Month: March 2022

Books

Mediations on a Play Where Nothing Happens: Waiting for Godot Review

Mediations on a Play Where Nothing Happens: Waiting for Godot Review

Important Note: This play talks about suicide and death and includes representations of slavery.

What makes it good?

  • Wit and dialogue
  • Friendship between two people who are reluctant to say they care about each other
  • Questions about the nature of truth

Reasons I struggled to get into this play

  • It is long
  • The two acts are basically the same
  • No key drama moves the plot forward
  • I’m not sure I got it the first time I read it

I’m going to talk about a play where almost nothing happens. Waiting for Godot consists of two acts and the two protagonists do almost nothing in the first act and do the same thing in the second. This long story of stasis includes theological questionings about Jesus’ crucifixion, a speech from a quiet character given for reasons unknown, slow witticisms, questions about epistemology, and reluctant friendship.

In the midst of a desert-dry plot, our attention reading or watching falls on any molecule of meaning that the dialogue offers. But going into full analysis mode misses much of the point. The action, the dialogue, the set and props also tell the story.

Remember that this is a play, and it is a long play. I remember looking over it for hours in my British Literature class and then for a second time when I wrote this review. It still baffles me to this day, so I’ll go into some parts the best I can, but there is certainly more that can be talked about.

We all go to plays because we are bored. You could also say we go to plays to be entertained or because we like to see something that makes meaning out of experience.

So, whether you are bored, want to be entertained, or are looking for a way to understand the meaning of your life, you should read and watch Waiting for Godot. You get to see people on stage who are in the same boat as you. They are waiting for something, for anything to happen.

Waiting for Godot is primarily a dialogue between the two major characters Estragon and Vladimir. I would say that the story is one of uncertain friendship. They don’t always love each other, in fact, they aren’t quite certain if they even want to spend time together. Perhaps they would do better off alone.

Vladimir and Esgragon don’t really fight, because they have the same goal. They’re waiting for Godot, they’re searching for purpose, for a task to fulfill. They are asking questions and waiting for an answer. These are universal questions and based on my reading, Waiting for Godot doesn’t answer any of them.

That doesn’t mean, that the characters are utterly inactive, though. The characters do do some fascinating things. They pick up a carrot and want a turnip. They chat about life, they walk around, and they quarrel.

Inactivity

Estragon and Vladimir spend the play waiting for Godot to arrive and tell them what to do. Godot is their purpose, the one that they should be waiting for, and the one they respect. They won’t leave until he arrives. They don’t appear ambitious or excited for Godot’s arrival. They mostly want him to come because they are bored and feel like they cannot leave without him.

But, oddly enough, they don’t question Godot himself. They don’t question this meeting that they’re having with this man. They don’t question Godot’s character or reasons for meeting. They’re just blindly obedient and trust him because he is the only available authority. Neither character decides to take the matter into their own hands.

I want to note that Godot is not to represent God. Some have interpreted Godot as God and thought that they are waiting for a God that will not come. But this isn’t a correct interpretation by the author’s own words. Beckett said, “If I meant to write God, I would write God.”

Beckett himself is agnostic, but his questions are ones that everyone asks at least a few times in their life. What do we do with our lives? What are we supposed to be doing here? How do we live in a world that seems so repetitive?

These are valid questions, but these characters aren’t great at answering them or even grappling with them well. They just expect someone else, who they barely know anything about to give them purpose in life. When I look at this play, I wonder if taking Godot out of the equation would make their lives better. Why not make a decision and take a risk to find a purpose outside of a vague authority. He hasn’t shown up in days, what is Godot going to do if they leave?

If you’re still not convinced that Godot is not God or a metaphor for God, I’d like to offer a few other points. First, Godot isn’t treated like a God, no one prays to or worships him. Godot doesn’t provide Estragon and Vladimir a way to live or even show that he cares for them or anyone else at all. Godot never reveals anything about himself to them either, he just remains a complete mystery. We don’t even know if he really exists and ultimately, Estragon and Vladimir don’t really care about him.

When a messenger boy comes and tells them Godot isn’t coming, they don’t ask much about Godot. Instead, they are concerned about the boy’s well being. They ask if the boy if Godot feeds him enough, if he’s good to the boy, if Godot beats him, and if he’s happy. Godot sounds pretty bad. He beats the boy’s brother but isn’t exactly kind to the boy.

When Vladimir asks if the boy is happy, the boy responds:

"You're not unhappy." The boy hesitates. "Do you hear me?

Yes Sir.

Well? 

I don't know, Sir

You don't know if you're unhappy or not?

No sir.

"You're as bad as myself (Silence). Where do you sleep?"

This scene is pretty bad, but it shows that above all, Vladimir cares more about another person’s well being over a vague authority figure. The play doesn’t ever hit you over the head with how great it is to love other people and be nice and everything. This scene is sweet, if rare, moment. That leads us to the question of friendship.

Friendship

Estragon and Vladimir are somewhat reluctant friends. They are joined in this goal of waiting for Godot and they seem to like each other enough to stay together. They also wonder if they should part a few times. They contrast with Pozzo and Lucky, who are in an abusive power dynamic. It is one of servant/master or slave/master, because it is unclear whether or not Lucky is able to leave the abusive Pozzo. The contrast between the respectful friendship of people figuring out life and the abusive relationship between Pozzo and Lucky is a big part of the story.

I liked how Beckett portrayed Vladimir and Estragon’s relationship. They both have different perspectives on the world. Vladimir thinks more about philosophical and theological issues, while Estragon is more concerned with the physical world. Estragon also forgets things pretty often. They balance each other out well, even if they don’t understand each other fully. I like how they both seem to like each other, but they don’t completely get why they keep coming back to each other.

