Category Archives: Summer Reading

Summer Reading The Man Who Planted

I believe this story was good and it went into some detail about the whole story. To me, it was a good story that made me believe that I could do what I truly care about and make my dreams come true.  It tells us about the man who worked through the toughest time like war and continued to plant trees. Even though that hard time he continued to plant trees and in the end he turned a sad, not so beautiful place into an amazingly beautiful looking place that people love to be and when people went back to that place in the mountains they didn’t even recognize it. The people living in the mountains village put up a statue of him as a reminder of who turned the place into an amazing, wonderful place to look at and live, not only that but they counted to plant trees and flowers. This made me believe that even the smallest things that we do can have an impact on other people and made me think that if people wanted to change the world by doing what they love that you could be it would just take time, and soon enough what you have accomplished would have an impact on the world and you’d know that you made that change happen.

SR Diary – The man who planted trees

The Man Who Planted Trees is an amazing story about a solitary shepherd who lives in the absence of trees on a hard landscape with very little water, the people there are bitter and violent constantly striving against each other.  All it seems but this man, who is quiet and kind.  He noticing the lack of trees begins to plant them.  Over time he plants hundreds of thousands very little of them survive sapling hood but that is still a great number. Over the years, more than 35 years, he built a forest.  Today this is called permaculture.  Permaculture is the practice of farming with nature, doing what nature wants to have life be pervasive, instead of leaching from the soil and monocropping. This man planted all the trees he could and if they didn’t survive he’d try a new tree or different spot.  Through this he created a microclimate bringing water back to the land.  This is what I’m doing with my family on my farm, to a certain extent.

Summer Reading Response: Kafka and the Doll

Even for a small child, grief and loss are inevitable. Looking for ways for love to return in a different form is the first step toward healing. “Everything that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.” I believe there are benefits to considering sorrow as pervasive and an unavoidable aspect of being human. Grief is about much more than the death of a loved one, though it is arguably its most poignant manifestation. The small girl in the story is devastated by the loss of her doll. Keeping in mind the universality of loss might help us cope with feelings of guilt and isolation. “This was the beginning of many letters. When he and the little girl met he read her from these carefully composed letters the imagined adventures of the beloved doll.” I feel Kafka’s letters were the true gift of love, and the friendship that was the remedy that was eventually healing for the little girl. Someone was concerned enough about her suffering to write her wonderful stories about the adventures of the missing doll. Is this a true story or just fiction? Too often, we cling so tightly to something or are so preoccupied with its loss that we miss out on all the other great elements of life that are still available to us or are just waiting for us to discover. Everything changes in life, and we will lose things and people we care about. It may appear to be a tragic aspect of life, but if it weren’t, we would never learn to enjoy new things. How many times have you believed your life was over because you lost something, a job, a spouse, or anything you owned, only to discover years later that it led to more happiness than you could have imagined? The setback had paved the way for bigger things to come. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t mourn, it’s a vital part of the healing process, but we shouldn’t cling to it.

Response to: Enough is Enough

Reading this passage made me relate back to my own experience with insecurity. It began when I was around twelve, the toxic world of social media sank its claws into me and refused to relent, dragging me deeper and deeper into its unescapable void. It was then that I quickly realised that other girls who were gaining traction all had something in common, something that I did not have. A small seed planted inside my head started feeding on little moments of vulnerability. The tiny seed tucked away in the back of my head started growing, its roots forcing their way into every thought and moment, thriving on the feelings of shame and embarrassment. Only finding joy in my apparent downfall. So blinded by my own self-deprecating thoughts, I was subjecting myself to an altered reality. Feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness constantly itch the back of my mind, desperate in finding moments to make themselves known. It took me a long time to break away from the harmful cycle, finding confidence in my own self. Every now and then the remnants fight to surface, but with enough self-reassurance, they stay buried down. Having talked to many other teenage girls, I believe that my experiences with insecurity is shared among many. The current beauty standard being pushed onto young girls is extremely harmful for one’s self-image, promoting unattainable standards and unrealistic expectations.

