Books for Beloved Or No Surprises Here

So, I spent the morning at my grandfather’s funeral, and am now blogging out of an airport in Iowa, waiting to fly back to Dallas.  I don’t cite this autobiographical information as a call for sympathy, but rather as justification for my flagrant cheating for this week’s question.  Because I can’t think of any book I’d have to insist Beloved read as soon as the two of us are one.  But there may well be some books he ought to know in order to merit consideration for a date.  (Actually, even this may not be strictly true, but considering Real Life Things at the moment, I wish to be entirely frivolous right now.)

About a year ago when I was taking the GRE for grad school applications, I worked on building up my GRE vocabulary.  I wrote a bunch of flashcards, and made up my own sentences using the vocab words, the more ridiculous, the better (helps you remember, don’t you know).

ultimatum n. a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations (Oxford American Dictionary)

“She issued an ultimatum: ‘Read Sandman or I can’t date you.'”

Sandman was one of those mind-changing books that I discovered in college; it shaped both my imagination and my view of why literature is important (and by extension, why I should go to grad school).  It influenced my choice of quotation for the alumni walk brick that my parents bought me for graduation.  And at the time, any guy who wanted to have a hope of understanding the way I thought really needed to read it.  Telling me you’ve read Sandman is still a sure way to impress me (okay, extend that to pretty much any Gaiman).   So there you have it.  Having read Sandman probably won’t be a deal-breaker for a first date, but it totally earns the guy points.  And if he wants to get beyond a first date, well…

Book Crush: the Sandman

I can’t help it.  I’m in love with the King of Dreams.  I’m not even sure he’s intrinsically lovable, but, well, he’s Dream.  He’s a tall, pale, gaunt fellow with eyes that flash like stars and a shock of black hair that would put a punk rocker to shame.  He dresses completely in black, and has no sense of humor worthy of the name.  He’s at once vengeful and completely honor-bound.

I'll admit, I'm given, on occasion, to dressing all in black myself, so I appreciate Morpheus' sense of style.

He’s also the ruler of the Dreaming, the ever-shifting realms created from the sleeping minds of dreamers everywhere in the world (and off it).  He has a raven servant named Matthew who calls him simply “Boss” and a library full of every book ever written and all the ones never written, too.  He can shape things out of the fabric of dreams, as well as shift the waking world around himself.  Death is his older sister.

So why am I in love with him?  Mostly, it’s because of what he is.  He’s the incarnation of Dreams, and as a dreamer myself, I was pretty much a goner from the start.  And, well, he is the tall, dark, and broody sort that, I shall admit with some embarrassment, does have a certain appeal.  As the ruler of the Dreaming, responsible for maintaining order (inasmuch as such a thing is possible for such a phantasmagorical realm), his powers and abilities are all kinds of awesome.

I guess a relationship really wouldn’t work out with him; humans and immortals just don’t mix.  But, you know, I wouldn’t say no to a date in the Dreaming: a tour of the dreamscape, a visit to the gates of horn and ivory, introductions to the gatekeepers three (a griffin, unicorn, and dragon).  We’d end up in the library, where I’d find a section of books containing the ends of all those dreams I woke up during.  I’d make friends with Lucien, his librarian, and I’d get invited to come back and read as often as I like.  Which means, at last, a solution to the perennial student’s problem: I’ll do all my fun reading after I go to sleep!


I was going to leave my entry at that, but Thalia and Jubilare have shamed me with their very thoughtful entries on how fictional men can help us appreciate the virtues of manliness.  And thus, in addition to what amounts to a kind of celebrity crush on the Prince of Stories himself, I include one more entry, based on those qualities I’d also find attractive in a real, live person.


He’s morally strong, rejecting the Ring when he might instead take it.  And he’s noble (perhaps to a fault!) in his obedience to his father and the defense of Gondor.

“I do not oppose your will, sire.  Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will go and do what I can in his stead–if you command it. . . . But if I should return, think better of me!”

He’s a man who protects what matters when it matters, but he’s not one who loves the fight for its own sake.

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

He’s well-read and appreciates music, and he values the history of his city.

“He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music. . . He welcomed Gandalf at such times as he came to the City, and he learned what he could from his wisdom.”

And, of course, he has a sense of romance.  His wooing of Éowyn is gentle and understated and completely sweet.

“Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Éowyn!  But  I do not offer you my pity.  For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell.  And I love you.  Once I pitied your sorrow.  But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you.  Éowyn, do you not love me?”

All right, so technically maybe his hair ought to be a bit longer, but I do like Anke Eissman's vision of Faramir.