Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Fictional Characters who Would Make Great Leaders

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic was characters that would make excellent leaders. This proved to be very interesting, and in picking characters I also thought about 10 traits that are important for leaders.

I tried to pick characters that weren’t filling traditional leadership roles (i.e. no monarchs, and that were fictional and not real-life people).

Here are 10 attributes of great leadership, and 10 characters who fit them:

 

Intelligence—Professor Higgins from Pygmalion

It’s great to be able to command a room, but strategy and thoughtful leadership requires intelligence. Professor Higgins might be a little obtuse at times, but he’s nevertheless a successful teacher who is quite accomplished at research.

Practicality –Ruby from Cold Mountain

In desperate times,  you need someone who is sure and level-headed, who has vision for day to day necessities and can get things done. I can’t think of anyone who does this better than Ruby. She works hard and doesn’t get bogged down in niceties.

Inventiveness—Hugo from The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Inventiveness or resourcefulness are essential to leadership–how else can you make a bad situation better? Hugo may be young, but his ability to fix intricate clock workings and to find ways to better his solution would make him a great leader under the right circumstances.

Sacrifice—Cyrano from Cyrano de Bergerac

A great leader must make sacrifices, and Cyrano knows this all too well. As his friend dies on the battlefield, Cyrano knows he can’t tell Roxanne the truth and he sacrifices his own happiness to help her stay true to a great man’s memory.

Charisma—Emma from Emma

It definitely helps get your point of view across if you’re likable, engaging, and charismatic. Emma is a great example of this, and she sways many people to her causes with less logic than affability and persuasion.

Risk Taker—Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

A true leader does not sit idly by; she takes risks. Alice is a natural risk taker. There are few others who would follow a rabbit down to a magical kingdom–most people would convince themselves they hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary and wouldn’t give the rabbit a second glance.

Bravery—Wesley from The Princess Bride

Being a leader means standing up for your cause, often in the face of others who would like nothing better than to pull you down. So being brave in the face of skilled swordsmen, giants, and Sicilians when death is on the line, like Wesley, is imperative.

Eloquence—Temeraire from His Majesty’s Dragon

Temeraire is a dragon, and he actually fulfills many of these qualities, but when push comes to shove, it’s his ability to speak well that persuades other dragons to take up his cause.

Idealistic—Princess Mia from The Princess Diaries

If you have no vision for the future, how can you lead anyone into it? Princess Mia sort of breaks my rule about rulers, but since she’s not really a ruler in any of the YA novels, and since she doesn’t even know she’s royal until she’s in high school, I put her on the list. Really, there’s no one who fits this virtue better. Though she may not always go about things the right way, she’s always interested in a better version of her country–one that’s more environmentally and economically sound.

Persistence—Bee from Where’d You Go, Bernadette

You’re not likely to realize all your goals on day one, so leadership is all about trying and trying and trying again. Bee will stop at nothing to find her mother, traveling to the very ends of the earth to bring her home again.

 

Now over to you. What quality do you think is most important in a leader?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Happy Halloween!

It’s so strange–as a kid you’re excited about Halloween no matter what day of the week it falls on, but as an adult I feel like I’m usually more excited about the weekend closest to it. This year, our friends threw a party and everyone dressed up as their childhood dream job. I dressed up as an archaeologist a la Indiana Jones, and Paul dressed up like a fighter pilot.

The atmosphere of disguise and pretending to be someone else is my favorite part of Halloween, so in honor of that, here are 10 memorable costumes from my childhood and 10 books to go with them.

Archaeologist—Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones

This book is probably the best (as well as only) book that I’ve read recently that features archaeology as its subject. The protagonist acts as a translator for the dig, helping them secure permission from the government. Also a great love story

 

Esmerelda—Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies

Oh I loved this costume. My mom didn’t make it, but it was homemade by someone. The cotton fabric had this rich, watery quality to it.

Anyway, I think of Esmerelda as a character who stands up for those in need, even at great personal cost. I can’t think of anyone who exemplifies that more than Miep Gies, who helped hide the Franks with her partner at great personal risk.

 

Belly Dancer—Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

My family did make this costume. It felt like everyone had a hand in it. Unfortunately we lived in Oregon, which meant I had to basically ruin the costume with layers or I’d get wet from the rain.

This YA book was one of my favorites around this time in my life (5th grade or so). I loved the emphasis it placed on storytelling and the intrigue. The life it depicted was as enchanting as it was disturbing.

 

Cleopatra—Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff or watch the movie with Elizabeth Taylor

This was probably one of my more memorable costumes. My hair was the right length and the right color to fit all the images you probably have in your mind of the Queen. My makeup was a bit sloppy, but that didn’t matter because I felt incredibly regal.

I like this biography of Cleopatra because it tries to rescue the woman from behind the legend created for her. I also love the movie with Liz Taylor because it does exactly the opposite.