Lucky’s Speech

I’m still not sure I understand this speech because it is nonsense. Lucky gives a speech that doesn’t make much sense. It says “for reasons unknown” several times and despite the rest of the words, it suggests that we don’t know why anything happens the way it does. According to Lucky, any attempt at meaning becomes nonsensical in the world we live in.

Theological Questioning

If you are looking for the part in the play where Beckett questions religion, this is it. Vladimir reflects on the story of Jesus the three thieves on the cross. He remembers how one story says that both thieves taunted Jesus, and another says there is a good thief who is saved and a mean one. The question is a bit theological. It is questioning the truth of the Bible, but it is also asking us about truth as a whole. How do we know what truth is? How can we tell the truth if two different stories are different? How can we tell what the truth is when we have different interpretations of the truth.

Sometimes we only hear one version of the truth, like some people only hear one story of the thieves on the cross and assume there is one good thief and one bad thief. I think a lot of us prefer this story to the one where both thieves are mean, so we remember it that way. In this play though, I’m not sure if people remember things according to preference or choice. It seems to be random for these guys.

Vladimir and Estragon often remember things differently and quarrel about which rendition of events is true. They cannot even remember how many days they have been waiting for Godot. They can’t tell which boy is which, even, and they remember differently than Pozzo.

Life seems more like a series of events over a long, endless span. It is our actions that confirm our existence, and that even while we wait, we cannot live without acting. I think of writing that way. I think I’d like to do something to give the impression that I exist and that I’m engaging with these stories and the world. I think that’s something we’re all looking for.

“We always find something, eh Didi, to give the impression that we exist.”

Estragon

Passing Time vs. Living

If you are a person, I’m not sure if you’ll relate completely to this story. The people in this story appear to live in an anarchic society or one run by Godot. They do not live under a capitalist society, and if they do, they at least are committing tax evasion. The life Estragon and Vladimir live is only possible because they somehow manage to drink and feed themselves in the wilderness without a job. Godot is their employer of sorts, but he doesn’t make them do anything else. They only have to wait and not work, and we don’t even know if they are being paid. He does appear to employ the boys who work for him, but that is all we know.

Therefore, the world the characters inhabit is quite unlike our own. They are able to sit and wander and do essentially nothing. There are few worries about how they will be able to afford to stay alive. They also seem decently content living in the wilderness, at least, they do not worry greatly about their ability to stay alive.

Therefore, they are allowed to be idle, and can spend much of their time just passing time, rather than trying to make a living.

The Purposeless of Waiting

Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for meaning, instruction, to be told what to do. Pozzo is not waiting for Godot, and he is a terrible, tyrannical, abusive person. He is the only one that we don’t see living under someone else’s orders.

I asked before if Estragon and Vladimir would be happier if they ignored Godot and did what they wanted. They are missing out and don’t accept all the freedom that they have. Time is being wasted as they wait for him to come. He dictates what space they stay in, how long they stay together, and their patience. The world they live in is also unjust, there are unhealthy dynamics between boss and employee, and between Pozzo and Lucky, but these relationships continue in a cycle. Life is all a cycle in this story.

Pozzo: I don’t seem to be able to . . . (long hesitation). . . to depart

Estragon: Such is life.

Estragon has a point here. This is also maybe the only point where I can empathize with Pozzo.

Vladimir: That passed the time.

Estragon: It would have passed anyway. 

Vladimir: Yes, but not so rapidly.

Pause

Estragon: What do we do now?
That's the odd message of this story, that we fill our lives with random events that we might forget. In Waiting for Godot, there is no exciting moment. I'm not sure I still understand this play after all these years. Is the problem that they are waiting for a purpose instead of seeking it ourselves or looking for a better purpose, or does life is has little meaning or direction whether or not Godot was there? 

I’d like to think that perhaps they could do better if they just left Godot behind, but they don’t do that. So, we’ll never know. It frustrated me, especially while reading a play where almost nothing happens. In an odd way, I liked how this play ended without answers, because it feels like real life. Although Vladimir and Estragon have few responsibilities, I could relate to them.

Even without things to do, life without a goal or plan can feel like we’re Waiting for Godot. Sometimes life isn’t as romantic as other plays seem. Our connections with others aren’t always perfect and as humans we know that other people don’t understand and remember events the same way that we do. Our consciousness are different. This is captured through the characters of Estragon and Vladimir.

On one hand, this play makes me pessimistic. Taking action seems to be an answer to their problems. I wonder why Estragon and Vladimir keep coming back to each other. Listening to another person and hearing their perspective helps us, even if we don’t find the truth. I like Waiting For Godot for that reason.

When it comes to questions, rather than ignoring or trying to solve everything, it gives us space to ask questions and lets us question the answers and sit in uncertainty for a bit.

Have you ever read Waiting for Godot? What did you think? Did you like reading it or get annoyed with the characters? Let me know in the comments below.

Important Note: This play talks about suicide and death and includes representations of slavery.

What makes it good?

  • Wit and dialogue
  • Friendship between two people who are reluctant to say they care about each other
  • Questions about the nature of truth

Reasons I struggled to get into this play

  • It is long
  • The two acts are basically the same
  • No key drama moves the plot forward
  • I’m not sure I got it the first time I read it

I’m going to talk about a play where almost nothing happens. Waiting for Godot consists of two acts and the two protagonists do almost nothing in the first act and do the same thing in the second. This long story of stasis includes theological questionings about Jesus’ crucifixion, a speech from a quiet character given for reasons unknown, slow witticisms, questions about epistemology, and reluctant friendship.

In the midst of a desert-dry plot, our attention reading or watching falls on any molecule of meaning that the dialogue offers. But going into full analysis mode misses much of the point. The action, the dialogue, the set and props also tell the story.

