Wednesday, June 21, 2017

10 YA Books to Add to Your 2017 Summer Reading List

Summer has been underway for several weeks now, and you've probably had plenty of time to catch up on all the books you set aside during the school year. But what about the rest of the summer? What should you read to fill the long vacation car rides or the hours spent lounging around the beach?

Have no fear! Below is a list of ten YA books you should definitely add to your summer reading list!

(I've provided links to Goodreads so you can learn more about the book or add it to your reading list. Don't forget we have a TFI Goodreads group, so join us to discuss all things bookish!)

Release date: May 16, 2017

I've been told this book is basically Mulan mixed with feudal Japan, and if that doesn't sound exciting, I don't know what will. It's already out, so get thee to your local library (or bookstore) and read it.

Release date: May 16, 2017

The Names They Gave Us is about a girl who works at a summer camp for kids who have been through tough times. Meanwhile, she's dealing with her own tough times as her mother's cancer returns. It sounds like a heart-touching story that will share a new perspective on dealing with hardships in life.

Release date: May 30, 2017

This book is about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged them to be married, which sounds adorable. Most of the reviews I've read say it's a hilarious romantic comedy.

Release date: May 30, 2017

Eliza and Her Monsters is one of the few books on this list I have read, and I can say that if you're a creative person, this book is for you. Eliza is the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic and would rather spend more time online than off, but Wallace changes that. I felt this book really got to the heart of being an introverted creative person. It's definitely worth a read. 

Release date: June 6, 2017

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow combines science-fiction with online gaming to provide a story full of aliens, conspiracy, and some not-so-virtual gaming. It sounds like it'll be an exciting read, and the cover is gorgeous.

Release date: July 11, 2017

Science-fiction comedy? Yes, please! There are definitely not enough science-fiction comedies to satisfy me. This one follows a group of crazy teenagers from a reality TV show that get trapped in space without any communication. It sounds like this book will be a blast.

Release date: July 18, 2017

Fantasy mixed with romance mixed with Indian folklore? Sign me up! This story follows a girl who has given up everything for her people, only to become a fugitive seeking out an impossible place that might change everything. I'm excited.

Release date: August 15, 2017

Wicked Like Wildfire is about two sisters with magic abilities living a simple life until their mother is attacked. Then things get real when they learn about a curse that hangs over their family line. I don't know about you, but magic and sisters and family curses sounds like a wild ride. I'm definitely in. (Plus, that cover is breathtaking.)

Release date: August 22, 2017

The Arsonist weaves three points of view together to tell a story that links a Cold War mystery to the lives of two teens trying to figure out where they fit in life. The story sounds intriguing, and I love when books tie together in intricate ways. I'm definitely looking forward to this book.

Release date: August 29, 2017

Warbringer is a YA Wonder Woman retelling by a fabulous author. Do I really need a reason to recommend this book?

Release date: May 2, 2017

Rebel Rising gives insight into the life of Jyn Erso from Rogue One. If you're a fan of Star Wars and you're itching to know more about the main character of Rogue One, you might want to pick up this book! 

Release date: June 13, 2017

If you haven't read anything by Victoria Schwab, you should. Her books are fantastic fantasy that will probably rip your heart out (sorry not sorry). Our Dark Duet is the sequel to This Savage Song, a story about monsters and music and learning about what's truly hidden in the dark. You should read it. It won't hurt too much, I promise. 

What books are you planning to read this summer?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Here’s Why You Should Read Monstress

Take a war-torn, matriarchal version of 1900s Asia. Add a dash of steampunk, a pinch of magic, and a whole lot of horror. This is the world that Maika Halfwolf, the protagonist of Marjorie Liu’s ongoing comic series Monstress, must travel through in order to avenge her dead mother. After growing up as a prisoner of war, Maika is full of hatred and anger--and, even worse, an ancient, bloodthirsty god who lives just beneath her skin. This creature, otherwise known as a Monstrum, is both unimaginably powerful and uncontrollably hungry, and Maika’s struggle to harness its powers for good (or as close to good as it can get) is at the core of the series. Need more prompting? Here are four reasons to give Monstress a try.

