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?

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My 10 Favorite Books

UnknownIt’s no secret that I love to read, and in fact, I’m a re-reader.  I know that not everyone does that, but for me, it’s like visiting an old friend.  I have a shelf of books that I read at least once (or twice) a year.  Some of these books I’ve read upwards of 50 times.

10.  Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen- I read this one the first time because it was a classic, and I was trying to read more of the classics, but I absolutely adored it, and I even have pages post-it noted with my favorite parts, so that if I don’t feel like reading the whole thing, I can read a page here and a page there.

9.  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte- I really have no idea what possessed me to read this book.  I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t a school thing.  I read it the first time somewhere in my teenage years.  When I re-read it, I usually skip over the parts with young Jane at the school and go straight to her time at Thornfield Hall

8.  Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire- This is a fairly recent addition to the favorites list. It’s a romance novel with all the turmoil and drama of young love, with two dysfunctional characters who don’t pretend to be anything but who they are. Travis and Abby are friends first, then lovers, then friends again before they get it right.

7.  Watership Down, by Richard Adams- Yes, it’s a book about rabbits. No, I’ve never seen the movie, so I have no idea how it compares. While the main characters are rabbits, it’s not a kids’ book. Fiver has a premonition that their home is about to be destroyed, and with the help of his brother, Hazel, they and a small group of rabbits set off to find a new home. On their way, they encounter deceit, a megalomaniac, superstition, and fear, and must learn to trust themselves and one another.

6.  Where The Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls- I cry every time I read this book, and I’ve been reading it once or twice a year (or more) since I was in elementary school. Twelve year old Billy wants hunting dogs more than anything, so he saves money for two years to buy the dogs. It’s a beautiful story of friendship, family, and enduring love.

5.  Lightning, by Dean Koontz- On the night Laura Shane is born, a stranger shows up at the doctor’s home, preventing him from leaving and forcing another doctor to attend the birth. The stranger continues to show up at critical points in her life as she ages, matures, and lives her life. As with all Dean Koontz books, there’s action, adventure, romance, and paranormal overtones.

4.  Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling- It’s a series, so it counts as one book. This is one of the best series ever, no matter what age. The series is about good and evil, friendship, family, and growing up. I love re-reading them from start to finish.

3.  Pollyanna, by Eleanor M. Porter- Pollyanna is an orphan who goes to live with her cranky Aunt Polly. No matter what, Pollyanna always finds a reason to be glad, and she teaches others to look at the bright side with her sunny disposition and show that of you look for the best in people, they’ll eventually prove you right.

2.  The Circle Trilogy, by Nora Roberts- Six people have been chosen to make a stand against evil. They discover that each one of them is stronger than they imagined, and that together, they’re stronger than any one of them is separately.

1.  Watchers, by Dean Koontz- This has been my favorite book since I read it in 1988.  Einstein is a genetically engineered, super-intelligent dog.  He meets Travis, a good man without any real reason to live.  Travis dedicates himself to keeping Einstein free, and along the way, finds the meaning that was missing, and a family.

While it was difficult to come up with only 10 books for the list, I did it by asking myself what books I’d want if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have these 10 for the rest of my life. Luckily, that’s not the case. 🙂

What’s your favorite book or books?