Response to The Slaughterer

The Slaughterer was probably the story on this list that left the greatest Impact on me. Despite the shortness of the story, the gradual degradation of the protagonist’s sanity is truly visceral, leaving an Impression on me that I can best compare to the first time I watched The Matrix. In all, this Is the most compelling argument in favour of veganism I’ve ever heard.

Response to Enough is enough

This story made me see better what many women have to suffer almost everyday and what many more have suffered as a whole. The way they describe these problems is shocking to say the least, and although I don’t know these women in a way I can “see” their feelings of anger, frustration and sadness. Although I am a man and probably wont ex-perience anything that these women have just by their description I feel their anger, how could this happen. I could never understand what they go through but I can keep reading and informing myself.

SRDiary- A Man. A Woman. Just Friends?

I think that friendships between the opposite sexes should be more normalized. During pop culture today even there is barely any demonstration of opposite-sex friendships. People still think that because you are of the opposite gender you must be attracted to that person whether you are actually attracted to that gender or not. I believe that platonic relationships between the same gender and different genders are the same and should be treated as such.

Enough is Enough

As I continued to read Laura’s Blog, It made me reflect on the “given roles” I had been taught because of the cultures around me, which are definitely sexist in their treatment of women and men’s responsibilities. I remembered a specific incident where a boy once told me to clean up his mess and go back to the kitchen where I belonged. Thinking about situations like this really triggered me because of these types of sexist roles. Are we some sort of objects that aren’t capable of living our own lives without the judgement of others? Without the side remarks? Why is it that sexual harassment is spoken about as a regular part of our lives? When in reality, it should not be acceptable. Laura explains in her blog multiple times where she has been talked to sexually, which bothered me. She explains that she had done nothing regarding these situations that had happened to her because she had simply accepted them. Today, women don’t speak up because they accept how they are being treated, which needs to stop. While reading this literature, my eyes opened up to how girls in specific felt growing up as teens with the idea of looking “perfect.” Whether it was having a thigh gap or being skinny enough was a real issue girls now face starting from an extremely young age, simply to meet the expectation of society we live in. Writing or maintaining a blog like Lauras will definitely contribute to raising public awareness into the world about this crucial issue

DRJ Summer Reading “Life is Short”

This text is an opinion article by Graham discussing the value of life and how we are not using time wisely. Graham starts by stating that after he had kids, it made him realize that life is indeed short. He gave several examples such as “you only get 52 weekends with your 2 year old” “ If christmas as magic lasts from ages 3-10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times” Then he proceeds to discuss about the value of time and whether or not it changes the way people value time if they kept that in mind. Graham says that it has for him and the phrase “Life is too short for x” has great force. Graham ends his text by saying that it is important to do the things that matter, and savor the time you have.

Response to: A man. A woman. Just friends?

The reading “A man. A woman. Just friends?” made me think about my friendships, and especially my friendships with people from the opposite gender. The author questions if friendships between men and woman can actually work out or not, which made me think of my friends. Actually, I realized that about half of my best friends are boys, so from the opposite gender. That raised the question in me why the author thinks about this topic so critically. The author mostly wrote down facts, rather than his own experiences. At first, he talked about historical facts and that in the past, before feminism, friendships between opposite genders were basically non-existent. This raised the question why it was this way and also why women were seen as inferior in the past and were separated from men. After that, the author talked about some of his own experiences in high school and then talked about the present. He stayed neutral most of the time and only talked about facts. The main reason he mentioned was that at some point in a cross-sex friendship, the romantic or sex part would be missed or would come up. After I thought about this, I personally disagreed, because I believe that you can just be friends with a person from the opposite sex. I am just as close with my male friends as I am with my female friends, without missing anything. Nevertheless, I think it is a reasonable argument and might be true in some cases. In this context, I got the question if there are scientific or psychological studies that confirm this argument or that say something against it? In the end, the author wrote the statement “Friendships between the sexes may no longer be a political issue, but it is an issue of liberation: the freedom to love whom you want, in the way that you want. Maybe it´s time that we all took it out of the closet.” I think it is a very important and true statement and society should work on this topic, in all cultures. There may be some places where it is allowed to love whoever you want in the way you want, but there are still many cultures where this is not the case and this topic is avoided, or even forbidden to mention. This raised the question in me how this could be changed and how it could become a topic that nobody has to be ashamed of in any part of the world?