Remember that this is a play, and it is a long play. I remember looking over it for hours in my British Literature class and then for a second time when I wrote this review. It still baffles me to this day, so I’ll go into some parts the best I can, but there is certainly more that can be talked about.

We all go to plays because we are bored. You could also say we go to plays to be entertained or because we like to see something that makes meaning out of experience.

So, whether you are bored, want to be entertained, or are looking for a way to understand the meaning of your life, you should read and watch Waiting for Godot. You get to see people on stage who are in the same boat as you. They are waiting for something, for anything to happen.

Waiting for Godot is primarily a dialogue between the two major characters Estragon and Vladimir. I would say that the story is one of uncertain friendship. They don’t always love each other, in fact, they aren’t quite certain if they even want to spend time together. Perhaps they would do better off alone.

Vladimir and Esgragon don’t really fight, because they have the same goal. They’re waiting for Godot, they’re searching for purpose, for a task to fulfill. They are asking questions and waiting for an answer. These are universal questions and based on my reading, Waiting for Godot doesn’t answer any of them.

That doesn’t mean, that the characters are utterly inactive, though. The characters do do some fascinating things. They pick up a carrot and want a turnip. They chat about life, they walk around, and they quarrel.

Inactivity

Estragon and Vladimir spend the play waiting for Godot to arrive and tell them what to do. Godot is their purpose, the one that they should be waiting for, and the one they respect. They won’t leave until he arrives. They don’t appear ambitious or excited for Godot’s arrival. They mostly want him to come because they are bored and feel like they cannot leave without him.

But, oddly enough, they don’t question Godot himself. They don’t question this meeting that they’re having with this man. They don’t question Godot’s character or reasons for meeting. They’re just blindly obedient and trust him because he is the only available authority. Neither character decides to take the matter into their own hands.

I want to note that Godot is not to represent God. Some have interpreted Godot as God and thought that they are waiting for a God that will not come. But this isn’t a correct interpretation by the author’s own words. Beckett said, “If I meant to write God, I would write God.”

Beckett himself is agnostic, but his questions are ones that everyone asks at least a few times in their life. What do we do with our lives? What are we supposed to be doing here? How do we live in a world that seems so repetitive?

These are valid questions, but these characters aren’t great at answering them or even grappling with them well. They just expect someone else, who they barely know anything about to give them purpose in life. When I look at this play, I wonder if taking Godot out of the equation would make their lives better. Why not make a decision and take a risk to find a purpose outside of a vague authority. He hasn’t shown up in days, what is Godot going to do if they leave?

If you’re still not convinced that Godot is not God or a metaphor for God, I’d like to offer a few other points. First, Godot isn’t treated like a God, no one prays to or worships him. Godot doesn’t provide Estragon and Vladimir a way to live or even show that he cares for them or anyone else at all. Godot never reveals anything about himself to them either, he just remains a complete mystery. We don’t even know if he really exists and ultimately, Estragon and Vladimir don’t really care about him.

When a messenger boy comes and tells them Godot isn’t coming, they don’t ask much about Godot. Instead, they are concerned about the boy’s well being. They ask if the boy if Godot feeds him enough, if he’s good to the boy, if Godot beats him, and if he’s happy. Godot sounds pretty bad. He beats the boy’s brother but isn’t exactly kind to the boy.

When Vladimir asks if the boy is happy, the boy responds:

"You're not unhappy." The boy hesitates. "Do you hear me?

Yes Sir.

Well? 

I don't know, Sir

You don't know if you're unhappy or not?

No sir.

"You're as bad as myself (Silence). Where do you sleep?"

This scene is pretty bad, but it shows that above all, Vladimir cares more about another person’s well being over a vague authority figure. The play doesn’t ever hit you over the head with how great it is to love other people and be nice and everything. This scene is sweet, if rare, moment. That leads us to the question of friendship.

Friendship

Estragon and Vladimir are somewhat reluctant friends. They are joined in this goal of waiting for Godot and they seem to like each other enough to stay together. They also wonder if they should part a few times. They contrast with Pozzo and Lucky, who are in an abusive power dynamic. It is one of servant/master or slave/master, because it is unclear whether or not Lucky is able to leave the abusive Pozzo. The contrast between the respectful friendship of people figuring out life and the abusive relationship between Pozzo and Lucky is a big part of the story.

I liked how Beckett portrayed Vladimir and Estragon’s relationship. They both have different perspectives on the world. Vladimir thinks more about philosophical and theological issues, while Estragon is more concerned with the physical world. Estragon also forgets things pretty often. They balance each other out well, even if they don’t understand each other fully. I like how they both seem to like each other, but they don’t completely get why they keep coming back to each other.

Lucky’s Speech

I’m still not sure I understand this speech because it is nonsense. Lucky gives a speech that doesn’t make much sense. It says “for reasons unknown” several times and despite the rest of the words, it suggests that we don’t know why anything happens the way it does. According to Lucky, any attempt at meaning becomes nonsensical in the world we live in.

Theological Questioning

If you are looking for the part in the play where Beckett questions religion, this is it. Vladimir reflects on the story of Jesus the three thieves on the cross. He remembers how one story says that both thieves taunted Jesus, and another says there is a good thief who is saved and a mean one. The question is a bit theological. It is questioning the truth of the Bible, but it is also asking us about truth as a whole. How do we know what truth is? How can we tell the truth if two different stories are different? How can we tell what the truth is when we have different interpretations of the truth.

Sometimes we only hear one version of the truth, like some people only hear one story of the thieves on the cross and assume there is one good thief and one bad thief. I think a lot of us prefer this story to the one where both thieves are mean, so we remember it that way. In this play though, I’m not sure if people remember things according to preference or choice. It seems to be random for these guys.

