Scripture Sunday (5)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that were particularly interesting to me. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. My translation is NIV.

From my reading this week:

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

-2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Why I chose it:

I really love 2 Cor. 4 as a whole, but this time around I was getting stuck on the outward appearance versus the inward reality. My body, which is slowly degrading one day at a time, is just a physical shell for my inner self. Both pieces belong to Jesus but the inside piece is what’s being “renewed” every day. Awesome! And kinda disturbing! But mostly awesome!

A Christmas Carol: Opening Notes

Our readalong of A Christmas Carol began this month, but there’s still time to join in! Unlike most of Charles Dickens’ work, this book is very short. Read Staves 1 and 2 by December 7th and you’ll be right on schedule.

Staves? What? Don’t you mean chapters??? NOPE NO I DON’T. If you pull up the tables of contents, you’ll see that the chapters in A Christmas Carol are called “staves.” A stave, among other things, is “a verse or stanza of a poem or song.” Cute, right? Right???

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So, our good friend Charles. He’s sort of a big deal. He wrote 20 novels and novellas, along with several boatloads of articles and short stories. You can find a brief summary of his life here.

There’s a rumor going around that Dickens was paid by the word, and that’s why most of his stuff is so long. That’s sorta true but also sorta not. He was paid in installments, and since many of his stories/novels were published serially (every week, month, etc), it would make sense for him to keep a story going as long as possible. But really, it’s an open discussion on whether his stories are “too long” or “drag on too much.”

A Christmas Carol, however, was published in a single volume all at once on December 19th 1843.

[Tiny honest interruption here: I’m not a huge fan of this book. Dickens is a really, really skilled writer but I don’t enjoy reading him most of the time because he’s so upsetting. That being said, I hope this time is different and that I can relax and appreciate the story.]

For those of you who have read this book or other Dickens before, pay attention to what you notice this time around or what strikes you differently.

For those of you who haven’t read Dickens before, he has a bunch of mega-themes or topics he uses frequently in his stories that it might be helpful to know about ahead of time:

  • the appalling conditions of the working and lower social classes
  • the greed of the upper classes
  • social reform in general (I’m not saying he was a social justice warrior but)
  • redemption/corruption
  • guilt
  • (mis)treatment of children
  • crime
  • workaholics/healthy workers
  • fate vs. free will

There are many more I could put on the list, but the ones above are especially applicable to A Christmas Carol.

Next post will be up on Wednesday or Thursday. Enjoy reading!

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Gift Guide

‘Tis the gift-giving season. Finding the perfect gift is hard, and finding the perfect gift for a reader can be really hard. Throwing it at their head is the fun part. At least, in my experience. ‘Tis the season to throw gifts at the heads of the ones you love, after hiding them under beds, behind coats, atop high shelves, beside forgotten boxes in garages and sheds. I realize this post is a little bit, maybe, kinda, self-serving, but the Broke and the Bookish chose the theme for this week so blame them.

So here it is, my gift-giving guide for the bookish bookworms in your lives.

  1. First, I have to promote Owl Crate, because I’ve been subscribed for a few months and their boxes are AMAZING. It’s a monthly Young Adult box that includes 1 new YA book, along with fun bookish items like stickers, collectibles, jewelry, candles, accessories, etc etc etc! It’s very fun. They also have Owl Crate Jr. now for children.
  2. Litographs T-shirts are pretty cool. Honestly all their stuff is pretty cool – they have totes and scarves and crap too, all with cool designs made out of texts from classic books.
  3. Storiarts has similar awesome things, especially their fingerless gloves.
  4. Can’t decide which book to buy? Choose the lazy but wonderful way out, via a bookstore giftcard. Seriously though – giftcards are amazing, speaking as a bookperson who often can’t predict what she will want to read next.
  5. Bookshelves. Cute bookshelves. Efficient bookshelves. Badass bookshelves.
  6. Other book boxes! I know there are bunch besides Owl Crate that I haven’t tried. Bustle has a good list here.
  7. Canvas book bags, for all a bookworm’s book-toting needs! Litographs and Storiarts above have some, but you also can find them at lots of other, cheaper places.
  8. Book lights! I have one of these and love it, but there are more traditional lamps and plenty of other options.
  9. If your bookworm likes audiobooks, give them some headphones! Or a giftcard to use for fancy-schmancy headphones, depending on your budget. There’s a lot of wear and tear on headphones/earbuds so replacements or back-ups are always great.
  10. Last but not least, one of the best gifts you can give your favorite bookworm is: No Interruptions when they’re reading a book.

Happy Holidays to all, even those of you who hate books.