Summer Reading of Abraham and Isaac

God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and to go to the region of Moriah. This was a test of his faith, but Abraham doesn’t know that yet. The next day Abraham takes Isaac and his materials to leave for Moriah with his servants. On the way to Moriah, Issa asks Abraham where he is going to get the animal. He responds and says God will provide the animal. As Isaac raises his knife to Isaac, angels approach him and stop Abraham from hurting Isaac. Then he provides a substitute animal as the sacrifice.

In A Grove – Reflection

In a Grove is an interesting short story that is told unlike most. The tale is told through testimonies and confessions of people involved and related to the murder of a man named Takehiko. What’s interesting about the accounts given in the story is none of them fully corroborate with each other, but rather each of them contradicts another account in one way or another. Although there are some things that we can almost be certain are true such as how Tajomaru took Takehiko’s arrows and sword, there are other actions that cannot be proven. The biggest question raised by this story is who actually killed Takehiko.

Summer Reading – Enough is Enough

In an article from a blog, “Enough is enough” by Laura Bates, she shines light on a major problem that every woman faces, sexism. She explains how many unacceptable things happen to women and how they are are now seen as such little instances; she also describes how little significance they now hold. She expresses how women today often look the other way and don’t complain, they’re often just expected to view it as nothing. She states how normalised it is and how every woman has a different experience/story when it comes to sexism. Bates talks about her website and different social media platforms where other women can share their stories. Girls as young as five years old were starting to worry about their appearances. Girls that young should not have to care that deeply about their physical appearance. But, especially now, teen girls are constantly being over-sexualized and put into stereotypes. Social media is impacting and making girls feel as if they need to look a certain way to be considered beautiful or that their worth and value is only about their appeal.

Bates message in the end is the importance of changing the mindsets of people. This makes me think of how important it is to raise awareness on this issue. People often brush it off or say “you’re overreacting” when in reality, it is a real issue.

Abraham and Isaac

I knew of the story of Abraham and Isaac beforehand, having heard it from my parents and from the Jewish community that I went to back in California where I used to live. Re-reading this story I now remember that it was a test from God on Abraham to find out if he was faithful enough, or in the text’s words, “now I know that you fear god,-“ (12). The story of Abraham and Isaac may sound cruel however the old testament never made God out to be kind but instead the all-powerful and all-knowing who did what had to be done for the Israelites. Although there are many different interpretations on why God would make Abraham do such a horrific act. One interpretation is that it was a test and a statement showing that Judaism would stop the sacrifice of firstborns, unlike some other religions at the time.

Turning Pages

Turning Pages made me think about how the written word can lead someone’s life as the person is growing and reading all kinds of books. Like Sonia Sotomayor who since she was little, books helped her in her life not only for learning new things, but also in making her fear of needles disappear, cope with sadness, and choose a career. This made me realize that you do not just learn with books, books can help you to make decisions of your life based on the knowledge you acquire and the interests that you discover by reading books. I noticed in the way it is written that the author wrote it in short paragraphs and added some analogies.

Summer Reading Journal – Bartleby The Scrivener

To be completely honest I was not able to always fully understand what was happening at all times in this story, but from what I gathered it’s about Bartleby slowly becoming lazier and lazier not preferring to do tasks and eventually ended up living in a Wall Street office, and eventually finding Bartleby dead of starvation because he preferred not to eat. Because this text was very difficult for me to understand I didn’t spend much time inquiring about the meaning of everything more just trying to understand but reflecting on it, I had some thoughts at the end about what Bartleby could have struggled with, or what caused this, because during this time it was written people with mental illnesses weren’t treated the same they are today so maybe that’s why he couldn’t get the help, and even today there Is a huge stigma around mental Illness and people not reaching out so maybe that’s what the text was about, at least that’s what It made me think about.

