That Strange Resolve


[Image: page 13 of “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. Most of the text has been blacked out. The remainder reads:

I resisted the new strength
of myself,
that strange resolve

shame! How is he my master?

my impulse
must break

she loosened her folded arms,
dark and incredulous

She never did so before]

[this is an erasure poem, and this is what that is]

Photo by Nicole Mason on Unsplash

Tuesday Quotes

“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.”

Charlotte Brontë

Top Ten Tuesday: Thought-Provokers

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s theme is books that make you think.  I took that two ways: books that make you pay attention, and books that make you ask questions.  I went to a liberal arts college where a prize attribute is the ability to think critically and ask the right questions, which has both ruined my ability to just enjoy a book and also ensured that I learn something – either about the subject of the book, a related issue, or myself – every time I read.

1. “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire.  It’s not enough to suspend your disbelief at a magical land where lions talk and a girl can be born with green skin and an allergy to water – you also need to deal with some seriously weird language, steampunky brothels inhabited by characters from “Freaks,” and hardcore angst.  This definitely isn’t a brainless beach read.

2. “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner, although to be honest the thoughts were usually along the lines of “what the heck is going on?”

3. “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville raises all kinds of questions about justice, the ethics of science, and the role of art in our lives.  It’s another one that demands you pay attention or you will be blown away and trampled by its complex world-building.

4. The Bible.  I still haven’t read much of it, but I have my critical-thinking hat on when I do.  I compare translations, read historical notes for context, and take notes.

5. “Black Boy” by Richard Wright.  I hated this when I first read it in high school just because it made me so uncomfortable.  I didn’t like it much more when I re-read it in college, but by then I’d learned about everyone’s favorite topic, privilege, and I was able to read it in a different light that allowed me to at least learn more from the story, even if it still made me uncomfortable.  (No amount of study is ever going to make the scene where he kills a kitten comfortable.)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Places

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week is a freebie, so I’m revisiting my favorite settings!

1. Gatsby’s house, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It’s the ultimate party pad!  Huge, expensive, tastefully decorated, located on the water, flowing with champagne, packed with beautiful people cutting loose…and all that drama seething under the surface.  Ahhh.

2. MerytonPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Their lives consist of going to balls, going on walks, reading books, and conversing through witty banter.  I could deal.

3. The Capital, the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  I know you’re not supposed to like the Capital, but who wouldn’t like a place where food popped out of the wall at a push of a button?  And imagine all the outfits you’d see – it would be like walking into a Vogue photo shoot directed by Tyra Banks on LSD.

4. The Abhorsen’s house, Sabriel by Garth Nix. This comfy fortress is perched on the edge of a waterfall and contains a library, a flying machine, and an irritable cat-spirit.

5. The Dreaming Realm, the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman.  I think this place would only be fun if you were Dream himself, with the ability to manipulate every detail of your reality, but let’s say Dream was just letting you chill with his powers for a while.  You could hop from mind to mind, collecting things from people’s dreams, then return to his realm and do whatever fantastic things struck your fancy.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s theme is our all-time favorite book characters, which was, uh, hard.  There are a lot of really great characters out there!  And there are even more characters that are great, but I wouldn’t really say that I like them, like Mrs. Coulter from “His Dark Materials,” Elphaba from “Wicked,” everyone from “The Great Gatsby,” lots of characters from Alan Furst’s books…you get the idea.  Here are some of my favorites, which may or may not also be great.

1. Dodola from “Habibi” by Craig Thompson.  I read this 600+ page graphic novel in about two days last week and adored it.  The beautiful Dodola grows up in constant hardship, relying on her cleverness and, sometimes, her body to help herself and her adopted orphan brother survive.  Her experiences never break her, though – she reflects on them and the pain they caused her and she moves on, drawing on religious stories and a Scheherazade-like survival instinct to carry herself through.

2. Mary Boleyn from “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory.  Mary is surrounded by a scheming family that really just wants her to have the king’s babies.  How dare she want to do things like fall in love and not be a kept woman!  It’s not the greatest book, but you can’t help but root for Mary.

