Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things I Give Major Side-Eye

Image via The Broke and The Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a free-for-all, meaning that all us book bloggers who participate in the meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish are allowed to discuss anything that’s on our minds.

Now normally I don’t get snobby about books. For the most part, I’m just happy that people make reading a priority. However, since we’re being completely honest today, there are quite a few book-related things that rub me the wrong way. So if you want to avoid receiving some major side-eye from me, make sure you avoid the ten items on this list!

1. Men who only read male authors. There’s a particular brand of hipster dude in the Bay Area who thinks he’s so enlightened because he reads literary or experimental fiction. The problem is, ALL of these books are written by men. If you’re on a date with a guy, and he prattles on about his obsession with Franzen, Vonnegut, Palahniuk, Wallace, and/or Bukowski, get up and leave immediately, because you’ve just come across a literary chauvinist.

2. Non-fiction readers who don’t value fiction. On the flip side, there’s another type of reader (unsurprisingly, also often male), who thinks he’s above reading fiction entirely. He’ll bore you with the latest WWII war read or Steve Jobs biography, and if you attempt to bring up that fantasy novel you’re interested in, he’ll brush you off patronizingly by saying he’s more concerned with reality than fairy tales. He’s a total square with no imagination, so don’t bother trying to convince him that fiction makes people more empathetic and intelligent. He’s too dumb to care.

3. Readers who look down on romance/erotica. Once again, men are typically at fault for this snobbery, but plenty of women also believe that the romance and erotica genres are inferior to those of “substance.” I am not ashamed to admit that not only do I read romance/erotica, I write it as well. I came across this type of reader in my creative writing workshops in college, and although they were fortunately shut down by the peers who came to my defense, the experience was an eye-opener to the literary discrimination that romance novelists face from many readers.

4. Writers who look down on romance/erotica. Newsflash: Romances make a boatload of money. It’s the 2nd most popular genre behind thriller and makes over $1.1 billion annually, accounting for about 20% of all book sales. The publisher Harlequin alone sells more than 3 books PER SECOND worldwide. So get off your high horse, because there are millions of people around the world who love this genre, and thousands of novelists are profiting from it. You can be a starving artist if you want, but if desiring my cut makes me too “commercial” of a writer, then I’ll just go cry into my sweet, sweet cash.

Oh, and as for the writers who say they’re writing “love stories,” not “romance,” I give you double side-eye. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks!

5. People who think Fifty Shades of Grey is good erotica. That being said, just because I enjoy the occasional racy romp, that doesn’t mean that I have no standards. Writing good erotica involves more than inserting Tab A into Slot B, and it certainly involves more than writing terrible Twilight fan-fiction and changing the characters’ names. See, if you remove the shame from reading erotica, then you can open up the discussion to what makes good erotica. So let’s do our part and start talking! Recommendations are always welcome!

6. People who don’t respect LOTR. It’s a well-known fact that I’m a die-hard fan of The Lord of the Rings. I’m positive that if you are as well, then you’re most likely an awesome person who I would get along with. On the other hand, if you think LOTR is dull, then you probably are too. Call me harsh or judgmental if you want, but #sorrynotsorry.

7. Readers who prefer electronic over print. This is likely an unpopular opinion given the mass adoption of tablets and e-readers, but I guess that I’m too old-school. I’m already on a computer all day at work, so when I’m home, I prefer to give my eyes a break from the screen. I understand how convenient e-readers are when traveling, but I would argue that reading should be a sensory experience. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a library or local bookstore, holding an old book in your hands, thumbing through its pages and taking in its intoxicating scent. But maybe that’s just me?

8. Book bloggers who don’t read the classics. Let me preface this item by saying that I’m not hating on book bloggers who have a favorite contemporary genre. Most of the blogs that I follow focus on YA because they’re managed by high school and college students. I love YA as well, but I believe that if you pigeon-hole yourself as a blogger, then you’re missing valuable opportunities to widen your subscriber base. Love The Hunger Games? Check out Lord of the Flies. Big fan of Divergent? Why not try Brave New World? Stretch your literary comfort zone by reading the classics, and you might find your new favorite novel!