Summer Reading Blog Post 21 September 2021

      Enough is Enough, by Laura Bates, is a blog article about sexism related issues, such as consent and image, that Bates along with many other blog users have experienced. Bates summarizes these accounts in her article explaining how this sexism happens to almost every woman, in almost every situation, and at any age. Bates also touched on the negligence and denial regarding sexism saying how it wasn’t just men who believed that sexism was no longer an issue but also a very significant portion of women. Bates found that the type of sexism varied with age, with women around 18 and above facing a world with less opportunities and more direct sexual abuse, and women 18 and below facing a world with a more passive version of sexual abuse (verbal) and appearance discrimination; there were, however, some sexist issues found throughout all ages of women and that had to do with consent. Her main point through her article is that “enough is enough” and that people need to change, not through any constitution or big change in the law, but change the way they think. This is a very powerful and progressive opinion especially for the time it was written, however, its message is important and has inspired many women to stand up against oppressive sexism both major and minor.

Huckleberry Finn

The first thing that stuck with me when reading the first chapter was what I think is a grammar mistake. Mark Twain wrote “There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”. I think it should be “There were things” not “There was things”. Another thing that I found confusing in this chapter was that the writer seems to be a character in a book, and he is describing eating dinner with the widow who was also in the book. When reading the last paragraph, I was confused once again. There were so many words it seemed almost overwhelming. I also did not know that killing a spider gives one bad luck.

Turning Pages

The extract Turning Pages written in a first-person narrative focuses on how books have influenced Sotomayor throughout his adolescence. A thought that came to my mind after reading this extract would be how predominant books are up until this day. It contains so much knowledge from the past which could be passed on to contemporary use. For instance, Sotomayor used a story from Jesus to show us how we shouldn’t be so quick to judge people who did wrong things, as sometimes, we humans make mistakes. This story not only taught him how he should treat other people but would soon play a role in him being a lawyer after university. After reading the extract, I noticed how Sotomayor tends to use similes, metaphors, and imagery in his writing. However, he is fonder of Metaphors, comparing books or the library to his values. Some examples include “The library was my harbor”, “Books were teachers” and “Books were lenses.” There were also occurrences of both metaphors and imagery throughout the extract, such as “I felt like I was drowning” and “Books were my snorkel and flippers,” respectively. Overall, I believe that books could be an authentic source of knowledge. However, due to the society’s technological development over the years, the internet also poses as a very favorable source of knowledge for me.

Enough is Enough

In the article “Enough is Enough”, Bates described her struggle with women’s rights. This has been an issue for me since I was 13 years old. I have restricted myself from food many times because I was concerned about my weight and wanted to fit in with society. I started comparing myself to the false beauty standard in the world. I often care about what other people think of me, of my body, of my looks. When I read this passage, it felt relatable. 

Turning Pages

Turning Pages: My Life Story, by Sonia Sotomayor, talks about the advantages of books and how reading can change your life to be more open to the world around you. She has written the story mostly in English and a couple of parts in Spanish, she had decided to use both languages since she “struggled to learn English” while also learning Spanish. It is understandable that languages are difficult to learn, learning a language takes effort, learning two languages takes determination. Sotomayor asks the question: “What was so special about books”? I feel that books allow us a chance to learn more. Books hold knowledge, and I feel that is what makes them special. “Reading was like lighting candles, each book a flame that lit up the world around me.” This line is perfect this it demonstrates how reading more and more books allows you to better understand the world. There are so many things we do not know, we ask out parents since they are wiser but books hold more knowledge, at least more specific knowledge. Meaning that while people may remember experiences the world or they have faced books tell is the facts, they make us questions things about the world as well, that is if we feel like questions a book… This reading try’s to inspire us to read more, to understand more about the world. To use what we have read to think about the world differently and to make connections. “Magic potion. Friend. Boat. Snorkel. Time machine. Launchpad. Lens. Teacher. Life preserver. Mirror. Map. Key” (p. 5). The writer writes like a child sometimes, however, this allows us to relate, as students we lack knowledge about the world, knowledge which can change our thinking towards how the world works. This reading is an inspiration as it seeks to help us grow and build healthy habits by reading.

“In a Grove” Response Blog Post (WDolan)

This story is sad, but it covers multiple global issues. Problems such as some men’s desire for women, inability to understand other people’s cultures, and the meaning of life. I was intrigued by the authors idea to include a medium to interpret the last thoughts of the murdered man. I wonder whether she wanted to spark confusion or questions about whether the medium was credible or accurate.

