Annie

Posts Tagged ‘literature’

A Boring Character

In Books and Movies, Musings, Short on December 11, 2013 at 12:10 am

I often find myself in a position of slight self pity because I don’t have an epic story. I have grown up in a Christian family, I was saved at a young age. I don’t have one of those dramatic testimonies. I am making peace with that. It’s a work in progress. The fact that even someone who isn’t all that bad still needs Jesus is what I have to keep reminding myself of.

But this lack of back-story has also made me frustrated for other reasons. If I were a character in a story, I would not get to be the one that goes off to battle, even though she is a woman. That is always a character that has some tragic back-story.

Eowyn was an orphan raised in her uncle’s court. She went through the pain of losing her parents and her cousin, having her brother exiled and seeing her uncle become poisoned and possessed. She was able to go off to war with the army. She did what no man could do.

Then I think of Maid Marian. In the BBC version of the story,  as the sheriff’s daughter, she was raised as a lady. She didn’t have rough life. It wasn’t until Robin left and Sir Guy took over that Marian became an interesting character. Nothing happened to her. She saw what was happening to others and acted. She took care of the townspeople. It wasn’t her own pain that provoked her to action, but someone else’s. She ended up saving lives and kicking some bad guy booty, all with no other reason other than that it needed doing. I could do that.

I just have to keep reminding myself that my story is just getting started. So far it hasn’t been very dramatic, but I’m not even 20 years into it yet. I can’t let this slow time get me stuck. There is a lot of time left for a good story.

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The End

In Books and Movies, Musings on November 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm

You may not know this about me, I haven’t really talked about it much, but I have a love-hate relationship with endings. A good ending will leave me in a good mood for days. Whereas a bad one can make me mad at the world.

I like happy endings. The Guy get The Girl, the Baddie gets got, all is well in the world, and there is obviously more going to happen after you read the last page. It’s like, when you open a book you open a window to a different world. If, when you close the book, the world seems go on behind the pages, that is a good ending. Even though I don’t like books that are too realistic (unless very well written, like Scarlet Pimpernel or Kidnapped), I like an ending that is more like a beginning. Because that’s how life really is. It may be an ending of one part of life, but it goes on after that.

I finished a book like that last night. As always when you pick up a good book, you entered a new world. This time it was a world of books piled high, mysterious men, and scared little girls. There was no way of knowing who to trust, too many strange things were going on. It was wonderful. I often get sucked into books and forget that I am reading, in Inkheart it was so much more vivid. Like it was really happening. Some of the plotlines were predictable, but enough weren’t that it made everything suspect. If I ever do another What To Read list, Inkheart will most certainly be on it. The end felt more like a beginning. I guess that makes sense, since it is the first in a trilogy, but this was even more so than most I’ve read. It was enchanting.

I got another book from the library yesterday. It is one that I have been waiting for years to read. I have a habit of getting overly attached to series by dead authors. When I was around 10, I had just caught on to reading on my own and I went straight to “tough” books. Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and A Wrinkle in Time. I stumbled through Jane Austin and slowly picked at Alcott, but I devoured Madeleine L’Engle. Even her name is more intriguing. After years of wanting to read the last book in the series, I found a copy of An Acceptable Time at the library. I got home and cried. How will it end? I almost don’t want to read it, just because then it won’t end. It reminds me of an exchange on The Shop Around the Corner:

Alfred Kralik (played by the dashing Jimmy Stewart): Pirovitch, did you ever get a bonus?

Pirovitch: Yes, once.

Alfred Kralik: Yeah. The boss hands you the envelope. You wonder how much is in it, and you don’t want to open it. As long as the envelope’s closed, you’re a millionaire.

I like how the BBC series, Robin Hood ended. I’ve heard so many people talk about how terrible it is, but I love it. Marian dies at the end of season two.  For a few fleeting moments they are wed, and she dies a beautiful death, in the arms of Robin. On the very last episode Robin dies too. He lies alone in the forest, and just as he begins to slip away, he sees Marian walking over the hill. Beautiful.

