Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – I have been patiently waiting for today’s topic!
Literary tropes are one of my favorite things to ponder when reading and writing. I could probably list off twenty favorites pretty quick and another twenty that annoy me to the point of closing a book for good.
Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:
Non-linear timelines – fine, this one actually is my favorite. The Handmaid’s Tale,Infinite Jest,Bangkok Wakes to Rain, and most recently Recursion are all excellent examples of this trope.
Loneliness/seclusion – I identify with this trope personally so I am drawn to books that illustrate this well. A Woman is No Man, Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Stranger in The Woods all capture utter isolation, even in the midst of human contact.
Allegory – What does the author really mean to say in this story? Or is it left up to the reader? The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis was my first and still my favorite exposure to the use of an allegory to tell a story.
Coming of age – This trope borders on overdone but when done well, it can open a reader’s eyes to a new culture, religion or struggle. There There by Tommy Orange and A Place for Us are both excellent examples that take the reader beyond an angsty teen experiencing the usual unfairness of life.
Books about writing books – I love a good tortured author. This trope can take you so many different directions. The Nix is one of my favorite examples of an unraveling author.
The orphan – Another trope almost overdone but because it’s timeless, it will always be one of my favorites. A Little Life, The Goldfinch, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies are all fantastic examples.
Second chances – Character transformation is important to me because it typically equals well-developed characters. Good examples include: City of Girls, The Friends We Keep, and Evvie Drake Starts Over.
The female villian – Done well, it’s a twist that is hard to forget. Behind Her Eyes is a great example.
Irony – When written around current events, this one can be subjective and tricky. But if done well, it can present the other side in way that the reader may not be able arrive at on their own. Afternoon of a Faun by James Lasdun was a recent read for me and confirmed my theory – good irony will make you cringe.
The marginialized – When done respectfully, this story will become equal parts education and a slap in the face. I am currently reading Speaking of Summer and highly recommend it for both the writing and a discussion we should all be having.
Happy Top Ten Tuesday! After a week of cooking, cleaning, working, writing (NaNoWriMo), and event going, this list was a fun way to get back into the blogging routine.
Today’s top ten is all about my favorite (platonic) book relationships. Here goes!
The Owens siblings fromPractical Magic – Franny, Jet, and Vincent had a unique bond because of their magical abilities. They, and their family, were avoided by most people who believed that the family would ensnare them in back luck and tragedy. As they grew up in the novel it was interesting to watch their relationship change and mature as it does with most siblings.
Madeline, Celeste, and Jane from Big Little Lies– Female friendships are tricky and I thought this book did a great job of accurately portraying their lives as individuals with different backgrounds that become friends.
Leigh and her mother from The Astonishing Color of After – This book handled such a tough subject (the suicide of her mother) with such grace and dignity. The way that Leigh sought out her mother and her family from Taiwan turned into a beautiful remembrance of her mother and her life.
Willem, JB, Malcolm, and Jude from A Little Life – Following four college friends through their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s – the author did a wonderful job of capturing the ups and downs of friendship in the midst of success, failure, tragedy, and love. Warning: this book will make you cry.
Mia & Pearl from Little Fires Everywhere – I love a good mother/daughter plot that has tension, love, and secrets. This duo had all of these elements and watching them unfold slowly made this a great book.
The Sedaris family portrayed in Calypso – Nonfiction relationships are allowed too, right? David Sedaris is known for writing about his family and his life experiences. But this newest book was different as he tackled some tough issues: aging parents, fractured sibling relationships, mental illness, drug use, etc. It was raw, honest, and makes you feel a little less alone.
Hanna & her mom (Suzette) from Baby Teeth – If you want to read about a parent/child relationship that is creepy and downright frightening, this is your book. Little Hanna spends most of her time plotting to kill her mother while charming her father. Her mother goes to great lengths to love her daughter and get her the much needed help she needs all while trying to preserve her own sanity and safety.
Mary B. Addison and her mother from Allegedly – Nine year old Mary was convicted of killing a baby who was in her mother’s care. Allegedly. Mary’s mother can be syrupy sweet and viscous all in the same visit when she sees her daughter in the group home. The book tackles tough issues and the relationship between Mary and her mother keeps you guessing until the end.
Offred and Serena Joy fromThe Handmaid’s Tale – Classic tension in a female relationship with a dystopian spin. What could possibly go wrong?
Scout & Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird – He is her father but she and her brother don’t call him anything other than his first name. He is a single father but unconventional. He teaches, rather than telling and demonstrates tolerance and reason through his actions. I loved reading how he and Scout interacted throughout the book – there was a mutual respect that wasn’t common in that time period.
If you could be friends with any fictional character, who would it be?
Thanksgiving is the low pressure holiday: you cook, get together with people you enjoy being around, eat, watch football, and contemplate what you are thankful for. Easy stuff.
I know I’m in the minority but it’s my favorite holiday.
Today’s Top Ten is simple – what I’m thankful for. There are so many more than just ten and these are not necessarily my top ten because this list is fluid. I.E. my dogs may not make today’s list because they have been super naughty lately but ask me again next week and they might be at the top of the list.
My family – We have gone through so much this year and we have come out on the other side closer, more understanding, and we grew as humans together.
Health – Mental health in particular. There were days that I honestly didn’t know how we were going to make it to the next. Trauma is tricky thing but here we are, stronger and healthier.
Resources – We are gainfully employed and have what we need; including books to read.
Writing – Having a place here to write has been particularly helpful. I’m thankful that I found writing again and that it became a new way to express myself.
