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Top Ten Tuesday: The Movie is Better

 

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Time again for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week,  we have an adaptation from novel to screen freebie.  It’s easy to say the book is better and in many cases it is. But there are times when the screen adaptation ends up being more enjoyable than the source material.  Here are a few:

  1.  The Godfather by Mario Puzo.  Given the iconic status of the movie version, it’d be easy to assume the book is awesome too.  After all, Puzo did adapt his novel for the silver screen.  And yet, reading the book, I wasn’t overly impressed with it in quite the same way as I was with the movie.
  2. Jaws by Peter Benchley.  Another iconic film that you’d assume the source material is awesome.  The screen versions hones the book down to its essentials and it’s much better for it.  The book has so many unlikeable characters that by about halfway through it, I was rooting for the shark to just eat everyone already and be done with it.
  3. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom.  If you love the movie, avoid this book at all costs. Forrest goes to outer space, is lost on a deserted island, and becomes good friends with a space chimp.   Oh, and the reason Jenny loves him in the book has less to do with the size of his heart and more the size of something else…
  4. The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming.  Even Fleming knew this was a terrible book.  When he sold the screen rights to the Bond books, one of his demands was that while they could use the title from this book, the book itself couldn’t be adapted.  And it’s a good thing since this one is a first-person narrated story by a woman, trapped in a hotel with some killers until Bond shows up in the last few pages to save the day.
  5. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.  The movie takes the basic premise and runs with it in an entirely different direction. Thank heavens. This one tries hard to have a twist, but it’s so silly.
  6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R..R. Tolkien.  Before Fellowship of the Ring hit theaters, I joined a Barnes and Nobel on-line read-a-long of the books, hoping this was the time I could slog through them all.  I left the group when some participants were posting long diatribes that the movies were leaving out small details from the books and, thus, ruining them.  Again, this was BEFORE the movies came out.  I’ve tried hard to enjoy the books but find them a bit of a slog.  The movies eliminate page upon page of walking around and simply get us there.

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Shelf Space

Author Fonda Lee took to Twitter recently, lamenting the lack of shelf space in her local Barnes and Nobel for new fantasy authors. In the post, Lee points out that J.R.R. Tolkien had “3.5 shelves worth of space” and Robert Jordan had “2.5 shelves.”

Putting aside that 2.5 shelves of space for Jordan probably adds up to a total of four books (cause man, that guy wrote some huge tomes!), I find Lee’s comments interesting.  I understand her point about new authors trying to find a way to break into the publishing ranks and even her point that it was difficult to find novels that had either been recently nominated for or won genre awards.

When Barnes and Nobel opened a store that was convenient to where I shopped and did my errands, I was excited.  I frequented the store regularly and enjoyed browsing the aisles to find something new that may not have necessarily been on my radar at the time.  These days, it’s been months since I darkened the door of that local Barnes and Nobel.   And a large part of it ties into Lee’s lament.

In the past five years, I’ve noticed that more of the floor space of Barnes and Nobel has been given over to items that may or may not necessarily be related to the reading experience.  Everything from toys and games to collectible figures to things associated with reading.  I’ve also noticed that the amount of room for actual books has decreased dramatically.  At first, it was a shrinking of the shelf-space for new releases, then slowly the aisles for each genre seemed to become smaller.  What was first two and a half aisles for sci-fi and fantasy has become one and a half.  Same thing for mystery novels.  And while we get a bit of space given over to new releases, I find that what whoever deems a book worthy of such a spotlight has very different tastes than I do.

Insert rant about how much shelf space in the SF/F aisle paranormal romance gets these days here.

I understand what Lee is saying about the limited shelf space being given to older books by authors who may or may not necessarily be still around.  And while I share her concerns, I feel certain if we asked the buyers at Barnes and Nobel why this was, it would go back to the old adage that things like Tolkien and Jordan move product.