3. Elizabeth from “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows.  Elizabeth never actually appears in the book, but the anecdotes other characters tell about her reveal her to be loving and fearless, a devoted mother, and a leader in her community.

4. Hermione Granger from “Harry Potter” by JK Rowling.  Movie Hermione became blonde and beautiful, but Book Hermione remained bushy-haired and very nerdy to the bitter end.  Her smarts and her fierce bravery make her a great role model for young female readers (take note, Bella).

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Historical Fiction Books With Strong Female Leads

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s theme is top ten genre books of our choice.  This was another challenging prompt since I haven’t really read any particular genre in-depth.  I read a lot of historical fiction, but I tend to focus on two periods: WWII and the Tudor era.  I’ve read a scattering of Southeast Asian literature, but not enough for a full list of ten books; same with dystopian lit.  I read lots of what could be called science fiction, but, well, I already talk about those a lot.

So today’s list is of strong female protagonists in historical fiction.

1. “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.  This book is stuffed with strong, original female characters, including Juliet, the protagonist, a strong-willed, clever writer; Elizabeth, the passionate founder of the Society; and Isola, a crazy-old-cat-lady island resident who has a parrot instead of a cat and who collects bizarre hobbies like deduction and phrenology.

2. “Daughter of Fortune” by Isabel Allende.  Eliza finds herself pregnant at sixteen, so she disguises herself as a boy and follows her lover from Chile to California during the gold rush.  During the years she spends searching for him, she learns survival skills and makes friends with a variety of odd characters.  Finding the man becomes secondary to the much more important task of finding herself – a courageous, clever, awesomely self-reliant girl.

3. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.  Jane is a beautifully proto-feminist character, one who refuses to compromise her faith, her values, or her personal interests, no matter how desperate her situation is.  Her collapse to social pressures in the third act of the book is hard to read, but her triumphant return to herself (and eventually to Mr. Rochester) is all the more glorious because of what she’s been through and how her character has strengthened.

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FBFF: Resolutions

Today’s FBFF asks about our resolutions for 2012.  I’m not a fan of resolutions because I usually don’t accomplish them, which just makes me feel like a failure and less interested in making them in the future.  But I figure a few general goals, along with my 101 in 1001, should keep my productivity up.

1. Continue to schedule time so I do more productive stuff and less Internet.  The holidays kind of usurped my free time, and even though I’d gotten in the habit of setting alarms on my phone to schedule my day, it got to a point where I had to ignore them because I was cleaning or running errands or whatever.  This year I’m going to buckle down, obey the schedule, maybe develop some will power, and possibly finish The Book.  I’m not sure which of those last two is more likely.

2. Read 25 books.  According to Goodreads, I read 18 this year.  If I manage my time right, and use some of that will power I’m finally going to cultivate to get through my to-read stack, I can do better in 2012.

3. Eat better. I know it’s a pretty generic resolution, but after reading this article I really want to make some changes: fewer foods from cans and boxes, more fresh fruits and vegetables, more organic meat and dairy.  It bugs me that the definitions of “free range” and “organic” and “cage-free” are still so loose and easily corrupted, but I’ll do what I can.  The basics at New Seasons Market aren’t that much more expensive than the non-organic options at Fred Meyer, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do.

Oh, speaking of resolutions, I need to follow up on my 2011 Resolve to Read list!  How did I do?

1. “My Antonia” – didn’t read, but on my list for next year

2. “North and South” – didn’t read because no Vancouver libraries have it! What?

3. “Jane Eyre” – READ

4. “Girl Who Played With Fire/Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” – didn’t read, third one STILL isn’t out in paperback

5. “Once and Future King” – attempted, thought it was really weird, quit

6. “Merrick” – didn’t read, lost interest

7. “The Windup Girl” – READ

8. “From The Dust Returned” – attempted, thought it was really weird, quit (sorry, Mr. Bradbury)

9. “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” – READ

10. “The Handmaid’s Tale” – READ (wow, was that really this year? It feels like ages ago)

11. “Never Let Me Go” – READ

I set some more reading goals for 2012 – check them out here!

Do you make resolutions?  Why or why not?  What are you hoping to accomplish this year?  What are you hoping to read this year?