 

Delores Umbridge—Matilda by Roald Dahl

It would be too easy to choose a Harry Potter book for this character. Instead I chose one with another despicable school administrator.

 

Bumblebee—Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I don’t really have any memories of this costume, but it’s featured in lots of toddler pictures, so it definitely existed. I chose a book that’s sweet but also stings.

 

Pink Power Ranger—Bossypants by Tina Fey

Not that Tina Fey would have ever dressed up as a Power Ranger, but the message behind the costume is I will clearly kick your butt while defying all of your expectations–hence Tina Fey’s book.

Did the Power Ranger costume not say that to you? Maybe it’s just me.

Alice—Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book seems like the perfect counterpart to Alice in Wonderland. Not only does it have a quintessentially English feel (complete with footnotes), there’s also some traveling via mirrors going on. I will rave about this book more later. But it and the show are perfect Halloween reading.

 

50s housewife—Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

This book is a really interesting look into the mind of a woman who seems to be a perfect 50’s housewife, but is really a person with her own complications, flaws, and concerns.

 

Snow White—The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

I didn’t actually consider this costume to be a costume for Snow White. My mom and I found a bunch of these pretty German-style costumes at the thrift store, and the three of us (Mom, me and my best friend) went around dressed up as Bavarian beauties or something–we never quite settled on that. But I went dressed up that way to the preschool where my aunt worked, and all the kids called me Snow White, which was flattering.

Anyway, Angela Carter’s not-so-fairy tales are perfect for Halloween or really any time of year.

 

What was your most memorable costume? Let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Unique Book Titles

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s topic is unique book titles. And what sets a book apart more than a crazy title?

Here are 5 books from my TBR list that have intrigued me on the basis of name alone:

  • Stalking the Wild Asparagus–Euell Gibbons
  • The Mouse-Proof Kitchen–Saira Shah
  • The Fishing Fleet: Husband Hunting in the Raj–Anne de Courcy
  • The Blind Assassin–Margaret Atwood
  • The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing–Mira Jacob

 

Have you read any of these? What’s your favorite book with a weird title?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’ve Enjoyed on My Blogging Hiatus

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Hello, dear reader. It’s been a while.

I was moving, so I stopped writing. I was planning my best friend’s wedding, so I stopped writing. I was planning my own wedding, so I stopped writing.

But now, it’s time to start writing again.

Now, I won’t be continuing with my reading challenge posts (or at least, I won’t be making up for the ones I missed). I’ve been wondering about that lately. Whether you can make up for lost time, lost sleep. In this case, I think it’s better to just move forward.

I know that the topic for today is boyfriends in literature (as in ones you’d want), but instead I’m going to write about the 10 books I enjoyed the most while I haven’t bee writing.

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book is a bit of an undertaking, since its size alone was daunting. But in my case, the size worked out. I didn’t feel the need to bring any extra books on my honeymoon, which in turn made me feel free to pick up a few on our trip.

This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Every time I went looking for it at a bookstore I couldn’t find it. And then one day, I was in a bookstore looking for something completely different and it was staring at me on the shelf.

As for the book itself, it is quite special. The magic is used as a tool, and not as a way to solve every problem. The protagonists are interesting, flawed characters, and the writer has obviously done her research–she puts you right into the time period, dense footnotes and all. It’s not the fastest moving story, but it’s certainly satisfying and well worth reading.

  • Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen

I do not like canned tuna. I have never liked canned tuna. But the tuna noodle casserole in this book had me rethinking that long established viewpoint. This book is full of delicious recipes, and it’s one of my favorite cookbooks at the moment even though it is missing the all-important category of dessert. Beyond the recipes, it’s also hilarious. Teigen writes with great humor and irreverence and makes you fall in love with her and her food.

  • The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

This book is not necessarily my favorite of Allende’s novels, but it is certainly worth reading nonetheless. The love story against the background of the Holocaust in America and the heartbreaking history of Japanese internment is sweet and special.

  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

My honorary aunt Jen recommended this book to me (she recommends this book to everyone. She thinks it’s hilarious, and she’s right). If you need a pick me up for any reason, I have a feeling this book will help.

  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book was a present from one of the Christmas exchanges that The Broke and The Bookish put on, and the blogger who gave it to me told me it was one of her favorites. I can definitely see why. It’s sort of un-put-down-able. The subject of the book is a little challenging, since it deals with a young man listening to the tapes one of his classmates recorded right before she committed suicide. Rather than being depressing though, the book has a strong sense about what responsibility and justice means and the arguments it presents are quite compelling.

  • The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman

I’m not going to lie, this book to me a while to get into and I had a few false starts before I finished it. But it was so worth it. This book was intricate and touching, bittersweet in all the right places and with just the right amount of mystery.

