We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Recent Acquisitions

So I have actually bought more books than I will be listing below, I just won't list them because I bought them for my nephew so they are kiddies books. My book buying tally for the year is quite low, but hopefully I will get more as the year progresses, now just to find space for them...

1. The Art of War

2. Beautiful Darkness

3. An Ice Cold Grave

4. Quidditch through the Ages

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: The Thursday Edition

So I really wanted to do this Top Ten Tuesday and thought I would just publish it late.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week's Top Ten: Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations. So here it is, in no particular order:

1. The Devil Wears Prada - I love the movie version of this book, so I thought the book has to be spectacular for the movie to be this great. But alas, the book did not live up to my expectations. So this is one instance where Hollywood really did good in bettering a story.

2. The Jane Austen Book Club - I watched the movie before I read the book, which may have tainted my appreciation of the book a little bit. I think the story is great and was a bit perplexed by how the ages differed so drastically from the movie. I like that the movie makes the story a bit more real with the age changes, it certainly makes it more fitting in today's society.

3. Bridget Jones' Diary - I loved this movie, and not just because of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant - it is just a wonderful story which many can relate to. It seems that the movie makers had to change a lot to transform the book into this loveable movie, and I am glad that they did because I did not enjoy the book very much.

4. Sex and the City - I expected so much from this book especially after watching every season of Sex and the City. So the translation from book to series to movie is exceptional.

And now for the books I actually had no qualms about...

5. Atonement - for once watching a movie before reading the book had an advantage. If I had read Atonement before watching the movie I would have been lost for quite a while when it comes to the same thing being seen from different perspectives. I love that the film has stayed true to the movie, it is very rare for something like this to happen so I am glad that it could be done for Atonement.

6. White Oleander - the movie stays very true to the book, and Michelle Pheiffer and Alison Lohman do a great job in bringing Astrid and her mother to life.

7. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane is a true genius for coming up with this gem. The film depiction of the novel is just as great as the book.

8. The Virgin Suicides - Watching the movie is a lot like reading the book. Sofia Coppola translated novel to script wonderfully, portraying the limited and restricted lives of the Lisbon sisters, showing that suicide was their only way out.

9. Revolutionary Road - When I first watched this movie I was very impressed by the dialogue and especially with the crazy bit of banter the last time the Wheeler's are visited by their estate agent, her husband and son that had been institutionalised. I thought it was a liberty taken by the script writers, but to find out that it was Yates all along was just wonderful. Sam Mendes did a great job bringing the book to life.

10. Romeo and Juliet - The only film edition of this I have seen is Baz Luhrmann's. I love the way he kept the Shakespearean dialogue and put it into a modern setting. What he did was make it more appealing to the modern audience, even though the dialogue is kept the same it is put into motion in a way that we all can understand. True genius.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I have been absent from blogging for 14 days which is much longer than I would have liked to be away, but c'est la vie. So I will be telling you about the 6 fabulous days I spent in Cape Town to help me get back into the groove of things; and then we can get back to all things bookish.

So watch this space...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Happy Birthday Jules Verne!!!

He is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the centre of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days(1873). Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised.

Today would have been his 183 birthday. Check out Google for the super cool animated tribute.

Heat and Reading

So my reading -and blogging - pace has been glacial the last while, I blame the heat. It is simply too hot. I would ordinarily flop down on a couch under the fan and get reading, but now it is simply to hot to even read. It is so hot that you can hardly think. Whoever says global warming is not real should come to Somerset East, and melt.

Fortunately there has been a bit of relief today in the form of a thunderstorm so it is bearable again outside. I for one cannot wait for the temperatures to drop a little bit, but here in South Africa you hardly get cold really. So today I am supposed to post on Oliver Twist, but I have not read the requisite chapters, so I shall try to post on it by Friday.

The good news is that I will be taking a 3 hour train ride to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, which means 3 hours of uninterrupted reading. I will be flying for an hour and a half on Wednesday so another hour and half there. So hopefully I can catch up on my reading which has been dismally slow and get up several posts after my short holiday in Cape Town. I am excited to be staying with my brother because my sister in law is a librarian so that is always awesome. The bad news is that unless I get radically busy reading in the next five days there will not be any new posts up in the time that I am gone, but maybe I can write up on some of the books I read last year that I still have not posted on. I should actually work on that tonight.

Monday, 7 February 2011

I found this on Sparknotes and had to share because it is well, awesome!

5 Reasons Why Reading is Awesome

Alexis A eats books. No really, she does. She said so herself. —Sparkitors

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a bookworm. I eat, sleep, and breathe books. When I was younger, my parents had to take away my books just so I would do my homework. My friends stay up late the surfing the web or watching TV; I stay up late wrapped in a Snuggie, reading a book. What can I say? Books are awesome. All the non-believers out there are simply misinformed or just haven't given those wonderful collections of words a chance. There are a million reasons why reading is the bomb.com, but here are five:

1. EDUMACATION. It’s true: reading makes you smarter. You pick up all sorts of ideas and awesome quotes and thematic elements, and you can study and emulate the diction and syntax of the author to improve your own writing. You think English class can’t be applied to your daily life? Open a great book and think again.

2. ALLUSIONS, ALLUSIONS, ALLUSIONS. You know those things your favorite TV character says that go right over your head? Reading more will ensure that you miss the joke less often. Most of those witty lines contain a plethora of literary allusions, so becoming more familiar with classic or popular literature can help you enjoy TV on a deeper level.

3. LEARN BIG WORDS. Books have a lot of words (that’s probably what makes them so daunting to book-haters), and the vocabulary you pick up from reading can really come in handy; seriously, just try dropping "doppelganger" into your next casual chat!

