Friday, 30 September 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop

It is that time of the week again! Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books and Follow Friday by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

This weeks FF question:

What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?

There are so many books I would love to see on screen. At the same time, a director's vision is never yours, so wishing for a movie is always a tricky thing. However, I would love to see the Otori-saga by Lian Hearn. Everyone who has ever taken a liking to Japan will love these books. Its characters are very well presented, the landscapes are described beautifully and the story is breathtaking. I would love to see this series be translated into 4 different movies, even though I am not sure you can put the entire story in only four movies! I will not even try to figure out a casting, because that would take me forever. I might try it this weekend though, because searching a face for a character tells you something about what you secretly think of the character too!

This weeks BBH question: 
In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”
Click here for 2010-11 list in PDF format. You can also clickHERE to view past years and choose from any of those titles!

Book Blogger Hop
I truly think this is my favourite question so far! However, why is Twilight on that list? It says there is explicit sexuality in those books, which is absolutely not true. It is one of the tamest books I have ever read! A favourite for most other bloggers seems to be 'The Hunger Games', but I still haven't read that one! Am I the only one in the world who hasn't?

I have been wanting to read 'Perks of a Wallflower' since over a year now, but still haven't. However, I have read Anne Frank's Diary and it was very interesting, but more from a shocked perspective. Her writing style was extraordinary, but then again, she lived in extraordinary times.

I have also read the Koran, or more correctly the Qur'an. This was actually a very enlightening experience. The Qur'an shares so many storied with the Bible. I would also like to tell those that think the Qur'an calls for a Jihad against all Christians that it does not, in fact, do that. It is a very peaceful book, even though it has its violent moments, just like the Bible.

And isn't it hilarious they put 'Catcher in the Rye' up on the list too? I have read the book twice now and I liked it more the second time. Although not one of my all0time favourites I still think it is a classic that is supposed to be read in school.  

 This is actually my first TGIF! This week's question is:
Banned Books: How do you feel about the censorship of the freedom to read? Do you think the education system needs to be more strict on what children are exposed to in books?

I think it is wrong to censor books in the way it is often done. Books express much more than just the story within. For example, 'Catcher int he Rye'. It is on the banned list for 2011, which I think is ridiculous. The story is not very offensive and the use of language is a lot tamer than in the average reality show on TV. Furthermore, it is a book that expresses the feeling of a time period. It is a book that teenagers all around can still identify themselves with because it catches this well-known feeling of being the only sane and independent person around. To ban a book like this, in my humble opinion, is to hinder the children's development.

Also, I think this is the wrong way of telling children what is good or bad. In 'Huckleberry Finn' for example, the word 'nigger' is used a lot. I think we can all agree on that being unacceptable nowadays. However, when Mark Twain wrote this book this is how they talked. Books are historical evidence for a change in attitude. Is not reading about this the best way to tell kids it is no longer acceptable? Although there are definitely age limits to certain books, you should never try to withhold a book completely from a child. I think that as long as there is a healthy discussion after wards everything should be fine.

So what do you think?  What is your favourite banned book and what do you think about banning books anyway? 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Follow Friday & Book Blogger Hop


Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books and Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

The BBH question is:
'Many of us primarily read one genre of books, with others sprinkled in. If authors stopped writing tht genre, what genre would you start reading? Or would you give up reading completely if you couldn't read that genre anymore?

I would never ever give up reading, although I would probably resort to stop reading new books. My favourite genre is fantasy. For me fantasy is every book that adds a touch of magic to a story about human values. If authors would stop writing fantasy I would probably resort to Historical Fiction which , if well written, has the same qualities as fantasy. If authors would only write paranormal novels then the moment would come where I would retreat to classics.

The FF question is:
Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of the story? If so, which one?

I do not think I ever wanted a villain to win, because usually, I think, much more time is spent on building the "hero's" character and the villain is barely present. Saying that, if we talk about a story where the good guy becomes bad, then I am usually rooting for the (now) bad guy to conquer his bad side. For example Anakin in the Star Wars trilogies. Never ever have I cried for a mass murderer, but Anakin's story brings me to tears.

Since I am writing while I think I just thought of another villain, who is not really a villain if you ask me. Gollum is the tragic hero of 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. I always wish he could have somehow ended up happy, but somehow I feel as if Peter Jackson gave him a good ending in the movie, since he dies with what he loves!

So, what are your answers? Don't hesitate to post your link, I will try to visit all your answers!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Ever heard of 'The Screwtape Letters'?

Thescrewtapeletters.jpgYesterday I blogged about the epistolary novel and today I have an amazing example. I present...

'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis.

I have not read the entire book yet, only started it yesterday, but I have been blown away by how funny it is. It was published in 1942. Since the book is epistolary it contains only letters from a senior demon called Screwtape to his nephew and tempter Wormwood. Wormwood is trying to ensnare a British man and Screwtape is advising him on how to proceed. The British man is only referred to as 'the Patient' and God is only known as 'the Enemy'.

Being a Christian C.S. Lewis said this book was not fun to write and would never ever do it again, however it is hilarious to read. Screwtape being a demon he presents an image of humans that is completely opposite to what we would expect. Where we would see human virtue Screwtape sees defeat. Where he sees virtue we see sin. Below I quoted one of my, so far, favourite passages, just to give you a taste of what it is like. In this excerpt he is debating whether to make the Patient a pacifist or patriotic, now that WW2 has broken out.

'As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christina, or anti-Christian, periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes. But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these people in real life-they are lay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers. The results of such a fanciful hatred are often most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.'
In this excerpt Screwtape talks about God's love for humans and it is a bit more theological than the one above, so only read if you think you are up to it. It is still interesting though, even if religion is not your thing.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Epistolary what?

This is only interesting to those people who are interested in writing and are looking for different styles, those that like to read about writing and those that are perhaps looking for new books to read! So actually everyone!

I recently discovered the name of a new novel form. The novel form is not 'new' in the sense it is just recently being used, but I knew about it for a long time, kept on forgetting the name, but that is changing now!

PrideAndPrejudiceTitlePage.jpgThe form I am talking about is epistolary. Epistola, in Latin, means letter and that is exactly what this form is about. In epistolary novels not only letters are used, but also diary entries, paper clippings, etc. Writing in this style adds a sense of realism to your writing because you can present different viewpoints and thoughts without having to create or use an omniscient narrator. An omniscient narrator is a narrative mode in which the reader is told the story through a sort of godlike person, who knows every thought of every character. This can be really annoying to read because, in my case, 
there is not one person to relate to, not one protagonist. There are three types of epistolary novels: monologic (one character's letters), dialogic (two characters) and polylogic (multiple characters).

There are two different versions of how the epistolary novel came to be. Either it started of as books with letters inserted in them, where the rest was reduced until it disappeared. The other version is that actual letters were bound together to form a book, usually a love story. 'Prison of Love' (1485) by Diego de San Pedro.   

Half-length portrait of a woman wearing a black dress sitting on a red sofa. Her dress is off the shoulder, exposing her shoulders. The brush strokes are broad.The first novel that truly embraced all the different uses of an epistolary novel was 'Love Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister' (1684) by Aphra Behn. It allowed the reader to see all the different viewpoints and played with the many possibilities of intrigue using letters, such as letters lost, fake letters, etc. Jane Austen used this form as well in her juvenile works 'Lady Susan' (1794) and 'Love and Freindship' (1790). There are also signs that the first draft of 'Pride & Prejudice', then called' First Impressions' was in epistolary form. The evidence for this can be found in 'Pride and Prejudice' because the novel writes out a lot of letters in detail and they are often critical in the storyline! 
Although the epistolary novel was starting to die out there were still classics written in that style. Two of them are 'Frankenstein' (1818) by Mary Shelley. She uses epistolary writing as a framework for her actual story. 'Dracula' (1897) by Bram Stoker also uses the epistolary form, however he uses much more than letters. He also uses diary entries, paper clippings etc.

So what do you think? Sound like your type of writing?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Controversy around 'The Help'

Some of you may have read 'The Help' or seen the movie already. However, you might not have heard about the new controversy concerning 'The Help' that also touches on a major problem in literature. The main source is the Daily Mail, which is not that reliable but will do in this case. Abilene Cooper, a name that should be familiar to people who have read the book, is claiming that Kathryn Stockett stole her life. 

Kathryn spelt my name wrong, but they pronounce it exactly the same way in the book and the film. I introduced myself to Kathryn when I first met her at her brother’s house that way: ‘‘Aib-e-leen”. Kathryn has Aibileen teaching the white folks’ baby girl to call her ‘‘Aib-ee”. That’s what I taught Kathryn’s niece and nephew to call me because they couldn’t manage Abilene. ‘I just cried and cried after I read the first few pages. 
In the book, Aibileen has taken her job five months after her son is killed in an accident. My son, Willie, had leukaemia and died when he was 18, in July 1998, three months before I went to work for the Stocketts. ‘I felt the emotions in my heart all over again. Kathryn copied parts of my life and used them without even asking me.’ In the book, Aibileen is a deeply religious woman who sports a gold tooth and a gold cross, as does the real-life Abilene. 

Of course an author will always borrow from real life but according to Abilene Cooper there are so many parts in the book exactly like her life that she was in tears. Not that these sorts of claims are never made, in America it happens a lot. However, Abilene Cooper only asks for 50 000 pounds, which is not that much if you compare it to previous claims and if you look at how much money Stockett will probably make from the movie. According to her lawyer she just wants the hypocrisy to stop and feels violated by Stockett.  

Stockett actually once said in an interview: ‘When I was writing this book, I never thought anyone else would read it so I didn’t get real creative with names. I just used people I knew.’ How much of this is an admission to actually copying her sister's servant's life? Also, she sent Abilene a copy of er book before it was released, saying it was not based on her. Who sends someone a copy of a book that apparently is not about them?
I understand it is hard to draw a line between borrowing from life and creating your own story. All books are based on human lives, however I do not think you can simply copy someone's life without asking their permission. Writing about events that happened due to segregation, discrimination, etc., and I mean real events, is perfectly fine. Books build around the Civil Rights movement and any other important, life-changing campaigns, deserve to be written and read. But singling out one person and writing about her life without doing the research and without the permission is wrong, in my humble opinion.

Some people say that Abilene Cooper should not be complaining because her character in the book is a very positive representation. Then again, her skin is described as having the colour of a cockroach, how flattering is that? And no matter how positive, would you not like to be informed about what is happening with your life?

What are your thoughts on this? Have you read the book?

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 This meme is hosted by Book Journey. So what am I reading? This is the first day of school, so I should actually be starting to read for school. So, in order not to distract myself with beautiful novels, so I amd going to tell you about the books I am supposed to read for school.

The ones I have already read are:

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.
It was a novel I always wanted to read but it is a bit of a cheesy cliche. But now I was forced to read it and I loved it. There are a lot of differences between the novel and what everyone thinks they know about the story. For example, Frankenstein is the name of the Doctor who makes the monster. Throughout the entire book the monster is usually called 'creature'. I think Mary Shelley wanted us to feel pity for the creature, who is nothing more than a victim of science.

We Need to Talk ABout Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

This book is pretty disturbing, in the positive sense of disturbing. The book is an epistolary novel, written by Kevin's mother. I do not want to give away anything of the plot, but at the end of the book everything you thought you knew has changed. You feel sorry for all the characters and despise all of them at the same time. Reading it was a bit of a weird experience because the subject matter is quite touchy. This is typically a book that everyone has a different experience about.

The one I am reading:

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

I haven't begun reading this book yet so it should probably be a different category, but I dislike labeling, so who cares?

