Friday, January 31, 2014

Review Me Twice - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I liked this book, I really did.  I liked it because it was fast paced from start to finish.  Some books can't pull that off well, but Dashner knows just how to keep you turning the pages.  He does very well with problems and situations popping up without them being TOO outrages: they were just enough.

I liked all the characters, enough that if something happened to them, I got upset.  I like how hard to read some of them were.  By the end, I STILL didn't know if I liked Alby or not.  And, what's more, my favorite characters weren't the main ones (I feel that a book is doing its job when my favorite character is someone other than the main character.  It's EASY to make a reader fall in love with the lead, but it's hard to make a reader fall in love with a character that you may not get to know as well.)

BUT (and there's a always a but), this was very much a special snowflake kind of book.  Thomas is the character we follow, and it's clear from second one that he's different.  He "remembers" more than the other characters (by which I mean he has really strong feelings of deja vu.)  He does stuff immediately that all the other characters have been afraid to do.  He wins almost everyone over, except of course, the one guy who is meant to be his Sworn Enemy and cause him all sorts of problems.  And, despite breaking all the rules, he gets rewarded.

I understand why the trope is done, I didn't even necessarily think it was badly written, but sometimes, it just gets to be a bit much.  It's a bit much if I can't totally buy into the special snowflake scenario.  Thomas's snowflake was just a little too unique for my taste.

I still really LIKED the book though.  I blew through it in just a few days (like I mentioned: Dashner is REALLY good and making me turn the pages.  I kind of couldn't stop.)  I liked the characters and how it ended (though, if you're like me, you probably figured it out.  However, I don't consider that a negative to the book.  I almost always figure it out.)  I already have gotten my hands on a copy of the second book.  I think you should pick this one up.  It's worth it, and if nothing else, you'll have read the book before the movie comes out this year.

Cassy's right... she does always figure it out. (It's why we love her.) I, however, almost never do. Sometimes I manage to forget the ending to something I've read a couple times before! (It's how I managed to really enjoy And Then There Were None several separate times.) I got kind of close on this one, but still not quite right, and I definitely didn't see what I would consider an epilogue (but I appreciate that it was really just the last part of the book). Knowing that this book was part of a series made me wonder if I would even get to find out any of the big secrets in this book, so I didn't try too hard. (Having requested the sequel from the library and then getting snowed in for five days will make you less anxious to get to the end so you can get to the next book, let me tell you.)

I like the characters. They felt like real people. You don't know a lot about them, because - let's face it - they don't know all that much about themselves, because they enter the Glade with no memories. (Can I just point out for a second what a great writing mechanism that is? All exposition feels natural and necessary because your hero has no idea who he is, where he is, who anyone else is... and we own up to it at the beginning. It's really just brilliant in its simplicity.)

I don't, however, much care for our visible, tangible villains, by which I mean the Grievers: pulsating masses with mechanical-type arms and tools and some kind of wheels that make horrible whirring, clanking noises. If they sting you, you have a hell of a week or so to look forward to. If some other circumstance befalls you, you die. (I don't remember getting a clear picture of how a Griever kills you, but I do know it's supposed to be gruesome.) I'm a very visual person, and I sometimes gloss over descriptions while I'm reading, and I rely heavily on the mentions of parts of tangible nouns to keep up with what I'm supposed to be seeing. I still haven't got a clue what I think a Griever really looks like. It got a little more solid by the end, but they're really abstract in my mind. I don't know if that's James Dashner's problem or mine, but I'm inclined to say it's mine. But if you're like me in that way, look out for that issue.

I already mentioned that I've requested the sequel from the library (and I have the prequel and the third book already checked out) so that should give you a hint that I really liked this book and Dashner's writing in general.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mazes in Literature

File:Classical 7-Circuit Labyrinth.svg

You can probably guess that The Maze Runner involves a maze in some way. There have been many examples of mazes in literature throughout the ages... here are some more famous choices.

The ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the minotaur took place in a labyrinth. King Minos was upset because his son, Androgeus, did so extraordinarily well at the Pan-Athenian games, he was assassinated. He sent his fleet to Athens, and demanded the assassins be turned over, but nobody knew who did it, so the whole town was surrendered. Every 7 (or 9, depending on the version you read) years, King Minos demanded that 7 girls and 7 boys from Athens be sent into his labyrinth to be hunted and devoured by the minotaur. After this happened a few times, Theseus had enough and went in to kill the beast himself. The king's daughter (Ariadne) fell in love with Theseus and gave him a clue to the labyrinth so that he would succeed, which of course he did.

Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining (1980) features a hedge maze at the end (which is foreshadowed by a scale model in the lobby of the Overlook Hotel). It serves to increase the panic of the characters and the suspense for the audience.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the culmination of the Triwizard Tournament is in a giant, magical hedge maze, concealing the Triwizard Cup. It's scary, it's difficult to manage, and it leads up to one of the most important scenes of the entire series.

Labyrinths cover.jpg

Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges has a collection of short stories and essays titled Labyrinths. Not all of the stories/essays are literally about labyrinths, but there is one titled "The Garden of Forking Paths."

What mazes and labyrinths from literature can you add to the list?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Favorite Survival Story

In The Maze Runner, it's all about kids learning to survive, to adapt to their environments, to be very much man against nature (or, in this case, man against The Man.)  Alex and I decided to go ahead with our favorite survival books

Let's face it, there's little that Michael Crichton did poorly.  In fact, even his mediocre books are way better than a lot of people.  But there is something about Jurassic Park that just makes you realize how epic he is.

This book makes such a great modern day meets history survival story.  Not only do they have to fear for their lives and be resourceful and make sure they don't die a horrible death, they have to do all this in regards to DINOSAURS, creatures that we don't know a ton about.  A lot of it is speculation, or based on what we have seen from the bones, but we get a lot of things wrong.  The characters are basically piecing it together from what they know (which, since one of them digs up dinosaur bones for a living, is admittedly more than most.)

The characters in the book are interesting and diverse.  They action is enough to keep you turning pages, but not enough to think it's just too much.  There's death and gore (because what survival story would be complete without it) and just enough to keep you hooked and pick up the sequel.

I cannot for the life of me find an image of the cover of the book I'm thinking of, but I do know it exists. (If we weren't covered in half a foot of snow today, I'd drive over to the house where most of my books are stored and dig through them all to find my copy.) But my favorite is a children's non-fiction selection.

The image above is part of the same series, "Read It to Believe It!" There was one that I really loved called "Survive! Could You?" and it had four or five survival scenarios that taught you what to do. That book is literally the only reason I know how to withstand an earthquake or tornado or landslide, despite living in Virginia Beach my whole life, where those things never, ever happen.

But my favorite is the one about Mt. St. Helens (Read It to Believe It: They Survived Mt. St. Helens by Megan Stine) probably because my mom's family is from Oregon and she was alive when Mt. St. Helens blew. It combined stories of people from different areas who were affected differently by the blast. It told about the guy who refused to leave his cabin and is now buried somewhere under Crater Lake. It told about some people who were hiking (I think) and couldn't drive from the river (I think it was probably the Columbia) because it was full of sulfur (and that chapter is how I know that sulfur smells like rotten eggs). I think this was the book that sparked my love of reading about devastating disasters, awful as that sounds.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where Are All the Grown-Ups?

This week, we're reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  One of the very first thing you'll notice about the book:  There are zero adults in the maze.  It's just a big group of boys (and eventually, one girl), trying to find their way out of this maze.

This actually pops up a lot in YA literature.  Well, all GOOD YA literature anyway.  See, the point of YA literature is that it's supposed to be focused on the kids.  It's supposed to be THEIR story and they're supposed to be controlling it.  As usually, it all comes down to who has the power.

In books like The Maze Runner, the kids don't actually start out with the power.  There are unseen adults controlling the whole situation from afar.  While the kids do control their lives to a certain extent, they still basically act like trained monkeys through the whole thing. 

I don't want to give it away, but let's just say they simultaneously gain the power and never gain the power.

Starters is another good example of adults disappearing, literally.  We already know that most of the adults die in the book, yet they still try and control the kids that have remained (all kids not 18 must have an adult or they get shipped off to the orphanges.)  But Callie takes charge of her own life: she lets an adult take over her body to make money, she bucks the system, and is basically the person who keeps her and her brother alive.

