The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–and How to Make the Most of them Now

The defining decade

My dad asked, “you actually read books that talk about that stuff?”

I nodded. “Of course…”

We were referring to Meg Jay’s book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now, a book that obviously falls into the genre of Self-Help and Personal Development. I wanted something I could read during my business trip to Virginia with some much needed guidance because

  • I had never flown solo before.
  • I had never done a week long interview for any kind of job before.

To say the least, I was stressed. The Defining Decade kept things in perspective for me, helped remind me that the overwhelming thing I was doing wasn’t crazy but actually good for me, my mind, and career.

The introduction put me at ease. It wasn’t a guide of how you should be living, which, admittedly, is a problem a lot of us feel in our twenties, that we’re expected to reach something at a certain point. We see our friends with successful careers or they’re getting married and going on to visit the baby factory. And Facebook doesn’t make this any easier, subjecting us to Instagram photos of our friends’ ostensible perfect lives, forgetting that said friend is probably sleep deprived from spending all night with a crying baby, unbalanced between career and family life, or struggling with their self-worth because the last time they probably had a true minute alone was before the mom turned into a human incubator (don’t worry, I’m not planning on having children.)

What really grabbed my attention was Jay’s emphasis on young adults putting their lives on hold with the lag causing long-term consequences. It’s one of the things my own dad tried to instill in me when I was in my earlier twenties, advice I ignored partially because of Depression (because, really, who thinks about a 401K when you’re suicidal?) and the other thinking that the future wasn’t a real thing. The future was just something you thought about but never could engage with since it felt like a galaxy, far, far away. You could only live in the present, which I interchangeably treated as ‘living in the moment.’ The funny part? I was not that person in college.

I was always working towards something with the end goal feeling abstract but shiny and full of lots of potential. I felt secure when I was working towards my degree. No matter how terrible my commencement speech was (he might as well have been a loan shark), everything made sense and felt like things were falling into place. When I received my diploma, I blithely walked down the stairs, not a thought in my head of the future.

We end up becoming desensitized to the word future, printed on every career brochure and banner, crammed into commencement speeches and counseling talks, using the term at least a 100 times; the familiarity of the word, its constant presence on campus, and the very idea that since you’re in college you’re already working towards your future, makes us immune to the depths of its meaning, Then college ends and the nice, contained space where you knew where you were going is gone and you feel like you’re navigating with a broken compass.

Being stuck in limbo, whether it’s your career or love life, is lethargically miserable; it just StuckCatis. Conveying it to family and friends who seem to have their lives all figured out is worse because you can’t really talk to them without spilling out every thought in your head and leaving them to pick through the rubble of all your what-if future ambitions. If you don’t have a plan within a certain time frame, then comes the advice. Even if it’s coming from a place of good intentions, it’s still frustrating and often comes off as condescending. Of course you’ve updated your resume, checked out that firm, talked to that guy, volunteered at that sheltered, contacted that old boss of yours for a recommendation letter, etc.  Chances are that whatever they think you should do is probably something you’ve already tried before, the impulse to yell or rip their hair from their roots suddenly not sounding so crazy.

Jay’s book recounts her sessions with twenty-somethings trying to find what they want out of life. The pieces will generally resonate with most twenty-somethings who feel lost or don’t feel like they’re living up to their potential, but the content is not formulaic. She’s not telling everyone that getting married and having children equates to instant gratification. Having goals toward the future tends to feel more self-satisfying and enables you to pursue other things in life.

She discounts the myth that our twenties are throw away years, the idea that, because we’re young, we have all the time in the world to do things that have no effect on the future (if you’re about to board a flight to Europe—just ignore this and do your thing.) The problem occurs that after leaving college that twenty-somethings treat the present as dislocated time, the impression that things now are temporary  and they’ll magically change.

They don’t.

Jay doesn’t lecture with ‘get a job’ but supports with evidence and statistics of people leading more satisfied lives when their working towards goals. Much of the book contains individualized stories involving twenties who are indecisive, incredibly afraid of choosing the wrong path, avoiding making families because of their own damaged lives, not networking enough because their safe in their small groups, lacking discipline to stay in a job that will lead to other opportunities (been there,) working a job they hate, and just not engaging with the consequences of delaying plans for a later date (waiting till your forties to have a child for instance.) This book primarily discusses issues about pursuing goals and adjusting to adulthood, which I know many of us tend to see as a graveyard of dreams but it’s not.

