I am your Sunshine Blogger

And you are mine.

So, the Sunshine Blogger award is given to bloggers by other bloggers who believe that the recipients spread sunshine. Imagine how surprised and thrilled I was to be given this award by Rachael Corbin at The Crooked Pen. Thanks, Rachael!

The Sunshine Blogger award is also a tag. If you get tagged, you must …

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  5. List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

So, Numbers 1 and 5 down, 2 through 4 to go.

Here were Rachael’s questions:

  1. What was the most transformative reading experience you have ever had?

I am going to leave out those times when I’m reading some passage in the Bible and all of a sudden something jumps out and punches me in the gut.  Or when it crawls into my head and becomes lembas that I feed on throughout the day. Some of you readers will know what I mean.

Other than that, my most transformative reading experience has been ‘Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.  I read it in college.  The tortured friendship between Orual and Psyche in the book closely mirrored a relationship that had been toturing me through the previous several years … though of course with a much more tragic yet satisfying ending.  Anway, it helped me see that some of the problems we were having were not purely my fault nor purely hers, but built into the nature of reality.  Also, Faces is just packed with insights and it’s set in an ancient pagan culture, which I love.  C.S. Lewis is under-appreciated for his ability to write horror, and there is plenty of that in this book.

2. What is a book you wish someone would write?

To be honest, it’s probably already been written.

I’m a sucker for well-researched fiction set in ancient cultures.  So I would love to read a book set in the heyday of the Anasazi … or Carthage during the Punic Wars … or a Noble Savage book where the noble savage is one of the Gauls during Caesar’s Gallic Wars … or What Was Really Going with Stonehenge.

I have seen people take a stab at some of these, but never as thoroughly as I’d like.  But, again, they are probably out there.  I just haven’t discovered them yet.

For example, Bjorn Andreas-Bull Hansen has written some novels about Vikings.  I think these are exactly the Viking novels I’ve always wanted to read … but they don’t exist in a language that I know! Aargh! (By the way, go to his site. Sign the petition to get his books translated into English.)

But I have, in my possession, waiting to be read, Pompeii by Robert Harris and People of the Silence (about the Anasazi) by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and Michael W. Gear.  I have high hopes for both these books.

3. Where is somewhere you really want to go, but have only read about in a book?

It would be shorter to list places that don’t match that description.

I guess my current #1 place would be Mongolia.  I had to research it for my first book, and it looks so beautiful.  It also resembles my home state a bit in the sense of being vast, treeless, high-altitude, and far inland. And I love the herding culture.  The food is gross though.  (Follow that link and scroll down to the heading “Exotic Nomad Foods.”) Also, my kids are extremely interested in the Mongolian Death Worm.

4. If you could have a book re-written, which book would it be?

1984.  I know, I know, the ending is integral to the book itself, but … still. I would like to see Winston hold firm at the end.  Or find out that Julia had.

5. What is a book you dislike that everyone else loves?

1984 and The Great Gatsby.  (Or, I guess people love these?)

6. If you had the power to bring any mythical creature to life, which creature would it be?

The Mongolian Death Worm.

Just kidding.  I don’t know.  Maybe Grendel so I could find out whether he was really a T-Rex.

7. Where is your ideal reading spot?

When I am reading, any spot becomes ideal.  (Car, bus seat, middle of a party …)  But I prefer to be comfy (plushy chair or sofa) with a view of the outdoors and some place to set my coffee.

8. What is the most disappointing book you have ever read and why?

OK, I am going to pick on one particular book here, but it’s representative of a whole category of disappointing books.

The Sign by Raymond Khoury, 2009.   This book was disappointing for many different reasons (see my full review of it here).  But the main reason was this: it promised mystical adventures but delivered only international intrigue. 

It is not the only book that has this problem.  It’s just the only one that I happen to be able to remember the title of.

9. What is your favorite genre of book and why?

Ancient mysteries/historical fiction set in ancient cultures.  But I don’t read a lot of this genre for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s kind of hard to find.  Too often, purported “ancient mysteries” books end up being modern thrillers.  (See above.)  And when I do find a book that scratches this itch, I have to be careful.  If I’m writing my own version of this genre at the time, I don’t necessarily want to be pulled into another world until my own has gelled.

So what I end up reading a lot is mysteries, especially mysteries with an anthropological bent like those by the wonderful Tony Hillerman.

