that occurred during an event that is important for people to be aware about. Murakami, a Japanese writer, is quite noteworthy in the English speaking world, which is fitting for someone whose works are heavily influenced by western culture. His novel, Norwegian Wood, has plenty of references and inspiration to The Beatles and the actions that are taken in the story reflect the title song. His elements of magical realism are recognized most to his readers, but I enjoyed reading Norwegian Wood, which did not really possess his common themes. Based on what I know and what I collect, Murakami should be the author that I would declare as the person that I feel should win the prize this year.

While I feel that Murakami should be awarded the prize, the writer I feel should receive the prize in this particular year is Ko Un, a Korean poet who was a political protester that was imprisoned during his time of doing so. Un's poetry is short, brief, but powerful. Much of what he writes reflects his Buddhist beliefs, as he was at one point a Buddhist monk. Un has been nominated on multiple occasions for this particular prize, but others were granted to prize instead. I feel that with an active life of such insightful writing on his resume, Un should be the person that is greatly considered for this particular year. Whether he receives the honor or not, I feel that he is a poet that everyone should check out.

I did mention that I read Philip Roth, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Joyce Carol Oates during the month. I felt that Goodbye, Columbus and A Grain of Wheat, written by Roth and Thiong'o respectively, were okay novels. They were very well written, but could have been better in plot structure and sequence (for Columbus) and strength of character (for Wheat), so I am not ready to declare that these would be my selections for the Nobel Prize in Literature. As for Oates, I am reading Wild Nights, which is a really interesting take on the last days of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway in narrative form. Once I finish reading this, I need to allow it to sink in and then make a call regarding what I thought.

I am always interested in reading award winning or nominated writers, even if I feel that it is the individual's personal satisfaction that should determine what they decide to read and not read. I am sure that everyone will have a different opinion and I would be interested to hear the selections that other people may have. As for me, it was interesting to get a taste of what the great academy sees as top quality writing among those writers that are living and, in many cases, still writing. I may be interested in either doing this again or reading the works of writers that have already when notable prizes. I am definitely going to keep my eye out for the winners of these acclaimed prizes in the upcoming days and I encourage you to check out Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and This Side of Time by Ko Un. Regardless of who wins the prize, it is just so remarkable what this acclaim and monetary prize does to deserving writers who may or may have not gotten the boost that comes with this honor.

Here is the odds site that I referred to in this post:
http://www.nicerodds.co.uk/nobel-prize-in-literature