National Day On Writing

Yes, you read that right. Today, October 20th, is the National Day On Writing in the US, but I have taken the liberty of celebrating this special day on the other side of the Atlantic as well. After all, I am a writer, or I try to be one. I love writing, and in this blogpost I will attempt to articulate why, and also tell you about some writers who have said or written great things about writing. It’s all very meta, which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite kinds of writing.

Ernest Hemingway has given what is perhaps my favorite advice on writing ever:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

To me this is particularly true. If I don’t write I feel full to bursting with emotions and opinions and stories. I have to tap into the creative vein every once in a while, just to blow off steam. But there are also times that the flow of ideas seems to have dried up. Those days, I have to dig into myself deeply, sometimes so deeply that it hurts, and wait for liveliness to come back into my writing. Because that’s what writing is to me; it is the essence of life. And blood is also, in a much more literal way, the essence of life.

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Bellamy Blake’s Bookshelf

tumblr_ntqlxsqrp31qmah7eo1_250Welcome to the Character’s Bookshelf. This is where I speculate, entirely outside of the space-time continuum and the barriers of language, what books would be a fictional character’s favorites.

Do you guys know about Bellamy Blake? DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BELLAMY? DO YOU?  Quick introduction for the uninitiated; this is our lord and savior, our most precious of cupcakes, our purest cinnamon roll: this is Bellamy Blake from The 100, and this is his bookshelf.

Note: In this specific case I have arranged the books in order of Bellamy reading them, so each one has his age at the time of reading listed in brackets.

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The Bad Beginning (and the rest of the Series Of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket (Bellamy is nine years old)

Bellamy read these books to Octavia when both of them were little and she spent most of her time locked under the floorboards. I am absolutely sure of it. These books are about a set of super-smart siblings who deal with their misfortunes through intelligence and witticisms. Sound like anyone you know? That’s right. Sounds a lot like the Blake-siblings.

 

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Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (Bellamy is thirteen years old)

Here’s something else you didn’t know about Bellamy Blake: he’s a huge classics nerd. He named his sister Octavia. So you will never convince me that 13-year-old Bellamy didn’t totally identify with Percy Jackson, everyone’s favorite sassy teenager. Also, Percy had a totally badass sidekick in Annabeth, and Octavia is more than a little bit like her.

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Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (Bellamy is seventeen years old and hides this book form Octavia to avoid merciless teasing)

Blake is the new Darcy. If you don’t watch The 1oo you don’t know this. Also, if you don’t watch The 100 what are you reading this post for? Bellamy Blake started out as a bit of a D-bag. He was the character you loved to hate, until he suddenly revealed himself to be a precious little cinnamon roll. You can see how this is like Mr. Darcy, right? And Clarke is his Elizabeth. No one will convince me otherwise.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan (Bellamy is twenty-two and feels responsible for his mother’s death)

Atonement is a book about guilt, and Bellamy’s got plenty of that. It’s also about complicated sibling relationship, something else Bell has way too much experience with. Come here, Bellamy. Let me give you hot chocolate and wrap you in cozy blankets and tell you how amazing you are.

Why are the characters with the guilt complexes always my favorites? Why is it that when Bellamy feels responsible for his mother’s death, I suddenly love him even more? Why do I always fall for the self-sacrificing fuck-ups? I don’t know, and it probably ain’t healthy, but fiction isn’t the realm of the healthy, anyway. Health and happiness don’t make for interesting plots or characters. That’s why I love Bellamy, and that’s why Bellamy loves Atonement.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (Bellamy is twenty-three and coming to terms with the violence of life on earth)

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Now come cry with me over how badly our favorite darling Bellamy Blake needs some therapy and some uncomplicated love and friendship and some apple pie.

Bonus Feature

Bob Morley, the angel that plays our beloved Bellamy Blake, dressed up as James or Harry Potter.

Bob Morley

 

 

An Evening With Hanya Yanagihara

Last Wednesday, the 5th of October, I had the extraordinary pleasure of attending an evening with Hanya Yanagihara organized by the John Adams Institute. Some of you might remember that Yanagihara released her second novel, A Little Life, in 2015. Fewer of you know how much that novel means to me, but that’s what this blog post will explain.

I should probably have included A Little Life in my post on Books That Helped Me Through Depression, because it definitely did. The reason I didn’t is somewhat complicated. While it is true that A Little Life gives an uncompromising view of mental illness that our society needs more of. I have seen too many teenagers on Tumblr romanticizing mental illness.  But A Little Life is also a book that toes the line of melodrama and edges towards too much.

That’s not a bad thing, at least for me. Depression is too much. Depression is melodramatic. The problem with A Little Life is that some of its content is explicit enough to trigger people. Now, I really don’t think we should be putting trigger warnings on novels and neither does Yanagihara. I think we should be putting trigger warnings on pretty much everything else, but in a novel the reader agrees to let the writer pull them into their world. This can and should involve challenging the reader’s world view. If you’re easily triggered by the topic of self-harm, you should probably stay away from this book. That doesn’t mean the author has to.

 

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. What, you ask, is this book about? Why is it so incredibly great that you can’t shut up about it, Julia? A Little Life starts out as the coming-of-age of four close college friends in New York attempting to make something of themselves. But all is not as it seems. Although the book initially has a rich ensemble of characters, focus gradually shifts towards Jude, who, it turns out, has had an incredibly traumatic childhood. His three closest friends try to help him battle his demons. We, as readers, try to uncover the mysteries of his past, even as we shudder to think what they might be. Continue reading

Coffee, Anyone?

“If you could have a cup of coffee and a chat with anyone in the world, who would you pick?”

Somehow this is a standard icebreaking question that I hear a lot. So, for those of you not yet tired of my ramblings, I have compiled a list to answer that question, and I will post about one of the people on the list every now and then.

