Monthly Archives: June, 2013

BA’s 26 Posts Blogging Challenge – June 30th

The 26 Posts Blogging Challenge is a challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour, which poses topics for 26 years. I have not completed every topic, and I don’t plan on continuing on a regular basis, but I did want to write up something and this is a good way to find prompts. This week’s topic is –

Your Changes: How have you changed since your blog began?

This is actually a really interesting topic, and it has more to do with my love of writing than with my love of reading. I do run a book blog and so of course I enjoy reading but a passion of mine I’ve discovered and pursued only relatively recently is writing. I write short stories, poetry, essays, spoken word poems – everything. I originally intended on running a book blog with reviews mainly, but eventually I realized that – unlike many book bloggers I follow – I simply cannot keep up with reading a library every week. I got into the weekly meme posts and those seemed to be a big hit with you guys and so I do them often now. At one point I also realized I wanted to incorporate writing into this blog and that’s how my “Book Talk” page began. I guess I never made it clear but that page basically just rounds up links for all of my more personal posts about books that aren’t memes or reviews. My first piece was one about Orson Scott Card and my own personal agenda regarding him, and authors who partake in activities I am against in general. My second post was about literary tattoos, one that for some reason never picked up – you can view it here, in case you’re interested. I’ve gone on to write two more of these (My Reading History & Book to Movi- TV Show?) and to be honest they’re what I enjoy most, besides my very favorite Top Ten Tuesday posts. In fact, Jayde-Ashe @ The Paperbook Blog has started a project of putting out a monthly (maybe twice a month even) literary magazine online and I’ll be submitting a piece about what I like to call “book murder” in there. I’ll make sure to link you guys when it’s up.

So, now with this lengthy introduction in place – you guys know how I tend to get off topic – I guess I should address the real question here. I think I’ve mainly changed in the fact that I’ve stopped just listing ideas. Nowadays, I actually tackle them. The Scott Card post is a topic I’ve been involved in ever since I discovered the topic after reading Ender’s Game about a year and a half ago. I discuss it verbally with people all the time, but I never actually sat down and wrote about it. This platform finally got me going. I finally DO SOMETHING with my ideas, and it makes me so happy with myself. I’m a professional procrastinator  and this blog has managed to hack away at this laziness I’m encased in. I’ve also started writing reviews of course, something I’ve been interested in doing but never actually made the effort. The main change I guess I’m trying to emphasize is that I’ve become a “do-er”, along with just… a thinker.

In addition to that, ever since I started writing I became more confident in my own life. I’m generally a shy person with strangers – not loud or outgoing. My writing has helped me discover other sides of myself – the opinionated, strong, humour person I come off as through these posts. The fact that people actually read MY writing – you guys have no idea how happy it makes me. Every email I get from WordPress makes my day. It still astounds me that 69 – NEARLY SEVENTY – human beings in this world choose to invest time in reading the words I type up here in my little room. Having readers? It’s crazy. I never thought I’d reach that point. I don’t need crowds of people or mainstream websites printing my writing – just this. Anyone. Someone who listens. I know every blogger is glad to be read but when it comes from that BEING A WRITER aspect it really affects me. I love what I do with books here, but at the end of the day my writing is most important to me.

So yes, I’ve changed. I’ve become more confident both in real life, in writing, and in sharing my writing in real life. I’ve started accomplishing things instead of just piling up ideas and plans. This show of support I get here with every follow, comment or like has encouraged me to continue. I’ve changed because I feel like people care, and I think that’s honestly the best motivation. I’m not big in the book blogging community and I might never be, but my goal is to have people listen and for now this is more than enough.

I think it’s only right I finish this post off with a thank you. I usually do the whole “What do YOU ______” thing but this post isn’t so much about questions for you – it’s just… thanks. You guys have no idea how much every one of you means to me. We’re nearing the 70 now. A small community. All of this wouldn’t exist without you or your support.

