Thursday, August 18, 2016

What type of reader are you?

Presumably, if you are following this blog, you love books. We all love books. But everyone loves and reads books in their own way. I thought it would be fun to attempt to put names to some of the different types of readers out there.

#1. The Serial Series Reader
This person loves a good series. They may even go so far as to reject stand-alone novels all together. They love to get lost in a world built up through as many books as the author is kind enough to write. The characters become their friends and they just don’t want to let go.

#2. The True Bibliophile
This type of reader loves all books and everything that has to do with books. They can read any genre and will finish EVERY book they start. Not only do they read books but they read about books, make book crafts, they may even wear articles of clothing with books on them.

#3. The Book Deserter 
This is the reader that loves to start new books but can’t quite seem to finish them. It may be because they are a picky reader or they may just simply grow bored with the plot or characters and move on to the next book on their list.

#4. The Adult YA Reader
These readers are fans of YA books and they aren’t afraid to show it. They love the engaging stories and the dynamic characters. This person will tell you (and they will be right) that YA books can be great reads, even for adults!

#5. The Genre Reader
Similar to the series reader, this person sticks to their favorite genre when choosing their next read. Whether it be mystery, romance, or science fiction, they rarely stray from their comfort zone.

#6. The Relaxed Reader
This reader will pick up their next book on a whim. They may like the cover, have heard of it in passing, or it may be a completely random choice. They will finish it if it’s enjoyable but will set it aside if it’s not. They don’t mind to cross genre barriers or try new author debuts.

I have always aspired to be a “true bibliophile”, spanning book genres and easily finishing any and all books I begin even if I am not totally enjoying it. But I have come to terms with the fact that I am just not that type of reader. I am much more of a “relaxed reader” type with a hint of “book deserter.” I will give any book a try, and I have enjoyed books in most genres, but I won’t force myself to read something I am not fully enjoying. Unfortunately, that means that I sometimes feel like I abandon more books than I finish but it also means I mostly love all the books I do finish.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive. You may be a combination of these types of readers or a type all your own. So, what type of reader are you?

~Ragan S.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Librarians' Line-Up: Favorite Book to Movie

We talk a lot on here about upcoming books being turned into movies, and we tend to critique that the book is always better. While that's pretty true, there have been good movie adaptations of our beloved books, so we round some up for you today. Share your favorite in the comments below!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I really liked the Hunger Games series as it was adapted for the screen. I loved books one and two, Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and thought they did a really good job in getting the story across on screen. In fact, I actually liked the movie version(s) of the third book Mockingjay better as movies than as a book. All in all, I recommend both the book and the movies. Great job done all around.
~Mary P.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
One of the few book-to-movie adaptations I can really comment on would be Lord of the Rings, as it's one of the few instances in which I actually read the book before watching the movie. I'll be the first to admit it isn't a purist adaptation; the actual battle scene in Two Towers, for instance, consumes far more of the movie than it does the actual book. Still, I believe Jackson's passion for Tolkien's work led him to remain largely faithful to the books, thereby resulting in an adaptation that, I'm sad to say, hasn't remained in the public consciousness nearly so well as I would have liked.
~Nathan D.

I could pick any of the three films that make up Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy; but my favorite has to be the first in the series, The Fellowship of the Ring. What can I say?  I’m a lady who loves world-building, and Jackson did an amazing job bringing J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy realm of Middle-earth from page to screen. Who doesn’t want to live in The Shire or Rivendell after seeing those rolling hills lined with Hobbit holes and the majestic Elven architecture in the towering trees? Three hours might have been asking a bit much for the uninitiated, but hardcore Tolkien fans like myself left the theater drooling—all three or four times we paid to see it. (Who’s counting?)
~Ariel J.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Recently, I decided to re-read some of my favorite childhood books. The first one I picked up was Holes by Louis Sachar. This is a quirky book with a lot of action and humor. I enjoyed reading this book just as much as an adult. The movie Holes (2003) continues to be one of my favorite book to movie adaptations. It does a great job of bringing Sachar's characters to life while maintaining the humor of the book. I would recommend both the book and the movie to children and adults alike.
~Ragan S.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O'Malley

My favorite book to movie adaptation is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World based on the Scott Pilgrim six volume graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The movie is a love letter to geeks and gaming and has one of the most incredible casts ever assembled. You've got Michael Cera as the titular Scott Pilgrim and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the object of his desire, Ramona Flowers. That's not all, you'll also see Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, and Jason Schwartzman. Add in a great soundtrack featuring Metric and you've got the makings of one of my all time favorite films.
~Meredith T.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Someone else here is probably covering the same territory, but my favorite book to film conversion recently is last year’s Carol (based on Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt). This was a challenging project, because so much of the novel centered on Therese’s inner monologue, and that’s hard to capture in the medium of film. Some people who saw the movie thought it was cold, maybe because we don’t have access to Therese’s inner life, but I thought that Todd Haynes and Edward Lachman created a sparse and beautiful movie that manages to convey the same depth of emotion in a different medium.
~John F.

