The Awakening and This Side of Paradise

I’ve been trying to get caught-up on my reading for my Classics Club book list that I started almost 5 years ago. This also involves blogging about the books I’m reading in the hope that we can spread our love for classic literature all over the internet. Interestingly, the last two books I read have some similar themes and it made sense to group them together. Which is good, since book reviews aren’t the main focus of this blog.

This Side Of Paradise

This Side of Paradise was F. Scott Fitsgerald’s debut novel (published in 1920). Its publication famously helped Fitzgerald gain Zelda Sayre’s hand in marriage because he was convinced he could win her back if he became a published novelist. It must have worked, since they married just 8 days after the novel’s first printing. The initial print run of 3,000 copies sold out in three days. Read more

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Lust, Murder, and Deception from Shakespeare to Today

I know this blog isn’t really about literature and reading, but I just finished two Shakespeare plays that I can’t resist writing about. I hope some of you will find this an interesting digression from our usual topics of Christianity, Myers-Briggs, and personal growth. And if not, don’t worry — I’ll get back to my more usual type of posts this weekend.

Four and a half years ago, I committed to reading 50 Classics in 5 years. You’d think someone who read 74 books just last year wouldn’t have any trouble doing that, but I let other books distract me too much and I have some catching-up to do before August 18 arrives. Today’s article is about two of the four Shakespeare plays on my classics club list (click here to read my thoughts on the other two).

These last two plays are The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice and Measure for Measure. On the surface they’re very different stories, but I was surprised to find they touch on the same core themes. Lust, murder, and deception lie at the center of both plays, and these topics are handled in a way that puts me in mind of things happening today in our modern society.

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A Tale of Two Saviors

Do you ever wish someone loved you enough to die for you?

Not that you’d actually want them to die, of course. But you’d just like to know that someone cared enough about you that they would give up their life to keep you safe and well.

I was thinking about that last week while reading A Tale of Two Cities. I’d planned on reading two of Charles Dickens’s books that I’d never read before for my Classics Club list, but ended up swapping out Bleak House for re-reading A Tale of Two Cities. I liked it so well when I read it 12 or 13 years ago in high school that I wanted to see if it still captured my interested.

I think it’s safe to say this book is just as powerful now as it was back then, considering the last few chapters left me in tears. I love books that are so real, so well written that they can make me cry and let me tell you there were plenty of that by the last sentence. Read more

The Curious Case of the INFJ Hero

Today we’re going to talk about INFJ heroes in fiction, especially male heroes. But before we get to that, let’s talk about Russian literature for a moment. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky opens with an apologetic explanation from the narrator about his hero, Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov. Here are a few highlights:

“While I do call Alexei Fyodorovich my hero, still, I myself know that he is by no means a great man …

One thing, perhaps, is rather doubtless: he is a strange man, even an odd one. But strangeness and oddity will sooner harm than justify any claim to attention …

If I, that is, the biographer himself, think that even one novel may, perhaps, be unwarranted for such a humble and indefinite hero, then how will it look if I appear with two; and what can explain such presumption on my part?” (p.3-4, Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, Alyosha is an INFJ (most characters and the narrator use this nickname throughout the novel. In the Cyrillic alphabet, Alyosha is two letters shorter than Alexei, which makes this something like calling a man named Robert “Bob”). And I suspect that it’s his personality type that makes the narrator so worried about how people will respond to his hero.

It’s not that there aren’t other INFJ heroes in fiction. Just take a look at my post about 10 Stories You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ if you want some examples. Jane Eyre, Amélie, Yoda, and Atticus Finch are all INFJs in fiction who play a hero role. But even though there are male characters on this list, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Alyosha was woman with all the same personality characteristics the narrator wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize for her.

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Ostriches, 200-year-old Fanfiction, and The Swiss Family Robinson

There’s a good chance that if I mention The Swiss Family Robinson you know what I’m talking about. This story of a castaway family has enchanted readers since its first publication in 1812. Even if you haven’t read a version, there’s a good chance you’ve seen or at least heard of one of the film adaptations.

I don’t remember if I first came across this story as a Great Illustrated Classics book or through the 1960 Disney film. I’m sure one led quickly to the other. Shortly after that, I found a more “grown-up” version of the book in my favorite book store. It was a 1968 edition that was about 12 tall by 8 inches wide, and the margins were filled with illustrations of animals and explanatory notes. I read it so much the book literally fell apart.Ostriches, 200-year-old Fanfiction, and TheSwiss Family Robinson | LikeAnAnchor.com

The Great Fanfic Conspiracy

When I started looking for a replacement copy, I realized this book was originally written in German and that there was more than one English version to choose from. This led to a startling revelation.

I had never read The Swiss Family Robinson. Read more

I Published A Book And You Can Win A Signed Copy

I don’t talk much about my fiction writing on this blog. In fact, I don’t even write fiction under my own name — I use the pen name Maris McKay to keep my non-fiction and fiction separate. But this blog is partly about me sharing major things going on in my life with all of you, and so I’ve decided to let you all know about something exciting that happened in the fiction-writing part of my life.

I published my first book!!!

Technically this isn’t really my first book since The INFJ Handbook and God’s Love Story have been available for quite some time now, but it’s my first fiction book and it’s the first of my books available in paperback as well as ebook. Getting the proof copy was ridiculously exciting.I Published A Book, And You Can Win A Signed Copy | LikeAnAnchor.com

What It’s About

Most of my fiction is fantasy, and this new short story collection is no exception. All the stories are set in the fantasy world of Kern, which you can learn more about on my other website (click here). Here’s the description printed on the back cover:

A negotiator who uses herself as a bargaining chip.

An adventurous spirit trapped by her culture and family.

A resistance fighter leading her captors into a trap.

A reclusive horse trainer swept into a quest for treasure.

An elderly, overlooked servant smuggling slaves out of her country.

A woman with a gift that seems like far more trouble than it’s worth.

A princess whose arranged marriage puts her in the hands of pirates.

A shepherdess fighting to save her sister.

A belly-dancing assassin who fakes her targets’ deaths.

These are the women of Kern — the sort of women who in our own world are all too often ignored, overlooked, forgotten, and silenced by history. Enter their world of magic, adventure, and romance through nine short stories and novellas driven by women with the strength and courage to shape their own destinies.

Read more of Ari's story in the new fantasy collection "Women of Kern" from Maris McKay https://amazon.com/author/marismckay

FAQs

I’m anticipating a few questions about this book, so I want to answer them here (feel free to ask others in the comments):

Q: Is this Christian fiction?

A: No. It is fiction written by a Christian and certain stories have Christian themes, but it is not “Christian fiction.”

Q: Is this book clean?

A: Mostly? I’d describe it as PG-13 for violence and sex. My target audience is adults and older teens, not children.

Q: Why the pen name?

A: Several reasons:

  1. The website “marissabaker.com” was taken.
  2. I didn’t want people searching for this blog finding my fiction page instead, or those looking for my fiction to find articles I’d written about gardening (less of a problem now than it was a few years ago when I was writing for eHow).
  3. Since I write such a wide variety of things (non-fiction about personality types, Christian non-fiction, and fantasy/sci-fi) I thought it would be easier to write non-fiction and fiction under separate names.

Read more of Feiyan's story in the new fantasy collection "Women of Kern" from Maris McKay https://amazon.com/author/marismckay

Giveaway

Update: the giveaway is now closed. If you would still like to get a copy of Women of Kern either as an ebook or in paperback, click here to visit my Amazon page.