Note: Monstress is aimed at mature readers. 

1. It’s Diverse

Monstress #1
“There’s more hunger in the world than love.
(Edit by warlordsregiment on Tumblr. Source)
During her journey, Maika meets people and creatures from all walks of life: half-animal, half-human demigods known as Arcanics, witch-nuns, talking cats, soldiers, scholars, slaves. The cast is far from whitewashed, and also diverse when it comes to age, including a centuries-old monster, a very young girl, and a teenager. (Maika is seventeen.)

2. It’s Beautiful
Sure, they’re tons of gorgeous comics out there. It would be hard, though, to find another one this elaborate. When it comes to worldbuilding, the art does as much heavy-lifting as the text, drawing you into Maika’s frightening yet enchanting world. No detail is too small, and the Monstra are especially well-done. Sana Takeda’s illustrations show them to be both terrifying and weirdly beautiful. It’s easy to see why some Arcanics worship them. 

3. It’s Dark

Like creepiness and gore mixed in with your fantasy? Then Monstress is the comic for you: the fact that Maika shares her body with a ravenous Lovecraftian god makes for plenty of both. Going deeper, Monstress deals with themes—war, slavery, and genocide, to name a few—that are just as horrifying but more realistic. But despite all the blood and guts, this is not a world without hope. Even Maika, who considers herself damaged beyond saving, is capable of pity, mercy, and love. 

4. It’s Empowering

Image result for monstress comic
With a mostly female cast that flips the traditional guys-to-girls ratio in fantasy, Monstress gives its characters room to grow beyond typical stereotypes, showing that women can be kind, cruel, powerful, brutal, intelligent, damaged, spiteful, innocent, moral, immoral, or somewhere in-between. Maika isn’t particularly feminine, or, at times, even particularly likable. She is, however, a complex, fully-formed character whose limitations aren’t defined by traditional gender roles. And what’s more empowering than that?

Have you read Monstress? What are some of your favorite comics?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Five Reasons to Watch Riverdale

I was under the weather a couple of weeks ago, so I spent the weekend lying in bed taking turns doing the following three things: napping, working from my laptop, and, most importantly, falling in love with Riverdale, which I discovered while browsing Netflix.

It was a super-productive weekend.

Somehow the fact that the Archie comics from my childhood were being turned into a TV show escaped my notice. I have fond memories of sneaking down to the basement to curl up on my beanbag with a snack and my dad’s box of dusty old Archie comic books.

So ... Riverdale was a bit of a shock to the system. After the first episode, I almost didn’t continue, but next thing I knew, I had finished all thirteen episodes in less than 48 hours. (Am I bragging or confessing? I have no idea, honestly.)

Curious? Here are five reasons why YOU should watch Riverdale.

1. You don’t have to be a fan of the comics to appreciate the show.

There are only a couple of things that Riverdale and the Archie comics have in common, namely the characters (and even then, their personalities were changed slightly; more on that in a moment), and Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe. And that’s pretty much it. If you’re looking for the lighthearted, goofy, flirty comics of your childhood, stop reading.

You’ll be disappointed unless you can set that expectation aside. While Riverdale has lighthearted moments that take you back to the comics, overall it has a much darker tone.

So no, you don’t have to be familiar with the comics to enjoy the show. But there are little throwbacks to the comics that will delight (or disappoint) you if you’re a fan. (I squeaked in excitement the first time I saw Josie and the Pussycats.)

2. This one’s for the mystery and suspense lovers.

This show keeps. You. Guessing. And I LOVE that. Every time you think you know what’s going on, something happens and you’re left going “...Wait, WHAT?”

It’s a rich and complex show, and it has pretty much no plotholes--assuming the writers tie up a couple of loose threads in season two. They wrap up the main mystery and at the last second of the last episode, they introduce a new mystery to keep you wanting more.