Above: Harrison, Below: Hopkins
Legends of the Fall by James Harrison

My favorite book to movie is Legends of the Fall by James Harrison. Legends of the Fall stars a young Brad Pitt as a Montana youth whose impulses toward rugged individualism turn to wildness. Pitt’s character fights a grizzly bear (twice), and manages to seduce a beautiful woman by breaking a horse and not looking at her. Anthony Hopkins plays Col. Ludlow, who has a stroke and devolves into a grunting, elephant-gun-wielding, buffalo-skin-wearing, Old West caveman. Oddly, Hopkins in the film is a dead ringer for author James Harrison in real life:
~Travis F.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

As someone who reads a lot, I find it really difficult to choose a "favorite" book in any category, so this is one of a top five at least. The book Bridget Jones's Diary is written in diary form by Bridget Jones, "spinster" in her 30s trying to get by in life. She has a constant goal to improve herself, is close to her friends and family, but doesn't always make the best decisions. For one, she's a touch judgmental about people, and when she meets Mark Darcy, she judges him instantly and it takes her awhile to come around. There are parts of the book I miss in the movie and parts of the movie I enjoy that weren't in the book, but the film is true to the Pride and Prejudice inspired novel, and it's the best of Fielding's books, in my opinion.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reading Outside My Comfort Zone - Westerns

I took a copy of The Burning Hills by Louis L’Amour off the shelf one night because I needed to pull a quote from any western novel. It didn’t matter which one, I just needed something as an example. I was in the process of reshelving the book when I caught a whiff of its pages, and let me tell you, my response was visceral and immediate. It smelled like a distinguished old professor’s study. A man settles into a leather wing chair in the dimly lit room. He gazes upon his overstuffed bookshelves adorned with bronze busts, while filling a pipe with tobacco he had tucked in the pocket of his elbow patched sweater. 

But back to the actual book, The Burning Hills is the story of Trace Jordan; a man who has found himself in a bad way. After returning to his camp to discover his horses stolen and his partner dead, Jordan seeks revenge. He finds and confronts the man he deemed responsible, but a shootout leaves him wounded. With no other options, Jordan escapes into the Arizona desert, soon losing his way.

Luckily, he’s found by a beautiful sheep herder, Maria Cristina, who nurses him back to health even though it puts her and her brothers in danger. The men who want Jordan dead are on his trail and are determined to finish the job, no matter who gets in their way. Jordan must gather all his strength to ride to safety, but he starts to have doubts about leaving, now that he has grown to love Maria Cristina.

So, how was The Burning Hills? A little racist, a little sexist, but not outside what I was anticipating. I get why westerns are popular. There’s definitely an allure to the sepia tinted nostalgia of the American Frontier. But don’t try to convince me these are anything but manly harlequins. Just because the book has a plain leather-bound cover instead of a heaving bosom doesn’t make them a purveyor of high-minded literature. If you’ve never read a western, I would recommend it. I’m not familiar enough with L’Amour’s bibliography to safely say this is one of his better stories (the man wrote 105 separate works before he died) but it’s a quick read and he’s one of the grandfathers of the genre, so if you are curious about westerns, it’s not a bad place to start.

What else do I recommend? I think the only other western I’ve read was Charles Portis’ True Grit. The book was good, but the Coen brothers’ 2010 film adaptation was excellent and a rare case where the movie is actually better than the book.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Books to Movies: July-Dec 2016

We're back with a new list of books being adapted into film. You have plenty of time to read the book before these are released. Check them out!

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (in theaters today! July 27)
Teenage Vee takes part in a high-stakes game of virtual dare called "Nerve," where she's dared to do different things that are virtually broadcast to thousands of other players. For each dare completed, she gets a prize (good ones). So Vee is competing in the game, but it soon turns dark for her. The movie stars Emma Roberts and Dave Franco.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (in theaters Sept. 2)
Set in the 1920s in Australia, Tom is a lighthouse keeper, living a solitary life on the island with his lighthouse. He meets and marries young Isabel, but the two have trouble conceiving. One day a boat washes on shore the tiny island, with a baby inside. The two make a decision that changes all of their lives. This atmospheric book is beautifully written and contemplates some very serious moral issues. I'd definitely read it before seeing the movie, which promises to be very well done, starring Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender.