And then I wonder about my life. Part of me wants to have a dramatic and beautiful death. Actually, that part of me is a pretty big one. Something like Marian’s. But then, a nice quiet death after a life full of love and adventure sounds… nice. 

What To Read? The Later Years

In Books and Movies, Musings on September 4, 2013 at 12:17 am

So, last week I talked about books for pre-teens and young teens. Those are mostly books I read when I was around 10-13 years old.

But what about older teens? That can be even harder sometimes. You get tired of re-reading Redwall (sometimes…), but the books for our age are even more disgusting. For some it’s so hard to find things to read that they just stop reading once they are done with school. I think it’s important to continue stretching yourself and reading good books. It can get hard to find these good books though. So I present for your reading enjoyment, my favorite books for older teens and young adults:

1. The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness  Emmuska Orczy

When people ask me what my favorite book is, this is what I say. It has mystery, it has drama, it has action, it has (appropriate) romance, it has daring rescues, it has clever disguises, it has guillotines. Set in the French Revolution, taking place in both England and France. We follow the beautiful Marguerite Blakeney as she tries to save her beloved brother. The only way is to identify the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, and in essence hand him over to Mademoiselle Guillotine. But will she find out too late?

2. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

Another favorite set in the French Revolution. This one is more complicated, as Dickens often is, and it took me a while to figure out who was who. Still, confusion aside, I love Dickens’ style and imagery.

3. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, by William Goldman

This one took me so long to figure out. It’s not an abridged version. It’s the original. Please just read it. At times the movie follows so closely it’s like reading a script. A few of the places are different, the Zoo of Death for example, but for me this made it even better.If you enjoyed the movie I would definitely recommend the book. It follows close enough that you feel like you know what is going to happen, but different enough that you aren’t sure. Buttercup and Westly don’t seem to be as tender as they do in the movie, but it doesn’t take much away from the story. (Taken from my Goodreads review)

4. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Another classic from the mind of Jack. Written as a series of letters from an older demon to a younger demon he is mentoring. It’s interesting to think of things from this perspective. Very thought provoking.

5. The Fishermans Lady (and The Marquis’ Secret) by George MacDonald

Almost a cross between Kidnapped and The Scarlet Pimpernel. The very first book of George MacDonald’s that I read. I love a good adventure book, if it is set in Scotland, even better. Fun Fact! George MacDonald was a favorite author of three of my favorite authors, J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle.

6. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The nerd in me couldn’t leave this off the list. It is pure fluff and has an extremely rambling and almost nonexistent plot line. There is some language and more adult themes, but it is so hilarious. If you like Doctor Who you will most likely enjoy Hitchhiker’s Guide (Adams did write a few episodes after all).

7. The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

An amazing sci-fi series by the man who is generally thought of as being a fantasy writer and theologian.  I actually read these when I was about 11, but I would recommend them for older teens. I was too young to understand them very well. Full of twists and turns

8. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

The classic epic story of good versus evil. This story has so many good lessons, it is a sweeping epic, there is rawness, there are heroes, there is brotherly love. Most people know at least the gist of the story, so I’m not going to further spoil it. I will say though, even if you have seen the movies dozens of times, please read the books. The movies, while they do a pretty good job, leave out some of the best parts.

9. Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer

The story of how Veggietales got it’s start. I really love behind the scenes stuff, so this was a treat. Now, I realize this is the only book on my list that isn’t a novel, there is a reason for this though. As we get older, it’s also important to read (or begin reading if it hasn’t been your habit) non-fiction.  For most of the rest of our lives we will be reading non-fiction. I’ve found that great way to get a taste for books about real life is through biographies and the like.

While some of these books have a bit of language (nothing stronger than what you hear on PG movies or TV shows), the main reason I list them as books for older teens is because I want them to be appreciated. Most young teens could handle them, but they won’t get nearly as much out of these books as some one a little older will.

What to Read?

In Books and Movies, Musings on August 28, 2013 at 1:14 am

I don’t think you have to read my blog for very long to notice I love books.

