News Sport

Women’s Waterpolo Takes Home NCS Title and Their First State Qualification.

WALNUT CREEK— The 2022 season for women’s varsity waterpolo was nothing short of impressive and historic.

After ending regular season 18-10, the team blew their way through competition to land themselves a spot in the North Coast Section Division 1 Championships. The game ended successfully as the women’s team brought home the title after taking down Amador Valley on November 12, the final score 6-5. The win was not only a demonstration of the immense talent and drive, but it also meant their appearance in state playoffs for the first time in program history.

“It was really rewarding to know all our hard work—morning practices, tournaments, games, etc—had payed off,” said junior player Caroline Nicol. “The energy from all of us [making state] was remarkable. Even with some ups and downs, we always had a ‘next play’ attitude… which definitely a reason that won us our game.”

Senior Tiernan Lynch makes a pass in their first state playoff game against Clovis East (CIF Playoffs, Nov 15).

Women’s waterpolo moved on to play Clovis East at home on November 15, yet lost their first state playoff, 6-12.

Senior Kayla Morse reflected back on her last season with the team, “Winning NCS was a surreal experience… Our team grew so much since our first game and making program history was an amazing end to the season.”

“The looks on the faces of the players and their families, it doesn’t get better than that! I’ve rewatched the game probably ten times already and can’t help but smile every time we score,” said head coach Ryan Sevilla. Sevilla has coached water polo for ten years, eight of those years with Las Lomas, and is looking towards the future of the team, “We’re not going to get complacent – we’re incredibly proud of the 22-23 season, but this team has high hopes for next year and this is a big offseason for the players. I know they’re ready for the challenge that lies ahead and I’m excited to see how much we can improve by next August.”

Waterpolo will begin practices over the summer and the 2023-2024 season will begin during August.

Junior Teagan Claus rushes to save a ball (CIF Playoffs, Nov 15).
Freshman Lily Palma moves to get the ball closer to Clovis East’s goal (CIF Playoffs, Nov 15).


Photos by ROWAN SHEA

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Winter Break: Wishes and Takeaways

By Yasmeen Anwar

Graphic by Abby Halverstadt

Winter break is a time many spend with family and friends, and numerous students look forward to the holiday season to get a break from school after finals. However, many also end up feeling unfulfilled after break, and some students wish they could have spent their time in other places.

Lydia Cayer, a freshman at Las Lomas, commented, “I wish I had used the computer less and gone out for a hike or something.” She also mentioned that she didn’t do too much during break, but she was grateful for the extra sleep she had gotten. “One thing about break that was good was that I was able to sleep in a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to do this otherwise.” 

Senior Raishma Anwar expressed a similar experience, saying, “I definitely slept a lot more, which I couldn’t [do] otherwise because of school, so that was probably my favorite part.” Anwar also mentions that she had to deal with college applications and said, “Personally, I pushed my college applications off until the very end of winter break, and I kind of regret doing that. I wish I would have just done it during the beginning [of winter break] and then relaxed for the rest of the time because I came back to school sort of burnt out.”

Both women agreed that break was at least a little beneficial, and would help them during this semester. Anwar said, “[Break] definitely [helped] because I felt really burnt out at the end of the first semester and I don’t think I would have finished my college applications if it wasn’t for break.” Cayer also expressed, “I think having the break is helping a little this semester.”

Break can be beneficial, so long as you make it so. Some students will utilize this time to catch up or even get ahead on their studies, while other students will spend the time relaxing and getting time to finally unwind. Many students are waiting for spring break in only a few months.

Many studies have shown that students who get more sleep are more likely to do better in school, as sleep helps with memory retention. Catching up on sleep is something that many students use break for, and it will often help them succeed in the new semester.

Break is what you make it, but maybe don’t go to bed at 3 a.m. every night.

Entertainment Issue 6 Magazine

Jeopardy! Season 37 Continues Amidst Major Changes

By Andrew C. Francois

“And now, here is the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ … Alex Trebek!” Since 1984, television announcer Johnny Gilbert has used these words to usher in each new episode of Jeopardy!, which is, by most accounts, the most beloved and popular game show in television history (Jeopardy!’s 39 Daytime Emmy Awards would certainly point to this). 

