Category: jane austen (page 2 of 42)

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]

Dear Mr. Knightley

Dear Mr. KnightleySamantha Moore has always found more comfort in books than in real life. After years of instability in the foster system, she finds herself hiding behind fictional characters and their quotes, unable to connect well with others. But now that she’s on her own, everything is about the change. Sam is given a scholarship to a graduate program, with the condition that she writes to her anonymous benefactor, code name Mr. Knightley, on a regular basis. Sam finds a new kind of freedom in these letters, opening up and revealing more of herself than she ever has before. But as she begins to share more of herself with the people around her as well, she faces the frightening reality that in doing so, she might not ever be able to hide again.

Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley is a beautiful, deeply emotional and redemptive novel, one that honors a person’s love for literature while gently recognizing that living in fictional worlds is not really the same as living at all. As an epistolary novel, we only ever get Sam’s perspective of events, but that’s part of what makes this novel so powerful – everything we readers see comes through Sam’s eyes, even when she’s not being completely honest herself. There’s an intimacy to the story, as Mr. Knightley’s anonymity gives Sam the confidence to confide in him when she guards herself so tightly with everyone else.

“There’s a delicious layer we see that Sam can’t – there is what she is willing to tell Mr. Knightley, what she tries to withhold and how she interprets events – any or all of which can look to different to us than to her. The epistolary format allowed me to really explore Sam’s limited perspective and twist it about occasionally.” (Source: Interview with Katherine Reay at Austenprose)

Since Sam is our gateway to Dear Mr. Knightey, we have to rely on her. But first-person narrators aren’t always reliable. Sam even admits early on that she hides behind her literary characters and their quotes, and yet the fact that she can admit that reveals a lot about how she sees herself. In many ways, she is a contradiction of a character: tough, yet vulnerable; distant, yet yearning for connect; idealistic, but still fairly practical; insecure, but with a strong sense of self. Interestingly, I saw a lot of myself in Sam, particularly in the way she relates to the world through literature and how difficult she finds it to be real and honest when books have been her salvation for so long. I did read some some reviews where other readers thought her behavior was a bit unbelievable and too naive for a 23-year-old, but but I actually found Sam’s behavior perfectly in line with a distrusting former foster kid who’s shielded herself from the world for so long.

There is so much I love about Dear Mr. Knightley, but there is a bit of a twist at the end and I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about it. (Apologies in advance for being vague, but I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone.) I did actually predict the twist before it happened, but I finished the book feeling conflicted about it. Like Sam, I felt a betrayed by the turn of events. I understand Reay’s intent with her plot and its ending, and I even understand why it makes sense, but a part of me feels that it was too cliche, too easy to take that particular route. And yet, at the same time, the ending does an excellent job of highlighting just how far Sam has come over the course of the novel, how much she’s grown and changed. The ending hasn’t stopped me from loving Dear Mr. Knightley, but it’s not completely problem-free.

Dear Mr. Knightley is my first five-star book of 2014 and that is a well-deserved honor. Katherine Reay wrote a book for everyone who loves literature and fictional characters, but also for those of us who know how hard it is to grow and change and leave parts of ourselves behind. There’s hope, friendship, love, faith, family and even some laughter in this novel. It’s the kind of book that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let you go. The title implies that this is an Austen-esque, romantic kind of book, but Dear Mr. Knightley is so much more. Give Sam a chance, and let yourself into her world.

[Photo Credit: Goodreads]

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