With all that said, the book tends to overlook circumstantial issues influenced by ethnicity, economics, and sexual orientation. She points out, however, that those issues can fill a book by itself, which I sincerely hope she gets around to writing. The book also has the problem of not covering other life alternatives such as choosing not to marry or never having children.

The book is written for twenty-somethings, not to the parents trying to get their twenty-somethings to move out of their house. It maturely speaks to twenty-somethings despondent or lost in their lives, but provides the needed incentive to go out and change things.

You don’t have to feel like you’re a kid stuck on the high board at the pool with everyone’s eyes trained on you, waiting for you to make a choice (based off a true story.) It gets better.

.

Dear Patient Readers: Personal Growth Corner

Dear Patient Readers,

On February 24, I expressed that I would be taking a week off from writing any posts to deal with the imbalanced, brain chemicals that were interfering from my actual living. It’s now March 14, nineteen days after I said that. I’m acutely aware that this is more than a week.

Besides the Mt. Olympia Low that I suffered, I got sick and guess how I got sick? Yup. By not taking care of myself. To summarize two weeks of misery: fever, no appetite, smoker’s cough, and saturnine. And to no surprise, I had another Low because lying in bed for four days and watching even more Gilmore Girls (my wheelhouse) is a 100% guarantee that you will feel like shit and declare that you’re just meat expiring.

Something interesting did happen while I was recovering. I was accepted into the English graduate program in Western Washington University, the fat bold lettering of CONGRATULATIONS louder than the thrumming of blood and pent up bodily fluids in my head.

I got in. Me. Erica Brown. I never actually believed I would. I’m not being humble or self-deprecating. These are feelings I carry with me to keep my hopes contained. I’ve been rejected before. I mean, if you haven’t, then you’re not a person. You’re an alien inhabiting your own planet (but, hey, let’s be friends!) But let me clarify: I’m not going to Western Washington University. I’m not enrolling into their English Graduate program. I’ve decided not to go.

Before everyone gasps and thinks I wasted a great deal of energy and time on this, I don’t think so. I did something scary. I went after something with a very high chance of being rejected. The last time I did that was never. I’ve avoided programs because of this fear. I bowed out of going to an Ivy League school because of the pass or fail admission process. I changed majors to avoid the pass or fail exit portfolio (but turns out, this worked in my favor because I’m actually a better writer than an artist.) I’ve lived under this stiffening pressure of the exclusive need to succeed because failure was like the roof and floor collapsing all at once. I’d have to start over. Rethink all my choices. Rebuild that stupid roof and floor to have a place to stand again. I’ve always been perceived as this person with their shit together, an adult who says what’s on her mind, calm, abnormally impassive, but generally knew what she wanted out of life. Psh, please. I’m 27, folks. I’m talented, artsy, dog lover, and an amazing baker, but I seriously am not some kind of prophet of my own life. I’m figuring stuff out too. While I love the idea of going to English grad school—that’s about it. My support team (who I want to thank because they had to listen to me for the last week flip flop on this decision) has insisted that I’m smart, which I am, and how well I would do in grad school, the people I would meet, and the things I would get to study, but there are so many things I want to do that aren’t contingent on earning a degree, which, by the way, has a scary paucity of academic jobs for anyone interested in being a Professor. I’ve spent most of my life admittedly sheltered. The summer I graduated high school, I went to community college and then to the university. I worked two part-time jobs during school and in the summer. I made just enough to pay for gas and groceries. I had no life except school, and, frankly, to throw myself back into that doesn’t align with what I feel now. I still think education is important, but I was cocooning myself in it and preventing myself from experiences. I don’t have the passion or fortitude for the academics and that’s okay. I’ve got stamina for other things. Writing and reading are my great loves and having an M.A. isn’t some kind of icing to me, but, if it were, it would be worth $60,000, plus interest. It’s just padding for something I really don’t feel I need. I’ve learned more outside in the ‘real’ world than I’ve learned in school.

When I finally realized this, everything in me snapped back into place. My gut was happy again—eh, sort of. Did I mention that I was sick during this whole deliberation? McDonalds. Wendys. I waited another several days to make sure it was the upset stomach talking.