Thanks to snazel for helping me brainstorm ideas for this post!

Treasure Island: There and Back Again, a Hawkins Tale

This post contains spoilers for every last doubloon of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I’m not saying this book is a pirate AU of The Hobbit, but as I finished reading it I couldn’t help noticing some parallels.

  • quest for treasure
  • the questers are all greedy in their way, with varying shades of morality
  • everything leads to a lot more bloodshed than anyone expects because GREED
  • no one really takes the young inexperienced hero into consideration until the last few chapters, when they realize he’s been wandering around wrecking all their plans and making new ones

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I’m sure there are more: feel free to point them out.

Descriptive line of the week: “He rose once to the surface in a lather of foam and blood” (chapter 27). Sick, dude.

Dead pirates aside, let’s talk about Jim for a moment. He goes through a lot in these chapters. His reckless, hare-brained idea to leave his friends behind and see what he can accomplish really pays off, which I find unfair because if I left my friends alone in a cabin in the woods and tried to commandeer a ship and fight pirates, I would never hear the end of it and I would probably end up drowned.

Jim himself observes the extreme experiences and changes he is going through, “as the habit of tragical adventures had worn off almost all my terror for the dead” (chapter 27). My copy of the book has a really disturbing illustration of Jim pinned to the mast, too. By the time Jim gets back to the cabin, only to discover it’s full of pirates (aw man), he seems pretty ready to die for his friends:”My heart smote me sorely that I had not been there to perish with them” (chapter 28) and when he’s talking to the doctor the next day: “believe this, I can die” (chapter 30).  I’m torn between JIM YOU ARE A TINY BABY AND MUST BE PROTECTED and JIM YOU ARE A TINY BADASS HONEY BADGER.

I appreciate that we don’t have some melodramatic sub-plot where Jim starts to trust Silver again, only to have his hopes dashed. Jim understands Silver’s game  with the other pirates in chapter 29, and he takes note that Silver is hedging his bets with both the pirates and Jim’s side in chapter 31. Four for you, Jim Hawkins.

I love his speech to Silver and the other pirates, when his back is literally and figuratively against the wall:

“And as for the schooner, it was I who cut her cable, and it was I that killed the men you had aboard of her, and it was I who brought her where you’ll never see her more, not one of you. The laugh’s on my side; I’ve had the top of this business from the first; I no more fear you than I fear a fly. Kill me if you please, or spare me.” (chapter 28)

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Mr. T is definitely Trelawney in this AU.

Jim, you’re a parrot’s feather away from getting murdered by pirates and you are SNARKING?

While we see Jim get more and more power in these last chapters, or at the least more experience, Silver is quickly losing control over the situation and his crew, but he strives to the end to control Jim. I especially appreciate his use of the word “gentleman” when he’s appealing to Jim’s better qualities of loyalty and nobility. Jim isn’t a gentleman, and Silver is using it as a reference to gentleman of fortune (pirate) rather than an actual gentleman, but it still has a nice ring to it: “I always wanted you to jine and take your share and die a gentleman” (chapter 28) and “for a young gentleman you are, though poor born” (chapter 30).

Completely incomprehensible line of the week: “Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon should cock his hat athwart my  hawse at the latter end of it” (chapter 28). I have nothing to add to that, except that it sounds completely filthy.

 

The black spot shows up again in chapter 29. It seems to be a legal summons to accusations by other pirates. I don’t think this book ever says “pirates’ code” or “honor amongst thieves” but that’s the idea it seems to be driving at, in between all of the classism. For example, Dr. Livesey is a babe, but he is constantly judging the pirates for their ignorance on healthy living conditions: “camp in a bog, would you?” (chapter 30) and their hand-to-mouth lifestyle. Not that I’m empathizing with the pirates, but they’re all low class dudes who have  turned to crime and probably don’t have much education on a variety of things. Jim judges them too, though, for their lack of resource management (chapter 31) so maybe I’m just being oversensitive. DISCUSS.

Wig Watch line of the week: “I’ll have my wig sorted by the captain or I’m mistaken” (chapter 30).

The final treasure hunt is underwhelming as far as treasure hunts go (I’ve watched way too many Jerry Bruckheimer movies), except for the corpse acting as a compass (chapter 32). That was pretty epic. The pirates are very superstitious, because of course they are, to highlight their ignorance that has been pushed at us from the beginning of the book. I enjoy how the pirates’ attitudes toward the different ghosts decides what their behavior. Most of them are terrified of Flint’s ghost, except for Silver who proclaims:”I never was feared of Flint in his life, and by the powers, I’ll face him dead” (chapter 32), but none of them are bothered by Ben Gunn’s ghost, once identified. Besides which, of all things, ghosts don’t have ECHOES, so it can’t possibly be a ghost talking to them anyway.

