The Art of Togetherness

So, I recently took up nail art as part of my fundraising efforts (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you could read this post). Nail art is pretty much my new favourite thing though. I love the intricacy of it, and the way it makes your fingernails look iced – almost good enough to eat.

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An early attempt at something vaguely hipster-y

And the reason this slightly random topic is getting a blog post is this: every single nail I’ve ever painted – ever – is kind of messed up. I make mistakes all the time – I swear, it is impossible to make straight lines on that kind of scale! But most people have ten finger nails. The smudge on the little finger, or the chip at the base of the thumb aren’t the main focus; it’s the total, the summation of the ten tiny paintings, together. The art is not in one single nail, because I don’t think any of them could stand up to that kind of scrutiny. The art is in the togetherness.

[You can always trust an English Lit student to run with the weirdest metaphors – I’m not even sorry.]

This whole thing got me thinking about community – whether that’s family, housemates, colleagues, church or ‘squad’. I think every time, there’s something really beautiful about togetherness. We really really weren’t made to be alone.

There are an absolute tonne of books that deal with community, but today I wanted to point out some of my favourites.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 

This applies to all of the books, but my particular favourite scene is in The Horse and His Boy, where we get a glimpse of a peace-time Narnian community. I love the way that everyone knows everybody, and there’s a real sense of inclusion and all round ‘getting along’.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Is this not everyone’s favourite, though? I am so in love with the Clave community: the way that although there are differences and personality clashes, there’s this fierce loyalty among the shadowhunters.

The Bible

Maybe slightly different to the other books on this list, but for real! The Bible is full of community – even in the Trinity (the doctrine of one God, three persons), there’s a real model of harmony and putting other people first. In the early church, we see the new Christians selling their belongings to provide for less well-off members of their community. (Acts 4:34)

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

I think this is maybe an obvious pick – there’s such a heavy  emphasis in this series on friendship, and not going it alone. My favourite example of this is Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom: his friend Sam his there with him until the end. There is such intense loyalty and selflessness in this story – gah. It’s great.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

This pick is maybe a little more obscure than the others, but I’d highly recommend it! I wrote a review here, if you’re interested. My favourite thing about the community in this book is the glaring differences in upbringing, culture and circumstance of each of the women. They each have their own stories, but they have a web of support as a group of friends.

Is this really cheesy? I find a lot of books (especially post-Romantic period?) have this really focus on individuality, and being strong enough to defeat the odds in your own strength. To my mind, that’s neither practical nor practicable – I think a need for community is not a weakness; but a strength!

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

-Howard Zinn

I want to hear your thoughts! What are your favourite books about community?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

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INTJ (Myers Briggs and Fictional Characters)

Happy Friday! A few days ago, I promised Kate of The Owl and the Reader a little post about what an INTJ might look like in the fictional world, so…here is that post!

I find Myers Briggs so interesting – so if you want to find out about other personality types, feel free to request! I’ve also done posts about INFP, ISFP and ENTJ.

Anyways, Kate is an INTJ – this means that she favours Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, and Judging. I referred to my favourite Myers Briggs website (it has pictures) to see what that could mean in practice:

People with the INTJ personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.

I had a browse through this website to find some fictional characters that might share the INTJ personality type, and there was such an interesting mix that I put together a few more examples than usual!

Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr Darcy

Okay, so Darcy isn’t a saint, but he is definitely good at heart. I think this is one to be happy about!

Gandalf and Saruman from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

Gandalf and Saruman

So we have two examples of people at opposite ends of the good/evil spectrum. I’d take this as confirmation that you can choose your own path…or something.

Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Moriarty

Okay, so this is a little scary.

Severus Snape from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

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Again, lovely at heart.

Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Amy Dunne

Yep. Also a little bit terrifying. I’m just going to leave this here and back away…

Thomas from the Maze Runner by James Dashner

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This is a really interesting one! I would never have thought of Thomas myself, but now someone else says it, I can see it!

Jean Valjean from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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I thought this was a great one to end on! There’s a really vast range of characters under this personality type, but I think Valjean is my favourite. He’s the definition of an overcomer!

That’s all from me – but are there any other INTJ characters you’d add to the list?

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

ISFP (Myers Briggs and Fictional Characters)

A while ago there was a little craze for taking Myers Briggs personality test (I like this one) and working out which fictional characters have the same type as you. I’m INFP, so you can read mine here, but today I wanted to talk a bit about ISFPs!

My little sister is an ISFP, which means she favours Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Percieving. It’s a really interesting personality type.

ISFPs live in a colorful, sensual world, inspired by connections with people and ideas. ISFP personalities take joy in reinterpreting these connections, reinventing and experimenting with both themselves and new perspectives. No other type explores and experiments in this way more. This creates a sense of spontaneity, making ISFPs seem unpredictable, even to their close friends and loved ones

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I had a look through this website to see which literary characters might share her type, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Edmund Pevensie

When I took my test, I got Lucy! I’m feeling very secure in our sibling-ness right now.

Buttercup from The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Buttercup (TPB)

Of all the characters in The Princess Bride, I think Buttercup has to be one of the nicest one to be matched with. Great job!