  • The Revolution of the Moon by Andrea Camilleri

So women of history were badass. This shouldn’t be all that surprising though, because modern women are badass as well. This book is based on the true story of the woman who, for a brief time, ruled Sicily as a governor on behalf of the King. Highly capable and extraordinarily clever, she was able to implement all kinds of positive changes before being taken down by conservative, powerful men and the Church. A fascinating story.

  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

There aren’t many people who can write nonfiction as if its fiction, but Berendt does. The picture that he paints of Savannah is mesmerizing as are the characters he populates the city with. That the story is all true is just icing on the cake.

  • The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley

I’m not sure how a book set in the middle ages manages to feel so modern, but this book does.  It tells the story of a man who procures relics for collectors–bones and mementos of canonized saints involved in the purchase of indulgences and what happens when he gets on people’s bad sides.

  • Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan

Did you know that there’s a substantial Jewish population in Ireland? Me neither. But this book tells some really amazing stories about them.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read In a Day

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Let me just say that I’m not really good at reading books in one sitting. I’m not even very good at reading one book at a time. If I’ve “lost” my current book around the house, I’ll just pick up another one. This usually leads to a lot of library books nestled in strange corners of the couch or atop precarious laundry piles or hidden under papers I just took off my desk. I’m also not that focused as a reader, reading for an hour before getting up to do something else and then coming back to my book. Or I’ll switch a chapter on and off with one book with another book or another task. So reading a book in a day for me is very unusual. Here are ten (recent-ish books) that overcame all the odds. Or were very short.

 

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the English Countryside by Andrea di Robilant

I’ve talked about this book before on the blog, but it sticks in my mind. I read it years ago now, but it was one of the first books in a long time that I felt utterly consumed by. If you’re interested in Italy (and why wouldn’t you be), and you like people who chase down weird family history and/or roses, you should read this.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

I sat down to read a few pages of this at the library, and didn’t look up until the whole thing was finished. Fun and clever.

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

I was just captivated by the stories along with the recipes. One of the better cookbooks I’ve read in a while.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This book is pretty depressing, but it’s very short and well-written. So that’s something.

Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt

I really liked Possession, so when I saw another book by Byatt at the book sale, I knew I needed to read it. It’s definitely nothing like her other work, but it was really interesting and immersive (even if maybe you didn’t want to be immersed in it)

Butter Celebrates! Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions by Rosie Daykin

I read this book quickly, as there wasn’t much to it besides the recipes. I’ve only tried one so far and it didn’t really work out. This is why I get cookbooks from the library instead of buying a bunch of them. But I have hopes for the next recipe anyway.

Patience by Daniel Clowes

Read it fast to get it over with–I didn’t feel like I could not finish the graphic novel since it takes such a short time to read them, but it wasn’t my favorite by a long shot.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley

Another graphic novel, which I read quickly because it was very good.

A-Z of Wedding Style by Kate Bethune

Another very short book, with lots of pictures and white space. I really enjoyed the illustrations though. A good book for people who like fashion.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve done a lot of ranting and raving about this book, but it definitely deserves it. In addition to being a great book, it was also a very quick read.

 

So there’s 10 recent book I’ve managed to complete in a reasonable amount of time without getting too distracted by anything else. What’s the last book you read in a day or in a single sitting? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Experiences with Graphic Novels

 

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My 5 all-time favorite graphic novels to date. All pictures from Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

What I love about graphic novels is the way they use pictures to evoke mood in a more immediate way than words alone. So much of communication is non-verbal and graphic novels let you experience the importance of a significant look or gesture.  If the story is a memoir, they provide a kind of self-portrait. Like a comic they are guided by pictures, but unlike a comic they are focused on narrative rather than action.

Since I’ve spoken about all of these graphic novels before, I thought I’d spend today’s post talking about my renewed interest in graphic novels and how I’ve become a pretty big fan over the last year or so.

The first, and for a while the only, graphic novels I read were Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus books. I was introduced to Satrapi via the film Persepolis, and it was only from there that I went to read her work. I remember being blown away–not just by the nature of her experience–but by the young woman herself: cool, rebellious, full of conviction but also doubt, intelligent and never parroting. She was the person I had always wanted to be. In an interview with Vogue, she said she didn’t consider her work to be autobiographical because “…normally an autobiography is a book that you write because you hate your family and your friends and you don’t know how to say it to them, so you write a book and let them read it themselves.” Instead her story is a family history, and the history of the 70s and 80s of Iran told through the lens of her personal experience. It was an immensely important work, and even as a freshman or sophomore in high school I recognized that.

Part of me wanted more of this new medium I’d discovered, but I wasn’t sure where to get it. Our library wasn’t all that good of keeping up with the times, and there wasn’t much in the graphic section except for manga and comics. I admire both of these art forms, but they’ve never really spoken to me. So I went back to reading other things that spoke to me instead.

