Tag Archives: Reading

Weak

9 May

Last night, I found out that my youth leader follows comic books. I probably shouldn’t score people, but I do, so I have no shame in saying this was absolutely an instance where his points went up. Fantastic job, good sir. 

We were talking about superheroes, and he brought up why he doesn’t like Superman (I’m not trying to start a rumble, Superman superfans. Just stating opinions over here). He said he thought DC had a god complex with their heroes, illustrated when Superman died and came back to life, and how he doesn’t really have weaknesses – he has a weakness (kryptonite [which just so happens to be only native to a dead planet]). Because of his strength, Superman became less interesting to him.

I understood, but the very fact that I understood struck me as ironic. I mean, the main reason that people are attracted to superheroes is that they are so much stronger than us. They can do the things we only dream of doing – they can fly, teleport, draw adamantium claws out of their fists (That’s not just me, is it? Who doesn’t want claws? Claws are fabulous.), and so on. But we don’t want them to be too strong. We want even our heroes to be flawed and messy.

Spider-man is one of the world’s most popular superheroes, and he could not be more different from Superman. No one thanks Spider-man for saving the day, he is consistently broke, and he is generally thought of as one of the criminals that he pursues. And yet, he is just as popular with readers as an invulnerable man from Krypton whom everyone loves.

[Excuse me while I take a rabbit trail that I promise applies] Ask any person why they enjoy the company of their friends, and one of the answers will definitely include the things that they have in common.

We love to identify with people. The joy of having someone know what you mean to say even when you can’t find the words to say it is fantastic.

Even with all the people in the world, we still tend to be surprised when we find someone who has something in common with us. And we adore it. Misery may love company, but so does happiness, so does love, and so do we.

We search for people who remind us of us. And we want our fictional heroes to be the same way. Obviously, not everyone has shrapnel trying every second to cut its way into their hearts, but we can still identify with many of Iron Man’s struggles. Most of us are not battling a past full of treachery, but we can still find a bit of us in the Black Widow. Not everyone of us is an orphan, but Batman still speaks to us in some small way.

Because they are broken.

Because we are broken.

Because no matter how much we try to improve upon ourselves, we will always have infirmities, and we want to see someone with our infirmities prove that we can overcome them. As the good book says,

“I am glad to boast in my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2nd Corinthians 12:9

People are ridiculously diverse, but we all have one thing in common – we are weak. Some of us fancy that we are weaker than some and stronger than others, but not a single one of us is perfect, every one of us is weak. If we weren’t, strength would be so much less marvelous. We would not find it spectacular that a drug addict turned her life around and got clean, or that a father returned to his abandoned family, or that a community banded together, despite their differences, and did something good.

Light shines brightest in the dark, and the strength God has given us is all the more remarkable in weakness.

We can be strong, not despite our weaknesses, but because of them.

So be strong, be dazzling, and be a superhero.

And have a nice day.

 

Disclaimer: Yes, I understand that nearly every superhero ever ever ever has died and come back to life. Hey, someone’s got to make money off of serial comic books, yeah?

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Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

11 Apr

When I was twelve years old, I got into a strange bout of entertainment depression. I’d come to the conclusion that no books and very few movies were interesting enough to hold my attention. During that bout, somewhere in late winter, I was browsing the children’s section of my library with little hope of finding anything suitable to my frighteningly picky desires. That was when I found the book series (authored by Joe Craig) that defined my literature experience for nearly a year.

Jimmy Coates: Assassin, the first in an eight-book series about an eleven-year-old boy with a mysterious secret: he’s not human. Well, not entirely, anyway. Jimmy’s DNA can be traced back to a test tube in a laboratory. Designed with stunning intricacy, Jimmy is a mere 38% human, the other 62% genetically modified assassin, created by the British government for the British government. Jimmy is programmed to be a fully functional killer by the age of eighteen, his human thoughts to be completely swamped by the killer inside. But that killer is not who Jimmy is. Even though his powers have been activated [very] early due to unforeseen dangers, eleven-year-old Jimmy will fight against the government, even against himself if he must, to escape a destiny that he has forsaken.

And there it is. That is all I ever wanted to read for a year. I don’t think I have to explain how much of an identity crisis I had when I realized that when I grew up I only wanted to be 38% human. But that’s not what this is about. This is about patience and how it pays off.

When I finished what was published of the series (book six of eight), I was thirteen years old.

I’m sixteen years old now. No new books have come out yet.

Obviously, I’ve read different books since then – the series helped me come out of my anti-book shell. But no new Jimmy was read. Not until now. Just a little while ago I learned that the next in the series, Jimmy Coates: Blackout, is being published in June. June. This June.

I’m no longer a part of this book’s intended audience, thanks to the extra three years the waiting process provided.

I’m much too old for Jimmy now, and the crush I used to have on him has been rendered rather inappropriate.

I don’t even remember how the last book ended.

But there is no way these things are going to stop me. Come June, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of that book whether I like it or not. Twelve-year-old me would be so proud.

All this to say, friends, family, and Fangirls, waiting pays off.

So hang in there, Sherlockians. (or should I say Holmesless Network?)

Your time is coming too.

