Sunday, October 05, 2008

TSS and Classics Bookclub: Jane Eyre

Teaching keeps me very busy, so I'm doubling up with this post. It is serving for The Sunday Salon and the Classics Bookclub.

I was excited to read Jane Eyre for the Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books. I've read the book and few times, and much of my honors thesis in college was on this book. I have thought about this book a lot in a lot of different ways. My thesis was on the influence of the Johannine texts in the Bible (the Gospel, epistles, and Revelation) on the works of the three Bronte sisters.

In her Jane Eyre Preview, Jennifer asked us evaluate how feminist Charlotte Bronte is by the standards of her day as well as today. My post is going to kind of be related to this prompt.

When she leaves Rochester after she finds out about Bertha in the attic, I think we can definitely see Jane as an independent woman who stands up for herself. She leaves Rochester when they are about to be married because no matter how much she loves him, she knows she can't be his second living wife. She tells him quite powerfully:

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man" (408).

Her belief in following the law enables her to hold her own self-worth higher than her love for Rochester. She does the right thing for herself and Rochester, even though it is impossibly painful for her to have to leave the one man who has made her happy.

Although this action is, for any time period, a heroic and feminist action, Jane's most truely feminist decision happens towards the end of the book, when she refuses St. John's offer of marriage.

A lot is going on in this situation, but here is my general stance. I believe that Jane is feminist in this moment because she holds true to her interpretation of God and God's love, rather than succumbing to St. John's attempt to interpret God's will for her. He dares to assume that he knows what is best for her, but she has her own ideas of what is right for her. She cannot believe that a marriage without love would be something God with command. The following is an excerpt from my thesis directly related to this idea.

"[St. John] assumes that [Jane's] plain outward appearance has marked her for a path different than the one in her heart. He tells her: “It is not personal, but mental endowments [God and nature] have given you: you are formed for labour, not for love” (Bronte 501). St. John does not see, as Rochester does, that Jane’s loving heart is all that she needs to be “formed for love.” Outward externals such as beauty don’t matter at all when it comes to a love derived from God. St. John’s other terrible mistake is assuming that God would condone Jane giving her body to St. John without a pure love between them. Jane sees that to “give [her] heart to God” (Bronte 505) she cannot betray her own feelings in that way. Jane’s refusal of St. John is her refusal to betray her “natural unenslaved feelings” (Bronte 507), but it is above all her refusal to defile her belief in God’s gift of love."

Some people see Jane's choice as selfish. How can it be selfish to follow what you believe is God's will? In my thesis I talk about how the Gospels and epistles written by John are all about love, and how love is the most important aspect of spirituality. Take a quotation from the 1st epistle: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8) and you can see that love is at the center of what God wants for us in our spiritual and human relations. Therefore, love is not some selfish thing that humans make up to meet our own desires; love is straight from God. God's will is for us to love. Jane is simply following God's will when she chooses to refuse a loveless marriage. Her bravery in the face of St. John's guilt trips is both feminist and spiritual.

Here's another excerpt from my thesis:

"Unlike Lerner’s suggestion that Jane chooses love rather than duty, Jane actually does not have to make a choice between the two. Jane is in fact choosing the duty that the author of John’s Gospel and epistles lays out, a duty that has love at its center. Barry Qualls suggests that “where [St. John] aligns duty with working towards heaven, Jane aligns it with love of one’s fellowman” (Qualls 64). Jane’s concern with human affection does not change throughout the novel because living and loving on earth is Jane’s spiritual duty, as evidenced by the path of love with Rochester to which Heaven directs her in her deepest moment of need. As long as she keeps God at the center of her moral compass, the choices she makes to live a life full of love are just as noble as Helen Burns’ calm resignation to death. Jane is supremely concerned with making the morally right choice. Some contemporary readers of Jane Eyre found her decision to be a shirking of duty, because it eschewed St. John’s overtly Christian path of martyrdom and mission-work. However, within the context of the Johannine books, Jane’s path is undoubtedly taking the moral and spiritual high road."

When Jane returns and marries Rochester, one might think she has lost her feminist strength. However, the circumstances are different now. Rochester's first wife is dead, so Jane is not committing adultery. Also, Rochester is blind, and his state gives Jane a position of power in their relationship. Jane’s choice to experience earthly love is very Johannine and religious in an important way; she follows Jesus’ instructions to “love one another” and lives in the joy of an earthly union. Yet Jane’s choice to love remains revolutionary in that her duty is empowering rather than limiting.

