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Blogging & Musing...

Thugnotes—getting to know the classics?!

Thursday, 13 February 2014 12:33

thugnotes—Kristi Spuhler for LitLovers—
We know—it can be difficult to find excitement in a story whose first sentence is a paragraph. (A Tale of Two Cities, anyone?) Just looking at a sentence like that can make us go cross-eyed! For this reason (among others,) younger readers are not as quick to devour antiquated works.

Enter sites like thug-notes.com (**Warning: The videos on this site contain some strong language**)

With modern lingo and a hip edginess, Dr. Sweets, (the moniker of comedian Greg Edwards,) takes well-known titles from the high school English classroom and breaks them down into bite-sized morsels fit to grab the attention of even the most attention-lacking reader. Distilling well-known titles down to their base elements, these video reviews break through the austere shell of many "classic" works and highlight the intrigue, violence, romance and excitement that many readers are seeking - but may not be able to find- in classic literature.

Using pop culture to interest audiences in classic stories isn’t a new idea. We highlighted a few examples of fine works that have been translated into movies in our last post (scroll down), and tv series like Wishbone filled roughly the same purpose to a younger audience. With the prevalence of vlogging* and social sharing sites, it seems that it was only a matter of time before literature would become a topic of conversation on these forums, too. As we should have suspected, the internet has allowed a number of unique interpretations to take hold.

What do you think about modernized video reviews of literature? Are they good for inspiring future LitHounds to explore the classics, or do these stylized versions detract from the original beauty of the work?

*video blog or video log


 

Watch that Book! — 2014 Books-to-Movies

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 09:57

books-movies-2-dogdOur last post highlighted a sizeable list of 2013 films inspired by some of our favorite books. If the following list is any indication, it looks like we’ll be hitting the library before we go to the theaters again this year, too.



Books-to-Movies in 2014
Click on titles for Reading Guides

Monuments Men (January)
Book by Robert M. Edsel
Movie with George Clooney, Matt Damon, et al.

A group of American art specialists come together during World War II to recover world masterpieces stolen by the Nazis.


Winter's Tale  (February)
Book by Mark Helprin
Movie with Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay

Peter Lake, a thief, falls in love with a woman as she dies in his arms. After discovering his ability to revive the dead, he is determined to save her.


Serena  (April)
Book by Ron Nash
Movie with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper

When Serena Pemberton discovers she cannot bear children, the life that she has built with her husband, George, begins to unravel.


Child 44  (June)
Book by Tom Rob Smith
Movie with Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman

Investigating a series of child murders in Stalin era Soviet Russia, Leo Demidov must battle the odds to expose a threat the State won’t admit exists.


The Fault in Our Stars  (June)
Book by John Greene
Movie with Shailene Woodley

Hazel and Gus are an inseparable pair of teens who meet in the most unlikely of places—a cancer support group.


Under the Dome(June 2014)
Book by Stephen King
TV series (Season 2)

An invisible and mysterious force field descends upon a small town, trapping residents inside, cut off from the rest of civilization. What is the dome and why is it there?


The Giver  (August)
Book by Lois Lowry
Movie with Meryl Streep

Living in a seemingly perfect community, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elder about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world.


Outlander (Summer)
Book by Diana Galbaldan
TV series (Season 1)

Claire Randall, a wartime nurse, lives a double life: a husband in 1945 and, by inadvertently touching an ancient stone, a lover in 1743.


This Is Where I Leave You  (September)
Book by Jonathan Tropper
Movie with Jason Bateman

In order to honor their father’s final wish, a non-practicing Jewish family must sit Shivah together for one week.


Gone Girl  (October)
Book by Giullian Flynn
Movie with Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck

It doesn't take long for Nick to become a suspect when his wife Amy goes missing. But are things always what they seem?


The Hobbit (Part 3)  (December)
Book J.R.R. Tolkien
Movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly

In this third installment, the company of Thorin have reached Smaug’s cave, but can the group reclaim the dwarven treasure?


