Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book

Rachel Lynde from Anne of Green Gables

I’ve always wished I could read a book from Rachel’s perspective. I’m sure it would be delightfully crotchety and full of griping and gossip and conspiracies in Avonlea.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

OK so this isn’t precisely a character, but I would love to see a collection of short stories or a novel encompassing all of what goes on in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The main characters always visit and it shapes their lives, but we never get to really dive into it. I want to live there, see everything.

Joey from Winger by Andrew Smith

if you haven’t read Winger yet, it’s a YA book about a young man, Ryan Dean West, who goes to boarding school and all the self-exploration and growing up he does there. It’s self deprecating and sweet most of the way through, but ends with a sad sudden occurrence in relation to a close friend of his, Joey. I wont’ ruin it but I would love to delve deeper into Joey’s story and who he was. He’s such a central character to Ryan’s story, and yet he’s not. I always felt he deserved more.

Molly Carpenter from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Molly begins as Dresden’s best friend’s daughter, becomes his apprentice and then a future main/secondary character in this series. She grows from a gothy angsty high-schooler not knowing how to handle her life to confident, almost scary, powerful magical entity. It would be awesome to see the whole story from her point of view and get to know more of what she goes through, not just the bits and pieces we see in Harry’s story.

Poppet and Widget from The Night Circus

It’s not just that I want to experience more of the night circus, which I do, but the twins are awesome strange characters who wander and grow up in the circus. It’s their whole world. I would love to see a book just about them growing up as the circus grows and taking it over later.

Top Ten Tuesday is a Broke and the Bookish weekly feature that lots of book bloggers take part in.

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A Year and a Life, in Books

If you grew up reading piles of books like me, then looking through your bookcase can be like flipping through a photo album spanning the years.

Maybe the first time you realized books could make you feel better even when you were sick and miserable (Harry Potter.) Or the first time a book made you seriously heartbroken and you realized that books could actually change you (Anna Karenina.) The first time you read a classic and actually enjoyed it (Jane Eyre.) The first time you realized you don’t have to like a book just because its a classic (Pride and Prejudice.) The first time you read a book and wanted to meet/stalk the author (Sleeping in Flame). The first time you wanted to buy a first edition because you loved the book so much, you wanted one that felt timeless (84, Charing Cross Road.) And even that first time you read an author who loves books as much as you do (Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader.)

There are a million milestones with books that happen in our lives. The books that helped you get through a breakup and the books that helped you escape as a kid when your parents were fighting. The books you read instead of studying because you couldn’t help it and the books that you bought instead of food because you couldn’t resist. And even, the books that you discovered at different points of your life, which are now more important than anything, because they are all that has lasted.

So I decided that my best of 2011 post wouldn’t be only debut authors or only books released this year. They’re going to be the absolute best books I read this year, whether they were written 50 years ago or yesterday. So here’s the books that will always be, to me, the best of my 2011: (in no particular order)

             

The Art of Fielding     The Night Circus     Ready Player One     My Reading Life

                                

  The Tiger’s Wife     A Visit from the Goon Squad    I am Half Sick of Shadows

             

       A Game of Thrones          Bossypants

The Lover’s Dictionary

If I forgot any that I told you were amazing earlier this year, feel free to tell me! I know there were plenty of other amazing books I had the pleasure of reading in 2011. I look forward to another great year of discoveries and old favorites.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

It involves the eerie mysteries of enchantment itself, the untouchable wizardy that occurs when a story, in all its fragile elegance, speaks to the times in a clear original voice and answer some strange hunger and demands of the zeitgeist.

Shannon at Books Devoured mailed me this book as a RAK this month because I had it on my amazon wishlist. I had it on my amazon wishlist because someone suggested it when I was enjoying A Passion for Books. (another wonderful book about books, collecting, literature and how books shape our lives btw) So that is how My Reading Life meandered along into my mailbox by chance one day and landed in my life. I’m ever so glad it did.

Conroy’s My Reading Life is witnessing his life story through the literature that shaped who he is today. His mother is featured in many instances, her love of reading, her need to better herself through books and my favorite chapter, her devotion to Gone with the Wind.

