I am drowning in a sea of things to read. My double-stacked book shelves taunt me with their tomes. My Goodreads TBR list laughs at my folly. My kindle glares at me as I time and time again pass it over for a physical text.
When did it get so hard to read? As a kid, I breezed through the Harry Potter series, finishing an entire book in two nights (would’ve been one if mom hadn’t insisted I sleep).
It wasn’t just Harry Potter. Anne of Green Gables was my go to for a while, and I stopped counting how many times I’d read it after reaching ten. Goosebumps was devoured book by book within a day.
So, what happened? Well, I’m an adult now. I have a job that takes up eight hours of my day. I like to exercise and dedicate some time to catching up on television after work. Then there’s dinner. Then I need to set aside time for writing. What’s left for reading? A half hour before bed and weekends (when I’m not doing things).
Even when I have free weekends with 20-hour days to fill with reading, I don’t. I just can’t anymore. I used to sit in my bedroom for hours on end just reading, my eyes roving over the page like a typewriter set on high speed. Now, I read for an hour, maybe two tops, and I’ve gotta get up and do something else. There’s blogs to follow (thanks, Book Riot). More television to catch up on (listen I watch a lot of shows don’t judge me). Then, oh yeah, just getting out of the house and seeing sunlight while I can.
I haven’t even mentioned the distraction of social media. Between Instagram, Twitter and a constantly refreshing Facebook feed, it’s enough to drive someone insane. When did our lives become so cluttered? It’s great to have all this connection, but at the same time, it’s so overwhelming I eventually feel disconnected.
That’s when I return to reading. I try not to let my shelves and TBR list daunt me. I remind myself, “One book at a time.” Just take it one read at a time. Sure, I can’t possibly read every book in the world (challenge accepted!), but I can certainly try. What are we if we don’t have dreams?
How do you deal with an overwhelming TBR pile or overflowing bookshelf? Do you read one book at a time, or multiple? Let me know in the comments!
The return of Arrow last week stirred in me feelings from the previous season and opened old wounds (#foreversalt), so I thought I’d share an old post I wrote for my personal blog here.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T CAUGHT UP ON THE SHOW
Also, profanity up ahead. Proceed with caution.
I stayed up late last night thinking about how I haven’t watched the Arrow season 4 finale yet (yeah I know way behind), but truthfully, I’ve been avoiding it because I’m still salty about the death of Black Canary. Oh shit sorry, SPOILERS GUYS!
Obviously writing a show is hard. There’s pressure to write an entirely self-contained 45-minute story from week to week and film it and get it out. But, on the other hand, it’s not like they start the writing process the week before the season starts and go balls out with production. I know there’s a storyboarding room and details get hammered out for a cohesive plot line. So, with that in mind, why did they feel the need to kill Black Canary?
I get that the situations these characters are in are high stakes, and that means, people can die. Fine. It happens. I suppose I can’t think of an alternative high stakes consequence for Team Arrow to suffer other than the loss of a team member. But does losing a team member necessarily mean they have to die? (See Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD as an example of an emotional exit without death).
And that’s exactly the thing, isn’t it? Of course, if everyone always ends up coming out alright in the end, there’s no impactful consequence and things get boring. However, it is my opinion that lately TV creators and many TV critics are under the impression that the only way to have an impact is to kill a character. I’ve seen it in several reviews when people say things like, “If no one ever dies, what are the stakes? What’s the point? Why should these characters matter if they always make it out alive?”
So, in response, perhaps the writers of TV shows feel they need to shock the audience, and what bigger shock than killing off a beloved character (like Abby in Sleepy Hollow?! Excuse me?!). They’re not wrong; it is shocking, but is shocking the only way to get a visceral, emotional reaction from the audience? If that’s what you think, then clearly you don’t understand the spectrum of human emotion (might I recommend watching Inside Out to get a pretty damn good representation about the complexity of emotions and how they intermingle?)
The way I see it, if death is the only valuable consequence, that kind of invalidates the point of living and fighting. Loss, grief and pain are feelings that can be achieved through other high stakes consequences (again, see Agents of SHIELD regarding season 1 finale with the revelation of Grant Ward’s betrayal to the team).
