All It Takes Is One Book

I just finished The Book Thief (a fantastic book, one I’ll treasure forever, thank you so much for the recommendation Raya, please get your hands on it if you haven’t already read it, review to come) and I noticed something. My love for the book is separate from my love for the author.  Sometimes, I don’t make that distinction. Most of the time, I end up being a fan of an author because of a large body of their work. Think Tamora Pierce or Robin Hobb. It’s not the first book – even though that’s what sucks you in – but the series as a whole that I fall in love with. And even if an author writes stand-alones, it usually takes more than a book or two for me to start declaring my undying love for them.

In the case of a very few authors, though – all it takes is one book. And I can usually tell by the tenth page or so when I’ve found them. And, more often than not, it has very little to do with what they’re writing about. It’s how they write – you can TELL they’re pouring their soul into their writing – they don’t hold back. They bleed words and you treasure their books more because of it. Maybe this is why books can make me cry like nothing else can, I don’t know, but I get really choked up over things I think are beautiful, okay? And the way some of these people write? It makes you just want to drown in the words and never, ever stop reading them because real life just pales in comparison to the depth of the worlds they create.

So here you go. Here’s a list of authors that drive me insane with how beautiful their writing is.

Neil Gaiman

This will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me, and I couldn’t in good conscience make this list without him being at the very top. This man needs no introduction, and whether you’re a fan of his work or not (which I’ll find a little hard to believe, but okay), you cannot deny the fact that he just knows how to find the right words. His writing has a life of its own, and every time I pick up one of his books, I’m often left speechless and shaking my head in wonder. You cannot put him in a box – every book is different from the other and you almost never know what to expect.

My favourites: Sandman (review here), The Graveyard Book (review here)

Markus Zusak

I’ve only ever read The Book Thief and honestly? Two pages in, and I was in love. Fans of the book will know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t read it already, PLEASE go out and get it. Trust me on this. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and a lot of it has to do with the way Zusak writes. He’ll make you cry and ache to just reach into the book and hug all his characters – to protect them from everything you know is about to happen.

Susan Ee

Ever since I read Susan Ee’s debut, Angelfall (having found a review on The Novelettes’ Blog), my expectations of the entire YA Fantasy genre have gone up hundred-fold. Angelfall was such a surprise – a refreshing take on the done-to-death angel theme with a sensible female protagonist who had her priorities straight. And I think a lot of my respect for Susan Ee stems from that. Her writing seems effortless and everything that happens in the book is so natural. Not once did I have to exclaim, “Seriously?” – which I’ll admit, I do a lot. My point being, in Fantasy, a lot of authors create settings and then sometimes their characters do things that don’t make any sense in that setting. And that ruins everything else for me. Not with Angelfall. This one was easily one of my favourite discoveries of the year.

Melina Marchetta

onthejellicoeroadcoverOh, man. How do I talk about Marchetta without sounding like I worship her?

I discovered Marchetta through Raya’s review of Saving Francesca, and that book just messed me up. It was so good. I then went and devoured Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock and I fully intend to read everything she’s ever written. Ever. She’s so lyrical and she has a way of making you oscillate between emotions without giving you any choice in the matter. One second you’re crying your eyes out and the next you’re clutching your stomach, laughing hysterically.

She’s a wordbird. There’s no other way I can describe it.

Brandon Sanderson

Here’s my story: I got Mistborn. Page 1. “Ash fell from the sky.” That is all. The end.

Helps that he creates fantastic characters, though. And his world-building? Don’t get me started.

Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge is an author I can gush about for HOURS. She’s terribly underrated, and trust me when I tell you I’m doing everything in my power to change that. When you need an instant pick-me-up? Read Frances Hardinge. When you need an author that appreciates the power and beauty of the written word? Read Frances Hardinge. When you need an author that can cleverly weave a story about twenty different things without you even noticing what it is she’s doing? Read Frances Hardinge. When you want weird and witty and an author that takes insane creative liberties and makes it work so that it feels completely normal? Yep. Frances Hardinge.

(Twilight Robbery reviewed here)

Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was one of those books I read as a kid that defined me at the time. I read it when I was 13 or 14, I think, and I’ve read it more than ten times since. Extremely Loud is like my personal Lion King in book form. Oskar’s equation with his dad reminds me so much of Simba and Mufasa, and they’re both childhood treasures I keep locked up inside of me.

And there you have it. Are your favourite authors on my list? Do you have authors that make you feel the same way? Recommendations? Let me know!

