On the 10th day of reading…
On the 10th day of reading my library gave to me:
ten lords or heroes.
There’s a lot to love above a good, literary hero. As the hot summer days roll by, and you work your way through our reading recommendations, I hope that these admirable, fictional men inspire and delight you.
When I asked my fellow librarians for some literary heroes, I did stipulate that I didn’t jut want eye-candy. And yet…
1. Lisa at Elanora Branch Library said that her favourite hero for 2015 was Gus McCray from Lonesome Dove, which was her favourite book for 2015. She admitted that her choice may have been a tiny bit influenced by Robert Duvall playing the role in the mini-series adaptation.
Gus McCrae: Ain’t nothing better than riding a fine horse in new country.
2. Steph at Robina Branch Library pointed out that Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has to be one of the greatest literary and film heroes of the twentieth century. Spending time in his company is always a pleasure.
Atticus Finch: Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand.
3. Janine at Upper Coomera Branch Library knew that this list would not be complete without another quintessential literary hero – Mr Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Why, you may wonder, Mr Darcy and not Heathcliff or Mr Rochester? Well, I would argue it’s because Darcy, although he is proud and socially awkward realises his flaws and strives against them, like a hero, rather than like an alcoholic, abusive tyrant or a lying, manipulative would-be bigamist. But that’s just my opinion on the Bronte’s leading men, and I know there are plenty of people who would disagree.
Fitzwilliam Darcy: I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.
4. Timothy at Nerang Branch Library proposed Horatio Hornblower from the C.S Forester novels as an historical hero for all times. And he’s not alone. Ernest Hemingway recommended Hornblower, a did Winston Churchill.
Horatio Hornblower: If variety was the spice of life, thought Hornblower, his present existence must be an Oriental curry.
5. Timothy also recommended the modern, unlikely hero, Bob Howard from Charles Stross’ Laundry Files series. Bob is a field agent for the British government agency known as The Laundry. He’s a computer programmer and occultist, dealing with supernatural threats in a world where the right program, or mathematical equation, can summon a Lovecraftian Elder God through your laptop screen. Start with The Atrocity Archives – the first in this excellent series.
Bob Howard: The male ego is a curious thing. It’s about the size of a small continent but it’s extremely brittle.
6. I have just finished Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings, the first book in the Lymond Chronicles, and would recommend to anyone who likes complex historical dramas that they make the acquaintance of the Master of Lymond, Francis Crawford. He’s a complicated, conflicted, Renaissance man and the novel is set against the fascinating events of the Rough Wooing – when the English waged war on the Scots to kidnap the infant Queen Mary and marry her to Henry VIII’s son Edward.
Francis Crawford: I dislike being discussed as if I were a disease. Nobody ‘got’ me.
7. The series I’ve been reading this year is the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. I don’t know why I didn’t read them when I first discovered the classic mystery writers of Agatha Christie and Ngaio March, but I somehow missed them. Wimsey does a lovely impersonation of a gormless, upper class twit, and is delightful, clever and witty company.
Lord Peter Wimsey: I don’t positively repel you or anything like that, do I?
8. And, speaking of monocle-wearing dandies, what’s a summer reading list without a little P.G. Wodehouse? Rupert Psmith is guaranteed to amuse, whether he’s appropriating someone else’s umbrella to rescue a pretty woman from the rain, or just exercising that sparkling Wodehouse wit.
Rupert Psmith: I am Psmith. There is a preliminary P before the name. This, however, is silent. Like the tomb.
9. For 26 years Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One has inspired readers with the coming of age story of Peekay. The book is absolutely chock-full of resilience, violence, courage, oppression, and overcoming obstacles. It’s hard not to cheer at Peekay’s triumphs.
Peekay: Pride is holding your head up high when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.
10. Shirley at Southport Branch Library recommended I include Ian Fleming’s James Bond on our list of heroes. It’s a contentious choice. When even Daniel Craig is criticising Bond as a misogynist it’s a tough call to see him as a hero. Share your thoughts on Bond, any of our heroes, or your own favourites in the comments.
James Bond: You only live twice: once when you’re born, and once when you look death in the face.
And if you want to write your own action thriller hero, book in for a high-octane session on writing for thrills with author Graham Potts, 12 January, 10am – noon, at Helensvale Branch Library.