How to Do a Close Reading: Writing Literary Analysis Essays

Once high school students make the leap to the college academic environment, they may be faced with terms that aren’t completely clear to them. Close readings seem to be one of these pesky concepts, as it’s easy to fall into summarizing a text without “reading closely,” as it were.

Close readings sound far more difficult than they are. Sometimes referred to as literary analysis (though there are many variations of literary analysis), close reading essays are actually easier to write than straight-up research papers because they normally only require a primary text. Depending on the class and professor, literary research essays usually require at least two or three secondary sources. So, close reading papers should be approached with an optimistic attitude.


What is a Close Reading?

Simply put, a close reading is exactly what it sounds like. Professors aren’t looking for summary; on the contrary, most professors will cringe if presented with a summary. Close readings (especially in lower level college composition classes) rarely demand that students write more than 5 to 10 pages, usually less.

Given the name, close readings mean that the student should be looking at a very small portion of a text, generally. Pick a paragraph, a page, a chapter; it is very unusual for a 101 or 102 English professor to ask for more than that, as they want to see a student’s ability to completely tear apart a passage. That is a close reading in a nutshell: the tearing apart of a passage or a small section.

Pick an Angle for Literary Analysis

There are many facets of literature to focus on while writing a close reading paper. They tend to be buzzwords of sorts around English classes: themes, imagery, tropes, language, metaphor, tone, etc. While it may be tempting to try and tackle

Book Review: How to Be Cool by Johanna Edwards

How to Be Cool follows Kylie Chase, a “cool instructor” who helps the insecure and socially inept become confident and more socially knowledgeable.

 

Despite what people may have heard, everyone has insecurities. Some people have so many, however, that they want to shed their old skins and completely transform into someone new, someone more sociable and intrepid, someone…cool. What if there was someone that could help, someone who specialized in “coolness” that could create this transformation?

Meet Kylie Chase

Kylie Chase can help. She is a bona-fide “cool instructor” who makes a living from helping the dissatisfied and socially awkward turn into trend-setters. Seemingly undaunted, Kylie is well-versed in pop culture, fashion trends, and anything else required for the great metamorphosis that is turning “cool.” But how satisfied and confident is Kylie herself?

A Hidden Past

As it turns out, Kylie isn’t as intrepid as she seems. Before she became the knowledgeable instructor of the highly popular How to Be Cool classes, she was far from cool–dorky, insecure, and seventy-five pounds heavier. And underneath all the size-eight glamour, Kylie is still uncertain at heart. She still loves Star Wars, she still has two left feet, and most unfortunately, she still really, really cares what people think, far more than a cool instructor should.

 
 

 
 

A Steady Unraveling

 
 

When Kylie’s apartment burns down in a fire, she has nowhere to go but her parents’ house, which has a great impact on her self-confidence. (Kylie is Not Thirty–or twenty-nine–and one of her “cool rules” is that no one should be living with their parents after the age of about twenty-six.) Her parents don’t make her look too cool, either–her father is still enforcing the same rules she had to live by when she was a teenager, and her mother, a size-two former

Massage Chair For Reading

We live in modern times when everything looks easier to do, more accessible, a world in which everything looks handy. Who thought that at some point we will not need a masseur, and we will be able to replace him with a handy device that we can have in your living room? With the massager chairs for reading, you can relax in the library while discovering the characters from your favorite books.

Massage chairs and armchairs for reading have diverse functions; they are complex and are the proof that technology advanced a lot. Today, choosing a chair is a matter of preferences, as there are many advantages offered by such devices.

Some believe only people with muscular and inflammatory problems can benefit from these chairs. People that are following physical recovery programs and clients looking to improve their incorrect position while reading are also common buyers of massage chairs.

Choosing a good massage chair for reading

There is no point in investing in an expensive massage chair just because you can afford one. The most expensive chair is not always the one with the biggest number of features or options, so here is what you need to look for while looking to buy a massage chair for your reading room.

Dimensions – if you don’t have a room functioning as a relaxing zone, you need to look for compact models that can fit anywhere. You can find expandable and foldable models, but also classic ones that would be easy to arrange in any part of the house.

However, the best massage chairs for reading are the big models allowing you full comfort and the right posture while submersing in the world of your favorite book. Professional chairs are able to concentrate massage in different zones of the body – head …

Books About Moms

Whether you are a mother, have a close personal relationship with your mother, or not, one of the following books is sure to peak your interest.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

This commonly recognized line of books contains nineteen different titles devoted to mothers. Each book contains a collection of stories on a wide array of motherly subjects submitted by the general public. Emotionally charged tales have been compiled and published about expectant mothers, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, and one Chicken Soup for the Soul is a compilation of recipes for the busy mom.