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To: The Knife of Never Letting Go


To:
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

Dear Knife,

I’m writing you a letter because I feel the need to address certain issues that you’ve no doubt noticed we have. Now, there’s no need to overreact, okay? I just want to talk.

I’d been looking forward to our first encounter for ages. After all, every single person that had met you seemed to have fallen in love with you. And while I must admit I’m quite infatuated with you myself, you also make me want to tear my hair out and direct every swear word in my vocabulary at you.

There. I said it.

Look, you know I’m a huge fan of how creative you are. You know that. I have immense respect for the world you built – come on, Noise? Constantly broadcasting everything you think about to everybody else? Who thinks of something like that?! Also, the way you handled how different towns reacted to women being Quiet and men being Noisy? That was well thought out, well executed, and very very smart.

So that’s not the issue at all, here. YOU are brilliant. My problem is with that Todd kid of yours.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I admit to a little bias here.  I’m a HUGE dog-person, so every time Todd did anything that made poor little Manchee go, “Ow, Todd?” I wanted to just take a gun and shoot the damn kid. I know it’s not an ideal world. I know there are people out there that treat their own pets terribly. I know you talking about it is just your way of being “realistic”, but that doesn’t make it okay. There’s a reason I avoid books with animals in them like the plague and THIS IS WHY. I have a dog – an adorable little fluffball whose purpose in life is to get us to chase him around the house while he chomps on his squeaky toy and to make us feel like the world wouldn’t exist without us. I kid you not. ALL dogs just want to give their People love. They’re astoundingly selfless, and as long as you’re happy and safe? They’re happy. So when people treat their pets – dogs, especially – like little mister Todd here? IT MAKES ME MAD.

There are going to be a few spoilers now. I suggest you keep this letter away from those that don’t know you too well, yet.

People are awful, Knife. There’s no use trying to avoid talking about it. People do terrible, terrible things. And I know you understand that – it’s pretty evident from that 500-paged long conversation we had. Yet, I can’t help but feel you place a certain emphasis on “innocence being lost” when Todd has to kill another person, rather than the act of killing itself. Which is something I CANNOT agree with.

You know the Spackle? And Lemon Meringue? (Avoiding spoilers is a deeply ingrained habit, it would seem) Not okay, Knife. I could argue that leaving someone to die – someone that was put in that position in the first place because he was trying to save your worthless hide – that’s a whole lot worse than killing someone. I’d say that if you ever made the decision to do that, I don’t care what your excuse is, your “innocence” has already flown out the window.  Also, killing a non-human when it’s clearly terrified of you and has done nothing to provoke you? That, too.

ALSO. Leaving villages and towns to die because of you? Not cool.

Why was there so little thinking? You must warn them, the writing on the map said. What are the immediate questions you think of? Warn whom? Of what? Why? Where could the answers be? Possibly the book that came with the map or the map itself? Oh, I can’t read? Then why don’t I swallow my effing pride and ask somebody who can before something bad happens?!

I don’t get it, Knife. I just don’t get why so many bad things had to happen, one after the other.

And for what? I haven’t met your siblings yet, so maybe there’s more to Todd than meets the eye. But all this fuss just because he’s the only one in Prentisstown that hasn’t killed anybody yet? I find that a little hard to swallow.

Look, with Harry (have you met Harry?) – there’s a reason he needs to be kept alive. And a solid, unquestionable reason for Voldemort wanting him dead. With Todd, I can’t say I understand why the whole village is so eager to get their hands on him. I understand what he represents just fine. The extent they go to to capture him is just a little unrealistic, I think.

And, yes. I am aware that I survive on a healthy diet of fantasy – but when you create a setting, things are supposed to make sense within the frame you created. I had so many questions – and none of them deep or philosophical. They were mostly just along the lines of, “Why is this happening? What’s the point of all this?”

I know that it might seem like I…um…hate you. I don’t. Really. There were so many instances that made me want to give you the biggest bear hug in the history of Ever. It’s just that all these things were bothering me and I needed to clear the air. You understand, don’t you?

I’m still going to emphatically recommend you to every reader I know. And have heated debates about you. Don’t you worry.

Yours,

Tanya.

Read-a-thon Alert!

Remember the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge I told you about? Well, guess what? They’re hosting a read-a-thon.

This is just going to be a reallyreallyquick post telling you things you need to know, just in case you want to join. (Which you totally do, right? RIGHT?)

