Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Love, But Other People Don’t

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

In this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, it’s all about the haters. Which literary characters do you love, but other readers don’t–or vice versa?

I think that this is a great topic, because I’ve always gravitated toward characters with an edge, whether they’re bad boys in romance novels or super villains in comic books. Nobody likes a goody-two-shoes, after all!

My top ten list features men, women, and the occasional dragon or anti-christ who have betrayed–even murdered–those closest to them. However, all in my mind have redeemable qualities and justifications for their actions. Call them awful, selfish, ruthless, or evil, but you certainly can’t call them one-dimensional!

Carey Mulligan as Daisy (Image via Wikipedia)

So-Called “Selfish” Women

1. Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Edna Pontellier from The Awakening by Kate Chopin
3. Medea from Medea by Euripides

Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff (Image via Wikipedia)

Debatable “Leading” Men

4. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
5. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
6. Meursault from The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Malfoys with Bellatrix (Image via Harry Potter Wiki)

Villains Better Than Heroes

7. The Malfoys from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
8. Smaug from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. Lady Macbeth from Macbeth by William Shakespeare
10. Satan from Paradise Lost by John Milton

Top Ten Quotes from My Favorite Books

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about our favorite quotes from literature. Books have the power to put your deepest, most complex thoughts into words that stick with you for your entire life.

I’ve separated these ten quotes into three categories: existential ideas that make you think, timeless adages that make you appreciate each moment, and heart-wrenching words that make you pine for love and mourn its absence.

Let me know what you think of these quotes, and feel free to add your own!

Evoking Existentialism

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

3. Demian by Hermann Hesse

The Traveling of Time

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Love and Loss

7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

To explain today’s post, I have to use my fellow book blogger Wanton Creation’s intro, since he put it so perfectly:

“Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke And The Bookish. I haven’t participated in these before, but today’s one looked quite fun so I figured why not?”

Why not indeed? Let’s get started!

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
  3. Demian – Hermann Hesse
  4. 1984 – George Orwell
  5. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  6. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  9. Fight Club –  Chuck Palahniuk
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Reviewing this list, I realized some things. As much as I love The Lord of the Rings, I find that I do not recommend it often, since it’s truly an acquired taste that unless you’re giddy for fantasy, you won’t stomach well.

I also noticed how much I enjoy pushing classic dystopian and existential literature (also known as books to piss you off and shake things up!) onto those who have jumped onto The Hunger Games bandwagon. Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury are my Holy Trinity of oppressive governments!

Lastly, Never Let Me Go will continue to be my top recommendation, for these reasons:

  • It’s a perfect blend of romance, tragedy, science fiction, and other genres–thus, appealing to a wide audience.
  • I can’t say much without giving away the plot, so the mystery gets people intrigued.
  • Ishiguro is a literary genius, and I would recommend anything he writes. 
  • It’s just what the world needs, given the over-saturation of Stephenie Meyer, E.L. James, and Nicholas Sparks. ESPECIALLY Nicholas Sparks. In fact, my loathing of him deserves its own blog post in the near future. So be on the look-out!

I would have included some ancient Greek and Shakespearean plays, but I don’t consider them “books,” so do a bit of searching, and I’m sure you’ll find some great choices.

So what would your top recommendations be? Would you veto any of mine? Sound off in the comments!

Best and Worst Books About the Beach

Monterey Bay, 2008

I’m heading to the coast again tomorrow, which got me thinking about books with beach settings. Not guilty-pleasure novels to read while sunbathing at the beach, but literary classics that take place amid the sand and surf. There’s probably many out there, but I decided to pick my favorite and least favorite to share with you:

Soak it all in: The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

The quintessential existential novel about a French Algerian named Meursault who shoots an Arab man on the beach during a stay with a friend, for apparently no other reasons other than he was hot and the sun was in his eyes. His apathy is both hilarious and disturbing, as the reader follows him through his imprisonment and trial. You’ll love him, hate him, and call him crazy, but what Camus demonstrates is that sometimes there isn’t a reason for everything, that the world doesn’t have to make sense. If you’re super religious or a believer in fate, then you might not like this book, but if you enjoy a story which makes you ponder whether there’s a meaning of life at all, then The Stranger is definitely for you!

Hang it out to dry: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927)

I’ve already said that the thing I hate the most in literature is stream-of-consciousness, which is why I can’t stand this book or anything else by Woolf.  This story is SO boring, because nothing ever happens. Part I opens with Mrs. Ramsay telling her son James that they’ll go to the lighthouse the next day. Some friends visit for a dinner party, but no lighthouse. Then it cuts to Part II ten years later, after World War I, and Mrs. Ramsay and a couple of her children are dead. Still no lighthouse. By the time James sails to the lighthouse with his family in Part III, they actually don’t want to visit it anymore and when they do, they discover that it wasn’t at all what they imagined. And that’s it. Seriously, if my life was that dreary and unexciting, I’d pull a Woolf and stuff rocks in my pockets and drown myself in a river too.

What other books come to mind when you think about the beach? And for those of you familiar with these two selections, what did you think about them?

Overrated Classics?

Cover of The Catcher in the Rye 1985 edition

Image via Wikipedia

Today The Huffington Post released this short list of classic novels which it considers overrated:

  1. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  5. Ulysses by James Joyce
         Personally, I have read 3 and 4, and highly disagree with their reasoning. The Catcher in the Rye is an exquisite read at any age, and to oversimplify it as “whiney” is insulting. The Stranger is one of my favorite novels, precisely because it’s difficult “for the reader to feel a connection to the character.” As the epitome of French existentialism, you’re not supposed to understand Mersault, because the point of the novel is that sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. It’s beautifully written and engaging, not bland and glacial.
         Now I haven’t read the others, but I have read Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and 2 is the only one I would probably agree with, since I found his writing rather boring. But after hating Wharton’s Ethan Frome and loving The Age of Innocence, I try to never judge an author’s novel based on other work of his/hers that I’ve read previously. You never know, right?
          So do you think HuffPost’s spot-on, or did it totally miss the mark?