Summer Reading Response: Gaston

In “Gaston,” William Saroyan displays how anthropocentrism and realism can work together to eliminate empathy for living creatures and other people. In this piece, we follow a young girl who is visiting her father in Paris. From the nature of this visit, we can clearly see that this girl lives primarily with her mother in New York. Immediately, Saroyan depicts the contrast between her mother and father’s parenting styles. Her father seems to be a dreamer; he appears to be down to earth, connected to nature, and laid back. Her mother, on the other hand, seems to be a realist; she is city-oriented, she frowns upon her ex’s “foolishness”, and she prioritizes humans over other species. Since the little girl is used to being around her mother, she initially sees Gaston as her mother would—she sees it as a gross, inferior bug. However, after her father personifies the bug and calls it “Gaston, the grand boulevardier” (p. 2), she grows to admire and respect it. Unfortunately, her mother then calls the little girl, and convinces her that Gaston is just a “horrible peach bug of some kind” (p. 4) and that her father is foolish. Not only does this negatively impact the daughter’s relationship with her father, but it alters her perspective on living creatures. She starts to take an anthropocentric view on the bug—she treats it as inferior and squishes it. In doing so, she is showing a lack of empathy towards this bug, and also towards her father. In our society, we have developed egotistical ideas that humans are superior to all living creatures. In reality, every species is doing its part to protect and respect the ecosystem they live in—except for humans. All animals, whether a whale or an insect, have a role to play. However, in our colonialist, capitalist, western society, humans have decided that they are supreme beings. When this girl’s father introduced her to this bug, he was attempting to restore her intrinsic relationship with living creatures, as well as her relationship with him. Despite those efforts, she was influenced by her mother to dismiss Gaston and her father. This anthropocentrism serves as a metaphor for her relationship with her father; she admires and respects her father when they bond, but then dismisses him when her mother acts as if she’s the superior parent. Ultimately, this piece exemplifies the toxicity that emerges from beliefs of superiority.

Summer Reading: In A Grove by Akutagawa

It makes me think about the effect it has when more than one person knows your shame and the bad side of you, like how it can eat you up inside, ex. In this story the wife doesn’t want both men to share the pain so she kills him, the robber kills him, and he kills himself. I don’t really the know who actually killed him. Why does the wife care so much about shame? Where is the wife now? Why didn’t the wife or the robber take the horse to run away easier? It’s written like a stenographer and probably through all the interrogations they had the person typing this all out, with a new header for a different person and the text they said following afterwards.

Summer Reading: “Why Are We Cruel?” by Roger Ebert

                 Why Are We Cruel? by Roger Ebert Uses Art, such as the movie “Tatian The Mill and The Cross” and “The Fall of Icarus” to examine why humans are cruel?’ And ‘why are humans able to distance themselves from cruelty?’ Our worlds current capitalistic society tends to breed selfishness. Though, this example of cruelty for gain. Similar to Hebert’s reference to killing in nature, it is “usually for food, dominant or territory.” Our common day interaction of malice intention aligns with this in biological and societal standards of action. Unlike animals, humans’ infliction of suffering is less direct. We can desensitize and not observe the harm we indirectly caused. Humans’ narcissistic tendencies and ability to reason allows us to make huge differentiation within our species. We separate ourselves into groups. ‘It wasn’t my country; it wasn’t my race, it wasn’t my family, it wasn’t me.’ This differentiation can vary drastically in size, but this detachment allows for individuals to separate themselves from others doings, excusing others actions in the hopes to protect their own sense of empathy and ego. Socially authorizing them to go “about their daily affairs, most (…) unaware of the great event that is taking place.” As for why individuals are cruel without an obvious gain and excluding the dampening pressures “of an army, a gang or a mob….” I am unsure. The differentiation between death and suffering is what I would consider the defining difference between man and animal. Particularly the concern of “…why suffering is so often considered to be necessary before death.” This is where I think there’s a difference between the commonality of human’s malicious intentions and cruelty. The intent of seeking revenge, protecting oneself or others, political or economic gain, when suffering is caused with those intentions, though no less excusable, there is a slight sense of reason. Humans’ ability to reason allows us to question what we consider unanswerable: death. This question leads the tone to most people’s lives, and whether truth is reachable is unknown but poses the larger question of what problems it solves or creates. Whether you are religious or not, the end remains a question. My only reasoning around this necessary suffering before death is that it is our last taste of humanity. Consider suffering before death a final moment to embrace the torment of life; humanity. Because no matter the anguish experienced, it is nothing compared to the endless void that awaits.