Thank you, danke, gracias, merci, תודה.

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Book to Movi- TV Show?

    

We’re all familiar with the book-to-film phenomenon. Someone takes a book, turns it into a movie. Or, in my slightly unobjective opinion, someone takes a book, rips it open, stabs it thirty times in the heart, writes a murder plan, turns it into a movie, and hacks away at my heart and brain as I suffer through said movie.

We all have our own opinions regarding these movies. Some turn out good, others not so much. We also are all familiar with that unfortunate event where people watch a film and then never read the book because they’ve “already seen the movie.” That’s when us readers usually intrude, making futile attempts to convince this poor, ignorant friend that “the book is so not like the movie!” We fail, of course, and return to our computers defeated and angry – prepared to rant to the Internet about this awful incident.

Something that has been on the rise lately though is not movies based on books, but TV SHOWS based on books. Sometimes these are series that get translated to many seasons; sometimes the show begins with a book and deviates from it, becoming a creature of its own.

With films, we walk into a dark room and experience the book we’ve read on screen for no more than three hours. We experience a very basic version of the book – this intimate knowledge of characters and their lives and troubles simply cannot be translated as perfectly in such a short time. Most films don’t convey that feeling of getting into somebody’s head, viewing the world through their eyes. It’s a very special experience – one you can almost only find in a book.

On the other hand, with TV shows there’s suddenly this whole huge time span. These characters we read about become full-fledged people. Our books don’t get condensed – they get stretched. Many times the writers of these TV shows start inventing new situations to put characters through – happenings that didn’t take place in the original novel. Movies that are book-based are usually created in order to pair a visual experience to the imageless one we get from our book. Book based TV shows, however, take these people we’ve befriended on paper and put them in our own very real world. The TV shows aren’t meant to perfectly portray the novels. They’re meant to expand them, to show us what happened before and after or what happened in between in the parts the author chose not to mention. It’s why these TV shows usually tend to stray from the original works they’re based on. On screen these characters come to life and with so much time to fill they become their own standalone individual, no longer based on that snippet of their life that we read about.

I haven’t actually read many books whose series I later watched. I read the first book in the Dexter series, which according to Dexter fans is very similar to the first season of the show, even though later on the show and the book part ways. I still remember the surprise I felt when one day a few years ago I turned on the TV and discovered that there was a Tracy Beaker show. I never took a particular liking to it; then again I was not exactly at the appropriate age anymore.

The Pretty Little Liars series was a different case because I actually read all eight books before the series was announced, and I can still recall phoning my friend and telling her that a TV series was going to be made. The eighth book had an open ending, and when the series turned out to be a huge success Sara Shepherd immediately announced she’d be writing four more novels. I read the first one in this new continuance and was very not surprised when it turned out to be a complete waste of time. It was obvious right from the announcement that this was simply a way to make money off her new fame, and I was both prepared and disappointed. Many of my friends started watching this show and immediately fell in love. I remember being shushed and hushed at every conversation regarding the show because I knew what was going to happen. It was an unusual experience – we’re used to not spoiling short stories – movies and books with clear beginnings and clear ends. With a TV show it’s different. You don’t know how it’s going to be spaced out, what’s going to happen now, how they’re going to wrap up a season. I used to have my friends tell me what’s going on in the show and then I’d compare it with the book progression. In the beginning I absolutely hated the TV show – the characters were all wrong, the plot was completely off track – so much of it was different and made up. It’s the exact thing I hated about book-based movies. The episodes seemed to be airing whenever I decided to watch TV – no matter the time – and of course I ended up watching them and slowly, over time, learning to like this new version of the books I’d read. Unlike my experience with movies, I managed to put the books aside and view this series as a sort of alternate universe to my books – slight similarities mixed with new ideas and inventions. Eventually the show went completely off course and now it’s just a TV show that happens to share a general idea and a couple of names with Sara Sheppard’s original books.

