Sunday Post #14: Top Ten Tuesday

Sunday PostSunday? Tuesday? What is she on about? I keep forgetting to check in with the Top Ten Tuesday meme, so I’m plucking a couple of recent topics and posting about them today for the Sunday Post.

First up, “Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List.” These are the ten books most recently added to my Goodreads to-read list in order from most recent to least:

It might be fun to list the novels I added to my to-read pile each week in my Sunday Post. I think I might just do that.

Next up:

Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the “life” you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends). Does this prompt make sense?? It makes sense in my head! Let me know and I can clarify haha

In no real particular order:

  • Harry Potter and the gang. I’d read any TNG or even Marauders books Rowling might want to write, but I’m not sure she’s keen.
  • Scout Finch. And guess what? We get to! This summer!
  • Holden Caulfield. I often ask my students to write a new ending chapter because the end of his book is so ambiguous. Is he going to be okay?
  • Huck Finn. I think Twain wrote some stuff about Huck and Tom as adults. I am curious as to how he turned out in the end.
  • Samwise Gamgee. I know he had a bunch of children, but I sure would like to have checked in with him and his (hopefully) quiet life in the Shire.
  • Ennis Del Mar from “Brokeback Mountain.” Did he ever learn to accept himself and find love?
  • Peter Hatcher. What kind of people did Peter, Sheila Tubman, Fudge, and Tootsie grow up to be?
  • Taran and Eilonwy from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. Tell me they got married.
  • Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw. Did they break the family curse and find happiness together?
  • Jane Eyre. What were the Rochesters like after they married? I can’t believe all the adventure was over.

And finally, Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.).”

I have a blog widget that shuffles my favorite book and bookish quotes, but here are my favorites:

  • “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”—Mark Twain
  • “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”—Ray Bradbury
  • “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”—Ernest Hemingway
  • “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”—Jane Austen
  • “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”—Willa Cather
  • “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.—F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”—Zora Neale Hurston
  • “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”—Henry David Thoreau
  • “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.—Henry David Thoreau
  • “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”—Oscar Wilde

In other news this week I finished Attica Locke’s novel Pleasantville, and I’m scheduled to review it for TLC Book Tours tomorrow. Stay tuned for that.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Top Ten Tuesday: Twitter

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from have to admit that I love Twitter, but I use it more professionally—sharing links and resources with others and collecting the links and resources other share. Twitter is a great resource for teachers. I do love the way the Eleventh Doctor mutters “Twitter” whenever it comes up, though. I wonder if Twelve will like Twitter?

At any rate, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday concerns which authors or characters I’d like to see on Twitter. I’m going to do a 50/50 split of authors and characters, just to mix it up.


In no particular order, I wish I could see the following writers on Twitter:

  1. Oscar Wilde: His acerbic wit and penchant for the best bon mots would make him perfect for Twitter. He would be hilarious, catty, and fun.
  2. William Shakespeare: I wonder what the Bard could do with 140 characters. It would be interesting to see what topics he would choose to discuss, too.
  3. Emily Dickinson: Another one for interesting turns of phrase, but I suspect her account would be sort of like those friends who post “Vaguebook” status updates, and I doubt she would reply, retweet, or follow anyone.
  4. J.K. Rowling: She actually does have a Twitter account, but she never tweets. I wish she would. Wouldn’t it be fun if she answered fan questions and engaged with readers the way other writers like Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, and John Green do?
  5. F. Scott Fitzgerald: What a hell of a Twitter feed that would be to read, whether he was tweeting beautiful lines or dishing about the crazy shenanigans he and Zelda were up to.


In no particular order, I wish I could see the following characters on Twitter:

  1. Elizabeth Bennet of [amazon_link id=”0486284735″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]: She’d be the most fun on Twitter. I don’t think she’d be as taciturn as Mr. Darcy. I would love to see what sorts of comments she would make.
  2. Puck: The impish sprite from [amazon_link id=”0743477545″ target=”_blank” ]A Midsummer Night’s Dream[/amazon_link] would probably have some fairly interesting commentary about the nature of humanity: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
  3. Bilbo Baggins of [amazon_link id=”0618002219″ target=”_blank” ]The Hobbit: or There and Back Again[/amazon_link]: I have so much affection for this guy. He’s funny. Wouldn’t it be great to see him complain about the Sackville-Bagginses? Even better, wouldn’t it be cool to read his exchanges with @GandalftheGrey?
  4. Albus Dumbledore: Another one for wise axioms perfect for Twitter. Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to read his exchanges with @GandalftheGrey? (See what I did there?)
  5. Naturally @GandalftheGrey would have some interesting things to say.

Who would you like to see take to Twitter?

Booking Through Thursday: Una’s My Beach Buddy


This week’s Booking Through Thursday question asks: “Which fictional character (or group of characters) would you like to spend a day at the beach with? Why would he/she/they make good beach buddies?”

