The Adventures of Moving

It’s only three days into my fourth semester at LMU, and I’m already tired. However, this isn’t because any of my very interesting classes are particularly taxing, or because I’m loaded down with extracurricular activities. No, I’m all burnt out from what happened the week before school started: moving.

I didn’t move far away, not at all, and this move actually would have happened over the summer if circumstances would have cooperated a little bit better. My father’s job sometimes requires him to transfer offices and my family to switch locations accordingly, as it did once before when I was still in middle school. This time, his transfer took us a good few miles south of Harrogate to Knoxville, one of the closest cities to LMU. Many of my friends from school live here, as well as some of my extended family, and not to mention friends and acquaintances I met at local anime conventions. I was happy beyond words to find that we were finally moving, and flung myself into the process as soon as I could. Continue reading

“Where The Road Then Takes Me, I Cannot Tell…”

My dear readers, today, I write about a very emotional event, and am very glad that you can’t actually see me crying onto my keyboard.

If there’s anything I’ve associated with the beautiful season of winter over the past three years (besides the usual, like snow, the Solstice, my birthday…), it’s The Hobbit. Specifically, the Peter Jackson movie adaptations of The Hobbit, which have been released every mid-December since 2012, my senior year of high school. It’s gotten to the point where I can hardly imagine December coming without a new Middle-Earth movie…and now, this is the last one. Battle of the Five Armies marks the end of the trilogy, and this will presumably be the last ever live-action adaptation of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth universe as well (we’re running out of books, after all).

This particular chapter of a fandom that I’ve been in for almost a third of my life has come to a close. Continue reading

A Heart Made Fullmetal

Edward understands my addiction very well, it seems.

To my established readers, this may be obvious, and to my new readers, it will quickly become apparent: I am something of a bibliophile. I love reading, I love collecting books, I love merely being around books. Whenever I go to a bookstore with other people in tow, they always have to drag me out after about two or three hours, because if it were up to me I’d probably never leave. There’s an unmistakeable comfort in being surrounded by stories – and while I do love traditional literature, there’s no place that comfort is stronger than in the manga section.

This is the first in a small series of posts that will be analyzing my favorite graphic novels, manga or otherwise, but manga in particular has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve loved Japanese graphic novels for years, since middle school at the very least. I started out reading things like Naruto, Pokémon Adventures, and Tokyo Mew Mew, mainstream action series or ones geared toward a younger audience. In my freshman year of high school, however, I was introduced to my first “grown-up” manga, one that would (at the risk of sounding cliché) change my life: Fullmetal Alchemist, written by Hiromu Arakawa. Continue reading

You Are What You Read

When I moved from my (incredibly cozy) dorm at LMU back to my nearby home at the end of this past semester, my first thought upon trying to get settled in was: wow, my room is a MESS. I hadn’t lived in it regularly for quite a few months, after all; clutter that I couldn’t be bothered to tidy up had gradually piled up during my weekend visits, along with a thin layer of dust. The state of my desk drawers and closet were despicable enough, but the mess in my room that made me cringe the most was my bookshelf. It took me a while to get around to the task, but once I had cleared away the old papers, empty binders, and barely-used sketchbooks that I had left there once upon a time, I turned to the actual books themselves. Some were new, some were older, some never read, and some…missing.

In my mind, at least, the books I’ve read are a way of tracking how I’ve evolved as a person. Having so many chunks of the metaphorical narrative, at least more recently, was a bit disconcerting. I decided to bring a few of the books I had long since stored away back out into the open air, and a few trips to the attic later, I had a newly-organized bookshelf and a trip down memory lane before my eyes.

10252080_772932569391822_1754344186425947344_nThe top shelf is now filled with nothing but manga volumes, manga magazines, and other such graphics novels, as became tradition in my middle school years once I began my ongoing love affair with Japanese media. After carefully categorizing them by genre or author (everything by my favorite manga artist CLAMP go together, for instance, regardless of genre), it became apparent that my collection is very sporadic – I only have two full series’ collected, for example – but every volume I have holds a very special memory of one kind or another. I’m very reluctant to part with even the manga that I hardly read anymore; it would almost be like giving away a part of my body. It also became obvious that my collection of American comics is…lacking, to say the least. The Star Trek: The Original Series and Captain America: Winter Soldier omnibuses are the extent of my collection.

