Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Hiatus

Hello everyone!

It has come to my attention that summer is short and there is not enough time to do everything there is to do. Therefore, I am going on hiatus.

...There is a chance that this will be, not a complete absence of blogging, but rather blogging at a verrrrry sloooooow pace. As in, posts once or twice a month. Maybe. Of course I might decide to pick up again at any time.

And then, there is the very sad possibility that, with college looming in the fall, this hiatus might last forever. (Although I certainly hope that isn't the case.)

Regarding Fatima posts, I really hate the idea of discontinuing them, but! if anyone is interested in learning more about Fatima, the "Fatima" tab above has several links to some really great websites that explain the apparitions and the message much better than I ever could. So I encourage you to go check those out. :)

So au revoir, my friends!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Give Me a Hero!

Dear Writer Within Me:

Give me a hero!

You've been shying away from heroism, writer within. You've been mesmerized by the concept that every character should be flawed. You've been fascinated by anti-heroes and morally gray protagonists. And you've begun to forget how dreadfully important the good characters are.

Don't be alarmed; I still want my wandering characters, my struggling souls, my sinners in need of conversion. Keep the traumatized drunkard, the quick-tempered outlaw, the dashing revolutionist.

But don't be afraid of making some characters perfect. In each and every story, give me at least one out-and-out hero.

Image not mine.

Before you rebel, O well-trained writer's mind, let me explain what I mean by "perfect." I don't want you to write cardboard cut-outs who find it easier to be good than to breathe. Spare me the goody-goody character who sails through life without ever knowing the winds of temptation! By all means, send trial after trial his way, give him his own demons to face--but don't be afraid to let him conquer. Don't be afraid to let him triumph.

Give me a hero.

Oh, the flawed and conflicted and wandering ones are close to my heart--languid Sydney Carton who hates himself for being languid; tragic Charlie Campbell who hasn't the strength to fight his alcoholism; erring Jay Gatsby who might make something splendid of himself if he wasn't so hopelessly lost.

But even closer to my heart are the perfect ones: Beth March, whose gentleness and humility in the face of death give me a flaming desire to be like her; Dym Ingleford, whose selfless devotion to a brother who doesn't love him back make me ache with admiration; Sam Gamgee, whose total loyalty to Frodo challenges me to be a better follower of Christ.

These characters are heroes, and they are the ones I love most. It doesn't matter that their flaws are small and few. It is enough that their struggles are real.

We need more heroes like them. Gray characters and tragic figures might teach us a lesson about human frailty or simply be fascinating to pick apart. But it's the heroes who inspire us to climb just one more step to perfection.

And in the end, isn't that the only thing a story is good for?

Don't be afraid to write a saint.

Give me a hero!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Mayly Book Report

Get it? The Mayly book report? Instead of the daily book report? Get it?

Oh never mind, I'm a goose.

Well! The first half of May was filled with the last days of school, and the second half with theater camp and a weekend of rehearsals. (Our Town was so much fun! and the play itself is so interesting it gave me several ideas for blog posts, although whether or not I'll ever get around to writing those remains to be seen.)

I did manage to finish several books in May, though. Here they are.

The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien

Reread this for literature class, and oh! I've decided The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. It has to be. It's quite simply the best. Finished in May; favorite character, Sam. Always and forever Sam.

This was the last book we studied in my high school literature class. *sobs softly* I loved that class so much. It was really interesting taking a look at such a well-beloved book in a studious setting.

I've decided that The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. It's just so--so epic, in the best sense of the word. It's so big and deep and well-rounded and rich that you can bury yourself in it for weeks.

My favorite character, of course, is Sam. That didn't change with this reading, and I don't expect it ever will. :)

A Triumph For Flavius, by Caroline Dale Snedeker

A delightful book--this author understands that children's stories can and should be just as full of heart and drama as stories for grown-ups. Finished in May; favorite character...Ariphron.

Okay, so, the target age group for this book is apparently 3rd-5th graders, but don't let that fool you. The author of this book understands that children need serious stories with high stakes and suffering and sacrifice just as much as adults do.

It's the story of a Roman boy whose father, a general, presents him with a Greek slave as a present. As time goes on, the boy gradually befriends the Greek...and then comes the test of their friendship.

There were a couple sentence-long instances when the writing sounded like something out of a textbook rather than a story book, but all in all it was splendid. It can be read in one setting, but it packs an emotional wallop nonetheless.

The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis de Montfort

A truly excellent little book! I love St. Louis de Montfort's style--so simple and yet profound. Great spiritual reading. Finished in May.

If you're a Catholic looking for a good spiritual read, then this is for you! St. Louis de Montfort has a wonderful style--simple enough to keep a child engaged but absolutely profound. This book is basically a primer on the rosary--how and why to pray it, with dozens of lovely anecdotes thrown in. It isn't very long, and even reading a little bit of it at a time is well worthwhile. I definitely recommend it.

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

I finally finished it! After about...four years.... Finished in May; favorite character...uh....Maybe Harry Maylie? Or Rose? Or Nancy? Or the Artful Dodger?

Congratulate me, friends. I finished it. After about four years reading it out loud to my siblings in uneven spurts, we finally finished it. Phew.

.....I wish I could say something intelligent about how good it was, but honestly it'd been so long since we'd read most of it that the last few chapters didn't really affect me in any way. Except for a sense of profound relief that now I can finally say "I've read Oliver Twist."

...I obviously need to reread this one someday, huh?

Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie

Oh I loved it! But I think I'm a little scarred! This'll be a fun one to read over and over again, I think, but I may decide to skip the last chapter or two. Finished in May; favorite character...Peter Pan, I suppose? I liked all of them, though!

Now this one I thoroughly enjoyed! I've been meaning to read it for forever, because of course I'd seen the Disney movie and thought I was familiar with the story, but knew in my heart of hearts I wasn't because everyone told me "The book is really different." And now I can finally speak of Peter Pan with confidence!

In some ways it was exactly what I was expecting, and in some ways it was a surprise. The general storyline is very similar to the movie, and ever and anon I was stumbling upon lines that sounded oh so familiar. But it was much....darker than the movie. There's something a little off about Peter, a little bloodthirsty and wild and unnerving. But that's as it should be. I suspect that the theme of Peter Pan is actually that it's not a bad thing to grow up eventually, and the touch of weirdness about Peter enhances that theme.

The back of my copy of Oliver Twist says something about Dickens "giving us daydream and nightmare at once," but I actually think that phrase could be much more aptly applied to Peter Pan than to Oliver Twist. It was a delightful hodge-podge of the comic and the tragic, the nonsensical and the serious, the delightful and the startling. I just know I'm going to want to read this one again and again!

And my siblings need to read it, of course. So there's a good chance I'll be rereading it as soon as this summer!

What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these? If so, what do you think of them? Squeal to me about themes and settings and favorite characters!