Top Ten Best/Worst Book to Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about book to movie adaptations. Oh, this is a hard one. I will start with the best ones. Links go to the movies’ IMDb profiles.

  1. Brokeback Mountain the movie is even better than Annie Proulx’s short story. Proulx doesn’t develop the characters as much, and Innis and Jack’s wives are just window dressing. The movie gives the story much more depth and heart. I hardly ever say this kind of thing. The book is usually better. Which brings me to #2.
  2. The Princess Bride is another case where I think the movie is better. The book gets a little lost, but the movie stays focused. Plus the acting is just great. Easily one of the most quotable movies of all time.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great film. Not as good as the book, but really great. Everyone talks about how wonderful Gregory Peck was as Atticus Finch, and he was, but they always forget that Mary Badham was phenomenal as Scout. She was nominated for an Academy Award. She didn’t win. Probably because of her age. She was only ten years old.
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was famously reviled by Ken Kesey, who didn’t like it that you couldn’t tell the story through the eyes of the schizophrenic Chief Bromden, but the film turned in some stellar performances by some actors often known more for comedy. Great film.
  5. The Color Purple jiggled some things around, but they got the most important stuff right. I love this film all over again every time I see it.
  6. Sense and Sensibility is gorgeously shot and the acting is awesome. I like everyone in it.
  7. Pride and Prejudice, both the version with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and the one with Keira Knightley.
  8. The adaptation of Louis Sachar’s novel Holes was awesome. Pretty much just like the book.
  9. I don’t know if it’s cheating to include plays, but I’m gonna. Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet is pretty much the gold standard of Shakespeare in film.
  10. Clueless is a pretty awesome update of Emma. I love that movie.

My choices for worst adaptations:

  1. As much as I love the Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hits all the wrong notes from the opening when Harry is practicing spells outside of school in a Muggle house, which everyone knows underage wizards can’t do, to the made up toad chorus and talking shrunken head, to the confusing deletion of the Marauders’ subplot that renders the movie incomprehensible unless you have read the book. And everyone looks scruffy the whole movie long. They don’t have to be as well scrubbed as when Chris Columbus directs, and I don’t mind them looking like normal teenagers, but having parts of your shirt untucked, your tie askew, and your hair mussed in every single scene? Nah. I’m blaming the director for this one because I like the others just fine (except for Michael Gambon’s performance, especially in Goblet of Fire—Dumbledore wouldn’t manhandle Harry like that). It’s a shame because it is easily one of the top books in the series.
  2. Just about every version of Wuthering Heights except this one, though to be fair, I haven’t seen the newest one with Kaya Scodelario. Why on earth people can’t get that book straightened out in film form, I do not get. Some versions cut the Hareton and Cathy part altogether. Others delete Lockwood.
  3. The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. What were they thinking? We were discussing the scene when Reverend Dimmesdale reveals the scarlet letter carved into his own chest and dies in one of my classes one day, and I re-read it to the class. One of my students said, “Wow, this would make a great movie.” Yeah, you’d think, but no.
  4. This version of Macbeth is pretty heinous, but I do use two scenes from it when I teach the play. They do some neat camera tilt tricks and use mirrors in a clever way in the scene when Banquo’s ghost shows up, and the opening with the three witches dressed like schoolgirls busting up a graveyard is good.
  5. The Rankin/Bass versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King and Ralph Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings. Ugh. I much prefer Peter Jackson’s adaptions despite the changes made. He takes the subject matter seriously.
  6. The Black Cauldron was ruined by Disney. I don’t blame you if you didn’t read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles if you thought they were like that movie. I remember dragging my mom to see it and being so disappointed.
  7. And by that same token, The Seeker adapted from Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising is heinous. I keep using that word. But it’s so true in this case. Take this one together with The Black Cauldron and there’s a fair chance kids won’t give these wonderful books steeped in Welsh myth and legend a shot at all.
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God was pretty bad. Oh, you mean you never even knew it it existed? There is a good reason for that. I love that book. I can’t believe the film is so bad.
  9. Beowulf. Oh. My. Gosh. What the heck was that?
  10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil should have been good. Kevin Spacey is in it. Clint Eastwood directed it. The Lady Chablis played herself. Instead it’s terrible. Don’t watch it.

