A Sense of Magic

I’ve always been escapist, but you can say that I’ve engaged in more escapism lately. Maybe it’s because I kept getting sick these last few months and even as a child I tended to reach out for books, films, TV shows, and video games with Sci Fi and Fantasy elements when I get ill.

So it really shouldn’t surprise me that I’m currently on the lookout for books that involve magic. Currently, I’m reading “The Magician’s Land”. I plan to read “The Name of the Wind” afterwards, then “The Paper Magician” and “Wheel of the Infinite” (thanks, K!), before picking up “Mistborn” again.

Stories you love to read
They’re some of THOSE.

Yay, magic.

But just in case I finish those before I kick my cough/cold/asthma completely, I’d like to know: what books would you recommend in this genre? The more contemporary, the better.

Heck, what do YOU think are the best and most interesting novels with magical elements?

Thanks for the recommendations!

A Throwback Read and A Few Thoughts on Women in Narratives

I can’t stay for long; there’s so much that needs to be done. But since I don’t want to miss posting here on a Thursday either, I figured I should cobble something together.

First: the throwback read care of an old post by Kameron Hurley on how women are treated in narratives.

I do find myself concerned by the writer’s focus on women who fight and lead – after all, there are other means by which a woman can show her strength. But I do agree that sometimes the narratives that we allow ourselves to buy into can do more harm than good in a world full of human beings.

Why? Because we’re hooked on (to use a Terry Pratchett term) narrativium. We’re designed to think in stories, to believe in stories; with enough repetition, even a FALSE story can become true in our heads.

“But come on!” you might say. “We’re all too smart to mix up stories with reality right?”

Itim the Black Kitty
Right?

Sadly, there are two things I can say to that:

  1. Some people AREN’T smart enough
  2. Even perfectly intelligent people find it easier to make the stories real

Look, I’m not saying that every damn woman or person of color or whatever should be written as some kind of special freaking snowflake of a unicorn that everyone respects/no one can defeat. I’m not even saying (and I could get lynched for this) that a female character should not be sexually exploited in fiction – if the story calls for it, why not?

What I’m saying is that there are certain narratives that have been ingrained in all of us – both women and men – that make us act like freaking assholes.

Some men grope women without invitation, assume that silence/an inability to say no is consent, and that the world OWES them superhot women because that’s what they grew up believing is okay.

Some women constantly play the victim card, bite the heads off of men who politely compliment them, and believe in the effective genocide of men (too lazy to find the link) because they grew up believing that they’ve ALWAYS been victimized and it’s time for some payback.

I’m inclined to blame this on parents who don’t know how to raise their children; but I’m also aware that there is a cultural component in all of this. And perhaps a huge part of culture really has to do with the stories we tell and the way we react to them.

Again, I’m not saying that we should stop reading or writing stories with women who are sexual or sexualized because who are we kidding? They exist, they are real, and trying to erase their existence in fiction won’t really help anyone either (because NOT COMMUNICATING PROPERLY is actually what gets us into trouble). What I’m saying is that we should maybe stop being surprised at a woman doing something amazing, or even designating something as “female-oriented”.

Maybe we should just…I don’t know. Act like both the women and men in narratives are actual people.

So 40 Days Is Over and I Don’t Know What to Do

I was sick most of last week, so it completely slipped my mind that Forty Days of Dating would be back after American Labor Day. That’s why I spent yesterday afternoon (after work) catching up.

While I’m satisfied with how it ended (HA! I KNEW IT!), I also feel sad that it’s all over. What the heck am I supposed to do (apart from reading it over and over again) now that this pastime is gone? As it is, this was my balm after the end of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Welcome to Sanditon was nice, but I felt that it didn’t have as much substance…(god, I’m so excited for that group’s take on Emma now).

But back to the topic at hand: 40 Days is over and I don’t know what to do. Do I submerge myself in romance? Avoid “romance” stories completely? Write romance stories (I think this won’t work)? Just give up and focus on trying to make my superhero costume for next week look close to how I want it to look (most likely)? I don’t even know why I’m thinking about this right now, when I should be worrying about other stuff–like how I’m supposed to get to the MIBF when I can’t afford to be broke and when the weather has gone crazy on us again.

REALLY sky? Scorching hot in the morning and apocalyptic rain in the afternoons?

*cough*

In any case, I should just feel happy for Tim and Jessie. At least they seem to have learned SOMETHING from that experiment that they had (if they were, in fact doing this for real – I still have my doubts because this is the Internet we’re talking about).

Instead of obsessing over this, I should just get some work done.

I really suck
I really do.

Can’t Stop Reading: Forty Days of Dating

So yesterday I was scrolling randomly through my social networks and came across a site called Forty Days of Dating.

I think these guys are incredibly brave.
I think these guys are incredibly brave.

What’s it about?

It’s a project that two friends in New York started when they realized that they were both single and that they have diametrical relationship issues. Both artists in their own right, Tim Goodman and Jessica Walsh are using this 40-day experiment to explore, understand, and confront their patterns in the face of intimacy. The question here is whether this would help them in the long run or make their issues even worse…especially when they realize barely three days in that they actually are attracted to each other.

Why I can’t seem to stop reading

I have no idea if this is the real deal or if this is just some kind of performance thing. All I know is that a lot of this stuff really cracked me up and made me think.

Each entry focuses on a particular day of their “dating period”, with both participants answering matching questionnaires by the end of the day. Most of my fascination can be attributed to their vastly contrasting perspectives on what happened during their interactions, what they consider important or noteworthy, what they believe the lesson of their experience happens to be. You sometimes get a vivid picture of why these two people are such great friends, you get glimpses of how this romance COULD work, and visions of how and why this could crash and burn like a badly-designed dirigible.

It’s GLORIOUS.

Couple the sheer titillation you get out of peering into these people’s psyches with the sharp and quirky graphic banners meant to summarize their state of mind as reflected in their responses to the questionnaire, and you just fall in love with these people. In a manner of speaking, of course.

I don’t know if it’s because their theme is LOVE, or if it’s because it really is honest and hilarious in equal measures, but I really believe that this has the makings of a really interesting book.

They say that there are new posts added daily from July 10 to August 18, even though the project officially started in March 20. The posts so far stop at day 16, which followed a not-so-shocking development that makes you wonder if (and hope that) they can actually get through this. No matter what happens, though, I think this site is one of the more interesting public experiments I’ve ever seen conducted online. And I think anyone who’s interested in this kind of thing (and admit it, there are LOTS of us) should really check it out.