Top Ten Quotes from My Favorite Books

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about our favorite quotes from literature. Books have the power to put your deepest, most complex thoughts into words that stick with you for your entire life.

I’ve separated these ten quotes into three categories: existential ideas that make you think, timeless adages that make you appreciate each moment, and heart-wrenching words that make you pine for love and mourn its absence.

Let me know what you think of these quotes, and feel free to add your own!

Evoking Existentialism

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

3. Demian by Hermann Hesse

The Traveling of Time

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Love and Loss

7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

The Day I Met One of My Heroes

Happy Easter everybody!

Thursday was an incredibly exciting day, because I finally got to meet one of my all-time favorite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro! You’ve already heard me gush about his writing, so I just wanted to share with you how the book signing went!

After reading the Buzzfeed article, “What It’s Like to Meet Your Favorite Author,” in which the author attended an Ishiguro signing in New York City, I was anxious about dealing with insanely long lines. The signing was set for 7:30pm, so I left right after work at 5:00 to give myself plenty of time to beat rush-hour traffic.

After driving for an hour to the Center of Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, CA, I quickly realized that my fears were exaggerated. I was literally the first person to arrive, waiting thirty minutes before the building even opened. I decided to pass the time by re-reading the ending of Never Let Me Go, before heading inside.

To describe the venue, let me start by giving some background. Atherton, CA, is the most expensive zip code in the entire nation. Right next to the Facebook headquarters, many homes in this city are valued at over $10 million dollars and are often owned by extremely wealthy Chinese investors.

Thus, in case any of you were wondering why the heck this book signing was held at a high school, this was no ordinary performing arts center. It looked like an opera hall; I could practically see the excess of donor money built into its walls.

Front of the center (Image via Archinect)

View of the stage (Image via Bay Area Spaces)

But enough about this fancy-schmancy building! Kazuo Ishiguro came out around 8:00, accompanied by author Tom Barbash. There were quite a few technical difficulties with the microphones, but both men were easygoing trying to make sure everyone in the audience could hear them.

The conversation began with a reading by Ishiguro, followed by Barbash asking him questions, and then ended with reading off questions from the audience’s note cards. My only complaint was that it seemed that Barbash did not do enough research, frequently citing incorrect information from past interviews of Ishiguro’s or taking his quotes out of context. As a former journalist, I cringed every time Ishiguro had to correct him, though he always did so with grace.

It’s nerve-wracking to be sitting in front of someone you admire so much, because there’s always the chance that person is going to be a major jerk. This was certainly not the case. Ishiguro was very humble, making self-deprecating jokes and assuring the audience that we need not clap after he read the first few pages of his latest novel, The Buried Giant. I’m sure it can be monotonous answering the same questions over and over again on a book tour, but Ishiguro was calm and collected, his British accent giving him a sense of soft-spoken sophistication.

Kazuo Ishiguro (left) and Tom Barbash (right)

Kazuo Ishiguro (left) and Tom Barbash (right)

Among the many topics Ishiguro covered were his relocation from Japan to England at five years old, his early life as a songwriter hitchhiking up and down California with his guitar, and his lucky break with fiction-writing. He’s well aware that his success is not typical and disapproves of the saturation of creative writing programs as a means of exploiting young writers’ hopes and dreams.

I was also intrigued by his observation that from the outside looking in, it appears that Ishiguro’s novels are written haphazardly, jumping from genre to genre. He explains that he actually begins his writing process with a kernel of truth about a story he wishes to write, and then selects a setting after the fact.

For instance, at its core The Buried Giant is about remembering and forgetting–both from a micro level inside a marriage to the macro level of a civilization–and it just so happens that Ishiguro felt that post-Arthurian Britain was the best time and place for this theme. Rather than setting out to write a mythical story, Ishiguro goes “location-hunting,” as he puts it, until he settles on the right genre for his intended message. It’s a literary strategy I find very unique, and I greatly respect his ability to reverse the conventions of the writing process.

The event concluded with the signing, with each row called up one-by-one to wait its turn. I was appalled by how many people in the back rows simply left without getting their books signed. Sure, it’s late at night, but for goodness’ sake, who knows when you’d get such an opportunity again!