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers (in theaters Sept. 23)
Based on a true story, Phiona lives in a slum in Katwe, where she and her family live in very poor conditions. One day, she follows her brother and meets a missionary named Robert Katende, who grew up in the slums as well. Katende is trying to empower the children of this village by teaching them chess, which Phiona immediately excels at. Within five years, Phiona has rose to fame as a chess champion. This heartwarming story will be in theaters soon, starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (in theaters Sept. 30)
Jacob discovers the crumbling remains of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children on a remote island off the coast of Wales. He goes through the rooms, discovering one strange thing after the other, including pictures of the "peculiar children" that are quite eerie. Some of these children may have been more than just "peculiar," and actually been dangerous, and maybe still might be there. This novel is creepy in a good way, including all sorts of awesomely unexplained pictures. It's definitely worth reading before the film. The film stars Asa Butterfield (who you may remember as Ender, from Ender's Game a few years back) and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (in theaters Oct. 7)
If you haven't read this bestselling thriller yet, now's the time. Every day, Rachel takes the same train, at the same time. She stares out the same window, at the same houses, every single day. In particular, she pays attention to one house, with one family. One day, she sees something shocking. It's just an instant, but she feels compelled to tell someone. But can she really be a reliable witness in an instant? This book will keep you on the edge of your seat, with lots of surprise twists and turns. The film stars Emily Blunt and Laura Prepon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TTT: Books Set Outside the US

Happy Top Ten Tuesday to you! Today we are discussing our top ten favorite books set outside the United States. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles – Bowles’ masterpiece, The Sheltering Sky tells the story of American travelers, Port and Kit Moresby a husband and wife who attempt to escape their lives by wandering aimlessly through North African cities and deserts.

The Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah – After learning their newborn baby daughter has serious neurological disabilities; Anna and Tobias move to a crumbling farmhouse in Aix-en-Provence, France. They struggled to adapt to their new situation, but are supported by their eccentric neighbors who eventually become part of their family. (See my full review here.)

Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles – A short, quirky read about a Samuel, lonely linguistics professor living in Barcelona. The appearance of a stray cat leads Samuel to a series of unexpected interactions and a reunion with a mysterious woman from his past.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor – A charming tale of a young GP beginning work in the small country village of Ballybucklebo in Northern Ireland. Barry Laverty agrees to be the apprentice of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, an older man with a strange method of dealing with his patients. Barry has a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with the town’s colorful residents.

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson – As a young college student, Wilson, eager to learn more about the Middle East, travels to Cairo. She attempts to submerge herself in the culture, eventually meeting a man who would become her husband and converting to Islam.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang – Two parallel stories set in China during the Boxer Rebellion; Yang untangles the conflict with vivid artistry in this graphic novel. Told through the eyes of a young Chinese peasant boy, Little Bao and Vibiana, an unwanted girl taken in by Christian missionaries, Boxers & Saints is a powerful work not soon forgotten.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami – Set in the Tokyo suburbs, a man searches for his lost cat. In doing so, he encounters a number of bizarre people and events. Both hilarious and strange, Murakami has crafted one of the finest modern novels.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Raised at the elite school of Hailsham, located in the English countryside, students Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy grow up knowing their lives have strange purpose. Years later as she is about to end one stage of her life, Kathy looks back on her youth and the bonds she had with Ruth and Tommy.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Growing up in Iran during the height of the Islamic Revolution, Satrapi chronicles the difficulties of living through a period of dramatic upheaval. Volume 1 spans her childhood, while volume 2 covers her time living in Vienna before eventually returning to her homeland.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri – A cheat for the last entry, Lahiri’s novel doesn’t really take place outside of the US, but she does weave a beautiful and profound story of clashing cultures. Lahiri captures the struggles of second generation immigrants as they attempt to balance the culture they were born into with the one their parents left behind.

~Meredith T.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reading Outside My Comfort Zone: Room by Emma Donoghue

People who’ve read what I’ve posted on this blog will, I’m sure, have the impression that I don’t read a lot of fiction. As I’ve said in other posts, it’s not because I don’t like it. It’s mostly a matter of having relatively little free time and a pile of non-fiction reading that is more or less compulsory. When I do tuck into fiction I mostly want it to be something not too depressing. So it probably came as a surprise to my co-workers when they discovered that I was reading Emma Donoghue’s Room.

