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?

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. ūüôā

What’s your favorite book or books?

Jane Eyre’s Newest Movie

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of my all time favorite books. ¬†It’s not a book that I read the whole thing every time, but I do tend to re-read parts of it. ¬†The best parts, in my opinion.

Apparently I’m not the only Jane Eyre fan, as a new movie version of it came out earlier this year, starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, and Judy Dench. ¬†I have to say, I loved Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland, and she didn’t disappoint. ¬†She did a great job of playing the understated passion of Jane.

That being said, the dialog isn’t verbatim to the book, even in some of the places I thought it should be. ¬†As a reader, I’m one of those people who would far prefer that important dialog be done verbatim (or close to it) from the book. ¬†They’re classics for a reason, people!!

All in all, I think it’s worth watching, but not worth buying. ¬†I enjoyed it, but probably will not be compelled to watch it again. ¬†The passion didn’t sizzle off the page the way it does in the book.