Thank you for your patience dear readers and for putting up with some of my narcissism. Now I’ll get back to writing that post because this has definitely left me red in the cheeks, chagrined from the late revelation. After all, I am a book blogger. Yay books!!

Sincerely,

Your Local Resident Book Hermit

 

 

 

Mental Health Hiatus: Winter IS the Worst

06834a22df917090f8576c4a9274bc4b

Greetings Everyone,

I’m not a fan of winter. It’s cold. It’s terrible driving weather. And while snow is charming, in its pure white form, when it melts, it’s ugly, and then you have mud and rocks and leftover ice that looks like broken teeth. Winter and I only get along when I’m indoors buried under a mountain of blankets and wrapped snuggly on top of my bed binge watching for the 10th time Gilmore Girls, which isn’t the smartest counter measure or strategy when suffering a Low.

As I’ve mentioned before in my previous posts, I suffer from Clinical Depression. For the last month or so, during this fine winter we’re having, I’ve been hit with some major Lows so strong it’s completely thrown off my emotional circuitry, i.e., I’ve been struggling to feel anything. I’ve felt like an eyeball most days. While I mentioned lying in bed, I happen to be one of those “well-functioning” Depressed people, who can still pay their bills, clean their house, and cook their meals—but working out, reading books, and even writing are obstacles for me at the moment. Whenever I try to write anything, it feels forced or someone else’s voice is hijacking my words. This has made writing reviews difficult and, yes, reading.

Here’s some good news: I am still reading at a walking pace. I am writing, evident from this short piece.

And here’s the bad news: I have no book review or book related topic for you guys today. Besides my limited emotional capacity that I just described, All The Bright Places was way, way, way, WAY, too close to home for me and brought up all these bags of feelings stuffed with tears, guilt, stupidity, remorse, and regret; yet, I feel awake again and feel closer to my old self.

To make a long story short, I’m taking some time for my mental health this week. I didn’t want to post nothing like I did two week ago. I will be back next week with a review hopefully on Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, which, despite my emotional response to it, is really a book I think everyone should read at least once (but I’m biased.)

Stay frosty and thank you guys for your patience!

Bests,

Your Local Resident Book Hermit

Considering Trigger Warnings and Our Biggest Offense

trigger warnings

Even though it’s only been three years since I graduated from college, so much has changed. I read works like Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Cruse’s Stock Rubber Baby, and Keat’s “Leda and The Swan,” and engaged with my peers in heated discussions about these books with topics on rape, sexual exploitation, race, and bigotry. When we signed up for these courses, we were expected to read the works and participate in class discussions. Professors didn’t warn us of the content (okay, they may have offhandedly said that we’d be hating the world for a week) but they did provide a syllabus listing what we would be reading. If we wanted to know anything further, we’d research it. I went in blind on all my assigned readings, never knowing what I would have to talk about or how it would affect me until my eyes found the words lying on the page. No one challenged the material even if they didn’t agree with it, not in an academic setting anyway. So much as changed.

Trigger warnings, the term originating from the psychological term ‘trigger’ that dates as far back as World War I but found digitally in the back alleys of the internet on feminist forums, are devices warning of explicit sexual violence or graphic material contained in a piece of literature. Lately everyone’s jumped on the band wagon of inserting ‘TW’ before everything’s written, when in truth is excessive and thoughtless; yet in the academic setting, where students are taught critical theories and are exposed to unnerving content to prepare them for the ‘real world,’ using trigger warnings is tricky since professors never know what might trigger someone, but we’re now witnessing students opposing material that they deem offensive for whatever personal reason, thus, raising complicated questions about learning, cultural sensitivity, and censorship in colleges and universities.

The use of trigger warnings are exaggerated due to misinformed definitions and purposes. TW are devices that anyone can use but don’t necessarily apply to everyone. They’re intended to alert people who have undergone significant trauma and experience physical symptoms that hinder their daily activity. The confusion arises in people’s understanding of people who have suffered trauma; most, unless they’ve personally witnessed it, don’t believe someone could experience physical symptoms when the issue is mental. Although there are cases where someone will be unable to engage with the material due to the severity of the trauma, TW are implemented to better aid in a person’s recovery and shouldn’t be treated as a permanent evasive approach.  Gradual exposure to the content may help combat the physiological symptoms. Trigger warnings enable those to prepare themselves to partake in rational discussions versus having their own intense experience impair them.

