Today is known in the USA as Independence Day. It’s the day we celebrate signing the Declaration of Independence and formally becoming a distinct country and severing ties with England.
Today there’ll be a lot of fireworks, and I’ll go to one of the viewing events with my family. We’ll have a cookout with various meats stacked on potato rolls- sweet and sour vinegary pulled chicken straight out of the smoker, sweet barbeque pulled pork, and burger patties with all the fixings and probably ten different types of mustard knowing my family’s obsession with the condiment. We’ll buy most of these meats from the smoke cooking machine selling his goods at the farmer’s market, except for the burgers which will be put on the grill in the back yard and probably slightly burned in the process.
There will be coleslaw and potato salad, or maybe egg salad instead, and heaps of romaine lettuce with a few cherry tomatoes that will pass for a salad I won’t be eating, and either poundcake heaped with fruits and whipped topping or a trifle of layers of whipped topping and strawberries and blueberries.
We’ll end the day by joining friends at one of the fireworks viewings and buying cotton candy which normally sells for a buck but will cost six or eight times as much today for the convenience of it. We might even drink a soda or too, which my family normally avoids because they are so sweet none of us really want to finish an entire can. Then it’ll be totally dark and we’ll play with glowsticks. Or maybe we’ll skip going out and just hang out with our neighbors, putting up the smaller fireworks that only shoot up a few feet in the air unless someone bought illegal full size fireworks, and enjoy a nice time relaxing and chatting with people we like but don’t end up seeing too often because we are all too busy.
It won’t be the stuff of stories, but it will be a nice chill day either way and I am sure I will enjoy it.
Today we are diving into the category of Fantasy Romances! These are a little sparse to choose from the English canon (canon= what we call the collection of all classics), as there aren’t a ton of fantasy books written before the early 1900’s in general that are still well known today, let alone romantic ones. That said I’ve combed through all the lists of classic literature and found three that fit this theme perfectly AND are a good read. Win-win, amirite?
This Central Asian classic (India, Bengal, Persia, and basically every culture in that whole region have their own versions of it) features a beloved wife who is kidnapped by a demon and held for basically a year. Then the hero rescues her, only to have their relationship fall apart at the question of whether she still loves her husband or has instead fallen for her once captor. This story could be described in Western literary terms as “The Tale of Everyman” meets “Hades and Persephone”.
The King of Elfland’s Daughter
This book by Lord Dunsany hails from the 1920’s. That means any similarities between it and JRR Tolkien’s character Lúthien Tinúviel and her love story can’t be because Elfland is a copy of that story- after all, it predates it.
This is a story of an elf maiden and a human man falling in love. Their love is NOT smooth sailing. I feel like I’ve already revealed too much of the plot by saying it has some similarities to Lúthien, so I won’t go any deeper into this. Suffice to say it has elves and magic and two lovers from different worlds who will not find it easy to be together.
Beren and Lúthien
Now that I’ve mentioned them I have to include them again, huh? “Beren and Lúthien” is the first NEW book by J.R.R. Tolkien that has come out in years. Once again his son has combed through piles of old notes and done a bit of judicious editing to bring the story together into one novel for the benefit of the legions of fans of the deceased author.
The story of a human and elf falling in love, I am not so sure of the rest of what happens in this tale. I have read abbreviated references to this, of course, included in the footnotes and appendices of Tolkien’s previous books, but I have not gotten around to this particular full length novel version. I’m really looking forward to reading it, actually!
Every day somewhere in the world people get married, or start dating. Sometimes these couples will show their love with a lock placed on a bridge or fence to show they are locked together for the long haul. Sometimes they’ll show is by exchanging a wedding ring, or a partnership ring. They might raise children or a dog together, or buy a house together.
But those things happen infrequently, or maybe even only once.
So they will remind each other how much they care with yearly tokens on the fourteenth of February.
Whether with flowers, or chocolates (Fun fact, in America traditionally the chocolates are given by the men to their ladies within straight couples, but in Japan women make chocolates for their man), or even cards that just for this holiday are called valentines, it’s important to make sure your loved ones remember you love them.
I don’t like limiting the holiday just to romantic loved ones, though.
I think it really is essential for couples to do small shows of caring, especially since not everyone feels love the same way and it’s easy to let showing you care get lost in the business of life.
That said, I think it’s especially important to let your other loved ones know you care. Be sure to give a few candies or a card to your friends and coworkers, make a special meal for your immediate family, or take your single friend out for lunch and just spend time with them as a friend- of course remembering not to mention the holiday itself or anything about your own love life to avoid the risk of making them feel like an outsider on a holiday that leaves many broken hearted or feeling hopeless and alone.
Most of all just show you care, to the people you care about.
With a little bit of luck, most people will someday and at some point in their lives fall in love. Maybe not right away, but sometime.
I am one of those people who is not content with the idea of “someday”, and I’d like to fall in love right now, thank-you-very-much. After all, I may be an author- but I am still in my twenties. I have dreams.