I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of hours, and I keep coming back to the same character: Una Spenser from Ahab’s Wife. Now, I realize this is a really unorthodox choice. After all, she probably isn’t the first person to come to mind when you think of the beach. Then there is the episode at sea after the whale destroyed the ship she was stowing away on. In fact, it might strike most readers as distinctly odd that anyone would want to hang around with Una anywhere near the ocean, but hear me out. The New York Times review of the novel includes this paragraph:

“Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last,” begins Naslund’s heroine, Una Spenser, as she lies on her back on a Nantucket beach after Ahab’s death, watching the clouds go by. One of them, she thinks, looks a bit like Ahab’s face, a face that she always recalls as ”mild” if somewhat excitable. She waves goodbye. With one dreamy, casual gesture, Una thus waves aside a century’s worth of canonization and goes on to talk about what’s really on her mind: her mother. Over the course of the next 667 pages, Una unscrolls her life story, a long and winding tale in which Ahab is one player among many, and not necessarily the most important one.

Now tell me you wouldn’t like to lie on the beach next to Una and listen to her tell her story. Sena Jeter Naslund brings the nineteenth century alive in her novel. Una Spenser is someone I would want to lock arms with and stroll down the beach with in early fall before it gets too cool. She would tell me all about her adventures at sea and with the freethinking friends she’s made on Nantucket. She would tell me about creepy Nathaniel Hawthorne skulking around Concord in a black veil, and we should share a giggle over that, as well as a long-suffering sigh over his comment about the publishing world being dominated by a horde of scribbling women. We would watch the fat seagulls waddling away from the waves rolling onto the beach.

Perhaps not the vision of a beach buddy that most folks have in mind, but Una Spenser remains to me one of the characters in literature that I would most like to to know, and how better to get to know her than a walk on the beach?

Booking Through Thursday

photo credit: anneh632


Yesterday I read the chapter “Character” in Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, and she used examples from Jane Austen’s novels Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in order to illustrate characterization both through exposition and dialogue. I found myself agreeing with much of what Prose says in this chapter.  Of Austen’s characterization of Mr. John Dashwood and his wife:

Austen is more likely to create her men and women by telling us what they think, what they have done, and what they plan to do. What matters most is how Mr. Dashwood views his own good deed. In that marvelous barbed sentence in which everthing hinges on one word, then—”He then really though himself equal to it”—Austen hints at how long his generosity will last, how long he will continue to rise above himself. Mr. John Dashwood is thrilled by his charity, which, it should be emphasized, is in fact not magnanimity but fairness. He meditates on his benevolence with such self-regard and self-congratulation, with such acute awareness of how his actions will seem to others, and with so much unacknowledged regret and obsessivenss that we can easily imagine how strongly his resolve will withstand his wife’s suggestion that he may have been a bit hasty. (121-122)

The bit of characterization that Prose quotes from Sense and Sensibility occurs after Mr. John Dashwood has promised his father that he will take care of his stepmother and half sisters.

When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then really though himself equal to it. The prospect of four thousand a year, in addition to his present income, besides the remaining half of his own mother’s fortune, warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.—”Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: It would be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he could spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience.”—He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively, and he did not repent. (qtd. in Prose 121)

From Pride and Prejudice, Prose quotes an early passage of dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet regarding Mrs. Bennet’s request that Mr. Bennet visit Mr. Bingley in order to introduce the family to the new resident of Netherfield and thereby increase the prospects that one of the five Bennet girls will marry him, at least in Mrs. Bennet’s mind. The characterization Austen accomplishes in this conversation is, in fact, one of the reasons the novel endeared itself to me early on. As Prose says,

The calm forbearance which Mr. Bennet answers his wife’s first question (“he replied that he had not”) provides and immediate and reasonbly accurate idea of his character. Driven to impatience, she says what he was expecting to hear: namely, that a rich young man has moved into the neighborhood. When Mrs. Bennet crows, “What a fine thing for our girls!” we can assume that Mr. Bennet knows the answer before he asks if their new neighbor is married or single. And he’s toying with his wife when he inquires, “How can it affect them?” (qtd. in Prose 127)

Later, Prose comments on the subtle characterization of Elizabeth Bennet, whom we haven’t met in person, through her relationship to each of her parents.

The next paragraph establishes Lizzy’s role in the family; she’s neither so beautiful as Jane nor so pleasant as Lydia, but she is gifted with an intelligence that endears her to her father. Austen invites us to consider a general truth that we may have observed about what sort of girl becomes her father’s favorite in a family of daughters. Elizabeth’s intelligence means more to her father than it does to her mother, who is perhaps more attuned to the fact that intelligence may not be a virtue in a young woman whom one hopes to marry off. (127-128)

Prose makes some excellent points about characterization in the whole chapter, using other examples from novels with which I am not familiar. As I read, I thought about the fact that all of my favorite novels had excellent characters and characterization at their heart. Even more than plot, characterization seems to be what appeals to me as a reader. The books I’ve devoured most quickly and enjoy re-reading universally have good characters—people I would like to know (and people I wouldn’t!). They are people who seem very real to me. The heart of a good novel, to me, is its characters. I have actually enjoyed books that are not written well if the characters are real to me in some way (Twilight series).

Here is my short list of books with excellent characters:

I’m fully aware of the wide range of literary merit displayed in this list, but one thing I think all the books do have in common is that they all have memorable, well-drawn characters.