Little things – One day I’ll tell you about what Chaney told me she used to think the library street sign was. It was hilarious and as I found myself laughing with her this past Saturday, I was keenly aware of how great it was to laugh at something small and silly.
Hobbies – I obviously love to read. I also enjoy knitting. I had to give up quilting due to space several years ago but that’s about to change. I’m thankful to have artistic and creative outlets that I enjoy. Ten years ago I would have told you that I wasn’t creative at all.
Time – The time I get to spend with my family is precious. Maybe it’s just because our kids are getting older but that has a way of making you acutely aware of how fast time flies. I’m grateful for the time we have to spend together and with our extended families.
Change – For those who know me, they are probably laughing. But this year has been a year of change and I am grateful. It hasn’t always been easy and I know the changes aren’t finished but for the first time, I’m finding myself able to embrace change and look forward to the future – even when there are unknowns.
Steve – My husband is my rock. He makes me laugh, he listens, he loves, and he’s my biggest supporter. Our family would not be where we are without him. Even when I lose my shit, he’s a pretty cool guy.
Ok fine, my dogs – Buddy and Gus are old (11 & 12) but they act like puppies. That’s challenging because every day we think that they might start acting their ages. But no, every day they prove us wrong by doing something funny, ridiculous, sweet, mischievous, or crazy.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to check out the rest of Top Ten Tuesday on Artsy Reader Girl!
As November winds down and the holiday season ramps up, I decided I would make a list for myself and share it for those who need a little extra care to get through to the end of the year.
Gratitude – I listed this first because gratitude sets a lot of emotions back on course. Stopping to be thankful can change your focus. It’s not to pretend that what you’re feeling doesn’t matter but it does give you a break from the sadness, anger, grief, etc.
Sleep – Coming from someone who used to run on very little sleep, I’ve realized how important it is for my health.
Food/exercise – If you can’t do both, pick the one you can do marginally well and stick to it. When I’m struggling, I have a hard time with the exercise part so I focus on what I eat instead.
Say no – I am terrible at saying no. As in, I have a sign on my body somewhere (haven’t found it yet) that advertises this. I have really been working on this though and it is making a big difference. Plus I feel better about the things I say “yes” to because I wanted to say yes.
Ask for help – My husband fusses at me about this one all the time. I don’t ask for help until I’m imploding or exploding. Asking for help, with even mundane tasks, has helped me tremendously.
See a therapist – See all of the above because I basically ripped off all this from him. But seriously, my therapist has been invaluable. Finding a good one can be a bit of trial and error so don’t give up if you don’t click with the first one.
Quiet moments – Plant some flowers. Turn off the TV/the noise. Pray, meditate, etc. One of the best things I do for myself in the fall is planting pansies. I get an afternoon outside, in the quiet, and add some color to the dying leaves.
Read – obviously. I have been on a nonfiction binge this month which is strange for me. But I think this goes back to #1 – everyone has a story and reading nonfiction has let me look at life from other perspectives.
Write – It doesn’t matter what or where. Writing has helped me a lot this fall.
Social media – Comparison is the thief of joy. If all the perfect table settings and Christmas trees in your feed are leaving you feeling inadequate, cut back or take a break. This also frees up time for # 1-9. Win/Win.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to look beyond this list.
One of my biggest pet-peeves are the quotes about “running is my therapy” or “I knit so I don’t kill people”. Those things and the activities on this list are not a cure-all and I will be the first to admit this. In the past I have ended up in real trouble with depression believing that running, diet changes, crafting, etc were enough. These things help but please ask a doctor for help if you’re still struggling. There is no shame in taking medication or getting intensive help.
And please, if find yourself in a really bad space where you feel like hurting yourself there is help 24/7:
Today’s Top Ten, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl , is essentially a holiday wish list. I pretty much buy what I um, need so feel free to use this list for the reader in your life.
Book cart – I have two of these and they are not only cute, they are useful. I use them to keep my to-be-read books organized, a place to hold and charge my iPad, and hold the occasional plant.
Book totes – always handy. I love this banned books tote from Out of Print
Enamel pins – I’m a big fan of enamel pins and these are so fun!
Post-it notes – But not just any post-its. These Wizard of Oz notes came in my most recent Page 1. box and I have loved using them as I write.
And speaking of Page 1… A monthly subscription book box is a great gift. Page 1. is my favorite out of the several I have tried.
Bookplates – I’m big on putting these in my favorite books that I want to loan out. I also think they turn a book into a heirloom. Some of my books have old bookplates in them and they make the book unique knowing who loved it before.
A favorite Little Golden Book – I found my favorite childhood one, The Poky Little Puppy, here. Fun fact: this puppy looks like a beagle and I now have two beagles.
Clothing – if you know they love a certain book or series, there are tons of options. I have actually seen the full Handmaid outfit which is a bit much for me but this hooded sweatshirt is awesome.
A donation of books in their name – if they have kids, their classrooms most likely have a classroom library. Teachers frequently come out of pocket for the books and this is a fantastic way to support local schools and teachers.
When all else fails – a gift card to their favorite independent bookstore!
This post does contain Amazon affiliate links. You pay no more for the item(s); I just receive a little extra money from Amazon to buy more books!
Bookclub for Introverts 2 members Does the thought of an in-person bookclub give you hives?
Would you rather drink your wine and discuss your favorite reads online?
Then we are your people!
Each month we will vote on a new book and two lucky members will win free copies. Suggestions for upcoming months are always welcome!
All books reviewed on this blog are received from authors or publishers in exchange for my unbiased review or are personally purchased. I do not receive payment for any book reviews. This blog is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program where you are charged no more for a book I link to but I receive a small commission to buy more books!