Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten (Six) Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

I got such a great turnout on last week’s Top Ten Tuesday list.  It’s so encouraging to know there are others out there looking for the same thing.  I really hope we see some books that touch on at least one of those list items (and some of them kind of skirt around them so I know that the industry is looking in the right direction!).  With that said, I decided not to go literal “world” as in science fiction for this week (although I may touch on one or two books), but instead think about the world as it was for the character inhabiting it.

1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

There is no way I’d be able to survive in this world.  I’m not physically fit – not at all, in fact, the idea of having to strategically plan and participate in some of what Ender does makes me cry inside.  But, then again, I don’t know that I’d be able to handle not being chosen either.  It’s just a rough situation all around.

2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Or.. really any story set in WW2-era.  My grandfather escaped from Poland during WW2 and I’ve heard his story.  I don’t know that I would have survived.  I know people always say things like that, but… like my first choice in books and explanation, I’m really that much of a wimp.  And that makes me appreciate strength like the characters show in these books even more.

3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This is probably a big surprise to some of you out there, given the way I praise this book.  But, frankly, I couldn’t live in Avonlea – not because I wouldn’t love it but because I would love it too much.  But, in the words of Anne, “That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.” – I’m afraid the same thing would happen if I were ever to live in Anne’s world.

4.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Yes, this is somewhat along the same lines as Anne…but still very different in other ways.  I would not be middle-class in Austen’s England.  I would be one of those maids working downstairs and, frankly, there is no way I could handle being that close to bodily functions without being able to take a really hot shower every day (more than once.)  Have you READ Longbourn by Jo Baker?

5. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Alameddine’s protagonist is a woman living in Beirut.  I loved reading and identifying with her in ways, but other parts of her life were completely foreign to me.  I don’t know if you have seen it, but there has been a food commercial lately on Hulu talking about the crisis in Syria.  I long to have the courage to go and help, but all I can do is open my wallet because I’m too scared to do so.  In the same way, I lack the courage of Aaliyah (if you haven’t read this book, you need to asap).

6. Children of Paradise by Fred D’Aguiar

I’ve seen enough cult horror stories on the news, read about it in books, and heard about it from word of mouth to be deathly afraid of living in a world where I could be brainwashed to the point of taking my own life.  Children of Paradise explores that idea in a chilling way and I had trouble sleeping for a few nights as a result.

Many of the others I thought of were along the same themes.  What about you?  Chime in!



Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

It’s been a busy January so far.  My niece, Maebel (Maebee) was born a week ago on Monday and things went from chaotic to full on uproar as we re-arranged our schedule to include another tiny body.  But it’s good uproar and we’re enjoying the addition.  And now, finally, I am finding time to do some reading and reviewing again.  But first, today’s Top Ten Tuesday is on themes or things I would love to see in books I read.  So, without further ado, here we go.

1. More asexual characters

This is a big one for me.  I came out as asexual last year around this time and it’s been an interesting journey discovering things about myself that aren’t “broken” as I had always thought they were.  Since so much of my life has been spent reading, I am really wishing I could see more characters like me – characters who were not necessarily hurt or “damaged” and that’s why they steer away from romance, but rather characters who don’t feel a sexual urge or who, like me, really just enjoy intellectual, stimulating conversation and that’s enough.  Too personal? Maybe – but then again, if I don’t speak up, how can I expect authors to get the hint?

2. Family Bonds – a la Frozen

One of the things I loved most about Frozen was the exploration of other sorts of “True love.”  As noted in #1, not all love has to be romantic – there are other bonds that are formed: family, friends, bosom buddies, godparents/children, and more.  Where are the stories that lift up those types of love and make them desirable?  I think if we had more of those then maybe we’d see less of the romantic loves crashing and burning since romantic love is bolstered by true love in other relationships.

3.  Folklore from all over the world.

I love folklore so much that I want to spend the next several years of my life studying it in graduate school.  I adore it. I love the morals and myths, legends and fables.  I love folklore stemming from all races and religions.  I would love to see more emerging in some of these fairy-tale retellings.  Lay off the European folklore and let’s get some Far East tales worked up.

