Book Discussion: The Sunflower​ by Simon Wiesenthal

*THIS WAS A SUMMER READING ESSAY*

Literature is often used to express moral issues. Through stories, audiences have the ability to reflect on their ethics and values. In The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal, the main character is faced with an important internal conflict: should he forgive a Nazi for the mass murder of his religion?

Wiesenthal begins his book by telling the story of how he was brought to a dying Nazi’s bedside. He explains the hardships faced at the concentration camp to explain why forgiveness is hard to grant. By using harsh tones to describe the Nazis’ behavior, Wiesenthal reveals why the Nazi’s request causes an internal conflict. Ultimately, Wiesenthal decides, rather than forgiveness, to remain silent. Silence poses as a neutral response to the Nazi’s apology. The response leads to a question: was that the correct choice?

The second half of the novel is written by 53 writers of different backgrounds. Each person represented has a different belief system and values. Wiesenthal’s response to the Nazi allows for the other people to question what their decision would be. Each of the 53 writers states their beliefs on the subject and how they would have responded. Even though this story is focused on the Holocaust, the reflections of the 53 writers can be used in any situation. It is eventually shown that this project is not just about the Nazis but also forgiving people in general. Wiesenthal’s novel allows readers to question their moral values.

Overall, the book is an insightful look at who readers are in a moral perspective. Readers reflect on how forgiving they are and it allows them to fully understand compassion.

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Can Reading Help Solve Conflicts

For  the past few months, I have seen a lot of negativity in certain aspects of my life. I have noticed drama where I have been a bystander to various conflicts. Noticing these events, I have realized, that even though I am only seventeen, my ability to resolve conflicts is substantially better than some of my peers. The reasoning behind this, I believe, is that reading has taught me empathy.

One thing I have realized through these arguments is that the people refuse to understand other points of view. They believe that there can only be one person who is completely right instead on understanding that no one is every fully without fault. People rarely consider the actions of other people and their reasons behind them.

Through reading I have began to see people with more dimension. I understand that people’s ethics, thoughts, emotions, and even previous experiences contribute to how people act. Even by reading about the antagonists of stories, I began to understand that their actions have deeper meanings.

For example, in Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Warner is perceived as the antagonist for the first two books. Mafi initially expresses him harshly which results in the audience to view him negatively. Throughout the story, readers begin to learn about his life which explains his motives. By the end of the series, most of Shatter Me‘s fans prefer Warner rather than the actual protagonist.

Reading gives insight into how humans live. Readers are  enlightened with the concept that there is more to humans than their actions and reactions. Understanding feelings and ethics that people possess grants readers compassion. Reading about various lives expresses that we aren’t all the same-especially by how we feel and act.

Another thing that reading has helped me understand is that arguments are not one-dimensional. There are many factors that contribute into conflicts rather than the primary story. Sometimes, previous encounters or missed communication contribute more to a conflict than the actual reason. However, when more people get involved in an argument, it’s easier to focus on whose side to go toward rather than to understand that there is more to a story. Because people want support, they will recount their story to benefit themselves which allows bystanders, people who should never be involved in the first place, to engage in propaganda. Because people want to win their argument, despite whether the argument involves them, they will fight for their belief by speaking out which only creates a bigger argument.  In the end, the only thing we neglect is that there is always more to the story than what we perceive.

Through reading, the audience follows the plot where they see everything that contributes to the conflict. They get a deeper understanding of how the conflict is formed and resolved. The audience understands that there is never a single action that causes arguments but various factors.

Overall, I believe that humans refuse to acknowledge that other people are equally as flawed as them. Also, they refuse to acknowledge that actions are performed by feelings and motives which are typically not sinister. When people refuse to acknowledge these factors, arguments between a few people turn into wars with many people who should have never been involved.

BookCon For Beginners: Part 2

It’s that time of year again! For the people who are unaware of what “that time” is, it is when BookCon is close and many newcomers are prepping for their first time. BookCon can be best described as a beautiful chaos. The event is incredible and allows you to create many amazing memories, however, if you are ill prepared, you will not enjoy the event. Conventions, like BookCon, are not something that you can simply arrive at and hope for the best. The events require some knowledge and planning. Luckily, this being my third time attending, I am here to help you!

If you are familiar with my blog, you may have noticed that I had a similar post last year. Also, I had weekly posts leading up to the event to help you fully prepare. Because those posts were so popular and helpful, I decided to recreate them this year and include some new tips. Because BookCon is a primarily new convention, they are continuing to improve so my posts will be different from the originals. If you all enjoy this post, let me know and feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have about BookCon!

Though a rolling bad is not necessarily needed, it could be a massive help!

At BookCon, you will get plenty of books. As you all know, books are heavy. Carrying many books with only a few tote bags is complete hell. If you want to save your back and arms, put a rolling bag in coat check. NO ROLLING BAGS CAN BE ON THE SHOW FLOOR, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT INTO COAT CHECK!!

