Friday, May 26, 2017

Top Ten Characters I Can't Even

This post is inspired by my previous post (found here), and I have had a lot of fun writing it. I think we can all think, off the top of our heads, of at least 3 characters that immediately set our blood boiling and/or we wish would fall into a wormhole, never to be seen again. I am slightly disturbed by the glee I take in hating these characters. This is a post that I really, really want y'all to respond to; I'm dying to know who y'all loathe with your entire being.

I Can't Even With...

1. Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. I do not like this book, and 90% of the reason why is freakin' Daisy Buchanan. She is awful and blind to her awfulness. Sure, she is a product of her society, but come on. You can't even go to the funeral?

2. Rosamond Vincy from Middlemarch. This girl literally exists in a world of her own making and refuses to let reality alter her ideas of who people should be and how they should act. Her poor husband views her as a special snowflake of a burden to endure by the end of the novel. I was choking on indignation (literally- I had to stop eating my cookie) at her reaction to needing to cut back on her spending.

3. Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. I wish she would have made up her mind who she wanted, rather than pitting two men against each other. I realize she is not wholly at fault, but once she was married she was so unfair to Heathcliff. She is the definition of weak willed.

4. Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. This guy was closemouthed, overbearing, selfish, irrational, condescending, and a coward. He could not see things from anyone else's perspective and was unwilling to change.

5. Oonagh from the Sevenwaters series. This woman is cruel and selfish. There is nothing redeemable about her. She does not love anyone- other than herself. She puts character after character through gut-wrenching trials and just does not care. (Caveat- I am glad that Marillier keeps her as a villain and not as a conflicted character. I like a good villain that is truly evil.)

6. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. I know I will get a lot of crap from this one, but seriously. He is a grown man who takes out his grievances on a boy who has no idea of the history between Snape and James. Why not try and befriend him for Lily's sake? It seems to me that his love for Lily was trumped by his hatred of James (except at the end).

7. Lissla Lissar's Father from Deerskin. I do not think I have to explain this one at all. He breaks several foundational bonds- emotional, relational, physical, spiritual- and is repulsive.

8. Bob Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird. The man is a drunk. He beats his children. He has entitlement issues fueled by willful ignorance. He knowingly wrongfully accuses a black man of crime he and his daughter committed. He. Is. Repulsive.

9. Achilles from The Iliad. He is a whiny baby. For being the greatest warrior of the Trojan War, he sure is a diva. When he doesn't get his way? Watch out. He is going to throw a temper tantrum until he gets what he wants. Then, in The Odyssey, he has gotten what he wants but is unsatisfied.

10. Bella Swan from the Twilight series and Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy. I could not decide between these two, so I chose both. For one, freakin' love triangles. I hate them. Literally. Thoroughly. Completely. Bella's single-minded determination to hang on to Edward (while using Jacob as an emotional crutch) is creepy and selfish. Katniss's wanting to bury her head in the sand is selfish and impossible.

Man. This post was kind of cathartic. It was nice to get some of my frustration out. Please, let me know y'all's can't even characters. I really want to know!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reading Goals Update

I (Jenny) thought it would be a good idea to do an update on the books I've been reading rather than a half way update. I don't know about y'all, but if I do not write about a book fairly soon after I read it, I will forget a lot. Even books that made strong impressions are hard to talk about if I wait too long. It starts sounding like, "It was so good! I loved... everything. The characters were awesome." Details, anyone?

If you are not familiar with my reading goal for this year, you can read about it here. I have 30 books I want to read this year. I think I am doing pretty well so far. Some I have loved, and some I am glad I do not have to pick them up ever again. I am trying to decide which ones to bring on vacation; I am always a much more inspired reader at the beach. Probably because the setting is my idea of perfection.

— Nonfiction —

1. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert — This book is one of my new favorites. It is about an English professor's journey to knowing Christ. It is well written AND thoughtful. Her logical working out of a) what being a believer means and b) what being a believer will cost is particularly searing in its honesty. I wish everyone who has had any contact with any type of faith whatsoever would read it. Its mirror-like properties are unavoidable; it challenges as it encourages.

2. The Land of the Green Man — This book was incredibly entertaining. Even though it is nonfiction, the content most often reads like a story. Larrington does an excellent job of describing the British Isles (almost too excellent — I am ready to pack my bags right now). She basically sets down the majority of folk tales floating around the British Isles. It makes me wish I lived in a place with such a long history.

3. Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church — I. loved. this. book. It is a presentation of two ways of thinking theologically and practically about homosexuality. 4 scholars wrote 4 short essays defending two views of the issue. The scholars were highly intelligent and, more importantly, compassionate. This is a book I am still wrestling with (in a good way). My only complaint was that there was not a recommended reading list. I think a list would have been a really great- and helpful- addition.

4. Four Views on Hell — This book was not near as good as the one on homosexuality, in my opinion. The scholars were much more antagonistic and the writing harder to follow. I do not regret reading it and I did learn things, but I probably will not read it again.

— Classics —

1. Middlemarch — George Eliot is one of the most astute writers I have ever read when it comes to understanding human beings. The whole book is about a small town in England with, quite frankly, not the most interesting characters or plot. Her insights into human nature, however, kept me coming back for more. (Side note: Rosamond Vincy has joined Daisy Buchanan on my Can't Even list)

— Fiction —

1. The Enchantress of Florence — I was really enjoying this book until about 3/4 of the way through. I cannot tell you my feelings on it with spoiling things, so just know I was extremely disappointed by the way everything happened and I feel that all of Rushdie's lovely, insightful thoughts got washed away in the yuck of the ending.

2. Silence Fallen — This is number 10 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. It is one of my favorite series and this entry did not disappoint. It was somewhat hard to follow because of how the story is told, but I did enjoy it. I really liked how Briggs expanded the world with a glimpse into Europe. 

3. Shylock Is My Name — This is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. This is one of the most thought-provoking fiction books I have read in a long time. Jacobson wrestles with Shylock's Jewishness and its implications for Shakespeare's audience as well as the modern audience.  This is one of those books that I do not know whether or not to recommend it; it should be read, but not everyone would enjoy reading it. Conundrum. 

4. The Burning Page — I reviewed this book in a different post; check it out here.

5. A Court of Wings and Ruin — I was so disappointed by this book. It is the third in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and it was... dare I say it... kind of boring. The second book (A Court of Mist and Fury) was really good, YA at its finest good. The third one was definitely a let down. The main characters were kind of flat, there were some plot holes, and one deus ex machina moment was too much for me. If the second book hadn't been SO good, then the third would not have been as much of a let down.

Wow, looks like I need to do some work on the Classics category. I have picked up the Iliad and am about a quarter of the way in. It is more different from The Odyssey than I thought it would be. So far I am really enjoying this challenge I have set for myself. Hopefully I make much more progress this summer. How are y'all's reading challenges going?