4.  Magical Realism – there isn’t enough.

Yes, I love Daniel Wallace and Neil Gaiman – but where are the other people cashing in on this genre?  Do you know of more magical realism writers? Because I would LOVE to read more.

5. Historical Fiction from the Middle East

I know they have a history. It sounds silly, but what was the last historical fiction book you read that involved middle eastern history?  I want to know more about countries that I’ve only heard horror stories about on the news.  I’ve been fascinated by Lebanon and Syria lately.  I’m done with English monarchs and want to know more about those countries political histories.

6. Survival Tales

Are we over these?  Because I recently read Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson and it was beyond fantastic.  Nothing thrills me more than reading a good, solid survival tale filled with adventure, danger, and glory.

7. Interactive Books

Night Film by Marisha Pessl and “S” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst come to mind here.  Books that take us away from just what’s on the written page and really immerse us through things that we can understand.  Maps, news clippings, web sites – these books have proven it’s not “cheesy.”  I want more

8. Books about Composers

I’m talking all sorts of classical composers, not just the big ones.  Where are the historical fiction novels on Gottschalk and Joplin?  They had to have interesting lives… so why aren’t we looking into some of these famous figures.

9. Westerns

I’m not talking about my dad’s generation of Westerns, I’m talking about novels set in the here and now – books about life in Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, Utah, even Colorado (outside of the cities).  I spent a good chunk of my life in Wyoming and I don’t know that I’ve read a single book that captured what life is like there

10. Romance that doesn’t involve any of the following:

Love triangles, love at first sight, instant attraction love, love that involves cheating on someone else/hurting someone else, love that realizes that making love on a rocky ground isn’t exactly “making love” – especially if it’s your first time, love that recognizes that not every thing that people do with each other ends in mind-blowingly awesome sex.

What would you like to see more of?  Chime in!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Reason(s) for Reading:
  • This is one of my comfort reads – and since 2011 is my year of re-reads, I figured January would be a good month for P&P.
I  also recommend:
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Summary from GoodReads:

Pride And Prejudice, the story of Mrs. Bennet’s attempts to marry off her five daughters is one of the best-loved and most enduring classics in English literature. Excitement fizzes through the Bennet household at Longbourn in Hertfordshire when young, eligible Mr. Charles Bingley rents the fine house nearby. He may have sisters, but he also has male friends, and one of these — the haughty, and even wealthier, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy — irks the vivacious Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the Bennet girls. She annoys him. Which is how we know they must one day marry.

My Review:

I was recently “attacked” on a review I posted on a well-known site for criticizing a classic that I just didn’t enjoy.  In the attack, this person accused me of having never read another classic and, as such, the reason I didn’t enjoy said novel was because of lack of education in the classics.  (I worded it much more nicely than she did).

I read Pride and Prejudice before I was a teenager.  This book spawned my love of classics.  I went on to read everything provided to me by my book-loving Aunt and then I raided my father’s study bookshelves for Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas and even a little Milton.  I’ve been reading classics for over 20 years and I think at this point I know what stories I enjoy and which I don’t – and I can accept the fact that not all classics do it for all people.  Dickens, I’m looking at you.

But with Pride and Prejudice I get everything I love in a classic.  Romance, a dashing lead man (with just enough mystery and intrigue), a strong-willed leading woman in Elizabeth.  I get silly giggles over subtle interactions that bring out that “uncomfortable” feeling in the characters, I feel the rage of Elizabeth with Darcy’s first proposal and I also feel the softening of the heart beginning with that fateful letter.

I also grew up in a family filled with girls.  I am the eldest of 6 girls (all from the same two parents, yes) ((and three brothers too)).  Jane Austen does a fantastic job of capturing the different personalities that emerge with sisters.  There’s the responsible, stoic eldest, the strong-willed, the mundane, the follower and the flighty.  I focused quite a bit on the sisters relationship with this read-through and enjoyed catching even now a few things that had before escaped my attention.

Pride and Prejudice is a classic.  It’s a fantastic movie (both of them, but Colin Firth edges it out for Mr. Darcy for me!).  It’s a story that grew gracefully with me as I aged and a story I can look forward to enjoying for hopefully many years to come.  And one day, I plan to be that Aunt the provides this book to my own nieces and to experience through their eyes the first thrill that famous opening line brings.