Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday Book Questions, Pts. 9 & 10 (Thanksgiving Edition)

Happy Thanksgiving! So, here I am, writing my usual Thursday Book Questions catch-up post. The good news, for my tardiness at least, is that I think Jenna is taking a few days off from posting, which means I have a chance to catch back up with this fun book meme. But first, a brief update seems to be in order.

Lovely, folk-style wood-carved maternity nurse

On Sunday, November 21st, on the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, my nephew John Cornelius was born. My brother and his wife have been at the hospital with baby John all week, and yesterday I got to meet the little guy for the first time. What a beautiful, precious little boy he is. We are all incredibly blessed with his presence in our lives. I am knitting a blanket for him, which I hope to have completed by Christmas, and now that I have seen and held him, my motivation to work on the blanket is renewed. Plus, each stitch is an opportunity to say a prayer for him, which is perhaps the most productive and worthwhile gift I can give my new nephew as he acclimates to the world and builds his strength.

The other bit of news worth sharing is the exciting fact that I got to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 twice in theaters this past weekend: last Thursday night at midnight, and again on Saturday morning. Put simply: I loved it. I have written up my reactions to the film, on both viewings, in two comments (here and here--some of my comments will make more sense to you if you've seen the film), left on a post by Jenna St. Hilaire over at The Hog's Head in which she reviews the movie. If you are so inclined, take a gander at my comments there for a list of all of the things I loved about this film, and while you're there give Jenna's original post a read as well. I am very much looking forward to Part 2, to be released in theaters next July.

And now, on to the past two weeks' worth of Thursday Book Questions. Jenna's original posts can be found here and here; for my previous installments, click here.

Part 9:

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I am not counting reading that was purely for homework purposes, when considering this question. I didn't really get seriously bit by the reading bug until around age 14, if you'd believe it, so I'm sure that prior to that age stretches of time (weeks? months?) would go by without my seeking out a book for pleasure.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I will file this in the "could" not finish, since I hope to someday give this one a go again: Les Miserables. Yes I know, this probably makes me a poor literary citizen... I first received this story by way of the musical, and I have gathered that the musical represents the heart of the story--people who have read the book and seen the musical tend to say this. When I tried reading the book, I unfortunately got a bit bogged down by the level of detail, that the actual story got lost for me at times. Hopefully I will feel differently the next time I pick this one up.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Once I have started, not much. Reading is a bit of a vortex for me... I suppose that sleepiness can distract while I am reading (assuming I have had a long day). One of the worst inner battles is between the desire to read another few pages, and the desire to sleep. Man that battle rages in me more often than I care to count. Blasted long days at work!

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Oh this is a tough question, and controversial to boot. I may get flack for this, but I love Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy of films. I adore Tolkien's world and the story he crafted within it, and for me Peter Jackson nailed these two things in his films. Oh, come to think of it, I do have another favorite film adaption of a novel worth sharing: the 2003 version of Peter Pan. This film version of the story is very true to the book, and the script that was written for the movie draws out and highlights so many of the beautiful and rather mature themes, while still being whimsical and enchanting in all the right ways. I absolutely adore it (especially the scenes between Wendy, Peter, and Captain Hook).

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I tend to block bad artistic experiences from my mind, so I am coming up blank on this one, though I am sure there are plenty out there I have not been enthused by.

Part 10:

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Oh man... Although I am now a librarian, in high school I was not a library user but a bookstore junkie. I am sure at one time or another, probably around either Christmas or my birthday, I have spent close to $200 in a bookstore. *blush*

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Quite often, particularly with books for my research. Fiction books, I almost always read the excerpt from the text at the beginning of the book, to decide if the style is one I will be able to dive into, as I love doing when I read a new book.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Hmmm... Well, the practical answer to this is, my life getting too busy for me to finish it, but this would need to be coupled with a rather dull story (or a dull telling of an otherwise good story) to be truly effective. I rarely stop reading a book for reasons having to do with being offended by its content. I am one of those hopeful readers that, when faced with something less than moral or good in an outright way in a story, I am compelled to keep reading to see if the story will redeem itself; often, I have found, it does. I recall one time that it didn't, and that was in the third book of the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials series. I do recall, about halfway through the third and final volume, sensing all the negative and (in my mind) unnecessary conclusions the book was heading towards (I read it well before the negative hype surrounding the release of the film version of The Golden Compass), and reading on determinedly hoping my suspicions would somehow be proven wrong; they weren't, but I did finish the book hunting for a better ending. Ah, well.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Ahem. I am a librarian. The short and rather obvious answer for me is: Yes. :)

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Generally I keep them. I usually don't opt to purchase a book (or series of books) these days unless I sense I will like them enough to want to reread them again in the future, hence keeping them instead of giving them away.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Revisiting the Deathly Hallows

I interrupt your regularly scheduled "I'm two weeks behind in Thursday Book Questions" post to offer my quick reflection about the final Harry Potter book, which I recently reread in anticipation of Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows movie, to be officially released in theaters tomorrow (which means tonight for me). At midnight I'll be seeing it in IMAX, and I am beyond excited. So, without further ado, here is another Books I've Read post. 