Same, Kevin, same. via GIPHY

3. Richer, better characters.
The characters are amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve read the comics, but based on what I remember, the characters in the show are very similar to the gang that I grew up loving. I’m just going to touch on the original gang here because I could quite honestly devote an entire post just to talking about the full cast.

Archie was honestly a bit of a clueless douche, and I can’t remember if he was that way in the comics or not. He does have a little character arc in the beginning of the show, and after a while, you see that he really does care, he’s just bad at communicating it. And he’s human, just like all of us, with his imperfections.

Veronica! Okay, so I definitely maybe have a slight crush on her. I never liked her in the comics and was prepared to hate her, especially given the way she acts in the first few minutes after we meet her, but then she turns into a badass cinnamon roll and I love it. She’s an incredible friend, recognizes when she messes up, and genuinely feels bad about it. Plus, she will absolutely slay anyone that tries to hurt her or her friends.

Betty is the definition of “looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you.” At first, she’s super timid and afraid to go after what she wants, especially because of her overprotective mother, but by the end of the show, she’s braver, recognizes her own strengths (and weaknesses), and has become a better person overall. And her friendship with Veronica is #goals.

Jughead--another character that I wasn’t certain I’d like. He always struck me as obnoxious in the comics, but in the show, his character goes so much deeper than just being the school clown. He’s a loyal friend but has his limits and isn't afraid to call his friends out on their B.S. I was surprised when I realized he's the character I relate to the most. If Betty looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you, Jughead looks like he could kill you but is actually a cinnamon roll. Be warned: he’s gonna break your heart over and over again.

4. The show’s aesthetic.

I was very curious to see how the showrunners would translate an old comic into a modern show. They did it by giving the show an incredible aesthetic, a perfect balance of retro and modern vibes. The kids can be in the super-retro Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe, with its milkshakes and neon lights, while using their laptops and calling people on their cell phones. A lot of the characters have older cars and a lot of the decor has '50s-'60s feel to it. It actually creates a very innocent air in stark contrast to the dark themes of the show.

5. It's diverse.

While there's always room for improvement, Riverdale did a fairly good job of making sure it had a well-rounded, diverse cast. All three members of Josie and the Pussycats are WOC and they're super inspiring too. Betty's friend Kevin is gay, has a boyfriend for most of the show, and while he's slightly stereotypical, the writers acknowledge these stereotypes. ("Is being the Gay Best Friend still a thing?") The actress who plays Veronica, Camila Mendes, is Latina. In the background at school and around town, you see a variety of people and types of people. It was honestly very refreshing and I loved it.

Sounds like a show you want to watch? I'll be reviewing each of the 13 episodes over the next several months, so stay tuned! In the meanwhile, tell me: have you seen Riverdale? What did you think? 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Calamity Read-Along Chapters 20-24

*rubs hands together* All right, let's see what David has in store for us this week...

Chapter 20
The one who created the Diggers, I wrote. Back in Newcago.
Yet another nice callback to Steelheart. Sweet! I was always curious about the Diggers and the crazy tunnels they created in Newcago. Maybe we'll get to learn a little more about them.
"I'm still surprised, sometimes, at the things that leave your mouth," he said, reclaiming his pack.
I'd like to think that here, everyone just gives Abraham a long-suffering look and says, "Me too."
I moved, noticing as I passed that the dowser had given me a negative reading, as it should. I was no Epic.
This is me, not convinced.
See, I knew it. I knew she couldn't be dead. What she's doing here, on the other hand, is highly questionable.

Chapter 21
Tia groaned, putting her hand to her face. "My cola?"
Ummm... didn't Prof look at that too?

"But I heard him calling for me. Pleading, begging me to help him with the darkness."
Aww, dang it. This book is going to make me cry, isn't it?
"And so he lives his life with a great dichotomy--he takes every opportunity he can to gift his powers away, to let the team use them so he doesn't have to. But each time he does, he gives them a weapon that could be used against him."
I kid you not, I stared at that paragraph for a good three or four minutes, just processing. This is insane. Incredibly, amazingly insane. What a way to go full circle. I can't imagine what Prof's nightmares must have looked like.
But this kind of blows a hole in David's theory that the phobia comes before the powers.