Room tells the story of Jack, a five year old boy who along with his mother (Ma) has spent his entire life imprisoned in a small room by a man called Old Nick. Told from Jack’s perspective, Room tells of the last days of his and Ma’s captivity, of their escape and of their construction (in Ma’s case reconstruction) of human lives outside captivity. In the space of 350 or so pages it manages to be both one of the most devastating and also one of the most uplifting books that I have ever read.

I had gone to see the movie shortly after it was released last year. I spent most of the first 45 minutes curled up in my seat with head in my hands. Brie Larson won an Oscar for her portrayal of Ma and allow me to say that she richly deserved it. How she could get herself into the kind of space to play that character, to say those words and live those experiences, I have a hard time imagining. I could barely watch it. I had the most intense desire to find Old Nick and tune him up properly.

I felt this again as I read Donoghue’s spare and beautiful text, if perhaps less intensely. The book spends a lot of time with Jack’s internal monologue and his struggle to come to terms with the fact that there is an actually existing world outside the confines that he has known all his life. This is, perhaps, the biggest difference between the book and the film. The book gives one a much more intense appreciating for Jack’s doubts as to the reality of anything that exists outside the room.

But thinking about it later (and in the wake of seeing the rest of the film) I realized that this misses and important point. The true glory of this film and of the book, the thing that makes it beautiful and uplifting, is that it tells the story of both Jack and Ma reclaiming agency over their lives. Through years of captivity, Ma retained the fundamental human desire to liberate herself, and she formulated a plan to make it happen. Much of the latter part of the story centers on her difficulties, both in adapting to her newly recovered freedom, and coping with her guilt at having been imprisoned in the first place.

The fundamental point here is that it’s her that’s doing it. She has the will to survive and to protect he son as best she can. She plans her escape and makes it happen. She acts to reclaim the full measure of her humanity. Perhaps the hardest thing about reading this book for me was resisting the temptation to make myself the hero or the avenger.

I recommend this book. But I recommend that you get it from the library. It is an intense and challenging examination of the power of human beings to overcome trauma. It was well worth reading, but I simply cannot imagine anyone wanting to read it more than once.

~John F.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Five Books Worth Reading: Children's Books for Grown-Ups

I try to read a good mix of books (fiction, nonfiction, sci-fi, children's, teens') so I wanted to share some of my favorite children's books I've read in the last couple years that have really stuck with me. So these are books intended for children (middle grade reading level) that I think are valuable to adults as well.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie is a child who has been through a lot due to the facial deformity he was born with. Otherwise, he's a relatively normal kid who loves Star Wars. When he starts mainstream school, he encounters how cruel the world can really be. It's told from multiple perspectives, which really adds to the story. This book is sad, sweet, and quite eye-opening.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Set in 1930s south, Stella is a young black girl who has few worries in life, since she is used to how everything works in her town. When she and her brother witness a KKK gathering, she learns that everything isn't as nice as she thought. This book covers a lot of ground, discussing the disparities in schooling, housing, jobs, and voting in this time period. It's well-written and stays firmly with Stella's perspective, making some of the perceptions of racism noticeable to the reader that she hasn't noticed. (Also, I read the audiobook, which was very good, if you like that.)

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Even if you read this book as a child, it's time to revisit it as an adult! I read this relatively recently (within the last few years), and found it much better as an adult. Matilda's desire to learn is admirable, even if there's some suspension of disbelief you need to have. The book and the movie are fairly different though, so be prepared for that if you're used to the film.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Soon to be a film, this book is definitely worth the read. It's sort of a picture book even, so it goes very quickly. This book is about a young boy whose mother is sick. He's visited by a tree monster who claims to know his secrets. It's a very metaphorical type story, so I felt like it was better reading it as an adult because I understood the symbols a little better than I'd think a child would. The book is sad, sweet, and filled with impressive illustrations.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
There are a lot of books about WWII out there for middle grade readers, and this one has received a lot of attention this year. I think that is in large part due to the uniqueness of this story. Ada was born with a deformed foot to a poor mother in London. When the bombs are imminent, children are rounded up and sent off to more rural areas of England for their protection. Ada and her brother escape to a spinster woman who doesn't want them there. Together, they all grow and learn from one another. The details of this book are fabulous, giving just enough minutiae to make me feel "in" the story. An excellent read at any age.

Have you read any children's books I should add to my list?