Thursday, 17 April 2014

How Reading A Game of Thrones Can Help Us to Cultivate Courage

I've written before about how brilliant I think George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is. The series begins with A Game of Thrones, the book that most of us are used to hearing about, and with each book I want to write more about it.

Read Game of Thrones and have more courage
The first cover of the stunning new Harper Voyager
series, which I'm making my way through.
The twists and turns of the series are superb, but what really gets my attention is the way the series affects the reader's own life, particularly when it comes to cultivating courage.

How A Song of Ice and Fire has given me courage

I'm just coming to the end of A Storm of Swords (Part II), which must be my favourite book of the series so far. Also, it's definitely having an impact on my own courage and psychological resilience.

I've had some job interviews that didn't go the way I hoped, but this isn't getting me down at all. I'm not viewing temporary setbacks as failures, and I'm certainly not viewing myself as a failure.

Instead, I'm feeling resilient and keen to keep going and not let the small stuff get me down. Perhaps this is because I've been exposing myself to more challenges, but I think my reading material comes into it too.

How could A Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire have possibly helped me to build courage?

We look up to the courageous characters

If you know the book or watch the show, think of Arya, Daenerys and Catelyn stark: female characters who strive towards what's best for them and their families and don't shy away from danger or challenges.

Also, there's Eddard Stark standing up for what he believes in, and - from A Clash of Kings onwards - Brienne of Tarth completely subverting the 'fair maiden' stereotype (to very good effect). These are all characters I want to act like in my own life, at least when it comes to finding courage.

Courage can be cultivated, even in the most unlikely characters

Samwell Tarly enters A Song of Ice and Fire as the least likely candidate for courageous behaviour. His lord father has given up on him, he sobs, and he doesn't seem to have an inch of muscle. However, things change, and we realise that courage isn't fixed in the slightest.

Rather, sometimes the most unlikely characters can display the most courage in the world of Westeros. Physical problems and a difficult past rarely stop a character from cultivating courage when it's required of them.

Similarly, Jon Snow is a bastard by birth, but he doesn't let this affect his morality or his courage, despite the taunts and exclusion he often faces. I've found myself looking up to him at many points in the series, even after he's made some questionable decisions, and find the way he motivates other characters to be particularly admirable.

George R.R. Martin helps us realise when we're being craven

'Craven' is a word that must appear in at least every chapter. Characters dread being called craven, but even the men and women we class as the strongest get accused of it.

When reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I think the fear of 'being craven' seeps into the reader's way of thinking in some way. For instance, when I find myself dreading or fearing something (be it tackling a difficult task or simply getting out the house), I tell myself not to be craven and get on with it.

George R.R. Martin draws us into his writing, and even gets us thinking like his characters. Such is the magic of well-written fiction.

Effect of Game of Thrones on our own lives
"Winter is coming..." Can A Game of Thrones help us to be more courageous in our own lives? Image source.

Have you found courage and greater resilience after reading a great book? Also, if you've read A Game of Thrones, has it had a similar effect on you?


bellezza said...

I loved The Game of Thrones, then let a few years slip by before picking up A Clash of Kings. I abandoned it because I felt lost in plot and characters. But, in reading your post, I completely concur how we are called upon to be courses, undaunted, and "not craven". I love how you apply books to life, Lucy. Such good points, and of course, a huge part of why I read is to grow.

Brian Joseph said...

I really liked this post Lucy.

I have not read any of these books. However, as a person so very much into books, I find myself drawing courage and strength from literary characters and my memories if them.

I particular one for me in terms of moral courage is Huckleberry Finn’s , “All right then, I'll go to hell” moment.

tolstoytherapy said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it too! I'm so excited to make a start on the next books, but for now I think I need a bit of a break ;)

I'm so lucky that a lot of the books I've been reading lately have been incredibly well-written and life-changing as a result... I attribute a great deal of this to the wonderful reviews of other bloggers!

I hope you're having a great Easter weekend :)

tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you, Brian! Literature is such a great source of wisdom and courage - perhaps one of the best, I'd say.

That's a wonderful quote to remember - thank you for sharing it!

I really hope you're having a relaxing Easter weekend, with lots of time for reading.

Repsych said...

Great post Lucy! I haven't read the books (but now I want to!) but the TV series have the same effects on me, especially Daenerys character, I love her courage, ambition and kind heart. I like what you say about Craven- I'll think about it too.

As for books that make me feel courageous, Kafka on the shore was one that comes to mind, the 15-year-old Kafka is a character that I'll always associate with courage.

BlogABookEtc said...

I felt the same way about Shantaram by Gregory Davies Roberts the book gave me the courage to travel - it sounds so silly but it really did!

tolstoytherapy said...

Hi Fay, that's so great to hear. I really must read Shantaram, it's not the first time I've heard it mentioned as a great book to build courage and motivation! In fact, I think it might be listed on LitTherapy, my other website, for precisely that reason ;)