Thursday, August 28, 2014

11 Influential Works

 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:8~

 Here are ten books that have stayed with me.  I'd been planning to do this for a long time.  Some of these are books that had a big emotional impact on me when I first got into reading.  They have shaped me in some way or another and made me who I am now.

1.  The Final Storm by Wayne Thomas Batson (last book in the Door Within series) Yes, I know, the writing isn't very good (some say it is choppy and too Christian and could have been better).  But this was the first book that made me set it down and just stare at the wall for a few minutes before reading on, with tears and a big realization.  And it made me very emotional and excited.  It was the first book that had an impact on me.  I read these when I was ten-twelve.  Also these were the first books I'd read that were around 300 pages long.

2.  The Candlestone by Bryan Davis (for the longest time I spelled his first name with an i instead of a y) This and the first book of the Dragons in Our Midst series were my favorites, plus the Eye of the Oracle.  I read it sometime after the Door Within.

3.  Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet.  I have said it many times now.  This book (and the ones after it, which added a lot to the experience) made me see how beautiful prose could be.  The moment I started reading chapter two, I was ready to put it on my Christmas list (my family didn't think I could know so early on in the book that I would want to own it but I was ready to), and I did.  I whispered the paragraphs of the second chapter out loud over and over again.  And the story.  The theme!  And then I got to talk to the author through Facebook and learn even more about the meaning of the series.  Other things that made me really happy when I read this book: Auralia didn't want to marry anyone, didn't want to capture anyone's attention.  She wasn't boy crazy.  And I loved that so much.  Jeffrey Overstreet doesn't look down on children and I could really tell that in this series, even though the series was the first book-series I'd read that was  published/marketed for adults.

4.  Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet. Second book in the Auralia Thread series.  What really stuck with me from this book was the idea that sometimes we can't save everyone, that we only have one heart, one hand.  I understood that more in the past two years.  This book is like a Beauty and the Beast sort of tale, and very good.  Also it has a very pretty cover.

5.  The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Petersen (though I haven't read the last book yet).  It made me see into the eyes of the older sibling who knows he has to protect the younger ones.  I'm a younger sibling so it was eye-opening seeing things from the older one's POV (even if he happens to be younger than me).  Janner goes through so much and is so loyal to protecting his younger siblings, NO MATTER WHAT.  If he gets beaten up, he doesn't care.  If he dies, he doesn't care because at least he will have done his job.  He's going to be there for his younger brother and shield him as long as he can.  And the theme of monsters and grace. 

6.  A Little Princess by Frances Burnett.  Very strengthening and giving hope.

7.  The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett.  This book was just.. very healthy for my character when I was growing up, and very inspiring, and I probably wouldn't be quite myself if I hadn't ever read the book or watched the movies several times.

8.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  First classic from the 1800s that I ever read on my own (when I was fourteen-fifteen, I think).  Yes, it did take me a year to get through it.  But it was amazing and I identified with Jane a lot in the beginning half of the book (no, my childhood wasn't terrible at all I just felt her passion for justice).  I'll be buying K. M. Weiland's new annotated edition for writers because it's amazing.

9.  The Book of Names by Dr. Briggs.  It's a fantasy novel that has a distinct flavor and kinda... gave me hope (about the same thing the thing below is about).  Also it reminded my sister and I of our own stories.  But I'm still gonna write mine anyway.

10.  The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.  In a time when I was just... maybe going a little crazy because of early teenage years plus the intense desire for stories to never end and the dislike of my own life because it was boring, and fear that I didn't know what was real, my sister quoting Puddleglum's famous line at the end was one of the things that saved me and brought me back to reality.

11.  Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.  The 2003 movie, more than the book, really made me ask questions about growing up and yes, I actually did cry because I knew that in the Bible Jesus always loved children and said that we should become children, that God reveals mysteries to children, and so I didn't want to grow up...  And it's harder to have faith when you're older.  That was when I made the vow that I would always stay a child at heart, with faith and humility and never look down on children or become cynical like people like Hook.  Also I've always had a lot of actual dreams with Peter Pan in them. :P He's a shadow (NO pun intended) who has led me through childhood.
The questions I have had have shaped me, and entered my stories.  The answers to the questions have become really important to me.  So the books that have given me questions and helped me answer them are important to me as well.
If you like, you could write a blog post of eleven works that have influenced you the most.
Or you could tell me some of them in the comments!  (:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Thoughts: the Giver

"The Giver" by Louis Lowry
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
This is the message from the one who is holy and true,
    the one who has the key of David.
What he opens, no one can close;
    and what he closes, no one can open:
“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me."
~Revelations 3:7-8~
I finished reading a book called "The Giver" quite a while ago and decided it was high-time I write another blog post.  I enjoyed the book.  It made me think about various things.  Not as much about political things, though.
 If you do not know what it is about, I will explain a little bit, but it is better to read the book for yourself.  Also, a movie based on the book is coming out pretty soon.

