24 July 2011

30 Days of Books: Days 15-21

This is an ongoing book meme I'm filling out. Check out Days 1-7 and 8-14 if you can.

Day 15 – Favorite male character

(21 July 2011) I've actually been trying to pick one for the past week or so and still haven't trimmed the list down to just one. I did notice, though that I tend to like male characters like Shadow of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods," Calvin O'Keefe of Madeleine L'Engle's kairos books, and Argul of Tanith Lee's "Claidi Journals."

They're all strong, silent, but sensitive types who, in the case of Calvin and Argul, provide reliable support and the occasional you're-better-than-this talk to the stories' main characters.

Another favorite male character who doesn't quite fit into this type is Sirius Black of JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. I've always wanted a cool, kind of reckless, kuya-type figure in my life, and Sirius was awesome. I cried when he died.

If my life were a fantasy story, Sirius would be my older brother and Argul would be my leading man.

Day 16 – Favorite female character

(22 July 2011) Claidi from Tanith Lee's "Claidi Journals."

It's great when writers create a female character who's a warrior, genius, or superhero, giving young female readers characters to inspire. I like Claidi, though, because she isn't any of these things. She is not particularly gifted, kind of naive, and even prone to panic in unfamiliar situations. And as a teenager, she's quick to fall for the first hot stranger who waltzes (well, crashes his hot air balloon) into the House where she's been a slave all her life.

What she does have going for her is her will, and it's a pleasure to share in her self-discovery as adventure takes her farther (and further) than she ever imagines. Claidi wins her victories, not by superpowers, magic, or weaponry, but simply by acting upon her own sense of right and wrong. And though she does get tangled with a guy or three--and they sometimes have to save her from something--ultimately, she makes her decisions for herself.

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book

(23 July 2011) I'll give you a quote from a favorite book, not "the" favorite book (which, I realize, is not very quotable). It's kind of long, though, so you'll have to click on this link and start at the second bullet point ("It's not easy to believe.").

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you

(24 July 2011) "Train Man," by Hitori Nakano. I loved this romance told in message board format, I was gripped as the story unfolded, and I was cheering along with the rest of Train Man's fans with every step he took out of his shell, until my own sensibilities got in the way. I have my own mental and emotional guidelines for when to tell someone that you love them, and none of them were in place for Train Man that night. I suppose it might be something to do with Japanese culture, but it just didn't work for me.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie

(25 July 2011) "The Phantom Tollbooth," by Norton Juster. There's a new adaptation coming, but I still have fond memories of the 1970 cartoon (trailer below), so I hope they don't mess it up.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book

(26 July 2011) I don't read romance novels, and romance is usually secondary in or not even part of my heroes' objectives. The last book I read that focused on a romantic relationship wasn't even fictional, but it's the one I'll put here: "A Severe Mercy," by Sheldon Vanauken.

After two Josh Harris books and three units under Fr. Dacanay, I was beginning to wonder whether love really had to pass all these cerebral checkpoints and leave no room for a little recklessness. I found comfort (and lots of kilig) in the story of Van and Davy, two intellectuals whose relationship was nevertheless filled with passion and, later, infused with faith.

Now that I think about it, I appreciate their example more now that I've been with Martin these past couple of years than I did when I first read the book as a single person. It was easy for us, just as it was for them, to think that we were invulnerable together in the first several months. Then, a bunch of crap happened, and we had to recover separately as well as together. My illusions have been shattered, and I sometimes wish things could be as sunny as they were in the early days, but I think we're better for what we've been through so far, and I'm really happy with where we are now.

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood

(27 July 2011) This is difficult considering that most of my favorite books are books from my childhood. I'd like to pay tribute to a picture book here, but I'm torn between "Harold and the Purple Crayon," by Crockett Johnson and "Roxaboxen," by Alice McLerran. Both books encouraged imagination in their own way: Harold for trippy fantasy, and Roxaboxen for fantasy-in-reality. I think I prefer Roxaboxen, then, for reminding me that there's magic in everyday objects, and cities may be built with little stones.

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