Then in college someone told me (or maybe I overheard someone speak about) The Maus series. I went looking for these specifically, and I was blown away. Art Spiegelman has said in many interviews that “the Holocaust trumps art,” and I think by and large he’s right about this. And yet his graphic novels are so full of emotional power,I cried reading them (which is not something I normally do). Maus II won a Pulitzer prize, the first and only graphic novel to do so.

I came to the graphic novel through other ways too. My brother was in the process of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, and his Sunday school/Hebrew school teacher took his group to see an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum about a graphic novel that depicted the entire book of Genesis. The artwork wrapped its way throughout the room and you could make out both familiar and not-so-familiar stories. It reminded me of the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah, during which the entire scroll is unwrapped (taking up the entire room), supported by the congregation. The end of the Torah and the beginning are supposed to be read in the same breath, showing that it has no beginning or end. It’s one of my favorite Jewish holidays, though I’ve only actually attended a couple of times.

Beyond this encounter though, most of my reading was relegated to school reading and various novels, and I didn’t seriously start looking at graphic novels again until after my fiance and I had moved to Idaho.

In the end, it was a Podcast that got me into graphic novels more seriously. The Bridechilla podcast interviewed Lucy Knisley about her book, Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride, and I was already reading all these wedding books, and I knew I’d have to add it to the list. So I read it. And then I read two more of her books. And then I started finding them all over the library in the new books section, in the staff recommended books section, and in the obvious place, the graphic novel section.

Apparently I was ready to embrace this medium. The art felt so immediate, so closely tied to the words on the page. Some of them were heavily researched, others were tales of personal journeys. Beyond the fact that they were often quick to read, making them a bit of a relief from a year largely spent reading books that weren’t all that special, they were a new world you could escape to in a single sitting.

Of course, I’ve also read some that I didn’t enjoy very much, and I’ve found that my favorites are either brutally honest personal narratives or meticulously researched but still lighthearted histories.

I still have a long way to go. But now I’ve gotten better at finding these books, and I’m more open about them finding me.

 

What’s your experience with graphic novels? Have you read any of my favorites or do you have a recommendation for me? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 2016 Releases I’m Really Excited About

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is all about what 2016 releases we really meant to get to, but weren’t able to read for whatever reason. My reading is almost always at least a year (if not a century) behind, so I actually like waiting for the best-of-the-year lists to come out, and a lot of times I build up my to-read list from these compiled lists by people who do actually read the books when they come out. In particular, I really like NPR’s list because it’s super fun and visual and easy to sort through (I am a huge nerd about good indexing and cross indexing), not to mention the blurbs are written by people like librarians and NPR staffers instead of publishing houses. I like the different perspectives. So here are ten books that I mostly haven’t mentioned yet, but that I can’t wait to read whether that’s this year or years down the road when they happen to find me.

  • The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson–Starts on the brink of WWI in a small English town–a book about manners and how they’re affected by the chaos of war. Sounds like a great read. (in the Book Club Ideas Section)
  • Umami by Laia Jufresa–I love reading translated books (part of the enjoyment being thinking about how the book is different in the native language–pure speculation), and this debut novel about loss and connection in Mexico City seems like a great read. (in the Staff Picks Section).
  • Patience by Daniel Clowes–Graphic novels are so interesting and moving, and I like the change of pace from regular novels every now and again. This book is supposed to be a love story, but also involves time travel. Can you really ask for more than that? (in the For Art Lovers section)
  • Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung–A boarding school story set in Australia with a young woman who struggles to find a place for herself and her heritage, a YA with plenty of nuance–my favorite kind. (in the Tales From Around the World section)
  • The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller’s Obsession With A Lost Masterpiece by Laura Cumming–a nonfiction book about a man obsessed  with a work of art. (in the Seriously Great Writing section)
  • The Glass Universe: How The Ladies Of The Harvard Observatory Took The Measure Of The Stars by David Sobel–A group of female astrologists, long relegated to the sidelines are brought to the forefront. This books talks about the women themselves as well as their contributions to science. (in the It’s All Geek to Me section)
  • The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg–A spin on the 1,001 Nights, and that’s all I have to know to be interested in this graphic novel. (in the Ladies First section)
  • The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer–A nonfiction book about brave librarians who risk everything to save books…um yes please. (in the Identity & Culture section)
  • The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman–YA historical fiction that takes the historical part seriously but isn’t afraid to throw a few demons in. (in the Rather Long section)
  • The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to Enlightenment ed. by Brian Copenhaver–I love reading about magic and how the perception of it has changed over time. This book looks like something of an undertaking, but a good one. (in the Eye-Opening Reads section)

 

How do you find new books for your TBR lists? Was there a book you missed this year that you really were looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!