Any one of the titles in this heart-warming collection is sure to bring a smile to the reader’s face.

Traveling with Pomegranates

Published in 2009, Travelling with Pomegranates is a memoir by mother and daughter co-authors, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. As 50-year old mother, Sue and 20-year old daughter, Ann travel to places of sacred significance throughout France and Greece, each writes of her own distinct journey to define herself. As each woman struggles with her own life challenges, mother and daughter come together and create a familial bond like no other.

If you are a mother or daughter with a strong relationship to your daughter or mother, this is the book for you.

Daughter’s Keeper

Ayelet Waldman shows the strength of the mother-daughter bond in her fictional novel, Daughter’s Keeper. Over the years, daughter, Olivia and mother, Elaine have grown apart: each not agreeing with the other’s chosen lifestyle. In a significant twist of the novel, Olivia finds herself pregnant and in jail with no where to turn except her mother.

For the reader who is looking for a suspenseful, yet heartwarming tale, this novel will surely do the trick.

White Oleander

The story of Astrid Magnussen, a …

Maria Menounos Book Review: “The Every Girl’s Guide to Life”

Maria Menounos’ first book “The Every Girl’s Guide to Life,” was released on April 12, 2011, via It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

From start to finish, Menounos does a stellar job writing her book. If her readers take her honest advice to heart, they are bound to see major improvements in their lives, and ultimately, become happier and healthier individuals!

Background on Menounos

Throughout her tenure in the film and television industry, Ms. Menounos has played many different roles including actress, journalist, host of Entertainment Tonight, former Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, independent movie producer, as well as West Coast special correspondent for Access Hollywood and The Today Show. It is safe to say, that now she can add “published author” to her impressive list of professional accomplishments.

 
 

About the Book

In this book, Menounos takes her readers on a journey, as she includes stories from her own personal experiences, and discusses how she tackles such issues as health, love, work, fitness, friends and family, among other topics.

Menounos reveals several of the events she has covered in her career. These include the 2010 earthquake in El Salvador and an AIDS series from South Africa. She has also interviewed such luminaries as the Clintons, former President George W. Bush, John Edwards, and was the first reporter to interview the entire Obama family.

Menounos talks about makeup, shares her workout routines and yoga stretches, and how she lost forty pounds by eating healthy; furthermore, she opens up about Keven, her partner and best friend in life.

The lists and organizers she includes in the “Appendix” section of her book are equally helpful and useful.

Menounos Stays True to Greek Roots

Particularly impressive about Menounos, is that throughout this book she always stays true to her Greek-American roots. She …

Worship Places, National Geographic Book Review: Religious Festivals & Sacred Places, Pilgrims, Retreats & Memorials

Sacred Places is in the Journeys of a Lifetime series, published by National Geographic and packaged by Toucan. The coffee table book explores 500 worship places around the world through the eyes of professional travel writers and photographers. Peaceful or powerful, most destinations claim a full page with lavish illustrations.

With ten chapters and nearly 400 pages, Sacred Places looks at many aspects of worship, from religious retreats and memorials to festivals, pilgrims and shrines. Themed lists complete the picture of the world’s top spiritual sites, whether it’s about harvest festivals or artists’ chapels. The book appeals to readers interested in spiritual or cultural journeys.

Worship Places, National Geographic

Sacred Places of a Lifetime by National Geographic opens with a chapter on inspiring landscapes, from the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming to the Islands of the Sun and Moon in Bolivia, from the sacred Ganges to Mount Ararat. Climb Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, listen to aboriginal tales at Uluru or witness the summer solstice in the French Pyrenees. Mountains, rivers and lakes are well covered alongside natural phenomenon.

 
 

Stone circles and ancient mysteries come next, mostly in South America, Mexico and Europe, plus Petra in Jordan and the Plain of Jars in Laos. Cradles of Faith follow with worship places associated with the world’s great religions. These include the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, the Jokhang temple in Tibet and the Nativity Cave on the West Bank.

Places of Worship, Ancient Temples and Memorials

Ancient temples and sacred ruins claim a full chapter with visits to Angkor Wat, rock churches in Anatolia and the Hindu temples of Khajuraho covered in erotic carvings. The memorials section features Ground Zero, the Peace Memorial Park in Japan, the Merry Cemetery in Romania, the Taj Mahal, war graves and much more.