So when about when adults don't disappear?  We see this a lot in kids books.  Because of Winn Dixie is a good example of the parents having the power.  Opal does things "wrong" and has to learn lessons, which is all well and good, but those lessons are spoon-fed to her by the adults in the book.  They're telling her how she should act and what she should be learning.  They hold all the power in the book.

A book like Coraline, all the power is given to her.  It's Coraline that has to find her parents, to save them and to destroy the evil witch.  It's also Coraline that has to learn her own lessons.  She doesn't rely on adults for the things that she needs, but at the same time, doesn't dismiss them.  She even mentions to the witch that she wants her parents back so they can tell her no.  She tells the witch, “I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then?"  It's kind of an epic quote because Coraline is kind of proclaiming what she's learned and why her parents are important, her REAL parents.  She's defining her role: it's her job to ask for all the things and it's her parents job to know when to reel her in.

Take a closer look at your YA lit and kids books.  What kind of role are the kids playing?  Do they just parrot the adults?  Or do they take charge and become the makers of their own story?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Author Bio: James Dashner

This week, we're reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

This may sound like a cop-out, but I'm not going to write an author bio for him... he (or his webmaster, or somebody) has done an incredible job on his website, so you might as well go read it there.

He seems to write exclusively in YA series, with five under his belt so far (some still in progress, like Eye of Minds).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Review Me Twice - Shouting Won't Help by Katherine Bouton

I always like it when my co-blogger puts a non-fiction book on our list.  She almost always picks books on subjects I probably wouldn't read on my own (Tudor England?  I'm all over it.  The epidemic of people losing their hearing?  Not so much.)

I was excited to read Bouton's book, because the truth is, I really know NOTHING about hearing loss in America, or anywhere for that matter.  And Bouton manages to make the book deeply personal and informative at the same time.  There are millions of people losing their hearing and here's the secret: most of them aren't what you would consider old.

I really like that Bouton addresses the fact that hearing loss is such a problem, such an underfunded problem, and all the stigmas that come with it.  Hearing is probably one of the only sensory losses that we try to sweep under the rug, giving the impression that there's something to be ashamed of.  Bouton points out that even the hearing aid companies propagate this idea, showing off all the hearing aids that you can hide.

While I liked what Bouton told me, sometimes HOW she told it to me was a bit much.  It got really facts heavy (not to mention every time she mentioned this guy from John's Hopkins she referred to him by his full, two line long title.)  Sometimes, I just had to skim because the information she was giving to me just wasn't that interesting.

My favorite part, however, were all the individual stories she got and put at the end of the chapters.  They were interesting and endearing and really allowed you to understand the different ranges of hearing loss.  Overall, I did enjoy the book and I'm glad Alex made me pick it up.

Non-fiction is - as you've probably realized by now - not my usual, but nice. (Dr. Horrible, anyone? Anyone?)

But every once in a while, I run across a book at the library while I'm helping a student find resources for their papers, and I decide that I should read it. This is one of those books, and I'm glad it jumped out at me. (Not literally... I've had that happen, but not with this one.)

I had the same problem Cassy had with the heaviness of the information sometimes, finding myself skimming. That really just means that - if you skim - it makes a good leisure reading book that doubles as a great resource for academic research on the topic. Those are pretty rare, I've found. (Another good example of one of those is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebekka Skloot.)

Definitely not a re-reader (but for me, most non-fiction isn't) but also definitely a book I'm glad I picked up.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some Signs Related to Reading

No, I don't know ASL... but I'm learning. And one of my favorite resources ever is The guy who created the website does an excellent job of explaining the subtle differences between similar signs, breaking down complex signs into tiny pieces, and demonstrating how to incorporate signs into sentences.

Here's a great example: read.
(There is also a short video for each sign, but I can't link directly to certain pages of the dictionary.)

Sometimes the signs are illustrated instead of demonstrated, especially for simpler signs, like book.

I simply wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't show you how to say library:
Easy, right? You can say librarian by adding the following after you say library:
(That part is kind of like "agent" but it gets used for a lot of signs that boil down to "a person who works in a [type of building/establishment]".)

Now go practice! And a huge thank you to Dr. Bill, creator of the amazing

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Favorite Character with a Disability

There are a lot of awesome characters in books that end up being awesome despite their disadvantages.  Rochester in Jane Eyre went blind, Mad-Eye Moody was missing an eye the entire time that we knew him, and Captain Ahab may have been a bit obsessive, but to be fair, he was missing a leg.