While inserting ‘TW’ is mostly innocuous (but frustrating to see used incorrectly,) there are some people who abuse the intention behind them for their own reasons, creating a sheltered culture of intolerance and privilege. One recent example of this occurred at Duke University where some of the freshmen students objected to reading Alison Blechdel’s Fun Home as it compromised their Christian beliefs, but as Dianna Anderson wrote, “one is a physiological response; the other is a choice in the practice of religious belief.” The Atlantic released an article “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which has been circulating and igniting the contentious debate of cultural sensitivity demonstrated in how much we apply TWs in our everyday lives or at how often we hear of students’ protests over written material. Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt write on the ostensible “movement…arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense,” and applying the term microaggressions, defined as the verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or. unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their. Although a dubious and perhaps an exaggerated claim, the article does point to some less than romantic ideas about academia.

From an economic standpoint, universities and colleges are places of business that try to maintain a constant flow of revenue; they can’t run on lofty ideals alone. Governing education falls more upon administrators than the professors and one of the factors influencing administrations are the students, i.e. the customers. If enough students ban together to have material removed from the course, then the administration, even when the students’ protest are unfounded, will more than likely submit and have the professors pick another topic, with the professors, afraid they might lose their jobs, do little to pushback. What’s arguably needed now is some pushback. Classrooms provide the appropriate context to discuss diverse and complicated issues. The academics aren’t a hodgepodge of obstinacy but a place fostering worldly perception of challenging ideas and reinventing ideas of culture. Having your own beliefs is acceptable but obstructive when absorbing the material that could possibly enlighten us.

I imagine I will continue to see stories pop up of students banning together to have a novel removed from class because it offends them—but that action is offensive in itself.  None of these works like the ones above are easy to talk about, but I absorbed them with the kind of necessary discomfort that we hold in us, a kind of vague unknowing feeling that sounds like a reluctant ‘maybe’ and scares us  from ditching the life map and driving. Staying in our comfort zone is safe but self-restricting stunts intellectual growth and maturity. We shortchanged ourselves and others.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

23846013Please be advised that there are spoilers peppered throughout this review, and I would feel terrible if your eyes dropped on spoiler bomb. SpoilersspoilersSPOILERS! You’ve now been warned four times.

In Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, the highly anticipated sequel to The Young Elites, we’re offered questions about morality and allegiance. Delivered with heart-racing prose, Society is a crazily paced story with non-stop shocks and twists. When we last saw Adelina Amouteru , she had been exiled by The Daggers and on the run with her sister Violet after Adelina inadvertently killed Enzo. Adelina’s bleakness prior to Society is different than her current situation. The Young Elites was thematically defined by its morose protagonist trying to find happiness by gaining acceptance via The Daggers. Society doesn’t harbor any of that plastic happiness. Make no mistake, Adelina now wants revenge which means inflicting as much collateral damage as possible to secure her place on Kenettra’s throne.

The characterization of Adelina is significant. Per Lu’s warning, Adelina undergoes a drastic change leading her to murder and manipulate those around her. This is hardly a surprise, however. Adelina’s choices are reactive from people who have ostensibly wronged her, and though she still intends to go after these people, her convictions have drastically changed to include the entire kingdom; hence, she’s transformed from an angry victim to a conqueror, or so it may seem. Adelina continues to assign blame to everyone in hopes it will somehow pacify her. Bitterness and self-pity tartly remain nestled in her psyche from the trauma incurred from years of neglect, abuse, and until recently, abandonment. Insofar the character development has primarily focused on Adelina’s agency and her crippling despair, having it burn like napalm and destroying everything it touches. Adelina has yet to come to terms with her pain and is using her vendetta as a distraction. This much is obvious to Violet but it doesn’t stop Adelina from turning on her too, but by this point in the novel, we know what to expect and the events leading up to the novel’s conclusion become prosaic.

