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Category Archives: Literature

#Plottymouths: Five Favorite Literary Leading Men

For our #GettingLucky Twitter love story event on March 16, I’m writing about some of my all-time favorite literary leading men. I’ll probably add a post on leading ladies in the future, since it takes two to share smoldering looks across a crowded room.

Why leading men? You can’t have a good love story without a swoon-worthy romantic lead. Some of them are dark and brooding, others a sweet and loving, some noble, others not so much, but they all have that magnetic spark that inevitable attracts their leading ladies, and the readers.

As you can probably guess, a great leading man isn’t a stock character. He has to be someone you can picture as a real person, and identify with his triumphs and travails. He sometimes falters on his quest (whether for the Holy Grail or the heroine’s hand) and loses his way, but you root for him nonetheless. I’m not going to focus on the typical romance hero, because in many ways, he is a stock character. Also, I don’t think great romances are limited to just one genre.

Quick note: there are spoilers below, as I couldn’t discuss these heroes without disclosing specific story details.

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Too Many Books

I’m reading so many things right now, they are all starting to blur together in a mishmosh of print and pixels. Thanks to Kindle library lending, I now have too many books in my queue. To date, I’m perusing:

  1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – my third read. I’m on the second book of The Two Towers and feeling a little anxious. This book always depresses me, mostly because of Gollum. He comes so close to redeeming himself, and ultimately fails.
  2. Scat by Carl Hiassen. I read Flush, which was a fun, caperesque romp in the Florida Keys, but I’m finding Scat hard to immerse myself into. I may have to shelve this one for a while.
  3. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Another one I’m having a hard time immersing myself in. Perhaps my attention span is slipping.
  4. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. For my book club. We’re reading a few stories at a time. I don’t remember these being so depressing, but I’m soldiering on (as my book club vows never to allow me to choose the books again).
  5. A World on Fire by Amanda Foreman. I’ve always been fascinated by the American Civil War, and this book from a Brit’s perspective is compelling. It’s long and will probably take me a good while to get through.
  6. Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons. I really have to pick this one up again, but it’s not as snappy a read as Cold Comfort Farm.
  7. The Once and Future King by TH White. I really wish they would release the Kindle edition in the US, because the tiny print in my crumbling mass market paperback edition is a real annoyance.

I am also eyeballing Howl’s Moving Castle, but since I’ve read that umpteen times before, I really need to finish some of the other books on my list before I read it again.

Originally posted at my Tumblr on Oct. 16, 2011.

 

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been sitting on my bookshelf, in all its hardcover glory, since 2004, when it was first released. I bought it without having read any extracts, on the strength of its reviews alone (as well as Neil Gaiman’s flattering blurb). I did not, however, have the physical strength to hold up this 800-page doorstop long enough to read it and not concuss myself, so it’s languished and collected dust, ever since. Until, of course, I decided to download the Kindle sample and read a few lines, and was annoyed that I hadn’t gotten around to reading it sooner in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Author: Susanna Clarke, Fantasy, Literature

 

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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I was perusing Amazon one day (actually I was looking for The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise, and wondering whether it was worth buying) when I came across the Kindle edition of Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons’ hilarious and quotable satire of old fashioned (and angst-ridden) British rural novels.

I don’t know how I managed to miss reading this novel all these years (or even the multiple films based on it), but I am now lusting after the talented Ms. Gibbon’s woefully out-of-print backlist. Publishers, if you’re one of my five readers, for the love of all that is good and holy–put them back in print. Electronic, dead tree book, smoke signal–it doesn’t matter. Good books want to be read. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Author: Stella Gibbons, Literature

 

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The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Michel Faber’s elegant postmodern Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White is absolutely the best thing I’ve read all year. I’ve been struggling to find others that fulfill the void ever since, and haven’t come close yet. I originally picked up the book when I heard that Gillian Anderson was set to play Mrs. Castaway in the upcoming BBC miniseries adaptation. As a major X-Files fan, I wanted to see how Agent Scully could make the leap from a prim skeptic to a 19th century brothel madam, so I picked up the Kindle version. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2010 in Author: Michel Faber, Literature

 

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Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

I read Carmilla one Sunday night after going on a Gothic fiction binge at Project Gutenberg. This novella pre-dates Dracula by about 25 years and lays the foundation for the modern vampire novel. I can’t say that I love this story–I had issues with the story’s pacing and plausibility (in the sense that NO ONE seemed to be able to figure out what was going on right under their noses, even though the author hit us all hard with the foreshadowing hammer at the very beginning of the story). Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

I’ve been sitting on my review of The Book of Lost Things for a while now, mulling over it, searching for something else like it, and generally stewing. There are many modern novels that reinvent fairy tales for their own purpose, but The Book of Lost Things does it particularly well.

In 1939, when England is at war with Germany, a young boy named David loses his mother. He clings to her memory like a worn blanket, and clutches at the stories they shared together, stories that “come alive in the telling.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Adventure, Author: John Connolly, Fantasy, Literature

 

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