Sadly, Trebek, the longtime host of the show, had been battling pancreatic cancer since early 2019. As his chemotherapy dragged on over the past year-and-a-half, it became clear to fans that Trebek would soon pass away. That happened on November 8th, 2020, and while predictable, Trebek’s death was still a profound loss felt deeply by the millions of Jeopardy! fans worldwide. It was quickly decided by Jeopardy! producers that the show would go on and debate quickly began amongst fans about who should succeed Trebek. 

Early on, Ken Jennings was seen as a natural pick. Jennings achieved some degree of fame in 2004, when he won 74 consecutive games of Jeopardy!, picking up more money than anyone else had in the show’s history. Sure enough, on November 23rd, Jeopardy! producers announced that Jennings would be interim host of Jeopardy!, the first in what will be a series of guest hosts, now including personalities such as journalist Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes, and even Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers. 

While I initially had my doubts about Jennings’ hosting abilities, after a week of seeing him as the Jeopardy! host, I can safely say that the show is in good hands with him, and certainly will be in the future given the roster of upcoming guest hosts. It’s clear from his episodes so far that, though Jennings lacks some of the cadence and rhythm in reading clues that Trebek was so well known for, he is certainly a suitable replacement. One thing that has stood out to me about his on-screen personality compared to Trebek’s is that he seems much more engaged and personable than Trebek, with all his strengths, when it comes to interviewing contestants.

Meanwhile, the quality of the show remains top-tier. The questions still cover an ever-changing range of topics, and continue to be fun and engaging for families all over the world. I can certainly say as much for my family. 
Overall, despite Trebek’s tragic passing, I was very pleased with how the producers of Jeopardy! worked to honor his legacy through the show he loved, which he spent nearly half of his life hosting. No number of guest hosts will ever replace Trebek’s wit, nuance, and compassion on the show, but they can certainly help keep the Jeopardy! flame alive, and Ken Jennings has been doing an excellent job of that so far.

Features Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

Painting through the pandemic

By Ally Hoogs

Graphic By Emma Cypressi

Mother/daughter duo Mindy and Audrey Ellison started a new uplifting painting project on their garage in Walnut Creek. They made their first appearance on October 11th on an Instagram account, showcasing a painting that they had made in April. This first appearance helped to boost their followers, who were inspired by their uplifting message and creative design. Using Tempera paint, they design and paint positive messages, thanking health workers, giving helpful COVID safety steps, and uplifting phrases about inclusivity. Their work can be found on their Instagram account, @garagedoorwc, where they post new projects and updates.

The duo came up with the idea nine months ago when Mindy Ellison needed a creative outlet to substitute some of the free time she had off work. Her daughter Audrey soon joined, and together they started a weekly garage painting that is now going nine months strong. Audrey added that painting with bright colors brings fun and an interactive way to stay motivated during the stay at home order. 

“I started doing this as an outlet,” Mindy mentioned. “I don’t consider myself an artistic person, but I love doing this [for the community].” 

Over nine months, a small hobby turned into a community-wide project, bringing bright and motivating illustrations to Walnut Creek. Some of their most collaborative projects include a Thanksgiving painting with a local preschool, writing some of the things they are thankful for, even during the pandemic. The Ellison’s have since then created drawings with uplifting words to associate camaraderie with the struggles of the year.

  Mindy and Audrey both agreed that they weren’t expecting the newfound popularity when they first began. Audrey commented, “I love the connections we’ve made with our neighbors and community. We never thought we would grow such a fanbase out of it and meet so many wonderful people.”

The Ellisons hope that their colorful work brings people together and gives a dose of happiness during the pandemic.

Features Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

Kerry Ginsberg’s Perspective of Distance Learning

By Jack Abells

Graphic By Jane Wilson

Teachers and students have now made it a whole semester through distance learning this year. Having made it this far in such a strange format of school, there’s wonder as to how teachers have been affected by distance learning. Kerry Ginsberg, a teacher of Human & Social Development and English, kindly gave her perspective on Zoom school for past, present, and future.

Ginsberg explained that when campus was first closed last year, her initial approach to distance learning was to do things similarly to in-person school. She tried to make things feel normal for her students, “Keep having class, do the same lectures I would have done otherwise, but take away some of the intensity and stress as far as grading and assignments. Basically I wanted to make sure my students still had access to the material, but without overwhelming them or stressing them out.” As this year began she explained her slightly developed teaching style. “My approach is still very similar to that! Obviously now that we are back to letter grades, I am taking the grading part a little more seriously, but I am still trying to reduce the workload as much as possible. My goal is to make sure the vast majority of work occurs during class time, while being as engaging as possible.”