Vladimir and Estragon often remember things differently and quarrel about which rendition of events is true. They cannot even remember how many days they have been waiting for Godot. They can’t tell which boy is which, even, and they remember differently than Pozzo.

Life seems more like a series of events over a long, endless span. It is our actions that confirm our existence, and that even while we wait, we cannot live without acting. I think of writing that way. I think I’d like to do something to give the impression that I exist and that I’m engaging with these stories and the world. I think that’s something we’re all looking for.

“We always find something, eh Didi, to give the impression that we exist.”

Estragon

Passing Time vs. Living

If you are a person, I’m not sure if you’ll relate completely to this story. The people in this story appear to live in an anarchic society or one run by Godot. They do not live under a capitalist society, and if they do, they at least are committing tax evasion. The life Estragon and Vladimir live is only possible because they somehow manage to drink and feed themselves in the wilderness without a job. Godot is their employer of sorts, but he doesn’t make them do anything else. They only have to wait and not work, and we don’t even know if they are being paid. He does appear to employ the boys who work for him, but that is all we know.

Therefore, the world the characters inhabit is quite unlike our own. They are able to sit and wander and do essentially nothing. There are few worries about how they will be able to afford to stay alive. They also seem decently content living in the wilderness, at least, they do not worry greatly about their ability to stay alive.

Therefore, they are allowed to be idle, and can spend much of their time just passing time, rather than trying to make a living.

The Purposeless of Waiting

Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for meaning, instruction, to be told what to do. Pozzo is not waiting for Godot, and he is a terrible, tyrannical, abusive person. He is the only one that we don’t see living under someone else’s orders.

I asked before if Estragon and Vladimir would be happier if they ignored Godot and did what they wanted. They are missing out and don’t accept all the freedom that they have. Time is being wasted as they wait for him to come. He dictates what space they stay in, how long they stay together, and their patience. The world they live in is also unjust, there are unhealthy dynamics between boss and employee, and between Pozzo and Lucky, but these relationships continue in a cycle. Life is all a cycle in this story.

Pozzo: I don’t seem to be able to . . . (long hesitation). . . to depart

Estragon: Such is life.

Estragon has a point here. This is also maybe the only point where I can empathize with Pozzo.

Vladimir: That passed the time.

Estragon: It would have passed anyway. 

Vladimir: Yes, but not so rapidly.

Pause

Estragon: What do we do now?

That’s the odd message of this story, that we fill our lives with random events that we might forget. In Waiting for Godot, there is no exciting moment. I’m not sure I still understand this play after all these years. Is the problem that they are waiting for a purpose instead of seeking it ourselves or looking for a better purpose, or does life is has little meaning or direction whether or not Godot was there?

I’d like to think that perhaps they could do better if they just left Godot behind, but they don’t do that. So, we’ll never know. It frustrated me, especially while reading a play where almost nothing happens. In an odd way, I liked how this play ended without answers, because it feels like real life. Although Vladimir and Estragon have few responsibilities, I could relate to them.

Even without things to do, life without a goal or plan can feel like we’re Waiting for Godot. Sometimes life isn’t as romantic as other plays seem. Our connections with others aren’t always perfect and as humans we know that other people don’t understand and remember events the same way that we do. Our consciousness are different. This is captured through the characters of Estragon and Vladimir.

On one hand, this play makes me pessimistic. Taking action seems to be an answer to their problems. I wonder why Estragon and Vladimir keep coming back to each other. Listening to another person and hearing their perspective helps us, even if we don’t find the truth. I like Waiting For Godot for that reason.

When it comes to questions, rather than ignoring or trying to solve everything, it gives us space to ask questions and lets us question the answers and sit in uncertainty for a bit.

Have you ever read Waiting for Godot? What did you think? Did you like reading it or get annoyed with the characters? Let me know in the comments below.

Books

How to Write a Novel Based on Fanfiction The Right Way: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Pros

  • Witty banter, especially between Adam and Olive
  • Sweet friendships and found family
  • Likable side characters and relationships
  • Fascinating insight into life in STEM and academia
  • Well described tension and chemistry

Cons

  • Characters could have been developed better
  • The plot felt slightly convoluted at times
  • Slow at times
  • Plot is driven by communication issues
  • Her friend, Ahn, was kind of pushy about getting them together

It was a cool February day when I decided to venture to a local library to check out The Love Hypothesis. Bookstagram raved and sung in the streets about this romance. I was a little bit skeptical at first. How good could it really be? The amount of times I’ve seen this online is insane. If this book was advertised in person, it would be as widespread one of those “Where is Peter Parker” posters. But I don’t blame them. I binge read this book in a few days over break and I get it.

Summary

Olive is a brilliant PhD student who wants to be a great scientist. She has loved science since she was a kid, and that love and desire to help others keeps her going through the hours of analyzing samples and writing her findings, all for a low pay that affords her Ramen noodle dinners. There is also another reason she keeps going, a super important one, but I can’t say what it is or I’d be spoiling. Where would be the fun in that?

So, she’s a pretty typical twenty-something, figuring out her life and hanging out with her friends. She works and also partakes in pretty normal hobbies, like watching American Ninja Warrior with her roommate Malcolm and her friend Ahn when she’s got a free moment.

What Olive hasn’t done much of is dating, which is fine. She is not attracted to people very often anyway. She went out with Jeremy a few times, but she didn’t feel anything romantically. But now her friend Ahn likes him, crap. But Ahn is worried that Olive still likes Jeremy. Oh crap. Well, of course the answer to this predicament is to impulsively kiss the first man she sees. This poor man ends up being the absurdly tall, sexy-as-can-be, obnoxious Dr. Adam Carlsen.