Chapter 22
Nightmares were directly tied to Epics and their weaknesses. If I was having a persistent one... well, it might mean something.
He's getting nightmares. The dowser took longer than it should have to register him as human. I don't care what David thinks, there is something about him that is Epic, even if he did reject Calamity's offer of outright powers.

He has to be facing it continually, I thought. Whatever his fear is, he must see it every day, and defeat it.
That would explain Larcener's lack of rages. He's certainly arrogant enough, but he seems too lazy to be an Epic. He also admits that Epics do awful things, while most of the others seem to not talk about it. He sounds a little like Obliteration, talking about how men deserved to be destroyed.
Ooh... what if that also explains some of the weirdness going on with David? Sure, he was scared of the water, but maybe Calamity miscalculated and that isn't his true fear. Maybe his fear is losing people he cares about (plausible with how his dad died, and how Prof turned evil), but every time he leads the team on a mission, he faces that fear. He's continually pushing away his own darkness.

Chapter 23
"I sent you through by accident," Megan said. "You vanished completely, until you popped back out. Sparks!"
Is it just me, or is David way too chill about this? I mean, I'm sure having a girlfriend and a mentor who are Epics would kind of dull someone's reactions to them, but seriously... he is way too calm about getting Megan to experiment with her powers. I wonder if, since he refused powers of his own, he now acts like a sort of calmer/amplifier for Epics.

How were there still Epics, if there was no Calamity to give them powers?
David. I'm certain it has something to do with David. (At this point I'm just going to blame all weird things on David. It's not his fault, of course, but it's all I've got at the moment.)

Chapter 24
In those eyes, I swear I saw it. The darkness, like an infinite pool. Seething hatred, disdain, overwhelming lust for destruction.
Honestly one of these days I wouldn't be surprised if Larcener tries to stab him in the back, because David has got to be annoying him. But what does an Epic fear enough that it keeps him from going power-mad?

Thoughts? Theories? Any bets on when David finally pushes Larcener too far?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Wishlist for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s season 4 wrapped up in May, leaving me with many questions. However, with the new Inhumans series, schedule changes are on the horizon. Instead of returning in the fall, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will resume in January with new episodes to kick off season 5. Obviously, I can't wait. To help tide us over, here's what I'm hoping to see when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next year (!!!).

Spoilers for the entirety of season 4.

★ Robbie Reyes

I really, really, really want Gabriel Luna to be back as a series regular. Please, please, please.

★ For Fitzsimmons to be okay

That moment when you just copy this heading from the last wishlist word for word. 

Seriously, though, will we ever have a season where Fitzsimmons are not in pain, both individually and as a couple? At least they're both alive, though that's a small comfort. You'll find me over there in the corner (still) in a fetal position.

★ Healing & recovery for Fitz

He really deserves it.

Fitz himself concurs.--(source)

★ Return of Jeffrey Mace?

A girl can dream.

And that dream consists of Jeffrey Mace alive and well.--(source)

★ Return of Ward, Tripp, and Hope?

I'm not sure if I should actually wish for this for two reasons: a.) when I wished for the LMD technology, Aida turned it into something awful and b.) I feel that everyone's story lines concluded well, particularly Ward's and Hope's. However, I can't resist the idea of getting to see more of them and bringing them into the real world.

★ More of the Koenig family!

Especially L.T., pleeease. She's such a badass.

★ Crossovers with Inhumans and the goshdiddlydarn MCU

Crossovers with Inhumans are just a given; they need to happen. But crossovers with the MCU? It's past time for them. Bring Quake to the big screen. Let Coulson show the Avengers (and people who don't watch Marvel's TV shows) that he's alive. Show the world what the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are truly capable of.

★ Even more Elena and Mack, both together and apart

Season 4 solidified Elena and Mack as my favorite characters, and getting them as a couple was even better. In the coming season, I look forward to seeing them grow both as a couple and as characters in their own right.