1. What is this Dusty Bookshelf Business?

Basically, you vow to give the neglected books on your shelf some much-needed love. Those books that you bought AGES ago but haven’t read yet? Oh, pshh, don’t bother denying it. We all have those. :)

In case you want a more concrete explanation – here‘s the original post. And here‘s the Goodreads group.

2. What’s a read-a-thon?

You typically set aside some time – in this case, it’s a weekend – and you dedicate that time to reading. Get rid of all unnecessary distractions, maybe grab a glass of wine, and settle in with your book of choice. Pretty much my idea of the perfect weekend.

3. How many books do I have to read? Do I have to take part for the entire 48 hours?

This is up to you, really. I’ve just decided on one book, as of now. The Knife of Never Letting Go. My reading speed will depend on the book – if it’s as good as everybody says it is, I might gobble up the other two in the series. If I feel like reading something different after I’m done with this, I might do that, too.

I’m planning to stay up all night – I thought that might make it more exciting. Let’s see how it goes! You can choose to spend as much or as little time as you want, as long as you’re actually dedicating the weekend to your reading. I know that depends on how flexible your schedule is and that’s why there are no fixed rules for this. Just relax, unwind, read.

Source: Belcastro Agency

4. Okay. I want to sign up! When is this happening? Is there anything else I should know?

We’re thinking of having this on maybe a monthly basis. Keeping it flexible so people who miss one can attend the next, you know? The first one is happening on the 24th and 25th of August. If you’re on Goodreads, the thread for this read-a-thon is here. If you’re going to be using Twitter to post your updates, use #DBReadathon.

While you’re at it, feel free to add me on Goodreads / find me on Twitter if you do decide to take part. Or even otherwise. I love book-conversations. :)

And that’s it. There aren’t any rules, really. Just pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read for a really long time, talk to us about it/them, and most importantly – have fun reading!

Book-To-Screen Panic Attacks

A feeling we’re all familiar with, I think.

I’m a firm believer of the read-it-first-then-watch-it school of thought. Although, I sometimes go the read-the-book-ditch-the-movie way, too. Most of the time, this is a philosophy I can live with since the book is almost always better than the movie – more well-rounded, the escalation is choreographed better and you get to picture the characters as they were intended. No ridiculous casting choices spoiling it for you. History has shown us time and again how trusting a movie to do justice to a book is the equivalent of being Voldemort and gifting Harry one of your horcruxes for Christmas.

So the movie-ditching? No problem.

But sometimes, just sometimes, this other part of my brain talks to me. This is that annoying little voice that urges me to be a genre-less reader. The voice that admits to liking the Coraline movie just that tiny bit better than the book. The voice that tells me it’s okay to leave a book unfinished if it doesn’t seem to be working out.

And right now, it’s telling me to stop being such a coward.

What brought this on, you ask? I recently watched The Princess Bride and I’ve just been kicking myself for taking so long to get around to it. I’m a HUGE fan of the book and every time I spoke to somebody about it and they asked me if I had watched the movie, I basically turned into a puddle of goo. I’m not equipped to handle the trauma of books being butchered on-screen, okay? There’s only so much I can take.

I probably wouldn’t have watched it – ever – if it hadn’t been for a fellow blogger. She convinced me to give it a go and – surprise, surprise – I loved it. And therein lies the problem.

When people tell me they’re not going to read something because they’ve already watched the movie – I lose it. I turn into this crazy ninja and karate-chop them in half.

“How can you live with yourself?”

“Have you no soul?”

What is wrong with you?”

Etc.

But I just realised that I’ve been doing the exact same thing – in reverse. Making a movie takes a certain level of artistry. Agreed? And yet, a lot of book readers, me included, simply dismiss a movie by virtue of  it. being. a. movie. How is that any different from people who say, “Oh I’m not going to read a book. I’ll just watch the movie!”

Now, this makes me extremely uncomfortable. Sometimes I watch a movie and then, after I’m done, I discover it was based on a book. So, I track that book down and devour it. In my mind, this is excusable because I didn’t know of the existence of the book beforehand. Nine times out of ten, I’ll like the book better. Occasionally, I’ll like the movie better. Besides Coraline, Fight Club is another example – I adore the movie, yet couldn’t even finish the book.

And then there are those movies that are just terrible. Not just as an adaptation, but as a movie. They’re awful. They make me want to scream and cry and throw a tantrum and write angry letters to the People In Charge along the lines of  MY-EEEEYES. WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY EYES?!

