Sunday Post #35: Ghosts are In

Sunday PostI happened upon a Guardian article this morning that confirmed something I have suspected for a while: vampires are out and ghosts are in. Author Kate Mosse, quoted in the article, says

“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence after horror has held sway for a long time,” says Mosse. “The thing about horror is that it’s not that subtle; it’s a straightforward chase about the terrible thing that’s going to get you. With a ghost story the whole thing is, ‘Is it coming? Is everything in your head?’ Ghost fiction plays on those fears.”

I was more drawn to ghost stories for my R. I. P. Challenge reads this year. In fact, the three books I’ve read, Things Half in Shadow, This House is Haunted, and The Graveyard Book (a re-read) are all ghost stories. I’m reading two now that are sort of mysteries, but I can’t tell yet if they’re going to turn into ghost stories. I’m only one book away from finishing that challenge. I hope I can do it. Less than a week until the challenge ends.

Right now, I’m working my way through several books, but the three I’m reading most seriously:

A quick look at the reviews for this last indicates that the Shakespeare conspiracy theorists are out. Sigh. James Shapiro’s books are often targets for these folks. Don’t let them scare you off. Shapiro’s books are excellent Shakespeare scholarship.

Speaking of Shakespeare, today is the 600th anniversary of the famous Battle of Agincourt. I read this really interesting article about the battle at History Today. In honor of St. Crispin’s Day, here is Henry V’s speech from the Shakespeare play of the same name. Or you can listen to Kenneth Branagh deliver it.

I also found a piece in the Telegraph by historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell on why we should remember Agincourt and a piece in the Catholic Herald about why we should forget it.

Speaking again of Agincourt, it had a mention on the most recent episode of Doctor Who, which I had to DVR and watch today. Ashildr tells the Doctor she fought in the Hundred Years War at Agincourt and could fire six arrows in under a minute. Cornwell says in his article that a good archer might be able to fire as many as fifteen arrows per minute. But I digress because what I really wanted to talk about was how awesome “The Woman Who Lived” was. I hope that they have Catherine Tregenna write more episodes in the future. It’s the first time in a long time I watched an episode and actually thought about how good the writing was. I’m not the only one who thought it was good.

Well, it’s time to make a nice cup of tea and curl up with my books now. Until next time.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme. Image adapted from Patrick on Flickr.

Sunday Post #34: Revisiting the Graveyard Book

Sunday Post

Three-day weekend! That means more time to read. I spent a large part of today listening to Neil Gaiman read his novel The Graveyard Book. I have listened to it before, but it has been a little while. Since I finished listening to The Shadow of Night yesterday, I wanted to start a new audio book. Given I only have about three and a half hours left, I will probably finish the book either tonight or tomorrow as well. Tonight might be stretching it. I can count it for the R. I. P. Challenge, too! Neil Gaiman is a rare author is also excellent at reading his own work. I think there is a pretty good reason why most audio books are not read by their authors. Neil Gaiman, however, could read just about everything and make it better, I think.

Aside from The Graveyard Book, I’m also still actively reading Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn, Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan, and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro. I’m enjoying all three. I’m over halfway done with Things Half in Shadow.

Last night, I broke out the tea for the first time. I don’t drink much tea unless the weather is cool, and then I drink a ton. I’ve really been enjoying the new fall playlist I made, too. Perfect coffee-and-a-book music.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme. Image adapted from Patrick on Flickr.

Booking Through Thursday: Loud

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday prompt asks

  1. What do you think of reading aloud/being read to? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Your children’s childhood?
  2. Does this affect the way you feel about audio books?
  3. Do you now have times when you read aloud or are read to?

I have always loved being read aloud to. I contest the notion that being read to is something that should be associated with childhood alone. I love reading to others, and I love hearing others read, particularly wonderful readers like Neil Gaiman or Jim Dale. I suppose that is one reason I do like audio books. Sometimes books are even better when they’re read aloud by an excellent reader. I read to my children, too, and I sometimes read to my students. My husband and I sometimes read each other excerpts of whatever it is we’re reading at the moment. He has a very interesting cadence in his voice when he reads that is simply not there when he is just speaking. I sometimes wish I were a better reader: I have trouble with different voices and the like. Reading the Harry Potter books to my daughters formed some of my happiest memories. If you want to hear a great reader in action, head over to Neil Gaiman’s website for his children’s books and listen to [amazon_link id=”0062081551″ target=”_blank” ]The Graveyard Book[/amazon_link].

photo credit: Michael Casey

The Graveyard Book

I finished listening to Neil Gaiman’s latest novel, The Graveyard Book, at Neil Gaiman’s official site for young readers.  On his recent book tour, Gaiman read a chapter (or in the case of chapter 7, a half a chapter) at each stop on his tour.  Videos of his readings were posted on the site.  I’m not sure how much longer they are available, or if they are permanent, but do yourself a favor and enjoy Gaiman reading his work.  He does it very well, and it’s a gift not all authors have.  For instance, I have heard J.K. Rowling read her work on video, and while she wasn’t bad, she wasn’t a particularly good oral interpreter.  Gaiman changes voices for his characters, giving them different dialects and accents, and his emphasis in the right places draws out much of the humor of the book.  And there is quite a bit of humor in the book.  He’s a wonderful reader.

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens — called Bod for short, a young boy who wanders into a nearby graveyard after his parents are murdered and is raised by the spirits who inhabit the graveyard.  We should all have such an education!  As Silas, Bod’s guardian says, “It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will … take a graveyard.”  Gaiman’s novel is a nod to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.  Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard by the spirits, and until he is grown, they promise to look after him, for the man who killed his family is still out there, waiting.

The book was a pleasure from start to finish, and more so as a result of Neil Gaiman’s superb oral storytelling skills.  I plan to purchase a copy for my classroom library and will recommend the book to my students.  I think it very generous of Neil Gaiman to share his book in this manner, and I am grateful for the experience of hearing him read the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Neil Gaiman Reads

I never outgrew a fondness for being read to, and if you didn’t either, you might want to check out this site, which features videos of Neil Gaiman reading his new novel The Graveyard Book in its entirety.  You can browse inside the book at Harper Collins’s site, and you can check out an NPR story about Neil and Neil’s blog.  Neil is one of the most accessible authors, and really seems to care about his fans.  What more perfect book for Halloween than a tale of a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard?

What are your favorite Halloween books?  Are you participating in the RIP Challenge this year?  I couldn’t because I didn’t feel I should commit to a reading challenge with grad school taking up extra time.  I really wanted to do the challenge this year, when the chill in the air is the perfect accompaniment to a gothic novel.  I also really enjoyed my selections from last year, though I still haven’t finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  I honestly did enjoy what I read, and I do want to finish it, but I found it was a challenging and very long book, and perhaps would be best to read when I feel I have time.