The Sunday Salon: Bookish Questions

I can’t tell you how happy I am it’s December. Sure, finals season is upon me, but I always get antsy on the last one or two days of a month. I like having a fresh calendar and new wallpapers. But November still lingers, in the best of ways: last month, Lu tagged me with a short reading questionnaire. Why don’t we get started?

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Page to Screen: Game of Thrones — Season One (2011)

Game of Thrones
based on 
A Game of Thrones by George. R. R. Martin

I first heard about Game of Thrones a little after the show went into production—it was my introduction to Martin as a whole, although rumors of the series had reached me in my usual fannish activities. (I’m remembering an article celebrating Brienne that was my main impression for quite some time.) From there, I dove into the books a year before the show actually aired, and now I’m desperately hoarding A Dance with Dragons until I hear news of the sixth book and playing Russian roulette with spoilers on the Internet. While it was the show that introduced me to the books, I’m technically a book-firster. So how does the first season of the show compare to the book?

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Booking Through Thursday: Conversions

Do you find yourself thinking that the books you read would be good on film? Do you wish the things you watched on TV or in the movies were available as book?

Some really can’t be converted, of course, but some definitely can (and it’s not always the ones you think will work). There’s something to be said for different forms of media, but a good story is universal … or is it?

I have a pretty cinematic imagination, so I often ‘see’ the events of a novel in my mind’s eye as a film. As Stephen King says in About Writing, writing is a form of telepathy, transmitting images into people’s brains.

But at the end of the day, novels and films are two very different mediums. A novel can afford better access to the internal lives of its characters, and it doesn’t have a budget—it’s the whole reason George R. R. Martin wrote A Game of Thrones as a book instead of for the screen, since he was fed up with budgetary constraints. (It must feel really weird adapting it for the screen.) I don’t wish things I watched on television or saw as films were available as books, unless you mean having the shooting script available, which can be invaluable. They’re two different things; the very act of adaptation necessarily changes the original story, even for the most faithful adaptation.

The Sunday Salon: The Value of Escapism

In the eternal, pointless, and semantically frustrating battle of “literary fiction” versus “genre fiction” (I can’t even, people), the word “escapism” is sometimes thrown at speculative fiction. The argument goes that the fantasy and science fiction fans can’t face the harshness of reality (depicted in “literary fiction” as, to quote a professor at Agnes, “two people in a room getting a divorce”) and so prefer to immerse themselves in fantastical worlds where they can unobtrusively (or obtrusively, in the case of Mary Sues) be someone else. I’d always thought that argument was awful, because I’d only ever seen it used to prove that “literary fiction” is superior, and rejected the argument entirely—including rejecting escapism itself. But a recent episode of This American Life, of all things, made me reevaluate the concept of escapism itself, including its merits.

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Booking Through Thursday: Different Kind of Romance

Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?

Would you like that list alphabetized or arranged in chronological order? I’m from fandom; this is something I do all the time. For the sake of time, I’ll just highlight a few of my beloved literary characters this morning.

John Watson, Mary Morstan, and Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes. Not that I don’t love Holmes, but Watson is such a good, loyal, and capable gentleman. The same goes for Mary, his own beloved, whose neglected death in the books I am not looking forward to, and I just love Irene to pieces.

Daenaerys from A Song of Ice and Fire. If you have to ask, you probably haven’t met her.

Cal from Middlesex. He’s more of a person than a character to me, especially after listening to the audiobook.

Booking Through Thursday: Only Five

If you had to pick only 5 books to read ever again, what would they be and why?

Ouch! Let’s see…

  1. The Lord of the Rings, because if you have to ask, you don’t know me very well.
  2. The Magician’s Book, because Laura Miller is a genius and I love it so much.
  3. Middlesex, because Cal is a human being to me, not a character.
  4. A Game of Thrones, because the devil is in the details.
  5. Maps and Legends, because Michael Chabon is a genius and I love his nonfiction essays, especially “Fan Fictions: On Sherlock Holmes”.

Well, that was actually easier than I thought it would be! Fantasy and literary criticism, that’s me.

The Sunday Salon: 2011 in Review

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it—but it’s also the last Sunday of the year, which means it’s time for my top ten list. As usual, these are my top reads of 2011, not the top published books of 2011. But I’ve also added my favorite film adaptation and my favorite audiobook of the year, since I’ve started really keeping those posts up. I was lucky enough to have a good handful of five star books, but that meant leaving off a lot of four and a half star books that I honestly loved off the list. I invite you to rifle through those categories to your right. And here’s 2010 in review and 2009 in review, if you’re so inclined. I think that’s all the housekeeping, so let’s get started.

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The Sunday Salon: Fictional Food

I have recently discovered a love of cooking. I mean, I’ve always liked baking—as a little kid, hanging out at Clare’s basically meant making cookies with Clare from the prepackaged dough you can buy at the store. My adult love of cooking really started when I looked at a box of pancake mix and realized that it didn’t ask for eggs. The idea of dehydrated eggs grossed me out, so I began making my pancakes from scratch. But it’s been absolutely encouraged by a recent fannish food blog, which I’d like to highlight as we recover from Turkey Day 2011.

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The Sunday Salon: Fun with Search Terms

I’ve never mentioned it, but I absolutely love poking at my site stats. How people get to my blog (I’m apparently linked on my college’s website! This is completely new information to me!), which posts people read the most (my review of the film adaptation of Atonement and my review of A Clash of Kings), and, of course, the search terms that lead people to my blog. There are many paths to my establishment, it seems, and several of them are paths trod by very confused people. Today, then, I will help these poor souls by answering their search terms, as culled from search terms that led actual people to my blog this September.
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BBAW 2011: Readers

Book bloggers blog because we love reading. Has book blogging changed the way you read? Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging? How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits? Have you made new connections with other readers because of book blogging? Choose any one of these topics and share your thoughts today!

Oh, wow, that’s a lot of prompts. I suppose I’ll go with book acquisition habits, since I’ve talked about how book blogging changed the way I read last year for my anniversary, which is at the end of this month.

Book blogging has made me both pickier about how I acquire books and more omnivorous. Because you rarely know if you’re going to love a book, I usually purchase books from thrift stores; my love for mass market paperbacks, especially old, yellow ones, makes that all the sweeter. I love coming back to my home town after a long time away and sifting through the thrift stores. That’s how I got my copies of A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, which are wonderfully dated. If only I could make the entire series match in paperback! But that’s another topic for another time. But even then, I’m pretty picky, mostly because a dollar can go towards part of another costume piece if I don’t spend it on a book. (My life, ladies and gents, my life.)

But it’s also made me incredibly bolder when it comes to libraries. I’m not shy about the fact that I’m occasionally the reason books don’t get shelved at the library; that’s how I picked up Hard Times by Studs Terkel, which I’d never heard of before and would have never picked up in a million years, but I’m incredibly glad I took it home and read it. I can take books home and return them without reading them without feeling guilty at all. The three libraries I have access to in Georgia have incredible selection. I never tire of finding a book that has only one copy in the public library in the entire state of Georgia, and then putting it on hold. The sheer access I have, all with a free library card! It boggles my mind that some people who profess to love books don’t even think about using their local libraries. I recently cancelled my Netflix subscription, and I’ve been relying on public libraries for films ever since. It’s been working out great. Give your local library a shot, or at the very least support it. (Oh, there’s an idea for a community fundraiser! Hmm…)