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Jane Austen Soap Giveaway

I’m in the midst of re-reading Pride and Prejudice, and I had forgotten how quickly the story moves along. I just reached the part that contains perhaps my favorite lines:

“Come here, child,” cried her father as she appeared. “I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?” Elizabeth replied that it was. “Very well—and this offer of marriage you have refused?”

“I have, Sir.”

“Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”

“Yes, or I will never see her again.”

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.—Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

One of the best dad moments in literature, even if later we learn perhaps Mr. Bennet should be a little more watchful of his younger daughters.

In honor of my re-read, and just because they’re all ready to go (at last), I am giving away one bar of each soap in my Jane Austen soap series.

Jane Austen Soap Series

Jane Austen Soap Series

I have created five soaps based on heroines from three Jane Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

Bennet Sisters

Bennet Sisters

The Bennet sisters, featured in Pride and Prejudice are also available as a set in my Etsy store.

Mrs. Darcy

Mrs. Darcy

Mrs. Darcy is inspired by that delightful creature herself, Elizabeth Bennet. Created with her personality in mind, it contains goat milk (to represent her stubbornness) and rich vegetable oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, palm, oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, and cocoa butter and is scented with fragrantly floral plumeria.

Sweet Jane

Sweet Jane

Sweet Jane is as nice as her namesake, Jane Bennet. Made with coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, and castor oil, this soap has a clean, wholesome scent of lemon verbena.

Emma Woodhouse

Emma Woodhouse

Just like Emma herself, her namesake soap unites some of the best blessings of existence: beautiful calendula petals and luxurious silk with rich, moisturizing shea butter, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil and scented with citrusy tart yuzu and sweet orange.

Elinor

Elinor

Elinor’s soap has a fresh, mild, clean scent that evokes herbs and mint and is made with olive oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, and other rich, moisturizing oils.

Marianne's Passion

Marianne’s Passion

This wild swirl of black raspberry vanilla evokes Marianne Dashwood’s passionate nature. Made with olive oil, cocoa butter, silk and other rich, moisturizing oils, this soap is a treat for your skin.

What do you have to do to win this prize package? Simply leave a comment with your favorite quote from Pride and Prejudice and explain why it’s your favorite. A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, February 22, 2013. You can earn an extra entry if you like New England Handmade Artisan Soaps on Facebook and share the giveaway. Simply locate the giveaway on my Facebook page and share it on your Facebook timeline.

Good luck! And remember that if you don’t win, you can still order this fantastic collection from my Etsy store.

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Saturday Reads: February 4, 2012

Young Woman Reading by Hermann Jean Joseph RichirI am a true converted fan of Ree Drummond’s [amazon_link id=”0061658197″ target=”_blank” ]Pioneer Woman[/amazon_link] cookbooks (the [amazon_link id=”0061997188″ target=”_blank” ]new one[/amazon_link] is due out soon) and cooking blog. Part of the artistry of her blog is her ability to take excellent photographs of her cooking. I have been pinning so many of her recipes to my Recipes board on Pinterest. I just love Pinterest.

The New York Times has more Downton Abbey reads (yet another reference to the new book about [amazon_link id=”0770435629″ target=”_blank” ]Lady Almina[/amazon_link]).

Paulo Coelho is encouraging folks to pirate his books, arguing he actually sells more books when they do.

William Boyd’s article on Vienna at the turn of the 20th century was fascinating reading.

Julian Barnes wrote a short story “The Defence of the Book,” and The Guardian offers a taste.

Sam Jordison argues that if you’re going to read [amazon_link id=”1843548534″ target=”_blank” ]Bleak House[/amazon_link], need to go about it in the right way.

