Category Archives: Saturday Seven

Saturday Seven: Characters Who Would Have Made Great Moms

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 

Happy Mother’s Day! In honour of this holiday, today I wanted to talk about characters who never got the chance to be mothers but who would have done an excellent job at it if they did.

Some characters are childless or childfree because that’s what they genuinely wanted out of life, and I completely respect that. There have been other characters, though, that ended up not having kids for a variety of reasons that could have changed if the plot had turned out to have a slightly different arc to it.

A couple of the people on this list died far too early in life to become parents. Others simply had other things going on for them during their childbearing years. If I wrote fanfics, I’d tweak those endings so I could see what their lives would have been like if this wasn’t the case. Every person on this list would have been a loving parent if she’d had the chance to do so.

 

1. Prof. Mcgonagall from the Harry Potter series.

I’d like to think that her potential children would have been much less mischievous than all of the Weasley boys she had to deal with as a professor. Even if her kids did turn out to be rambunctious, at least she would have known how to react to them thanks to the many years of practice she had keeping the Weasleys from hurting themselves too badly during their adventures at school.

2. Beth March from Little Women.

Beth was a quiet and often painfully shy girl who had a heart of gold. I can’t think of any character more generous or loving than she was. Her sisters amused me in this story, but Beth was the one who truly touched my heart. There was an earnestness about her that made me wish she could have had a long and happy life.

She would have made a doting mother, especially for a child who might have developed the same kind of severe anxiety issues that Beth had to deal with.

3. Helen Burns from Jane Eyre.

Helen was a sweet, patient orphan-friend of Jane’s who died from tuberculosis when they were young. She kept such a calm and hopeful demeanour no matter what was happening around her.

I was so upset when this character died. She was honestly someone I thought might live to see radical improvements in the way orphans – and especially chronically ill orphans –  were treated in the 1800s.

4. Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series.

She handled her sometimes-rowdy class so beautifully that I have no doubt she would have been wonderful at raising a much smaller number of children full-time.

5. Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager.

Fair Use Rationale: This image is being used as a visual identification of Captain Janeway.

Yes, I know this is a TV show, but there are hundreds of Star Trek novels that have been written about this universe. Some of them are specifically about this ship and captain, so I’ve decided that Janeway counts for the purposes of this list. LOL.

One of the things I liked the most about her was how much serious effort she put into making the right decision for her crew even if it wasn’t the easiest decision for Janeway herself. It takes a strong person to make that choice over and over again, but protecting people who count on you is exactly what being a parent is all about.

6. Aunt Josephine from the Anne of Green Gables series.

Honestly, the world needs more parents – and adults in general –  who remember what it felt like to be a misunderstood kid. One of my favorite things about Aunt Josephine in this series was how easy it was for her to recall life when she was Anne Shirley’s age. Being around two playful preteens made this character revisit her own childhood in the best possible way. In a different timeline, Aunt Josephine would have had the opportunity to do the same thing with her own children.

7. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Scout was such a compassionate girl. She would have been an excellent role model if she’d had children when she grew up.

Which of your favourite characters do you wish could have been mothers?

Saturday Seven: What to Read Next If You Loved The Handmaid’s Tale

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

As those of you who follow me on social media have no doubt already noticed, I’m a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale.   I first read this Margaret Atwood book when I was in high school, and I loved it from the opening sentence:

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.

Offred’s descriptions of what it was like to live in an abandoned school and why a group of young, fertile women had been enslaved in the first place captured my imagination. There was grief, loneliness, and pain etched into every thought this protagonist had even before I had any idea what was going on with the characters or setting.

The writers for the TV show based on this novel have done a superb job of fleshing out the storyline so far. While I’m waiting to see the next episode of this show, I’ve been thinking about books that have similar social justice themes and writing styles to this one. If you enjoyedThe Handmaid’s Tale, you might like these titles as well.

1. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence.

