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Day 24 – A book you wish more people would’ve read

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I read Anne of Green Gables years and years ago. It could be as much as ten years ago. To make a long story short, I loved it. But it seems to me as though people don’t read these kinds of book anymore. Everybody I ask invariably replies the same: they’ve heard of it, perhaps seen it on TV, but they haven’t read it and that makes me sad.

I loved the Anne-series and I tried to read as many of the books as I could find. I also really enjoyed Anne of Avonlea and some of the others, but when Anne started having her own home and family, she grew beyond a world that I knew and could identify with and I lost interest in the books.

I read Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. The first two I enjoyed, but Anne of the Island was already passing beyond my frame of reference. Anne of Windy Poplars I never could find. Anne’s House of Dreams I read, but I didn’t like it all that much (I was a young teenager, remember? It’s not really a book that I could identify with. Perhaps I would feel differently if I read it now.) I made an attempt to read Anne of Ingleside, but it didn’t really work. I know my mother then borrowed it and read it and she loved it. But I can’t really say anything about it. Then I tried to read Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, but I had missed too much out of the series by now and the books simply confused me. Anyway, I wanted to read about Anne, not about her children and her life as mother. I also read both Chronicles of Avonlea books and liked them, though not nearly as much as Anne of Green Gables.

 

That doesn’t really matter, you know. It is Anne of Green Gables that matters. I wish that more people would have read this book, because I want to talk about it, but I can’t find anyone who has read it. Though, come to think of it, I would probably have to do a reread as well if I want to talk about it. 😉

What is it that makes Anne Shirley such a beloved character? Is it her spunky (ah, how wonderful to be able to use that word again) nature and her simple determination to make the best of every situation? I don’t really know, because it is so hard to define. However, I do think that it is Anne’s courage to carry that made me love her character so much. Also, I never really realised how much a part of me she became until I recently saw a light flash through my window at night. I immediately thought of how Anne and Diana signalled to each other using pieces of cardboard and candles. Also, when I first used dye in my hair, I was thinking, “I just hope it doesn’t turn out green, like Anne’s hair did.” Remember that moment when Anne had to emerge with her green hair? I think that picture has been imprinted on my mind forever!

I just love suddenly remembering scenes from books like this. It can always remind me how much a character has become a part of me. I have a way of always remembering Anne’s disaster with the cordial at odd moments and it never fails to make me smile.

Therefore, it is moments like this that makes Anne of Green Gables my book that I wish more people would have read. I wish that more people could share in moments like this.

 

I see that several of the Anne-books are available as free eBooks. Do me a favour and make my wish come true by downloading and trying it for yourself. Why don’t you? It’s a lovely book. 🙂

Tomorrow I write about the character that I can identify with the most.

Sig3

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Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

* This post may have some hints of spoilers, but nothing that isn’t floating about in the Potterverse every day. *

Well, it’s time to confess. Imagine me, squaring up to finally proclaim this publicly.

I still haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I know there are people who will hate me for this. There are those who think you can’t love Harry Potter if you haven’t read all the books. There are those who think you can’t be a “true” fan if you haven’t read all the books. I hate all these arguments. These are the reasons why, most of the time, I dislike the Harry Potter-fandom. However, I find myself drawn to it, time and again. It is fascinating and repelling at the same time.

I love Harry Potter. But I have reasons why I haven’t read it. Unlike many other people whom I’ve interacted with on the internet, I hold no fear that HP will “end” if I read the last book. Books don’t just “end”. My reasons are much simpler than that.You see, at the time it came out, I had been dealing with a lot of loss and death. I couldn’t stand, on top of all this, the death (or even just the possible death) of some of my favourite characters. My mother bought me the book when it came out, but it just sat on my shelf, gathering dust. It’s still there. I saw both the Deathly Hallows movies. People have told me about the plot so many times that I even know the differences between the book and the movies. But I haven’t actually read it.