I cannot stand seeing my fictional friends being abused for two hours as every shred of character is taken away from them, but when they’re given a new life with their own adventures the case is different – I see my fictional friends go from limited entities to proper beings. I think the difference in my attitude toward these two mediums stems from the fact that I view movies as a recreation and TV shows as a new creation.

My History of Other People’s Stories

I was just browsing my Facebook News Feed when I came across a link to a post called My Reading History by Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner. In it she describes in lovely writing and even lovelier images the history of her reading over the years – from child, through teen and college all the way to today. She inspired me to write one of my own posts, although without the wonderful graphics because I am hopeless at creating things using a computer. I’ll just stick to words – hope you guys don’t mind. Actually, I’m sure you guys won’t mind because trust me; images will make this a lot more messy.

I guess I should begin from… the beginning? Wow, how surprising. So, I’ve loved reading since I can remember myself. In fact, in 2nd grade I was already reading proper books. I was one of few 2nd graders in my class, maybe even the only one, who’d reached the stage where they move on from picture books. I didn’t like this difference and I insisted on reading picture books even though they were below my level. Eventually Ms. Golden, my 2nd grade teacher, told my mom she refused to allow me to read picture books when I could be reading proper writing and that’s when my love story with picture books ended. It was in 2nd grade that I first read a Roald Dahl book – George’s Marvelous Medicine – and fell in love with rhyming poetry in the form of Jack Preluztky. I specifically say “rhyming” because I was convinced that any poem that didn’t rhyme wasn’t really a poem at all and that it was just stupid. On the first day of 2nd grade my teacher gave every kid a small book of poems by many different poets. I still have the book, along with a decent collection of Jack Preluztky books.

In 3rd grade I discovered Harry Potter, which of course took over the rest of my life. I read all six in record time, the books breaking my tiny eight year back; the seventh came out only a year and a half later.  My friend and I printed Potter related things, wrote Potter poems, practiced spells, drew characters and basically just had our own fan club without knowing that’s what we were doing. I still have two letters I wrote – one to Harry himself and the other to JK Rowling – somewhere in my room. As you can probably tell, I don’t throw stuff out. Like, ever. I also read all twelve A Series of Unfortunate Events books that had been released till that point. Funnily enough, I ended up ordering The End off Amazon and only making it halfway through. I also remember reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin – a book I later read one or two more times and yet still do not remember even now what happens in the end.

My entire reading history can be summed up into one word – whatever. That’s it. I read whatever I found, without considering the genre or age it was meant for. It’s how I ended up being asked by a teacher in 4th grade why I was reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and why I to this day am still unsure of the definition of children and young adult literature. I simply never went by definitions. I read everything and anything. I do remember despising non-fiction books, the only exceptions being the non-fiction companions to the Magic Tree House series books.

Between fourth and fifth grade I moved back to Tel Aviv and ended up reading the last Harry Potter book in my first summer back here without my own proper room or friends – specifically my best friend who I’d read the entire series with.

I’ve never had a lull in my reading. I mean, nowadays I read less but that’s because I have so much more to do and so much less time to do it, and that’s even though I sleep way too little – as my mother never tires of reminding me. I also haven’t really gone through any “periods.” I’ve always read anything. I do admit that when I was younger I preferred longer and bigger books because I hated that feeling of finishing a series and not having anything more to share with those characters, contrary to today when I prefer shorter books that don’t make me feel tiny and discouraged.

I have so many great memories associated with reading. There was that time I was visiting my grandparents in Israel back when I still lived in New York and when I was bored one day they gave me a box full of children’s books, namely The Babysitter’s Club books by Ann M. Martin. I was probably around eight years old at the time, and I decided I’d read all of the books in the series in chronological order. I reached the eighth book and that’s when I came across the book numbered 108. Needless to say, I gave up that plan.