Although Violet is one of the least-liked characters, she is more nuanced when compared to Adelina. Violet doesn’t fit into any kind of archetype nor is she an antagonist.  She’s credulous but not to a fault and can recognize when things begin to spiral out of control. Violet’s support of Adelina is tantamount to her guilt for neglecting Adelina all those years, yet she may very well be following her sister due to familial obligations. We don’t know why Violet does what she does, which makes us suspect there’s more to her. She’s a multifaceted character whose identity is separate from Adelina’s. They’re sisters who don’t automatically fall in line with whatever the other sister’s motives are, which gives Violet agency.

Society misses with its myriad of supporting characters by having most of them relegated to fodder for Adelina to use later to demonstrate how far she’s willing to go to get what she wants. Surviving Adelina’s dark wake is Magiano.  He initially brought more to the story with his gambit-like character but loses most of this once he falls for Adelina. And Raffaele —observant, gentle, seductive and merciless—functions mostly as a pretty face, his predominant role involving seducing the Queen. Other members of the Dagger society are reduced to a veneer of camaraderie with their connection with Adelina portrayed superficially. So much is removed from the supporting characters that when Adelina takes them down, we can’t muster up the energy to grieve for them.

Society’s twist undermines Adelina character development and is egregious to the novel’s themes. For Adelina, deteriorating mental health is a side effect of excessively using her power. Once this knowledge is learned, it strips away all Adelina’s agency. She’s not in control or soberly making decisions. By introducing this twist, it consequently makes Adelina a helpless victim who can’t save herself anymore, which means someone will have to save her (different definitions of ‘save’ may apply.) What I loved while reading Society was the idea of having a strong, female protagonist, who may not have been the most liked or the most charitable, choose a darker path to reach her goals, but that doesn’t hold true anymore. She is more or less someone suffering from Schizophrenia. Her condition is sabotaging and influencing her choices, leaving us more with questions about how to treat people suffering from mental illness and if they’re absolved of criminal responsibility, a contentious topic right now in my country.

I look forward to seeing the events play out in the next and last book of the trilogy. With only Raffaele and Violet knowing of the side effect, I wonder how they will handle this information and if it will change their opinion of Adelina. Raffaele wouldn’t hesitate if it came down to killing Adelina because of his loyalties to Enzo; Raffaele may even think he’s killing her out of mercy. But I see the final confrontation occurring where it started: with the sisters. Adelina has always compared herself to Violet and seen her as a source of misery. Violet, who’s been privileged by beauty and favoritism,  must also come to terms with what’s happened since, as demonstrated in Society, not talking about it made Adelina lash out even more.  Adelina may just be following the same path as the kings before her, but for now, she sits alone on her thrown with nothing but her crown and whispers.

 

 

Post Book Hiatus: Ongoing

Hiatus

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Remember when I said that I would have a post ready by November 25? Yeah, that clearly didn’t happen. My brain short circuited several times this last week/weekend, what with the turkey, the family, and the cluster-fuck of people shopping along with maintaining a poor diet and exercise routine that extended for several days and eventually sent me spiraling down a deep, cavernous Low, which I’ve only recently recovered from. It wasn’t until Sunday that I realized, “oh, it’s Sunday…which usually proceeds sometime after Wednesday…”

Even if I had remembered, I wouldn’t have had anything to offer. I’m still chipping away at the lovely mess called ‘writing.’ The book review I originally wrote on Marie Lu’s The Rose Society was just plain awful. It sort of read like someone pumped with adrenaline who couldn’t muster anything except a cacophony of squeals and squeaks from a kid going to Disney world for the first time. I wouldn’t subject anyone to that kind of torture.

Now that I have submitted and completed my applications for graduate school (yay!), I have nothing except time…sort of. Let’s just say that my free time has been spent catching up on other things that I’ve neglected…such as binge walking the premiere of Marvel’s Jessica Jones (it was amazzzzzing!), the new season of Once Upon A Time (kill Zelena for the greater good already!), Supergirl (verdict is still out on this show), and The Man in the High Castle (only two episodes but I like it so far). There’s also Anime like Owarimonogatari, Steins Gate, and other shows I’m screening at the moment. While I realize this is a lot of TV watching, I figure slacking off on my book reading for a week isn’t going to kill me, but it’ll be the death penalty if I continue to watch TV for the rest of my life, for my bones and brain.

What I can offer are updates on things to look forward to in the next several weeks, however.  Post will resume on Wednesday, December 9.

Coming Soon!!!

