Share Your Love of Literature—Literally!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:29

free-library1—By Kristi Spuhler for LitLovers—
Looking for an easy way to share your love of literature? Then start a Little Free Library (LFL) right in your front yard!

At its most basic, a Little Free Library is a small, enclosed bookshelf on which you display your favorite titles. Neighbors can borrow and enjoy your books and eventually add their own to the box. Pick a book...leave a book.

Take Swapna Krishna who watched her own LFL project blossom. At first, she was delighted simply to see the books she shared disappear from the shelves. But the best part came when she discovered other books were being left!

So what starts out as a collection of personal favorites can quickly become one of the best places to find a new read!

Sound like fun? Then pay a visit LittleFreeLibrary.org where you can purchase one of the boxes. Or if you want a more personalized approach, download building plans to create your own unique box!

So now the question: what titles would you share? Leave us a comment and let us know!
 

Reading? Don’t Blink!

Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:22

eye-iris1By Kristi Spuhler for LitLovers—
In the last few years, we have all seen major changes in reading. With the advent of ebooks and ereaders, the materials that people read, where they read and how they read have been flipped upside-down. Gone are the days when people would peruse a quiet bookstore to find their next reading project - with a wifi connection and a series of clicks, readers have a virtual library at their fingertips.

Technology aside, there have even been developments in the way people read. Speed reading has grown in popularity among the college-age set for years and who can blame them? With such a massive amount of text that we’re all dying to pour over, we have to cut out time somewhere! Enter Spritz, a revolutionary new reading system developed by a team in Boston.

The Spritz claim-to-fame is its alleged ability to cut down the 80% of total reading time your eyes waste while moving from word to word. When reading, your eye searches out the ORP (optimal recognition point) in each word. Once the ORP has been located, you then begin processing the information. Repeat this process for every word on a page and you’ve spent quite a long time just moving your eyes!

With Spritz, the ORP in each word is highlighted for you. Each word in a sentence then flashes across a display screen with the ORP cast in the same area each time. This process completely removes your need to move your eyes and allows you to focus fully on the words in front of you. Where before it was necessary to focus on each word, now you can sit back, relax and let your text come to you.

Though the technology behind this new reading system is intriguing, we have to wonder how such a drastic change in reading would affect our audience of LitHounds. When the Kindle and the Nook first started making their appearance a few years back, there were rumblings that the publishing industry would be forever changed. Since that time, we’ve seen differences in the amounts of books that are published in the more traditional fashion, and a marked increase in the prevalence of self-publishing. Even though technology has taken a strong hold in literature, the popularity of the ink and paper book has endured - but can it survive another blow from a popular lit-gadget?

Though it’s easy to be skeptical, it may be best to give Spritz a try before passing judgement. To see what this new gadget is all about click here and then scroll over the blue link in the right upper corner of the page.

What do you think about text streaming - is it here to stay, or will it be gone in the blink of an eye? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!


 

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!


 

Book Club Blues—Inviting wives?

Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:31

new-year2
We got some guff from guys objecting to our tale of woe—the woman's book club who invited their husbands to join. Well, here's the other side—here's what happens when Mars opens its door to Venus.


Book Club Calendar

month1-january

"First things first,"
the ladies tell us—
NO T-shirts.
NO cigars.


month2-feb

50 Shades—whoa!
Hot.
Who knew?

month3-mar

NO BEER???
A nice Merlot...?
What the hell's
a Merlot?
 month4-apr

YES! The Masters!!
But can we
reschedule?
Noooo.
 month5-may

Nicholas Sparks?
Again?
You're kidding.


month6-jun

We go "as a club"
to see The Help.
It feels...girly.
month7a-jul

A picnic. We wear
T-shirts!!!! We
drink beer!!!!
We are Men!!!!


month8-aug 

 Not one work of
REAL history—not
military, political,
scientific...
month9-sep

 What's the difference
between history and
historical fiction?
Ans: ROMANCE.
 month10-oct

Breakthrough! What
women call Romance,
we call soft porn.
High Five!

month11-nov

Our 4th book
on Anne Boleyn.
Shoulda seen it
coming.
month12-dec

Christmas party:
$150/couple plus
$20 gift. That's it,
we're outta here.
new-year3   month1-january

Superbowl—yes.
Tudors—no.
Sparks—never.
Who's got beer?
new-year3

logo-tiny


 

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?

 

Book Club Blues—Inviting husbands?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:11

new-year2
Thinking of inviting your husbands to join your book club? Well, think again, Dear Reader. Take a look at a sorry tale of one little club that thought it could.


Book Club Calendar

month1-january

Happy New Year!
Our husbands join
our club for the
first time!

month2-feb

Great meeting!
The guys get
along really well.
They're so cute!
month3-mar

No more brie and
bruschetta. They
want beer and
pizza.
 month4-apr

No Nicholas Sparks.
EVER. Or they walk.
OK...we're flexible.
:-)


 month5-may

Quite a year so far
...what with books
on football, golf,
& lawncare.

month6-jun

Two couples couldn't
find sitters—had to
bring the kids.
No problem...

month7a-jul

Sonia watches the kids.
The rest of us discuss
Sports Illustrated...
the swimsuit issue.

month8-aug

Everyone shows up
with kids. There
are...so many.

month9-sep

Meeting cancelled.
Runny noses and
strep. The whole
club's infected.
 month10-oct

Back together again!
Need volunteers to
watch the kids.
Men don't budge.

month11-nov

One kid screams,
they all scream.
Men don't hear a
thing. Not. A. Thing.
month12-dec

Women & kids at home.
Men get together for
beer and pizza.
Merry Christmas.
new-year3   month1-january

Happy New Year!
We'll be devoting
the entire year to
Nicholas Sparks.
Any objections?
new-year3

logo-tiny


Find out what happens when the men's book club invites the wives.



 

Learn a Little Lit—Margaret Atwood

Monday, 05 August 2013 13:37

margaret-atwood1Interpreting literature can be boorish business; just skim book reviews in major dailies—or customer reviews on Amazon. Even book clubs can work themselves into a frenzy over different ways of reading the same words.

Yet if we learned anything from Post Modernism, it's that words don't confine themselves to a single meaning...which is why it was so gratifying to come across this comment by Margaret Atwood.

I’m not comfortable giving interpretations of my work. If I were to provide one, it would become the definitive interpretation, inhibiting readers from finding their own meanings.
The comment reveals a refreshing humility. It recognizes that while an author may exert full authority over plot and characters, she has no such control over her readers.

Atwood apparently wants her readers to feel free to derive meanings, separate from hers. That would imply separate from other readers, too—all of whose ideas may be equally valid.

Words of caution. The operative word in the above sentence is "may"—other interpretations may be equally valid—which means we're not free to go off the reservation and shoot at anything that moves. Interpretations need to be supported by evidence within the text and consistent with the general sense of the work.

In other words, Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" is pretty much NOT about Santa Claus.


 

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