The middle chapter …

World Travel, National Geographic Book Review: Journeys of a Lifetime, Adventure, Food, River Cruise, Rail Journeys

Journeys of a Lifetime was the first release in the National Geographic series which now includes Sacred Places and Food Journeys of a Lifetime. Designed by Toucan with contributions from world explorers, this hard back coffee table book is easy to browse, beautifully researched and illustrated.

Nine themed chapters guide the readers through 500 of the world’s greatest trips from adventure and food travel to river cruises, cultural tours and road and rail journeys. A succinct fact file provides useful tips and information for every trip. Over 20 Top Ten lists cover additional highlights such as canal trips or historic walks.

World Travel, River Cruises, Road and Rail Journeys

Journeys of a Lifetime opens with travel by boat from canoes to ocean liners, from Antarctic and jungle trips to idyllic river cruises. Explore the Kerala backwaters or the Norwegian fjords, board a pirogue in Mali, a felucca on the Nile, sail on Lake Titicaca or cruise in the Eastern Caribbean, there is something for everyone.

Rail journeys include the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan, Switzerland’s Glacier Express and a wildlife safari from Durban to Pretoria. Trolley rides and steam trains are also covered. Road trips take readers along the Pan American Highway and the French Riviera, explore the Australian Blue Mountains and the desert forts of Oman. There are cultural city drives and overland adventures across mountains and national parks.

 
 

Journeys of a Lifetime, Adventure Travel

Adventure travel is split into three sections, the largest highlighting the greenest way to go, on foot. Gentle rambles in the Italian hills are described alongside coastal walks in Ireland and treks to Everest base camp or along the Great Wall of China. There are trails underground, across stunning bridges, through remote valleys and around bustling cities.

Chapter seven leads into the …

Life Is Elsewhere – Book Review: A Novel by Czech Writer Milan Kundera

A budding poet and his mother are the central character’s of this brilliant book by Milan Kundera. It gives an incredibly candid account of the neurosis that many will have gone through in their adolescence and eventually in their adulthood. Kundera’s insight is both sad and funny but is always gripping.

Plot Summary: Life Is Elsewhere

Set in the author’s home country of the Czech Republic, this book follows the life of a poet from his accidental conception to his sudden death. The poet soon becomes the centre of his mother’s life as her marriage falls apart. No sooner can Jaromil write, than has his mother declares him a poet. As he grows up he tries to live up to the expectations of greatness his mother has bestowed upon him, before trying to rebel against her overbearing love.

Despite his best efforts to forge himself a life free from his mother’s ever watchful eye he can never escape her influence. He becomes a fervent follower of the communist party as a way of carving his own identity. His attempts prove futile as his mother retains her hold on all areas of his life, from his work to the clothes he wears and even the women he loves.

Themes in Life Is Elsewhere

Like many of Milan Kundera’s books, Life is Elsewhere, written in 1973, has several typically existentialist themes. He examines an individual’s search for meaning in their life amid the absurdity, alienation, boredom and angst it often brings. While Kundera deals with issues most people grapple with at some point in their lives, he does so with a refreshing and candid originality.

The book’s narrative begins before the second world war and ends as the Czech’s communist revolution gathers pace. The rise of socialism soon becomes central …

Book Review – The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Pulitzer Prize Novel by Junot Diaz

With exceptional praise for his Pulitzer Prize novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it goes to show Junot Diaz doesn’t play around when it comes to writing great fiction. As a Dominican-American writer and professor at MIT, Diaz tends to work with the duality of the immigrant experience, and in this novel he undergoes the grandiose task of recording the saga of an immigrant family.

Introducing Oscar

Meet Oscar, a dungeons and dragons geek who is constantly falling in love. He’s an overweight ghetto nerd, kind and sweet but without any game. With his love for role playing games and his sci-fi antics, life is worse than pathetic. Two things are on Oscar’s mind: writing that Tolkien masterpiece and falling in love. But love isn’t a game and with his fear of dying a virgin clawing him inwardly, Oscar’s wooing gets over the top. He attacks girls with his no-end, no charm, and no-game approach, and eventually his overwhelming tactics scares off the ladies.

But what can you say. Oscar’s not the kind of guy to give up, but when things never work out for you, what kind of tragedy is that? Blame the fuku—a curse that has been haunting Oscar’s family for generations. And this curse doesn’t play around. It’s been around for generations, following Oscar’s family from the Dominican Republic and to the United States. Like Oscar, this curse just won’t give up.

Meet Yunior

Told in the point of view of Yunior, a creative writing student, who had to tough it out one semester as Oscar’s college roommate. Completely infatuated with Lola, Oscar’s over-the-top sister, Yunior missed his one chance with the love of his life and is trying to make up for the lost time.

Yet when he finds out how deeply nerdy …