James Lasdun has a good review of Nathan Englander’s new short story collection [amazon_link id=”0307958701″ target=”_blank” ]What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank[/amazon_link].

Flavorwire has a list of 10 Great Science Fiction Books for Girls (driven, of course, by the 50th anniversary of [amazon_link id=”0374386161″ target=”_blank” ]A Wrinkle in Time[/amazon_link]). My favorite on the list is [amazon_link id=”038549081X” target=”_blank” ]The Handmaid’s Tale[/amazon_link], but I have to admit the list skews older than I thought it would when I followed the link. I think girls might like André Norton’s [amazon_link id=”0216901693″ target=”_blank” ]Outside[/amazon_link] (out of print, but easy to find second hand), or Lois Lowry’s [amazon_link id=”0547424779″ target=”_blank” ]The Giver[/amazon_link] (though it has a male protagonist).

[amazon_link id=”0670030589″ target=”_blank” ]One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest[/amazon_link] is 50, too. Flavorwire has a gallery of book covers. My favorite is either the Penguin classics cartoon cover or the one with all the pills.

Feast your eyes on these gorgeous bookstores.

I loved this post in Better Living Through Beowulf about turning to Austen when you’ve been jilted by your fiancé.

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WWW Wednesdays: December 7, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Wow, I haven’t played along with WWW Wednesdays in a long time.

I am currently reading several books. The main one is [amazon_link id=”0451169522″ target=”_blank” ]Misery[/amazon_link] by Stephen King. I have seen the movie, and I thought Kathy Bates was brilliant in the role of Annie Wilkes. I had never read the book, and I admit that reading King’s memoir [amazon_link id=”1439156816″ target=”_blank” ]On Writing[/amazon_link] is what prompted me to finally pick it up. I am enjoying it a hell of a lot. I’m also still dipping into [amazon_link id=”1439170916″ target=”_blank” ]The Emperor of All Maladies[/amazon_link] by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I can totally see why it won the Pulitzer for nonfiction. It’s not just an interesting subject; it’s well written. I tried reading [amazon_link id=”1613821530″ target=”_blank” ]Anna Karenina[/amazon_link] on DailyLit, but I finally had to admit I wasn’t into it when I had a huge backlog of unread book installments and no desire to even open them. I have to just say it: I’m not into the Russians. I have tried them and tried them, several times, and I have given them a fair shake. I think it’s time to give up trying to be cultured. I picked up [amazon_link id=”1466210303″ target=”_blank” ]Madame Bovary[/amazon_link] instead, and while it hasn’t grabbed me yet, I will give it more than two installments. I guess I’m also still reading [amazon_link id=”074348486X” target=”_blank” ]As You Like It[/amazon_link] when I think about it.

I recently finished a re-read of [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] read by Juliet Stevenson. I highly recommend her Naxos audio book readings of Austen’s works. I think the only one she didn’t record for them was [amazon_link id=”9626343567″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]. Stevenson is a brilliant reader. I also recently finished [amazon_link id=”0142411841″ target=”_blank” ]Twisted[/amazon_link] by Laurie Halse Anderson, who consistently writes amazing books for teens that are straight out of the Judy Blume School of writing about what young people are really like and what they care about. I discovered that Laurie Halse Anderson creates playlists for her books, so given that I love creating Spotify lists, I went ahead and put her playlists in Spotify (at least all the songs that were available). Here is her playlist for Twisted. Naturally, you need to have Spotify to listen. Here are my reviews for Sense and Sensibility and Twisted.