It really makes me sad when people can’t find good ones for their kids. Now, I totally understand the lack of good children’s literature these days. It’s getting harder and harder to find clean books for pre-teens and young teens. Judging by their age they could be reading Young Adult over in the Teen section, but then you go over there and it’s all zombies, vampires, end of the world and forbidden love. Nothing against you if you like that kind of stuff, I’m just of the opinion that this is not appropriate, especially for kids of this age.

So what can they read? My favorite books of course.

Don’t laugh. I’m not being arrogant. It just happens that most of my favorite books are considered Juvenile Fiction at our library. I’m quite serious. I’ve found that the best books are the old “young people’s books.”

They are mostly innocent, generally old (there are some exceptions), sometimes challenging, usually epic and always worth your time.

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This is pretty much my favorite one on the list. Most people know the story of the March girls so I’m not going to go into much detail. Suffice it to say this is a great book for and about strong girls.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Fiery redheaded Anne. Another book that is near and dear to so many people. The story of an orphan girl who goes to live with an old maid and her bachelor brother has charmed young girls for over a hundred years. While she can be a drama queen, I love how she sees the poetry in ordinary life. Another book in my list of/for strong girls.

3. A Wrinkle In Time (book 1# of the Time Quartet) by Madeleine L’Engle

This is one series I have read over and over again, main reason being because I love Sci-fi and books with strong, complex heroines. Meg Murry is the oldest child of two geniuses, and the older sister of yet another, while she is about average in most ways. There are so many things about this book that I love.  The explanation and expectation of quantum physics? The fact that she actually has a good home life? Meg’s relationship with Calvin that stays sweet without getting overly romantic?  Another thing, I love it when the evil is obviously wicked. I like for the good guy to wear a white hat and the bad guy to wear a black hat. It’s fine for their minions to not be so apparent, but I want to know who I’m rooting for. I’ve just gotta say, there is an exceptionally short list of books I have read more than once, but this and the rest of the series are on that list. I could go on for a long time about how much I love this book, seriously, just go read it (or listen to it on Grooveshark!). This is not just for girls by the way.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Does this series really need an introduction? Most of us start our journey to the fantastic land of Narnia with four children sent out to the country to escape the air raids in London. Although I have mostly listened to the audio book,  this is another series I have read/heard many times.

5. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Another one that requires little discription. This is the precursor to the Lord of The Rings trilogy, the story of how Bilbo Baggins gets the ring in the first place. My reason for putting it on this list instead of the Trilogy is because it is more of a fairytale than the others. If you feel that your child is mature enough I would definitely recommend the rest of the books as well.

6. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

I had several, unrelated, unacquainted people tell me to read this book. It’s a very basic fairytale, which is what I love about it.

7. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Another one of my favorites. I have a thing for whimsy and surreality. The colorful world he creates for Alice to venture off to in her dreams is just he kind of place I love to read about.

8. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

High adventure in the Highlands. A young boy finds out he is the true heir of an estate is sold to pirates and shipwrecked, only to take arms with a Jacobite rebel and journey across Scotland to regain his rightful inheritance. Wha! It’s just exciting to think about!

9. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

A good classic adventure story about a family’s life after being shipwrecked on a tropical island.

Something about leaving that at 9 bothers me, but to stick with only my favorites for this age range it will have to stay that way.  There are many others I could list that are perfectly fine and clean, but I just don’t care for them. A very short list of books that are fine but bore me: Caddie Woodlawn, The Little House books, The Secret Garden, Pilgrim’s Progress. I know, I’m a bad Christian and a bad homeschooler.

Most of these books are in the Juvenile Fiction section of the library, and yes, I still read them and love them. I have no intention of growing up and losing my imagination or sense of wonder.

The Best is Yet to Come

In Books and Movies, Farm and Family on August 21, 2013 at 12:31 am

Have you noticed it? That fantastic chill in the breeze every once in a while? The sudden shiver running up your spine, down your arms and out your fingertips? Ah. It’s coming. Given, it’s still a ways off, but every once in a while…

Fall. Autumn. Harvest.