Many people point out how ironic it is that St. John, who is unable to really love anyone, bears the name of the gospel writer who wrote most about the importance of love: John. If we are to see Jane's story as spiritually feminist, should we be disturbed that St. John gets the last word in the entire book? Does she let him get the last word because she believes her marriage choice was wrong? I don't think so. These are St. John's dying words, and they echo the peniultimate verse in Revelation, the last book in the Bible. I think Charlotte ends with this because she wants to parallel St. John's coming union with Jesus, the bridegroom, and the union that Jane and Rochester have on earth. She wants to show us the different choices we can make to live a life for God.

St. John made a choice, and for him the choice was the right thing. He had his own vision of God and what He wanted for St. John in his own life. But St. John made the mistake of trying to force his own beliefs on Jane. He tried to interpret God's will for Jane, but Jane was able to hear God's will for herself through the supernatural call she hears from Rochester. She doesn't need a man to mediate between her and God. She can interpret God's will for herself.

Bronte's decision to end with St. John's words can actually be seen as feminist and a little shocking. It takes some confidence to end a novel with the almost last words of the Bible, an authoritative religious text! I believe Bronte does this on purpose. Here's the last excerpt from my thesis:

"The ending of the novel is Jane’s contradiction of authorities other than herself and God. St. John Rivers in the final lines speaks from the authoritative text of his namesake, invoking patriarchal Christianity and its imagined demands on humanity. Jane ends with these words, but we can see that she has refused to join St. John in his vision of God’s will and created her own vision of God’s will, one that importantly centers on her truth: the centrality of love to the religious and spiritual experience."

Jane Eyre is not my favorite book. I don't really like how Jane talks like Yoda a lot ("Sure I was") I don't like how Jane, and actually quite a few of the characters in Charlotte's other novels call their men "Master." However, I do love the way Charlotte creates a woman who stands up for herself, stands up for her ability to interpret and follow God's will, and stands up for what I believe is God's strongest call to all of us: to love one another.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Lord of the Flies

I'm going through Lord of the Flies with my class right now, so I thought I'd write about it a little for this post.

Whenever I teach this novel, I face my students' frustrations with the language. Golding uses very dense, descriptive language throughout most of the book. Students find this confusing and even annoying. I freely admit that I sometimes am tempted to zone out when I'm reading his descriptions too. However, I tell them that Golding does not spend so much time on strong descriptions just for the heck of it. From the beginning of the novel, I ask them to consider why Golding uses imagery the way he does.

This semester, we began the novel with a passage from Chapter 1 that is particularly descriptive. After I read it, I had the students draw whatever they could remember. They then compared their drawings to other group members. Finally, I had them go back to the passage we read and pinpoint the particular lines that were most influential on their drawings. In this way I called attention to the power Golding's description has. There was not one student who said "I don't know what to draw," because Golding's images do stick in your head.

Last week we read the first two pages in Chapter Three out loud. These pages are devoted to describing the character Jack as he is hunting in the jungle. We pointed out the imagery used, including how Jack is likened to a dog and an ape, and then I asked them what the point was. Rather quickly a student responded that Golding was showing that Jack is becoming a little savage, and describing Jack as an animal helps to further that idea.

A little later in the novel, when things started getting particularly nasty on the island, I am going to do an activity where half of the class notes all the imagery describing the island they can find in the 1st chapter. The other half will note all the imagery they see in a later chapter. When we compare the descriptions we will see pretty clearly that in the beginning of the novel the island is described as a beautiful paradise, but by the near end of the novel the presence of the boys and their descent into savage behavior has destroyed this paradise. The island becomes menacing, terrible, and literally destroyed. When I have done this activity before, students have been struck by this.

I think these activities help to get students to understand that authors choose their words carefully. Description is not just pretty; it has a purpose. In the case of Lord of the Flies, the imagery directly correlates with some of the major themes of the book.

All of these activities with my students help me as a reader too. I am much more interested in characters and ideas than setting descriptions. It's just how I am. But by finding a purpose for description I gain a new appreciation of authors and what they are trying to do.

One thing I love about being a teacher is that I learn right along with my students. And what fun to keep learning about one of my greatest passions: reading!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008

Katrina at Callapiddler days is starting Fall Into Reading 2008. The great thing about this event is that all you have to do is try to read as many books as you can! There is no pressure, only fun! This is running September 22nd to December 21st. Here is the list of the books I hope to read this fall. Some I have read already, some I have started but never finished, some I have always wanted to start, and some I will be reading with my high school students:

1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (I'll actually finish it)

4. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (for a book club I'm in and the New Classics Challenge)

5. The Yellow Wallpaper (for Life Books Challenge)

6. Twlight by Stephanie Meyers (I'll finish it, hopefully, for RIP Challenge)

7. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (RIP Challenge)

8. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (I don't think this one is going to happen, Life Books)

This is it. I hope I can finish them all. Teaching keeps me very busy right now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Cloud Atlas part 1

I don't quite know what to think yet, but I'm going to keep reading.