The Boy, The Dog, and The [Endearing] Drunkard

4 Apr

Guess what? I’m thinking about the quality literature of my childhood today. Prepare yourself for a very Tintin-centric post.

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My Dad grew up reading the Tintin graphic novels (written by Herge, 1907-1983), and, good father that he is, he passed it along to me. Considering that I began my journey at around eight years old, it’s not hard to imagine that by now, I’ve read a good deal about Tintin and his adventures.

So it’s only natural that I want to be Tintin when I grow up.

For those of you haven’t partaken of this particular pleasure, let me explain.

Tintin is a Belgian reporter. Or so we’re told. Despite never actually reporting or working at all, Tintin manages to sustain a lifestyle as a well-known, well-traveled, successful young man.

And that, right there, is the American dream, ladies and gentlemen. Tintin gets paid [presumably] to go on adventures and use his status as a reporter to get everywhere.

China.

America.

Tibet.

Sydney.

The bottom of the ocean.

The moon.

Everywhere.

And everywhere he goes, he brings along his faithful companion, Snowy, whose sound effects baffled me for most of my early childhood.

Wooah

 

 

 

 

 

 

For real. I have still yet to accept “wooah” as an appropriate spelling for any noise made by a dog.

And, lest we forget, Tintin’s other recurring friend: a drunkard with a nasty temper and potty mouth. An endearing drunkard, however, so it’s okay.  Who doesn’t love Captain Haddock?

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As you traverse this enrapturing and delightful series of graphic novels, you will encounter:

  • Villains with terrible names

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  • Bad influences for children

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  • Long explanations that insure that you will never understand any plot fully until you can convince yourself to commit five minutes to reading the tiny, tiny script crammed into one panel

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  • Crippling jealousy over the fact that your boss doesn’t assign you to march off haphazardly into the unknown with questionable, yet endearing companions

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  • Humor lost on the age group that the stories were written for
  • Fantastic storylines
  • Adventure

These books were one of the hallmarks of my childhood, and I’ve yet to give them up in exchange for adulthood. I would absolutely recommend the original Tintin to anyone who likes the Tintin movie, likes quality and iconic literature, likes feeling awesome as they read a massive comic book, or has read Tintin in the past and needs a stroll down memory lane.

Thus ends today’s fangirling.

See you next time!

Self Day

29 Mar

People are amazing. Think about it: Souls with bodies with minds, and each one is special and unique.

Wow.

But let’s get real for a moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t always want them around.

Sometimes you just want to have no one else within shouting distance. This post is to prepare you for those days, in case you receive one but aren’t sure what to do with it. I have some suggestions.

What to do when you have the house/apartment/shed in a stranger’s backyard to yourself:

  • Sing. Forget talent. Sing as loudly as you can. I prefer showtunes, myself, but suit your own desires.
  • Talk to yourself. All that thinking that you do inside your head when other humans are around? Say it out loud. You’ll never know how awesome your mind is until you speak it out loud in an accent that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Dance. Goes well with the first option. Use a stuffed animal or a throw pillow as a partner if you feel so inclined.
  • Bake. When baking with people around, you have to deal with pesky inquiries about what you’re making, whether they can eat half, and why you won’t buy ingredients yourself – but baking alone? Guess who’s eating an entire batch of cookie dough.
  • Read out loud. More fun than it sounds, especially if you’re into doing different voices for each character (I’m a babysitter. Humor me.).
  • Homework.
  • Actually, yeah, you should probably do something productive too. It can be anything; you will feel immensely successful if you accomplish something while the others are away. But here’s the trick: you must make sure you are doing that thing when your roommate/family member gets home. Fill up the first few hours with the above activities, but within ten minutes of when your people said they’d be home, get busy. Then, no matter how much you’ve been blasting the Les Miserables soundtrack or reading Shakespeare in the strangest voices possible, it looks like you’ve been a good little boy scout all day.

Congratulations! Your day has been a success.

Now run along and play well with the others.

The One About Readers

15 Feb

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that they didn’t like to read, I’d probably have about six nickels.

*crickets*

::anticlimactic::

Okay, that isn’t many, but every time I took a step, I would hear those coins singing from my pocket, and I would think, “Oh, right. People are missing out.” And then after that, I would probably take them out and forget about them for a few weeks, and this coin metaphor for my non-reading friends should really have stopped a while ago.

I think that the disease of not reading starts by getting your heart broken. Maybe you read a book you regretted reading, or you couldn’t finish a story because the writer was so mind-numbingly bad. Even harder, perhaps you read a fantastic book… once. And then it was gone, never called you back, and the world’s been gray ever since. To those people, I want to say, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t give up, there’s some book for everyone. They want to be enjoyed as much as you want to enjoy one. Maybe you’re just looking in the wrong places. Have you tried online dating (I go to Goodreads.com, myself)?

And for those of you who know all too well the love of a hardbound novel at two in the morning, love on. The world needs more of you. When someone tells me they “don’t like reading” or “don’t read,” I have an emormously difficult time not telling them how cruel they’re being to themselves by keeping themselves in the dark.

As the great masterLemony Snicket once wrote,

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.”

Readers don’t see that as much as a warning as they do a challenge.

Take it away, Barney.