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I love Chimamanda. Let me say that again because it bears repeating; I love Chimamanda. Her book Americanah is amongst my favorite books ever. The Thing Around Your Neck was equally spellbinding, and her essay We Should All Be Feminists, based on the TED Talk below, voices many of my thoughts on feminism. I’m saving her other two novels, Half Of A Yellow Sun and The Purple Hibiscus, for when I need to lift myself out of a reading slump. Yeah, she really is that good.  Continue reading

Pokemon Go Book Tag

Thanks go out to Happy Indulgence Books for bringing this tag to my attention, and to ReadAtMidnight for coming up with it in the first place.

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This is hard to remember. I think my development as a reader has a lot to do with Harry Potter, but The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt, the greatest achievement in Dutch children’s literature, probably started off my life-long obsession. Before that book, I mostly had my parents read to me. The Letter For The King was likely the first time a book was so gripping I couldn’t wait to finish it and did all of the reading myself.

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Displays Of Sexism In The Great Hall

Both Durmstrang and Beauxbatons were co-ed schools. Repeat after me: in the Harry Potter books, both Durmstrang and Beauxbatons were co-ed schools.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything harder than adapting a long, detailed and immensely popular book into a film. Inevitably, vital scenes will have to be cut, and frenzied fans like myself will be disappointed by these cuts. Do you all remember the scene with the Weasleys getting stuck in the chimney at the Dursleys’ house? I would have paid good money to see that. Also, Ludo Bagman never made it into the film, leaving me to wonder forever how handsome he actually was.

Yet I think that the filmmakers that worked on the Harry Potter franchise did a remarkably good job of adapting those books into movies. Most of the central storyline is in the scripts, and on top of that the movies are designed with such incredible eye for detail that you really feel as though you are entering the Wizarding World; the films never do harm to the dreamlike fictional quality of the Harry Potter universe. If anything, they add to it.

Of course, there are a few things that haven’t gone entirely to plan. For example, Dumbledore asking Harry a question “calmly” was turned into a crazed shouting match in the Goblet Of Fire film. This discrepancy has become quite infamous all over the internet, although it never bothered me much. The intonation of a single sentence isn’t important to the story; I would argue that, in a film, the fiery delivery of the line adds to the excitement. So no big deal.

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There is one other way in which the Goblet Of Fire film deviates from the book, and that is a more disturbing difference. Have a look at the pictures below. The top one shows the boys of the Durmstrang Institute entering Hogwarts to take part in the Triwizard Tournament. The one below shows the entrance made by the all-female student body of Beauxbatons.

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There are two things wrong with this scene. Continue reading

Why I Am Obsessed With The Marauders

Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Harry Potter book. It introduced a whole set of new characters that I immediately fell in love with: Sirius and Remus, and yes, even Peter. Of course, Lily and James had been previously mentioned, but their characters also got a more in-depth description in the third installment of the series.

So I loved that particular book because it gave me more information about them: the infamous Marauders of Hogwarts and Lily, who I imagine acted as a sidekick to their quartet as soon as she took up with James. So yeah, I love those guys. I probably love them more than any other characters in the book, and that’s a little odd: they hardly get the kind of in-depth attention a character like Harry gets, or Hermione or Snape or almost anyone else apart from, say, Seamus Finnigan.

Yet there is an explanation for my obsession, and I’ll share it with you. Be warned, though: after reading this post you won’t be able to ever think of the Marauders again without gross sobbing. Their storyline is just so freakin’ tragic. Continue reading

Fictional Fans

I once wrote a blogpost about fictional fandoms. Well, it stands to reason that fictional fandoms have fictional fans, right? So, this blog post is dedicated to just such fictional individuals. Perhaps they are the ones I identify with most of all. Perhaps the creators of my favorite stories conceived of them to criticize me or, to put it more bluntly, to encourage me to Get A Life. I don’t care. I love being a fangirl and I love my fellow fictional fangirls.

16068905Cather Avery – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is centered around Cather Avery, a young girl who goes to university. She is introverted and struggles withe developing a social life, but on the internet she has no problem making friends. On the internet, Cath writes Carry On, Simon, the most popular Simon Snow-fanfic ever. The Simon Snow fandom is fictional, but it it obviously based on the Harry Potter fandom, and it pleases me a lot to see a respectful portrayal of fangirls and fanfiction writers in this book.

Penny Lane – Kate Hudson in Almost Famous

Contrary to popular belief, Penny Lane and her friends, Polexia Aphrodesia and Sapphire, are not fangirls.

Penny Lane: We are not groupies. Groupies sleep with rock stars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.

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The Reading Habits of a Gryffindor

The sorting of people as well as fictional characters into Hogwarts Houses can be a useful tool for distinguishing personality types. That’s why I’m going to do a bit of sorting in this blogpost, focussing on the ways one’s Hogwarts House relates to one’s reading habits.

My belief that I am a complete Gryffindor was recently reaffirmed. Sometimes, I doubt my House because I am not, in the stereotypically Gryffindor way, impulsive. I do, however, have a very strong sense of right and wrong and I value justice greatly. I am
opinionated, which you’ve probably figured out if you’ve been following this blog for a while. Even in my reading habits, I am a Gryffindor.

Gryffindors are likely to have strong opinions about books, and be vocal about them. These opinions can sometimes lead to heated debates, in which Gryffs rally to the idea of fighting for what they believe in. When they love a book, Gryffs will sing its praises, especially if it calls to the ideals they value most. Disliking a book can split Gryffs into two camps: some may be just as vocal about their distaste as they are with their love, and some may be quieter, but just as committed to sharing their thoughts. Gryffs are also more likely to experience stories on a personal level, and feel comfortable talking about those parallels.” Source: Book Riot

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