★ Answers about why we're in space

I'm completely stoked that we are in space. My only question is... how did we get there?

★ More of all the characters

Everyone was on point this season--Daisy, May, Jemma, Coulson... just... everyone. They were all fantastic. I want more of them--more growth and more of their incredible personalities.

★ More of the magic

It's no secret that season 4 was my absolute favorite. I'd like season 5 to be just the same, if not better. I hope the magic that made season 4 so special carries over into the next season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whatever happens, I can't wait to see what's next.

Last season was incredible. ANOTHER!--(source)

What's on your wishlist for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s season 5?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three Female Leads Who Started Me on the Fangirl Path

As a young girl, I was an avid reader. There was no such thing as Netflix, the internet still took twenty minutes to connect (and disconnected at every phone call), and female leads were hard to find. I was that kid who read everything in search of a book that I could read over and over, one that had a female lead I could daydream about one day being.

By the fifth grade, I had consumed nearly every book in our school’s library and still hadn’t found the heroes I was looking for. I didn’t entirely know what would define these women I was in search of, but I knew they would stand out when I found them. And stand out they did.

There are three specific characters who come to mind whenever I think back to where my passion for other worlds, stories, and ideas began. All three were very different from each other, from different time periods, and in different stages of life. Each one took control of her own destiny for different reasons and each one did it in her own unique way. One thing they all had in common, however, was that none of them let circumstances, rules, or expectations get in their way.

Although these books were written for younger readers, if you have the chance, I would recommend taking the time to read them. These powerful stories are inspiring, and each of them, in its own way, helped set me down the path to becoming a professional writer.

Dove and Sword by Nancy Garden

Although Joan of Arc is not a fictional character, this story is a fictional take on the life and story of one of history’s most famous female warriors. Everything is told through the eyes of Gabrielle de Domremy, Joan’s childhood friend in this tale. Gabrielle is courageous, determined, and a woman worthy of admiration for her own merits, but it was Joan who captivated me.

Joan believed with her entire being that God had asked her to lead the army and fight, and she did it. Despite the odds, she pushed through and held fast even during her capture, trial, and death.

Ultimately, this work of fiction was the catalyst to a nearly ten-year obsession with Joan. While her real story was every bit as captivating and heartbreaking, Dove and Sword was the book I always came back to. Gabrielle’s perspective brings a level of depth and humanity to Joan’s story that the history books couldn’t. It took her out of the pages and brought her to life.

Joan was the first woman to teach me that following your convictions, regardless of what the world says, is one of the most important things you can ever do.

Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

Emily was my kindred soul, my spirit animal. I don’t recall who gave me the Emily books, but they were a series I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to read. Written by the same talented Canadian author behind the Anne of Green Gables series, this trilogy was far less-known, despite having a TV show for a few years. I was skeptical because Anne of Green Gables had never held my interest the way so many claimed it did for them.

Still, I decided to give it a try, and within the first few pages of New Moon, I was hooked. Emily Starr reminded me so much of myself, though she was far bolder than I ever was as a child. In a time when girls were still frowned upon for excelling in school, Emily embraced her intelligence, recognizing her love of writing early on. She wrote as much as she could, whenever she could, no matter how much trouble it got her in.

Over the span of three books, you get to grow with Emily. When you meet her, she is a young, orphaned child, alone with two cold-hearted aunts, having nothing but her wits and imagination to rely on. As the series progresses, you walk with Emily through puberty, love, loss, and the pursuit of her dreams.

Her classmates and aunts often consider her to be foolish, but she still follows her heart in everything. Her circumstances, being fairly poor and with no super-reliable support system to lean on, never hold her back because she refuses to let them.

For me, Emily introduced me to the idea that a fictional character can become a dear friend, one who stays with you for the rest of your life.