Does this sound convoluted to you–like it could be created from fanfiction? Well, if you thought that way, you’re absolutely right. The Love Hypothesis was actually originally written as fanfiction about Rey and Kylo Ren. In this alternate universe, Kylo is a college professor and Rey is a grad student; but it was so good, that the author decided to turn it into a novel with different characters. If you’re surprised, I feel the same way. I didn’t find this out until I was halfway through.

I never noticed that Adam looks like Kylo Ren (Adam Driver and the character even have the same first name) until a friend pointed it out. Maybe I don’t get it. I never fantasized about confessing my love to Kylo Ren or of kissing him on the beach, at least, not yet. I was a mild shipper of Kylo and Rey, but I never finished the new Star Wars or cared that much. Maybe that’s why I can’t picture him in this story.

When I picture a rude dark haired professor, I would think of Severus Snape before I consider Kylo Ren. I didn’t picture Snape as I was reading though; I imagined a tall muscly runner guy. I don’t get Kylo Ren, he’s attractive I suppose, but he’s not Adam. Adam has fluffy hair and he’s tall. That feels different. But maybe Adam Driver is tall? Okay, Google says he’s 6’3. Cool.

Anyway, so back to the story. Olive has to explain the sudden kiss to Ahn, and if Adam becomes her boyfriend–problem solved. Thus, fake dating begins.

The arrangement works out for Adam because he’ll convince the college that he has no plans of leaving for another university. Apparently, he’s a brilliant hotshot science and every college wants him.

Olive is brilliant, of course. Her friends are wicked smart and kind. But don’t worry, this story includes condescending pig-heads too.

Adam and Olive’s story uses many tropes from fanfiction and romance novels, but Hazelwood makes them unique and fun. The lengths that her characters go to show that they are a couple are slightly, but also believably ridiculous, laughable, and full of piping hot sexual tension. Everyone in this story is a shipper, especially Anh. But then fake dating gets complicated when real feelings begin that they can’t ignore.

In addition to their great romance, these two are likable characters that I enjoyed getting to know better. Olive is witty and fun and Adam is grumpy and kind. Their situations are also very realistic. They don’t have a ton of time on their hands working in academia. Neither has hours to spend at coffee shops, on campus meals, and hanging on the quad. But they also attend the same functions and frequent the lab building. So, don’t worry, they aren’t too busy to fall in love.

Structure

The book is broken into chapters and each chapter has a “hypothesis” heading where Olive gives a hypothesis about her fake-dating situation. I enjoyed reading these headings. Each hypothesis is witty and silly, and it gives us a hint as to what will happen in each chapter. The chapters are not too long, and I got through them pretty quickly. The story also includes a few text messages and emails from characters, and they fit into the grad-school life. Hazelwood uses email and texting when appropriate, and it thankfully isn’t overused.

The Love Hypothesis is definitely made up of more dialogue than description. The plot moves forward through each social interaction between friends, colleges, and fake-dating partners. I wish Hazelwood had been more descriptive of the scenery, but it didn’t harm my enjoyment of the book. She is good at writing dialogue, describing body language, and writing Olive’s internal monologue.

I enjoyed the third person limited perspective that Hazelwood uses. I generally prefer first person, and I prefer write in it myself, but with this story, third person just works. We still learn about Olive’s thoughts and worries about life. Hazelwood does this by italicizing Olive’s thoughts as she reacts in the moment. I saw a few complaints that this was in third person, but I liked it that way. She often gets nervous about Adam and their relationship, so we get to hear her say funny thing like this:

“Because.” Because my throat will dry up and my brain will shut down and I will be so bad that someone from the audience will take out a crossbow and shoot me in the kneecap.

Olive at page 198

It was a bit odd that Hazelwood sometimes italicized Olive’s thoughts and sometimes she didn’t. The only reason I can guess is that she wanted emphasis for certain thoughts, but if she is a good writer (which she is) those points will stick out regardless.

Olive’s internal monologue is witty and quick. She felt pretty relatable when she describes the feeling of awkwardness and uncertainty that comes with social situations like especially dating and public speaking.

I found it fascinating how Hazelwood writes about the STEM grad school experience. All Olive’s feelings felt real, and I often felt bad for her. I’ve never been there, but when I was reading I felt like I got it. Hazelwood herself has a P.H.D. in neuroscience and you can tell. She describes both the intricacies, the insecurities, and the isolation that comes from grad school. Hazelwood also shows us the bad parts of academia: the cutthroat environment and harsh professors, the sexism, the obnoxious scientists, and the lack of funding for studies or quality equipment.

Reviewing the Romance and Rationships

Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this story is about two lonely people finding each other and growing in a community and understanding themselves. The story is one of found family–one of my favorite tropes. Olive’s friends Malcolm and Anh were amazing and it is fun to watch them together.

Their interactions and relationships felt realistic and silly. Her friends also had their own lives and interests that were separate from Olive. I feel like sometimes characters in these stories don’t have their own lives. I really liked Ahn, even if she was kind of annoying about pushing Olive and Adam together.

Olive and Adam were adorable. They have funny banter you’d expect to read in a coffee shop themed fanfiction. I’m telling you, this ship is the definition of the grumpy-sunshine trope. Olive is much more fun-loving, while Adam has a serious demeanor. Their interactions are filled with mutual pining and total awe of the other person’s bizarre actions. Opposites attract as they say, and these two are obviously very attracted to each other. For instance:

“You ooze moodiness”

“I do not.” He sounded indignant, which struck her as oddly endearing.

This story is definitely more of a slow-burn. While Olive and Adam do move forward in their relationship, it takes a while for them to realize what they want from each other and how the other person feels. If you’re looking for a book about characters who are all over each other right away and then have a ton of sex the entire book–you might end up a little disappointed. I personally like when there is an emotional connection and buildup before they get together. But I will admit, slow-burn romances can feel annoying, especially when they are super oblivious. In this case, I really liked how the romance was slower, especially from what we know about Olive’s character.