Pirates are weird.

I don’t like Silver as a character, but he is a very compelling villain. By that I mean, you can’t ever underestimate this guy, because he’s smart and fast and changes attitudes constantly to suit the situation. When they find the empty treasure hole, Jim notes that Silver “kept his head, found his temper, and changed his plan before the others had had time to realize the disappointment” (chapter 33). Granted, we haven’t been given much evidence of the other pirates’ brains before this. But Silver is a genius at spur-of-the-moment plans and manipulation, and its a scary trait to face off against.

Sassiest rejoinder of the week:

Silver: “You would have let old John be cut to bits, and never given it a thought, Doctor.”

“Not a thought,” replied Dr. Livesey cheerily.

I’m disappointed that they essentially let Silver go free at the end. They don’t tie him up or keep an eye on him at all because – why?

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I’m disappointed in the lack of epilogue for Jim, Trelawney, and Dr. Livesey. What do they do with their treasure? What do they do afterwards? Ben Gunn, Smollett, and Gray get endings, but not the main characters. Rude!  I have no choice but to assume Trelawney marries Smollett, since I’m given nothing else to go on here.

I hope you all enjoyed the book; I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. Comment or link me, by thunder!

Join us in December for a readalong of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

 

Treasure Island: Further Reading (2)

As we finish up Treasure Island this week, I thought I’d scour the booklists for related piratical reading. Like for Dracula, there are a lot of unofficial sequels to Treasure Island out there. There’s even what appears to be a Ben Gunn-focused book , for all those rabid Ben Gunn fans out there. Are there rabid Ben Gunn fans? Do I want to know?

Fair warning: I haven’t read any of the below.

  • For those of you who want to know more about Robert Louis Stevenson, here’s a biography by Frank McLynn. In my extra reading on him, I’ve been learning that besides classics like  Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, he also wrote poetry and essays and fables. Interesting dude.
  • Speaking of, here is a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s essays.
  • I’m really curious about this comedy  by Sara Levine about a recent college grad who becomes obsessed with Treasure Island and its “principles.” I can relate to an improper literary obsession at an advanced age. It can turn out badly.
  • Andrew Motion has a couple of sequels to Treasure Island in which Jim’s son and Silver’s daughter return to the island. Part of me is “yikes” and part of me is “Oooo.”
  • John Drake has a prequel trilogy about Silver, Flint and Flint’s crew. Just the idea is terrifying to me, but I’m guessing there’s an audience for that based on the success of Starz’ Black Sails show which has a similar premise.
  • Last but possibly not least, another sequel in which Jim Hawkins himself has to return to the island. Because….reasons? It sounds like a re-tread for me, but at least all the main surviving characters are back.

Scripture Sunday (4)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that were particularly interesting to me. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. We’ll see how it goes.

From my reading this week:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor an powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:38-39

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

-Romans 13:8-10

Why I chose it:

I cheated this week and chose two sections. Obviously, they have something in common. It’s always good to be reminded of Christ’s eternal love for us, and and it’s so important that we remember to love others. I can’t get so bogged down in all the whether-tos and whyfors and that I forget to love people. It’s easy to be distracted by all the things we should do or shouldn’t do, need to do or need not to do, and forget the point of it all.

 

Treasure Island: The Happy Family and Their Pet Coracle

This post contains spoilers for chapters 18-26 of Treasure Island.

We got one more chapter from the doctor’s point of view (we might get some more later on, I suppose). There’s much more about the adults and their concerns when we’re with Livesey.  The adults are being as safe as they can plan for; they’re doing the best they can with what they have to establish a secure position, to keep watch, to make a plan, and to repel the pirates. The captain is chillingly practical when Redruth dies and he observes that they have one less mouth to feed (chapter 18) but he’s also fine with keeping their flag up, even though it makes a perfect target for the pirates to shoot at. Smollett, man, where’s your head? His attitude toward Redruth’s death is really dark: it’s okay that he died because he died in his proper life station, i.e. dying for his master. Yikes. Whereas Trelawney asks Redruth to forgive him, and Redruth asks,

“Would that be respectful like, from me to you, Squire?”

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RIP Redruth.

Jim’s point of view, which we get back to in chapter 19, is much more reckless and therefore, in my opinion, much more fun. Jim’s like “it’s hot in here, let’s go find the boat! Let’s go get the ship! Let’s go on crazy adventures!” Typical.