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

This was the first series to really introduce me to the world of fantasy, thanks to the main character, Alanna of Trebond. The reader meets Alanna at the age of 11 when she and her twin brother are being sent away for their life studies. As a girl, Alanna will be sent to the monastery to learn how to use The Gift and become a great sorceress, while Thom, her twin, will be sent to the palace to be trained as a knight. The only problem is Alanna hates learning magic and wants to be a knight, and her brother wants to become a sorcerer.

Thus, Alanna of Trebond becomes Alan, Thom’s younger twin, and they trade places. Only their two closest confidants, who have raised them since the death of their mother, know about this.

Alanna is captivating. She is on fire, in her soul, in her heart, and in her personality. "Stubborn" and "determined" are hardly strong enough words to describe her. She was everything I hoped to become one day.

The thing that stands out the most about Alanna is she never aims to prove anything to anyone, other than herself. The idea that she can’t be as good as the boys rarely ever crosses her mind. When it does, it comes in the form of a fear she quickly squashes.

But Alanna is more than just a girl determined to become a female knight: she is also the one chosen by the Great Mother Goddess herself.

What captivated me about Alanna was her ability to eventually reconcile her destiny with her dreams, and make both flow together, entwining the strands of each so that they worked. She was never defined or controlled by her destiny, but by her boldness and desire to be exactly who she was without ever changing for anyone.

Alanna taught me to be bold in my dreams and to never let anyone tell me that my gender should restrict me from fulfilling them. In life, whenever I have doubted following my heart, I have always thought back to Alanna for courage.

Perhaps one of the most incredible things I learned from each of these three women was the power and positive influence of having fiction become a big part of your life. We all know the possible negatives, and they’re reinforced daily by people who do not understand fandoms. But when it comes to the right stories for each of us, they not only stick with us, but they become a part of us. They live within us, guiding us and, as odd as it may sound, helping us to create stronger roots for ourselves within reality. Most importantly, I strongly believe they help to take us outside of the boxes we are all placed within in society. We learn about how to break those walls down and expand how we view ourselves and the world.

As a fangirl, who were the characters that first introduced you to the world of fandoms, whether you knew the word or not at the time?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

INTJ Diaries: Jane Austen Is My Homegirl

To make long sentences upon unpleasant subjects is very odious, and I shall therefore get rid of the one now uppermost in my thoughts as soon as possible. (1801)

Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first? (1808)

I have a magnificent project. (1811)

Sometimes you read an author's works and you just don't get it. You don't understand why they're famous, you can barely slog through their overworked prose, you don't connect with their words at all. And then sometimes... sometimes it just clicks. You read their thoughts, the words they put to feelings you experience daily, the thoughts that have been nagging at you for as long as you can remember, and you're certain that had the fabric of space and time been folded differently, the two of you would have been great friends.

For me, one of those authors is Jane Austen.

Previously, I showcased Mr. Darcy as the poster child for a healthy INTJ, claiming that the reason he's such a good example is because I believe Jane Austen herself was an INTJ. No one else could have so convincingly and subtly written one without making him the villain, and I don't think I've ever so strongly identified with a character as I have with Mr. Darcy, regardless of the fact that he is male and lived approximately two hundred years before me.

And, after doing some research into Jane Austen herself, there are very few authors I identified with so completely. Maybe C.S. Lewis or Lewis Carroll, who, wait for it, were also INTJs.

Jane Austen's novels were the novels of her day, albeit with a smarter and more timeless bent. They were romances, set in country estates, revolving around balls and letters and misunderstandings. But more than that, her novels were written in such a way to stand as stories while critiquing the more flighty and silly novels that were being published and lauded. Her characters were mockeries of both popular characters and people she knew, and her novels themselves mocked the conventions expected of women and society in general at the time.

"And what are you reading, Miss — ?”
"Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language."
Northanger Abbey, from which this quote comes, is a parody of a Gothic novel, one of the popular genres of the day. The heroine fancies her life to be like a Gothic novel, and Austen spends the entire book mocking her, and thus the notion that girls shouldn't read novels, for it. She is repeatedly shown to be completely oblivious to life--in short, the type of girl society supposed would read novels.