It’s almost time for hot chocolate, plaid flannel, bonfires, hoodies and jeans. I’m so ready. Fall is, in the words of Lola, “my favorite and my best.”

I’m so ready to snuggle down with a book and a cozy blanket and do nothing. In reality I’m not going to get to do that very often. I am doing Bible Quiz again, which will take up a bunch of time. I have my doula stuff. I’m trying to get a job. But reading is on my list of things to do.

It’s such a relief to not have schoolwork hanging over my head like an anvil threatening to drop at any second. I do need to take the ACT/SAT (not sure which I’ll do), but I don’t really have a deadline for that.

I’m sitting here in my flannel shirt I found at the thrift store. It is red and white and very cute. I don’t really care that it is the middle of August (Although it has been an extremely cool one). I really can’t put into words how excited I am for the fall. I just love the “ber” months. Have you ever noticed that the months that end with “ber” are chilly, but not icy (for the most part, end of December excluded). It’s cool and fresh feeling. It’s like the new beginnings of Spring, but without all the pollen and allergies.

One of the books I plan to read, or rather finish, is “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars- Verily, a New Hope.” Meg, Claire and I were at Target last Saturday and we wandered into the book section. I must say, even though it still has all the junk that Walmart does (You know the ones, the serial authors who won’t shut up and already have 25 books) Target has a lot of cool stuff that Wally world lacks. We were walking through and saw a set of books directing you to “Wreck This Journal.” We opened them up and started reading the instructions. They are basically busy books for grown ups. Stuff like “completely color this page”, “get this page dirty” and then some really bizarre things like “Tongue painting” which instructed you to eat a colorful piece of candy and then lick the page in the designated circle. Next to these awesome titles we saw “Shakespeare’s Star Wars” and had to open it up. I stood there and read the first page out loud in the store. So you know the opening credits of Star Wars? In a galaxy far, far away? And you know Shakespeare’s famous prologues? Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean? Yes. This book is such an awesome representation of my tastes in entertainment it’s not even funny. I may even do a new header to include it. It is the whole story of the classic and fantastic Star Wars, episode IV, a New Hope, in verse. Complete with 20 line long soliloquies and Stormtroopers. I am totally geeking out about this book! It has some really awesome potential also. It would be a great introduction to Shakespeare. You could know the story without reading the modern english or the side-by-side versions.

Other books on my list for this fall include (other than books for my training):

The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare (The real one)

Life The Universe And Everything, Douglas Adams (third in the Hitchhikers Guide series)

Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey

I wish my list could be longer, but I’ve got 5 others to read for my certification.

Well, I haven’t done a random, newsy sort of post in a while, so I hope you enjoyed this little taste of my life.

Electric Daisy

In Musings, Pictures on August 7, 2013 at 10:01 am

I feel like that’s a good description of me. Simple and plain, yet complex and different. Le song

I’m done with my series about camp. Sigh. So, now I”m not sure what to write about other than recent happenings. It’s been about two months since I’ve posted an actual update, so for now I have plenty to talk about. 🙂

Some things haven’t changed though. I’m still jobless. I still volunteer at the library.  My only source of income is babysitting, and that has been going slow. I’m still living at home. I’m still Annie. I’m still a child of God. I still write; for better or for worse, whether you like it or not (of course, you can always stop reading).

In some ways it feels like this Summer has been going on forever. The heat. The lack of a job. The lack of school. It feels like it is never going to end. Thankfully we’ve had some cool days recently, but even that doesn’t change it much. Endless Summer. I’m not talking about a tanning lotion or something.  For whatever reason I was thinking of August as being the end of Summer. I’m not sure why. We are getting closer, but it’s not really fall yet. We still have about a week left before the schools start around here (we don’t start until after Labor day), but even then it won’t actually be fall. Just be cold, would ya!

