P is for Monsieur Perdu

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

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As far as I’m concerned, Harry Potter is always therapy. Take two and call me in the morning! (Or don’t; I’m not a morning person.)

Monsieur Perdu is the main character of The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George.

Full disclosure, the book itself was merely okay, in my opinion.

What I loved was Msr Perdu. He’s a self-proclaimed book apothecary, dispensing books as prescriptions for various things that ail people. He has a little bookshop on a boat in France. Instead of giving people what they want to read, he tells them what they need to read.

I love this idea! In fact, I would have preferred that were the focus of the book. Of course, Msr Perdu is struggling with heartache himself, and dropped out of life because of it. There’s no one to give him the right book to cure him.

Though I think Msr Perdu is one of the best characters in fiction, he wasn’t strong enough to carry a whole book. And in fact, the book focused on his heartache rather than the part I found interesting: his ability to know what book each person needed.

After I read this book I found out that there are actual book therapists out there. I’m tempted to book a session, just because I love the idea so much.

Though this book wasn’t life changing for me, it made me reflect on how much books have been life changing for me, and how much I do use them as therapy. What I read depends on my mood as much as anything else.

Would you like to meet a book apothecary? Do you have a go-to book you read (or genre) when you’re feeling blue?

O is for Owen Meany

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8382.JPGA Prayer for Owen Meany was on my to read list for a long time before I actually read it. I have a friend whose favorite author is John Irving, and I’m not sure why it was this particular book that made it to my list. Perhaps because it’s on the classics list that I’m still working through.

In any case, Owen is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever come across. John is the narrator of the book, and Owen is his best friend. Owen is smaller than everyone else and has a “tortured” voice. But he’s also kind and selfless.

The book is long, and it took forever to get through, but it was worth it. There’s a payoff at the end that almost makes me want to re-read it (but probably not).

There are so many interesting things I could say about Owen, but the plot is so intricately woven that it’s hard to know which would be spoilers. I’ll just say this: it’s worth reading once. Just make sure you set aside a chunk of time for it.

Are you a John Irving fan? Which is your favorite?

 

 

 

N is for Narrator

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8380In Every Day, by David Levithan, the narrator is an unnamed person without an identity. The narrator has always inhabited different bodies from day to day, sometimes female, sometimes male, but always the age that the narrator would be.

The narrator knows they’re different, and does their best to fit into the life of the person who’s body they inhabit day to day. All that changes when the narrator falls in love with a girl. Suddenly, being in any body isn’t good enough. The narrator does everything they can to be close to this girl.

What makes the narrator interesting, other than the story, is that the narrator asks good questions about identity and the nature of love. The girl feels that she might be able to love him when he’s in an attractive male body, but when the narrator is in a female body, or an unattractive male body, the girl is not interested.

While this wasn’t the best YA book I’ve ever read as far as enjoyability, I loved the premise and thought the narrator was an amazing character. For creativity, it topped the charts.

I like books that ask questions, even if they don’t answer them. Obviously this one did its job since I’m still thinking about it.

Have you read this one? What do you think of the idea of a narrator without identity?

M is for Mark Watney

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8378.JPGMark Watney is the main character of The Martian, by Andy Weir. It’s technically a science fiction book, and people who know science fiction said that the science is mostly realistic. Even though natural sciences aren’t my thing, I do think it’s important for the science to be accurate. If I can spot the science problems, it takes me right out of the story.

Even though this is science fiction, for me it was much more about the psychological struggle of a man deserted on a planet where he knows he will probably die.

Mark is part of a team of astronauts who landed on Mars. When an unexpected storm happens, Mark is blown away from the rest of the team and presumed dead. When he wakes, and realizes what happened, he goes through the predictable stages, even contemplating suicide at one point.

But, of course, he doesn’t give up. He’s the botanist and the engineer, but he was also chosen for the mission because of his optimistic nature and his sense of humor. Those features really shine through throughout the book.

It could have been just a book about a guy surviving. But instead, Mark is a guy who’s doing his best to live. He complains about being stuck with only disco music (his commander’s personal items were left behind), and laughs at himself when he screws up.