I also have a second reason for this. After reading the sixth book when it came out – much too fast, because I didn’t actually have time for this and I was simply racing to be done – I kind of turned against Harry Potter. As I closed Half Blood Prince for the last time (I’ve only read it once) I ended up crying and being furious at Snape. From the first book, I thought he was Dumbledore’s man. Not necessarily a good man, but only in the Death Eater circle as a spy. As the sixth book ended, for the first time I was unsure. I didn’t like it, and I was starting to think this series was a mess. It was getting dragged on too long now. You see (here comes another revelation), I didn’t like the fifth book much either. Because *gasp* I never liked Sirius much. He grated across my nerves from the beginning, and between him and Harry, the fifth book was driving me against the walls. I wasn’t even sad when it happened. I was a bit sorry for Harry of course, but mostly I was just relieved.

I didn’t really want to read the seventh book anymore.

Then the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie came out and I knew it was finally time to face this story. When I watched it, I found I could face it. I found that I have now grown stronger than the death that last time threatened to overwhelm me and keep me down. Then Part 2 came out and brought me right back home to being a Harry Potter fan. For the book, the timing was just wrong for me. For the movie, it was exactly right. I want to read the book now. But…

I don’t think I could get maximum enjoyment out of it now. I have read the first five books so many times I can recite them. I read the sixth book so fast I can only remember about four scenes from it and that’s all. I don’t think I’d understand everything and have it draw to a close if I read Deathly Hallows now. Which is what makes me want to reread the entire series. I want to start at the beginning again and read everything. Until I reach the seventh book, whereupon I will finally open it, read it, and finish it. But do you think I have time to do any of this? No, I don’t.

One day I will read this magnificent series and finally finish it. I will make one day happen. Until then, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Ginny will have to remain unfinished characters.

Someday…

Tomorrow’s post is about a book I wish more people would’ve read.

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Day 22 – Favourite book you own

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I’m not quite sure what I am supposed to write for this post.  I’ve written about this favourite and that favourite and I’m still busy with the build-up to the final post: my favourite book of all time. So what makes this post different from any of those I just mentioned? I own most of the books that I have written about in the past three weeks. That’s simply the way that I worked, not having access to a library for a long time, so I had to beg for, buy or borrow all the books that I read during that time. Now I don’t know what to write about that has not already been written about, or is still to be written about. All that I can think of to talk about is book in my collection that has a special significance for some reason or other. They may not all be favourites, but they do have something that makes them special…

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer is the only book that I own that is autographed. I have no idea why it is autographed – I have never gone to a book signing before. I bought it that way, actually. It was at school and there was a book sale in the school library (where I worked, of course). A book store came and set up shop in the library. When I picked up this book, I saw that it was autographed on the first page: clearly it said Nancy Farmer. Well, I don’t know if its fellows were also signed. Perhaps they were. Perhaps these were pre-signed books that were then sent to be sold because no other use could be found for them. Or perhaps my copy being in this heap was just a mistake and should never have been sold in an ordinary school library. I just don’t know, but it’s mine now and I like it. I really like it, actually. For many years, I’ve had an interest in mythology and this book deals rather heavily with Norse Mythology and the writing of the Epic of Beowulf. It’s very good.

The Prisoner of Zenda is the oldest book in my collection, to the best of my belief. I had seen the animated movie and liked it, so then I picked up the book second-hand because I thought I would like it as well. Unfortunately I am now also compelled to say that I haven’t read it. I tried. I really tried, but it was so dry, so boring that I simply could not read it. Perhaps I should try again, but when I bought it I couldn’t manage it. I should go check again sometime exactly how old this book is… it’s completely falling apart and smelling very strongly of dust and something else.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone… because this is where it all began. Actually I own three copies of this book (it’s a long story). If people ask me if I’d give any of those away to people who don’t have books, I say “Sure!” and then I can’t pick which one to give away. Should I give away that very first copy? Or should I give away one of the others, each of which also has a special significance? Until I can choose, I think all three books will remain in my possession. One day, maybe I will be able to let some of them go, but for now, I would like to remember my childhood, reading Harry Potter.