Thankfully, this is the month where it isn’t completely disgustingly soppy to read your heart out through the history of romantic fiction. This month we are going to start a series focused on different genres of Romantic Fiction. Up first today we have:
Classical Romance Books
We’ve been going over classical books every Wednesday for the past few months, and today is no different. Here are my top three picks for interesting classic love stories.
Pride and Prejudice
This image matches the exact edition of the book “Pride and Prejudice” that is sitting on my bookshelf at this very moment. I love it. I’m not a fan of everything Jane Austen wrote (in fact this is the only book of hers I would give five stars to) but I still think it’s great. I think it’s a love story that can connect to many people- two people who don’t understand each other and don’t get along eventually come to realize they are actually very similar and end up seeing each other more clearly and falling in love because of it. It’s a messy plot, which I think makes sense because love is a rather messy thing for most people. The very beginning of the book has been called slow by many people; but the thing to remember is that even though the romance itself does not start on page one, family drama worthy of any modern sitcom most certainly does. And I must admit, I like family dramas. After all, I wrote one as my first book.
You can check out many free versions of the classic online or in any ebook market (Amazon, etcetera), or you can find a lot of copies with notes on the plot itself or included historical notes to give you a better understanding of the setting and how it affects to story.
This one is possibly even more famous than the last. Charlotte Bronte wrote a book that is moody and what many find to be a perfect antidote to happy peppy love stories. Jane’s childhood is plagued by abuse and neglect, and then her adulthood is plagued by poverty and heartbreak when she finds the one man she finally falls in love with is unattainable- because he already has a wife?!? Then the plot rambles about a bit in more desperate circumstances until things finally settle down.
I won’t lie, it isn’t the fastest paced book out there. But keep in mind many classical books move super slowly because the authors were paid by the word and had the financial incentive to stretch things out to be as long as possible- kind of like when you have two thousand more words due for your essay but you’ve already covered all your points so you resort to adding junky filler material.
I still think it’s worth a read, especially if most romance stories are a little too grossly cheerful and cheesy for you. You’ll find none of that nonsense in here. I especially recommend this to anyone who loved “Me Before You” and “Me After You”, but keep in mind this one does actually have a fairly happy ending.
North and South
This book delves into a romance between an industrialist- one of the many men of the Victorian era hiring even children to work in factories and paying his workers so little they can hardly afford their daily bread and skipping the expense of any safety equipment in the factories- and the woman who loves him even though she is fighting for worker’s rights and the betterment of the working class. The big divide between their morality would make many think that a romance couldn’t work for them, but do they figure out a way to a happy ever after somehow? Read on to find out.
I think as today is December first it is officially the Holiday Season. That’s right, it’s time for holiday breaks off of school, and sipping warm drinks (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, that is!) The best thing of all to celebrate in my mind is that a season that comes with vacation time, to me, is basically a season for reading!
This month I’m going to share a few reading lists of the books I personally love to read each December. #SeasonReading is all about books that make you get the warm fuzzies and think about giving, thankfulness, family, friends, and the holiday you celebrate as well as learning about other holidays out there!
To start this series off with a bang I’m going to jump us into the necessary Christmas classics! Obviously I’ll stretch the definition of classic a little bit- who doesn’t love a reinterpretation of a well loved story, like reading a book version of the Nutcracker?- but they’ll be familiar stories in some form or another to the majority of you. I also only included full length novels in this list. There are plenty of picture books for children that fill the theme, but we aren’t going to go over them today because I think when I’m in a mood for a novel never really seems to overlap with the times I’m in a mood to enjoy a dear friend in the form of a picture book, you know?
Don’t worry if that’s not your thing though- we’re going to do more modern YA holiday books, novels featuring other holidays, and cross genre holiday novels. You’re bound to find something you are interested in reading up on!
This creative retelling of the Nutcracker is at the top of my own Christmas wish list. I still haven’t read it, but it has a lot of great reviews and comes from the same author who wrote “Wicked” (yes the very same book that inspired the Broadway musical!) so I am pretty sure it will be amazing. By the way- I get literally no money out of recommending other author’s books. I really don’t benefit at all from it. But I want you guys to enjoy the holidays with great books more than I want to make a buck.
A Christmas Carol
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
This really isn’t the first thing people think of when they think of Christmas books. But it is a full length novel that details the fight between Father Christmas and the evil witch who got rid of Christmas, so it’s still pretty apropos. Besides, it’s a great story and I think there’s always a reason to read a good book.
What do you think of this list? Do you love it? Share your favorite Winter holiday novels with me in the comments, especially if you want to share your favorites for the diverse holidays blog post!
I’m so blessed to have you here. No, I really mean that. I’ve taken on a big new scary job- being a self employed writer and author- this year, and I couldn’t have done it without support. Just you being here on this site right here and now helps keep me going. If your adblocker is turned off I even get a few cents for each time there’s a little ad at the bottom of the page, and that helps pay the bills (I believe in full disclosure). But even if you keep blocker on and you’ve never bought a single book, having you here and reading these posts shows you believe in me, and that is definitely what keeps me going.
So thank you.
Have a happy Thanksgiving if you’re American, or a thankful normal day of the week if you live elsewhere.