As for why the “ancient mysteries” genre is my favorite (also why I like my mysteries to be anthropological), I can do no better than to quote the following poem from C.S. Lewis, titled, “To Certain Writers of Science Fiction”:

Why did you lead us on like this

Light-year on light-year, through the abyss,

Building, as if we cared for size,

Empires that covered galaxies,

If at the journey’s end we find

The same old stuff we left behind …

Well-worth Tellurian stories of

Crooks, spies, conspirators, or love,

Whose setting might as well have been

The Bronx, Montmarte, or Bethnal Green?

Why should I leave this green-floored cell,

Roofed with blue air, in which we dwell,

Unless, beyond its guarded gates,

Long, long desired, the unearthly waits:

Strangeness that moves us more than fear,

Beauty that stabs with tingling spear,

Or wonder, laying on the heart

That fingertip at which we start

As if some thought too swift and shy

For reason’s grasp had just gone by?

10. If you could make one book required reading, which book would it be and why?

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton.  I almost listed this one as my transformative book because it set me free to love paganism while still remaining a Christian.  I think everyone should read it because there is a ton of misunderstanding out there about the pagan roots of all cultures, and this book clears that up in such a beautiful, lyrically written way even though it’s nonfiction.   

One major qualifier.  Chesterton frequently lapses into anti-Semitism and it’s really jarring, not to mention inconsistent with his usual generous way of viewing the world.  (TEM was published in 1925, before the Holocaust.)  Also, as this book was written almost 100 years ago, Chesterton can come off as overly focused on the West and a bit insensitive and ignorant about non-Western cultures.  Nevertheless, his insights about paganism can be fruitfully applied to any traditional culture, and I think they ought to be.

Other than that, I heartily recommend this book.  I am thinking about doing a Hallowe’en post that relies heavily upon it.

11. What is your favorite bookish ship? (noncanonical and crack-ships are acceptable answers)

Haha, so at first I was going to name the Dawn Treader from Voyage of the Dawn Treader because I don’t read a lot of sea stories …

For those who aren’t up on fan fiction terminology (as I barely am), a ship is when you imagine two characters from a book or books getting together as couple.  (Short for “relationship.”)  Non-canonical ships are pairings that didn’t happen in the original book or series.  “Crack” ships are pairings that you would have to be on crack to even think of.

I am not a big noncanonical shipper. I just enjoy the ships as they show up in the books.  But, I did always think that rather than going off to live with the dwarfs and eventually get kissed by the Prince, Snow White ought to have run off with the huntsman.

Now, here are my questions for you …

  1. What kinds of non-fiction are you most likely to read?
  2. What is your culture crush? If you are a book blogger, you must have at least one. But please feel free to list more than one.
  3. What one currently living writer would you most like to have lunch, a beer, or coffee with?  (Pastors count if they have written a good book or two. Bonus points if it’s a pastor you could have a beer with.)
  4. What genre do you think is not your favorite, but find yourself picking up again and again?
  5. Sex scenes: poetic, explicit, or none at all?
  6. Favorite animal protagonist from a book or series?
  7. Have you ever stopped identifying with the point-of-view character in a novel, and what caused it?
  8. Did you then finish the book, or put it down?
  9. Dream vehicle from real life or fiction.
  10. If you currently have a Work in Progress (or are pitching a recently finished one out), give us your one-sentence hook for it.
  11. Post a favorite poem or fragment of poetry. If you don’t read poetry, then song lyrics count.

By the way. Commenters, if one of these questions really pulls your chain, feel free to answer it in the comments.

The following bloggers are my sunshine:

Kathleen Rollins of Misfits and Heroes

R.S. Rook of The Rookery

David of The Warden’s Walk

Black Sheep of Not Sheep Minded

Jen of “Of Time Storms and Tourniquets”

Book Stooge

Ed Mooney of Ruinhunter

Devouring Books

Katie Jane Gallagher

Jaclyn of Tiny Ticky Tacky

Colin of ColinD.Smith.com

13 thoughts on “I am your Sunshine Blogger

  1. Ha, that was fun to read. As a little thing, if you ever tag people in the future, if you link to a page on their site, and they’re part of the wordpress system, they’ll get notified so you don’t have to go to every one and let them them know. It also provides easy access if someone who is visiting your site wants to check out the people you linked to.

    It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve done this particular tag, so I’ll see about getting it done this weekend and scheduling it for the next couple of weeks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oops, I did not know that. Thanks for the tip, and my apologies to all the WordPress bloggers who got notified double!