The next book I read will be either Sherman Alexie’s [amazon_link id=”0316068209″ target=”_blank” ]The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian[/amazon_link], John Green’s [amazon_link id=”0142402516″ target=”_blank” ]Looking for Alaska[/amazon_link], or Laurie Halse Anderson’s [amazon_link id=”0142400017″ target=”_blank” ]Catalyst[/amazon_link]. I am in a YA mood right now (probably because I just went to NCTE). I also really, really want to read [amazon_link id=”0062024027″ target=”_blank” ]Divergent[/amazon_link] by Veronica Roth soon, but I don’t have it, and neither does my school library. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was recently challenged here in my home state of Georgia. My daughter, however, says I should start with Looking for Alaska, but that I’d better be prepared to cry. I think I will probably read that one first just because she wants me to and so we can talk about it.

So, what are you reading?

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Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

[amazon_image id=”9626343613″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]Sense And Sensibility (Naxos AudioBooks)[/amazon_image]This morning on my way to school, I finished listening to the Naxos Audio recording of [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen read by Juliet Stevenson. I first read S&S 1998 and again in 2010, and it was a treat to re-read. I particularly loved Elinor this time around.

If you have not read the book, it is the only Austen novel I can think of with two female protagonists, though it could be argued the protagonist is really Elinor more than Marianne.  I like Elinor so much. I want to be her when I grow up. Anyway, Elinor and Marianne are the two Dashwood sisters turned out of their home, Norland Park, after their father died and their elder brother inherited the estate and was convinced by his horrible wife Fanny not to provide much for his stepmother and sisters. Meanwhile, Fanny’s brother Edward Ferrars visits Norland, and he and Elinor form what looks to all around them like an attachment. The Dashwood women are offered a cottage in Barton by Sir John Middleton, a relation. Marianne meets dashing John Willoughby and considers him a kindred spirit and soulmate even as she captures the heart of Colonel Brandon. However, both women are disappointed in their love affairs, and it is their responses to their disappointments and their consideration of others that forms the basis of most of the novel.

Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite novels of all time, and is in my top three Austen novels (alongside Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion). Each time I turn to any of these novels, I feel I’m sitting down with an old friend. I feel at home. I think Austen does an excellent job with characterization. I did find myself wondering (yet again) what made Edward Ferrars so attractive to Elinor. Hugh Grant does an excellent job bringing life to that character in the 1995 film. I found I liked the idea of her marrying Colonel Brandon and wondered why he wasn’t sensible enough to see how wonderful she was, but as neither of them was interested in the other, perhaps it was for the best. Marianne grated on me a little more this time, perhaps because I am now 40 years old instead of my mid-20’s when I read the book last time, and I found her too immature and dramatic. I know—she’s supposed to be; that was rather the point. I do love the character names in this book, too. Just a touch of the exotic.

Juliet Stevenson is an excellent narrator. I love her characterization of Mrs. Jennings, and she does an excellent job reading Elinor and Marianne, too. They sound just like they should sound. I had the feeling that Stevenson was rather trying to imitate Elizabeth Spriggs, who played Mrs. Jennings in the 1995 production of [amazon_link id=”0800141660″ target=”_blank” ]Sense & Sensibility[/amazon_link]. She certainly sounded like Spriggs to me. I had previously listened to Stevenson read [amazon_link id=”9626344369″ target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] (review), which I also loved. Stevenson also reads versions of [amazon_link id=”962634394X” target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”962634427X” target=”_blank” ]Northanger Abbey[/amazon_link], and [amazon_link id=”9626344679″ target=”_blank” ]Mansfield Park[/amazon_link] for Naxos, but, curiously, not [amazon_link id=”9626343567″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]. She’s an excellent narrator, and if you can snag one of her Austen recordings, you won’t regret it.

I wonder if anyone can answer me this question (particularly if you’re British). I noticed that Stevenson pronounces the word “further” like “farther” and “farther” like “further” (so their sounds are switched) and says “sprung” for “sprang” and the like. Is that a dialect? Or is that considered the proper way to pronounce those words? I thought it was odd because it introduces confusion where there need be none. If it’s a dialect, I get it, but if it’s accepted pronunciation, that seems like a strange language quirk to me.