The three books I got signed!

The three books I got signed!

I waited patiently with the true fans, and Ishiguro was nice enough to sign all three of the books I brought. He also accepted the thank-you letter I wrote for him, and we talked for a minute about how I connected to The Buried Giant’s theme of remembering the past so as not to repeat its mistakes, given that this month commemorates the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

I drove home that night on cloud nine, elated that I got the chance to meet one of my heroes. Some people idolize athletes or musicians, but I’ve never been so starstruck than I was standing in front of Kazuo Ishiguro. So on the off chance he actually runs across my blog, let me end this post by echoing a sentiment I included in my fan letter:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even if you never write another word, you have made a profound difference in my life.

The autograph I'll cherish forever!

The autograph I’ll cherish forever!

BREAKING NEWS: I’m going to meet Kazuo Ishiguro!!!

All cover images from Goodreads

If there was ever a reason to use the word ‘amazeballs,’ this would be it. One of my goals for 2015 is to attend more book signings, and on April 2nd, I will be going to my first one of the year. And talk about setting the bar, because I’ll be meeting Kazuo Ishiguro, world-renowned contemporary fiction writer and the author of The Buried Giant, which is his first book in a decade!

Many people may be unfamiliar with Kazuo Ishiguro, including many of my fellow book bloggers, who seem to focus predominantly on YA fiction, so I’m here to enlighten you!

Ishiguro is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest writers living today. I was first introduced to his work in college, where I read Never Let Me Go and a couple of his short stories. I was hooked immediately and have since read The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, which were also amazing.

Why is Ishiguro such a literary genius? He’s a master of rewriting the rules, or as he puts it, he’s “been promiscuous with genre.” His novels could be considered science fiction, mysteries, or romances, but they’re written in such a way that those labels would leave out all the nuances and multidimensionality.

The best part is that you can’t deduce what his books are about from their mere summaries. You can’t discuss them without giving too much away. His words are wrapped in enigma, which is exactly why reading them is such a profound experience–you have little idea as to what you’re getting yourself into, and that intrigue fuels you to turn the pages.

He’s also an expert in creating introspective characters who say so much more than in their dialogues. If you’re a fan of unreliable narrators who experience complex character developments, then Ishiguro is definitely the writer for you.

However, I admit that Ishiguro is not fond of clean stories with plenty of closure. His books never end with a pretty bow tied around the plots. Instead, these tales haunt you, urging you to reflect on the past and contemplate the future. Every time I reread his books, I learn more about them–and myself–in the process.

To make a long blog post even longer, if I haven’t convinced you to check out Kazuo Ishiguro, then maybe this information will:

  • The Times named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.
  • The Remains of the Day won the Booker prize in 1989, and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, declared that it was the most influential book he has ever read: “Before reading it, I didn’t think a perfect novel was possible.”
  • The film adaptation for The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Music (all of which were won by that other WWII movie, Schindler’s List).

I will be sure to give you all a full report of the book signing next month. I’m already restless with anticipation! In the meantime, I’ll be reading The Buried Giant, which I’m sure to give a stellar review!

Image via The Sunday Times

To see whether Kazuo Ishiguro is visiting a city near you, click here for the tour dates.

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!

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

To explain today’s post, I have to use my fellow book blogger Wanton Creation’s intro, since he put it so perfectly:

“Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke And The Bookish. I haven’t participated in these before, but today’s one looked quite fun so I figured why not?”

Why not indeed? Let’s get started!

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
  3. Demian – Hermann Hesse
  4. 1984 – George Orwell
  5. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  6. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  9. Fight Club –  Chuck Palahniuk
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Reviewing this list, I realized some things. As much as I love The Lord of the Rings, I find that I do not recommend it often, since it’s truly an acquired taste that unless you’re giddy for fantasy, you won’t stomach well.

I also noticed how much I enjoy pushing classic dystopian and existential literature (also known as books to piss you off and shake things up!) onto those who have jumped onto The Hunger Games bandwagon. Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury are my Holy Trinity of oppressive governments!

