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What Makes A Book Worth Reading?

Recently I contributed some thoughts on a series of questions revolved around what makes a book worth reading. It's a subjective question but I think there are a few core principles that the most enduring stories share; namely a strong stirring of beliefs, desires, and emotions.

What makes a book worth reading? In short, a connection with the characters. Characters are the most identifiable element of a novel. The more well developed they are, the more engrained any other philosophical principle the books strives to make will be become. Books that challenge or reinforce the beliefs and desires of the reader, then evoke an emotional connection within its characters usually tend to be the stories we carry with us and share with others.

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'Experimenter' - Watch To Become A Better Person

People are sheep, and Stanley Milgram scientifically proved it. How could the Holocaust happen? How can there still be institutional racism?

And why it's going to happen again.

Experimenter is available for streaming on Netflix and is a biographical drama of the controversial social psychologist, Stanley Milgram. Staring Peter Sarsgaard as Milgram and Winona Ryder as his wife, along with notable actors making small appearances throughout, the Experimenter flew under the radar and was quietly released in October of 2015.

In the 1950s and 60s, minds were still fresh with what the Nazi’s had done in World War II. Former Nazi leadership that fled after the war were still being hunted down across the globe and being tried for warcrimes. The public was still learning of the atrocities as reports, photographs, and footage were still being released of concentration camps. The war wasn’t a distant memory and a young Jewish psychologist, Milgram—like most of the world—was curious as to how humanity could ever allow this to happen. How could an entire nation support mass killings? What would ever turn normal, decent humans—a baker, a mechanic, a school teacher—into a Nazi extermination force? Why would a rational, casual citizen standby and allow this cruelty to occur? Or worse, willingly participate in it?

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'Sense8' - More Than Just Affirmative Action

Welcome to the future of storytelling, or rather, an accurate depiction of the world in which we are all living.

Sense8, the original series on Netflix written by The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, achieved something significant. It proved to Hollywood that we don’t need affirmative action in media, but rather compelling roles that accurately reflect the world.

From the studios’ producing the small-screen science fiction drama (which I don’t know if science fiction is the proper genre- paranormal, perhaps?), to the web-based medium in which you watch the series, to the globalization of the cast and cinematography, and finally to a story that uses a full brush to paint with all the colors—Sense8 makes a subconscious effort to show us the future of characterization in storytelling. It’s an important series on the footnote of culture because it finally leaves stereotypes behind. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from all creeds and cultures, from all genders and orientations, and this series showcases that without feeling like college recruiting brochure spotlighting diversity.

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'Going The Distance'

Going The Distance is why I love movies so much.  Every once in a while one comes along that fills a punch line.  Something resonates.

Of course Justin Long’s character hits far too close to home with working at a label and pushing bands you don’t care about and ultimately taking that leap of faith and managing bands that truly move you.  While that’s just a mildly interesting plot twist to some, everyone can relate and learn something from their love story.

I loved this story because it seemed so functional, no matter how dysfunctional a long distance relationship can be.  That’s what drives me nuts about Hollywood.  No Strings Attached was awesomely entertaining but I left the theater pissed.  It was more silver screen sap that further perpetuates stereotypes and dilutes real-world relationships. 

It wasn’t the “friends with benefits” part in No Strings Attached that I didn’t buy.  That can work for a while and be a whole hell of a lot fun in the meantime.  However, it was the horrific turning point of Portman’s psyche that nerds hang on to when dealing with their own issues.   She made us believe that love conquers all no matter how insensitive, illogical, or un-repairable your situation has become.  That those dealing with loss should still hold on to hope that one day your dream girl will be standing on the door step asking for you back, instead of just moving forward with your life.

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'The OC' - Summer Loves Seth and That's Why I'm Single

Since the culmination of The O.C., I can’t help but feel as if a part of me died.  Not only has my weekly television viewing schedule been disrupted but I can’t seem to get over the fact that Seth married one of the greatest TV characters of all time.

Bold statement I know, but I adored Summer.  I loved to hate her in season one and just simply loved her by the end of the show.  Summer Roberts, while snotty and spoiled, was tough as nails and walked a fine line between “Newpsie” and down to earth.  She was reliable, stable, and surprisingly pure.  Yes, while Summer had several questionable moments, she ultimately had a heart of gold.  She was honest, honorable, and gave the show a sense of subconscious balance which was overshadowed by the constant unimaginable drama.   Summer’s obsession with The Valley and tabloid magazines didn’t distract us from her fundamental character values.  If anything, her preppy quirkiness was endearing because she continually proved to us the complexity of her personality.  Summer’s character held the show together and indirectly became a pop culture role model for young people saturated with exposure of Brittany, Paris and Lindsey.

Not being able to see her on a weekly basis isn’t why a part of me died though.  I mean, it certainly didn’t help but I’m more concerned with dynamics of Seth and Summer’s relationship and how the show ended.  The Seth and Summer saga was pure TV gold and they were somehow able to keep it interesting for several years- without ruining it.  That’s the biggest surprise and achievement that came from the show, the writers didn’t take the easy way out.  They could have added bubble-gum drama where the two of them were off-again on-again but instead forced them to face their issues and work them out.

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