9. People who only read books being made into movies. I often say that Hollywood has run out of original ideas, and you only have to look at the blockbuster list of sequels and reboots for evidence. I’m not hating on books that get made into films, and would in fact be overjoyed if a book I end up publishing gets its own adaptation, but if you’re only reading novels to see them on the silver screen, then you’re not exposing yourself to overlooked but equally talented authors. Sure, I may be reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with my book club right now in anticipation of the film release next month, but those selections are few and far between.

10. People who don’t read anything, period. As I stated in the beginning of my blog post, at the end of the day, I’m just happy if people are reading. Fiction or non-fiction, male authors or female authors, romance or realism, pretty please–for the love of all that’s holy–just pick up any book and read it. Turn off Netflix for once, and let your brain create the pictures for you. And don’t give me any crap about your crammed calendar: You’re never too busy to read (or at least, listen to audiobooks!). Almost a quarter of the population hasn’t read a single book, probably since high school when they were forced to, and that fact is awfully depressing. Don’t be that person.

What other bookish things would you give major side-eye? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Top Ten Favorite Film Adaptations of Books

When it comes to blogging memes, I don’t follow any consistently, but I like jumping in when I like the topic (not to mention, when I’ve got the time!). It’s rare that I post on a Tuesday, but Alison Doherty at Hardcovers and Heroines inspired me to discuss my favorite movie adaptations of books.

Without further ado! In order from good to greatest:

  • Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahnuik

I was surprised to find out that Daniel Day-Lewis starred in two of these films…but then again, I shouldn’t be because he’s an amazing actor! So which movies would you add to your list?

If you’d like to follow this Top Ten meme, check out The Broke and The Bookish!

Abandonment: A Book Lover’s Worst Crime?

“I am embarrassed for all of us”…Love!

Yesterday I came across an interesting infographic on the Goodreads blog, titled “The Psychology of Abandonment.” It discussed which books are the most abandoned by readers, and the reasons why.

Here were the top five abandoned modern novels:

  1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Watching these fifty shades of grey dry would be more exciting than reading that drivel!

And here were the top five abandoned classics:

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Even Atlas got tired after a while!

The most common reasons for ditching a book were if it was slow, boring, or poorly written/edited. More righteous readers also abandoned stories if they were “inappropriate” or “immoral.” Granted, these labels are all subjective, and it would take a closer look to determine how people defined them.

However, most Goodreads users are determined to see a story to its rightful end. Over 38% of them always finish books, no matter what. These people cited some sort of compulsive commitment and dogged determination to continue turning pages.

As for me, I can understand these top picks. Many people jump on a bandwagon regardless of whether it’s a good fit for them; I’m not a fan of violent thrillers, so I didn’t even bother with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Now this? This I would read!

The other choices were also understandable: A great number of readers were disappointed with Rowling’s first attempt to leave the Harry Potter series behind, and honestly Fifty Shades is so horribly written, I’m surprised by its massive popularity.

The classics I believe, however, were more debatable. Familiar with Melville’s work, I’ve already mentioned that I’d never go near the dull-fest that is Moby Dick. I also haven’t heard great things about Joyce and Rand. Even Catch-22, although I enjoyed it for the most part, wasn’t riveting enough to motivate me to finish it in less than a month.

BUT! The Lord of the Rings?!  I admit that the prose is extremely historical and thus dry at times, but oh my goodness is it such a fantastic story! I have a feeling that the more you enjoy bubblegum bandwagon picks like Fifty Shades, the less you’d like LOTR. And you know what? I’m okay with that. More merit-worthy literature for me!

I’m also one of those readers who rarely abandons a book. Even if they’re horrendous (I’m looking at you, Pop Kids), I’m motivated enough by my self-imposed reading quota to complete them.