I reread this novel for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. It was actually published 200 years ago this month, so how appropriate did it turn out to be, after all, that I waited until almost the end of the year to start this particular challenge?

Rating: ★★★★★

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Sunday Salon—October 16, 2011

:: آخر لقانا في الخريف..تذكّر الثوب الخفيف ::

It’s been pretty and cool today. Perfect tea weather. I finished up reading [amazon_link id=”1466273089″ target=”_blank” ]The Man with Two Left Feet[/amazon_link] by P. G. Wodehouse via DailyLit last night (review). I started up with [amazon_link id=”1439169462″ target=”_blank” ]Anna Karenina[/amazon_link] by Leo Tolstoy. I’m not going to be able to finish it for the read-a-long at Unputdownables, but it seems like an appropriate time to finally read. Come on Russians: don’t disappoint me this time. Anna Karenina is yet another classic I’m not sure I’d pick up if not for DailyLit.

I’m still reading [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern. You might recall my daughter and I were arguing over it. My daughter won, mainly because I downloaded the iBook sample that Starbucks provided as their first e-book Pick of the Week. I was able to read up to about page 91, so it’s a pretty substantial sample. If you can’t tell that far in whether to continue or not, then the sample size just doesn’t matter.

I’m still listening to Juliet Stevenson’s recording of [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. My poll results indicate that both of the two people who voted think I should read [amazon_link id=”140222267X” target=”_blank” ]Willoughby’s Return[/amazon_link] by Jane Odiwe for my other book for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. Only problem is I don’t have it. Yet. The wait list for it on PaperBackSwap is long, too.

This Sunday I also watched the final episode of season 3 of [amazon_link id=”B001AQR3LC” target=”_blank” ]The Tudors[/amazon_link]. Did they ever cast a perfect vapid teenager for Catherine Howard, or what? I find it hard to believe Joss Stone as a “Flanders mare,” though.

I’ve been listening to this Austin City Limits playlist (Facebook app) that’s available for free on iTunes. It’s a great playlist. My favorites are “You Are Not Alone” by Mavis Staples, “Devil Knows You’re Dead” by Delta Spirit, “Don’t Gotta Work it Out” by Fitz and the Tantrums, and “Lost in My Mind” by The Head and the Heart. I have say that “WHALE” by Yellow Ostrich is pretty catchy once it gets going, though I thought it was kind of odd at the start. I’ve actually been listening to Spotify quite a bit and made this playlist full of great women artists.

We saw [amazon_link id=”B00275EHJG” target=”_blank” ]Toy Story 3[/amazon_link] at movie night at my kids’ school on Friday. Dylan was especially entranced. My favorite comment? When Dylan said Ken’s hair looked like Justin Bieber’s. He so rarely makes references to pop culture, and we don’t often get such a window into what he’s thinking. Saturday was the Taste of Roswell in the town square. We ate lots of great food, and the weather was gorgeous. The music was too loud. I think I’d be just as happy if the organizers left music out of the event altogether. Last night I stayed up too late watching [amazon_link id=”B000UJCALI” target=”_blank” ]The Shining[/amazon_link], which was dumb because that movie scares the bejesus out of me, and then I was the only one awake and scared in the dark. All told, we’ve had a great weekend. I’m not ready for it to be over. Unfortunately, today means laundry and getting ready for the week ahead. It’s my last short week due to Jewish holidays, but I’m going to a conference on Tuesday and Wednesday that I’m not thrilled about attending.

photo credit: » Zitona «

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Sunday Salon—October 9, 2011

Apple mug

Since I write mainly about books over here, I haven’t had much occasion to discuss what a huge Apple fan I am. I write this on my MacBook, which I use to write almost all of my posts. Steve Jobs was a creative genius and a brilliant leader. Believe it or not, I’m beginning to see posts to the effect that we shouldn’t be sad, or that the outpouring of grief over Jobs’s death is inappropriate. To those folks, I say, don’t tell others when and how to grieve. That is unseemly. If you are so inclined, you can read my post at my education blog, where I talk about technology much more often. I am not ashamed to admit that I did cry a little. I know I didn’t know Steve Jobs, but I think, like a lot of people, that I felt like I knew him at least a little.