Contrasted to last year’s lack of schedule, Ginsberg prefers the consistency of this school year’s structure. With regards to this year’s setup versus last year’s she said, “Honestly, I like Canvas. It’s pretty well set up and makes things really clear. It’s a million times better than School Loop.” However, there will always be struggles with distance learning. “A huge challenge has been reaching a few students who don’t log in or don’t respond to emails. It’s also a personal challenge for me to feel like I’m ‘talking into the void’ – not being able to hear student voices, laughter as often because people mostly need to be muted in order to avoid echoing. The chat feature is a positive though; I get a lot of student participation that way. I do anonymous questions a lot, so that students get a chance to ask the things they really care about.”

After a full semester of teaching online, Ginsberg can reflect on her experience. “Overall, this semester has been both very challenging and a lot smoother than I expected,” she said, emphasizing duality. “The hardest parts of the semester for me were the ‘other’ life parts — uncertainty about what school would look like next semester, trying to help my son with Zoom kindergarten, and not being able to see friends and family due to Covid-19. The actual teaching part of my life, the time spent on Zoom with my students, was honestly often the best part of my day.” She can also look ahead, towards how this can improve her teaching later on. “In the future, my class will be a blend of the pen-and-paper activities I’m used to doing and the more tech-heavy stuff I’ve been doing this semester.”

Even in this arduous year, Ginsberg and other teachers have found some good in it. “One thing I’ll say having just given finals for a semester-long class: I’m surprised by how well I got to know my students this semester, even over Zoom. I still prefer in-person of course, but in some ways, Zoom is more personal than being in class — seeing students in their homes, with their pets and families, having them ‘chat’ me their thoughts directly. There has also been a strong feeling for me in my classes of ‘2020 is rough, but at least we’re all in it together.’ I’m going to miss these kids!”

Entertainment Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

No Country for Old Mank

By Josh Silva

Graphic By Jane Wilson

After budgetary concerns cancelled both of his upcoming projects, the third season of Mindhunter and a blockbuster World War Z sequel, star auteur David Fincher dusted off a passion project of his: a script written by his father, journalist Jack Fincher, about the life of Herman Mankewicz (Gary Oldman), co-writer (or as the film would have you believe, writer) of the most canonized of pictures, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane

Though hardly warranting discussion in the same breath as the director whom his script lambastes, Fincher’s painstaking formalism elevates material, which in any other director’s hands would be rendered bland, into memorable entertainment of the highest order. His trademark perfectionism is not just a guarantee of shot-by-shot consistency, but of tonal, thematic, and diegetic consistency. That is, until Mank.

A film of jarring fluctuations, Mank can demonstrate the rich, chiaroscuro apex of digital black-and-white cinematography in one scene only to cast a drab, murky veil in the next. More often than not, Fincher chooses the latter. The film exists in an odd suspension between the crisp digital style Fincher has perfected, and a misguided mimicry of an “old movie” look. The film’s sound was recorded in mono (another muddling effect), it simulates film grain and negative splotches and it has a period-accurate score. This score, by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is the film’s most outstanding attribute. Working in an unfamiliar style, they create an exceptionally inventive synthesis of their sensibilities and those of 1930s music, the one successful example of the film’s marriage of two opposing aesthetics. Despite these choices, Fincher does not commit to impersonation; he shot the film on RED’s latest digital cameras, liberally uses CGI, and stages it like all his other pictures. The dullest, most detextured scenes are ironically the ones with the most faux celluloid effects. In trying to capture the best of each world, he undermines the qualities of both. 

Given all the ground Mank covers, it’s surprising how little is revealed about our titular character. This is not intentional, mystique-building obfuscation, but surprisingly amateurish underdevelopment. Again, Fincher’s meticulousness has previously precluded sloppiness, yet in this film it runs amok. All supporting characters are quick to affirm Mank’s genius, one which the audience can’t grasp when Mank spends half the film incapacitated and drunk. His distinguished wit and compulsive self destruction are enough to hold the viewer’s attention, but scarcely constitute a complex character. The film’s two best scenes demonstrate these respective characteristics and the tension they create with an otherwise insubstantial supporting cast. The same supporting characters who gravitate toward Mank’s alleged brilliance share paper-thin dynamics with him: his wife is given only a trace of agency, and his friendship with his brother hardly extends beyond the obligatory, “Remember when we were kids?” exchange. His most interesting relationship is with William Randolph Hearst, the basis for Citizen Kane, who takes Mank under his wing.