Demisexuality Representation

Olive isn’t very experienced in romance at the start of the story, and she hasn’t developed crushes on very many people and she didn’t date or want to date much before this story. Hazelwood shows that that is the way Olive experiences attraction, and it is normal. Olive never labels herself, but she does say she only becomes attracted to a potential partner when she trusts them and develops an emotional bond. Olive talks about this with Adam. Although Olive never names her orientation, it sounds like she is demisexual.

I relate to Olive a lot, except for the part where she develops feelings for Adam. I’m not sure I’ve gotten there yet. I think that Olive is demiromantic too. Romantic and sexual attraction are sometimes linked, but not always. From what I interpreted, she doesn’t romantically like anyone before Adam. I liked how this was a slow-burn story and they grow to appreciate each other more over time.

As for representation, I would say The Love Hypothesis is a mixed bag. On one hand, some demisexual reviewers saw themselves in Olive. But others found the representation vague and wished Olive called herself demisexual. If Hazelwood wanted to take the demisexuality and or demiromantic route with Olive, she could have been more validating.

And the representation it isn’t super positive either, Olive also wonders if there is something wrong with her and she never fully realizes that it is valid and normal to experience sexual and/or romantic attraction differently than how society and the media tells us–or to not experience sexual and romantic attraction at all. Those moments felt a bit odd and underdeveloped when I was reading them. I’m not sure Hazelwood handled demisexuality the best, but she does give it more awareness. Olive’s feelings could also be relatable to someone who didn’t date until later in life regardless of their sexuality. This story also has LGBTQ+ representation with other characters, but I can’t say anything specific without giving spoilers.

Thoughts on the Ship as a Whole

Overall, the romance was well written. A few reviewers have said that the characters are somewhat bland. I wish I’d gotten more development from them in general. They felt a bit cliché at times, but it didn’t bother me that much. The story is supposed to be fun and a lighthearted read.

The witty banter is great and the coffee shop dates were freaking adorable. Olive likes Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Adam gets black coffee, which was pretty amusing. They have so many silly moments together, and they’re just fun and you can unapologetically enjoy them. I liked how Adam got out of his shell after spending time with Olive. They’re so happy and goofy and they can be themselves together and grow together. I love them.

I also enjoyed how we got to see Olive’s career and her growing as a scientist and person. She struggles with public speaking and feels insecure, for instance, and we see her grow more confident. Hazelwood balances Olive’s science journey and romance–of course, since this is a romance novel, the romance part is given the most words, but the parts with her in grad school were given plenty of time and care. You can tell that Hazelwood has been there.

Plot/Communication Issues

So many of the problems in these characters’ lives occurred because they don’t talk to each other about anything. Olive did say that she doesn’t get close to many people because of her past and everything, but her reasoning still felt like lazy writing. People deal with things emotionally in different ways, but it is still annoys me. Communication issues are probably my least favorite trope in any romance story. Also, since we knew they liked each other, it was irritating to see either of them even considering that the other seriously had feelings for anyone else instead. The story’s pacing also felt a little slow.

How to Publish a Fanfiction-Based Novel Right

The Love Hypothesis uses and plays with many conventions that exist in fanfiction, there is the coffee shop, the “there is only one bed” trope, the grumpy-sunshine trope, etc. All of these tropes and fanfic themes could have been cringe-worthy and badly-written, but they are not. Hazelwood has a sense of humor that makes their fake-dating interactions both awkward and filled with real tension.

We obviously see that Adam cares about Olive and vice versa and they are kind to each other from the start. Olive is her own person, she doesn’t feel like an Ali Hazelwood stand-in or a complete blank slate. She is the one to begin the fake-dating relationship and she doesn’t let things just happen to her. She is a pretty active character; Adam isn’t inactive or boring either and he’s a total sweetheart. We do get to understand why both of them act the way they do.

Unlike Fifty Shades and Twilight, the couple are pretty honest with each other, as long as the conversation topic isn’t whether or not if one has a crush on the other. While Adam has a reputation for being harsh with undergraduates, he is always sweet to Olive. The two ask for consent at every turn and take the other’s feelings into account. When we see them get together, it is deeply satisfying. But then the drama heats up, so we don’t get the happily ever after for too long.

Overall Thoughts and the Ending

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read, and it is one that kept me turning pages. The writing is witty and fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously—but all the serious issues are treated with respect and care. I loved how Hazelwood writes stories within the STEM genre. Hazelwood creates a love story from a familiar setting and it works wonderfully. I had never read a book about grad school before, and this one was funny, sweet, and well-written. I’m not sure if I’d say this book is one that you need to read before you die, but I’m personally glad that I did.

As to the ending, I personally liked it. I thought it was good, maybe they could have added more story, but I didn’t mind leaving things a bit open. I loved Malcolm’s ending and Ahn’s. Although I expected to see her interact with Jeremy more. He was just there.

Observations:

-This book contains sexual scenes/content. If you want to skip those parts, they occur on Chapter 16 and a bit of 17.

-I liked how Olive and Adam are marathon runners. That’s a cool hobby to include, even if it wasn’t necessarily part of the plot.

-People might find it unrealistic. The fake-dating trope can feel fake. If you’re looking for a more serious/plot driven story, this might not be for you. The Love Hypothesis is very relationship and romance driven and the premise isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously.

Have you read The Love Hypothesis? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below!

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Fitness

Why Running Isn’t Terrible: My Experiences Throughout The Years

Why Running Isn’t Terrible: My Experiences Throughout The Years

The other day was a beautiful day. The air was cool, the sky was a brilliant blue, and it was a great day to go on a run. I’ve been trying to get back into running regularly–especially since it has been so gorgeous outside–so I decided to write a bit about my experiences with running. It has been a strange but wonderful journey.