Okay, fine, so I can’t come up with an alternative solution to killing off Black Canary. We’ll accept it and embrace that she is dead and gone. RIP Laurel Lance.
But here’s where I got really peeved with the way she died. She goes down in a fight against Damien Darhk, fighting as the Black Canary, doing what she believes is right, opposing a force of evil who is threatening her beloved city, and the last words the audience hears her say are, “Oliver, I may not have been the love of your life, but you were the love of mine.”
I’m having Teen Wolf flashbacks of the death of Allison, but let’s not go there right now. So, I know she says something else to Oliver before she dies, but we don’t know what it is. What we do know, is after all the shit she’s gone through and growth and progress she’s made to become a hero in her own right, she dies reminding the audience, “Remember I’m Ollie’s ex-girlfriend!” Even though their romantic relationship felt complete and resolved pretty much by the end of season 2 or 3 (I can’t remember which). Regardless, this whole season and probably for most of season 3 if I recall correctly, Laurel and Oliver are at a point in their relationship where they have a solid friendship that has moved past their romantic history.
So where in fuck’s name did that line come from?! Also, side note, it was a little hurtful I think to have her say Oliver was the love of her life because, I don’t know, she seemed to have a pretty good thing going with Tommy. Yeah, remember him? The guy that literally died crushed under a building’s debris so he could save Laurel from getting killed? I’m sure that line wasn’t meant to throw away Tommy and Laurel’s relationship, but it sure felt like he’d been momentarily forgotten.
Anyway, back to my salt. Look, I’m not saying Laurel’s love for Oliver (or Tommy!) is invalid. Of course it matters and it’s a huge part of her identity and history, and in certain ways that love has propelled her to where she ended up. But let’s be honest, if Laurel Lance had a true epic love of her life, it wasn’t any man; it was justice. She was dedicated to fighting for those without power and standing up for the city and the people that she loved. That was clear from the beginning when the show started with her as a low-paid lawyer working in a dinky law firm that serves the underprivileged.
Sure, she may have lost her way at one point, giving in to anger and fear that led her down the path of addiction and then to become the Black Canary for the maybe not so right reasons, but at the end of the day, she found her way back to righteousness and continued fighting as the Black Canary so that she could protect and serve. Laurel was married to justice and doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing from the beginning, even if she weaved in and out of that lane a bit at times.
So fine, she died because I guess “that’s where the story took them [the writers],” but did she have to die as Ollie’s ex-girlfriend after having gone down in battle as superheroine Black Canary? After the roller coaster story line she’d been given to live and fight and survive through, she deserved more than that in her death.
I recently took on a reading challenge this past year, and in that time, I’ve read Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, and now I’m currently in the middle of reading James Bradley’s Flags of Our Fathers. The categories I chose these books for are “a book based on a true story” and “a book with a blue cover,” respectively.
The weird thing is, I’ve never been interested in books, movies, or TV shows about war. So, why these books and why now? Well, the simple answer is, Jarhead was on my bookshelf because I’d bought it after meeting the author at the Florida Writers’ Conference, and Bradley’s book had been sitting on my shelf after I’d picked it up on a whim at a secondhand bookstore.
What had interested me in Swofford’s book in the first place was that I remembered watching the movie when I was a kid, and I knew it was one of my dad’s favorites. So, naturally, I had to get a copy and have him sign it and give it to my dad. Bradley’s book had sounded vaguely familiar as one of those books I should probably read.
I’ve never quite cared about war stories. Not for lack of compassion, but as a kid, I didn’t understand why people would fight brutally with one another, and now as an adult, well, I still don’t understand it.
My dad, though, he understands that life. See, my dad was an army guy. Not here in the U.S., but in Ecuador, and from the stories I’ve heard him tell and the way he nods his head and says, “Yep,” every time he watches Jarhead, it seems the culture’s pretty similar. My dad seems to have an endless repertoire of army stories, and some of his stories I’ve heard several times over.
