Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

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Lionsgate, Please Refrain From Doing This

This week something happened. Something unfortunate. It was hinted that there could be more films set in Panem. And I absolutely hate the idea.

The Hunger Games books and movies, to me, were so good because of Katniss. Just your regular girl trying to do right and protect her family. And now it seems the studio is willing to do without its brightest star. Any prequel would take place long before the day Katniss so courageously volunteered as tribute. I’m not sure I’d be interested in such a film.

The reasoning for these potential prequels is simple. Money. And supposedly some fans have been disappointed by the lack of arena battles. But it’s mostly money. Before the series came along Lionsgate was well outside the big 6 movie studios. And now they’ve just about made it a big 7. The series isn’t wholly responsible for that, but it’s pretty damn close. So now Lionsgate is trying to milk its cash cow for every last penny.

It isn’t surprising. And I won’t even say they can’t make quality movies, but I just hate that no story is ever really complete in today’s movie business.

By the way, nothing is official at this point. But it will be. You watch.

Are you interested in these potential prequels to the four movies already in the series?

What I Learned From Katniss Everdeen

This won’t be a list of things that I didn’t know before I read the series or watched the movies, but more a list of things I think people can reasonably take away from it.

1. Family is everything

We’ve all seen in movies or TV shows that family is the most important aspect of life. We’ve all probably been told by our parents or siblings too. Whether or not you believe it to be true, this series exemplifies the idea. From the start Katniss just wants to stay alive for her family. Her sister. Her mom. And then those immediately around her like Gale and Peeta. Family is everything. It’s why she fought so hard in her original Games.

2. It’s okay to voice unpopular opinions

Katniss is not outspoken before she enters the Games for the first time. She’s pretty average. But as time goes on and she embraces her role as the mockingjay we see that she does not like any of what’s happening in the districts and she speaks up. Sometimes her timing is bad and the consequences trouble her, but Katniss struggles to just keep her mouth shut when she’s instructed to do so. Her freedom of speech is all but nonexistent, but she still speaks out against the Games and the Capitol.

3. Love is a tricky thing

We all know that Katniss loves the people around her. Gale. Prim. Peeta. Her mom. Probably Haymitch and Effie. Cinna. She does. But it’s a different reason for each person. And she still struggles with choosing either Gale it Peeta. Things like love don’t always have to be so black and white like we’re made to believe.

4. War doesn’t solve every problem

And we know this. But it is so evident in the series. They go through this brutal war between the districts and the Capitol and what changes after it all?

5. You control your own actions

During the Games and the war Katniss and company had to do some bad things. She was forced to kill. And she did. To survive. But at the end of the day, the Capitol and whatever you think its real-world equivalent is, can only make you do so much. You still control you.

What did you take from it all?

Is FanFiction a bad Word?

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about fanfiction. I’m not even sure if it’s supposed to be one word or two. But y’all know I tend to be aware of most writing/bookish topics, even if just minimally. Well, it would appear to me that fanfiction isn’t exactly welcomed in most literary circles. But I could be wrong.

For those who may not know, fanfiction is when someone (not the original author) writes fiction about or around characters from a particular story. Just imagine me writing something about Katniss and Peeta.

And now I have to tell you what I think of it. Eh. I’m not a fan. At all. I can say with confidence that I’ll likely never read a piece of fanfiction. For a few reasons. First, the person writing the fanfiction is almost certainly a worse writer than the original author. Second, I enjoyed the characters written from a particular perspective and by a particular author…I don’t need someone changing that. And third, I have a TBR shelf that’s constantly calling my name.

But I’m sure my opinion is different from yours. What do you think? Fanfiction good? Bad? Doesn’t matter?


On this day in 2014 I published What Does it Mean to be a Writer?.

 

Which Characters Would you Follow into Battle?

I’ve been thinking of this post for a few weeks now. I think I may have been watching a Narnia movie when I came up with it. Pretty sure. Anyway, I want you to do something for me. Get off your phone or computer or whatever for just a minute. Now think of some books with ridiculous battle sequences. They don’t even have to be actual battles. Maybe a particular character or two or ten is embarking on an unknown journey and knows a fight’s ahead. Or maybe a character has been told not to examine something further. A battle can be any sort of conflict for this. Now let me tell you who I’d follow into battle or stand with against the worst of odds.

Katniss Everdeen

There are way too many reasons for my eagerness to stand with Katniss through anything for me to list them all here. Like she said in Mockingjay Part 1, she never asked for any of what’s happened to her. If I have to give at least one reason why I’d stand with her, then that’s it. Because she starts off fighting just to stay alive, and for her family. But eventually she embraces who she is and what she has come to represent and fights for so much more than just those immediately around her. She’s the mockingjay. And she’s ready to fight for me. I’d be ready to fight for her.

Albus Dumbledore

Don’t tell me I can’t say him if I haven’t read all the books yet. My reasoning for choosing him is because I don’t think he’d ever hesitate to help someone, especially a student in need. But eventually he’s going to find himself in a position in which he can’t get by on his own. And I’d want to be there. So someone could help him for once.

Elvis Cole

Y’all probably don’t know him as well as the first two selections, but I’ve talked about him a number of times in the past on here. He’s an LA private eye. I would want to be right there next to him as he faces impossible odds because that’s what he always finds himself doing. I’m sure some of you don’t even read detective fiction, but this guy doesn’t just think of his clients as a means to make money. His clients are people in need. And they’ve gone to him for help. And he never lets them down. He refuses to.

Master Chief

John-117 is more than the last of the Spartans left. He’s more than a super soldier. He’s more than a guy in fancy armor. He’s hope. Mankind is on the brink of total annihilation, but it’d be impossible to give up if you get one look at him. Knowing that he’s ready to fight to the death. Knowing that he will never give up. Knowing that he still believes the war can be won. No. He doesn’t make me want to go into shelter and hope that he’ll eventually come through and save humanity. Seeing him makes me want to suit up and grab an assault rifle to stand with him. To fight alongside him. Even knowing the war may never be won.

So those are the four characters I would follow into battle! What about you? Which characters would you stand with?

The Mockingjay (poem)

This is my third straight post that has something to do with my favorite series. Yeah. I’m a little obsessed. Oh well!

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The Mockingjay

Every cause
Needs a face
We have ours
The Mockingjay

Katniss is ready
To fight the fight
That needs to happen
To make things right

She’s the leader
Who we need
To lead us
To ultimate victory

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