Living on a Dying Planet

At the end of January, while reading The Overstory, I took a vacation to Turks and Caicos with my best friend. I didn’t know beforehand, but the island actually has the third-largest barrier reef in the world (behind Australia and Belize, both of which I’ll visit someday). After a relaxing first day on the beach, we decided to book a boat tour the next morning to go snorkeling.

Wow.

Talk about being worth it.

I had decided at the beginning of the year that my non-literary resolution for 2020 would be to go green; I want to do my part to help this beautiful world that provides me such experiences as snorkeling in Turks and Caicos. With all of the colors, beauty, awe, and insight into so many life forms I could never understand, this adventure not only reinforced my resolution, but it sparked a need to do my part. Ironically, at the same time, Richard Powers’ The Overstory, a fictional tale about nine characters who become obsessed with saving the world’s trees, bolstered this new-found desire. Sustainability was no longer an option for me after reading this novel. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: That’s the power of literature.

The Overstory

No filter needed.

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Better Run, Better Run

Sometimes I struggle to watch TV and movies with my partner, Kyle. He’s a skeptic and negative Nancy, especially when I watch mindless television. He likes to mock characters and make comments about how unrealistic things are. This generally leads to glares and eye-rolling on my part. Just let me enjoy it (even if you are right 90% of the time)!

Recently, I’ve noticed a shift. I’m the one calling out anachronisms or impossibilities and making fun of characters’ dialogue and thought processes. It’s like his craving for logic and reason has rubbed off on me — something he declared a few weeks ago with slight horror on his face.

It’s even filtered into books. In the most recent novel I read, The Dancing Girls, I found myself judging the detective skills of the main character and questioning if certain actions were even possible. If you’re wondering how a book that provokes those thoughts can still obtain three flames, I understand your confusion. Fortunately, for me, M.M. Chouinard kept me intrigued enough to not let my critical and skeptical inclinations completely influence my opinion.

The Dancing Girls

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No More Counting Dollars

This blog loves Jojo Moyes. She first captured my attention four years ago when she created the great Louisa Clark in Me Before You. Three books and one movie later thanks to this lovely character and her series, and I was convinced that anything Moyes wrote would be my type of novel.

Her latest, The Giver of Stars, steers from her traditional style in all ways except one: strong female characters. Moyes’ 2019 novel gives us not one but an entire group of powerful women who go after what they want. But what about all the other ways, including the cover art, this novel varies from the Moyes’ literature that made her so popular? When authors stray from what defines them, it’s certainly a risk. Did the risk pay off in this instance?

The Giver of Stars II

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Toe to Toe: Friday Night Lights

America loves its Friday nights on the gridiron. Small towns showing up to the stands in droves as they cheer on their teams of young boys with big dreams. It’s quintessential Americana. It loves it so much that, when a nonfiction book was published about it (along with many other sociological themes) in 1989, a movie by the same name premiered 15 years later and a TV show two years after that. They both starred the great Connie Britton, so you know they have reach and power.

Yes, Friday Night Lights and everything it represents and demonstrates has become ingrained in American culture. Clearly, we’re all a little obsessed with high school football. But with three types of media focused on this theme, which one does Big Little Literature love most?

Although I’ve also watched the television series, that was five years ago, and my memory necessitates more time to relive the show than the movie. So we’re going to narrow our focus a bit. Friday Night Lights, it’s time to go toe to toe: book versus movie.

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Don’t Let my Dreams Run Dry

I very distinctly remember a Friday night when I was 11 years old like it was yesterday. The cross-town rival was playing my sister’s high school’s football team on a rainy, dreary, and cold night in late fall. I went to the game with my dad and brother, and we along with my sister had been talking up this game all week. This was the year Herculaneum High School was going to beat the Festus Tigers under those Friday night lights.

Due to the nasty weather, the game was delayed. My father, trying to be a responsible parent, said we should leave after waiting for what felt like hours for it to begin. Dressed in ponchos yet still drenched, we reached the parking lot when we heard buzzers and beeps announcing that play would begin. The three of us looked at each other, smiled, and said, “Let’s do it!” We ran back to the bleachers to watch the Blackcats pounce the Tigers. I didn’t go to either school but could still feel the excitement wash over me as the rain poured down and the ‘cats clenched the W.

The year was 2003, and I was obsessed with Blackcat football and all of the “hot” players on the team that year. I seriously wrote their names on my notebook as if someday I would have a chance with one of them. (Trust me, I too laugh at this now.) But these types of memories are the ones that build up football programs with an urgency, power, and nostalgia that other sports and other aspects of small-time life just cannot compete with. And this was with small schools in the Midwest. Can you imagine the fervor if it belonged in a West Texas community? You don’t have to because H.G. Bissinger gives us exactly that in one of the best sports books ever written: Friday Night Lights.

Friday Night Lights

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2020 Resolutions

Resolutions definitely guided my reading choices in 2019. Even if I didn’t fully succeed, I was at least conscious of them while picking out some of the books I read. I’d like to keep on this resolution road because it’s changed my mind about memoirs, forced me to think about diversity when choosing authors, and influenced me to dabble in other genres. (I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give resolution-making the credit for five straight years of flossing every day.)

This year, though, rather than thinking about the types of books I want to read, I’m focusing my resolutions on my baby, Big Little Literature. My greatest joy is sharing my thoughts and feelings about books with you all, so for 2020, I want to think of new ways (and revisit some old ones) on how to grow our community and improve the BLL experience. Check out my 2020 resolutions below.

2020 Books

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2019 Resolution Review

Let’s look at my specs for the year. In 2019, I:

  • Read 10,904 pages across 31 books — thanks, Goodreads!
  • Averaged 351 pages per book.
  • Explored 10 different genres with contemporary fiction winning most popular.
  • Only read one author more than once — Kristin Hannah.
  • Read five two-flame books (more than the number of the previous year-and-a-half) and six three-flame books.
  • But I also had the joy of experiencing 11 books with four flames, and nine garnered a whole five flames. I’d call that a success!

But how did I do with the resolutions I set for myself in January? Let’s see how I scored (and check out the books I said I’d read at the beginning of the year in the picture below and compare them to my fully ranked list of 2019).

2019 Resolutions

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