Comedian’s Debut

image3[59]

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep…is not your typical Perks of Being a Wallflower high school story. I love Perks but honestly I wish I had this book in high school instead. High school angst, the trials of being a social outcast, finding a friend just like you and just a hint of science fiction thrown in.

If you are fan or follower of comedy than you are probably already familiar with DC Pierson, member of Derrick Comedy and appeared with them on sketches for CollegeHumor. Watch anything even remotely funny and there is a chance that DC is in it somewhere. When his first book was released in 2010, I was pretty surprised. I figured at first that it would be a book about his career in Comedy, anecdotes about writing skits and being featured in an improv group. Nope, it’s fiction. Once I heard that, I was ready to give it a try.

Once I picked up this book however, I realized that I didn’t have to try. I almost completed it in one sitting. The story is simple and intriguing at the same time.

image2[58]

Darren Bennett is that run of the mill High School nerd, likes to draw and definitely doesn’t have anything to do with girls. He spends his time in class drawing up elaborate characters and putting pen to paper. We all knew someone like Darren in High School so it’s easy to drudge up an image of the character in your mind. When he meets Eric Lederer, there is an instant connection between the two of them. They spend more and more time together, coming up with their own epic SciFi Fantasy comic series and spending little time apart.

From the very beginning it almost seems like it’s just your run of the mill teen story about friendship – which it can be but then the book takes a wonderful turn. Eric confides in Darren and tells him his deepest secret; as the title of the book suggests, he had never slept and doesn’t have to. Why? How? Darren wants answers and doesn’t know how to get them. He is curious as to whether that is as far as Eric’s abilities go or is it just a precursor to something more.

The farther you go in the book; the hairier things get for both main characters. You have “The Man” trying to get to Eric and you have their friendship being pulled in multiple different directions. The struggle of emotion you experience with Darren the entire book is something incredibly relatable. Especially if you were that kind of kid in Middle School or High School. It shows the cruelty of other kids of that age group towards Nerds, Weird Kids or Art Geeks. Reading such an open interpretation of male friendships during that time of their lives is also kind of refreshing. At first there is nothing openly macho about their friendship – just two boys who enjoy Fantasy and comic books and drawing; coming up with epic tales and putting them to paper. No judgement, just enjoyment.

When I finished the book, I wanted more. What happened to them? It is such an open-ended finish, which I love. I can come up with my own happy ending and no one can tell me not to, or tell me that that isn’t how it ended. You don’t know what happens to the both of them, you can only imagine.

There had always been a soft spot in my heart for Young Adult novels. I tried too hard and too young to read books that were much more ahead of my level. When I was in fifth grade I read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Did I like it? Sure. Did I get it? Absolutely not. So when I started to actually read books that were written for people my age, I was hooked. I related to these characters, we were going through the same things. Even though this book came out well after I was out of high school, I still remember those feelings and those conflicts and it makes me feel closer to the characters. No matter how much older I get, I will always read and support YA novels. Except Twilight, because – come on.

Whether you’re familiar with his comedy or with his writing, I definitely suggest checking out this quick and interesting read. I know it’s not like any other teen novel that you have ever read before. John Green, eat your heart out.

image1[57]

Comedian’s Debut

A Series Unlike

I definitely wouldn’t claim to be a perfect resource on all things literary. I’ve read a lot of beloved books and disliked them. I’ve read some book series out of spite, just so I felt I could be well informed when I told people what I didn’t like about them. I have gone through phases in life where I got more enjoyment out of reading fan-fiction than anything that was being published. I feel like a lot of avid readers behave in much the same way, just not everyone talks about it. I’ve met people who dismiss novels or series’ just on the fact that everyone else likes them so much. I do try to challenge those people, pick up the book – try it. There may be a reason it’s so popular; emphasis on the ‘may’ because I’ve read all of the Twilight books, so I know for a fact that they are garbage.

One series that I do like to suggest to people first, whether they enjoy fantasy or not is Lord of the Rings. It felt only fitting that my true first book suggestion would be one of the first books I was ever introduced to. Long before Harry Potter ever hit my bookshelf, Lord of the Rings stood, as it does today, on the top shelf at home.

tolkien

My love of books I know, was inherited by my Grandmother, who loved the written word almost as much as she did her Grandchildren and a lover of Fantasy above all other genres. She believed wholeheartedly in ghosts, supernatural forces and she believed especially in MAGIC. Something I inherited as well. However, as much as she instilled in me a love of books, my love of reading and imagination can be attributed to my Grandfather on my Mom’s side, Verne.