Before I Go to Sleep (TBA)
Book by S.J. Watson
Movie with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth

As the result of a tragic accident in her past, Chrissie Lucas awakes everyday with no memories. One day, she discovers new truths that force her to question who she can trust.


Wild  (TBA)
Book by Cheryl Strayed
Movie with Reese Witherspoon

In order to cope with a series of catastrophic life events, Cheryl embarks on a 1,100 mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail.


* Carry-over from 2013.


We know we've missed
a few, so let us know which ones. And tell us which ones you can't wait to see.


 

Watch that Book! — 2013 Books-to-Movies

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 09:57

books-movies-13 Books hit the box office in a big way last year. Just in case you were visiting another planet—here's a list of notable books found on the screen in 2013. Don't worry, though: if you were clueless about a few...so were we!


Books-to-Movies in 2013
Click on titles for Reading Guides


Austenland
Book by Shannon Hale
Movie with Keri Russell

Jane, a single, modern day New Yorker, is in search of her own Mr. Darcy. What else to do but sign up at a two week fantasy resort for Austen obsessed women!


Beautiful Creatures
Book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Movie with Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert

In a few months, when Lena turns 16, she will be "claimed" by the Light or the Dark. Along with her boyfriend Ethan, she must fight off supernatural powers.


The Book Thief
Book by Markus Zusak
Movie with Sophie Nelisse, Emily Watson
Coming-of-age story story in Nazi Germany. Leisel learns to read, and is driven to collect stolen books and a set of peculiar friends, including a Jewish refugee.


Catching Fire
Book by Suzanne Collins
Movie with Jennifer Lawrence

Katniss won the Hunger Games and should feel secure in her family's safety. But she becomes the face of a popular rebellion—and now the capitol wants revenge.


City of Bones
Book by Cassandra Clare
Movie with Lilly Collins

Teenager Clary Fray witnesses a murder, but the body disappears into thin air. Then she meets Jace and is suddenly pulled into the world of the Shadow Hunters.


Enders Game
Book by Orson Scott Card
Movie with Harrison Ford

Government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers to fight a hostile alien race. One future soldier is brilliant young Andrew "Ender" Wiggin.


The Great Gatsby
Book by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Movie with Leonardo DiCaprio

Baz Lurhmann's take on the great Great Gatsby, an American classic that highlights our penchant to remake ourselves. Upper class shinanigans lead to tragedy.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Book by J.R.R. Tolkien
Movie with Ian McKellan

Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and the Dwarves continue their quest to reclaim their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.


Labor Day
Book by Joyce Maynard
Movie with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin

Henry Wheeler's life is changed forever when he and his emotionally fragile mother show kindness to a stranger with a terrible secret. A story of love, and treachery.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Book by Mohsin Hamid
Movie with Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. Princeton, Wall Street, and beautiful Eric. But 9/11 changes everything as he discovers more fundamental allegiances.



Safe Haven
Book by Nicholas Sparks
Movie with Julianne Hough and Josh Duhame
A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.



Silver Linings Playbook
Book by Matthew Quick
Movie with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence

A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.



12 Years a Slave
Book by Solomon Northup
Movie with Chiwetel Ejiofor

The memoir of a black man born free in New York state but kidnapped, sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before the American Civil War.


Under the Dome
Book by Stephen King
TV series (Season 1)

An invisible and mysterious force field descends upon a small town, trapping residents inside, cut off from the rest of civilization. What is the dome and why is it there?


*We snuck Silver Linings in from late December 2012.


Let us know
if you've got a favorite...or about one that disappointed. Are any of the films better than their books? (Most of us think it's the other way around...but not always.) Did any film inspire you to read the book afterward?

Next up—Books-to-Movies scheculed for 2014. Stay tuned!


 

Birds of a Feather...Flock to the Cover

Thursday, 24 October 2013 12:07

It was hard not to notice the number of recent books with birds on the cover. So I made a brief little survey of book covers just for fun.*

Pause over the cover mage to see title and author; click for a link to our Reading Guide or Amazon (if we don't have a guide).

birds-mkg-jaybirds-lets-explbirds-snapperbirds-bird-cat
birds-of-lesserbirds-w-o-wingsbirds-i-know-ybirds-wind-up
birds-freedombirds-earlybirds-gravitybirds-goldfinch
birds-hundredbirds-chinesebirds-paradisebirds-help

*A few others got there before me. See...Pretty Peculiarities and HTML Giant.