Cinna from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Cinna

While Cinna’s not the biggest character in The Hunger Games, he plays a really pivotal part in the story, and he is genuinely quite a wonderful person. I think this is one to be happy about!

Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter

This probably means that you are going to be famous, change the world, and become the face of an international franchise. Oh, and you should watch out for bald, noseless men.

Legolas Greenleaf from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

Legolas

To be honest, this is the match I can understand the most for my sister. I know long, flowing locks, great height and proficiency for drawing blood aren’t really to do with personality type, but…

Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Leisel Meminger

The Book Thief is one of my all-time favourites, so obviously I’m thrilled to be related to a Liesel!

Soos Ramirez from Gravity Falls

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I felt I would be failing my duty as a sister if I only found you lovely matches. So you’re Soos Ramirez, you’re welcome.

So, how about you? What’s your Myers Briggs type, and which fictional characters match up with you?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

My Top 5 Male Literary Protagonists

As a female reader, I find it so easy to read books mostly from a female perspective. I don’t know why this is – are there more female POV books out there now? Am I just drawn to characters who are easier for me to understand? Either way, today I’m going to be showing some appreciation for my favourite men of modern literature.

1. Sherlock Holmes ([basically any book by] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) If you don’t think he is the best thing to grace the world of crime fiction then you are wrong. I love the books, love the movie, love the TV series. Sherlock Holmes is basically a boss.

2. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein) I have so much love for Bilbo! He is the cutest, bumbliest, bravest little hobbit ever, and I think he deserves to be on this list. Even though he’s not technically a man.

3. Huckleberry Finn (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain) I only recently read this book, and I’m kicking myself for not having known about Huck Finn before. He is the sweetest and funniest little narrator ever, and I love his brain. You are a hero, young sir.

4. Allan Karlsson (The Hundred-year-old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson) I couldn’t make this list without Allan! He is my favourite 100 year old book character – he never fails to make me laugh.

5. Todd Hewitt (The Chaos Walking series – Patrick Ness) I think Todd is one of the main reasons I adore this series – I love his narrative voice, and I love the sweet, naive honesty of his character. You’re cool, Todd.

So those were my picks! Did I forget someone really obvious? Which male protagonists would be on your list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Book of the Month 2014 Summary

Basically, I’ve chosen a favourite book that I read in each month of 2014. Some I wrote posts for, most I really didn’t, but we’re going to let that slide.

JanuaryThe Help by Kathryn Stockett – Five stars and a lot of love from me. It’s about racism and justice and family and…just read it.

February: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak – Oh look another five stars. The author of The Book Thief, in case you didn’t pick up on it. It’s a contemporary and it’s fantastic.

March: Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – The classic Dystopian about books and ‘firemen’. Beautifully written, and a real thought-provoker.

AprilGone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Five stars for creepy, twisted psychological thriller-iness. Read it before you watch it!

MayThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Another one of those classics that I felt pressured into reading. It’s okay though, because this one’s really good.

June: Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – So much love for this book! It’s a children’s novel about a little British girl who’s sent to live in the Brazilian Amazon. Amazing.

July: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – Kind of a cross between The Help, The Secret Garden and The Thief Lord. I liked it.

August: The Protector by Danielle Lenee Davis – I wrote a review here! It’s a detective/crime/mystery novel and I think it’s great.

September: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein – I freaking love this little fantasy novel. It’s a kind of prequel to the Lord of the Rings, and it’s just lovely. I wrote a little post about it here.

October: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Missionary by Alf Cooper – The humourous and really inspiring autobiography of a British Christian who ends up in Chile.

November: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer – The first non-fiction book on this list, it’s more of a Christian, theological thing. I really loved it!

December: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein – What a book to finish the year with! I love it all.

So these are my twelve favourite books of the year – what are some of your picks? Have you enjoyed any of the books I mentioned?

Happy Almost-New-Year, and thanks for reading!

~Dani

Genre Discrimination

“What’s your favourite book?”

Does anyone else get asked that on a regular basis? It is a bit like asking a mother to choose her favourite child, but I guess the question is reasonable. I’m a literature student, so I can understand that ‘books’ is the obvious direction for people to take the conversation, and trust me – I’m not complaining.

What gets me is the part when I answer “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and they respond with: “Oh, so you read fantasy then. I didn’t have you pegged as that kind of reader.”

Excuse me? Firstly, I have actually read very little fantasy. And secondly – what’s wrong with fantasy?

Don’t tell me it’s too trashy or too crazy or too long, because I have read some of your contemporaries and romances and historical novels and I can tell you that those traits are not limited to fantasy. There’s good and bad in every genre, so if we could keep the discriminatory comments to the minimum, that would be great. Just because I read J.R.R. Tolkein doesn’t mean I parade around town dressed as an elf, shooting arrows into the horizon and swinging from lampposts (although if you do that’s ok. You do you, just don’t hurt yourself.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t put me in a box. Don’t put books in boxes – they belong in straight-edged, open-sided quadrilateral…

Wait.