Mank’s numerous plot threads all begin promisingly, but soon wear as thin as the characters. Far too much time is spent on the framing device, the pre-writing procrastination of Kane, which hinges on another underdeveloped relationship between Mank and his secretary, Rita Alexander. Alexander’s central conflict is so half-heartedly executed that its conclusion borders on self-parody. That storyline ends with a baseless villainizing of Orson Welles, which even with merit would still feel illogical, as the tension caused by his megalomania is resolved just as quickly as it began. The film’s thorough look into 1930s Hollywood often relies on cheap name-drops, but its analysis of the industry’s wicked intertwining with politics garners initial interest. Yet for all that happens personally and historically in the film’s timeframe, little changes about Mank. Though he does deliver a brazen monologue under the influence, the real accumulation of his loss, regret, and self-destruction is felt most through his writing. As Orson Welles said, “Only art can explain the life of a man – and not the contrary.” Mank certainly enriched my appreciation of Citizen Kane, but by taking that contrary route, it will always be supplementary to Mankewicz’s art. Fincher may have let the script’s many flaws slide out of a commitment to his father’s vision. Seeing Mank as one tyrannical director’s homage to an unsung writer via a film featuring the same dynamic tells a far more interesting story than any Jack Fincher biopic could.

Like Kane, one senses that a mosaic is being revealed, scene by scene, panel by panel. Yet Mank’s fragments never form a whole, not from lack of a Rosebud, but from the absence of any convergence or resolution of its numerous threads. Mankewicz explains Kane’s, and by extension Mank’s structure by saying, “You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one.” All Mank leaves is the quickly fading impression of a real film.

Entertainment Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

The Undoing: The Whodunit I Can’t Stop Thinking About

By Eric Khodorenko

Graphic from HBO

The Undoing, HBO’s new murder mystery starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, follows Grace Fraser, (Kidman) a therapist living a privileged, wealthy, and seemingly perfect life in New York City with her husband Jonathan Fraser (Grant). However, the murder of a mother at her son’s rich and exclusive private school upsets the peace and her life begins unraveling as the police become increasingly suspicious of her husband as the murderer. 

To say that The Undoing is a whirlwind of emotions is an understatement, every episode there is a new cliffhanger leaving you drastically rethinking your conclusions on who the murder is, and seemingly putting doubt on the most obvious suspects, as your generic whodunit tends to do. The constant reassessment of characters had me on the edge of my seat; once I started The Undoing I couldn’t stop and I was always left considering my own wild theories at night on the outcome of the show. The acting performances of both Kidman and Grant are spectacular, but Grant in particular comes out of his 2000’s rom-com identity and becomes a properly convincing actor. Grant’s charm oozes in every scene he is in and he convincingly begs Grace to trust that he could not have been the murderer, and Grant consistently hits the mark every time. Kidman also portrayed a struggling wife well, but the consistent “shocked and terrified” face became a bit stale towards the end.

The most important part of The Undoing is its ability to recognize the force of privilege and wealth. It showcases how the rich control the world; when much of the evidence leads to Jonathan, he is able to fight the case with staggering ability, and it becomes apparently obvious that if they weren’t a rich, white family living in New York City, there would be no doubt in keeping Grant in jail and quickly moving to conviction. That’s the beauty of The Undoing, it’s an exciting mystery story that keeps you thinking, but it also has a powerful message that emphasizes the power of privilege and wealth. 

Entertainment Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

Boys State Documentary Review

By Brodie Zeigler

Graphic By Jennifer Notman


Winning the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Boys State is an unrestrained examination of our current political condition. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine create a film both audaciously vibrant and incredibly energetic, detailing the events at the American Legion’s Texas Boys State in 2018. Throughout the nation, many states hold an annual event and program that brings high school boys and girls together to hold mock elections, the most prestigious being the one for Governor. Differing state to state, these programs offer teenagers an insight into the inner workings and experiences of American politics and democracy. Pitting the federalists and nationalists against each other, each party creates a platform, elects a party chair, and nominates a candidate for Governor. Examining the events at the Texas Boys State in 2018, Moss and McBaine create a film of overflowing energy, using the backdrop of the passionate youth as a representation for our nation today. 