Look, I’m all for the classics getting shelf space.  Certainly, they’ve a proven track record and that fact that they keep finding Tolkien to publish (I expect his grocery lists to be published at some point) means he and other authors are always going to take up some shelf space.  I just wish that the experience of going to Barnes and Nobel was closer to what it was when my local store first opened and not what it is today.  I feel like the stores have become more about book adjacent items and less about the books themselves.

And that’s a shame.

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The Great American Read

PBS begins a quest this evening to find “America’s Best Loved Novel” with the Great American Read.

The series will look at 100 books with conversations with their ardent fans and scholars.  I took a minute to look over the list of the top 100 books and I’ve got to admit I’ve got a couple of exceptions with it (as will most readers, I assume).

I wasn’t honestly expecting one of my favorite books, Lake Wobegon Days, to make the list.   And while it’s nice to see Stephen King represented with his tome, The Stand, I’ve always felt like The Shining is a stronger novel. (And it’s also about six-hundred pages shorter).

I will admit I’m perplexed by some of the more recent choices on the list.  Look, I’ll admit that Gone Girl was a great read, but I’m not quite sure it’s been around long enough to declare it one of the best 100 books ever written.  Sure, it’s ignited new interest in a the unreliable narrator niche, but I’m still not sure it’s one of the best books ever published.

I’m not quite sure how The Twilight Saga or Ready Player One made the list, unless it’s an ardent fan base that voted a lot for them.  Look, I fully accept that the Twilight novels aren’t for me, but I did read them a couple of years ago (OK, I listened to the audiobooks) and, quite frankly, I found them to be less than stellar. The first half of Twilight is a good book, but once Bella falls for Edward and she sublimates her entire personality and world to worshiping the sparkly ground he walks on, I lost interest quickly, wanting to reach into the audiobook and smack some sense into her.

And while Ready Player One was fun eight years ago, re-reading it for a book group showed it hadn’t really stood the test of time (at least for this reader).

All that said, I’m curious to watch this series and find out more about all the books.  But if the Twilight novels win the best book ever, I may have to call shenanigans on this whole thing.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book I Could Re-Read Again and Again

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Time for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl).  This week’s topic is the books we could read multiple times.

I’m going to include some old favorites and some new ones that I love reading to Shortcake. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Themed Book Covers

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While our weather hasn’t turned much cooler yet, fall is finally here!  To celebrate the return of my favorite season, Top Ten Tuesday this week (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) is all about book covers that reflect the season.

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An Interview With J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark

 

ronaldyorkWhile cleaning out his childhood home, Nashville’s  J. Ronald M. York discovered a box of letters and news clippings that uncovered a long-held family secret.  For several months in the fall of 1955, Ron’s father was held in the Dade County Jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse of a minor.  During that time, Ron’s father and mother wrote daily letters to each other.

After the death of his father, Ron discovered the saved letters and clippings held in a box.  Ron had uncovered a secret that his family had held for close to sixty years.  His new book, Kept in the Dark, publishes those letters and follows Ron’s journey toward finding out what happened to his family when he was just three years old.

Ron has graciously agreed to talk to me about his book.

Question: How did you begin to pull the story together of what happened to your family?

J. Ronald M. York: Once I came to terms with what the letters revealed, I wanted to know more. The newspaper articles helped explain the charges, while the letters gave me insight to what my parents were going through. Still, there were blanks and even a couple things they had code words for that needed to be explained. I checked with the few remaining people connected although no one would know the whole story. However, those bits and pieces of information gave me leads to follow in my research. Google and Ancestry dot com became my closest friends. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Reading

autumn leaves.jpgThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks us what books are on our fall to-be-read list/pile.  Here are the books I’d like/hope to read this fall.

  1.  Razor Girl by Carl Hiassen
  2. The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Carl Hiassen
  3. Star Trek: Legacies: Best Defense by David Mack
  4. Star Trek: Legacies: Purgatory’s Key by Kevin Dilmore & Dayton Ward
  5. The Fifty Year Mission, Volume 2 by Mark Altman and Edward Edward Gross
  6. Annie Russo: Tenacity Born by J.L. Baumann
  7. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
  8. Night School by Lee Child
  9. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  10. Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (audio book) by Terrance Dicks

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