I start my journey of becoming a doula this month.  I’m really excited, but extremely nervous. For years I’ve been looking forward to beginning my quest to become a midwife. Now that I’m finally here, I’m not sure that it’s what I want anymore. I still love birth and I still think it is part of God’s plan for my life, but I do have other options. Before this year I never thought I could do anything else. I wasn’t smart enough to go to college, but I could learn a trade. Midwifery was something I could do from home. I could be a stay at home mom. But I realize now, I was putting myself in a box. As ridiculous as it sounds, if  you know much about midwifery at all you know that it isn’t something to be taken lightly. I wasn’t thinking big about something that is a big deal.  DSCF0532

I had been hinging too many things on my obligatory, impending husband. The assumption that I would get married at a young age and have children right off the bat. The normal Christian-conservative-homeschool-girl dream. What a twisted idea. That a man would fix my “problems” and make me “right”. This was a very subconscious thing for me; I’ve never really been very traditional. These ideas sneak in like the silent shadows of poison vapor and they are very hard to wake up from. There is only one man who can do “fix” me, and I already have Him.  Unhappy wives, marriages in shambles, kids with broken hearts. I’m seeing, more and more, how true it is that “it’s better to have no man than to have a sub-par one”.

I’ve discovered that I really love to write and that I’m not dumb. I could go to college.  I could study journalism (to my broadcast journalism, former DJ mother’s great joy). I could expand my academic horizons.

I deeply love reading. I could open a used book store. It would be complete with spiral staircase. Even if it didn’t really need it, there would be perhaps a little landing with a comfy chair. The walls would have old newspaper clippings and there would be cushy chairs everywhere. We would only have hardbacks and specialize in old books. It would be a place for everyone who loves good literature, young or old. There will, of course, be at least one shop cat.

I am a person that needs adventure. My parents have known this, it’s part of the reason they sent me to California all by myself when I was not even 10. I must travel or I will grow dim and witless (name that book).

So maybe I will end up a missionary midwife and ride around in the bush tending women in their strongest, yet weakest moments. Or I might be a foreign concordant and inform you on the news of the world. And maybe I’ll wind up being the eccentric book and cat lady who disappears every once in a while, to who knows where. And at some point I might find a man who makes me feel like slowing down, but not much, and begin our joint adventure.

Two things are certain. I will still be Annie, and everything that means; and I will always end up back home.

Freedom!

In Farm and Family, Musings, Pictures on March 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I started doing the Snoopy Dance early this month. I went in to take the GED. Since I took it on the computer I got my scores back right away.  I didn’t quite dare to hope to expect to pass math. I nonchalantly looked at my scores and asked a couple questions about scoring. Then I went out to the car. Then I started  Snoopy Dancing. Well, not actually dancing, at least I don’t think I was…

I passed math! 54th percentile! Then I started dancing  even more. I only missed a couple of the science questions! 99th! The more scores I read the more excited I got. All but math were in the 90s!DSCF9467

I didn’t get my writing score right away because it had to be graded by someone, but I added my scores up and as long as I passed I would have over 3000 points.

The freedom of not having math looming over my head is amazing. I really can’t describe how wonderful it feels to not have school work (other than reading that mom and dad want me to do)

I got my diploma in the mail a few days ago.DSCF9498

My online teacher recommended that I apply for scholarships. I never thought I could go to college. I’m not sure why, it just wasn’t ever something I had considered. I think part of me thought I wasn’t book smart enough.

To be brutally honest, this is the first year I’ve really done any school. Mom taught me to read for about 3 years and once it finally stuck I just read stuff. For science I read science books, all the way from basic anatomy place mats to dads college textbooks, and stuck anything I could find under our microscope. Social studies is the hardest to pinpoint. You just kind of pick it up. Math is, was and probably will always be my worst enemy. I truly just didn’t do it. I learned to add and subtract and the basic principle of multiplication and that was enough for me. DSCF9505

I think a key to this style of schooling is fostering curiosity. We’ve always had all kinds of books around the house, but the microscope has always been one of my favorites. What does this type of leaf look like compared to this other one? What happens when it is cut, torn or crushed? How are they different? Comparing different people’s hair or fingernails.