4. FREE TIME WELL SPENT. Books are enjoyable. I know, I know, this is a total book-nerd claim. But books are all different, and there are tons of them out there. Go check the library. That place is packed, my friend. So many places to go, people to meet, adventures to be had—and they’re all in those pages, trust me. You just have to open a book and let yourself enjoy it.

5. SOCIAL LIFE, WHO NEEDS IT! I will admit that some human interaction is desirable for the average person. But if you’re stuck at home on a Friday or Saturday night (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything), the best way to occupy your time is by reading. Plus, if you're a regular attendee on bus, plane, etc. rides, a book is the best way to avoid conversations with creepers. Nothing says “I don’t want to talk” like sticking your nose into a book and looking engrossed.

Why do you love to read?


Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Catcher in the Rye: The Review

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it" p. 16

Sometimes I wish that when Salinger was alive I had the opportunity to do just what he wrote in The Catcher in the Rye, as I have quoted above. But knowing what we all do about Salinger he would not have liked that, and well that is why I would never even have thought about looking for his number.

It worries me that since he has died someone - I won't even bother to look up their name to place here - has gone and done what Salinger did not want. This unmentionable person has gone and written - and dared to have it published might I add - a sequal to Salinger's masterpiece. I could go on and on about it, but that is not what my post is about.

The Catcher in the Rye has been my favourite book since I read it for the first time in 2004. I loved that I loved this book knowing that I would have to read it for school, because then you could get really passionate about it. I have not read it since 2006, and thought that it would be interesting to see whether my feeling about this often controversial novel have changed. I can say with great conviction, that it has not. The Catcher in the Rye is still as magnificent as I remember it to be.

I don't want to psychoanalyze the book, as I could very easily do that, but rather want to look at what Salinger wanted to say through writing it. But maybe that cannot be done without a degree of psychoanalysis. Having been published in 1951 it is not wrong to assume that the Catcher in the Rye was written after Salinger returned from fighting in World War II. Having stated this, and having read about Salinger's life we can say that Salinger was broken by the war. He must have suffered from PTSD and was obviously disillusioned by life. We could even venture a guess that he might even have had some form of depression.

Bearing all this in mind, it is obvious that to a certain extent Holden is based on Salinger. The difference between the two being their age differences and what brought about their disillusionment. Salinger was disillusioned by the war whilst Holden was disillusioned by the death of his brother Allie. But I think I may be getting ahead of myself a little bit here.

The Catcher in the Rye is a book that starts in the present and recounts the story to how the narrator - in this case Holden Caulfield - got there. It is clear from the way that Holden speaks that he has had a break down of sorts, and the way he tells his story and the way he describes things, it is clear that he is suffering from depression. This is obviously not stellar insight, but as a sufferer of depression, I can greatly identify with the way he sees and perceives things. His description of so many things as phony, is well something that I experienced too, you listen to how people speak about the most shallow and insignificant things as though it's the end of the world. I completely identify with Holden on that. So I would say that rereading it after the major depressive episode I had it is almost introspective.

It is a great comentary on the time that it was written, and if you look at what Salinger experienced during the war, the things that people experienced then was almost a joke. Life was superficially filled by those of Holden's social class - as noted in his encounter with the nuns - and then you had people that were recovering from what the war had done to them. Two completely different ends of the continuum.

What really gets me everytime I read the Catcher in the Rye, is that Holden is particularly depressed by the way that through other people's carelessness and crassness children get pushed into things for adults too quickly. Case in point being the swear words he finds at his old school and at the museum. His wanting to be the Catcher in the Rye, wanting to stop children falling off of a cliff - is his wanting to keep children children for as long as possible. That is such a great thing, and had the Catcher in the Rye been set in the 21st Century, well I don't think Holden would just have had a break down, he would have committed suicide. There are so many things that take Childhood away from children, and that is the saddest thing of all, and what I think Holden wanted to prevent by being the Catcher in the Rye.

Many books get referenced in the Catcher in the Rye, such as David Copperfield, Out of Africa, The Return of the Native, Of Human Bondage, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Beowolf, Lord Randal my Son, Oliver Twist, A Farewell to Arms and The Great Gatsby. I have only read two of them - Romeo and Juliet and The Great Gatsby, and as such cannot deliver great insight on the intertextuality. Maybe I should do that once I have read them all?

I think I have gotten out much of what I wanted to say without digressing too much. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that I can talk about for hours. So I hope that I have not scared you off with this post if you have not yet read it. If you have not yet read it, go read it now because it is a literary rite of passage. It is remarkably easy to read for a stream of consciousness novel. If you have read it, please let me know what you think about the Catcher in the Rye; the book that's popularity forced Salinger into seclusion. The book that should never be made into a movie because Salinger didn't want it to be, and if it ever is it should be boycotted.
Comin Thro the Rye

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry;
She draigl't a' her petticoattie
Comin thro' the rye.

Comin thro the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye,
She draigl't a'her petticoatie,
Comin thro the rye!

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,[r] Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken?


Book Stats: The Catcher in the Rye

Author: J.D. Salinger

Date of Publication: 1951

Other notable works: Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories

Pages: 192

My Edition: Penguin Classics

Why I read it: I have meaning to reread it for a while, so have decided to read it for the Back to the Classics Challenge.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Book Stats:Oliver Twist

Title: Oliver Twist or The Parish Boy's Progress

Author: Charles Dickens

Date of Publication: 1837

Other Notable Works: A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol

A short synopsis from Wikipedia:
The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who escapes from a workhouse and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin, naively unaware of theor unlawful activities.

Oliver Twist is my first Dickens. I am presently in chapter 5 and so far I find it dreadfully sad. I am not sure whether I will be able to read the whole book, because it is just upsetting to read about a person being treated the way that Oliver and the others in the workhouse are treated. But hey, we'll see how it goes.