I thought at first my picking up two war books for my reading challenge was coincidence based off what’s on my bookshelf, but I think subconsciously what drew me to them is the kid who heard my dad’s stories about intense training, Draconian drill sergeants, and cruel punishments for what civilians would consider minor infractions. The grownup in me wanted to better understand that.
It’s so weird for me to read these books, knowing they’re based on real life, and seeing pieces of my dad in them. I’ve heard these stories before, in Spanish, but they’re the same stories. I feel my heart strings tugged seeing how harsh the life of a warrior is, and all the time in the back of my mind I’m screaming, Oh my god that’s my dad!
Or rather, that was my dad. He’s a civilian now, an American citizen, working and continuously making a life for my brother and me. But that same guy, the one that taught me how to do math in my head was once doing the math in his head of what his chances of surviving war were. The same hands that playfully squeeze my shoulders as he greets me when he comes home from work are the same that once squeezed a trigger on a rifle as he learned how to take an enemy out.
So, why these books, and why now? Maybe because now that I’m older, even if I still don’t get war, I can understand my father a little bit better.
(Note: This was originally published on my personal Tumblr blog here.)
Browsing my city’s Barnes & Noble, I figured it would be a long shot, but thought, What the hell? Why not give it a try? My dad had been looking a long time for a book of poetry by a Spanish writer named Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Believe me, it’s a hard thing to come by.
Browsing several shelves for nearly half an hour, I finally found the Spanish section, and the sight I saw broke my heart. First off, I spent so much time looking because there were no labels over the tops of the shelves to indicate a Spanish language section. Second, there were only two cases front and back dedicated to Spanish language books. To add insult to injury, everything was in disarray and out of alphabetical order.
Something about this just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, I know throughout the day people pick things up and put them down, not necessarily where they belong, but there’s employees periodically checking and fixing the situation. Well, maybe I just happened to catch it at a time when someone hadn’t checked in a couple of hours, so I thought, let me just give them a heads up.
I walked over to the customer service desk and politely told the woman working there, “Hey, just to let you guys know, I was looking for a specific author in the Spanish section, but it’s all out of order over there. Could I get some help?”
She didn’t seem all too pleased to have me bother her with such an inane task, but she walked over anyway and asked me the author’s last name. I offered it and specified the genre, and if she could perhaps tell me where the poetry section is that would help. This is when she turned to me and said, “Honestly, there’s no separation for specific genres in this section. It’s all just by author, so if you don’t see it in the B’s, it’s not here.”
Naturally, I was annoyed at this attitude, but I tried to remain polite anyway and reiterated my predicament of all the books being in disarray and out of order. At this, she took a glance back at the books, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yeah, no one really worries about keeping up this section.” With that, she walked away.
My mother was with me, and I couldn’t help but look at her with so much fury in my eyes. I’d been in the store’s restrooms and even those were in better condition than the Spanish language section.
I get it. It’s a niche audience, they’re not big sellers, and probably not that many people browse the area on a daily basis. But it’s still a part of the store, and every customer should matter, no matter what their background or language they speak. That kind of blasé attitude toward such books is a personal affront to those customers. It’s telling us we don’t matter.
Fast forward a few weeks later, and the optimist in me said, Go ahead and check it out again. I still didn’t find any books by Bécquer, but there were now four full cases with Spanish books, labels that read Ficción and Religión, and they were alphabetized properly. I smiled at my mom. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
(Note: This was originally published on my personal Tumblr blog here.)
My name is Meagan, and I’m a writer. What do I write? A little bit of everything honestly. I love to write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and I’ve even dabbled in script writing. However, it’s not just creative writing I’m capable of. As my interests include books, television and music, I enjoy writing reviews of such things.
My current life goal is to work in the publishing industry. I’d like to be an editor at a publishing company, and perhaps some day, even run my own press. I’ll start small though and begin with running my own blog.
Here in this blog I’ll make weekly posts about anything to do with reading, books, and writing. I’ll include a range of posts from news in the publishing industry, reviews, personal essays and my own poetry and fiction.
I’m writing this on a four day weekend courtesy of Hurricane Matthew. So to all my fellow readers and writers out there in the same boat right now, stay safe and happy reading/writing!