The Giver was written in the 90s, but it surprisingly still applies to today.  Things we now know are wrong with the world... were things that have been around for a long time, before we knew about them.
The story takes place in the future in which we can't see color anymore.  Only black and white.  And we can't make choices anymore.  And there's no snow.  But also, there is no pain anymore.  And no crushes on boys or girls, which also means, I suppose, no lust.  No emotions, and no love.  But.  There is perfection of language, everyone using correct grammar and the right word for things can't be stressed enough in this world.  Everything is clean and organized, and we have reached the height of potential with technology.  It's basically a Utopia, but from the very start, you know something is wrong.
It is a pretty short read, (and it's on youtube on audio book if you want to listen to it) but so full of ideas.  It's one of those books I think everyone should one day read, and discuss with family or friends.

This book made me think about how we overuse the word "love", how every choice we make is important, and how we are responsible for the choices we make. 
Most of the time, when we use the word "love," we really mean, "extremely like".  But that isn't love!  There are many sides to love.  It's mysterious and beautiful.  It's not just caring about someone's well-being.  It's kind and patient and not complaining or prideful... and well, read 1 Corinthians 13.  Even all that doesn't completely describe love, and love isn't the only thing that describes God.  But... I'm going off topic.
Children don't normally understand political things when they're young.  That stuff goes over their heads.  They don't normally care about it, because it doesn't affect their immediate happiness much.  We all come from different backgrounds and different reading habits, and different views, of course though. 

There were a few things I didn't agree with that I felt was obvious the author was trying to say through the story, but those were minor things.  And... even if people disagree about a book, that's what makes the book all the better, because it makes us talk about it and think about it.  A book or movie that doesn't offend or challenge or inspire you isn't as worth reading as a book or movie people see differently.

This is the sort of book that shows the power of story, the potential of story through details and themes.  It only mentions a few things in passing, but even just the mentioning of them makes you ask questions, and think.

For example, the removing of colors only made sense (why the government would do that) when the narrator mentioned the color of people's skin.  It made me think about how today's culture is obsessed with equality in every way. 
But we /are/ equal.  Color doesn't change that.  And yet the world ignores this and keeps fighting the air and making a big deal about whether or not someone in a movie/book has dark skin or not. 

I was a bit shocked at the dishonor it was to be an actual birth-mother, in the setting of the story.  Shouldn't they have respect?  The narrator didn't explain. 
And yet the receiver - the one who receives memories of how things used to be - was given the most respect because they... oh.  Because the government didn't want to have to bear pain and the receiver was their way out.  I still don't get it though. 
Then there was the issue of controlled population and sort-of abortion but not, that was present in the book. 
People shouldn't be killed because of fear.  The world was created to thrive under our ownership of it. 
I've realized how often we make decisions that are informed by fear of what may happen.  It may be painful or uncomfortable to go through something.  But a lot of things we don't do because of fear are things we should do anyway.  We are called to be brave.  To create.  To encourage.  To tell the truth.

Then there was the issue of war in the book, and how terrible it was.
And also the question of choices.  Someone always has a choice, even if it's greedy people who are in control.  That's what makes it unfair, because if no one can make the right decision, than the people in control will make mistakes too, no matter how much they try not to.  It's just in our nature.  But still, we can't let robots make decisions for us instead of ourselves.  It's our responsibility to choose for ourselves, different things.  Because we're all unique, and not everyone will understand us.  And because we were given free will by our creator.  Of course, there is a right and wrong, and there will always be a right and wrong.
It is easier to live without having to make choices.  It doesn't require courage and confidence.  It only requires gullibility and blind trust in whoever is making a choice for us.

This book would have made a little more sense if Jonas was 13 instead of 12, but it worked well anyway.  I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone younger than 13, but of course I suppose it depends on one's maturity and not their age.  Age doesn't define how prepared someone is for whatever task is to be given them.
If these questions and/or themes appeal to you, along with science fiction, you may like this book. 

I'm interested to see how they will make the movie, whether it explores those questions better or not as much as the book.

Have you read The Giver?  What do you think of it?  And are you excited about the movie?