      A weekend would be pretty impressive turnaround time. I think it took me more than a month. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see your answers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really want to read till they have faces- I’ve heard such good things about it. Oh I’m curious about those Viking books- I hope they do get translated into English! I can understand not loving 1984 or Gatsby (especially because the endings for both are so depressing) though I do love both of them- but I’m generally okay with a more depressing/open ending. haha I also read that as ship as in boats- I’m not much of a non-canonical shipper either.
    Since you asked- the non fic I’m most likely to read is politics or psychology (occasionally a cross between the two) though I don’t read much non-fic in general (I should read more). As for sex scenes in books- it depends if I’m writing or reading- when it comes to reading: poetic, when it comes to writing: none at all. I think I’ve frequently stopped connecting/not connected with a pov character- but I think the most jarring thing will be if someone in a book breaks character to act as a mouthpiece for the author’s views (as a general rule) I think the most egregious example of this was long way to a small angry planet (which I’m frequently reminded of and makes me hiss through my teeth)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for answering the questions! I wanted to tag you, of course, and I want to hear EVERYBODY’s answers. But I figured you’d been tagged about a million times and so I tried to go for more obscure blogs (though most of them are not as obscure as my own).

      I was younger when I read Gatsby for the first time, and of course I hated it because of the lack of admirable characters and the intentionally oppressive atmosphere. Then, as an older person, I had to read it again and write some essays about it, and I came to appreciate certain things about it. The sense of foreboding doom and the juggernaut of justice that comes rolling toward Tom and Daisy, but hits Jay instead. The masterful use of symbolism. Also, being older I was more able to sympathize with the weaknesses of characters like Nick and Jay. So now, although it’s still not a pleasant read, I appreciate it as a brilliant work.

      I would probably have a similar reaction to 1984 if I could ever bring myself to read it again.

      Thanks for the input on sex scenes. Sometimes I accidentally write a short one and then wonder whether I should leave it in. (Tsk – characters! So hard to control!)

      I’ve never heard of the small angry planet book. The title is intriguing, but paired with your commentary, it already sounds like a rant!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah no worries- I’m so sporadic with tags, this way you actually get my answers 😉

        That does make sense- I know a lot of people that don’t like it for that reason as well. I’m okay with not liking any characters in a book and somehow still enjoying a story (as long as I just dislike them, not irritate me 😉 ) But I’m glad you’ve come to appreciate it 🙂

        hehe no worries- I’ve no strong aversion to them (just a preference for the poetic D H Lawrence style takes and an inability to write them myself 😉 )

        hehe definitely worth skipping that one!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Colin

    Thanks for the tag, Jennifer. I will try to respond to it soon.

    Have you read Gary Corby’s Athenian Mystery series, starting with THE PERICLES COMMISSION? The books are set in Ancient Greece and the lead character, Nicolaos, solves mysteries, usually at the request of his benefactor, Pericles. They are well-researched and (I think) very entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Colin! No, I have not seen that series, but they sound good. I know there are quite a few books out there set in Ancient Greece or a mythological version of same, including some YA series. There is also a recent literary novel about about Circe, which I need to get to.

      There is also a Roman murder mystery series. Can’t remember the title or author, but I’ve read one of them. Pretty brutal, of course.


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  6. I loved reading this! I’m sorry it took me so long to read it. I feel the same way about Great Gatsby (I even wrote a blog post about it) so it’s great to hear someone else didn’t enjoy it. I do like 1984, although it took me longer because, due to our frequent moves in my teen years, I was forced to read it not once, not twice, but THREE times. I’ve never read The Everlasting Man, but I’ll have to add it to my TBR list. It sounds fascinating and I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it. I had never heard of ‘Til We Have Faces either! I’m such a bad C.S. Lewis fan lol. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the visit, Rachel! Soon or late, whenever you read my posts, you make my day. And I really appreciate the tag. It was fun to do and made me feel like a real blogger. 🙂

      I do appreciate Gatsby as literature. I just don’t enjoy the oppressive atmosphere, even though I know it was intentional. When time allows, I’ll have to find your post about it and pile on … if I haven’t already (can’t remember).

      And that comment applies to 1984 too, I guess. I should probably re-read 1984, since it’s been about 25 years since I read it. I do get that it’s an important warning about propaganda/brainwashing/ top-down control of “reality” … but it’s really a horror show. Quite a bummer that you had to read it 3 times!

      ‘Til We Have Faces is not as well known as Lewis’s other works. I think it’s his hidden gem. Hope you enjoy it and The Everlasting Man.

      Liked by 1 person

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