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 to Stay Connected to the Book World While Homebound

Because I have a chronic illness that can be debilitating, I have spent some time during the past few years homebound. I work remotely, so I’m home a lot of the time anyway, but when my bipolar illness is acting up I barely feel up to leaving the house. This often means no libraries, no bookstores, and no book club. With ebooks and home book delivery from online retailers, one is never at a loss for accessing books. But obtaining books is perhaps not the biggest challenge for those confined to their homes. For bookworms who are unable to leave their house, it can often feel lonely, especially if you, like many readers, feel energized by being around books and talking to others about them. But being homebound does not have to be isolating, especially not in the age of the Internet and expanded library outreach services. Just because you or someone you care about is unable to leave the house does not mean the bookish world is out of reach entirely. Here are some of my favorite ways to still soak up conversation in the reading world, reach the world beyond my house, and feel connected to fellow bookworms....

Book Review of “Joe Gould’s Teeth” by Jill Lepore

I have never really been a nonfiction person. Part of it is, I just love fiction. I’m fascinated by storytelling, dramatic structure, conflict, tension, and the hero’s journey. Real life, it’s always seemed, just isn’t full of that stuff. How can you manipulate reality—facts, data, artifacts, things that are evidence of what really happened—into a compelling story that is just as riveting as something written by Donna Tartt or Stephen King or Zadie Smith? Devouring Jill Lepore’s  one night in one sitting is pushing me on the path of nonfiction. In this book review of Jill Lepore’s , I’ll tell you all about how this slim book-length essay dug into the facts and crafted a suspenseful, moving, and dramatic narrative exploring medical ethics and the literary world in general. Premise In the 1940s, infamous New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote a profile in the magazine about a man named Joe Gould. A writer, a sociologist, an historian, Joe Gould brushed elbows with some of the most renowned authors and artists of the Modernist movement. He counted Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Millen Brand, and more as his friends. Most notably, Gould called himself an oral historian because he was working on his magnum...

Book Review of Kenneth Oppel’s “The Nest”

Last weekend I did the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, a twice-yearly, one-day reading marathon. It was my first time participating, and I really didn’t know what to expect. But I needed some momentum with my reading, and I also wanted to show solidarity with fellow book bloggers, librarians, writers, and readers. I learned that the key was to have a huge pile of books pre-selected for the occasion so that once you finished a book, it required virtually no decision-making to find another one to read. It was simply a matter of looking at the pile and selecting a book you felt like reading at the time. In the end, I read four books. Four books in 24-hours. They included “Lumberjanes, Vol. 2”, “Wytches”,” “Audacity, and the novel I’m going to talk to you about today, “The Nest”. When I finished “The Nest” sometime before noon, I felt shaken, shattered with how much it teased out some of my secret fears and anxieties. As a person with a disability/chronic illness, its themes were immediate to issues I have with my identity as a “sick kid.” It was a nearly upsetting read, but ultimately, it made me feel hopeful and helped me...

Reading and Bipolar Disorder | Tips and Advice for Bipolar Readers

When it comes to reading, bipolar disorder is definitely a mixed bag. Let me give you some background on my reading history post-diagnosis and offer some tips and advice for reading when bipolar. Reading with bipolar disorder can present an obstacle, but it can definitely be overcome. A little personal history of reading with bipolar disorder When I was in college, starting in freshman year, I found it so hard to read. I had such difficulty concentrating on anything, a product of the lithium and later Seroquel. I would stare at sentences, my eyes barely able to glaze over the words on the page, and ultimately retaining nothing. Student Disability Services worked with me by running the books through some kind of scanner, which would then convert the text into an auto speech-to-text so I had an audiobook version to listen to as I read. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I relied on Spark Notes all too often. What’s worse, I was an English major, with a concentration on Victorian literature—aka long, looong books by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Wilkie Collins. After graduation, I slowly resurfaced (especially after going off Seroquel) and, with no syllabi to restrict my reading...

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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