I’m tentatively planning to talk about Margaret Laurence’s work again this summer in a Canadian-themed Saturday Seven post, but I had to include her in this list as well. The main character of this book was someone whose choices in life were severely limited due to abuse, poverty, and being born into a society that had pretty limited empathy or help available for women who found themselves in difficult circumstances.

I should warn you that Hagar wasn’t an easy character to like at times. Her harsh life had shaped her into someone who could be abrasive under certain circumstances, but I still saw glimpses of the young, hopeful girl she’d once been no matter how difficult she was to love at the end of her life.

2. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.

Fertile women in The Handmaid’s Tale were forced to bear children for powerful infertile couples. Characters in The Unit were forced to donate their organs to strangers even if doing so lead to their immediate deaths. Both groups of people were simultaneously shunned for “sinning” against the impossibly-strict rules of their societies while also being told their suffering was worth it for the greater good of humanity.

3. The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper.

If you can only read one book from this list, make it this one. Fertility was controlled in The Gate to Women’s Country just as strictly as it was in The Handmaid’s Tale. The difference between the two lies in how well women are treated otherwise, who raises the children they conceive, and how (un)aware they are of what is really happening to their bodies.

4. The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence.

I read this so long ago that I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I feel compelled to reread it again soon. What I remember the most about it was the fact that two people could remember the same event so differently. There’s no doubt in my mind that Offred’s account of what happened to her wouldn’t be the same as the men who drafted the laws that made all sorts of human rights violations legal or the wives of the high-ranking members of The Republic of Gilead who ignored the abuse of women like Offred because of how much they stood to gain from the arrangement.

This isn’t to say that any of the supporting characters in The Fire-Dwellers are violent like the ones in The Handmaid’s Tale, only that empathy isn’t a skill everyone develops in life. Such a lack of empathy can show up in both small and profoundly serious ways.

5. Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler.

Honestly, I could have listed many of Ms. Butler’s books here. The things she had to say about prejudice, how power can be horribly misused, and what happens when one group of people oppresses another over a long period of time fit in beautifully with the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale.

6. He, She, It by Marge Piercy.

This book didn’t arrive from the library in time for me to read it before this post went live, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the main character handles a custody dispute that’s mentioned in the blurb. It reminded me of how Offred pined for her daughter after they were ripped away from each other.

7. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields.

Once again, this book hasn’t arrived from the library yet. I like the idea of a female character telling stories about her life that are typically the sorts of things someone wouldn’t talk about. While this narrator had a much happier and safer life than Offred did, there were still parts of it she regretted at the end. I think there’s something to be said for talking about those things openly sometimes instead of hiding them.

How many of my readers are fans of The Handmaid’s Tale? Do you enjoy books about social justice in general?

Saturday Seven: My Favourite Langston Hughes Poems

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 As I mentioned several weeks ago, once a month I’ll use a Saturday Seven post to talk about a poet that I like. Emily Dickinson was the poet I talked about in March, and Langston Hughes is my choice for April.

Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, and he also invented an entirely new style of poetry called jazz poetry that has influenced generations of writers and other creative folks.

His writing style was conversational. The poems he wrote often sounded like something friends might say to each other over a cup of coffee or while playing cards.

I also love the fact that he wrote about black, working class people, a portion of the population that was generally ignored altogether by literary circles when he was alive.

Since Mr. Hughes lived until 1967, the copyrights on his poems have not yet expired. I’ll be sharing brief excerpts from them and then linking to a site where you can read the entire poem.

1. From Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
My name is Johnson—
Madam Alberta K.
The Madam stands for business.
I’m smart that way.
3. From Mother to Son:
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
I looked and saw
the man they called the Law.
Oh, I wish that yesterday,
Yesterday was today.
Yesterday you was here.
Today you gone away.
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
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Saturday Seven: Classic Novels I’ve Never Read

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Reading has always been one of my greatest joys in life. I’ve developed a real knack for finding things to read no matter where I go, and I’ve been known to read just about anything to pass the time. When I was a kid, I even read the phone book for the sheer fun of it! (Do phone books even still exist? I haven’t seen one in many years).