There’s a reason why solitary confinement is considered the worst of the worst punishments for human beings. Being alone does wear on Mark, but his sense of humor is a constant. Even though he expects to die, he never gives up home.

I’m sure some people loved this book for the marooned on Mars aspect of it, and yeah, that was great. But I loved the human aspect of it. It’s not touchy-feely, hitting the reader over the head with what a great guy Mark is or showing him lamenting all the things he left behind (as I think some authors would have been tempted to do). Instead, Mark leaps off the page with every problem he solves and the way he interacts with others.

Oh, and the movie was good too.

Did you read the book or see the movie? What did you think?

L is for Longmire

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

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Two Longmire books in a stack of my TBRs from December.

I’ve had several letters where I’ve had to choose between one character or another (or like 5 different ones), but this is the first one where I’ve had to choose between a hero (Longmire) or a villain (Hannibal Lecter).

Walt Longmire is an interesting guy, and I first got acquainted with him on the TV show of the same name. He’s the hero of a series of mystery novels by Craig Johnson, the first one of which is The Cold Dish. Yes, it’s referring to revenge.

The show and the books are similar only in a few of the main characters, and the basic plot of some of the books.

Longmire is the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming. He’s an old-fashioned hero, always trying to do the right thing. He’s chivalrous and has a rigid moral code that he lives by.

There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned hero; it’s just that many modern heroes tend to be more emotionally complex. Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with a guy who always wants to do the right thing.

His friends are always trying to get him to take better care of himself, but he lives for his his job and protecting others. He knows and is on good terms with most of the people in the county. There’s also an Indian reservation right near Longmire’s county, and he has has some experiences with Indian spirit guides throughout the books. Longmire’s best friend is Henry Standing Bear, and I could have written an entire blog about Henry as well (but I didn’t).

I appreciate the differences between the books and the show, and I enjoy them both. It’s nice when they’re different, but still both enjoyable. I think that often, when that happens, it’s obviously largely because of good writing, but it’s also because of strong characters who can carry two different storylines and still remain true to who they are.

Have you seen the show or read the books?

 

K is for Kellen

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

Version 2All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood, is in my Top 5 list of all time favorite books. It was amazing. I started it in the evening and ended up staying up until 2:30 a.m. to finish it. Then I started re-reading it the next day. Then I passed it around to my book club, and when I got it back, I read it again.

That being said, this book isn’t for everyone. It’s polarizing, either earning 1 star or 5 stars on Goodreads. It’s not the writing that’s the problem; it’s the subject matter.

If you’re sensitive to certain topics, and interested in reading the book, read the reviews, and they’ll tell you what it’s about. If you want an amazing experience, just read the book.

Wavy is the main character of this book, and the story starts when she’s 5. Her parents are drug addicts, and the story is told from multiple points of view. People see all kinds of different things when they see Wavy, but mostly they see a problem child who refuses to eat but then steals food out of the trash, and doesn’t speak.

No one really loves Wavy. One night, when she’s 8, Kellen, who works for her father, wipes out on his motorcycle right in front of her. She gets him help. From that first encounter, they take care of one another.

When Kellen heals from his accident, he goes back looking for her. He cleans up her house while her mother sleeps. He makes sure she gets to school. And he communicates with her without making her speak. He’s the first person who really sees her.

Yet Kellen has flaws. He’s not much more than a boy himself. He runs drugs for Wavy’s father, and gets into bar fights. He’s known for his brutal temper.

If you’ve been following along with me, you’ll know I love flawed characters. The reason I love them is that they’re real people, and they make me think. I love books with moral dilemmas and no easy answers. Life is shades of gray, and there’s very little that’s black and white. I love books that can make me see the world through new eyes. That doesn’t mean that I always change my mind about a topic, but I believe that in order to have a fully formed opinion, I have to know as much about a topic as I can.

This book definitely made me see the world a little differently.

Do you have any books that made you see the world differently or question assumptions you held?