For this Sunday's post I thought I'd write about a book I am reading with my English Teacher book club. I'm also using this book for the New Classics Challenge. The novel is called Cloud Atlas and it is by David Mitchell.

The novel is really six stories of completely different people from completely different times. Yet, the stories of these people are connected.

This novel is definitely unique, and I am quite intrigued as to how it will all end up. I am 153 pages into the novel and I have reached the fourth story in the book. The first story, called "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing," bored me a little bit. I liked that Adam was a man of good morals, but the writing style in this section was not quite captivating. The vocabulary was almost too complex and varied. I'm a lover of Victorian novels, which are full of big words and sentence structures that many people can't warm up to. So when I say the vocabulary is a little over the top, I definitely mean it. We find out that Adam has a tropical parasite, and his doctor is attempting to cure him of it. All of a sudden Adam's journal ends mid sentence and we are plunged into a very different world.

This world is the world of Robert Frobisher, a wanna-be composer who is desperate for money. His narrative is written through letters to his friend "Sixsmith." We follow him to the home of a retired and ill composer who takes Frobisher on to help him compose again. Meanwhile, Frobisher begins sleeping with this man's wife. Frobisher's tendency to use everyone around him while only caring for himself definitely made me dislike him. However, just as I was about to think I wouldn't like this novel, Frobisher happened to find in the library The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing! That got me very interested. Funnily enough, Frobisher thinks there is something weird about the journal too. He says: "Something shifty about the journal's authenticity - seems too structured for a genuine diary, and its language doesn't ring true -" (64). So it wasn't just me!

From Frobisher we move to Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery. There are even more connections now between the stories. For one thing, Frobisher's friend Sixsmith is a major player in this story. He informs Luisa Rey of a major scientifc project that is being pushed through to completion even though there are serious dangers. Sixsmith has refused to be paid off by the corporate meanies who want the project to go through, and he is eventually killed. However, Luisa ends up in posession of the letters Frobisher wrote to him 30 years ago. After reading the letters, Luisa realizes that both she and Frobisher have an abnormally shaped birthmark on their backs! She also begins searching for some of Frobisher's music, and finds out that he wrote a piece called "Cloud Atlas Sextet." Interesting...

I'm not far enough into the next story to know how it ties into the other stories, but obviously the connections will continue to build. I'm wondering if all of the stories are written by the same author, and the characters are going to find out they are all connected. Or maybe the idea of reincarnation will be involved somehow, since Lusia and Frobisher have the same birthmark. I'm not sure, but now I definitely want to keep reading so that I can see how everything turns out!

Has anyone read this? What did you think of it? (Don't give anything away!!)

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maw Books: Reading & Blogging for Darfur

Natasha at Maw Books is doing a very neat thing: Reading & Blogging for Darfur.

Check the above link for more details, but the main idea is that she and others are donating money for blogging and reading and commenting on her posts. This is a great idea. I thought I would post about it so more money can be donated.

Book Crossing

The website Book Crossing. com is a fabulous place. I have been a member for a year and half, although not a very active one. So much is going on there. People leave books for others to find, people read books and send them on to a new person (it's called a bookring or bookray), and sometimes people just send books to others that they notice are on that person's wishlist. What a great community!

I just received today a book that a BookCrossing member sent me because she saw it on my wishlist. This is called a RABCK "Random Act of Book Crossing Kindness." What a kind thing to do! There are so many generous people in the world. The book I received was The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I can't make any promises on when I will read or finish it, but when I do I will send it on to somebody else.

Share the love of books and join BookCrossing!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life Books Challenge - My TBR's

I am choosing to read the following 2 books for the Life Books Challenge:

1. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (thanks to casual dread)
I'm an English teacher, so maybe I can pick up some tips from this one.

2. Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman (thanks to washwords)
Hmm...I like the idea of reading a disturbing feminist story!

I hope I will finish these before September 30th. Either way, I loved this idea for a challenge.

Life Books Challenge - My Life Books

Small World Reads has a fabulous idea for this challenge. It's called the Life Books Challenge. There is no timeline; you just need to pick two books on other people's "Life Books" lists, then read and review them.

Aaaah, I love this idea so much. Books really are such an important part of our lives, and I love the idea of sharing the books that really matter to us with other people. I love it!

Here is a list of the books that have been an important part of my life:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betsy Smith
When I read this in 8th Grade, I was stunned to find that the thoughts the lonely and creative main character Francie had were the exact same thoughts I was having at that awkward stage in my life. This book is very special to me.

2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
My favorite novel of all time. Supremely well-written, this book is incredible to me. But more importantly, the last few paragraphs of the book are words I hope people can say about my life when I am gone.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I don't think there is anything that could change the world more than every person taking Atticus' advice to walk in another person's shoes. Tolerance and empathy are qualities I try to cultivate in my life. I cannot read the end of this book without crying, because the main character truly learns to understand another person and how they feel.