Boys State follows four individuals in particular: Ben Feinstein, Robert MacDougall, René Otero, and Steven Garza. Moss and McBaine begin their journey with Feinstein, a Reagan-loving double amputee who becomes the Federalist Party chair. Next, Boys State follows MacDougall, a Nationalist candidate for Governor during the primary who exchanges morality for popularity. Otero acts as the Nationalist Party chair, but with the influence of the position, he faces racial discrimination and political backlash. Finally, there’s Garza, the true core of Boys State and the heart and soul of the week-long program in Texas. Coming from a modest background as a second-generation immigrant, Steven Garza is the soft-spoken heavy-hitter of the program, and the self-titled “dark horse” of the nationalist party. Not only representing the different backgrounds, experiences, and views of our current political system, these four boys represent the passion of the generations to come. 

Boys State is filled to the brim with energy, an undeniable attraction that thrusts the viewer’s eyes towards the screen and glues them in a matter of minutes. A raw portrayal of the patriotism, passion, and division of these thousand young Texans, Moss and McBaine’s film seems like an event. With abrasive framing as well as quick and shaky camera movements, Boys State is both an extremely polished film and yet a deeply human one as well. Supplying something new to each viewer, Boys State capitalizes on the potential experiences of its audience, lighting a spark for every potential gas leak in the room. Whether it’s the touching vulnerability of Garza, the alienation that Otero faces, or the unbridled ambition of Feinstein, there’s something for everyone in Boys State. However, some viewers may get more out of its touching portrayal of the hope and aspirations of its main subjects. The attention paid to the Nationalist and Federalist parties, elections, and members is quite lopsided. It’s apparent who Moss and McBaine intend the viewer to root for, as they spend as much time humanizing and examining them as possible. This isn’t to say the decision harms the film’s eventual impact, but it doesn’t come across as obviously motivated either.

Boys State culminates thousands of different views, conflicts, and positions on issues throughout the world today, and applies a fascinating focus group: the youth of today. Questions of morality in politics, the importance of the truth, and the surprising appeal of victory at the expense of your opponent, circulate throughout the campus. MacDougall believes that politics should be a game, and even if that means abandoning his individual views so that he can win over the crowd, so be it. Garza believes that people shouldn’t sign a bill not having read it beforehand, applying a very hands-on and personal approach to his campaign. Feinstein supports the necessity to get his hands dirty in order to claim victory, and while Otero dabbles in the sport as well, he believes a good politician isn’t necessarily a good person. Add to these different belief systems the vulnerability, blinding desire to win, and varying backgrounds of these boys and you are in for an enthralling film.
Without any prior knowledge of the events at Boys State or even the program itself, Moss and McBrain craft a mesmerizingly intriguing film. A testament to not only the skill of the filmmakers themselves, and the intensity of the subject matter, but also the emotions and people represented. Comical, boisterous, ebullient, and above-all motivated, the population at the 2018 Texas Boys State is one of undeniable passion and energy. Boys State feeds on this energy, multiplying it with its precise and flowing editing, unconventional camera shots, gorgeous cinematography, and spirited pacing. Not many films, especially documentaries, can make their audience cheer, cry, and scream the name “Steven,” and yet Boys State is unlike any film I’ve seen before. Poignant, awakening, inspiring, and tremendously entertaining, Boys State is a film that needs to be seen across the nation.

Magazine Sport Volume 70, Issue 4

Where are Senior Knights Playing Sports in College?

By Charlie Pentland

Graphic by Yiying Zhang

For many, it’s a dream to play collegiate sports. Student athletes will dedicate hours of hard work for the opportunity to play at the next level. Las Lomas, regarded as one of the best academic schools in the district, has also seen many students and alumni go on to play division one, two and three sports. The senior class of 2021 has produced many athletes who will go on to play at the highest level of collegiate sports, division one. 

