Narration, Authorship, and Memorial in John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”

(This post contains spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars… also, I wrote this as part of my application for MFA programs in spring 2017—and it worked!) Upon a first read, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2012) might seem to be chiefly concerned with death. Indeed, the gut-wrenching novel about star-crossed teens is filled with morbidity and mortality—it has to be, for it is about terminal cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster, bright and practical, knows that sand is falling through the hourglass of her short life. There’s no question that she will die, it’s when she will, likely when the miracle drug trial she is on fails to work or loses funding or she contracts an illness that would fatally cripple her compromised immune system. When Hazel meets Augustus Waters, aka Gus, at a church-basement support group for kids with cancer, she is intrigued by his easygoing-yet-blunt attitude. Gus smashes the defense-mechanism cage where Hazel guards her love and trust captive. Earlier Grace confessed to her mother that, “I’m like. Like. I’m a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” (Green 99). Later, Gus...

How Reading Multiple Books at Once Cured My Reading Slump

For much of the past few years, I usually only read one book at once. I rarely quit a book. I told myself it was about focus, that I could only fixate my reading energy on one story at a time. That kind of concentration was sure to help me finish books faster. And besides, sticking with one book for a while even if I thought it was blah or even awful would surely make me finish more books than if I abandoned them all. Once I was 20, 30 pages in, surrendering would mean I had lost those pages, possibly more than a tenth of a book. And if I wanted to read more, and if I wanted to come closer to reaching my Goodreads and personal reading challenge goals, giving up was not an option. However, also for most of the past few years I have been in one gigantic reading slump. There were many factors that contributed to this. One would be the shift from reading for fun and pleasure into reading for work (or school). Suddenly, I went from choosing books based on whims and wanderlust to reading like a pro. It was my dream, to read...

My Best Books of 2016

Last year I decided to make 2016 new releases my guiding light in what I would order, read, and write about this year. To a large extent, I followed this quest. Many of the books I have read (more than half) were published this year. I thought this would make me more current, that I’d be like a “real” critic who had books to review every week and could say with complete authority that the best books of the year were indeed the best books of the year. I’m not so sure that was the best choice for me as I feel like I missed out on some of the backlist. Regardless, it has helped me get a better picture of books that were published this year. So, here I am, staring down late-December and the New Year, and confident with my choices. These are the Broke By Books Best Book of 2016. Here are my 10 best books published in 2016: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Literary fiction) book is not perfect. It’s a little messy, and some elements seem like kind of a reach. But it is the book that gave me immense hope for the author’s...

Christmas-Themed Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction – Updated 2016

A few years ago, I stumbled down the rabbit hole of a Goodreads list devoted to Christmas-themed Chick Lit Novels. I am a sucker for a good romance, and anything British, so I ordered a good four or five novels from The Book Depository to be sent over here to my American doorstep (Many of those novels were not published in paperback here in the US.) I spent many a magical evening soaking up these whimsical, spirited stories. I especially loved the ones set in small towns or villages. I was going through a pretty rough depression at the time, too, so these comforting reads not only put me in the season but also lifted my mood. They were even better than Love Actually because I could savor them slowly, and there was an almost endless supply. Even after Christmas was over, I kept an eagle eye watching Book Depository for sales on Christmas-themed chick lit and also possible new Christmas chick lit published in 2016. Now here we are, with December right around the corner, and I’ve got the best of the best holiday chick lit novels for you with buying options in the US and international. I write to...

The Best Long Books to Savor in Fall and Winter

It just took me a whole month to finish a book—Jonathan Franzen’s Great American Novel, Freedom—and man, what a great way to slide into fall. That and tea: lots and lots of tea. Fall is my favorite season of year, closely followed by Christmas (and yes, I count that as a season, not a holiday!). I have a side to me known as “The Elf,” and the Elf enjoys a spirit of generosity, cheer, and spontaneous good deeds. The Elf goes into high gear around October 1 through December 31. Many crafts are undertaken, many ambitious baked goods and complicated soups are crafted in my kitchen, and I start another scarf I won’t finish. And of course, the fall and winter are perfect excuses to stay inside—all readers know this. I enjoyed how Freedom transported me from humid mid-September to the breezy, crisp mid-October, the chill of the AC morphed into the chilly air from my window. And so, I have been feeling a return to long novels. A few years ago, I read The Goldfinch, Outlander, and Flowers from the Storm all in a span of a few months. I was hooked on the bigger-is-better theory and read—or, let’s be honest, only acquired—many huge tomes, but...

Greetings Fellow Reader!

Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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