Another story – one I’ve mentioned here before – is the time I got left behind on a 3rd grade trip because I spent too much time in the library and the class left without me. I ended up riding a taxi to the theatre with the meanest, scariest teacher in the school and the copy of A Wrinkle in Time that I’d finally chosen before I’d discovered my class’s disappearance and all hell broke loose inside eight year old me. (Wow, lots of stuff happened to me when I was eight.) After the teacher’s incessant apologizes to my mom over the phone we sat together and complained about the play we were supposed to be watching the entire time.

I don’t remember anything about the book The Wind in the Willows, except for the fact that I hated it. It was the first book my mother chose to read to my sister and me when we decided to start a bed-time story ritual in the winter of 2006. I remember how one night, after reading, or maybe instead, my mother told us we were going to be moving back to Israel the next summer.

My obsession with Jodi Picoult I established after reading her book The Pact. The interesting part of this is that I picked up The Pact after recognizing Picoult’s name since I’d read My Sister’s Keeper. I found it on a random rack of not-yet-shelved books in the library I absolutely hate and have been to very few times – an even number because I had to return the books of course. This is the only good thing I ever got from that place. Ever.

In 2012 I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and then visited the places he mentioned in it when I visited Amsterdam in the summer. Somewhere in my massive Sent folder I still have the email I wrote to fictional Hazel and Augustus while riding the train from Holland to Germany.

Oh, and at some point during my younger years I developed an unexplained hate for Narnia and all things related which explains my Narnia-less childhood.

My reading history is basically just a big mess littered with thousands of memories. These days I’m pickier and I tend to avoid huge commitments – it’s why I’m still putting off Game of Thrones.

I’ve also always had this… fear of classics. It’s the same feeling I have regarding cult films – I’m always worried I won’t get what they hype is all about and then end up just feeling stupid because I haven’t experienced a revelation or epiphany of some sort after reading said book. Or worse, I won’t even like it.

So, yeah, this is it basically. My “reading history.” Well, actually, it’s more like a bunch of memories that cover it, but maybe that’s just the same thing. I mean, I could go on listing books forever but I find that highly uninteresting not to mention pointless. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of Judy Blumes and Roald Dahls and so many other books but in the end it’s the memories that make up my history, so I think presenting them is much better than just listing. The Wayside School tapes we listened to in the car, the spell practicing with Potter and my friend, the poetry obsessions – those are what matters. I still read young adult literature these days, along with what you’d categorize as “adult novels.” I don’t know if I’ve ever had a certain taste – I just went along with what I found. If it looks good, I’ll read it.

I intended on one day making a post about the memories we associate with books and how the books I read can tell the story of who I am but maybe this is it. It’s just… my history. Or maybe I will end up writing another post and you guys will recognize stories I mention there because they probably appear in other posts of mine as well. Who knows? We’ll see.

What do you guys think? Is our reading history just an assortment of books or does it mean more about us? Have you had periods in your life where reading just wasn’t a top priority anymore? Or maybe it only became important later on in life?

WWW Wednesday!

Another WWW Wednesday post, brought to ya by MizB! Here’s a photo of my cat!Image

What are you currently reading?

So, I’ve slowed down a bit since Sunday. I’ve been reading the same book – Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency – for three days now, which is my longest reading time for one book since about two weeks ago – it is CRAZY. I’m nearing the middle, I might finish it by Thursday. We’ll see. I’m having a crazy week. So far it’s okay. It’s got my oh-so-favorite Adams humor in it but I don’t find the plot very interesting – sorta the same thing that happened to be with Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic by Terry Jones. Great Adams writing, not so great plot.

What did you recently finish reading?

I started and finished reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid on Saturday. I even reviewed it right here! The story wasn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve read but the writing style made up for that.

What do you think you’ll read next?