SUMMER READING RESPONSE: Heart Of Darkness (excerpt)

HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad

At the beginning of this literary excerpt, we are given the description of 6 men who are in chains, with limbs as thin as branches and eyes as dead as night, we can assume these men are slaves, but as the description continues, it turns out that they are prisoners. The way the author focused the beginning description of these men could lead to assume that the author is intending to see what kind of mentality his readers have, whether they are prejudice or simply open-minded.

(My extra notes for this assignment)

In many literary pieces, we tend to see a type of pattern with the author’s form of writing and their intent to move their audience through the intense description of moments that might cause them to feel “uncomfortable”. This propels one’s need to continue reading on and truly understand the reasoning behind giving said description.

-Viji Pirani

Summer reading response: Bartleby the Scrivener

Bartleby the Scrivener was shocking to read. I was engaged in the role of the narrator, and I too, became confused, angry, and felt pity. Bartleby is determined to commit a “passive suicide” the moment he showed up at Wall Street. The character makes no mentions of his past, his future expectances, and keeps his basic needs to the very bare minimum. When he was first assigned the job of a scrivener, he worked the longest hours. If assuming he came from the Death Letter Office and has a severe depression, then this could be his attempt at creating a remedy for himself. To me, he shows no will to live. The narrator makes a hint, “I might give alms to his body; but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul I could not reach.” For a character that shuts himself in his “hermitage,” he no longer wishes to own anything or have connections with anyone. It also made me think about the job of a Scrivener. How much they resembled printing machines today! How could anyone be happy in a life like this? I have nothing much more to say about the condition of Bartleby. I feel that the entire story is actually involved around the reactions of the narrator. The narrator remains anonymous and tells the story through a first-person perspective, which made me engage in it as if I was the narrator. The story isn’t only about how peculiar Bartleby is, it also includes many details I think are worth examining. These include the narrator’s interpretations of the office environment, his irritation towards the pitiful Bartleby, how his ego intertwined with his sympathy, and his mental debate about moral values such as charity. It is such a complex story (and in such a short length)!

 

Summer Reading: Enough is Enough

In the article “Enough is Enough” Bates describes her struggles with women’s rights. Throughout reading the article, I related to the issues and pressures that the women had to face. An issue that resonates with me is the lack of sexual education. I believe that if the schools take more accountability surrounding that topic, it can create change for the multiple other issues. Going to an IB school, I expected that we would have received sexual education the same as public school or even better. But to my surprise, I didn’t get an education on that topic. The closest thing I could call “sexual education” would be biology class learning about the reproductive system. It’s just disappointing that there wasn’t more effort to educate the students about these important issues, especially because of the school’s participation in Model United Nations, where we frequently cover women’s rights around the world. We even had one debate where Iceland (me) and Canada created a list of topics that should be included in sexual education. The list had a large range, from child marriage to workplace harassment. It’s just funny to think that we created this list and gave a presentation to result in nothing. 

Another big issue that was mentioned in the article was the over-sexualization of younger girls. This is a huge topic that I have been researching in my own time because growing up I often felt like I had curated my outfits to be considered “sexier” or “hotter”. Today, we no longer have that “awkward phase”, where in middle school you were just ugly or uncool, but it was never a big deal because everyone was. No one had their life figured out because there wasn’t a need for anyone, too. Through social media, we have lost that very important phase, where now young girls and boys are growing up too fast. Caring too much about things that they shouldn’t need to worry about. This does impact both genders, however, I feel that in society there is more pressure on girls. They are shown images of beautiful woman, makeup tutorials, and all the tricks to become your “best self”. Then once these children follow them and try to emulate these women, they are scolded and ridiculed for growing up too fast or trying too hard. But what do we expect? Either way, they are trapped, of either the humiliation of their peers or emotional abuse from the world around them. I just hope one day, younger girls are given a break and can just experience life without the pressure.