Surprisingly, the only one that comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice, which surely would get me murdered by most book lovers. Perhaps one day I’ll return to it with a better state of mind, but for now, I gave it 50 pages to wow me, and it failed.

So what books have you ditched? What were your reasons for abandoning them? Any that you plan on giving a second chance in the future?

Happy (Literary) Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day! As I spend today enjoying my daddy’s company before heading back home, I’d like to reblog a post I wrote two years ago: my list of best and worst fathers in literature. I originally wrote this to celebrate my dad’s birthday, but with the extra traffic it’s been getting lately, why not give it the spotlight once again?

Give him a hug – Best book dads

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Defender of the discriminated, Atticus was the perfect role model to kids Jem and Scout. Possibly literature’s favorite lawyer, he defended an African-American man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. He risked complete alienation from his Southern community, even suffered Bob Ewell spitting in his face, but he did so in order to stand up for what he believed was right. Definitely check out Academy Award-winning Gregory Peck in the 1962 film, one of the best adaptations of all time.

Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Another dad who fights against racism, this time of the magical kind. Mr. Weasley loved all things Muggle, and was obsessed with learning how the non-wizards live. His empathy passed on to all of his seven children, even if a little late (looking at you, Percy!). When the going got tough, Arthur stepped up as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, battling Death Eaters while Harry could destroy Voldemort. But I remember the most was how warm and kind the Weasleys were, and how awesome it must have been to spend the holidays with them!

Kick him to the curb – Worst book dads

King Lear from King Lear by William Shakespeare: Don’t let the title fool you, this king was royally messed up. The elderly Lear decides to give his kingdom to one of his three daughters–the one who flatters him the most. Goneril and Regan brown-nose excessively, but Cornelia refuses to do so and is disinherited. But when Lear lives with his other two daughters, they are still not grateful enough. After a series of betrayals, Lear goes crazy with paranoia. I won’t go into all the play’s details, but eventually tragedy befalls all three daughters, and Lear realizes his mistakes…too late, though, because he dies quickly afterward. Moral of the story: you have to earn love to receive it.

Denethor from The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien: Lucius Malfoy and Lord Asriel were close runners-up, but Denethor truly makes my blood boil. First off, he’s not even worthy of his throne, which actually belongs to Aragorn. Then, he treats his son Faramir like dirt, because his beloved son Boromir died on the quest to destroy the One Ring. I mean, take a look at this despicable conversation between father and son in the movie (courtesy of IMDb):

Denethor: Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord’s will?
Faramir: You wish now that our places had been exchanged… that I had died and Boromir had lived.
Denethor: Yes.
[whispering]
Denethor: I wish that.
Faramir: Since you are robbed of Boromir… I will do what I can in his stead.
[Bows and turns to leave]
Faramir: If I should return, think better of me, Father.
Denethor: That will depend on the manner of your return.

But Faramir still fights for his father, trying to win his love. He gets gravelly injured, and Denethor–believing him to be dead–tries to burn himself and his son on a pyre. Luckily, Gandalf and Pippin save Faramir, while Denethor goes completely nuts, throwing himself aflame off a cliff. Well, good riddance!

Any other dads that should be on these best and worst lists? 

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (3D 48fps Update!)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Two weeks ago I saw “The Hobbit” with friends in traditional 2D, and yesterday I went to the theaters again with my family–but this time in 3D high frame rate. You can check out my original review, but here’s a few additional thoughts on the differences between the versions:

He may not have wanted to start “The Hobbit,” but I’m glad he’s finishing it.

Only Peter Jackson could have made me care about 3D and high frame rate. The last 3D film I watched was “Spy Kids 3D: Game Over” over nine years ago. Even at 13-years-old, I knew that everything about that movie sucked. My mind lumped in the crappy technology with every other crappy element–plot, dialogue, character development, etc. Thus, despite the Elijah Wood cameo in “Spy Kids,” I never felt inclined to see another 3D film.