This is a good question. I might read Zombie Survival Guide next or maybe Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul cause it’s the 2nd Dirk Gently… we’ll see.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TOO, FOLKS.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books Read So Far in 2013

EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE WORKING SO GREAT WITH MY NEW READING-ALL-THE-TIME HABITS. (thank you Lord of All the Books On Planet Earth and Beyond and in the Internet too and The Broke and the Bookish).

Usually at this point in the year I’d be at 11 or 12 books but I’m now on my SIXTEENTH. This is a vast improvement guys, it really is. So now I can choose the best! Actually, I did read half of The Hobbit this year as well so really it’s more like I’m on my sixteenth and a half… so almost seventeen! (don’t worry if you had trouble following that math right now – I did too).

Top Ten Books Read So Far in 2013 

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue – this is probably one of the top ten books I’ve read period. This book is just WONDERFUL. Hauntingly wonderful.
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – again, top ten favorite. Maybe even top five. Libba Bray is a genius and her books are both profound and profoundly hilarious.
  3. Q & A by Vikas Sawrup – I’m starting to realize quite a lot of the books I’ve read this year are close to being favorites for me. Anyway, great story told in an interesting manner.
  4. World Cup Wishes / Eshkol Navo (originally Hebrew משאלה אחת ימינה, אשכול נבו) – I think this is my only really favorite Hebrew book. I’m not sure it was translated but if it was GO READ IT THIS BOOK IS HEARTBREAKING AND BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN.
  5. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – just read it. Or read my review which really isn’t very good but I think you’ll get the point.
  6. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid – so I’m not going to say this is one of my favorite books but the way in which the story is told is something I’ve never seen done before and it makes up for any flaws you may find in the plot.
  7. Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin – lovely story, good writing, likeable characters, heartbreaking, makes up for all the crying in the end.

  8. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – okay so to be honest I hated this book till about the last 40 pages and then it actually became likeable but I think the moral of this book is one that’s so important and needs to be said in about every form possible because it deals with such an important subject. And again, another interesting way to tell a story.
  9. What If / Yoav Avni (Original Hebrew הרצל אמר / יואב אבני) – the IDEA for this novel is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. Parts of it were extremely boring but the ending more than makes up for it. I just sat there staring at the book. I had NO idea where Avni made that shit up from. Seriously. I WAS SO CONFUSED.
  10. Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic by Terry Jones – okay, so definitely not the best book and some parts were downright boring but it had the wonderful humor and writing style I love so much about Adams so I’m including it in this list.

TELL ME ‘BOUT YO’ CHOICES, READERSIES.

What Are You Reading? Monday

I’ve said this a million times before but it’s just so exciting to do all of these memes now that, for the first time in my life, I’m reading SO MUCH and SO FAST.

Anyway, this meme hosted by Book Journey, is about dicussing our current reading material. I finished Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (review here) just yesterday and decided to wait a night before starting something new. I think I’m going to start Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently now because I do need some sci-fi for my Eclectic 2012 Repeat. I’m so proud because out of my Top Ten Tuesday Summer TBR List post from last week I’ve already read three and reviewed all three as well.

So yeah, I think Douglas is next. If I find a book that complies with any of the 2013 Eclectic demands I might choose that instead, because this year is really weird and complicated – new age? published in 2013? I DON’T KNOW.

So, whatcha readin’? Know any good Published in 2013 or New Age books? Lemme know.

EDIT: OH MY GOD IT’S SUNDAY I DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE OOPS WAAAAT HOW IS IT NOT MONDAY

 

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

  • Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist 
  • Author: Mohsin Hamid
  • # of Pages: 191

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid turned out to be another one-day read. It’s relatively short, not even 200 pages, and it is told from the point of view of the main character Changez, telling his story to an American stranger as one continuous monologue. The book is literally just a story being told.  We do not know what is going on in Changez’s setting lest he chooses to mention something. The entire time he talks he is sitting in a restaurant with this foreigner he met seemingly at random, only leaving near the end as they walk to the stranger’s hotel. The reactions of the American to the story, the arrival and departure of the waiter, the noises and sights surrounding the two as they sit in Lahore in Pakistan and dine – all of these occurrences are known to us only if Changez chooses to address them.