Of course, for an author of novels, this was absurdity to the highest degree. "The person," she writes in this same novel, "be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." Preach it, Jane.

But of course, the bulk of her personality, her beliefs, and her wit is going to come through in her letters, particularly those to her sister Cassandra, which I referenced at the beginning of this article, as they constitute what would have conceivably been in Jane Austen's diary. It's speculated that Austen wrote near 3000 letters over the course of her life, but most were burned, cut, or destroyed, lest people, especially younger relatives, should be privy to her scathing remarks concerning people they knew. Only about 160 letters were preserved, and, given what's in those letters, I can hardly imagine what was destroyed.

At the bottom of Kingsdown Hill we met a gentleman in a buggy, who, on minute examination, turned out to be Dr. Hall -- and Dr. Hall in such very deep mourning that either his mother, his wife, or himself must be dead. (1799)
She has no tact and doesn't care one whit if other people know it. She grabs onto the absurd and presents it with such sincerity that if you weren't looking for it, you'd have hardly noticed it. If you know an INTJ, watch them. They'll do this a lot.

She writes a lot on the goings on about her: who's marrying whom, who's visiting from out of town, who's having children. On the birth of one such child, the most recent in what we can only assume is a great many, she comments:

I would recommend to her and Mr. D. the simple regimen of separate rooms. (1817)
No wonder at the birth of a child, no congratulations for the happy parents. Simply a commentary that maybe they should stop sharing a bedroom so they'll stop reproducing. And again, in one of her more tactless comments, she remarks on a miscarriage one of her neighbors had:

Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband. (1978)
She must have looked at her husband. Ouch. But it's also funny, almost shockingly so. It's unexpected; it makes light of serious subjects. If you keep watching your INTJ, you'll notice that they do this a lot, too. We don't feel deeply about things that don't affect us; if we did, we'd lose all sense of perspective and probably spiral into a deep depression. So we make light of things that shouldn't be made light of, much to the shock (and sometimes awe) of those around us.

INTJs are also master people watchers. While many of the types--especially the types that choose writing as a profession--take up people watching, few, if any, can approach it with uncanny accuracy that an INTJ can. We treat people watching as we treat every other aspect of our lives: with scientific accuracy, holistic knowledge, and an all-consuming interest. We see patterns in people; we get good at predicting how someone will react to any given scenario, testing ourselves when out and about and refining our knowledge when we're wrong, until we're no longer wrong.

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It helps that we're immune to emotional manipulation. Where another type might feel empathy, sympathy, or some other feeling that would trump thought upon seeing a person crying, an INTJ without a conscious decision to act otherwise would feel mostly detached curiosity. This is how Jane Austen saw life, how she was able to wrap people into her novels, caring for them while also mercilessly mocking them, but never--never--turning them into caricatures. Her people were always believable people, regardless how many flaws she gave them.

But no matter how accurate to life her characters were, she could never treat them with anything more than she treated people in real life. She noticed everything about people: she noticed their sins, their quirks, their follies, their strengths. And rather than harshly judge them for it, she simply saw it all as amusing. People are people, and people will always continue to be people. What good is it to do anything but laugh?

I could no more write a [historical] romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. (1816)
I feel this sentiment to my soul. The feedback in almost every writing class I took was to add more emotion to my stories, to treat things seriously, to make the reader feel everything. And no matter how much I tried, I couldn't make anything I wrote sound completely serious without also sounding completely hokey. I wish Jane Austen had been there to tell me that it was okay, that I could take my deeply unserious stories and turn them into something great, something filled with emotion that not only made readers today feel, but readers two hundred years later.

Austen's brother Henry tells us, "She became an authoress entirely from taste and inclination." She saw that the serious romances of the time weren't of interest to her, so she wrote her own. She wrote what entertained her, and it entertained everyone else as well. INTJs tend not to believe in the word "impossible." If we see something that we don't like, and we care enough to fix it, we will. It's as simple as that.

In the first chapter of Northanger Abbey, the narrator says, "Strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out." This is an INTJ's mindset in a nutshell. It is an obvious truth to Austen, who tucks it neatly in the middle of a particularly satirical passage.