That is, until I started hearing about the revolutionary advances that Jackson’s team was making with “The Hobbit.” I was intrigued watching behind-the-scenes footage of the overly vibrant sets and costumes, and I decided that if anyone was going to make me fall in love with 48fps, it would be the director that made my favorite story come to life.

Rivendell never looked so breathtaking!

The technology is worth the hype. To my pleasant surprise, 3D glasses aren’t made with red and blue lenses anymore! Why didn’t I let it sink in that a LOT has happened with 3D technology in nine years? Mea culpa. I guess that I put off trying the experience out again for so long because of the fact that I wore glasses, and I didn’t feel like wearing another pair over my own. It’s been almost a year since my LASIK surgery, and it certainly makes watching something in 3D more enjoyable. (If only the frames actually fit people’s faces! One disadvantage was that mine kept slipping down my nose.)

Despite the ill fit, I was blown away by the differences in visual effects. From the dizzying effect as the dwarves escaped the goblins in the mountain to the fluttering of every feather of the eagles, the high frame rate made everything feel so real. I’ve had issues with certain films on Blu-Ray players, for example, because it’s like watching a poorly lit soap opera, but seeing “The Hobbit” again was like looking through a window. If you’re worried about 48fps making things too crisp and losing the fantasy vibe, I give you permission to be relieved!

The “Good Morning” scene alone is enough to make a fan giddy!

Ultimately, your opinion will not change, only deepen. I’ve skimmed the negative reviews that litter the Internet, including those at Rotten Tomatoes and Slate. I’ve come to the conclusion that the advanced technology will, in the end, not make that much of a difference in how you view “The Hobbit.” If you’re like me, and absolutely loved the previous trilogy with every fiber of your being, then the prequels will be worthy of your admiration. Nothing compares to LOTR, but my geeky friends and I were happy campers.

That being said, if you’re some Michael Bay fanboy who prefers boobs and explosions, then a three-hour fantasy epic will never win you over, no matter how innovative. Most of the complaints came from critics who never cared much for Tolkien or had never read his books. (Slate’s Dana Stevens even admitted that she resisted any literature that contained wizards. You’re telling me you couldn’t find an actual fan on your staff? Next!)

Conflict of interests aside, I’ll respect a movie adaptation review so much more if the critic read the book first. I’m not saying it should be required (because goodness knows I haven’t always had the time to squeeze the novel in before my theater excursion), but fans of “The Hobbit” will appreciate criticism from someone who’s familiar with Middle-earth versus someone who whines about all the singing.

So what’s your take? Anyone seen both versions of “The Hobbit?” Tell me what you thought in the comments!

Masterpiece Monday: “Roads Go Ever Ever On” by J.R.R. Tolkien

[UPDATE 8/30/12: Much to my surprise, a new road was presented to me at the last minute. By that, I mean I have accepted an even more amazing opportunity as Marketing Coordinator for a supercomputer company. Although the road took an abrupt turn, I wish everyone the best in regards to my former position, and I’m excited to begin this new journey!]

It’s been a crazy week, I must say! I’ve officially accepted a new job as a Community Executive for a tech company in the Silicon Valley, and I just moved into my new apartment! It’s been so hectic and stressful, but also very exciting. This is an amazing opportunity in my life, and I’m so happy to be along for the ride!

When it comes to stories about travels and journeys, nobody does it like J.R.R. Tolkien. When I contemplate this new chapter in the book that is my life, I think about one of Tolkien’s most famous poems, called “Roads Go Ever Ever On.” The poem takes on many adaptations in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; part of it was even sung by Bilbo and Gandalf in “The Fellowship of the Ring” film.

It’s such a wonderful poem about enjoying the roads you take in life, even if you don’t know where you’re headed. I love how he writes so much beauty into the unknown, and it reminds me to be grateful for every step and not focus so heavily on the destination.