Month in Books: September 2014

This month has been my best reading month this year! I had a lot of spare time working as a receptionist, and hanging around before university, so I got through quite a selection! As always, you can clicking the title will send you to the Goodreads page for the book.

Tales from Ovid – Ted Hughes – 5 stars This is Ted Hughes’ translation and interpretation of some of the Roman poems presented in The Ovid. They’re nicely written and very accessible to read.

Disappearing in Plain Sight – Francis L. Guenette – 3.5 stars The story of a small lake-side community that run a camp for teenagers who are working through problems. It’s a great read, with a real emphasis on psychology so if you’re into that, this book may be for you! I reviewed this here.

Be Bright: Living for Christ at University – Dr Andrew King – 4 stars The title is pretty self-explanatory! This is a really short little book that is both wise and very practical.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars This is a really well-loved contemporary romance, although I’ll admit I was expecting more magic and less Jacqueline Wilson.

New Weather – Paul Muldoon – 5 stars This is the most expensive collection of poetry I’ve ever come across! That said, it’s really beautiful and thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed working through these poems.

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein – 5 stars I loved this! It was my first Tolkein book, so I was excited to get stuck in. The world, characters and whimsical story-telling completely enthralled me. I wrote a post about it here.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower – Elizabeth Hein – 5 stars I reviewed this here! I really loved this story, which I think is perfectly described here: “A moving, surprisingly humorous, sometimes snarky novel about life, friendship… and cancer.”

The Luck Uglies – Paul Durham – 4 stars I believe this is what you call ‘Middle Grade’ reading, but I flew threw it. It’s a great fantasy story with lovely characters, and it’s just so much fun.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Roald Dahl – 4 stars I’m actually not Dahl’s biggest fan, but I did really like this story! It’s unusual and fun with a strong moral core.

Goldfinger – Ian Fleming – 4 stars Seventh in the James Bond original series, this is actually the first one I’ve ever read! I really enjoyed it, and wrote a review here.

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable – Valorie Burton – 5 stars I wrote a review here. This is a Christian self-help book, and I found the layout and content really helpful and relevant.

The Lord of the Flies – William Golding – 3 stars Yes. This is the story where a lot of stranded children take over an island and go crazy. It was genuinely terrifying.

Negotiating with the Dead – Margaret Atwood – 4 stars This is a book made up of what were originally Atwood’s lectures on creative writing. It’s been described as erudite, chatty and fun, and I think that’s completely accurate!

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane – 4 stars A really psychological read set in a mental institute on an isolated island. I wrote a review here.

That Summer – Sarah Dessen – 4 stars This is my first Sarah Dessen book, and it really wasn’t what I was expecting! It’s a sweet and relatable little contemporary.

Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern – 5 stars I wrote a review here. I absolutely loved this book! The quirky structure and heart-warming characters really made it something special for me.

And that’s a wrap on September! (Sixteen books – I think that’s my record!) What have you been reading? Are you interested in any of the titles listed above?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Misleading Plot Blurbs: Answers

On Sunday, I posted a little list of famous books summarised misleadingly,  and asked you to guess what I was describing. You got a good few! Anyway, this is the follow-up post where I tell you what the solutions really were. If you haven’t seen the original yet, pop over before continuing!

Blurb: An elderly man kidnaps a small child from her bed.
Answer: The BFG by Roald Dahl

Blurb: An unpleasant writer follows two teenagers half-way across the globe.
Answer: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Blurb: Some friends team up to murder a hoarder.
Answer: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein

Blurb: A pyromaniac suffering from depression and an excellent hairstyle finds her wings.
Answer: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

Blurb: A deranged and racist gentleman hunts and attempts to kill a large cut of meat.
Answer: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Blurb: A cat lover goes on an extended fishing trip.
Answer: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Blurb: A sweet-toothed atheist starts a scandal.
Answer: Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Blurb: An abused child is pursued by a giant taken from his family.
Answer: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

Blurb: A fish gets hungry for no apparent reason.
Answer: Jaws by Peter Benchley

Blurb: Five Englishmen (give or take a Hungarian)  hunt down an ambitious immigrant.
Answer: Dracula by Bram Stoker

How many did you guess right?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Things I Learned From The Hobbit

I’ve been reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (finally!), and HUGELY enjoying it. I think it’s so much more than a brilliant fantasy novel (although it is that too), so I decided to put together a little list of things I learnt from The Hobbit.

  • If you don’t like the idea of adventure, it’s probably time you went on one.
  • Don’t be afraid to make new friends – and invite them for tea!
  • A spontaneous decision can change your life.
  • Some things are more important than your own comfort.
  • Life starts outside of your comfort zone! (that’s a Neale Donald Walsch quote)
  • A well-read adventurer is a creative adventurer.
  • Take the time to make good friends; you’ll be glad of them when times are tough!
  • Face your dragons with your wits about you and the support of your friends.
  • Sometimes paths are there for your own good!
  • Every individual counts and can make a huge difference.

If you’ve read The Hobbit too, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, and what you learned from it. Is there anything you’d add to my list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani