Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Magic of Reading Awakens... and then falls asleep

The Steimatzky book store is, according to Wikipedia, "the oldest and largest bookstore chain in Israel." Recently, they released a new ad campaign which I saw on BuzzFeed yesterday that illustrates the enchantments of reading in a very imaginative way. Here's a little taste of the magic:

 Check out more of these sensational ads here!
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
  • "New Bookstore Ads Capture The Magic of Read." BuzzFeed. N.p., 26 July 2013. Web. 28 July 2013.
  • "Our Clients." Segmarketing. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013.
  • "Steimatzky." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Website You Want to Know About.

I, as a bibliomaniac, have many weaknesses. Some examples:
  • Books signed by their authors.
  • Books from the original prints. 
  • Books that look well-loved: by me or someone else.
  • Books from the library.
  • Books that are old.
  • Books that are cheap.
  • Books with my name in them.
  • Books I received as gifts from special people.
  • Books with beautiful bindings.
  • Books printed in anthologies.
  • Books.
But no bibliomaniac weakness is as crippling as the complete loss of direction I associate with book withdrawal*. I've dealt with this in recent years by keeping a list of books I want to read, which I add to as interesting new books come to my attention. Ideally, every time I finish something really good I should be able to open that list and magically find another book that will satisfy me. Unfortunately, there are two problems with this method:
   First, my to-read list is constantly hovering around 200 books long and is often outdated (the books I added two years ago and haven't reached, for example, I might not be interested in anymore).
   Second, when I finish a great book from a genre that is relatively new to me (ex: The Night Circus) I sometimes want to read another book similar to it right afterwards (fantasy novel, dark book, romance). Finding these matches in a really unorganized, multi-page list of books is not an easy feat.

But never fear, because the Internet is here to help. Today this neat website was recommended to me that I hope will be able keep me updated with new books in the future:  Here's how it works.

1) Tell them a book you like:

2) Get recommendations for similar must-reads:

3) Click on the Info/Buy button next to a book that sounds interesting, and you'll be taken to the book's page, where you're given lots of options for how to access the book you chose. A user-friendly website design and customizable profile pages make it easy to use, too. Let me know how it works for you, and happy browsing!

*For the unaware, this is the empty, lonely feeling you are probably familiar with and get whenever you finish a wonderful book and don't have another book in which to immediately drown your sorrows.

Your Bibliomaniac

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another bit of literary news for you all... about "Mary Poppins!"

Before Mary Poppins was this:

Or this:

It was this:

   Yes... long before Julie Andrews made those little turned-out, airborne feet iconic, or the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" had its own Wikipedia page (not kidding: look), Mary Poppins was just a 200-some-page children's book by a relatively prolific Australian author called P.L. Travers. Eventually, the single book became a small series. Mr. Walt Disney's daughters, it seems, enjoyed the book so much that they made their father promise to make it into a film. The author, however, wasn't so sure Disney had what it took to make her beloved story a big-screen success... at least not on her terms.
   So this December, a film is being released (by Walt Disney Pictures) about the 14-year negotiations and multi-year filmmaking process that were needed to make Mary Poppins, the kid's book, into a major Disney film. And this, my fellow book fiends, is a must-see. Tom Hanks will portray Mr. Disney, while Emma Thompson will portray the "contradiction" of a woman who invented Mary Poppins. Very unfortunately, Julie Andrews is not slated to appear. Regardless, I'm excited for this exploration into the mind of an author and the clash of media industries.

Your [practically perfect] Bibliomaniac

Bibliography (I use Wikipedia, you can get used to it):
  • "Mary Poppins (Odyssey Classics)." Wikipedia.Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .
  • Miller, Jenni. "'Saving Mr. Banks' First Look: Tom Hanks as Walt Disney." Moviefone., 10 July 2013. Web. 20 July 2013. .
  • "P. L. Travers." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundations, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 July 2013. .
  • Ren. "(Wedding) Fantasy Friday." Web log post. So Pretty Was She. Blogger, 27 July 2012. Web. 20 July 2013. .
  • Silk, Chris. "Who's Going to See "Mary Poppins" This Week at the Barbara B. Mann?" Naples News. Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 July 2013.
  • "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundations, Inc., n.d. Web. 20 July 2013. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

OMG Literary News of the Day: The Big Scoop on JKR's Secret Book

   Very, very much has happened in our world this week worthy of note. On this blog, however, only one thing matters--J.K. Rowling, the famed author of the Harry Potter series and a collaborator on several of the Internet's most magical websites* released a book this year and didn't tell anyone.
That's right: Mrs. Rowling, who once joked about releasing her next book under a pseudonym, but claimed she could never pull it off without the media calling her out, published a new book called The Cuckoo's Calling this April under the name Robert Galbraith. Supposedly, Galbraith was a debut mystery writer (the book is a detective story about a supermodel's untimely death), not a world-famous author who's made over $700 million off of her beloved fantasy books and spawned a multi-billion dollar movie franchise and countless pieces of fan fiction. She was ousted after an investigation by The Sunday Times. Apparently, the writing was too confident for a beginner and the newspaper decided to trace its real source.
   Here's the happy part: Rowling's other adult novel (that we know of), a family drama called The Casual Vacancy, didn't do so hot with reviewers after its release last September... but this book got rave reviews! Mainstream critics didn't give it much attention, but fellow mystery authors and the few smaller media outlets who reviewed it couldn't get enough. Publisher's Weekly praised it for, "[Combining] a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime...A stellar debut." So after Rowling's unfortunate dip onto the B-list of authors, she's back on top.
   Rowling said today that she wishes she could've kept the secret for a little longer. She enjoyed publishing without the usual "J.K. ROWLING HAS A BOOK!" fanfare, she liked reading critiques directed toward an author without a legacy, and I suspect that breaking into yet another genre without anyone noticing removed a lot of pressure from the decision. Furthermore, she's already written the novel's sequel (Do we have a new Arthur Conan Doyle here? And how does this woman write so fast???) and wanted to publish it with her pen name remaining secret. She will still publish the sequel under Robert Galbraith, which I think is a good and predictable choice... it creates continuity, like in ghostwriter/Stratemeyer Syndicate system.
   I also find it interesting that JKR has a new pseudonym, especially since J.K. Rowling was a bit of a pen name in itself. When she published the very first Harry Potter, she created the name from her real own initial (Joanne) and her grandmother's first initial (Kathleen), hoping that the ambiguous-gendered name would help attract boys to her writing as much as girls (I actually feel it's a dominantly male name, reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien). And once again, she's chosen a masculine pen name (reasons unknown).
      Your Bibliomaniac

*For some of the "most magical" websites JKR is partially responsible for, check out her website or Pottermore.

And my sources for this current events update (yeah, I use Wikipedia as a source):
  • "The Cuckoo's Calling." Amazon. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2013.
  • "J. K. Rowling." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2013.
  • Kellogg, Carolyn. "J.K. Rowling Secretly Published a Novel in April under a Pseudonym." LA TimesTribune Newspaper, 14 July 2013. Web. 14 July 2013.

Friday, July 5, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird


Method of Reading: Personally owned paperback novel, 281 pages (Also, my first purchase from Half Price Books! Many thanks to the Goldsmith family who donated it to this secondhand book store--your name is still on the book)
Dates of Reading: June 20, 2013-June 25, 2013
Author: Harper Lee
Publication Year: 1960
   "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts" (59).
   "'People in their right minds never take pride in their talents,' said Miss Maudie" (98).
   "'They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions,' said Atticus, 'but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience'" (105).
   "I wanted you to see something about her--I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand" (112).
   "I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl" (116).
   "Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had" (131).
   "A mob's always made up of people, no matter what" (157).
   "Some folks don't--like the way I live. Now I could say the heck with 'em, I don't care if they don't like it. I do say I don't care if they like it, right enough--but I don't say the heck with 'em, see?" (200)
   "'This is their home, sister,' said Atticus. 'We've made it this way for them, they might as well learn to cope with it'" (212).
   "It's not time to worry yet" (213).
   "'I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that's what they seemed like.'
   'We're the safest folks in the work,' said Miss Maudie. 'We're so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we've got men like Atticus to go for us'" (215).
   "...we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right" (236).
Movie: A beloved classic. Which I sorta remember watching in middle school. Maybe I should look into that again.

Wikipedia Link:

My View: I read this right before Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and I'm writing their reviews on the same day, so a natural comparison has to emerge. First off, which did I like better? To Kill a Mockingbird is an established classic, but a classic isn't always that good (see "Wuthering Heights"). Meanwhile Jonathan Safran Foer is emerging on the world literature stage and Extremely Loud could be the first book of his that is deemed a "great American novel" for its early and honest treatment of the 9/11 disasters. To even them out, I asked myself, "If both books came out last year, which would I predestine for high school literature syllabi in 2050?" Then I realized that neither book would have been published last year. Although Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close could probably have been bought and published, it would not have had nearly the same cultural and emotional impact or gotten the same literary attention if it came out in 2012 (it was released in 2005). Over a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, it is relevant and moving (check my post: clearly I was shaken by it) but not unprecedented. While it would still be an achievement, its edge would have worn off. Similarly, but to a much larger degree, To Kill a Mockingbird would not have been applauded in the same way if published after the 1970s, perhaps, but the cultural impact would have been far lesser. Ignoring the near impossibility of a situation where both of these books were published in 2012, I think I would have been more thrilled by Extremely Loud, but Mockingbird would have made a greater impression on me. Both books are emotionally impactful and leave a scholarly/mental impression, but only To Kill a Mockingbird made me change how I live. I changed my worldview from reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but Lee makes me think not only about the world I live in, but also about how I live in it. Lessons from this book have been reverberating in my mind ever since first reading Mockingbird seven years ago, including several quotes I pull out of my back pocket every so often when I need some inspiration.
   Is that enough of a recommendation for this book?

Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960. Print.