What I'm Reading and GLBT Issues

I’ve been home sick all day today…and it’s been wonderful πŸ™‚ I haven’t taken a sick day in….um, years. At my place of work, they expect you to go into work sick. You’re really not supposed to call in sick. That’s how I got sick in the first place. But today I said “screw that” I need to get better…so I spent the day in bed, reading. And I thought I’d do a blog entry talking about what I’ve been reading lately.

I spent today nearly finishing Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan and OMG I don’t want this book to end!!! Can I name my favorite book of the year on January 7th? Because I’m ready to call that shit right now! This has been the most moving, disturbing, touching, fantastical, original book I have read in ages. And I just want to give Margo Lanagan a big hug for writing it and for going there. For addressing so many big issues like incest and rape and running away and hiding and having to face those fears eventually and using fantasy as a means of escape and all of the things she did…all wrapped up into a fairy tale that isn’t always pretty but is always wonderful and true and amazing. And the characters…OMG the characters, I just love them. And I just love the worlds that she’s created. I want to crawl inside of them. And I still have about 50 pages left. A more detailed synopsis that makes a little bit of sense to come. I think I’m supposed to be doing a co-review with Kelly at The Written World of this one.

I also just started Above His Shoulders by Dan Williams and this one is also quite good and quite haunting. It also tackles the subject of sexual abuse, but this one is non-fiction. It’s Dan Williams account of being sexually abused by his older cousin when he was seven years old and the resulting impact that the trauma had on him and how it led to other traumatic events. This one has had a really strong impact on me so far. It’s a really well written memoir and it’s something we deal with frequently on our specialty trauma unit at the hospital I work at. Sexual abuse is something that has an impact on millions of people worldwide, sadly, and just telling the story of it can be so healing. Hearing someone else’s story can be healing as well just to be able to relate and this is a wonderful book for that. For finding those similarities in someone else’s experience, in hearing your not alone. It’s quite a sad thing that Mr. Williams has gone through and has already brought me to tears a few times in the first 75 pages, but it’s truly a wonderful book and I commend him for writing it!

Last night I started Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and I’m so in love with this book!!! I’m reading it for the January Graphic Novels Challenge Mini Challenge which is to read a classic novel in Graphic Novel format. I’ve only read the first section which is sort of a brief history of how Darwin came to write and publish On the Origin of Species and a quick history of everything leading up to it’s publication. The rest of the novel seems to be the actual adaptation of On the Origin of Species, itself. The art is so amazing! It reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to get those really great nature books…you know the little encyclopedias for kids that had all of the wonderful illustrations of animals and insects and birds? I miss those so much!! Gah, I used to love them. I think that’s why I still love bird guides and insect guides so much…because they remind me of those books. I guess I’ve always been a science geek :p

And finally, I guess you can say that I’m still reading The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox, though I really haven’t touched it since December :p But I am in the middle of it! I’ve absolutely loved everything that I’ve read of it so far. It’s been amazing, but I started too many other books, so I kind of stalled in it :/ I tend to do that…It’s a wonderful story of an angel that comes down to earth and befriends a man and plans to meet him once a year and from what I understand, eventually falls in love with him. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. The language of the book is intoxicating!

So once I get these down to a manageable size, I plan on reading The Hobbit as well!!! I’m so freaking excited about doing the Lord of the Rings read-a-long πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ I’ve been dying to read some Tolkien. And I have this beautiful box set that Carl gave me awhile back that I can read too! I think I’m just going to continue along after the read-a-long ends and just have a Tolkien year and each month read something else. I own but have not read Children of Hurin, Sigurd and Gudrun, Tree and Leaf, and The Silmarillion…so I have lots of good Tolkien ahead of me!!

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I wanted to end this post by doing the mini-challenge for January for the GLBT Challenge. Amanda has asked us to talk about why GLBT issues matter to us. GLBT – GAY LESBIAN BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDERED. All of these are just different labels for people. So are STRAIGHT BRUNETTE BLACKΒ  FAT TALL. Labels are not necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I don’t like them, but they can at times help a person to identify themselves with a larger community. But they can cause division if used incorrectly. And it’s at that time that labels bother me. When they’re put on PEOPLE as a form of punishment. I capitalize the word “people” because it astounds me that humanity itself sometimes forgets that we are all human. Each and every one of us is human. It’s not a hard fact to wrap your brain around. This isn’t even something that applies to GLBT issues. Race, Gender, Nationality, Religion. I don’t understand, I never have, and I never will understand the hatred towards another human being just because a person lives their life a different way than another person. Because of the way that person was BORN. People do not choose to be gay or black or female or Middle Eastern….they are born into that life. Who is anybody else to do anything other than accept that person for who they are. Do you have to love that person? No…a gay person can be an asshole just like anyone else, but you can despise them for being an asshole, not for being gay.