To Southerners like my mother, Gone with the Wind was not just a book; it was an answer, a clenched fist raised to the North, an anthem of defiance. If you could not defeat the Yankees on the battlefield, then by God, one of your women could rise from the ashes of humiliation to write more powerfully than the enemy and all the historians and novelists who sang the praises of the Union.

Since I am not a Southerner, Gone with the Wind affected me differently than those grew up in the aftermath of that time period. I realized while reading Conroy’s impassioned words, for someone who grew up in the South the book takes on a whole new meaning and significance. For the first time, I realized how seeped in history the South still is and how recent the civil war still feels to families who are descended from those soldiers. This chapter was a love song to his mother and Scarlett O’Hara. It was touching and inspiring in its sheer intensity.

This book demonstrates again and again that there is no passion more rewarding than reading itself, that it remains the best way to dream and to feel the sheer carnal joy of being fully and openly alive.”

And man, can Conroy can write a sentence. He can weave words with the best of them and make you feel insignificant with his prose. His writing is, and this is stating it lightly, passionate. He states how he feels with every adjective he thinks is necessary and (at least in my opinion) it works for him. Some writers seem to use adjectives as afterthoughts. They read like extra adornments to their sentences that don’t fit, as if they’re just trying to fill up space. Conroy has an elegant love affair with adjectives that puts most writers to shame. He is so blatant in his adoration of words, that it refreshes me to read such unabashed expression, such freedom.

In My Reading Life, Conroy also invites us to relive memories of his favorite teacher, his father, bookstores that have been a part of his daily travels, his education, meeting an author for the first time and how he truly began to write. We see his growth from a boy who loves books to a man who writes them. And like any obsessed bibliophile, he also touches on his love of the words themselves.

In literary criticism my eye has fallen on such gelatinous piles as “antonomasia,” “litotes,” or “enallage.” I’ve no idea what those words mean nor how to pronounce them nor any desire to look them up. But whenever I read I’ll encounter forgotten words that come back to me like old friends who’ve returned from long voyages to bring me news of the world.

My Reading Life is a humorous and moving collection. Anyone who has experienced firsthand the power of  stories to shape our lives will enjoy it. It made me laugh and cry at many different points, which I appreciated a lot. I felt that it touched on the light as well as the dark of Conroy’s life. Often books about books are just a bunch of lighthearted anecdotes, which is great, but there is nothing wrong with a little sadness to balance out the laughter. I feel it makes My Reading Life all that much stronger.

My Reading Life ended with Conroy writing about visiting one of my all time favorite authors, Jonathan Carroll. The story of their meeting mirrors Carroll’s writing style, it sounds like a moment one of his characters would have in one of his books.

He exuded a serenity and a seriousness that I lack. But he kept his eye on a woman at the next bridge. She was moving so slowly I thought she might be leading a dogsled pulled by escargots. After an hour, the woman walked in front of us, and she bowed her head in acknowledgment of Jonathan. With great dignity, he returned the gesture. To my surprise, she was walking two enormous tortoises, displaced natives from an Ethiopian desert. The woman walked them every night, and Jonathan was always there to admire their passage.

“Thats what writers do, Conroy,” he said. “We wait for the tortoises to come. We wait for that lady who walks them. That’s how art works. It’s never a jackrabbit, or a racehorse. It’s the tortoises that hold all the secrets. We’ve got to be patient enough to wait for them.”  

This probably guaranteed my love of Conroy forever. There is no way he could have ended this book that would speak more to me personally.  So what can I say?  I may be hopelessly devoted from now on.

Are you ready to BOOK BATTLE?

*NINJA BATTLE SCREAM*

(terrifying, aren’t I?)

The Book Battle hosted by The Shady Glade is getting ready to commence. As I am going to be a judge and will have to read at least 10 of the books nominated, I encourage all those who love YA to nominate great books so I have awesome things to read and praise.

Here is the timeline for the Book Battle:

Close of nominations: April 5th
Announcement of Longlist: April 7th
Round 1 Judging period: Present-April 30th
Announcement of Shortlist: May 3rd
Start of Round 2 Judging: May 8th
Announcement Posts for Round 2 brackets : Beginning May 22nd

Please go to Shady Glade to nominate and/or get more information on this fun event. I am looking forward to reading lots of great books in April because of your brilliant nominations.

Happy Reading!