Lastly, Never Let Me Go will continue to be my top recommendation, for these reasons:

  • It’s a perfect blend of romance, tragedy, science fiction, and other genres–thus, appealing to a wide audience.
  • I can’t say much without giving away the plot, so the mystery gets people intrigued.
  • Ishiguro is a literary genius, and I would recommend anything he writes. 
  • It’s just what the world needs, given the over-saturation of Stephenie Meyer, E.L. James, and Nicholas Sparks. ESPECIALLY Nicholas Sparks. In fact, my loathing of him deserves its own blog post in the near future. So be on the look-out!

I would have included some ancient Greek and Shakespearean plays, but I don’t consider them “books,” so do a bit of searching, and I’m sure you’ll find some great choices.

So what would your top recommendations be? Would you veto any of mine? Sound off in the comments!

Dance like Big Brother’s Not Watching You: A Tribute to Dystopian Novels

I’m currently at a conference predominately catered toward analysts and engineers in the government sphere, which has got me thinking about some great novels about what can happen when governments grow too corrupt, using technology for devious purposes. This dystopian theme has garnered more popularity in the past few years, thanks to the rise of young adult thrillers like The Hunger Games, so I thought I would share some tidbits about the novels that make you want to wear an aluminum hat.

The Classics

1984 by George Orwell (1949): The king of dystopia, Orwell paints the bleak picture of a totalitarian state that not only watches your every move, but also sabotages your mind with double-think. The intensity of this story quickly made it one of my favorites of all time!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932): This is an excellent portrayal of genetic engineering gone totally wrong, complete with drug-induced complacency. Read with caution, as it also contains more disturbing themes than the other two classics.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1950): A haunting commentary of society’s attention-deficiency and willingness to sacrifice literature and civil rights for mind-numbing entertainment. Its brevity proves that good things can come in small packages.

The Genre Re-Definers

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985): One of the most well-renowned feminist writers, Atwood illustrates an alternate dystopia where the feminist movement of the 1970s backfired, creating a twisted world where women are reproductive slaves. Given current politics in America, this story’s just as relevant almost 30 years later.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005): I’m hesitant to label this novel as science-fiction, or even describe its main premise for fear of spoiling the reading experience, but I will say that never have I seen an author blur the lines between genres as Ishiguro. A heartbreaking tale that transcends past, present, and future.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (1988): I don’t normally include graphic novels, but this one epitomizes dystopia to the max. Based on the history of Guy Fawkes’ Day, it depicts the ultimate narrative of revolution. The V mask is a must-have for anarchists everywhere.

The Newcomers

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008): After flipping channels between reality TV and war footage, Collins wrote the bestselling trilogy of the ancient Greek-esque punishment for rebellion. Arguably too brutal for children, but it’s an apt critique of society’s desensitization of violence.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005): One of my favorite YA series, it demonstrates how our obsession with beauty and perfection often hides uglier interiors. Add an element of romance, and you’ve got the next silver screen contender.

Matched by Ally Condie (2010): Again, what’s a YA trilogy without a love triangle? Lit nerds will love its influence from poetry, and Twihards suffering withdrawals will soon have new boys to swoon over when Disney brings the adaptation to a theater near you.

So there you have it! My recommendations for those wanting to dive into dystopia! What other novels would you add to the list?

Masterpiece Monday: Book Versus Movie (Venn Diagram Edition)

So I found this Venn diagram the other day on TheFrisky.com, and since we were discussing classic novels and their respective film adaptations yesterday, I figured you all would have plenty to say about this.

As for me, I completely agree that The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, and One Day are better as books. However, I think that Never Let Me Go is outstanding either way, and I’d avoid Beloved in any form.

I’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who hated The Godfather, Fight Club, and The Princess Bride as movies, but I’d add that Fight Club is just as kick-ass on paper. And obviously, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird deserve to overlap both categories.

Lastly, after reading interviews of the egotistical, pompous jerk that is Nicholas Sparks, I refuse to give him any money whatsoever. I only wish I knew about his arrogance before I watched The Notebook, because I admit that it was a great movie, for being a sappy sob-fest, that is.

I haven’t read or watched most of the others, so please enlighten me with your opinions. Did this diagram get it right? What would you add? Let’s keep the debate going!