K is for (Books About) Kindness #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for¬†the A to Z challenge.

When I did an Internet search to help me brainstorm what books are about kindness, I got lists upon lists of books for kids.

What? We don’t need to be kind anymore once we’re adults? I’d argue that it’s perhaps more important since our actions as adults are often more impactful than our actions as children.

Luckily, there are books out there that teach kindness without an overt lesson. And if you haven’t heard, reading literary fiction promotes empathy. Not that I needed an excuse to read, but I’ll take it!

Where The Heart Is, by Billie Letts (contemporary): You only saw the movie, you say? Fix that. The movie was good, but, say it with me, everyone, “The book was better.” ūüôā This is one of my all-time favorite books, for a myriad of reasons. One of those is the fact that for every awful person in the book, there are multiple kind people waiting to¬†help. I really believe the world is like that. It’s just that what we see is all the awful stuff that happens. When 17-year-old¬†Novalee Nation gets ditched by her loser boyfriend, she encounters a number of people who offer her simple kindness, and eventually become her family. It’s a lovely book, full of heartbreak, but also kindness and forgiveness.

The Silver Link, The Silken Tie, by Mildred Ames (YA science fiction/ fantasy): I am the only person I’ve ever met who’s read this book, and it is one of my favorites. Tim and Felice are both outcasts, and when they first meet, they bring out the worst in one another. An impulsive invitation throws them together, and they become friends. It’s not long before they realize that all their assumptions about one another are wrong, and they start treating one another with care and kindness. Not that this has anything to do with the theme of today’s blog, but this book also involves mind control and shared dreaming. It’s weird, in a good way.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (literary): I know that there are a lot of Rochester-haters out there, and to you, I say, “You’re wrong.” Rochester wasn’t a nice man, by any means, but he was kind to Jane. He treated her with care, and like an equal. Jane was abused by people growing up, yet she grew into someone who consistently treated people around her with kindness. There are many lessons in its pages. And yes, I know people take issue with the way Rochester treated his wife, but honestly, I’ve heard about asylums from back then, and she probably had it better in the attic.

What books about kindness have you enjoyed?

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B is for Baggage

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I don’t know if it’s still on TV, but a few years ago, I discovered a wonderful (awful) show called Baggage, by Jerry Springer. ¬†It was a dating show, and on this show, three women or men would have three different sized bags. ¬†Each one of them would reveal one secret at a time to their prospective date by opening the bags, from smallest to largest secret. ¬†I shamefully enjoyed this show.

One of the things I liked about the show (other than the pure train wreck value), is the same reason I like PostSecret. ¬†We all have baggage. ¬†We all have things we don’t want others to know, things that weigh us down. ¬†But the thing about baggage is that it makes us who we are. ¬†The interesting quirks, the skeletons in the closet are part of what shape us.

In books, baggage can be some of the most interesting parts of the story. ¬†What would have Jane Eyre been without Rochester’s secret wife? ¬†In On Little Wings by Regina Sirois,¬†young Jennifer finds out that her mother is not an only child, which spurs her on a search for the “truth.” ¬†In Beautiful¬†Disaster, by Jamie McGuire, Abby has a huge secret she never wants anyone to know. ¬†Even though she tries to hide it, the secret eventually finds her. ¬†In each of these examples, the secret is eventually revealed, and everything turns out okay. I like the concept of secrets in fiction, and I like them even better when the truth is revealed. ¬†It adds depth and interest to characters. ¬†It adds a touch of humanness and gives me something to relate to. ¬†No, I’m not hiding an insane wife in my attic, but when Rochester eventually tells his story, I felt sorry for his being duped by everyone around him, and I could relate to that moment when he realized that he was forever stuck with the consequences of a bad decision.

‚ÄúThe things you want are always possible; it is just that the way to get them is not always apparent. The only real obstacle in your path to a fulfilling life is you, and that can be a considerable obstacle because you carry the baggage of insecurities and past experience.‚ÄĚ
-Les Brown

What Jane Eyre Can Teach Us

thI don’t remember the first time I read Jane Eyre, but I think I was in my teens or early 20s. ¬†I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t assigned this book, but read it just because I wanted to. ¬†I loved it from the first time I read it, and I read it at least once a year. ¬†It just never gets old! ¬†Mostly I skip the part about Jane’s childhood, as that does get a bit old and isn’t as interesting from a re-reading standpoint. ¬†When she gets to Fairfax Manor is when the book picks up pace, in my opinion.

I found a great article on “11 Lessons That ‘Jane Eyre’ Can Teach Every 21st Century Woman About How To Live Well.” ¬†One of the reasons I like this book so much is that it’s over 150 years old, and people still read it and enjoy it. ¬†Even though it’s set in the time period it was published (mid-1800s), the characters and themes stand the test of time.

If you’re interested, here are some other books over 100 years old that still have readability and relevancy. ¬†It’s because they’re character driven novels about the human condition.

Any other books over 100 years old that you think are still relevant today?