And then… The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne. I absolutely loved this book when I read it as a kid. When I wrote about Treasure Island, I said that I had a thing for “deserted-on-an-island” kind of stories. I got it from the library and it was one of those copies that the library redressed when the old cover got too worn. So it had a plain green, hardback cover with the title in tiny golden letters on the spine. It was therefore not very noticeable or memorable. Well, I gave the book back to the library after I read it. Not long afterwards, the entire library was demolished to make place for a shopping centre (it was then moved lower down the street). At the same time, the library took the opportunity to redecorate and move all the books about. When I came to the new library again, several years later, everything was moved and I had no idea where to find that book again. I could remember the plot pretty well, but I had no idea who the author was or what the title was. I’m in that situation for several more books from that library actually, but don’t worry, at least this one story has a happy ending. One day last year, when I was walking the 821-shelves in my university library, a book caught my eye. It was this Puffin Classics edition of The Coral Island and as you can see up there, it is quite bright blue. When I went closer, the name sounded familiar. When I picked it up and read on the back, I knew immediately that I had found my lost book of years ago. When I found and bought this book in a second-hand bookstore, I was so happy that I now finally owned a copy of this childhood favourite. Now I can only laugh at the roundabout way that I had to find it again – first the cover, then the title and author, before I could finally search for it again.

Tomorrow I reveal a book that I have wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.

Sig3


Day 21 – Favourite book from your childhood

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I loved all Enid Blyton’s books as a child. I read them to pieces. Most of them I could recite by heart after only a glance at the page. Even if her plots were repetitive, even if I got lost somewhere in between the series sometimes, I still loved her stories. They were… just so full of sunshine and hope. They were so different from the world around us – more like utopian literature than anything else. As I said for yesterday’s post, that is definitely not what I want from books these days. I do not want them to present the ideal as the real. But as a child, that was exactly what I wanted and I still believe it is good for children to believe in sunshine and rainbows before the world messes them up.

 

I loved The Famous Five and I loved the Adventure-series. My other favourite Blyton book is The Land of Far-Beyond, her take on The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I consider it an extremely significant book and wish it got more recognition nowadays. Wow, now I sound so old, hehe! I own The Pilgrim’s Progress actually and I even started to read it, but then I forgot about it again, which is a bit odd, seeing that I devoured the “children’s version”. I really must read it someday. Actually, nevermind The Pilgrim’s Progress and all those other books that I’ve bought and not read yet. Somedays all I want to do more than anything else in the world is re-read my Enid Blyton collection. But I’m scared as well. I’m scared that I will now suddenly start seeing flaws and the dullness that some people attribute to her stories. I’m scared that I will lose my golden view of Enid Blyton’s books if I read them again now. I’m scared that more of my childhood would be spoiled and I would do anything to prevent that. So maybe I should just leave those books where they are, live in the nostalgic memories and stick to my cynical fantasy where I belong these days.

But that is not what I am here to talk about today. I’m here to talk about the Blyton book that I picked out of the heap of favourites: The Valley of Adventure.

 

I’m not sure why I love this one most from all the Adventure-books. I believe this one was the first I read out of the series, even though it is not even close to being the first of the books, so that may have something to do with it. This was the first book where I was introduced to Philip, Jack, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and, of course, Kiki the parrot. It features a wrong aeroplane, a secret valley in Western Europe and, as most Blyton-books, children able to survive on their own. High adventure to a 12-year old. This is also the only Blyton-series where the characters were my age when I read the book. Most of her books features kids who were younger than I was when I read them. Obviously that drew me in like a magnet, because these fantastical escapades were all centred around people my age. These characters were my fictional friends. Where other people my age had Harry Potter and friends, I had these guys. (I only joined the Harry Potter bandwagon later.) Enid Blyton’s books formed the basis of my own desire to become a writer and my travel bug. So many scenes are described in her books that  I got bitten by the travel bug early. I had to see places like this for myself. This Valley of Adventure specifically features Austria. So, when a few years ago I was privileged to visit Austria, I was eager to see if her scenes were just names, or if they were accurate descriptions of the real scenery. Well, I didn’t see much of Austria – it rained for about three days straight. But just having been there makes me feel closer to my favourite. Bring on the adventure!

 

Well, now I am at the end of this post and I noticed I’ve hardly said anything specific about The Valley of Adventure, but just waffled on in general about Enid Blyton’s books. Maybe that is appropriate. All Enid Blyton’s books are my favourite books from my childhood, not just one. I’ll never, ever forget those wonderful days, before growing up, with a Blyton-book in hand.

Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite book that I own.

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Day 20 – Favourite romance book

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

** Yes! This post has some major spoilers! **

I’d like to make it clear right from the start that I do not read romance (I’ve said it before in this challenge). I hate it. Hate it. I avoid looking at that entire shelf in the bookshop or library. I roll my eyes and make a snide comment every time there’s a kissing scene on TV or if someone whispers a sweet-nothing into someone else’s ear. There is nothing sweet in my mind about a romance. Entire books have been spoiled because the foolish author stooped to folly and made the two main characters fall dramatically in love in the last couple of pages. Yes, I am indeed looking at you, The High Lord.

That said, from this very Princess Bride that I am now going to discuss comes the quote: “Cynics are simply thwarted romantics.” I’d call myself a cynic any day of the week. It’s not an insult if someone calls me this. I know I am cynical. Very. I am indeed a thwarted romantic, but not in the way you think. When I was little, I believed in fairy tales. I thought that one day every girl’s prince must come. Then I found out that guys would rather try to crush your spirit and break you and that chivalry was dead. (Okay, okay, only mostly dead. Yay, another Princess Bride reference!) And I started to hate these romantic books, because they’re not real. They still believe in the fairy tales. They still think the world is simple and that love will make everything okay. Actually, they believe that love is simple. I hate the view that represents of the world. That’s why I prefer dark fantasy over romance and I want to slap an author if they make two characters fall in love in the last couple of pages with no build up at all. So unrealistic. But enough about my cynicism and more about how The Princess Bride transcends all of this to become a book that I love, love, and also happens to be a romance. Really, I’m not that cynical – I’m just realistic.

What redeems The Princess Bride?

Well, it is funny. Very. The parentheses were basically killing me and when that silly Prince Humpty called Buttercup a “sweet pudding” I was rolling about on my bed laughing. It is so overdone. It is so obviously satire on that famous topic “courtly love” that it redeems all the fluff. It is so obviously written by someone as cynical as me about fairy tales that it was not long before I loved this book.

But what else do I love about this book?

Well, I love the back cover. The front cover is okay too, but I picked up my copy in a second-hand bookstore for— Well, it wouldn’t help to tell you the amount seeing that I have no idea what it is in dollars. But it was for something as pretty trivial. I actually bought it from the money that I should have bought a bus ticket from, but then the bus didn’t come and I had to wait for my father to fetch me from university. Thus, the next day when I went to the bookstore, I still had the bus ticket money in my pocket and it exactly covered the price of this book. It’s a bus-ticket book! Darn, I’m digressing again. What I actually meant to say is that this meant I did not get to pick my cover. I would have preferred that nice, popular cover with the dashing man in black dragging Buttercup by the hand, but instead I got the edition that was reprinted after the film came out. It’s got two actors on the front. I’m assuming that it’s Buttercup and Westley. Neither of them really look as described. Oh well. But the back cover: oh my! It’s plain red, with only the words:

“WHAT HAPPENS when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince in the world – and he turns out to be a son of a bitch?”

When I saw that, I was basically sold on the story already – I could smell a satire coming up.

And… what else?

Well, you’ve just got to admire William Goldman’s style. I was quite some way into the book before I began suspecting that *SPOILER ALERT* [this was not an abridged version like the inside cover said, but actually the original version. I believed that waffle in the front at first. I got some way before I started wondering, “But if the original version of this book is supposed to be so old that it has disappeared from the world, why is the language modern American?” When I finished reading, I confirmed this on Wikipedia. There is no “original” version. The whole “abridging” is just a literary device. In the days before Wikipedia, Goldman’s fabrication must have been even more believable. Unless you actually read the copyright’s page first, of course.]

Ah, it’s a wonderful story.

“What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.”