The novel begins with a play on James's The Ambassadors. Tom Ripley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve Greenleaf's son, Dickie, from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Dickie, it seems, is held captive both by the Mediterranean climate and the attractions of his female companion, but Mr. Greenleaf needs him back in New York to help with the family business. With an allowance and a new purpose, Tom leaves behind his dismal city apartment to begin his career as a return escort. But Tom, too, is captivated by Italy. He is also taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf. He insinuates himself into Dickie's world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends all moral compunction. Tom will become Dickie Greenleaf--at all costs.

Doesn't sound too bad, so I should probably just start reading! How about you guys? What are you reading?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

What to do in the Weekend? Script writing!

Once again it's Saturday morning, afternoon actually, and I face the question: What to do?

My initial idea when I woke up was continuing my script. I have been "working" on a script I will most likely never finish and which there will most likely never be a movie of, since my script would require a massive Hollywood budget! But there is no stopping ambition, so I though, why not introduce my ideas to you?

In 2008 a Dutch movie was released, called 'De Brief aan de Koning', which is Dutch for 'The Letter to the King'. I was terribly excited and after seeing it terribly disappointed. The scriptwriters and director had turned my favourite childhood book into a cheap movie. It is a coming-of-age movie, that, while being very exciting, teaches you all sort of things about loyalty, friendship and love. However, the movie was crappy.

The book itself is beautiful in its description of setting, weather, costumes, castles, characters. The movie looks like they simply pulled open a big costume box from a primary school and dressed all their actors up. I decided this was unacceptable and together with my father and sister I set to writing my own script. instead of stuffing the first book into one movie and making it impossible to also film the sequel, we decided to split the two books up into four movies. All we have so far is a scene list, i.e. we know what we want to do in all the scenes, but have not written them out yet.

I thought I would share a couple of thoughts with you, since writing about ideas always helps me making them clearer!

The story is set in two countries: Unauwen and Dagonaut. Unauwen always made the impression on me as being a very Mediterranean country, white houses, a lot of trading, having a religion close to Roman Catholicism. While on my holiday in France we passed Lyon and its beautiful Basilica de Notre Dame that immediately spoke to me.

It's a mix between Romanesque and Byzantine architecture and has beautiful wall Mosaic on the inside. So, this was what I had in mind for Unauwen.

When thinking of Dagonaut I get quite different feelings. It is rougher, perhaps less old and refined. Think of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings, but then set in hilly woodlands and less sun! If a religion had to be attributed to Dagonaut I would go for Calvinistic Protestantism. The people are very hard-working, realists, and this is reflected in their buildings. Therefore I immediately thought of a church I always went to as a child: the Dom Kerk in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Although no less impressive as a building, a different material has been used. Also, during the Beeldenstorm, an immensely interesting event during the 16th century throughout Europe, most of the statues and golden icons have been removed from the church, which makes it a very sober, but still impressive church.

So, now I will get to writing my script! What are you doing this weekend? Any writing, reading or researching stories involved?

If you do your own post do not hesitate to leave behind your link!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Follow Friday

It's Friday again!!! This week I'm only responding to the FF question, because I don't have a lot of time and because I don't like the BBH question! FF is hosted by Alison Can Read!

Q. If you could change the ending of any book, which would you choose, why and to what would you change it?

Thinking about this question I am not quite sure. A lot of books have endings I do not completely agree with. For example, I really disliked the ending of 'On Chesil Beach' by Ian McEwan for two reasons:

  • It does not show us how Florence feels about the split. (I also think she is misrepresented throughout the entire book.)
  • I would much rather have them talk and resolve their problems.
However, if the ending was as I would want it to be, it would be a standard cheesy novel about how two people with differences find together. Things like that do not always happen in real life. 'On Chesil Beach' shows us how life is, not how we want it to be. A lot of endings I dislike work like that. I do not like them because, if the stories were real, I would wish for them to be different. As a book, they work perfectly, because a book is supposed to make you think and rethink human behavior, actions, etc.

Of course there are endings to a book that are simply ridiculous, ill-times, to rash etc. 

So what do you think? Any endings you especially despised? Do not hesitate to leave your link in the comments!