Early Cross Country Experience

I was in sixth grade when I learned that I loved to run. It began when I tried soccer. I liked getting outside and running around the field. I had a red ball with black stripes, which I thought was pretty cool. But, I was never great at it.

Remember that song, the one that goes “be aggressive, AGRESSIVE” or something like that? I wasn’t aggressive, not in the slightest. I was a timid child, and sports did not help me get out of my shell. If anything, they pushed me more inward. When other players came after me, I wanted to back away. When the ball flew high in the air, I flinched.

I tried basketball too and my kind coach wanted me to score once. I almost made it, but I was still terrified of getting hit. People asked throughout high school–and still do–if I’ve ever played basketball. I played in third, fourth and sixth grade, and I’m still terrified of getting hit in the face.

Cross Country

But, when I was in middle school, I had a math teacher that encouraged me and my sister to sign up for Cross Country. I don’t remember my thought process behind this. I knew I liked to run for soccer, but Cross Country? I hadn’t a clue what that was about, but I’m sure my parents encouraged me to sign up so I could be a part of some sport. I also remember I wanted the letterman jacket that my small Catholic school gave all the athletes in seventh grade. It was maroon and had a tiger on it. I think I still have it to this day actually.

The cross country team started training over the summer. Practices were a few days a week at a local park. The park has a mile-long walking trail loop, and there is also a more hilly area to run. The area was close to a nearby lake, and there were also big, gorgeous trees everywhere. There wasn’t a house or a sign of cars in sight.

We would spend our practices by warming up as a group and then we would take off on the trail. I absolutely loved it. It was the one time during my day where I could get away from it all. Unlike soccer or basketball, there was nothing in danger of hitting me. I got away from stiff brick school building and all the surrounding townhouses. When I ran, I got look around and could just be in nature. The trees weren’t in competition with myself–they were were just peacefully coexisting in the world. They were also still. In those moments, I could think about life or process events that happened to me or I could not think about anything at all and look out at the trees.

Cross Country challenged me in ways I hadn’t been ever before. The hot summers and endless hills tested my limits, but I kept going to practice every day. Running up hills felt like drudgery; I practically had to drag myself up at first. I still haven’t found a way to love running hills, but I’ve learned to get used to it. When I ran down a hill, I was filled with momentum and speed. It was exciting and thrilling at first, but I had to learn to stay in control. Otherwise, I could injure myself or just completely spiral out of control.

I loved how with each run I got better. At the beginning, a single mile would wear me out for the day, but by the end of the season, I could breeze through three miles. I wanted to do well and succeed, but there wasn’t tons of pressure to be the best and beat everyone else. My coach, our laid back math and science teacher with clear glasses, was pretty chill. My team also was pretty big. It was a small school, but the team included everyone from fifth to eighth grade so I didn’t stand out in a crowd.

When I was a part of the team, I often didn’t see my sister until after practice. Sometimes we would pair up by grades. I remember making a few friends just by walking and talking after practice. I’m currently reading Wordsworth for a Romantic Literature class. His poetry talks about going into nature and experiencing it with others. Beauty should be shared with others. I feel like I had that–walking with a friend and talking as we explored a new trail.

The parents of cross country were cool people, I remember a friend’s parents telling us that as long as were putting in our best effort it didn’t matter what place we came in. Finishing a race and crossing the finish line is worthy of celebration, no matter how you get there. My middle school cross country team was a great time, and I’ll always look back fondly on those days.

In my eighth grade year, I moved to a public school and I ran long distance in track in eighth grade. From what I remember I wasn’t too big on the competition element, so I took a year off. But during my sophomore year, I had the cross country coach teach my math class. He said the team was looking for more students to join and I had done track before. So, despite my dislike of competition, I decided to give it a try. I’m not sure I can express in words how glad I am that I took the leap.

That year, I ran cross country, track, and indoor track. I got a letterman jacket for that and band, and I even got a plaque that said “three sport athlete.” My mom still jokes about it sometimes, since I scorned all other sports. Unfortunately, my high school athleticism only lasted a year.

I enjoyed running with other people and going to different parks to run in, but I wasn’t a fan of the track itself. Long Distance was a ton of fun, but for track, I ran the two mile. If you’ve never run two miles on a—smaller than standard, or really any– high school track, I will tell you it is awful. To me, running in many circles while a crowd watched me was one of the worst things ever. Unlike the mile or 800 meter race, the two mile took an infinite amount of time.

When I ran cross country at a park, I didn’t think about ending at all or the crowd watching me. It also was boring. I got to forget that everyone was watching in cross country, but on a physical track I could never forget. I also didn’t like the gunshots or the competition aspect. Rather than a way to relax and go into nature, track was a time where it seemed like everyone was watching you.

Cyber Gym?

I decided not to do track or cross country my junior year of high school, and looking back–I regret quitting both cross country and track. Junior year was the most stressful year of high school, and I no longer had that an outlet for the stress. I didn’t stop running completely, but I didn’t feel as motivated without cross country and track practice a few times a week. It wasn’t until my senior year when I took a cyber gym that I unintentionally fell in love with running again.

What in the world is cyber gym? I asked this too. I was one of those kids who hated gym class. I wasn’t a fan of group sports or changing rooms so I put off my second gym class requirement as long as possible–but I could never escape it–despite trying everything. So for my senior year, I signed up for what looked like the only tolerable option–cyber gym.

I remember meeting with two gym coaches and all my fellow sufferers in the library. They explained to us that we were to do workouts– any kind we wanted–and take pictures and write a description of our activities as proof. We then put those into a PowerPoint presentation. Each workout had to be at least an hour. If I remember correctly, we submitted 10 workouts to our teachers every half a nine weeks.

