Quote for Thought: The Handmaid’s Tale

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“We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

This quote really rings true to me. Most people see the bad things that are going on, but choose to ignore it. Especially if it’s something that’s happening to someone else. While I was reading The Handmaid’s Tale, some parts reminded me of the famous WWII-related poem by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

And, in the end, what can one little voice do? How can I stop something that is so much larger than me? That’s a question no one really has an answer to. Turning the head away is the easy way. It gives us the comfort of not being seen, the freedom to live on, without danger.

We were the people who were not in the papers. We were the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I’m not an optimist, or an idealist, so I can’t really find a good answer to all of this. To be honest, sometimes I don’t have faith in people, at all. But, hopefully, everything that’s going on in the world right now is not leading to another horrible period in history. And hopefully, we will always be able to speak up when we feel the need to.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favourite Polarizing Books

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There are certain books that people seem to either love or hate, with no in between. For this Top 5 Wednesday, I was supposed to chose 5 of those books that I like. Honesty, I’m not completely sure if these fall into this category, but from what I’ve heard I think they do. Also, some of these are not really favourites of mine, but I don’t hate them as some people do.

Let’s start!

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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I love this book and it’s one of my absolute favourites. I know a lot of people who share these feeling, but I’ve also come across a lot of people who kind of hate it… Which makes me a bit sad… Those people often say that characters are unlikeable, but I think the part of what makes this book great is the flawed characters. I did come to care for them, in spite of their flaws.

2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

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I can understand why some people don’t like this book. It’s not a pleasant one to read. But I still loved it! I already mentioned it in a post about my favourite villains – the way it’s written is just amazing!

3. Medieval sagas

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I don’t think this is a case of love-or-hate, it’s more like: some people enjoy these sagas and others don’t read them at all. I loved The Song of the Nibelungs (or the Nibelungenlied), The Saga of the Volsungs (Völsunga saga) and I loved Beowulf. There’s just something about these stories that fascinates me. I’m kind of a medieval geek. XD

4. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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You don’t read books like this for the wonderful prose, you read them for the fun and mystery. I was still in high school when I read it and I found it very interesting then. I also liked Angels and Demons. It was a perfect fast-paced summer read.

5. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

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I didn’t know which book to choose next, so here’s one I don’t actually like, but I don’t hate it as much as some do. Twilight is a book that really gets a lot of hate and a lot of love at the same time. And yes, it’s not a book I love, but I did like it when I first read it (this was also in high school) and I wanted to know what would happen next. The books get worse and worse as the series progresses, that I have to admit, but the first one wasn’t that bad.

So, do you have any thoughts about these books? I’d like to hear from you! 🙂

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

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I’ve found out about the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads quite some time ago, and I always wanted to participate but never did… Now it’s the time to start doing it! Maybe not every Wednesday, but as often as I can. They have some very interesting ideas, just like this one.

So, here are the five books I’d like to re-read:

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1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I loved this book! I’ve already read it two times, but I feel the need to re-read it. And soon!

2. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

I’ve read this book in college and it immediately became my favourite. And favourites have to be re-read. 😉 I don’t own a copy, though, but I’ll get it soon.

3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

These books are so lovely, dark and cosy at the same time. I would definitely like to re-read them.

4. Just Kids by Patti Smith

An amazing book like this one has to be read many times!

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My all-time favourite, I’ll probaby read it many, many times more. 🙂 As you can see in the picture, the book is already very battered.

I hope I’ll have the time to actually read them all again in the near future. 😉

Colours of Good Morning

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It was time for school, and the boy left his home with the bag on his shoulders. The boy. That’s how he came to think of himself. Yes, he had a name, and not a bad one, but not everyone knew it. As he walked through the farmer’s market each day, people would call after him. And they called him boy.

“Hey, boy, do you want some sweet strawberries?”
“Little boy, a few lovely apricots to take to school!”
“Come, boy, buy an apple! You now what they say about apples and doctors!”

The word started to sound right to him, though a bit disheartening. That was what he was. A boy. Just a boy. A nobody. Most people were nobodies, pretending to be somebodies by wearing a name. Only a few really became more than what the people in the market place called them. The rest – just numerous boys, girls, ladies and sirs. The boy wanted more than that. He hated monotony. He yearned for something exciting, something new, something magical. As he passed through the market, it seemed painfully dull to him, despite all the orange apricots, red apples, yellow lemons and green cucumbers. Colours were nothing in comparison to what he hoped for. He dreamed of dragons, fairies, and evil forces that had to be defeated. He wished to be a hero, brave and kind, loved by all.

Suddenly, an old man caught his attention. The man was wearing dirty, shapeless clothes, and begging for some money. He seemed completely grey, standing not so far from the colourful market. Some people passed by, but no one seemed to notice him.
The boy had nothing in his pockets. He wanted to become a hero, but now, he couldn’t even give some change to the poor old man. He felt embarrassed.

Well, the boy thought,  I may have no money, but at least I’ll show him that I see him. I will show him that I care.

With the widest, kindest smile, the boy turned to face the old beggar.
“Good morning!” he greeted him.
The old man raised his eyes, and the boy saw that he was smiling. The lines on his face started to fade. The old beggar jumped from joy, but when his feet touched the ground, he wasn’t an old man in rags anymore. His clothes were clean and white, and on his now golden hair proudly stood a royal crown.
“Magic!” the boy gasped.

A single “good morning” turned the beggar into a prince.