Playing on varsity as a freshman and averaging 22 points per game her junior season, Rose Morse has been instrumental for Las Lomas on the court. She has been a leader on the girls’ varsity basketball team and is now committed to the University of California, Riverside. Morse described Las Lomas as the place where she learned to be a good teammate, leader and hard worker: “Playing for Las Lomas has taught me a lot of lessons; how to be a good leader and the value of hard work.” Morse went on to talk about what drew her to play at UCR. She discussed how UCR made her feel valued and how she liked what the coaching staff had to offer. “I chose UCR because I felt like they wanted me and needed me. A lot of the colleges that were talking to me made me feel that they already had someone of my skill and that they just wanted me to fill a spot, whereas UCR wanted me because they felt that they believed in my potential and that I would be a valuable player for the team.” Morse continued by saying: “UCR also has a new coaching staff that I felt like I connected to very well. And not to mention that I’d be playing for Nicole Powell, a former WNBA player.” 

For many seniors, male and female, who play water polo, the lack of sports on campus this year is heartbreaking since they will not get to play their senior season. While this ends many playing careers, senior Renee Fleeming will get to continue playing water polo at San Jose State next fall. “I chose SJSU because, along with the gorgeous campus and great location, it offered me the opportunity for a good education and to continue my water polo career at a D1 level.” Fleming, who played on varsity all four years of her high school career, mentioned how Las Lomas coaching really took her game to the next level. “Las Lomas truly helped prepare me because I was given the opportunity to improve my skills and play against – and with – some of the best athletes in the country. I was/am a captain junior and senior year, which really helped my leadership skills improve, and I was able to learn how to communicate and instruct in ways other high schools and programs don’t allow. What I was able to achieve through Las Lomas and high school water polo will really help me when I get to start playing at the college level, because after four years as a varsity athlete, I am stronger and smarter than when I started.”

Former Las Lomas defensive end Troy dela Vega recently committed to continue his football playing career at the United States Air Force Academy. Troy relocated to Utah with the hopes of playing a football season and getting the opportunity to play for a football scholarship. Located in Colorado, the Air Force has produced eight players who later went on to play professionally in the NFL. Troy also reflected on his time at Las Lomas and credited Head Coach Doug Longero and Assistant Coach Mike Ivankovich for some of his success on the field: “Las Lomas helped me get prepared for the next level by teaching me how to lift weights, as well as Head Coach Longero and my other coach, Coach Ivankovich, teaching me how to be a better football player by spending time on me to get me where I am today.” When asked what drew him to play at Air Force, dela Vega said, “Air Force is just a great fit for me and my family. Also, it was a great decision. I chose the Air Force because it’s gonna set me up for life.” dela Vega went on to say, “One of the main things is that I am going to be able to play college football at the next level on TV, which has always been my dream.” It is important to note that Troy did transfer out of Las Lomas to Park City High School in Park City, Utah, to have the opportunity to play his senior season, where he had a total of four sacks in 12 games.With the Las Lomas administration trying to salvage what it can for sports this school year, student athletes are still finding ways to play at the next level. This senior class has produced many athletes who will have the opportunity to play all across the country at the highest level in their respective sports, and The Page looks forward to honoring more seniors for their athletic accomplishments.

Entertainment Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

My Year Through Books

By Grace Gonsalves

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

  1. Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick ⅘ stars
  2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 5/5 stars
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 5/5 stars
  4. Love & Gelato (L&G #1) by Jenna Evans Welch 3/5 stars
  5. Second Change Summer by Morgan Matson 5/5 stars
  6. Love & Luck (L&G #2) by Jenna Evans Welch 5/5 stars
  7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins ⅗ stars
  8. How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart ⅖ stars
  9. The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody ⅘ stars
  10. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo 5/5 stars
  11. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 5/5 stars
  12. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson ⅗ stars
  13. One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus ⅗ stars
  14. This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher ⅖ stars
  15. American Royals by Katharine McGee ⅘ stars
  16. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton ⅘ stars
  17. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss P #1) by Ransom Riggs ⅘ stars
  18. Bridget Jones (BJ #1) by Helen Felding ⅗ stars
  19. Hollow City (Miss P #2) by Ransom Riggs 5/5 stars
  20. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (BJ #2)  by Helen Felding ⅘ stars
  21. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman ⅗ stars
  22. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum 5/5 stars
  23. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen ⅘ stars
  24. Library of Souls (Miss P #3) by Ransom Riggs 5/5 stars
  25. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham 5/5 stars
  26. Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider ⅗ stars
  27. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski 5/5 stars
  28. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham ⅘ stars
  29. Amnesty by Aravind Adiga 5/5 stars
  30. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ⅗ stars
  31. A Map of Days (Miss P #4) by Ransom Riggs ⅗ stars
  32. Hamlet by William Shakespeare ⅘ stars
  33. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien ⅗ stars
  34. The Guest List by Lucy Foley ⅘ stars
  35. Fable by Adrienne Young ⅘ stars
  36. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 5/5 stars