It is in this searching and accounting for things that Austen's writing really shines. Not only does she people watch like a pro, she learns their motivations and their place within society--not in the society that claimed women shouldn't write novels, but the society that existed in her mind, the practicalities of everyday life. And thus her characters practically jumped off the page.

INTJs aren't concerned with the particulars of life, the small details of society that have no bearing on them personally. Sherlock doesn't care that the earth revolves around the sun. Mr. Darcy doesn't like to dance. Jane Austen cared not at all that women in her society were supposed to be proper, were supposed to refrain from reading novels. There was a war going on as she wrote most of her novels, but the most mention she makes of this is when it affects one of her characters directly: when the militia is in town, for example, bringing lots of eligible young men. She wrote about human nature, the one thing that will endure as long as humanity is around, and moreover she understood human nature, and so her novels are timeless.

But, like most INTJs, the fact that she understood human nature simply meant that she liked it less.

She is cantankerous and constantly annoyed with humanity, the fate of many an INTJ, and she knows it. There is a weird paradox that exists between INTJs and people: we're angry, bitter, conceited, and a great many other negative adjectives, and yet, because we're aware of this fact and treat those emotions with the same indifference we show the rest of our lives, people like us for it. I still don't totally understand it, other than the "you're so funny!" comments I get on the regular.

"You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve," (1798) she writes, and yet her brother said of her, "No one could be often in her company without feeling a strong desire of obtaining her friendship."

Maybe this disconnect comes from the loyalty INTJs display once they've deemed someone worth their time. Loyalty might even be the wrong word for it. It's a stubborn affection, a commitment to like a person and enjoy their company for conceivably ever, unless something happens to cause the INTJ to cut ties completely. Once an INTJ likes you, however, this is very very very unlikely.

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.
Austen writes this in Northanger Abbey, but it may as well have come from her letters. All her words are colored with the fact that she cares very little for the people of the neighborhood that she so scathingly writes about, but she would do anything for those she loves: her sister Cassandra, for example, or her niece Fanny.

I sometimes like to think of Jane Austen as the nice lady down the street who takes care of widows and orphans, is always nice to her neighbors, and yet, just to entertain you, tells hilarious stories about people, nailing their personalities, quirks, and flaws, and weaving a world in which humanity’s foolishness is no more harmful than a few hurt feelings and awkward situations. It’s not for no reason that Austen aficionados refer to her as "Aunt Jane."

She of course had all the typical INTJ quirks and faults, as well. She thinks herself brilliant and exceedingly witty: "Expect a most agreeable letter, for not being overburdened with subject (having nothing at all to say), I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end." (1801) Though, to be fair, she was both of those things. She has incredibly high standards for not only the people she meets (few measure up, as you can tell by her writings), but for a romantic partner as well. She loved one man, did not marry him because it was impractical for both of them, and no one ever quite measured up to him again, and so she died unmarried.

While some of her novels may seem boring or clichéd to the uninformed reader--the reader, perhaps, who has not pleasure in a good novel--they show a complex and intelligent woman who understood life and let it amuse her. In an outline to one of her novels, she details her heroine, in all her moral and worldly glory, then she writes, "Heroine must meet with the Hero—all perfection of course." Accurate to every girl’s fantasy, the female protagonist is complex and wonderful, but the hero doesn’t have any recognizable features: he is simply perfection. Of course. She gives no cares whatsoever about what is proper, what is expected of her, what is societally correct. She is an INTJ to the core.

And, like any true INTJ, she pauses one of her letters to say this:

I have got so many things to say, so many things equally important, that I know not on which to decide at present, and shall therefore go and eat with the children. (1799)
I have much more I could say about Dear Aunt Jane, I could laud her merits and her wit for days. (Possibly quite literally, though I've never tried.) But, as I cannot decide what else is important enough to add as everything about her is so equally wonderful, I will go eat with an episode of Arrested Development.

What do you love most about Aunt Jane?