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Something A Little Bit Different

Books and ComputersI read a lot, obviously. (Hence the book blog.) There are a things that happen when you read a lot, but one of the things that usually captures my attention is when I come across authors or writers trying to do something a little bit different or a little bit out of the ordinary. There are plenty of authors writing great books and publishing them in a traditional manner. But there are also authors who will push the boundaries of a story, whether its devising a new way to physically print the story, or using technology to enhance or complement the narrative.

Here’s a look at some of the people – and the books – that are doing things just a little bit differently.

  • In the early 90′s, Nick Bantock took the idea of an epistolary novel to a whole new level with his Griffin & Sabine trilogy. The story of an extraordinary correspondence between two people doesn’t take place on the pages of a book, but rather through their correspondence itself. Bantock’s concept was to create the letters, notes, postcards and envelopes exchanged by Griffin and Sabine, and then let readers peek at their back-and-forth.
  • More recently, Chris Ware took the comic book form of literature in a new direction with his Building Stories. In this volume, there is no book at all; rather, the tales of the inhabitants of a Chicago apartment building are told through a variety of pieces: pamphlets, broadsheets, even scraps of paper. Even more intriguing is the idea that the parts of the whole can be read in any order – the linear trajectory doesn’t apply here, making for a different experience every time you open the box.
  • Anyone who is anyone uses social media today, and the really savvy authors are deliberate about using various social media sites to promote upcoming works, particularly those that are highly anticipated. Both Geroge R.R. Martin and Diana Gabaldon have wisely given fans glimpses of their upcoming novels. Martin uses his blog to regularly publish excerpts and even whole chapters from the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. Gabaldon, meanwhile, posts daily excerpts from her next book, Written in My Heart’s Own Blood, on Facebook. Both are great ways of giving readers a taste of what they want, while keeping them engaged until publication day.
  • Last month, authors, writers and content creators teamed up with Twitter and Penguin Random House for the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival. Twitter Fiction is, in the words of the founders, about “embracing, exploring and developing the art of storytelling on Twitter.” Several authors (with “traditional” published books) contributed stories over a series of 140-character tweets. Others relied on images and Vine videos to tell a story visually. Then there are groups of people tweeting as specific characters in a story (either one they’ve made up or one borrowed from another author).
  • YouTube has been around for years, but during the course of the past few years, there has been a rise in YouTube movies and series focused on adaptations of classic literature. The best known, of course, is likely The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but there have also been adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma and Bronte’s, Jane Eyre. There’s even a new version of Anne of Green Gables in the early stages of development. While these are not strictly literature (at least in the same way as the other items on the list emphasize, in part, the written word), they do introduce classic literature to new audiences in relatable ways.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. There are probably hundreds of other examples of how people are taking the idea of a story on paper and twisting it in new and different ways. That’s what makes it fun – every day, people are trying to do something out of the ordinary, to see what happens. And while I don’t think traditional publishing or printed books are going anywhere (even with the continued rise of e-books), I think it will be interesting to see what the world comes up with next.

Think I missed someone or something important? Tell me in the comments?

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Book News, Apr. 12th

Another weekend, another book. That’s usually how it goes for me, though I do try to get some occasional sunshine. Now that spring has finally sprung, I like reading on my little balcony. My apartment faces the parking lot, so the view isn’t all that great (and the noise and exhaust from the cars isn’t, either), but it sure beats sitting inside. Easter is almost here, the weather gets warmer every day – there’s a lot to be grateful for, bookworms. Here’s the book news:

  • Seems like YA authors are crushing it lately. On the heels of Divergent‘s box office success and the ever-increasing anticipation for The Fault in Our Stars movie, Rainbow Rowell recently announced that Dreamworks Studios has optioned her fantastic debut novel, Eleanor and Park, for a film. The book was a best-seller, spending 12 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list. Having the film option picked up doesn’t necessarily guarantee that an Eleanor and Park movie will be made, but it’s certainly very encouraging. Rowell herself will write the screenplay, which is also very encouraging.
  • It’s the question ever Austen fan asks: which Austen novel is best? (Assuming, of course, you can find a standard definition of “best.”) Literature teacher and author Amy Elizabeth Smith taught Austen’s novel in several countries and across many cultures. In a recent Publishers Weekly blog post, Smith took the time to rank six Austen’s novels according to her own opinions. Smith’s rankings are both eye-opening (Pride and Prejudice in third place?!) and predictable (poor, Fanny Price). Reading through her thoughts and then let me know – what’s your favorite Austen novel?
  • Last week, I shared a bit about RAINN’s campaign to raise money for sexual assault and rape survivors in honor of the 15th anniversary of Speak. This week, Kelly Jensen (usually found at Stacked) sat down with Laurie Halse Anderson for an interview to discuss her book’s anniversary. The interview, posted by Book Riot, touches upon Speak‘s legacy, the importance of young adult literature and the role gender plays in books and in the book world. Jensen asks fabulous questions and Anderson has equally fabulous answers, so be sure the read the whole thing. As a reminder, you can participate in the #Speak4RAINN15 campaign throughout the month of April.
  • Is your favorite book-to-screen adaptation worth it? Using data from a report in The GuardianStatista created an infographic that explores how much time each adaptation gets out of its written pages. Given the lengths of each book, it’s not surprising that Game of Thrones falls last on the list, getting a mere 0.80 minutes  of screen time per page of book. Meanwhile, Friday Night Lights has the highest page-to-screen number, with 9.15 minutes for every page. The infographic doesn’t offer any commentary on what this all means (I think you could argue that either a high or low number is “good”), but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
  • April is National Poetry Month, so here are some ways to be prepared. Book Riot has a list of the various Twitter accounts for poetry lovers, including now-defunct satire accounts (e.g, @RobertFrostbyte) and other active accounts from the Poetry Foundation and other poetry news sources. And if you enjoy some laughter with your poetry (and some digs at the English language while you’re at it), the folks behind the AsapSCIENCE YouTube channel posted a poetry video about why the English language drives them crazy.

As always, happy reading.

Word of the Week (154)

DictionaryThey called it the unsinkable ship. That was probably the first mistake, setting expectations too high. On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic left port in Southampton, England for its maiden – and only – voyage across the Atlantic. (Technically, it didn’t even get across the Atlantic, so there’s also that.) As one of the worst maritime disasters in modern history, the Titanic has become an indelible part of our history, which wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t sank. That’s life for you.

Indelible (“in-del-uh-buhl”)

Adjective; from Dictionary.com:

1. Making marks that cannot be erased or removed
2. That which cannot be eliminated, forgotten or changed

I really like that kid and for some reason feel he’s an indelible part of me. I’ve tried to call him a couple times, but he won’t answer. It’s so clear to me now that I let him down. (Dear Mr. Knightley, Katherine Reay)

Another adjective, and another Latin root word – I tell you, bookworms, it seems these are the words I prefer. Indelible comes from a combination of a Latin prefix and root word. The prefix in means “not” or “without,” while the root word delebilis means “able to be destroyed” (and also shares some word history with delete). Thus, indelible literally translates to “not about to be destroyed.” It is permanent and unchanging, which can be both good and bad.

Your turn, bookworms – you know I’m going to ask: the book that’s made the most indelible mark on you? I’d have to go with a tie: Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. Both speak to my childhood in a way no other books do.

[Photo Credit: Google Images]