On the bright side, I knew that I liked running, so I decided to run for a majority of my workouts. I also figured that running would be the easiest workout to record. I would run outside or on the treadmill and then take a picture of the dashboard. I also got the Nike Run Club app on my phone. The Nike Run Club is an app that tracks a runner’s mileage and times, and I just took a screenshot of each day’s workout.

When I started running regularly again, I had an outlet. I felt less stressed during the day and looked forward to going for a run after school. This time, there was no competition. I didn’t have to run on a particular track or at a place. I got to decide where I ran–except, of course, the days where the bitter cold kept me inside on the treadmill. The class actually wasn’t too bad, and I never had to enter a gym locker room or miss out on class time. It was awesome.

Mandatory College Gym Class Was Kinda Fun?

Of course, it didn’t end there. When I got to college, I found out I needed to take gym and health class freshman year. Just when I thought I had escaped gym it had creeped up on me again.

But it wasn’t horrible. Freshman classes at Grove City no longer have a gym requirement; they called it Fitwell instead of gym. Fitwell sounds a little less intimidating and sweaty. Some of my classmates complained about required gym, but I actually enjoyed it after a while. The first semester was a series of lectures about health, which were pretty boring, but the next three semesters that were actual gym were pretty fun. We got to choose three fitness classes to take on campus. There was walk/jog/run, free weights, mechanical weights, and swimming. So, in my first year of college, I ran on the indoor track, learned to use mechanical weights, and tried to swim.

I say try because I still struggle with the butterfly. I’m still a bit afraid of putting my head underwater for a long time–but I got a little better at swimming. I also met new friends and became closer with other friends in an environment that I wouldn’t have been in otherwise. Since everyone had to take it, I got to take a class with friends from different majors. With each class, I felt more confident about working out in college. The gym also was no longer an overwhelming heap of machines, and I started to understand how to lift seriously. (I lifted a little in track in high school, but I still wasn’t fully comfortable with figuring out how to work out on my own.) I also felt less stressed during an overwhelming freshman year.

I’ve found that I always feel better when exercise is a part of my life. The stress pours off of me, and I feel accomplished every time. Running has been a part of my routine on and off for a long time. When I realized that it was something I could continue in college, it was amazing. I had an outlet for stress in this fun hobby where I got to challenge myself. My college also has plenty of trails, neighborhood, and space to run outdoors. There are so many possibilities to go every day. I enjoy seeing new places and testing my limits. I love listening to my favorite songs and exploring new music during a run too.

The Nike Run Club App

From the neighboring streets and park trails to the outdoor track by the football field, I never run out of places to run. Every run is an adventure, a path that I carve, and a total blast. Of course, they aren’t always great. I get tired, and wish I’d done more sometimes, but overall, the benefits outweigh the bad days.

I really enjoy using the Nike Run App. It helped me get started running again during my sophomore year of college. Not only does the app count your mileage and track your distance, it also includes guided runs where you can run a specific distance or time with a coach’s guidance. I get to go on runs I haven’t done since track practice like the Fartlek run and a 5k. Your guide tells you what pace to run at–which you decide–the speeds usually range from a 5k pace to a celebratory sprint.

The Nike Run coaches that talk during the guided runs are encouraging and kind. They address the runner directly. It feels like you’re listening to a podcast where the speaker is talking to you and building you up the whole time. I’ve heard the headspace app is kind of like that, but I haven’t tried it enough to know for sure. As weird as it seems at first, it helps to hear someone on the other end.

Listening to a coach helps me to keep running when I feel like giving up. I don’t always do guided runs, but I find it helps a lot when I’m not sure where to start or want more motivation. For speed runs, your pace often changes, so it is nice to have a guide telling you when to stop and go.

The mentality of Nike Run Club matches some of the values I follow while running. With the app, it is always about doing the best, not comparing yourself to others, and becoming a better runner than you were yesterday. Their advice also applies to life. Finishing every run strong is just how we should do our work. The coaches also don’t just focus on the run itself and instead talks about heath as a whole.

They remind you to pause the video and warm up and tell runners to do static stretches and hydrate after a run and make sure to eat something afterwards. I was pretty wary of virtual coaching at first, but I realized I like it. It keeps me focused and I feel less tempted to give up when I have a guide. They tell you to keep going and not give up and they give countdowns at the end. Running through a countdown feels great. It was Nike Run Club that helped me get more serious about running in college.

Future Running Goals

Of course, Running can suck sometimes. Whether the weather is extremely hot or frigid–like this month–going on a run might not sound amazing. I feel tired, my playlist doesn’t match perfectly, and I’m not always sure which turn to make. When I feel discouraged, I usually remind myself how much better I feel afterward and that–if I’m out on the trail–that I am doing my best and trying.

Doing one thing is better than nothing. I’m in no way saying it is easy. It is way easier though, when you have a routine. I sometimes struggle with a lack of motivation, especially when I’m on a break from school. I’ve learned that feeling down or forcing myself isn’t what helps. I remind myself why I love it and remind myself that it is never too late to get started again. I can make it part of my routine again. I feel cliché quoting Nike, but I really need to just do it.

I just need to make time and start a run those days at the same time. I do my best when exercise–or any good habit really–becomes so automatic that I don’t have to think about getting started. Instead, I feel excited to start and appreciate the differences this day has from others. Running is a something I plan to keep with me as I keep making new goals and thinking about the future. It feels like a beautiful thing that I should keep up.

I’d love to run a marathon or half-marathon or run a 5K at some point. I also want to try trail running at some point, since I’ve never gone before.

Do you have anything that’s stuck with you for a long time? What type of exercises do you like best? Also, are you interested in more of this type of content? I figured I’d talk a little more about me, and I just figured I’d give telling personal stories a try. Let me know what you think down in the comments below!