Christopher John Francis Boone is 15, has Asperger's (or high functioning Autism), and is very, VERY good at math.  He wakes up one morning to find his neighbor's dog dead on the lawn, thus starting him on a quest to find out what happened.

I like Christopher because despite his disability, he's a smart kid, who learns a lot about his family and himself and even though it scares him, he still does a TON of stuff that puts him outside his comfort zone.  He doesn't lie, and can't stand it when other people lie to him.  You really can't help but love him, and his honest personality brings out the best in everyone.

This is another one of those books I read when I was in that undergraduate young adult literature class that Cassy and I talk about so much.

Shawn suffers from severe cerebral palsy; he has no control over his body whatsoever. The story of Stuck in Neutral is told from his perspective. Shawn is upset about people talking down to him like he's a child, ignoring him like he isn't in the room, and on top of all that, he's pretty sure his dad wants to euthanize him.

Terry Trueman wrote this book because his son has cerebral palsy. The book serves to educate young adults about the condition and how to deal with it (from the perspectives of the person who has it, their friends and family, and total strangers). But Trueman isn't didactic about it. He doesn't say "people with cerebral palsy are just like you and me and this is how we should treat them." He shows the reader. You know, like Cassy tells me: show, don't tell. So much more effective.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Famous People Who Were Hard of Hearing

One of the many points that Bouton makes in her book this week, is that those who are hearing impaired generally try to hide it as much as possible.  It's something they try to constantly cope with, without the wide world knowing it.  So here are a few people that you may not have known are hard of hearing.

Thomas Edison

We all know about the inventor of the light bulb, but did you know that he had trouble hearing, though he did invent the phonograph.  It was never determined what exactly caused his deafness, and Edison himself gave many explanations for it.  It's widely thought, however, that he lost his hearing from scarlet fever when he was young.

Bill Clinton

That's right, our former President of the United States had problems with his hearing later in life.  But that didn't stop him from running a country.  In 1997, about three years into his first term, he announced he was getting hearing aids.  It didn't even seem to slow him down.

Lou Ferrigno

That's right; The Incredible Hulk lost 75 - 80% of his hearing when he was a child.  But it didn't stop him from winning multiple body building awards and moving on to portray that big green giant that we all know and love: The Incredible Hulk

Marlee Beth Matlin

You may not recognize the name, but you'll probably recognize her face.  She's been in a litany of things from Law & Order to the most recent show, Switched at Birth (a ridiculous drama about two girls getting switched at birth and one of them is deaf and they find out about it years later.  Seriously, the worst kind of TV crack ever.)  Matlin is also the very first (and only) deaf person to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Author Bio: Katherine Bouton

When this week's author, Katherine Bouton, was 30 years old, she began to lose her hearing and she didn't know why. It was progressive hearing loss, and she was profoundly deaf in one ear with severe hearing loss in the other ear by the time she turned 60.

After trying to deal with hearing loss for about a decade, Bouton thought about writing a book about the ordeal. She wrote Shouting Won't Help: Why I - and 50 Million Other Americans - Can't Hear You in the hopes that it would help people dealing with their own hearing loss and/or the hearing loss of loved ones.

Bouton does interviews and other events, which you can keep track of at her website.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review Me Twice - The Petrosian Invitation by T.P. Keating

We always love it when we get the opportunity to review NaNo authors on this blog, and this occasion is no different.  Getting your book out there is hard (as I have discovered from the grand total of two books that I've sold), so we try our best to help out.

Keating has a very good writing style.  She knows exactly the scene that she wants to portray to her readers and how she wants them to see the situation.  While she does have the same problem as my dear co-blogger about knowing when to tone back the vocabulary, she does have a great one and I really appreciate that.

I also loved the relationship between Zoe and Sam.  You could tell they were sisters, even if you hadn't been told by the author.  They had that love/hate relationship that a lot of sisters have.  They help each other even when they don't want to, they gossip about each others lives with each other, whether that be good or bad, and at the end of the day, the genuinely want what's best for the other.