10320582_772932572725155_7729735636449508993_nThe next section was the easiest to organize, as it’s the genre I own the most of: fantasy. This shelf contains many stories of its own: a newly-bought omnibus of The Chronicles of Narnia replacing the old falling-apart scholastic paperbacks I once owned, a mass market paperback of A Clash of Kings sitting on its own since the friend I lent A Game of Thrones to still hasn’t returned it. A more recent addition, The Mortal Instruments series, stands one book short of a full set since my pre-order of the final volume won’t ship until approximately November (and it’s driving me insane because I need to know what’s going to happen to Alec and Magnus!). The Lord of the Rings refuses to stop staring at me, reminding me that I haven’t finished it yet; Harry Potter is no better, nearly begging me to reread it and make up for all the time we lost back in elementary school when my parents wouldn’t allow me to read it. Perhaps the most colorful and nostalgic series stands out among the rest: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, all gorgeous hardcovers that I bought to replace the worn-through paperbacks I began reading in middle school and devoured again and again, entranced by the dreamlike places and the characters’ enduring charm and hope. I definitely want that story of a boy and his dragon to last, if no others do.

The next shelf down is full of stories I’ve relived many of times, stories that haven’t finished, and stories that haven’t even started. This is my “miscellaneous” collection of books separated into genres that I don’t have enough of to warrant their own shelf: science fiction, historical and realistic fiction, drama, mythology, you get the picture. The most prominent feature is my extensive collection of The Babysitters’ Club series, which had been hiding in my attic for most of my high school years; I was scarcely without one of those battered 80s-era paperbacks during middle school (perhaps it was these books that gave me my in-school reputation of being an incurable bookworm, a role I eagerly embraced). Three novels of a six-part series of teenage spy books sits waiting to be finished, along with scarcely opened copies of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Le Morte d’Arthur that we had meant to read in my senior English class but never had the time to get through completely. What I like to call my “social justice” fiction books are grouped together: the children-fighting-to-the-death epics Battle Royale and The Hunger Games trilogy, and the massive Les Misérables, put together because they all made me realize just how much I empathize with revolutionary idealists who fight for social freedom and equality.

10313818_772932576058488_8910147950457682909_nOn the bottom shelf, beside a few nonfiction books on writing, an omnibus of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and my collection of books on alternative spirituality, sits the final series I fished from my attic: The Twilight Saga. While it’s unlikely I’ll actually go back and reread them anytime soon, this early high school obsession serves as a wonderful reminder of how far I’ve come in my literary pursuits.

What we add to our bookshelves – and what we choose to leave off of them – can be a wonderful and interesting monument to our interests, growth, and ongoing self-discovery. What are the books that stand out most in your collection? Is there any special meaning to how you arrange them? Are there any that you go back to over and over, any that you scarcely touch or that you’ve been meaning to dive into? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

“Roads Go Ever Ever On…”

In this installment of my literary series, I return with a book that brings me significantly happier memories than the last one I discussed (Gamer Girl). Not only is it one of my favorite fantasy novels, it’s quite possibly one of the most famous fantasy novels of all time, and with good reason! Penned by linguistic and literary genius J.R.R. Tolkien, this beloved book serves as the prequel to the mega-popular work The Lord of the Rings. Guessed it yet? It could only be The Hobbit!

(Well, it could also be The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, or the Unfinished Tales …but that’s a different topic entirely.) Continue reading

The Status Effect That Never Healed

*TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of depression, self-harm, suicide*

So far in my “impactful literature” series of blogs, I’ve examined two of my favorite literary works. The Horse and His Boy taught me about the power of personal agency, looking beneath the surface to fine something’s true nature, and the hope that we’ll always find where we belong; The Mortal Instruments empowered me as a writer through its portrayal of words as magical, and empowers me as a person by giving me the motivation to fight battles I know to be important. Normally, this would be the part where I would be telling you about another book that taught me important life lessons or gave me strength, but this time, I’m going to go a little deeper. Gamer Girl, a young adult novel written by Mari Mancusi, didn’t simply teach me something or strengthen me; it may have helped save my life. Continue reading

Why I Want To Be A Shadowhunter

In my last post concerning books that had a considerable impact on my life, I discussed a volume of The Chronicles of Narniaa book series from my childhood.  In this second installment, however, I’m looking at a literary work that made an entrance into my life rather recently: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  I actually only began reading these books in the summer of 2013 – the movie adaptation of the first book, City of Bones, was coming out that August and I wanted to have the book read before I went to see the film.  “What in the world, Alex,” you might be thinking. “How on earth could these books have so much meaning to you if you only read them seven months ago?!”

Funny story about that, actually. But first, some background (possible spoilers ahead; you have been warned): Continue reading