In any event, I think Jobs was poised to change the world of reading as much as he did music. I think the Kindle is still quite a strong competitor for the iPad, particularly as the Kindle Fire recently released is much cheaper than the iPad. However, I think mostly readers will purchase the Kindle Fire, whereas the iPad has appealed to people who are looking for a tablet computer. I could be way off in that prediction. Without the iPad, I don’t think we’d ever have seen the Kindle Fire. We may also be able to blame the iPad for the boom in popularity of e-books. The Kindle came out earlier, and the Nook may have also (I’d have to check that date), but the iPad ushered in a great deal of interest in e-books.

[amazon_image id=”B0037KN05C” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignright”]Jane Austen: The Complete Collection (With Active Table of Contents)[/amazon_image]A colleague actually asked me last week if I ever read paper books. I don’t know when owning a Kindle became this all or nothing proposition, that it means I don’t read paper books. Sometimes, I actually prefer them. It depends on the book. Certainly if I have any notion I might have the book signed, I will buy a paper book. And sometimes, the paper version is a better value. On the other hand, I just bought a Kindle version of all of [amazon_link id=”B0037KN05C” target=”_blank” ]Jane Austen’s works[/amazon_link], including all six complete novels, The Watsons, Sanditon, and Lady Susan, and selected letters and juvenilia. For 99¢. I’d never be able to buy a paper copy of all of that writing for 99¢.

It has occurred to me before that it would be smart to grab a public domain book, compose notes or an introduction, and format it in Scrivener for the Kindle Store and sell it for 99¢. I have had friends who have done this, and it’s such a smart idea. I think you need to add some functionality, such as a working table of contents or annotations, to make it worth the buyer’s while because so many of those books are available for free. Of course, the free versions are often not well formatted and have no working table of contents.

Speaking of Jane Austen, I have been spending quite a lot of time this week curled up with [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense And Sensibility[/amazon_link] this week. Juliet Stevenson is a fabulous reader. Have you heard that quite a few actors are lending their voices to new audio books? Including our favorite Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth. He’s not on this list, but I can only find one audio book read by Alan Rickman: [amazon_link id=”1572705701″ target=”_blank” ]The Return of the Native[/amazon_link] by Thomas Hardy. I tried to read that book, and I never got far. If Alan Rickman read it to me, I just might finish it. Heck. I have four Audible credits. I ought to give in and just get it.

I am rereading Sense And Sensibility for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge, but I am having a little trouble deciding which other book to read for the challenge. If you have an opinion on either of this books, feel free to vote in the poll.

[amazon_image id=”0385340869″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Cookbook Collector: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_link id=”0385340869″ target=”_blank” ]The Cookbook Collector[/amazon_link] by Allegra Goodman. Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, twenty-three-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriends, not so much—as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.

Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.

[amazon_image id=”140222267X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]Willoughby’s Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation[/amazon_image] [amazon_link id=”140222267X” target=”_blank” ]Willoughby’s Return[/amazon_link] by Jane Odiwe. A lost love returns, rekindling forgotten passions… In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne Dashwood marries Colonel Brandon, she puts her heartbreak over dashing scoundrel John Willoughby in the past.

Three years later, Willoughby’s return throws Marianne into a tizzy of painful memories and exquisite feelings of uncertainty. Willoughby is as charming, as roguish, and as much in love with her as ever. And the timing couldn’t be worse—with Colonel Brandon away and Willoughby determined to win her back, will Marianne find the strength to save her marriage, or will the temptation of a previous love be too powerful to resist?