Also, Ben Gunn. That guy is bad news. That guy is trying to be some sort of ninja-Gollum-parrot hybrid. He literally says, “Now, Ben Gunn is fly” (chapter 19). Ohhhhhhkay –

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Fortunately, Doctor Livesey has an illicit taste in Italian Parmesan and apparently smuggles it everywhere, which comes in handy when you need to bribe a guy who sneaks around at night bashing dudes’ heads in.

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Ben Gunn: I know what will make Jim’s friends like me: MURDER!

To be fair, the other good guys are all varying degrees of incompetent. Trelawney is a good shot, but they’re all FAILURES at lookouts. I love the part where Smollett finishes parleying with Silver, and NONE OF THEM ARE AT THEIR POSTS except Gray (chapter 21), and like, he doesn’t even really go here.

Smollett’s dressing down of his tiny incompetent company is gorgeous, especially: “Doctor, I thought you had worn the king’s coat! If that was how you served at Fontenoy, sir, you’d have been better in your berth” (chapter 21).

Smollett, in general, is really my favorite right now. What a babe. The scene between him and Silver is gorgeous. Silver comes along, trying to be all suave and manipulate them back into getting murdered by his crew. Like, it takes nerve to try to pass off an entire mutiny as just a big ol’ misunderstanding.

Silver calls Smollett and Co. “a happy family, in a manner of speaking” (chapter 20), which makes Livesey the mom, Smollett the dad, and Trelawney the irresponsible teenager. I am 90% sure this is accurate.

But anyway, back to Smollett being great. His rebuttal to Silver needs to be one of those epic speeches idiots quote in their Facebook profiles, especially:

“If you won’t, my name is Alexander Smollett, I’ve flown my sovereign’s colors, and I’ll see you all to Davy Jones.”

YEAH BABE YOU GO BABE!

Meanwhile Silver be like

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I mentioned in the last post, regarding Fletcher’s article, Silver’s disability and how it is used as a villainous characteristic. This is extremely problematic and we need to be aware of it. I think it’s interesting, though, how it’s also used in this scene almost as a point of empathy. Silver has to struggle up and down the hill while his enemies watch with absolutely zero pity, and then they force him to sit on the ground and then not help him up. Granted, he’s murdered a bunch of people by that point, but it’s interesting. IDK, discuss!

There’s a lot of shooting and killing and dying and I’m not sure what to say about that except RIP Joyce and Hunter, we didn’t know you at all but you made up like 30% of the good guys and it’s too bad you’re gone.

I am more concerned, logistically and morally, with the injured mutineer. Jim says he dies “under the doctor’s knife” (chapter 22); usually I would interpret this as dying while the doctor is working on him, but did he get murdered or what? Yikes. I mean, I guess the real question is, was the doctor wearing his wig while operating on him????

I really like some of the descriptions of the surrounding environment or weather in this book. A good example is at the beginning of chapter 22:

It was still quite early, and the coldest morning that I think I ever was abroad in, a chill that pierced into the marrow. The sky was bright and cloudless overhead, and the tops of the trees shone rosily in the sun. But where Silver stood with his lieutenant all was still in shadow, and they waded knee deep in a low, white vapor, that had crawled during the night out of the morass.

Yes, perfect, Robert.

Aside from the descriptions, I like the wry humor employed at times, such as Jim and his coracle in chapter 22/23:

I had not then seen a coracle, such as the ancient Britons made, but I have seen one since, and I can give you no fairer idea of Ben Gunn’s boat than by saying it was like the first and the worst coracle ever made by man.

Jim continues to be incredibly reckless and NOT THINK THINGS THROUGH but I absolutely love picturing him bobbing about in a home-made, mutated coracle. I have a lot of questions about how Jim cut through the hawser, but maybe a schooner is smaller than I’m picturing. Anyway, good job, kid, I guess??

I want Jim to become a naturalist and travel the world and describe the various animal and plant life he sees. Giant snails, Jim, really? How? HOW?

RIP coracle, I knew you way better than I did Joyce or Hunter.

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JIM: EVERYONE STAY CALM, I AM TAKING OVER THE SHIP!

ISRAEL (bleeding out on the deck): This ship can’t be crewed by one man-  you’ll never make it out of the bay!

JIM: Son….I’m Captain Jim Hawkins. Savvy?

I’m really impressed by the action scenes in this, particularly when the pirates attack the cabin and the whole chapter with Jim vs. Israel. It’s suspenseful and interesting and adventurous. I guess I see why this was such stellar adolescent entertainment at the time.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the last week of #treasuRead!