But it’s not just about everything. It’s about books. And it’s about how “Life isn’t fair, it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.” When **MAJOR SPOILER ALERT** [Westley died, I was in shock. How could he die? He is the hero and this is a story! How could the story go on if you kill off the hero?] I couldn’t understand. Then I realised that I had got too caught up in the fairy tale and I had forgotten about the satire. The Princess Bride is a fairy tale for grown-ups. Everyone is not going to live happily ever after. Not all the bad guys are going to get punished. The hero is not immune to death just because he is a protagonist. Life isn’t fair and he is just as mortal as anyone else. That is why I love this story. It is about true love, but it is also about realism. You are going to get hurt.

Oh, and it has an open ending, which makes it the first fairy tale that I have seen with this characteristic. I like it: if I am feeling cynical, I can imagine that they all died within the next few minutes. Or I can imagine that they lived and made do eventually. It’s all up to you.

If you haven’t read it, read it. You may just think that William Goldman is a genius.

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

 

So then I made this.

 

Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite book from my childhood.

Sig3


Day 19 – Favourite book turned into a movie

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

Ahaha! An easy one at last! I knew as soon as I saw the topic. My favourite book turned into a movie is Lord of the Rings. (x3!) I’d watch those movies constantly, only they are a bit long for that. 😛 I think that Peter Jackson and his team really did a great job on this story and they told it on-screen as close as it would have been possible to portray it. Obviously, they changed some things, but I really cannot say that any changes really detracts from the storyline. Like most fans, I’m disappointed that Tom Bombadil’s piece was cut, but really… when you start to think about it, his entire story would have been irrelevant and a waste of screen-time if you do not include the whole story of Valinor, the Eldar, the Maiar coming to Middle-earth… and so on and so on. Tom Bombadil is mostly interesting for speculation about who he really is, if he was the First and for the dream that Frodo had while in his house. He is a hugely entertaining character as well, of course, but without his backstory, he would simply have been reduced to a rather interesting and intelligent fool. I’m not angry that he was not included.

I did read the book before I saw the movies. I know I got the three DVDs for my 18th birthday, which was one of best presents ever. I read the book sometime before that. Actually, I don’t really know when I first read it, not only because I can’t remember, but because I read it across a period of months. So when I started and when I finished, that was quite far apart. I’m not one of those people who managed to stroll through it at age 12 and loved it ever since. I don’t think I’d have been able to read it at that young age. I was still reading Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl at that stage!

In my opinion, there are some of the pieces of the story that is better in the movies than in the book. The chief is example is, of course, the King of the Golden Hall piece. Théodred’s funeral and everything surrounding it was absolutely lovely in the film and it is of course missing in the book. Oh, it’s there, but not nearly in the emotional detail that the film gives to it. Always now, I feel as if the book is a bit lacking there, because of the piece that the movie added in there. I always feel that part was masterfully executed on the part of Bernard Hill.

Another improvement that the movies made was cutting Sam and Frodo’s hike through Mordor shorter. People tend to always comment that Tolkien’s style is too long-winded, but I have never minded that. The only time that I really felt that now he is getting too long-winded was after Cirith Ungol when the two hobbits were creeping across the plain and Tolkien started describing every rock and depression and blade of grass. Then I felt it was getting a bit much. The movie balanced that out much better, with lots of cuts to the other characters, so that the plains of Mordor don’t get so boring.

The three Lord of the Rings movies have made the story accessible to people who would never in their lives have read such a thick book. Both my parents never have and never will read the book. But they watch the movies with me. My mother loves Sam and she actually recognises him when I’m working on LotR graphics. I was quite surprised, because usually she doesn’t recognise these things. I’m not sure how much my father understands of the story, because he keeps asking me and switching the characters up, but he also know what a hobbit is and he refers to people he describes as hobbit-like. Anybody who looks vaguely hobbit-like gets referred to as a hobbit in our house, and everyone understands that, even though only one of us has read Lord of the Rings. That really is something that we have to thank the movies for.

The score to the movies is definitely another masterpiece. I think Howard Shore really outdid himself in that score. The full 10-hour version is something I play when I do assignments. It really helps and I can really imagine Middle-earth playing in my ears. It is very recognisable as well and I caught myself singing the main theme the other day. That is another thing that we have to thank the movies for.

All in all, I love The Lord of the Rings-film trilogy. It’s the whole combination of score, storyline and scenery rolled into one. It’s just wonderful. 😀

Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite romance book… oh dear… 😉

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