[amazon_image id=”1402253893″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]Expectations of Happiness[/amazon_image] [amazon_link id=”1402253893″ target=”_blank” ]Expectations of Happiness[/amazon_link] by Rebecca Ann Collins. International bestselling author of the Pemberley Chronicles series explores the beloved characters of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Acclaimed for historical accuracy and emulation of Jane Austen’s voice as well as the depth of her depictions of the complex and evolving society of the day—especially what life was like for women—Collins imagines three sisters dealing with what happens when a spirited girl grows into a scandal-prone young lady who defies society’s rules and must then pay the consequences.

So which one do you think? I already own the first, but it doesn’t have high reviews on Amazon (hence my indecisiveness). Its reviews on Goodreads are about par for the course on that site.

Which Sense and Sensibility spin-off should I read?

  • Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe (100%, 2 Votes)
  • The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (0%, 0 Votes)
  • I have another suggestion for you (please leave a comment) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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I hope you are curling up with a good book and a warm beverage on this fine fall Sunday. Happy reading!

The Sunday Salon

photo credit: re-ality

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WWW Wednesdays—October 5, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I haven’t done WWW Wednesday in a while; I skipped it for the entire month of September. I guess I’m back today!

I am currently reading several books. Despite what DailyLit says over there in the sidebar, I fell behind with [amazon_link id=”1466273089″ target=”_blank” ]The Man with Two Left Feet[/amazon_link] by P.G. Wodehouse and still haven’t finished it yet, though I have enjoyed it very much. I am also still reading [amazon_link id=”1439170916″ target=”_blank” ]The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer[/amazon_link] by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I haven’t picked it up in a while. I think it’s perfect for dipping into occasionally.

I am also still listening to/reading along with [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense And Sensibility[/amazon_link] read by Juliet Stevenson. Oh, how I love crazy, flighty Marianne and admire steady, dependable Elinor. Wish I could be more like her. What a great friend she would be, too.

I am currently engaged in a battle with my daughter over [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern. See, I bought it with an Amazon gift card I received for my birthday. Hence, it is a birthday present. She grabbed it while I was reading [amazon_link id=”0441020674″ target=”_blank” ]Those Across the River[/amazon_link] by Christopher Buehlman (review) and started reading it. I say I should get first dibs because it’s my birthday present. She argues she started reading it first and has also offered me two of her books to read. I also contend waiting for her will take too long. We nearly arm wrestled for it yesterday. We have an uneasy truce and have agreed to share it. For now.

I’m not sure what I’ll read next. Maybe something witchy like [amazon_link id=”B003P9XMFI” target=”_blank” ]The Hangman’s Daughter[/amazon_link] by Oliver Pötzsch or perhaps [amazon_link id=”1416550550″ target=”_blank” ]The Forgotten Garden[/amazon_link] by Kate Morton. I have a rather large stack of books in my TBR pile. I also just received [amazon_link id=”1565126297″ target=”_blank” ]When She Woke[/amazon_link] by Hillary Jordan from a Goodreads giveaway, and the cover is so cool:

[amazon_image id=”1565126297″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]When She Woke[/amazon_image]

I have to admit it’s caught my eye. I also have a weakness for picking up books I just got instead of turning to my TBR pile.

I am in the mood to continue reading something gothic or creepy for RIP, though. Which would you pick?

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Sunday Salon—October 2, 2011

Empty Borders

The picture above is making the rounds after being posted by Reddit user Jessers25. One of the reasons I am sad that Borders is closing is that it was the closest bookstore to me, and now with no indie stores (at least none that sell new books—all used bookstores) and Barnes and Noble fairly far away, it’s extremely difficult for this reader to support brick-and-mortar bookstores.

This week I finished [amazon_link id=”0312558171″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Tom Dooley[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb (review). I also thought about which books I’d like to re-read.