There are still countless books out there that I haven’t read yet. This includes plenty of classic novels, so today’s list is dedicated to all of the classics that I haven’t gotten around to picking up yet. Maybe someday I’ll make the time to read them. I’ve heard plenty of good things about everything on the list below, I just haven’t tried them for myself yet.

 

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
  4. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
  6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
  7. My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass.

What classic novels have you never read?

Saturday Seven: Books That Might Give You Cravings

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I’m a pretty quiet person in real life. One of the topics that I always like to talk about with anyone who is interested, though, is food. For example, I might ask you what your favourite food is or talk about a delicious meal I made last week. This week’s list is all about books that gave me cravings when I read them.

1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.

I could almost do an entire Saturday Seven post on Michael Pollan’s books alone. I really appreciate the fact that he takes such a well-rounded approach to figuring out what and how humans should eat from a nutritional, environmental, and cultural perspective. Then you also need to factor in any medical restrictions (diabetes, food allergies, interactions with certain drugs, etc) you might have on what you can eat.  The answer won’t be exactly the same for every person or geographical region on Earth. I like the flexibility of that. It makes me hungry! Hehe.

 2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.

Imagine spending an entire year trying to eat nothing but food you’ve either grown or bought from people who lived nearby. It’s not something I could do year-round in Canada without risking vitamin deficiencies from barely having any vegetables or fruit to eat for months on end, but I do follow many of this author’s principles when the weather allows for it. And now I’m craving Ontario-grown strawberries. They’re mouthwateringly delicious, and they’ll be in season in a few short months.

3. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

Salt is common and inexpensive now, but it used to be so valuable that it was used as a form of currency. This is the kind of book I’d only recommend to people who are extremely interested in this topic. It wasn’t a light, fluffy read at all, but it did make me crave salty foods like homemade soft pretzels.

4. French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano.

I loved the common sense messages in this book about moderation, fitting walking and other forms of exercise into your daily routine, and never being afraid to enjoy what you eat. There’s something about this easy-going approach to life that makes me look forward to my next meal regardless of what it happens to be.

5. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel.

When I first read this a decade ago, I wondered if I’d live to see the day when the Cavendish banana went extinct. It hasn’t happened yet, and I sure hope it never does. Doesn’t the banana on the cover make you wish you could eat a banana right this second? That sure was my reaction to it.

6. Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook.

This actually made me seek out one of those old-fashioned tomatoes that hadn’t had so much of its flavour bred out of it. It was really good. If only that kind of tomato wasn’t in season for such a short time. I could go for one of them right about now.

7. Tea: The Drink That Changed the World by Laura C. Martin. 

I drink a decent amount of caffeine-free herbal tea, especially during the winter when I want to warm up. If caffeine didn’t make me so jittery, I’d branch out and try more of the teas that this author talked about. They sounded delicious.

Do you read nonfiction books about food or beverages? What are you craving right now?

 

Saturday Seven: Humorous Book Titles

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I can’t vouch for their content in any way. I’m sharing them only because their titles are eye-catching and made me giggle when I found them. 1. Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley. 2. HELP! A… Read More

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Saturday Seven: Rabbit Tales

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating that holiday this weekend! Rabbits are the first thing I think about when Easter comes to mind, so I thought I’d talk about them today. Since rabbits are my favourite animal of all time, it always makes me happy… Read More

Saturday Seven: Books with Green Covers

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was originally planning to make this post about Irish books that I’ve read and loved, but it turned out that I couldn’t think of enough of them to fill out a Saturday Seven list on this topic. My goal for next… Read More

Saturday Seven: History Books About Ordinary People

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. I had mixed feelings about history class when I was in school. The chapters about war and the military honestly bored me to death. Kudos to those of you who like reading about battles and peace treaties, but I have not spent a single moment thinking… Read More