O is for (Books About) Overcoming #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.

Most books, on some level, can be boiled down to a plot about overcoming something. Romances are all about overcoming internal or external barriers to find love. Horror novels are about overcoming the awful thing to survive.

But there are a few books that are more about on overcoming something huge, and so I picked a few to focus on today.

Ice Castles, by Leonore Fleischer (YA before YA was a thing?): Lexie wants to be a figure skater more than anything, but she doesn’t have much money, and she’s “too old” to train. When she gets an opportunity to get the training she’s wanted, she goes for it. But when a freak accident threatens to stop her from reaching her dreams, she needs to call on every bit of strength she has to overcome the odds against her. I read it as a teenager and was inspired by Lexie’s determination. It’s one of my go-to feel-good books, especially if I’m feeling sorry for myself and need a reminder that the only thing holding me back is me. (The movie was good too.)

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (literary): Montag is a “fireman,” one of the people who burn books. When a woman is ready to die for her book collection, he starts to wonder what’s so special about books, and the first time he opens one, he feels like he’s connected to another world. Montag has to overcome everything he’s been told and then flee from the people who are pursuing him for daring to read. The first time I read this book, I connected to it deeply. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if someone told me they had to burn all my books. The world Bradbury constructed is terrifying but also feels like something that could happen. I can understand why someone would literally die for their books.

Made You Up, by Francesca Zappia (YA): I’m always hesitant to recommend this book. I loved it, but the main character supposedly has schizophrenia (which I think is wonderful). However, it’s fictional schizophrenia and doesn’t really look the way it would in real life. So if you do read this book (and it’s good if you know it’s complete fiction), please remember it’s not much like real schizophrenia. Anyway… Alex is a high school senior who can’t always tell the difference between fiction and reality. She has to literally overcome the false information her brain is telling her in order to have the life she wants.

Those are my picks. What are your favorite books about overcoming?

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G is for Guy Montag

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017.

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

IMG_8343I’m ashamed to admit that I only recently read Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. Guy Montag is a fireman. But in this universe, firemen don’t put out fires; they burn books. A chance encounter with a strange young girl makes Guy question why they must burn books.

The world depicted in Fahrenheit 451 is superficial and frightening, with people mindlessly consuming media. They don’t have TV; they have walls of media. Shows take up whole walls in the house, and it’s an immersive experience that blurs the lines between fiction and reality.

Guy starts to question this reality, and steals a book to see what’s the big deal. Why would anyone risk their lives for what’s in the pages?

He’s not a comfortable character to visit. He goes a little crazy at one point, and makes bad decisions. But I can’t imagine what it would be like to start off believing that books are okay to burn (the thought makes my heart hurt) and then to begin questioning everything you know.

Imagine all the ideas destroyed! Imagine every copy of Harry Potter being wiped out, every copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, or All The Ugly and Wonderful Things.

Would I burn a book if I’d been taught my whole life that they were dangerous things that needed to be eradicated? Would I ever crack one open and discover magic inside?

I’m not sure I like Guy. I’m not sure I can forgive him for some of the decisions he makes. But he’s interesting, a product of his universe.

To one extent or another… aren’t we all?

Can’t We Agree To Disagree on This Election?

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This is the expression on my face when I watch other people take political discussions personally.

I have my own thoughts on the upcoming US Presidential election, and since this isn’t a political blog, I’m not going to talk about them.  What I did want to talk about was a trend that’s disturbing me among my Facebook friends.

Some people are posting support for one candidate or another in the upcoming elections, and responses to those posts have been varied.  But far more often, I’ve seen people posting opposition to one candidate or another.  Instead of saying, “I support A,” people are saying, “You shouldn’t support A.  They’re a (fill in derogatory term).”

Recently, one of my friends posted something like this, and one of the responses was that this election has been the most polarizing election they remember.  My friend, without a trace of irony, said something like, “Yeah, I’ve had to unfriend a number of people for their views.”

People… let’s agree to disagree on the candidates.  There are very few people (I’ve seen) who are offering unqualified support of either candidate.  Most people are choosing what they view as the lesser of two evils.  Why are we going to argue about that?  Supporting one candidate over another doesn’t mean you support racism, sexism, lying, conspiracy theories, or whatever it is the opposition says that candidate is all about.  Supporting one candidate over another means you have your reasons, and that’s all I need to know.

I have gotten into political debates/ discussions with some people.  But only in person, with people I feel safe voicing my opinions with.  In a public forum like Facebook, I think there’s too much room for misunderstanding and hard feelings.  It’s unlikely I’m going to change anyone’s mind about their choice, so in this particular case, I’m not going to try.

It’s easy and tempting to believe that others aren’t as informed or haven’t thought it through the way I have.  That’s probably not true though.  Others value some issues more than others, just as I do.  And we’re all different.

Let’s rise above the political candidates and stop the name calling.  Let’s stop getting angry with people because they disagree on our views.  If you must get into a political discussion, please be respectful of the other person’s views, even if you don’t agree with them.  Let’s thank others for the lively discussions that may ensue.  And above all, let’s be grateful that we live in a country where it’s okay to publicly criticize candidates, and that others can do so too.

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury discusses how censorship started by certain interest groups demanding that things that offended them be taken out, until there was nothing left.  Let’s not encourage censorship by demeaning the opinions of others.

Let’s just agree to disagree.  And be grateful that we can.