My Week with Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince Part 6

Trigger Warnings and Microaggressions

Book Review: Marie Lu’s The Rose Society

Book Review: Alison Brosh’s Hyperbole and Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

 My Week with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 7

Likeable Characters: Does it Matter?

Unlikeable characters picIn Paula Hawkins Girl on the Train, almost every character falls under the category of unlikeable. Gillian Flynn’s characters in Gone Girl and Dark Places evokes a similar, chronic umbrage that even their worst personality traits and immoral choices cannot compensate for; yet, after the chaos of voluntarily dropping ourselves into these characters’ circumstances along with knowing the well-founded and pitiful reason for these characters being who they are, the vast majority of readers cannot pull themselves away from the all consuming discussion: were the characters likeable?

I was dismissive of this topic at first and never put much emphasis in it. I still consider it a short-sighted way to gauge a book’s merit, and I think it can act as a form of discrimination, especially when people use the scapegoat of not liking  a book because they weren’t able to identify with any of the characters. When did we start treating these characters like celebrity friends?

Our purpose in reading has changed. Although why we read has its own myriad of answers, reading still cultivates a feeling of empathy, but when we remove the likeability from our characters, it seems to affect how we read the text. People usually don’t feel as generous or sympathetic toward a character doing terrible things regardless if people are well informed of the character’s motivations and circumstances, which says a mouthful of what people are willing to spare in terms of compassion.

Then again, reading isn’t just satisfying our own moral compasses and egos but a way to study the spectrum of humanity. As anyone who happens to turn on the morning news or has had their share of hardships, we can be hollow, cruel, and vicious creatures, which can be difficult for many to read. Some days leave you feeling like a hopeless cynic who wants to do nothing but hermit. And while you can gain so much from being exposed to this material, it’s not what a majority of people want to read. As the Guardian writes, people have an “appetite for easy, unthreatening fiction.”

In the last few years, our culture has undergone economic changes. Despite the recession, people are still significantly more well off than they would have been fifty years ago. Finances, health, and well-being have increased, which subsequently, has fostered a belief, attributed much to the new generation, that places an emphasis on self-worth. Millennials want to do work that is fulfilling. They want to know that the work they’re doing is making a difference somehow, but they also want to know that they’re not going to spend every waking hour in an office doing a monotonous job, not after the sobering realization that a perfect education cannot promise anything. People are still seeking employment. Some are working for positions they’re overqualified with salaries below minimum wage. Our healthcare system has problems and isn’t as affordable despite its name. Even though things are improving, several people are still struggling.  There’s a tendency to forgo the challenging books with unlikeable character and prefer characters they can relate to and inspire them. It’s a healthier way to self-medicate. Having a likeable character in a story isn’t necessarily bad in terms of characterization, but as Claire Messud puts it after a reporter blithely asked her about a certain prickly female character in her book, “[People] read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t ‘Is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘Is this character alive?’”

Our criteria and rhetoric has become heavily biased in terms of how we rate and appreciate characters in books. In a society that already has in place a double standard system, with unlikeable female character tending to be judged more than their male counterparts, our own impartiality limits our exposure and engenders the prolonged problems of not having enough diverse characters.

The other issue stemming from only generating the likeable characters will result in trite material. As Zoe Heller argues, “to insist that the fault always lies with our shortcomings as readers is to attribute to literature an infallibility it does not possess.”  A likeable character is a pleasing person and we’re essentially creating a nice version of Frankenstein’s monster that is an aesthetically, well-behaved, non-ambiguous character. If we seek fault, then it’s part of the travesty of not wanting to find mix-matched parts to assemble.

Whether we like or dislike a character shouldn’t affect our final verdict. It’s actually distracting us from having more meaningful, complicated discussions. This is not to say that you should kill your feelings just yet. They’re a great plateau to jump off from that can lead into the more thought-provoking conversations.

If we simply regard a character based on our overall impression of them, we can easily end up being misinformed and end up misunderstanding the people in our own lives. Characters are, of course, fictional, contrived from the inner creative circuitry of the writer’s mind. If nothing else, we can find more than just entertainment injected into the ink: we can find ourselves, people, strangers, another world, the new, the ugly, secrets, and lies.

Post Blog Post: If you think I’m exaggerating or aren’t taking me seriously about the scrutiny of female characters, just Google: unlikeable characters in books. Then click on ‘Images.’