Shelfie: Wintergirls. #bannedbooksweek

Shelfie: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. *trigger warning for this one.*

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Wintergirls is an account of a girl going through high school with a serious case of anorexia. This book was banned, along with Anderson’s other works, with the justification that “rape victims, children who are emotionally and developmentally immature and those seriously interested in being prepared for college can stick to classics and other works without graphic rape scenes.” So basically, screw your problems, and we’re sending you to college without any exposure to coping mechanisms. Because representation isn’t important, and providing youth going through difficult times with literature that might help them process those difficulties is counterproductive. I’d maybe put a trigger warning on this book (as I have on this post), but in the end I’d say it is more beneficial to read a book like this than it is to stay away from it. It spreads awareness for serious issues affecting youth today, such as anorexia and sexual assault, and it provides youth dealing with these problems with the reassurance that they are not alone.

If you would like to read a more detailed post about the importance of Wintergirls, I’d recommend going to this lovely lady’s Tumblr post.

Shelfie: Lord of the Rings. #bannedbooksweek

Shelfie: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Banned for smoking, being “irreligious” despite Tolkien’s religious affiliation, witchcraft, Satanism, etc. The ridiculous list goes ever on. This is one of my favorite books, though, so give it a read. I promise there’s not too much Satanism. Probably not much at all, really, considering the fact that a lot of the story is influenced by Christian themes. And why should Christian themes be a requirement for enjoyable reading?

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Is Social Media Worth It?

Ideas spread like wildfire, for good or for ill, and are forgotten immediately. Despite everyone talking about the convenience of the internet or the fact that a simple “share” button can reach thousands of people in a few minutes, hardly anything seems to have a lasting impact on others.

I have only seen a few sharing techniques that really build a lasting idea.

  1. YouTube. People who post consistently and build up a strong community around their work can create lasting change and a good platform for others to share their ideas. Consider the vlogbrothers.
  2. Communities that have support from somewhere outside of the internet. Consider Random Acts, a charity that gains a lot of its support through public promotions from actor Misha Collins.
  3. Actual corporations. Rather self-explanatory.
  4. Groupthink, which can often begin with a good intention and then become dangerous as time progresses.

Why, then, are we so obsessed with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook? How can we go about making a difference in the world? Do we focus on small things, such as volunteering in our own communities? Do we attempt to build a community of people around a positive idea? I’m genuinely curious. 

Should we use the internet as a foundation for change, or as a platform to tell others of the changes we are making in the world?

Tarot Book Recommendations: The Magician.

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Okay, I love this card.

The Magician is card number 1 in the Major Arcana, with The Fool being number 0. This card can represent control over your own life as well as the magic and wonder of the world around you.

For this reason, I have very carefully selected two books to go along with this card. They happen to be two of my very favorite books, so I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

Book 1: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Following the story of a grown man’s memories upon his return to a childhood friend’s home, The Ocean at the End of the Lane takes you back to his life as a seven-year-old, small, awkward, and in love with quiet things such as Batman comics and kittens. His seven-year-old life is bliss, as all childhood memories are, until a series of events occurs that catapults him into the world of Faerie.

Interestingly, the book never uses the words Faerie or depression, although both are certainly present in the novel. Gaiman also avoids the character’s name, perhaps implying that this character could be anyone, or perhaps implying that the character is Gaiman himself. He has admitted to this novel being one of his most autobiographical novels.

This book appealed to me, not only because Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, but because it tends to be a book that is very relatable. I identified with the themes of depression and became entranced by the use of faerie magic. Others have reported feelings of dream-like states, being swept away in a metaphorical rush of water, and being completely and utterly disgusted and seduced by the way the plot twists and turns as the main character matures.

Book 2: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

As you may imagine, a circus is involved. However, the Night Circus is not a typical circus. It only opens at night, true, but the entire circus is black and white. Dancers, jugglers, illusionists, tents, performers whose job it is to perform the art of being a statue, even intricate clockwork displays, are all black and white. The only color in the novel comes from visitors to the mysterious circus, as well as a group called the Reveurs, who wear a splash of red with otherwise black and white costumes to show their support for the Night Circus.

Within this intricate setting, two characters are locked in a silent battle. Unable to know who their opponents are, they must produce the most intricate and impressive magic over the course of the Circus’ existence. One character, Celia Bowen, was born with magic running through her veins. The other, Marco Alisdair, has been taught magic from textbooks from a very young age. The two of them are pitted against each other, but soon find that entering a competition blindly has some rather complicated consequences.

I highly recommend both of these books, you see. If you’re interested, they are both available as eBooks as well as print books, so definitely be sure to check them out. :)

They truly are two of my favorites.

Tarot Series: The Fool

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I thought I might try something that would challenge me to come up with literary recommendations and to tell some stories about myself that would match the theme of each of the tarot cards. All 78 of them. This could prove to be challenging, but if I work at it over time, I am hoping to complete them within the next year or so.

So. Tarot cards.

I should probably preface this series by saying that yes, I do read tarot cards, and yes, I do love them. I don’t think believing in tarot cards should be a controversial subject. They’re not very creepy or scary, and they actually match up with many theories such as the archetypal theory of Carl Jung. If a person were to work their way through each of the tarot cards in order (particularly the major arcana), then that person would have gone through the process of individuation. They would have completed one of many cycles of becoming a whole, autonomous individual on a mental and spiritual level. Etc.

I have two decks. The Shadowscapes deck is a rather traditional deck with absolutely gorgeous art, and it is pictured above. The Osho Zen Tarot deck, which I haven’t photographed yet, is a Buddhist-themed deck with emotions rather than traditional names. If you remove the Master card, though, you are left with the traditional structure of a tarot deck and can read the cards as you would any other deck. It’s really rather nice. I tend to go to the Shadowscapes deck when I want an unbiased reading and to the Osho Zen deck when I want a more spiritual, how-to-calm-down reading.

The Fool is the very first card in a typical tarot deck. If you have ever looked at a tarot deck, you will probably know that each deck gives a slightly different description of the individual cards. We’re not going to worry about that very much. I’m going to focus on the meaning that I have derived from the cards over time, and to me The Fool is a person stepping out on a journey. The card radiates potential. Everything that is, was, and will be is unknown. The Fool is a card of beginnings, of new journeys, and of new life stages.

With this in mind, I shall recommend some books that I think match this card. Feel free to add any others in the comments!

  1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book is about a woman’s recovery from her divorce. While the movie takes on the typical “finding yourself to find romance” storyline, the book is about breaking away from what society tells you happiness is and instead finding your own happiness. It’s a great book to read when you want to feel like you’re making big changes in your life.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. While that may sound strange, The Lord of the Rings is soaked through with archetypes. I read this book in elementary school (sorry I don’t mean to sound pretentious I just liked the movies and so it happened), but I didn’t understand the themes until I went to college. I was a bit depressed because I was going through so many changes, and then I picked up this book again and found all of the themes in the first book to be very comforting for what I was going through. There’s a lot of road imagery, for a start. I’ll have to break this book down another time, but seriously, go check it out if you’re in a Fool mood. It’s filled with fresh starts.
  3. Tangled (Yes, the Disney movie). Tangled is filled with new beginnings! The entire movie is about a young woman breaking away from a lifetime of emotional abuse. If you watch carefully, you’ll even notice that Flynn isn’t even in the scenes where she’s growing into a person who won’t be abused until the very, very end. I know it’s a movie, but movies have plots, and plots are literary. Shhh.