 

New Study—Books make us more human

Thursday, 10 October 2013 15:11

happy-book1News Flash: In case you feel guilty about all the reading you do ... and all the chores you DON'T, it turns out you're a finer person for keeping your nose in a book.

A new study shows that books enable us live up to our better selves. The researchers, Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd, found that people gain empathy and social intelligence after reading certain kinds of books. 

What kind of books? Well, not the blockbuster kind. So nix the heart-thomping crime and horror stories or the steamy bodice-ripper romances. The study refers specifically to "literary fiction"—well-developed characters and storylines that explore complicated human relationships—the very kind of books we read in book clubs.books-make-us-human2

One of the books used in the study was Round House by Louise Erdrich, which happens to be the 3rd most requested book on LitLovers. (See our Popular Books page.)

There's a reason why books like Round House matter. According to the New York Times article:

[L]iterary fiction leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

You can read the full story in the NY Times HERE. It's fascinating and well worth the time.

For Book Clubs
: Consider taking time during one of your meetings to talk about the books that have altered the way you perceive people and the world around you. Which books have enlarged your ideas about life and your role in it?

 

Do we read to find friends?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 09:28

claire-messud-photo2Mention worthy:  Publishers Weekly (PW) posed a question to Claire Messud in a recent interview that roused a remarkable response. So remarkable, it's worth reporting on here.

The question concerned the heroine in Messud's new book, The Woman Upstairs.

PW said: "I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim."

Messud Responds . . .

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?

Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath?
...Saleem Sinai?
...Hamlet?
...Krapp?
...Oedipus?
...Oscar Wao?
...Antigone?
...Raskolnikov?
...Any of the characters in The Corrections?
...Any of the characters in Infinite Jest?
...Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written?
...Or Martin Amis?
...Or Orhan Pamuk?
...Or Alice Munro, for that matter?"

If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?"


Don't Mess with Messud!—was how PW responded to Messud's response. It's comment had clearly "rankled" the author, PW admitted, BUT...it gave Messud a chance to "show her chops. We're so glad we had that conversation," ended PW graciously.

Messud is the author of the 2006 The Emperor's Children (see reading guide here; see LitLovers review here), as well as this most recent 2013 novel, The Woman Upstairs.

For book clubs to consider:
1. Do we read to find friends?
2. How important is it to like the characters in the books?
3. Do we feel let down when we dislike them?
4. Talk about some of the books you've read and whether or not your enjoyment of them—or disappointment in them—had to do with the likability of the characters.


 

Movie Time—Cool book trailers

Monday, 25 February 2013 11:28

film-strip1Book marketers have given in...or smartened up. Either way, they've taken a page from the movie folks and now create film trailers to promote new books. Some of the trailers are pretty ho-hum. But we've found a couple that are ho-ho-hilarious. Really funny.

The first is Teddy Wayne's The Love Song of Jonny Valentine. Wayne is a wonderful comic writer, a terrific satirist, who in this book sets his sights on the commercialization of an 11-year-old rock star sensation, a la Justin Bieber. A child prodigy, Jonny is there for the taking: his life is commodified by just about everyone, including his own mother.

Here's the Video Trailer.
Here's our Reading Guide.

jonny-valentine1


Second up,
is John Kenney's novel Truth in Advertising. Again, like Teddy Wayne's, this is a comic novel: a sardonic take on the advertising world of New York. Finbar Dolan, the book's hero (not a River Elf), carries around a lot of angst—about the job, his family, and his love life. He sweats the big stuff.

Here's the Video Trailer.
Here's our Reading Guide.

truth-in-advert
Have fun with these. The more you watch them, the funnier they are. If your book's trailer is any good, play it at the book club meeting—it's a great way to break off socializing and signal the beginning of the discussion.

 

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