When GLBT issues really became important to me was when I was in high school. I had a good friend that was gay and he took his life. He wasn’t openly gay….he never told me or anyone else that he was gay, and I guess I still shouldn’t assume that he was gay, but I’m pretty sure that he was. He had had conversations with me where he had all but told me that he was and I tried to make him feel as comfortable with me as I could, to let him know that I would never judge him. But we went to an all boys school and I think there was just so much pressure to be “a guy’s guy” that it just wasn’t acceptable. Nor would it be acceptable by his parents as it was also a Catholic school and his parents were extremely Catholic. It hurt when he took his life. We all knew why he did, though he didn’t leave a note and people still talked about him…people who were not his friends. I’ve made a lot of gay friends over the years and have heard stories of how hard they have fought just to be treated as people and it’s really sad. So that’s why GLBT issues matter to me. Because we all deserve the same rights and we all deserve the same freedoms. We all deserve to love who we love and to express that love without being judged. Thanks Amanda, for hosting this.

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22 Responses

  1. I’m reading The Origin of Species right now, and man would I love to have found out about the graphic novel adaptation! It’s still an okay read, but illustrations would have been so much better.

    I’ve been hearing so many good things about Tender Morsels, I think I’m going to hunt it down.

    And also, thanks for your post on the LGBT issue. I especially like how you said “a gay person can be an asshole just like anyone else, but you can despise them for being an asshole, not for being gay.” So true.

  2. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one in the history of the world that hated Tender Morsals!! Ok. Hate is a bit strong, but you get my drift! It just wasn’t what I expected. I can usually handle the harshness of a book. But this one particularly disturbed me. So much so that I ended up totally hating the characters. And the ending. But I’m really glad you liked it!!

    I’m so sorry about your friend. I posted my GLBT mini-challenge today too. Great minds think alike, I guess! I’m with you. I truly don’t understand how people can hate for no good reason. It makes me sad. I try so hard to raise my kids to not see differences. And yet, the encounter stuff like this every day. I hate they have to see that the world is a tough place so young. Great post, by the way.

  3. Oh…also, I hope you day off has you feeling better. Sucks to be sick. Especially this early in the year.

  4. Oh Chris, I’m SO sorry about your friend 😦 *big hugs*

    The rest of this post made me happy, though. I’m so glad you’re enjoying your reading, and especially TM! I look forward to your thoughts on the ending. I thought it was absolutely perfect, but others (not just you, Stephanie!) disagree.

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I hate the thought of having to live a life that isn’t true to yourself.

    I hope you feel better soon, though glad to hear you are taking it easy and getting in some quality reading time.

    I desperately need to read Tender Morsels. I keep seeing this book and hearing how wonderful it is.

  6. I read the Silmarillion once eons ago.. it’s the “bible” of middle earth. It names every tree and rock with names you cannot pronounce.. I can’t say I was thrilled with it. good luck with that one lol.

    Sorry to hear about your friend. I already mentioned at Debi’s blog about living 9 yrs with my brother and david who were gay. so I won’t go into it again.

    oh boy.. you’ve certainly begun more books than you can stay interested in at one time.. ! I hope you get to finish them all !

  7. Are you taking cough syrup??? Your first part of your post is so hyper, fast, and fun!!! LOL!! πŸ™‚ I must read Tender Morsels, after Nymeth reviewed I knew that I had to but now you’re really putting the pressure on me!!

    Your final paragraph really shows people that we have to quit hating one another because of “differences.”

  8. I had so much I wanted to say as I read your post. But right now I just want to hug you. I’m so very sorry about your friend, Chris. So very, very sorry.

    (Off to e-mail you.)

  9. Hi Chris. Thank you for your post. Reading everyone’s stories has been so touching to me. There is so much truth there. I wish we could get EVERYONE to read them.

    I also wish I loved Tender Morsels as much as everyone else. I loved 99% of it, and one 5-page section destroyed the rest for me. 😦

  10. Sorry about your friend 😦

    On a lighter note, I am someone who looks forward to sick days occasionally because then I get the opportunity to lay in bed all day in my jammies and read! So yes, I am a little jealous that you were sick.

  11. I literally squealed when I saw what you had to say on Tender Morsels! Isn’t it perfect?! I think it should be distributed to rape crisis centers so that survivors can read it.

    And then I got to the bottom of your post. I’m so sorry about your friend Chris. 😦 I’m sending big virtual hugs your way. I had a few high school friends who were in the closet (we went to a conservative public school in the middle of the Bible Belt), but they all came out in college. And I went to an uber-liberal college where I think half the student body would have listed their sexuality s experimental! But even then, that cocoon was confined to campus; my gay friends couldn’t go on dates in town, or even walk around downtown holding hands, without a certain amount of fear. It angers me that in the 21st century it’s socially acceptable to be anti-homosexuality. It angers me that people’s quality of life is affected by who they are attracted to. But it makes me cry to think that teens feel their sexuality is such a problem that ending their lives is the only solution.