Here’s the poem in its entirety:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

Lovely descriptions, beautiful melody, and a wonderful message. What else could you ask of a poem?

One thing I’ll add though, is that my road may take me to a place where I won’t be able to blog with as much frequency. I’ll take it one day at a time, but if I have to hedge Masterpiece Monday, I’ll let you know. My goal is to write at least weekly, but it’s all tentative right now.

And I think that’s how Tolkien would’ve wanted it…

The Booker Award and My Top 5 Books of All Time

The real world is overrated, anyway!

One of my favorite blogger friends over at http://wantoncreation.wordpress.com nominated me for yet another award, this time “The Booker Award,” which can be given to any blogger who devotes at least half of their posts to reading.

While I’m never good at fulfilling the chain-letter-esque nominations and keeping the ball rolling, I will finally reveal my top five books of all time! I know a lot of you have been waiting with anticipation!

In order from greatest to oh-my-god-why-are-you-still-on-my-blog-and-not-reading-these-books-right-this-second! A few I reviewed for Masterpiece Monday, so click the links to learn even more!

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847). This novel combines two of my favorite things: Victorian literature and star-crossed romance. Many people despise the lovers Catherine and Heathcliff for their often selfish, cruel behavior towards each other, but I can’t get enough of this tragic tale of true–albeit, angsty–love. Heathcliff is the perfect brooding lead, and Bronte does a fantastic job on character development for the two generations of these families. Not to mention, she includes critical discussion of social and racial issues of the time period. Can you believe Wuthering Heights was the only novel she ever published? Talk about the literary jackpot!

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005). I first read this novel my freshman year of college, and I’m still a die-hard fan. When the movie adaptation came out a couple years ago, it gained a boost of popularity, and I would literally stop people in the bookstore if they were looking at it and say, “Don’t even think about it. Just buy it.” And if you don’t take my word for it, TIME named it the best book of 2005, and among the top 100 English-language books since 1923. I can’t really tell you anything about it without spoiling the story, but trust me, it’s breathtakingly haunting. Movie also highly recommended!

3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-55). I hesitated in determining where to place this series on my list, because I have a multifaceted opinion of LOTR. I truly believe that it is the greatest story ever created; however, I do not believe that it is the greatest written story ever created. I admit that Tolkien was more of a historian than an author, and I understand that many cannot swallow his dry, textbook-like style. I should also be honest with my fellow book bloggers: I watched “The Fellowship of the Ring” and then read the whole series before the sequels were released. I know, blasphemy! But I think that no matter how you come to this story, it’s worth it, because once a Ringer, always a Ringer!

2. Demian by Hermann Hesse (1919). This is probably the least known novel on my list, and I owe it to my English teacher senior year of high school for introducing me to it. Translated from its original German, it’s a coming-of-age story of Emil Sinclair, who befriends a enigmatic young man named Demian. Demian teaches Emil about philosophy, religion, and finding your true self. It’s a short read, but my absolute favorite to re-read, because I learn something new each time. If you’re looking for something mentally stimulating and completely engrossing, this is it. Total life-changer.

1. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (1995-2000). Hands down, favorite series of all time. Many critics label Pullman’s trilogy for children, but this modern adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost is anything but childish. I walked into a bookstore one day in middle school, suffering from Harry Potter withdrawals, when the cashier recommended the novels. I bought the Del Rey mass market paperbacks (which were located in the adult fantasy section, by the way), and since then, nothing has influenced my life so profoundly. These novels motivated me to question the status quo and think for myself, so on the off chance that Pullman stumbles upon this post, I want to say thank you. If my writing can affect someone a fraction of what His Dark Materials has done for me, then I can die happy.

I know that I can sound a bit dramatic, but who can’t when discussing their all-time favorite books? Of course, I’ve got decades of reading left to do, so this list may be subject to change. You never know!

I would LOVE to hear your top five books–we have to help each other in making our to-read lists even longer, right? So many books, never enough time!