Also titled Summer Reading – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I first became conscious of The Book Thief‘s existence in the last Border’s near me. Jenna and I had made the trek to St. Pete in effort to find a Paperchase journal suitable for holding the next year of my life and Border’s was the only place to purvey these particular journals. Alas, we trekked in vain and found, much to my dismay, that whomever is in charge of graphic design for Paperchase’s journals is now heavily influenced by 12 year olds and neon color combinations.
Anyway, Jenna said something about it supposedly being a good book. Then my friend The Scholastic Mind suggested it to me. I figured the fates were conspiring or something and added it to my Library Hold List. It joined the stack of books that went with me to vacation. Truth be told I actually finished The Book Thief back in Riverview (but it was Sunday night so it still counted as vacation). I looked at the first page on Amazon before I requested it at the library and was immediately hooked.
First of all, I didn’t read the one with this cover. Because I think it’s a bit too distracting. I think my motivation for reading it is a bit obvious. Though I was too late to see the movie in theatre and per my last google search far too early to see it on DVD. However, there’s a reason that the circus idea appealed to me.
I went to the circus for the first time that I really remember when I was about 14 (the things that I’m fuzzy on recollection-wise get punted into this year for some reason). Camille and I went to the circus at the Ice Palace with some friends of the family that at the time had two small girls. Camille left with one of those collapsible light-saber type toys that had a tiger head on the handle. I’m sure I got something, but I have no idea what it was. I remember thinking it smelled sort of funny and I wasn’t terribly impressed. It could have been my brief sulky teenager phase. I don’t know. But there’s something about the circus, huh? Continue reading “Summer Reading – Water for Elephants”→
So the internet tells me that November 1st is the release date of Water for Elephants on DVD.
The things I learned from Sara Gruen –
1. It is possible to write in a man’s voice even though you’re a woman. At least she convinced me and since I’m a girl that might be easier than if I were a guy… but I don’t know. Jacob Jankowski has a wonderfully developed tone. I enjoyed it immensely. In the reverse it made me think of this scene from As Good As It Gets
2. NaNoWriMo is sort of a legit thing – National Novel Writing Month takes place every November. This blogger writes that at least part of Water for Elephants was written during NaNoWriMo though much research was done beforehand and the novel itself took a bit longer than just the month of November to reach completion. However, when investigating the claims that Gruen wrote it during NaNoWriMo she came across this list of works published after NaNoWriMo. Okay, I promise to stop typing that.It’s getting on my nerves, too.
3. Research is a really important thing. Most of the events of her story were taken from actual circus history. Which, let’s face it, is rife with bizarre, secretive stories. One of my major complaints with a popular teen lit series that shall remain nameless is that the research was limited to google and based upon very silly ideas. Gruen actually came down to the Ringling Museum here in Florida to discover more about her topic AND invested in a ton of books as well.
Now I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I need to actually make effort in the arena of getting published. It’s possible National Novel Writing Month might be a bit of a kickstart for me. We shall see.
I found a review of this collection on Goodreads ; there were some vague references to Ray Bradbury and that was enough to pique (I always accidentally say this word as “pee-kew” instead of peak) my interest.
I became a fan of short stories about three years ago when I first came across Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles. Discovering Bradbury’s collections are what spurred me on to attempt some writing of my own moreso than anyone else I’ve read. It was after reading “The Veldt”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, “The Fog Horn”, and the list could go on forever I realized that being a “real writer” didn’t mean only churning out Dead Russian-sized perfect novels. It was liberating to experience a complete story encapsulated in such a small package. Continue reading “Summer Reading – Short Stories by Ben Loory”→
The first official day of fall is not until September 23rd so I find myself in a dilemma. Most of my “book reviews” have gone up under a Summer Reading heading. Now I’m curious if I should immediately switch to a General Reading sort of heading as soon as the 23rd hits or still categorize everything I’ve finished before Sept. 23rd as Summer Reading. Ah, the bothersome details of the life of a blogger. These are things you probably don’t even notice about the posts’ categories. Oh well. If you have any sort of feedback, feel free to share. For now I’m going to discuss another book I read a few years ago.
Let’s take a gander at that beautiful artwork, shall we?
If you click here it takes you to a pretty cool post showing the evolution of the cover art from its original publication date of 1950 until 2009. The 1984 version is pretty much my favourite. There’s also a graphic novel version of this collection.
I only just discovered this version. I may look into it a bit further since I do love this collection so much. Earlier this summer I made a foray into the world of Graphic Novels (which made Pam pretty excited) and I have a bit more patience for them than I did before. I’m a fan of the sedate in my entertainment.
Anyway, now that I’ve given you about five billion pictures to look at let’s talk about the collection. Hmm, where to start? Okay, I’ll be honest I most assuredly did not want to read this book when it was first suggested to me. I even went so far as to read just the first short story and half of the second and claim I didn’t like it. Accordingly I gave it back to the friend who let me borrow it and attempted to distract her from her Bradbury conversion of my imagination. (Turns out my kryptonite was Dandelion Wine). Once I read DW I decided to give The Martian Chronicles another go. I’m so glad I did.
I have a funny story about attempting to readThe Joy Luck Club. I first read an excerpt from it in one of my writing classes when we were either talking about memoir or tone or something like that. I read about Waverly Jong, protege chess player and I was fascinated.
I determined I would read the whole thing as soon as the opportunity arose. Now, I’m sort of a lazy library user. I do everything online: I request whichever books I want, they send the books to the library of my choosing, and when I arrive they are all on one shelf with my name on a sticker on the binding. It’s wonderful. So I went on to Hillsborough County’s Public Library online and requested The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan or at least what I thought was TJLC with an academic forward by Harold Bloom. What I got was a collection of essays about TJLC and writing about being the children of immigrants. I was frustrated. And at that point the list of books I wanted to read had grown exponentially larger and I briefly contemplated just dropping it off the list. I’d seen about 10 minutes of the movie and thought that might be enough. But my conscience wouldn’t let it go… or some perverse need to finish arbitrary goals I set for myself just wouldn’t give up. Anyway, I reserved it again online and got the correct book the second time around. It joined the stack of books that travelled to the beach and I started it the Monday night at the beach.
The funny thing about reading while on my family vacation wasI felt everyone was super conscious of what I was reading. I only finished three books while I was there because I was still trying to make a dent in Anna Karenina. Nevertheless, Jeffrey teased me for waiting so long to read TJLC. I looked at the publication date and told him I was two years old when it came out so I’m surprised it took me this long, too.
I’m glad that I did give it the time, though. Every girl’s relationship with her mother is immensly complex. It was interesting to see this complexity played out between women who did not speak language the same way and who held different societal and cultural values. These complexities are true in non-immigrant families (that whole “generation gap” thing) but are sometimes more difficult to recognize. A lot of the time it’s written as the younger generation’s impatience with the older and the older generation’s dismissal of the younger. (Why can’t we all just get along?)
So four fairly modern women and three mothers tell the stories of their lives either growing up in China or in America. I found the mother’s stories a bit more fascinating because to me the daughters mostly seemed whiney to me. I love the idea that parents have stories they don’t share with their children that if they did would create all kinds of common ground. I think it’s tricky for parents and children to realize that they can have common ground with their adult children. And for the children who attempt to claim adulthood at 18 it can be difficult for us to know when we’re really ready for it.
I love reading about family relationships and how they change over the years. So this was a fascinating book to me. Especially the traditional Chinese elements that were involved in the story. All in all I enjoyed it and if you’re looking for something a little heavier than your regular summer fluff this one’s great. It’s also a great book for discussion since most copies include a book club section in the back and there is the movie.