The one, rather glaring, problem that I had with this book was the pacing.  Our main characters fell in love with each other within days, and made life altering decisions within the maybe week time span that the book took place in.  It seemed that everyone in the book had impulsive personalities and that didn't seem weird to anyone.

Overall, not a bad read, and a short one at that.

What is it with vampires and sudden love? Sure, lots of book characters fall in love quickly, but it seems to happen more often when vampires are around.

I agree entirely with Cassy about the vocabulary issue. That's something else I've noticed about vampires, though... if you're writing the type of vampire who has been around for centuries, you tend to allow way more complicated vocabulary (even when it's not coming out of that old soul's mouth). But it's an appropriately-applied vocabulary (as in, our author is not using big words without knowing what they mean or how to use them).

This isn't the kind of book I could reread, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If I'm paying very close attention to a book, I don't want to reread it, because I don't feel like I missed anything (although I'm sure I did). If you're the kind of reader who sees "vampire romance" and thinks, "Nope, not for me"... you're probably right. The book delivers what it promises, so if that isn't your jam, this book isn't for you. Otherwise, it's worth a read.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vampires, Zombies, and the American Economy

(If that doesn't sound like a fascinating post, I don't know what does...)

There is a solid correlation between the popularity of zombies or vampires and the state of the economy of the United States of America. No, seriously.


Zombies are mindless, unthinking consumers of resources (including brains) while moving in unstoppable droves.

Vampires, on the other hand, are calculating and intelligent consumers that typically feel deep guilt about their consumption.

To stretch the metaphor a bit, zombies are mindless consumerism and vampires are buyer's remorse.

In the 1960s, the modern zombie was born (thanks, George A. Romero!) and they were a huge hit. They declined a little in popularity during the 1970s, until 1978 when Dawn of the Dead and an Invasion of the Body Snatchers sequel were both released. Zombies dominated through the early to mid-1980s. In the late 1980s, vampires got back on their feet (after suffering some mockery thanks to movies like Drak Pack and Blackula) and stuck around through the 1990s. When the 2000s came around, zombies came back in full swing. Even with the rampaging bull that is the Twilight franchise, vampires only surpassed zombies in 2006, then dipped back below them until 2009.

Now, I'm not really heavily into politics and economics, but you can see the general trends matching up with the ones I just outlined.

Isn't that cool?

(Remember kids: correlation does not prove causation. But it might be interesting to poll a large group of voting-age Americans and see which they fear more - zombies or vampires - and which way they vote... Some science fair kid get on that for me.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Favorite Vampire

I talked briefly yesterday about some famous vampires, some of which you know, some of which you may not.  Today, however, Alex and I are going to pick our most favorite vampire.

If you've read Anne Rice's Vampire series, you know about Armand and how pretty freakin' awesome he is.  He spent a lot of time with Lestat, came to really care for Lestat, but also knew when to hide things from him.  Armand kept watch over the first Vampires for centuries.  I like him because he's quiet and he LOOKS really young, but when you read about him, you imagine him older.  His demeanor is just like that.

We don't get to hear his whole story until book six of the series (aptly named "The Vampire Armand"), but we have come to know and love him before then.  He pretty much tries his darndest to keep Lestat out of trouble.

The picture above is from the "Queen of the Damned" movie with Aaliyah.  While the movie was kind of terrible, Armand was cast well (as opposed to Antonio Banderas, who was cast as Armand in Interview with a Vampire.)

I've never seen the original Fright Night, but I love the 2011 remake. Charley (Anton Yelchin) suspects his new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) of being a vampire, so he seeks help from his old friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Las Vegas magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant... in leather pants). It's just as ridiculous as it sounds, but I can't help but love it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Famous Vampires

Since this week were reading The Petrosian Invasion, a book about vampires, I decided to give you a list of the more well-known vampires.  Most of them are literary vamps, but some aren't.  All of them are awesome.

What kind of blogger would I be if I did not include the most famous vampire of them all?  Bram Stolker's Dracula is really what put the vampires on the map.  He's the first vampire that comes to everyone's mind, the first to make it to the big screen, and the first that has stood the test of time.  And while the heroic speeches in the book get a little out of hand, Dracula is still a dangerous thing to behold.