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Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

  • Title: Suicide Notes
  • Author: Michael Thomas Ford
  • # of Pages: 295

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.”

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Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford is a novel told from the point of view of a kid who finds himself in a 45 day psychiatric hospital program after attempting to commint suicide on the night of New Years Eve. The chapters in the novel are basically entries for each day – 45 total – in which Jeff, a ffiteen year old teenager, goes through a self-discovery journey that starts from anger and denial and eventually reaches a sort of acceptance and attempt to get back up on his feet.

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Saturday Summaries

Okay so I’m pretty sure I just made this meme up and it’s honestly just an excuse to write an excited post tleling you all how this week I broke my life record for reading and finished FIVE BOOKS IN ONE WEEK. For some book bloggers I’ve seen on here that’s just an ordinary acheivement and for some it’s even more on the failure side of the spectrum, but for me this is absolutely crazy. I even read one of these five in a day! I tend to take two weeks to complete a book, on average. I think this is just my brain reacting to being freed from the heavy chains fo A Casual Vacancy. I think the lesson here is that

  1. don’t try and force readin something you don’t like
  2. Kindles are awesome

So yeah. Five books. Seven days. And I even managed to do some other things as well! Also, I’m not officially on summer vacation even though I haven’t been to school for more than a week in over a month. I’ve got lots in store for you guys, especially with this new speed of mine. Also, the Kindle I’ve owned for month but only started using on Friday has opened up a new world for me. I no longer have to bookmark thousands of book reviews and Amazon pages and hope I can get more than two or three boks when I go abroad this summer. Acquiring not-exactly-mainstream novels here is sort of a task. I mean, you can find them but they do require some lookign around and usually more money than i’m willing to spend. I end up having endless books-to-buy lists and by the time I get those books I already have a billion more to read. The Kindle allows me to almost always just get the book at the very moment I desire it, and that’s such a liberating feeling. I can read less well-known novels now and discover so many new things I’d never had the oppurtunity to read or explore before! I think I’m going to write up a Kindle post sometime describing my own personal experience and thoughts, so I think this is enough about it for now.

On Friday (which was exactly 35 minutes ago) I posted a review for David Levithan’s How They Met and Other Stories which I finished just yesterday. I also have another review, this time of Michael Thomas Ford’s Suicide Notes, typed up and ready to go either today or tomorrow (this is the book I read in one day). I think I might cheat again and go back to complete my unfinished drafts of Top Ten Tuesdays I’ve missed because of my exam period. I don’t even think I need to apologize for my incessant cheating at this point. I think you’ve all noticed by now.

The awards I got on my poetry blog in the beginning of June sparked a major flow of followers and so again, I welcome all of you new folks. I’m glad to have you aboard and hope you enjoy your stay. It makes me so happy to know people actually read what I write and I am honored to have each and every one of you here.

Well, this is getting long and I am getting sleepy so I’m saying good-bye. Expect more reviews, memes, random posts, quotes and even my own personal writing – basically just more action around here agin.

So long and thanks for all the fish NICE PEOPLE READING MY BRAIN JUICES!

How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan

  • Title: How They Met and Other Stories
  • Author: David Levithan
  • # of Pages: 256

How They Met and Other Stories is a collection of eighteen short stories written by David Levithan. This is the sdecond Levithan book I’ve read – well, you could say first and a half – the half being Will Grayson Will Grayosn which he co-wrote with author John Green.

This book is a collection of short love stories. There is no connection between the plots or the characters except the general theme – love. The writing spans across Levithan’s entire life as an author, icnluding stories he wrote in high school up until more recent ones. It started with Levithan writing a physics-themed love story in a boring physics class as a junior, a story he later gave to his friends who obviously demanded another one – and so he gave them just that. Over and over again.

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