Do not over plan!!

I did this, too. I thought that I could be at five places at one time. Unfortunately, I was completely wrong. I am going to state the sad truth, you will not make it to half of your events if you over plan (especially if they require a wristband). For autographing area signings, you have to be in line AT LEAST an hour before it starts. It does not matter whether you buy a book or not. Despite BookCon stating that you need a book purchase, a purchased book does not mean that you will be able to get it signed. So, if you are planning on buying a book and showing up ten minutes before the signing, you have a slim chance of that happening.

Also, unless you are a VIP, you need to be super early for popular panels in order to get good seats. Panels are first come first serve! VIPs, you get first to pick for seats as long as you stand in line twenty minutes prior.

To be honest, I ditched my schedule and spent most of my Bookcon at the booths.You receive way more free stuff at booths and you can still go to signings that you don’t have to wait in line for hours. Spend a lot of time at booths!

Arrive at Bookcon really early!!

I do not know if BookCon is still having wristband events because they haven’t announced the autographing schedule yet. However, the wristband signings were significantly better than the sessions the prior year where it was based off who arrived at the autograph line early. The prior years, people would buy the book but not be able to get it signed. However, the wristbands were given out before BookCon even started and GUARANTEED you an autograph. Only problem, the people in the front of the line to get into the convention get first choice of wristbands. If you are at the end of the line, you WILL NOT receive a wristband. It’s annoying but it is, in a way, fair because if you show us at the convention at 4am you do deserve the wristbands you want. I arrived at 4:30 AM last year and I was one of the first thirty people in line. Because of that, I got all of the wristbands that I wanted. (In the picture above, that was all of my friends and me waiting in line at 4:30. It’s tiring but it’s so exciting that you do not care!)

DO NOT CUT LINES!!!!!!

If there is one thing that I despise, it is line cutters. And if you happen to have a habit of cutting lines, you better not do it around me. I will call you out in front of the whole convention center. And since BookCon has a strict rule against cutting lines, you will be asked to leave. I do not care to hear your reasoning for cutting lines. If I see you cut, I will not hesitate to call you out.

Stay at the Show Floor

So, you can either spend your whole day waiting in line for signings at the autographing area, or you can spend you day receiving many books and having to only waste thirty minutes in line at booth signings. The show area is incredible. Last year, I spent the whole day there and received many amazing books! However, DO NOT (UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE) TAKE MULTIPLE COPIES OF ARCS!! You are the biggest asshole if you take three ARCs when there are other people who paid to go to BookCon who would love to have one of those ARCs. You only need one ARC and if your friend wants one, share the ARC. Don’t be annoying. You will be the reason publishers refuse to bring ARCs and we will all hate you. Also, SELLING ARCS IS ILLEGAL AND A SERIOUS MATTER. There was a lot of controversy over these two topics after BookCon last year, If you do these things, you lose respect in the book industry and will probably never receive ARCs again. ARCS ARE A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT!!

Socialize While Waiting

In all honesty, you will spend half of your day in lines. It could go both ways: it could either be terrible or you could make the most of it and talk to fellow bookworms. You are going to be surrounded by bookworms, make friends!!

Wear Comfy Clothes

You will be walking A LOT! You want to wear shows and clothes that won’t make you in pain. Keep in mind, the floors are concrete and only some exhibitors have carpet floors. Concretes is hard on your feet if you walk on it all day. Also, flip flops, although they are comfy, aren’t desired shoes.

Get the App!

The BookCon app is truly a blessing. Not only is it informational, the people you meet on the app are so amazing. I still am great friends with many of them. On the app, there are planners that you can use to organize your schedule for BookCon. Also, it allows you to see whats going on during the event. Another fun thing is every year, I make a group chat with newbies and experienced BookCon attendees where we plan meets ups and talk about books. Usually, we will all go out to dinner one night during BookCon. If you are interested in joining it, contact me!

There are events around BookCon, too!

The fun of BookCon will be available at other places around the city! Because, so many authors will be staying in New York, book stores will typically host events with them after BookCon. If you look at the event tabs on bookstore websites, they will list when they are hosting events around the time of BookCon. Many Attendees will be at the other events as well.

Do Not Bring Every Book From Every Author You Want To Meet!

You will regret it. You will have to carry those books with you for the whole day. Also, some authors may only sign one book so it would be a waste. Bring only the ones that you desperately want to get signed.

Bring Snacks!

My friend and I forgot to bring snacks because we were planning on buying lunch instead. However, me and my friend were too bus looking for books that we wanted so we never bought lunch. Starving, my friend and I ate left over food from Penguin that had been out all day. I would strongly advise you to being snacks so you don’t have to eat stale food and have people look disgusted at you.

Follow and turn on post notifications for publishers and other people at the event.