I've mentioned Anita Blake on here a few times.  Jean-Claude is the vampire that she just can't seem to shake.  He is absolutely besotted with her, and is continually trying to woo her.  Unfortunately for him, Anita is an independent woman who has killed more than a few vampires and wants to separate herself from the monsters as much as possible... and that certainly doesn't include dating one.

While Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt may be pictured, Anne Rice's Lestat and Louis are the ones that have stolen our hearts.  Lestat is on a continual quest to gain more power, to push the envelope of the vampire society, while Louis, well, just wants to go back to being human again.

Unless you were dead in the '90s (or in an extreme state of vegetation), you knew about Angel, our heart-throb of a vampire with a soul.  He was sweet and wonderful and OH SO TORTURED!  Not to mention, when he got his own spin off show from Buffy, provided us with the best clip ever (and pretty much sums up the whole show in one minute.)

Who is your favorite vampire?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Author Bio - T.P. Keating

Even though NaNo is over, we still like to spotlight NaNo authors as much as possible.  This week, Mr. Keating gave us his novel for reviewing, The Petrosian Invitation.  Here is a short bio we were provided.

TP Keating was previously nominated for The James White Award. Along with numerous short stories published online, TP Keating’s stories appear in the printed anthologies Small Crimes, Daikaiju!2: Revenge Of The Giant Monsters, and Murder In Vegas (edited by Michael Connelly, and which has also been released in audio book format). 

His web site is, and please feel free to drop him a line at

Stay tuned this week to learn more about Keating and our review of his book!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Review Me Twice: Teen Angst? Naaah...: A Quasi-Autobiography by Ned Vizzini

I read this book for my YA lit class as an undergraduate. I think most recent high school graduates should read it as a way of helping them deal with the transition from high school to either college or "the real world." The book isn't about that transition, but it reflects on Vizzini's high school experience in retrospect, and a lot of people don't stop to do that before moving on to the next stage of life. It can be interesting, enlightening, or just a nice way to let go of things.

Hindsight being 20/20, memory being imperfect, and the unreliable nature of narrators all lend themselves to the fact that Ned Vizzini seems to have had a TV sitcom high school experience. He went to a gifted school (maybe you've heard of Stuyvesant?) and had unique experiences mostly related to his writing, and stereotypical experiences dealing with alcohol and sex. But the way he tells the stories - whether embellished or misremembered or solid truth - is wonderful.

Vizzini had the gift of writing in such a way that makes you feel like you know the guy. Like he's an old friend you just haven't spoken to in a while. And that's what I think made him a great writer: identifiability (which I insist is totally a word now).

I read this book in the same YA literature class that Alex did.  This is the first time that I've read it since then and, honestly, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't classify it as OMG IT'S THE BEST BOOK EVAR!  It was humorous and I really like how Vizzini's captured high school life.

Honestly, a lot of high school is exactly as he writes it, probably because he was in high school as he was writing these essays.  And considering how young he was at the time, the writing is incredibly impressive.  You realize that he was writing a lot of these for the NY magazine at just 15 or 16 years old, which is pretty awesome if you ask me.

It's a good book to pick up and enjoy, and he is quite relateable, but it's not one I would necessarily put at the top of my to be read pile.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Famous Authors Who Committed Suicide

Ned Vizzini is by no means the first great author to commit suicide. In fact, suicide rates are relatively high (compared to the population at large) in creative communities.

Ernest Hemingway is an author who needs no introduction: Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea... he's one of those authors that tortures students from middle school to college. He shot himself in his home in Idaho.

Sylvia Plath, author of The Bell Jar, is the go-to reference in books, movies, and TV to indicate that a character is suicidal (or simply depressed). I've often heard Dorothy Parker's "Resume" (you may recognize it: "Razors pain you, Rivers are damp, Acids stain you, And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren't lawful, Nooses give, Gas smells awful, You might as well live.") incorrectly attributed to Sylvia Plath, who used a gas oven to end her life.

Hunter S. Thompson, who you've probably seen portrayed by Johnny Depp in the film based on his most famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, shot himself in the head like Mr. Hemingway.

Virginia Woolf had what I think is the most poetic suicide from this list: she filled her pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse near her home in England.

There are hundreds of others, now - unfortunately - including Ned Vizzini.

This was a sad post. I'd give you a picture of a kitten to soften the blow, but I feel like that would be disrespectful, so instead I'll just encourage you to think about kittens.