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen
I love the respect that is engendered in this book for women who are intelligent, feeling, sensitive to others, and just as capable as men. This type of respect from a man is something I have finally found in my life.

5. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
I choose this book mostly because the bird-crushing scene in it made me a vegetarian. That's rather a big impact I guess!

6. Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Musuem
This one is certainly not a novel, but it is the book that my deceased father read to me all the time when I was little. Every time I read it feel connected to him. It's very important to me.

7. Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
Love is everything to me. I have been searching for a healthy romantic relationship for a long time, and I have it now with my husband. The different romantic relationships in this book were important for me to think about what we really need from another human being.

8. Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
This short story is heartbreaking. But I could really relate to the main character's intense desire to connect with another person and find lasting love in a world that is sad and scary.

Genre Challenge

Bookworms and tea lovers is hosting a Genre Challenge.

Since I have a year to do this one I think I can handle it. It's a great idea. Again, I need to expand my horizons!

I am taking Option A and eliminating Historical Fiction (my most commonly read genre) and Western Fiction (I don't like cowboys.)

Here is my list so far. Let me know if any of these are the wrong genre:

1. Fantasy Fiction: His by Philp Pullman (also reading for New Classics Challenge)

2. Romantic Fiction: Bridget Jones' Diary (also reading for New Classics Challenge)

3. Science Fiction: The Road by Cormac McCarthy (also reading for New Classics Challenge)

4. Thriller Fiction: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (also reading for New Classics Challenge)

5. Mystery Fiction: The 13th Tale by Diana Setterfield

6. Detective Fiction: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

I haven't decided the other eight yet! Any recommendations would be appreciated. :)

The challenge runs from November 1st 2008 - November 1st 2009

Teaser Tuesday

My Teaser Tuesday for Today is from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. It's a graphic novel so maybe I'm cheating. But I think it will work.

pg. 115

"Here, the composition of the picture is joined by the composition of change, the composition of drama, and the composition of memory. If the composition of a single panel is truly "perfect," doesn't that imply that it can - or even should - stand alone?

I hope everyone is having a good week!

New Classics Challenge

Lost in a good story has been hosting a New Classics Challenge

I'm joining in now. I am such an old classics fiend, but I need to get into the 21st century! Really, just getting into the 20th century would be impressive for me. I've hardly read any of these. I've started a few, like Heartbreaking Work. But hopefully this challenge will help me broaden my horizons.

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

This is my list of the six books I will read:

1. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (also reading as Fantasy Fiction for Genre Challenge)
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (also reading as Science Fiction for Genre Challenge)
3. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (also reading as Thriller Fiction for Genre Challenge)
4. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding (also reading as Romance for Genre Challenge)
5. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Understanding Comics and a Question about Visualization

One of the books I'm reading right now is Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. I mentioned it last week, and now I thought I'd say more about it.

The book is really a graphic book technically. It's written with words and pictures, just like a comic book. However, the subject is really quite academic. Scott McCloud is discussing the comics as a serious art and trying to reach some understanding about comics and where they fit as an art form.

One of the concepts he has been talking about that I find interesting is closure. Closure is the idea that our mind can finish an idea that is suggested to us through words and pictures. One example he uses is one frame of a comic strip that has an open eye. In the next frame, the eye is closed. When the reader sees these two frames in sequence, he makes the assumption that the strip showed an eye closing, based on his knowledge of what closing an eye looks like it. He explains that reader's mind does this is much more complex situations as well. He then suggests that even though comics is a visual art, between the frames the rest of a reader's senses are allowed free reign. We use our imagination to fill in the gaps between each frame and understand what is happening in the comic.

I don't know a lot about comics, but this idea made me think of the ways reader's of regular literature use their imagination and mind to "fill in gaps." Good writers certainly appeal to all five of our senses, but as readers we still create visual images of the text we are reading, usually based on our own experience.

This brings me to a question I'd like to ask anyone who wants to answer. My question is: When you are reading, do you ever visualize scenes happening in places that have actually existed in your life?

In other words, as we read we tend to see scenes in our minds. I know I do. And I also know that with some books I actually picture scenes happening in places that I have known. Often these places are from my childhood. For instance, I see all the neighborhood scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird (oh I love that book) happening in the neighborhood I spent most of my childhood in. The Finch house is my old house. When I first read Wuthering Heights, I imagined some of the scenes happening in the the kitchen of my old house. However, once I saw the Ang Lee (I think) movie version that location has changed into a scene more like the movie.

So, when you are reading do you ever visualize scenes happening in places that are actually a part of your life? Why do you think we do that?

Or is it just me?