I must have been at around the age of 10 or 11 when I first heard the words of J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, heard them, because my Grandpa read them out loud to his Grand-kids. In all honesty, I don’t think I understood too much of the story at the time, it was so detailed and so long and I was so entranced by my Grandpa reading in these voices that he created. Voices for Gandalf, Frodo and even Saruman; and in-between all the dialogue he would set up the scenes playing out in his own gentle, raspy voice. I loved that summer in Phoenix and went back home to my parents with a new goal:

To read read read read read. Absorb all the Fantasy that I could get my hands on. I already knew that I enjoyed things like Knights, Dragons and Wizards but I never knew that their storybook worlds could be so FULL. That there could be so much detail to the worlds, the languages, the distinct cultures and the drama. I needed it all – thankfully my parents responded by buying for me the series collection that you can see in the photo above.

noice

I have to admit that I am sometimes a bit shocked when people that I know to read Fantasy tell me that they have never read Lord of the Rings (LotR). J.R.R. Tolkien, being regarded as the Father of Modern Fantasy, I always just assume that the series would be their go-to. Maybe they’ve seen the movies…watched that old Hobbit cartoon? Everyone knows that old “…not all those who wander are lost…” quote that gets overused on Instagram (do people even realize that that’s from Fellowship of the Ring?) It could be a combination of all these things that made them decide that it wasn’t for them, for whatever reason they’ve left it off their reading list. If you have, I would like to try and change your mind.

The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow if I can, 

Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.

The Lord of the Rings takes place in fantastical Middle Earth, which is home to many races of Man, Dwarf, Elf and Hobbit. Some ruling in power and some ruling in peace. The main protagonist of the story is the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who is gifted a ring by his uncle. The secrets and history of the ring are far-reaching and Frodo comes to learn that many evil Men and beyond would love to get their hands on this ring. The One Ring, the Ring of Power. With aid of his mentor, Gandalf and his Hobbit companions, Pippin, Merry and Samwise, he leaves on a quest to seek advise of the Elves. In the Elvish city of Rivendell it is decided that the ring must be destroyed so that no evil can get a hold of its power. There, a Fellowship is assembled, much like the Medieval equivalent of the Avengers, to destroy the One Ring. The epic continues throughout the years of the Fellowship traversing Middle-Earth, encountering aid from others, doing battle with Orcs or other agents of Sauron.

As the story moves on, members of the Fellowship become separated, so there are several story lines going on at once, which only give the story more depth. Although they are separated from Frodo and Sam and their quest with the ring, you see how each grouping is still working towards the common goal; to destroy the ring. You meet new characters along the way, learn more and more about the history of Middle Earth and it’s inhabitants. You learn about who and how the Ring was made, what it’s original purpose was. It really is masterful storytelling, the story is so detailed that no stone is left upturned. Tolkien had an answer for everything.

To truly appreciate the books is to appreciate the man. There has been decades of speculation about the origin of the ideas that birthed LotR. A lot of critics say it’s an allegory for Tolkien’s experiences during World War I, some say it’s an allegory for his aversion towards the industrialization of rural England. Tolkien himself never came out and said it was a retelling of anything, he told press and readers alike that it was open for their creative interpretation. Tolkien claimed that mythology was ‘the divine echo of the truth’, which I believe can be seen throughout LotR. The morality tales that one usually find in myths and legends are usually reflective of the authors own morals and a lot of these tales live within the story of the One Ring. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, you can see overall themes of this within the story; though he isn’t as heavy handed as his friend and counter-part C.S. Lewis. He was a true purveyor of an old literary style of writing, which is what I believe puts most people off. People don’t write like this anymore, people don’t write like they are philologists. Oftentimes there are long winded chapters about people, celebrations or adventures that seem to have nothing to do with the story, but it does. If you could get past that, you could truly begin appreciating this series for what it is. Magical.

return of the king

I re-read the series in High School, hoping that I could get something new out of it. I did. I failed P.E. but I found a new appreciation for the books. For the man who wrote them. Learning about the era in which he wrote them. About the Inklings, which were a way cooler and more sophisticated version of the Beat Generation. I immersed myself in the lore, the community. I spent time in class sketching elves and wishing I was reading instead of my sterile classroom. I wore tweed and elbow patches for God’s sake! I started reading his other works, stories within the same world that Christopher Tolkien has published after his father’s death. My Dad gave me a book that my Grandmother had left me, a tiny book with a Dragon on the front: Farmer Giles of Ham. Published around the time of the Hobbit, just a fun little story of a tubby farmer who unwittingly became the hero of his town. Suddenly having the book instantly made me feel close to my Grandma, who at this point had passed away years before I held the book in my hands.

tattoo giles

I felt close to her. Reminded me that a lot of her interests and her beliefs were instilled in me, her favorite Granddaughter. Books can invoke these kinds of feelings. In this series I feel DeeAnn and I hear Verne. Obviously not every book or book series that I talk about on this blog is going to be that intense. I don’t have those kinds of feelings with every single book that I read but it felt it important that I start with one that does. If you like High-Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction or even if you only spend your days reading Buzzfeed – I suggest highly that you read The Lord of the Rings.

tolkien2

Not a lot of things deserve attention like Tolkien does.

Shan

A Series Unlike

Classic introduction.

FullSizeRender

As long as I can remember I have always had a love for books. Everyone knew it, understood my love before I did. My Grandmother DeeAnn, who died when I was still very young – left me books to inherit when I got older. Somehow seeing my love for books even before I did. I love sharing books with people, love hearing their opinions on my favorite books – even if we disagree.

In that same vein I’m not a huge fan of lending my books out to people, because I never seem to get them back. I thought this would be an interesting way to suggest books, review them and hopefully get reading suggestions from others. Let’s enjoy some books together…

The stories we love best do live in us forever. – JK Rowling

Classic introduction.