Every once in a while, though, you’ll find a movie adaptation that finds its own two feet to stand on. Think High Fidelity. And yes, The Princess Bride. You watch them, and you don’t even remember that it’s based on a book you so dearly love. It’s a movie in its own right – free from comparison. You try, and try, and find that you have to talk about it as a separate entity. Neither the book nor the movie is better than the other. You love both – but for completely different reasons.

And this. THIS is what we’re missing out on, fellow book-readers. By issuing a blanket no to any movie that dares to belong to the same family tree as your favourite book, we’re overlooking these little gems that might exist out there. How are you going to know unless you leave the guns at home and give it a try?

I propose a challenge. I’m going to need all the practice I can get for when Divergent releases on the big screen, and to prepare for that, I’m going to go out and watch five movies over the next week or so – irrespective of whether I’ve read the book or not. I’m going to try to keep an open mind – no trembling in my boots, no complaining and definitely no comparing. I’d love recommendations, and I’d love it even more if you’d like to do this with me! Yes? Great!

May the odds be ever in your favour.

 

Links and things

Coraline: Book | Movie

Fight Club: Book | Movie

High Fidelity: Book | Movie

Divergent: Book | Movie

On Reading and Dusty Bookshelves

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I read, and why I read what I read.

For the last month or so, I’ve been devouring every YA Fantasy book I can lay my hands on – I’ve found some astonishingly good ones (a post for another time?) and some not-so-good ones. Continuing in the same vein, I picked up Legend two nights ago and was just overcome with a feeling of guilt. I haven’t been able to read since.

My reading has always been a hodge-podge of genres. I go through phases, yes, but they don’t last very long. And for some reason, Legend just triggered something off in me.

See, I’m taking the year off from college. Primarily to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life career-wise, but a huge part of the reason was that I also started to feel that I was doing more I’m-supposed-to-do-these things and less I-want-to-do-these things. My reading started to suffer, the pleasure I got from reading was put on the back seat and emphasis was given to the next assignment I needed to complete or the next exam I needed to study for. I wasn’t having fun, even though these were subjects I had chosen to study. Subjects I loved.

It’s part of the reason I went on an almost year-long blogging hiatus. And when I came back, I found that I needed a fresh start – a spanking new blog.

Anyway, I spent the last two days making lists because making lists makes me feel like a ninja. I’ve written down every single book that I started to read during college but had to put down for some reason or the other, and now I’m going to attack them with a vengeance. Code Name: Operation Year Off.

Also? Since I’m a mood-reader? Every time I don’t feel like reading one of the books I have? I just skip on down to a bookstore and pick one up. And I know this makes me feel better at the time – I have a friend that says, “I firmly believe that the purchase of books is a distinct activity with therapeutic qualities and is entirely unconnected to the actual reading of those books.” And I agree. Wholeheartedly. But it’s just gotten to a point where I have all these wonderful books just waiting to be read, accumulating dust on my shelves.

And so, when I remembered seeing this on Astarteia’s blog, I checked it out and as of this post, I’m officially signed up. There are going to be times when I just don’t feel like reading the books I have, and that’s cool with me as long as I’m actively trying to change my book-hoarding status to a book-reading one.

2013 – Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Hosted by Books – A True Story, this is a year long challenge where they’ve got monthly themes and everything. I wish I’d signed up sooner, just look at the themes from the early months. It seems very relaxed – just a bunch of people looking to make a dent in their reading list. They’re just a little more organised about it than I am.

Okay, so, what do you do if you want to join?

1. Sign-up with a blog post, by joining the Goodreads group, or leaving a comment on this post.  Be sure to link your blog post in the linky below.  Include in your blog post the badge and your list of books you want to read.

2. Pick a level:

~Pixie Dust – Read 0-5 books

~Dust Bunny – Read 5-10 books

~Cobwebs – Read 10-15 books

~Grungy – Read 20+ books

EXTRA CREDIT-Say how long that book has been sitting on your shelf!

Doable, right? The list of books I have in mind is here. They aren’t concrete reading plans, just the ones I’ve been wanting to read the longest/most. I thought of adding graphic novels to the list, but then it would just explode and I don’t want this to be one of those intimidating challenges.

I’m aiming for Cobwebs, but if I can’t finish all the books on my list, or if life happens and I get new books I’ve been wanting to read, these will just spill over into Operation Year Off. Okay? Okay. 

Also, I’m curious. How do you handle your TBR pile?