Curiosity is what pushes you to read a book you may not have otherwise. It’s what pushes you to build thing and unwittingly learn the physics of a pulley or a fulcrum. Life may be a classroom, but curiosity is what keeps you from falling asleep during class.

I’m certainly not saying I’m done learning or that our relaxed style is THE best one for EVERYONE. It would be hypocritical. Learning is not a one size fits all thing (scarves are about the only thing I can think of that are).

I can’t believe I’m done.

Books

In Musings, Pictures on January 10, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Man alive! It feels like England out there. A heavy fog bank rolled in this afternoon. I don’t know what it is, but fog always makes me feel poetic and mysterious. Good weather for reading, and watching Star Trek, but it’s always good weather for that.

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I just finished reading “The Princess and The Goblins” today. Totally did NOT end how I thought it would. The climax wasn’t what or where I thought it would be. It was actually very refreshing to not be able to predict the plot of a story. Just goes to show you how good of a writer George MacDonald is. So far, I’ve read three of his books and his story-lines are amazing. I really love it when a book doesn’t follow a cliche. For instance, there is Princess Irene and Curdie, so you assume they will get married in the end, or that it would at least say something to make you assume they would later. Suffice it to say that is not how it ended. You should just read it yourself, I’m not going to tell you anything.

The theme for our book club this month is “Books to Movies”. Now, I like this theme much better than the one we had for last month, “Dystopian”, but it posed much of a problem. I’ve already read everything. What could I read that has a movie that I like? If I like a movie, I usually read or have read the book if there is one. Alice in Wonderland! Oh YES! I love that one! It needs to be new? Ah. So my options are very limited. All I could think of was, Tarzan of the Apes, The Jungle Book, Sense and Sensibilities, and a couple of other ones I can’t remember. Meg chose Tarzan and Claire chose Jungle Book. So when we went to the library I looked for Sense and Sensibilities. I suppose I was stalling when I went to the DVD rack. In browsing the titles I saw a few I thought we’d like to watch so I picked them up. Then I noticed an old favorite. The Princess Bride (“by S. Morganstern, chapter one…”). BAM! That’s a book! And more importantly, that’s a book I’ve never read! I went over (hopefully nonchalantly lol) to the catalog computer and looked it up.

“The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” by William Goldman was all that would come up. That was just awesome. I don’t like reading abridged books. The fact that they exist kind of kills something in me. The author went to the trouble of writing out all those words for you, and you just went in and hacked out any parts that seemed to go too long for “the modern reader”. I’m serious. Any time I see someone reading an abridged version of a book, I cringe and automatically think a little teensy weensy bit less of them. That’s a topic for another day.

I asked the librarian if she could find an unabridged copy in her computer (They have access to other libraries catalogs for inter-library loan). She looked but couldn’t find anything so she called over another librarian. They searched for a while, even on the internet, but couldn’t find anything by S. Morgenstern. I asked them to go ahead and put the abridged one on hold for me, and we went home. After some research of my own, I found a little piece of information that made a world of difference.

There is no S. Morgenstern.

He is a made up pen name. Guess who wrote the original “Princess Bride?” William Goldman. He wrote and “abridged” his own book. I metaphorically died laughing.

After finishing “The Princess and the Goblins” today I went to the library to return it. Claire and Adam went with me and Claire wanted to get on the computer, so I got another volume of Sherlock Holmes (I had a copy of “The Hounds of Baskerville” checked out already but hadn’t started it yet).Ok, I’m going to be honest. I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes, or seen any thing but spoofs on Star Trek and Veggietales.  I’m almost done with the first chapter and it’s already captivating. I’m familiar with Holmes enough that I understood what he meant by his methods. It actually reminded me of  Psych in some ways. I’ve only seen one episode of the one and read not even one chapter of the other, so if I’m totally wrong that’s probably why.  What I mean is the noticing the smallest of things and deducing the meaning from the combinations and placements. I believe I’ve found a good book, and the perfect weather for reading it. 🙂DSCF9006

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