My Top 10….Literary Couples (Part I)

Happy Valentines Day!! I thought it would be interesting if I sat myself down and forced myself to think about my favorite literary couples.  So, without further adieu here is part one of my list! 

(Please be warned, there could be some spoilers in my blurbs on each couple)

10.) Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman (From the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris)

                For those of you who have read the series, you know that Sookie and Eric have had a very tumultuous relationship over the 10 books that have so far been published.  Sookie is a telepath who is thrust into the world of the supernatural when she begins dating a vampire named Bill Compton.  (The books take place in a world where vampires have come out into the open to admit their existence) Sookie and Bill break up once his true reasons for being with her are revealed.  Eric, another vampire, is over 1,000 years old and un-phased by humans.  Until meeting Sookie he thinks that humans are useless for anything beyond feeding from.   In the fourth book, Dead to the World, Sookie and Eric finally get together, much to the pleasure of Sookie readers everywhere.  Eric is normally cocky, cool, and all about himself, but his love for Sookie changes him in small ways here and there.  He is constantly trying to take care of her and protect her from the evils of the supernatural world.  He tries to hide from Sookie how deep his feelings are for her because he knows she is still wounded from her relationship with Bill.  When they are together and free from the supernatural drama there is a sweetness to their relationship that is wonderful to read.  Their relationship has its ups and downs, just as real ones do, and it’s this honesty and realness that I like so much. 

9.) Beauty and the Beast (From the fairytale)

                Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies as a child and subsequently it’s my favorite fairytale.  The fairytale is fairly different from the movie version, but the idea of Belle falling in love with the beast is still existent.  The idea that love can transcend the physical appearances of people is what draws me to Belle and the Beast.  I feel that so many people focus on the physical appearances of their partners rather than what’s on the inside.  Beauty and the Beast pushes a message that I personally wish more people would try out in their own lives.

8.) Odysseus and Penelope (From The Odyssey by Homer)

                The Trojan War is at an end and Odysseus begins his long journey back to Ithaca to his wife Penelope and their son Telemachus.  Odysseus has been gone for ten years, and in that ten-year span Penelope and Telemachus have kept a large group of suitors at bay.  Odysseus’ journey is filled with many obstacles, each one threatening to end his quest to return home.  He must deal with a Cyclops, the Sirens, and countless other obstacles.  His love for his family, his kingdom, and his people all keep his spirits up.  He knows that the relationship he has with his wife is strong enough to withstand anything.  The strength and courage they have in their marriage is admirable.  I had to have them on this list because of how much faith they have in each other and their relationship. 

7.) Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson (From The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks)

                The Notebook is a romantic novel that chronicles Noah and Allie’s love story told through the pages of a notebook.  Stricken with dementia Allie doesn’t remember anything about her life.  Noah fills the pages of a notebook and reads it to her on a daily basis, hoping that it will bring her back to him.  He tells her about Noah, a poor southern boy, and Allie, a rich socialite, who meet one summer while in their late teens and have an unforgettable summer romance.  Circumstances arise tearing them apart from each other, but it doesn’t last.  They make their way back to each other eventually and get married.  Their relationship is indicative that even in the face of tragedy love can overcome it all.

6.)  Mary Boleyn and William Stafford (From The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory)

                Everyone knows who Anne Boleyn is, but few know of her younger sister Mary.  Before Anne was with King Henry VIII, Mary was.  It is said that Mary had two children by the king before he began courting Anne.  When Henry was done with Mary she began spending as much time as possible with her children at the family home in the country.  Mary is chaperoned out to the country by a group of her uncle’s men.  Leading these men was William Stafford.  Stafford begins interacting with Mary and her children on each trip out to the country.  Mary becomes interested in him and when she’s at court begins to secretly seek out his company.  William, knowing that Mary is too high for him socially, leaves court to begin making a life for himself as a farmer.  After a short separation Mary realizes that she has found true love in William Stafford.  Leaving court suddenly she rushes to William’s farm to tell him that she will leave everything of her former life behind if he will have her.  I absolutely love Mary and William.  Mary is willing to leave her wealth, family, social status, and position completely behind for a man who literally has nothing but a piece of land with which to grow a farm on.  If that’s not love what is?!? (For Todd’s review of The Other Boleyn Girl click here)

So there you have it folks! The first half of my top ten literary couples!  Do you agree with the first half of my choices?? Who are some of your favorite literary couples?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Check back in tomorrow for the top 5!  I hope you all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day filled with love!

Complex Reading vs. Simplistic Reading

Adam and I were discussing The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway when we began discussing complex books vs. simplistic books.  We started discussing it because I was talking about how The Old Man and the Sea speaks in very simplistic language. I personally am a fan of classic literature books, books that follow the style of Jane Austen’s writing period, and also books that make you think.  It’s not very common that I read a book written in simplistic terms.  While it’s a nice break, I enjoy reading to enrich my mind, grow my vocabulary, make me think, and also make stop and pause to look and appreciate the things around me.

Adam had said he wished more writers would write simplistically. He felt that books get overly wordy and explain everything in such small detail.  He would rather be able to think about what it looked like, smelt like, felt like, etc on his own. He wants authors to cut out the “fluff” and get down to the nitty-gritty.  I can agree with him about fluff to a degree.  Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck has almost a full chapter explaining in extreme detail about a turtle crossing the road. It is the MOST boring thing I’ve ever read in my life. So on the subject of “fluff” I can agree to a degree with Adam.

The more and more I thought about what we were discussing the stronger I felt for books that weren’t super simplistic. In my eyes reading holds the keys to enriching people’s lives and minds.  For people who will never be able to travel to Europe in their lifetime, they can pick up a book and read about what it’s like. Those that will never make it scuba diving, mountain climbing, sky diving etc, they can pick up a book and read about others experiences doing it.  None of us know what it was like to live in the past when King Henry VIII ruled, but we can pick up a book and read about what it was like.  If writing was always written simplistically, we might not be able to experience any of these things through words.

Reading complex things also expands your intelligence.  The more you read the better your vocabulary gets and your sentence structure get stronger.  You learn to recognize metaphors, themes, similes, protagonists, antagonists, conflicts, resolutions, etc. 

When I think of classic literature I don’t think of simplistic authors or simplistic books – I see Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Poe, Arthur Miller, Steinbeck, etc. I see Pride and Prejudice, Macbeth, North and SouthTo Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales, etc.  These books are taught in schools and taught year after year because we learn from them.  As a child you’re taught with picture books, then you begin reading and move to chapter books, as we get older and our brains can handle more we begin reading “the classics.”  That is how we progress on to college and into the working environment. As our brains retain more knowledge our reading levels change, allowing us to read more complex books. I think in order to continue to grow intellectually, that adults should read complex books.  Throwing in a simplistic book here and there is ok, it gives your brain a rest, which is definitely necessary.

As I was talking to Todd last night I said to him that I think reading books with details is important as well.  For me reading poetry expands the meaning of love, reading books that discuss the look, smell, taste of things enriches my own senses.  Reading about a sunrise/sunset and then seeing one – I can understand the text better and understand the beauty around me.

I’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts on what I’ve said.  Adam has been kind enough to begin writing a response to my thoughts that I’ll post up before the week is out.  Please comment and let me know what side of the argument you fall on!

Happy Reading!