This weekend was a long weekend for me as I work at a Jewish high school, but I am not Jewish myself, so Rosh Hashanah became true time off for me—for my colleagues it is spent in synagogue rather than work, or at least part of it is. Saturday was cold and perfect for curling up with a cup of tea and Aunt Jane, so I dove back into [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense And Sensibility[/amazon_link] again. I listened and read along with the text with my old [amazon_link id=”0553213342″ target=”_blank” ]Bantam copy of the book[/amazon_link], which was the first copy of the book that I bought years ago and read in probably 1998 for the first time. I remember that because it was my first year teaching. I wonder if Ruben Toledo will be designing a cover for it like he did [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]? I just love his cover designs.

[amazon_image id=”0143105426″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Pride and Prejudice: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143105434″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Wuthering Heights: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106155″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Jane Eyre: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0143105442″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Scarlet Letter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106147″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Picture of Dorian Gray: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106163″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Dracula: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]

Did I miss any of them? Let me know in the comments.

I am also reading [amazon_link id=”0441020674″ target=”_blank” ]Those Across the River[/amazon_link] by Christopher Buehlman for the R.I.P. Challenge. Good so far, and set in my home state of Georgia. I initially suspected that the woods near the Savoyard Plantation were populated with zombies, but I understand that they are probably werewolves instead. I will find out shortly, I suppose.

Today is Matthew Pearl’s birthday! He’s one of my favorite writers. Leave him a birthday wish on Twitter or on his Facebook fan page. I can’t wait for his next book, [amazon_link id=”1400066573″ target=”_blank” ]The Technologists[/amazon_link]. I have enjoyed his previous books:

[amazon_image id=”0812978021″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Last Dickens: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0812970128″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Poe Shadow: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”034549038X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Dante Club: A Novel[/amazon_image]

The Sunday Salon

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Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a list of the top ten books I want to reread (in no particular order).

  1. [amazon_link id=”1936594528″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I always love visiting Aunt Jane, and this year is the bicentenary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. I’m participating in Laurel Ann’s Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge, but I haven’t made any progress at all.
  2. The [amazon_link id=”0545162076″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter series[/amazon_link] by J.K. Rowling always stands up well on a reread, and I have read it many, many times. Maggie and I were reading together, but we have missed our daily readings over the last month or so, and she asked me just last night if we could get started again.
  3. [amazon_link id=”0141439580″ target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I didn’t like it as much as [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link], Sense and Sensibility, or [amazon_link id=”0141439688″ target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] when I read it some time ago, and I want to see if it improves on a reread.
  4. [amazon_link id=”0143105434″ target=”_blank” ]Wuthering Heights[/amazon_link] by Emily Brontë. Winter seems like a good time to curl up with those frosty characters.
  5. [amazon_link id=”0393320979″ target=”_blank” ]Beowulf[/amazon_link] translated by Seamus Heaney. I am thinking about writing an article for an upcoming issue of English Journal about Beowulf as a character, and I think I need to reread the whole thing in order to do it justice.
  6. [amazon_link id=”0679735909″ target=”_blank” ]Possession[/amazon_link] by A.S. Byatt. I loved it very much about ten years ago when I read it. I think I’d like to reread it.
  7. [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0345419642″ target=”_blank” ]The Vampire Lestat[/amazon_link] by Anne Rice. I haven’t read these books in over 15 years, and I think I would like to reread them and see if they are as good as I remember. I recall them being absolutely wonderful then. I was such a huge fan of Rice until I found her books weren’t living up to my memories of the earlier books in the series. Lestat is such a great character.
  8. [amazon_link id=”0192803735″ target=”_blank” ]The Tain[/amazon_link] translated by Thomas Kinsella and [amazon_link id=”0140443975″ target=”_blank” ]Early Irish Myths and Sagas[/amazon_link] translated by Jeffrey Gantz. Research.
  9. [amazon_link id=”0618640150″ target=”_blank” ]The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link] by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has been a long time since I read the whole series. I love Frodo and Sam.
  10. [amazon_link id=”0061990477″ target=”_blank” ]The Thorn Birds[/amazon_link] by Colleen McCullough. Man, I remember that being such an awesome book.

What do you think you want to reread?

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