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Author: J.K. Rowling

Read or Reread: Reread

Impressions: I have lost count of the number of times I have read this book. It may be around four or five times now. Naturally, I reread it this time in preparation for the HP7 Part 1 film release, because I wanted to have the full version of the story in the front part of my mind going into the movie extravaganza tonight. I read this over the course of about a week, when I traveled home to NY, then to California for a business trip for a few days, then back to NY again, at the end of October. It was perfect for the 6 hour flight to and from Cali.

What struck me this time around was this book's ability to make me laugh out loud and yet burst into tears, all within the span of several pages, and then to cause this strange and beautiful phenomenon over and over again. It is brilliant in this respect. And the reasons why I laugh and cry are built upon the previous six volumes, and all I have grown to know and love about these characters and the challenge they are facing, together, as friends. The third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was my favorite of the series until the seventh volume; now Deathly Hallows occupies that position of honor in my life. An indication of just how much this is so: when I finished this reread of the book, after I closed the back cover, my fingers itched to flip the book over, open the front cover, and start the book over again. It was 2 am at that point. I almost did too. It is that good.

As for this reread in relation to my expectations for the two-part film... Knowing where the films are split--Voldemort retrieving the Elder wand (sorry for anyone for whom that could be a spoiler)--it struck me as I read it this time that Part 1 of the movie has a lot of ground to cover. There are certain things I fully expect to be cut (Potterwatch comes to mind, alas), and I will find out if my guesses prove true or not in a few short hours. I rewatched the Half-Blood Prince movie two nights ago, and surprised myself by enjoying it far more this time around than I had when I saw it in theaters a year and a half ago at its midnight release. Upon reflection I realized the reason I enjoyed my viewing this time was because I stopped fighting the fact that I knew what was going on, and decided to embrace it instead. As soon as I let myself imbue the cinematic images and moments in the film with all that I know they mean in the fullness of the story (i.e., in the books), the moments in the movie meant so much more, which meant I fully entered into and enjoyed the story they told. So, I am going into the movie tonight with this newfound attitude of not expecting the movie to stand alone at all, but instead planning on letting my recent reread of Deathly Hallows inform everything I see and hear. I can't wait.

Summed Up: This is a good, good book. Obviously, only read it after reading the previous six in the series. But books don't get much better than this one, to be perfectly frank.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Joits courtesy of a CC license.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thursday Book Questions, Pts. 7 & 8 (catch-up style)

My goodness, have I been busy. For me to recount in detail the past few weeks would result in far more words from me than I can reasonably expect you, reader, to endure. I traveled to California and back, spent two weekends in NY, reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, bought my tickets to see Part 1 of the movie-version in IMAX next week on 11/18 at midnight, fell behind and then caught up on my grad work in Theology, and more. For now though, I will proceed with Part 7 & Part 8 of Thursday Book Questions. I love the questions from these past two weeks.

For my previous installments, click here.

Part 7:

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
Doesn't faze me one bit. Though, I do generally qualify my more critical reviews with, "At least, these things didn't work for me though that isn't to say they won't work for you."

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Koine (New Testament) Greek. Being able to read fluidly in Italian would be lovely as well; as it is, I could fumble my way through a piece in Italian as long as I have a dictionary on hand.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I suppose when I finally tackled The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, it was rather intimidating before I finally took the plunge. The verdict: 'twas totally worth the endurance and focus required to get through it. I absolutely loved it.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Usually it is not that I am nervous, but more that I just don't have the time and focus to commit to the really "intimidating" ones. At some point I hope to tackle Crime and Punishment, also by Dostoyevsky, though the likelihood of that happening any time soon is slim.

35. Favorite Poet?
I have two, since one I love for his plays (though they are poetry) and the other for his poems: William Shakespeare (dramatist) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (poet).

Part 8:

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
I'll answer this by saying how many I currently have checked out. :::Goes to check her account::: Answer: 10.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
Since many of the books I check out are for research, and I rarely read a research-related book cover-to-cover, I'd say my answer is pretty often.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Ohhhhh man this is a totally impossible question. Oy vey. I'll name a small handful, since even to do *that* is a challenge: Hermione Granger, Anne Shirley, Jo March, Artemis Fowl, and Hamlet.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
If we can consider Severus Snape a villain, I would say definitely him. (I suppose he isn't really though, since he is actually a hero, tortured and broken though he be... but in Harry's mind he is a villain until close to the end of the final book. Hmmmmmm.)

40. What books are you most likely to bring on vacation?
Easy-to-read fiction that has either proven itself amazing (think Harry Potter), or comes highly recommended by the right readers (meaning, those who share my taste), a good example of which was The Hunger Games trilogy before I read it, my response to which I still hope to post here sometime in the (near?) future.