Returning to the Joys of Reading

Recently, I have been put off reading for pleasure. It’s partially my own fault because I’ve been busy or just been doing something else, but mainly I think it’s the fault of my exam. I had to read so many books (and by read I mean search the internet for plot summaries due to sheer boredom) that I just didn’t enjoy; these were mostly classics which I find are alright until I have to read one after another after another after…you get the picture. To give you an example, I read the first part of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in which the most exciting event turned out to be meeting a man at a ball, oh and the protagonist’s parent called her “almost pretty” which was just fabulous…

So, now that my exam it out of the way I plan to start enjoying reading again. First of all I’m going to finish A Song of Ice and Fire, then I’ll probably move on to some of Joe Abercrombie’s work (I’ve had The Blade Itself sad on my bookshelf for a good while now. After that I can see the completion of the collection of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories I downloaded onto my kindle a while back, and maybe even a catch up on the latest Peter F. Hamilton sci-fi novel.

In short, I’m returning to the joys of reading. I would love for you to comment and let me know what I should read. I’m extremely willing to add to my already massive list. Thanks.

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Exam Pressure

This week I decided to take a break from my review schedule (not least because my exam tomorrow has prevented me from reading the third Song of Ice and Fire novel) and use my spare time to suggest books that I think are great, and that I believe should be on everyone’s reading list.

George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame

Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

Paul Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God Trilogy

Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle

Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

I’ll leave it at ten due to the fact it’s a good, round number and I’m short on time. I’ll be back tomorrow with a much better post.

 

The Cloudy Shallot

A cloud wanders slowly through the sky,

Sometimes it’s lonely,

But sometimes its friends float by.

 

Years and years ago,

It saw a beautiful land of leaf and sea,

But now all it sees is you and me.

 

Grinding, digging, and choking the land,

A cloud in agony,

To see the dirt turn to sand.

 

Warmer and warmer,

The Earth grows hot,

The cloud may as well reside on a cooking Shallot.

The Web Series

Until recently I had never seen a web series, and considered them tiny blots on the genre of television and screenplay.  However, I recently discovered a series called ‘The Guild’, written by Felicia Day (I have to thank my friend Sam over at Swartech; he’d kill me if I took the credit for discovering her work by myself). You can find the guild on Felicia’s YouTube channel, Geek and Sundry, I took the liberty of providing you with a link, but be warned, it’s incredibly addictive.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I feel web series have their own part in the vast area of literature known as drama. Drama is one of the oldest forms of writing; it was a major part of Ancient Greek tradition and religion, just like it is now in our traditions of sitting together as a family and watching the latest episode of our favourite programme. Drama has evolved immensely with the invention of television, and now it can evolve with the internet, thus the web series was born.

My interest in web series is not purely due to my interest in studying literature, I am also drawn to it because of my writing. Writing a web series would be incredibly rewarding, but I feel the need for actors and expensive equipment might get in the way. However a written web series might be a good idea. Obviously I’m still in the planning stages but I think a series of flash fiction pieces which link together to form one storyline, perhaps published on a WordPress blog might be in order. Maybe even the purchase of a webcam for some kind of diary entry account of a narrative which occurs off-screen (although I can’t act, well…I’ve never tried it but I can’t imagine it would go well).

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me know what you think, if you have an opinion, or if you have any suggestions that might help me with the development of this project. As always, thanks for reading.

Another World

Rich and poor,

Businessmen don’t sleep on the floor,

Like the children,

Like the elderly.

 

Gold and mud,

They’d be happy for a flood,

Leave the children

Leave the elderly.

 

Brick and straw,

The rich always want more,

Exploit the children,

Exploit the elderly.

 

Medicine and blood,

No one helps but they should,

Help the children,

Help the elderly.

 

Help them all.

The 5 Best Things About Film Adaptations

5 – Brings the book to a wider audience

A lot of books go unnoticed, but when a Hollywood film director gets hold of a good one they think will do well, you can guarantee a lot of attention. I’m betting Twilight more than tripled its sales numbers after the release of the first film, and the same goes for Harry Potter. Also, a lot of people just don’t like reading, (I know, I don’t get it either) so a film allows a novelist’s audience to expand beyond the normal possibilities.

4 – People get to see a different take on a book

When you read a book, you get to picture all of the characters yourself; you are like a builder and the writer is an architect. But when you watch a film adaptation, it’s like moving into a house you asked someone else to design and build for you. It’s nice to get someone else’s take on a book for a change, however, nothing can beat your original ideas when reading a book.

3 – There are no more advantages to making a film adaptation!

Let’s be honest, film adaptations aren’t usually great. Sometimes, a Harry Potter comes along, or a Sherlock Holmes, but usually, they’re terrible; this is especially true if you’ve read the book before watching the film. I remember when I went to see ‘Angels and Demons’ a few years ago, I remember being angry, very angry. The main antagonist wasn’t even the same person!

Anyway, after that, thanks for reading. Oh, and feel free to add your points about film adaptations in the comments below.

Review 5: George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Clash of Kings’

The second book in Martin’s famous fantasy series is ‘A Clash of Kings’. The form is the same as the first novel in the series, an interweaving, multi-perspective, chaotic, but somehow ordered narrative which is very easy to get lost in it. Personally, I love Martin’s writing style. I love having plenty of perspectives to read from, it’s as if he wrote the characters’ stories separately and managed to fit them all together in one big epic jigsaw puzzle.

This is the book in which things really start to get moving, civil war grips the Seven Kingdoms and other factions from across the sea look across with massive ambition. The sheer number of tense moments and instances of frighteningly well described action just seems to keep on increasing as the series goes on so far. Simply put, it’s an intense read.

However, it’s not all action in the fantasy world. A lot of thought has gone into the well written, intellectual dialogue. It’s not hard to see when one of the characters is under stress, is using sarcasm, or is just annoyed. Martin’s plethora of characters (and I don’t use the word plethora lightly) are so well-rounded and realistic that I sometimes find myself thinking things like this:

“Joffrey you bastard! What have you done?”

“Aww, poor Sansa.”

“I hope Dany pulls through this.”

Etc, etc….

The text also raises similar issues as before: whether one man has the right to rule a whole kingdom, whether women should be subjugated my men; whether money triumphs over honour; and whether your heritage gives you right to rule. The answer to all of the above, is no. Sometimes however, life isn’t fair, and that is what this book seems to drive home with every chapter. Some rulers aren’t fit to rule, women are subjugated in certain ways and in certain countries more than others, honour and love do not always win over money, and some people are born into power.

If you’re interested, I will be covering each book in the series over the next few weeks so make sure you come back next Monday, if you subscribe you’ll get an email every time I post so you won’t miss a thing. Thank you for reading.