New York Times “By the Book” Tag

I haven’t done a fun book tag in a while, and I’ve come across this one (among others) many times and thought: Well, this one sounds fun. So I finally decided to do it. J The tag was originally created by booktuber Mary Berg.

So, let’s get to the questions!

What book is on your night stand now?

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and I’m almost finished with it. It’s really fun! There’s also Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon, a double biography of the two wonderful Marys. I love them both, and I love the book as well.

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What was the last truly great book that you read?

The Vegetarian by Han Kang! I loved that book! It’s so beautifully written, and it’s very methapohorical, it almost feels like reading poetry.

But I also want to mention Alice by Christina Henry, for entirely different reasons. This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is truly disturbing, violent and bloody, but so sooo interesting. I love how Christina Henry deals with the characters, and makes entirely different stories for them, but they still have some of the essence of the original characters.

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What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I don’t think anything’s too surprising… I read different kinds of books, and I think I talk about different kinds of books here on the blog. But I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I really like superheroes, so maybe you wouldn’t expect me to own some comics. Spider-man is my favourite.🙂

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How do you organize your personal library?

In a way only I understand, and is impossible to explain.😄 But I know exactly where every book is, so it seems it works well.

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, a book I’ve wanted to read for so many years… I would actually like to read more Vonnegut in general. But I’m also quite embarrassed that I don’t read almost any contemporary Croatian authors, and I’m from Croatia. I definitely should…

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

I actually like to read different things, depending on my current mood. Classics are always a go-to when I’m not sure what to read next, and I like to read about history. I’m also drawn to magic, in its different shapes and forms. And I like to read about different cultures… So, when I think about it, I guess I like to read about anything that I can’t experience myself, anything different and unknown.

The only thing I don’t read are contemporary romances. I just don’t find them interesting… Romance is fine as a part of the story, but I don’t like it to be the entire story.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? 

That’s an interesting question.😄 I don’t really like our (Croatian) president. (Sorry, not sorry.) She should read something nice and heart-warming, maybe something about a different culture, to make her more open-minded. For example A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. That’s such a beautiful, sad book… Or, if I was feeling mean, I’d give her something really, really boring to read.😉

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What do you plan to read next?

I’ll probably continue with the Shades of Magic series, and after that – who knows! I don’t usually plan ahead, it’s best to read the books you’re in the mood for. And who knows what mood I’m going to be in after A Gathering of Shadows.😄

And that’s it! Since I wasn’t tagged to do this, I won’t tag anyone, but if the questions seem interesting to you, I’d like to hear your answers. 🙂

The Climb

Yes, I’ve been neglecting my blog for some time… The beginning of the school year is hard for teachers, too. XD Anyway, here’s something unpolished, a part of something I’ve been working on. I like this little detail about one of my characters. Meet Bastian! 😉


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If the door is impenetrable, there’s always a window to use.

That became some sort of a motto for Bastian. Climbing the walls was something he was very good at. It took him some years to become an expert, but he flattered himself that he had a natural talent for it.

The walls on the house were made of white stone, which was fashionable among rich people. Unfortunately, the stone was not left crude. It was completely smooth. Impossible to climb. Rich people liked everything to look sleek. There were no pipes or drains on the building’s facade. There were, however, large windows on the ground floor, because bright rooms were also fashionable. Those windows made of impenetrable glass, and connected to an alarm. They were, also, climbable.

Bastian first stepped on the bottom edge of the window. The windows had frames, also made of white stone, and were richly ornamented. The frame was quite narrow, but Bastian was good at keeping his balance. He was also tall. Just barely, he was able to reach the upper edge of the frame. As he held the frame firmly, he put his feet on the side of the frame and cautiously climbed up, pressing his feet at the frame and walking horizontally. Soon, he was standing on the upper edge of the frame, feeling proud of himself.

Who else could pull this off, eh?

He now had to reach for the first floor window, which was also huge, and quite far away. The difficult thing was not falling off the narrow edge. Bastian learned how to be careful. He was doing this for years. He started with simple houses in poorer neighbourhoods, and then gave himself bigger and bigger challenges. He was only caught once, when he was fifteen, to his parents’ great embarrassment. He didn’t actually steal anything, so they just had to pay a fine for his breaking in. It helped that they were influential people.

The window proved easy to open. The family wasn’t expecting anyone to break in though this window. It didn’t even have an alarm. Bastian entered the house. He was swept by the feeling of accomplishment. He still wasn’t sure how this unusual hobby came to his mind. Why did he love to break into random houses? Partially, because it was a challenge. He also liked that it was completely illegal. Breaking the rules made him feel strong.

Well, I’m done here. Off to my next stop.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Heart-stabbing, Back-stabbing

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You jabbed the knife straight through my heart. Heart – how convenient that is. You could’ve also stuck it to my back, the back-stabbing creature you are. To be fair, you were trying to save your life. Just as you did that night in the forest.

Come with me tonight, you said, I’ll embrace you underneath the moonlight and we will watch the starry sky. You can never see the stars in the city, it is only in the forest that magic happens.

You always knew how to choose the best words, how to persuade. And you did speak the truth. Magic did happen, but of a dark, twisted kind. That was when you stabbed my heart for the first time, the only time it really hurt. When the creatures came, you ran away. You saw me fall, but you didn’t stop. You just ran, saving your life, and giving mine to them.

But I came back. And now you scream, as you see that your stabbing cannot make me bleed anymore.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.com