Many publishers and authors will tweet about give aways at the event. When I was there last year, all the books that I wanted  had received  because of these giveaways. Once you see a notification, you have to sprint to those booths because their items will be gone in seconds. Last year, there was one final copy of Futhermore by Tahereh Mafi (she is my favorite author ever) and I waited by that booth until they finally tweeted it. I ended up getting that book sixteen seconds after they tweeted it.

Bookcon Checklist

  1. Book money!!!! Books are sold at Barnes and Noble price. If you want five hard cover novels, then bring around $110. A lot of booths give out free books so you really don’t need to buy many books.
  2. Lunch money. Lunch is pretty pricey at convention centers. Snacks are a far better option since lunch is expensive and takes up too much time.
  3. Your ticket!!!!! It is the only way you will be allowed inside.
  4. A lanyard for your ticket!! You should wear your badge at ALL TIMES!
  5. One tote bag. You will get more but you want to bring one to hold your books until you find more totes.
  6. Rolling bag!!
  7. Snacks!
  8. Some books that you want to get signed.
  9. A list or schedule of who you want to meet.
  10. Business cards if you are a blogger, booktuber, author, publisher, etc.

 

Bookcon FAQs

  • Will they post a map of the show floor? Yes, but the maps aren’t that great.
  • How early should I arrive at the convention center? Two hours before or earlier. The earlier you arrive, the better chance you have at getting wristbands for everything you want to see.
  • How early should I arrive for panels and signings? In booth signings: a half and hour. Autographing area and panels: an hour and a half or earlier.
  • Will there be food to buy there? Yes, but it will be pretty pricey.
  • Will it be okay to bring a backpack with me? Yes, But I recommend bringing a rolling bag and putting it in coat check.
  • Do you need to buy books for signings at Bookcon? Only if it says that you do on the details of the signing.

Changing Themes!

If you read the title to this article then you are aware of my intentions on reading more adult literature along with young adult. After my blog hiatus, I began to enjoy reading adult literature more than young adult. The reason I became inactive on my blog again is because my blog is strictly Y.A. and I couldn’t mess up my theme by adding adult literature reviews; if I did decide to post adult reviews, it would not be fair to my audience. However, I decided that I would make known to my audience of my plan to focus my blog more on YA and adult rather than middle grade.

For those of my audience wondering why I am removing the middle-grade section from my blog, it is because my site is based upon ‘a teen helping teens find a love of reading’ and since I have become older on the scale of teenagers, I believe that the reading level on my blog should change. In all honesty, I haven’t read middle-grade book since Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi so incorporating it as part of my theme is pointless. However, I have grown fond of YA, new adult, and adult fiction which is why I have made them my theme of my blog.

To add a sense of clarity, I am going to keep my site teenage friendly. I won’t review erotic books because it is not my genre of choice and my audience still may remain the same. I hope you all understand my interest in changing themes and continue to be a part of my audience.

Social Media in Books

Hello!

My blog has been very inactive and it is because of finals. Finals are the worst thing about the school year. Because I want to get decent grades on my exams, I needed to use all my time for studying. However I will be done on tuesday.

Anyway, I have been having a little conflict with many of the books I have been reading. A while ago, my aunt pointed out that many books she read in her teen years weren’t as good now because the outdated fads present in those books. I used to not notice how fads are present in books but now I feel as if they are everywhere. Personally, I am not a fan of using fads in books.

The main craze that I see authors use in their books is social media. In these past few months, most of the books I read incorporated social media into their stories. I am fine reading about a fake website that the author created but it feels a little weird when certain stories incorporate Twitter into the plot. See how I said “certain”? Not all stories are bad for using Instagram or Twitter. However, some books portray the media platforms oddly. Also, they use texting in awkward ways. For example, I once read a book where the author typed “smiley face emoji”. I would be okay if the emoji was actually present but when the author types “smiley face emoji”, it makes the idea of incorporating emojis completely pointless.

Another major thing is that fads are usually not permanent. In reality, Twitter won’t be people’s main source of media for long. Our society moves through crazes very quickly. When you use fads frequently in your novels, it makes your book feel outdated when the craze has ended. Also, it makes your book hard to relate to when you mention a fad that hasn’t been relevant for many years. For example, I read a story that heavily mentioned Myspace. Even considering this book was young adult and was targeted at the young adult audience, the book did not seem as relatable. I am 16 years old so reading about a social media platform that was only used when I was in middle school has no use for me. I could not relate to something that was not popular when I began social media. The book, no matter how amazing it is, won’t be as good because young adults today never used Myspace.

Overall, I do not enjoy social media references in books because new social media is constantly being creating and it is getting rid of previous media platforms. It is better to create a fake media platform in your book than risking your book will be outdated in a few years because of a fad you wrote about. However, this is just my opinion. I do not need anyone feeling targeted by this post. How do you feel about social media references in books?