The Lost World by Michael Crichton ⅘ stars

 I began the year with a reading goal of 25 books, which was supposed to be challenging. I usually read a lot in the summer months, but I barely bet my 22 book goal for 2019, so I did not expect to read 37 books this year and as it turns out, meeting that goal was not the hard part of my 2020. 

Now for a disclaimer. I shall tell the story of my year in books without referencing the titles themselves so if you like, reference the list above as you read. 

My story starts with #1, an old holiday favorite that I read in January. I was too busy to read anything else until the start of shelter-in-place, when all of a sudden being busy seemed like a forein concept. At first, I only read a couple of books for my English 3 Honors course, but then six romantic traveling books later, it was June first and cute European boys weren’t filling the void anymore. 

That’s when I discovered book #10, a truly fantastic read, the complexity of teenage life mixed with racial minority struggles and urban living. I did find it difficult to focus on a fictional character’s suffering though while I witnessed the death count of the pandemic rise steadily higher.

Honestly, book #11 was the first one of the year that I was actually excited to read. I had recently finished the television series, and I wanted to compare and contrast the two versions. If you’re going to read any of the books on my list , this is the one, but to do it right you should watch the television series on Hulu first because the two are quite different, artwork of different mediums.

Books #12, #13, and #14 were an easy break from complex stories. I enjoyed some light, terribly written mysteries that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, but dumb, fast reads might be necessary for a future boredom distraction guide.

#14 on the other hand was centered around  such a fun, different concept that I couldn’t cringe at the royalty theme. My friends know that I have never watched Disney princess movies, and so the fact that this is even on my list is a surprise. To this day, I have not let Disney spoil my  mind. I do not need princes to save me, and my parents  aren’t going to get shipwrecked, so when I tell you to check out #14, I can assure you that feminism did not die in its pages.

But I did have to balance out the prissy princess stuff with #15. This one was a bit boring, maybe super boring, but when I was paying attention to the audio book, the scientific set up was fascinating. It offered me some much needed, well-written action-adventure.

In early summer, I did something unthinkable. I went. In person. To Barnes & Noble, where I picked up #16. It was fantastic, surprising, a bit terrifying, and everything I had expected, and that goes for the trip and the book.

The rest of my summer consisted of #17 to #29. Looking back at that now, I wonder, was I okay? It seems that I needed a lot of distraction. At least the reading wasn’t screen time.

None of these summer books were quite outstanding, but one of them hit an inner chord. It was #27. I read this book two times in 2020, I have no idea when the first time was, but the second time was quite literally on the beach while I tried to suntan my anxiety away. It resembled the ultimate European backpacking trip I have dreamed of taking with my best friends after we graduate high school. This book made the loss of that dream easier. 

I read books #30 and #31 in September; #30 I listened to while I did my dog walking job, and #31 I distinctly remember reading at the Pacifica State Beach while my parents debated with their anti-vaccine friend. 

I don’t remember when my class read #32, but I think liking Shakespeare is in my genetics. Let’s just say my parents found me a total of 15 Shakespeare related books from our house when I told them we were reading it, but you don’t see any of those books on my reading list now do you.

I took a break from reading in October, a time when I began feeling a bit more social, but come November, #33 and #34 happened.

#35 was very captivating, and I have never wanted to be a poor pirate more, probably ever. The distraction level was 100%, and I loved the gruff main character Fable. 

Now for December, children must be advised not to do this at home. Drowning out thoughts with well-written books is not healthy; it adds more complex ideas instead of less. #36 is fabulous and should be read like a normal book, not a Netflix binge, and yet I listened to #36 and #37 on the couch for the entirety of December 5th.

As I write this, it is mid-December and I have started reading Lord of the Flies. I don’t think I will finish it for a while, I definitely chose a bit of a downer. 

When it comes to next year, my reading challenge for 2021 will not have a number. It’ll be “stay sane.”