  12. I really do want to read that Darwin book. I’ve never really read a graphic novel, but this one just looks so beautiful. And I’ve always loved thumbing through those kind of books you mentioned- field guides to birds and insects and things. Even as an adult I like it!

  13. Michelle, The Graphic adaptation of it is just amazing!! I’m in love with it πŸ™‚ You really should check it out at some point. I think you’d enjoy it! Tender Morsels is truly an amazing book…finished it today and lets just say it’ll be tough to find a better book this year!

    Steph, I’m sorry you didn’t like Tender Morsels 😦 It was a bit harsh at times, but I think that’s what I really loved about it. It was honest. Those things that she addressed are harsh…they’re ugly and mean and cruel and harsh. I can see that it’s not a book for everyone though. But it definitely is one for me! And I loved it. We finally disagree! LOL. I don’t understand that type of hate either Steph 😦 I wish it didn’t exist 😦 And I am feeling better today! Thanks πŸ™‚

    Nymeth, Thanks for the hugs πŸ™‚ We talked a little about my thoughts on the ending on twitter, but to sum it up, I thought it was very bittersweet. I was happy with the ending…very happy for all of the characters, but I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. And I just wanted to give Liga a big hug!!! Oh God I love that book!!!

    Vivienne, Same here…it’s sad that people still do have to live lives that aren’t true to what they want 😦 I am starting to feel better, and yes! You do have to read Tender Morsels!!!

    Deslily, Well, you’re not making me too ecstatic to read The Silmarillion right now :p Yay…rocks and trees >> I never knew that David and your brother were partners! How did I not know that? I’ve begun too many books! But I finished Tender Morsels today, so now I’m down to just three :p

    Staci, That was actually before the cough syrup believe it or not :p I had just been in bed all day so I think I just had a super amount of energy all pent up! You really need to read Tender Morsels!! Its such a fantastic book!!

    Debi, I got your email my dear and replied πŸ™‚ Love you!!

    Amanda, I’m enjoying reading everyone’s stories too. Thank you again for hosting this challenge. It’s such an important one! I get why that five page section disturbed you so much…it really disturbed me too…it just didn’t mess up the book for me. I don’t mind being disturbed :p

    Stephanie, I TOTALLY look forward to sick days too and really enjoyed my day in bed yesterday πŸ™‚ I’m right there with ya!

    Eva, It’s so perfect! And I agree with you 100% I’d love to see this book in rape crisis centers. Three cheers for Margo Lanagan!! My college wasn’t super liberal, but my group of friends in my first few years were just like your group of friends. Totally open in their sexuality. But when it came to leaving campus, all of that changed. It’s sad how unacceptable all of that is…and you’re right, it’s so sad that SO MANY teens end up taking their lives as a result of the guilt they feel because of their sexuality. Shouldn’t that alone tell people that this is not a CHOICE!

    Jeane, The Darwin book is fascinating! You’d totally love it Jeane!! It’s right up your alley πŸ™‚

  14. Amen! I hate labels and don’t feel comfortable with any for myself. I’m not exactly straight, and I’m not a Kinsey 6 (although I’m in a same-sex relationship)… and why does it really matter? I’m ME and I love whom I love and that’s that.

  15. Oh, I’m sorry about your friend 😦

    Intoxicating – that is the perfect word to describe The Vintner’s Luck. And yes, I’m still stalled on it too.

    I haven’t read Tender Morsels, but it is on my list πŸ˜€

  16. I love your enthusiam and I love your sensitivity. You rock.

  17. I so agree with you about the labels. They can be useful if they help us understand one another, but not if they help us judge one another.

    My condolences on your friend. That tragedy is all too common among gay teens, as I’m sure you know. So, so sad. 😦

  18. You are not supposed to go to work when you are sick! That’s how other people get sick!! Okay, rant over. Hope you’re feeling better.

    “it astounds me that humanity itself sometimes forgets that we are all human”…me, too. Why do people always have to insist that their way is the right way? I just don’t get it. I wish everyone was as accepting and loving as you are!

  19. That is awful about your high school friend. I hate to hear those stories. I really want the world to get better in that area. It’s such an important thing…people are people. I don’t get why others can’t see that either. Nice post. Feel better!

  20. I feel so bad just by hearing the story about your friend. I never personally know somebody who take his/her own life. I can’t imagine if I do.

  21. I am sorry about the loss of your friend. That is heart-wrenching. 😦 And thank you for the wonderful post.

    And I am SO intrigued by the graphic adaptation of The Origin of the Species!

  22. […] through, when I just put it down. But while I was reading that book, I came across this post at Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, and found about a graphic adaptations of Darwin’s book. […]

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