Changing Opinions: Five Years in the Making

Guys, Book Heaven is five years old. It’s like a time capsule, looking back to my thoughts during my early teens (God help me, please don’t look too far back in the archive, it’s embarrassing). It’s interesting to see the different fads I went through, and how my opinions on certain topics have changed, but some have stayed constant.

For example:

  • I still LOVE the Septimus Heap series (and yes, I know I’ve mentioned them twice in as many posts, but I’m rereading them all before reading the final book, super excited!)
  • I still consider reading the best pastime ever
  • Pirates are cool (4eva)
  • I still believe books create a community

I love the fact that I still love (some of) the same books, as it really shows the staying power of some beautifully woven tales. In the words of the fabulous Carl Sagan,

Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.

However, in counter balance to that, there are also quite a few things I now shudder at the thought of loving. Not really because they are now considered “uncool”, but more because on rereading I have found that either the style is severely lacking, or that there are worrying messages/ideals that permeate the text. One example for me would be the Twilight Series. I really, really liked these books when I was younger, and I still might pick one up if stuck, but I can’t shake off an uncomfortable feeling when thinking about how controlling and almost abusive Edward is towards Bella.

Similarly, certain science fiction holds less appeal for me than it once did, because I have spent the last five years learning a lot more about physics, so some stuff just seems implausible. When authors get their science mixed up, it ruins the magic of the story for me.

So I’m planning on doing a full blown discussion on why some fiction has staying power, and some doesn’t, and since I think books (and blogging) belong in a community setting, I want your input. What books have you loved long-term? Are there any books you were fanatical about but have now lost interest in? Please leave a comment below.

P.S. I’m also looking for some book-themed blogs to read and add to my blogroll, so please comment with a URL if you know of one/write for one. Also, any input on possible format changes would be appreciated: would you like more book reviews, more theme discussions, less of anything? I’m excited to be publishing on Bookheaven again!

2012 in review (a little bit late)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Music Maketh the Magic

I’ve always thought that if I was to write a book, I would include a song or two at the beginning of each chapter as a sort of soundtrack for the story. Music is an integral part of writing for me; I couldn’t begin to write a whole story without imagining it playing to some piece of music.

 Sometimes, I begin to write a story because a certain song or piece of music inspired me: for example, an epic pirate adventure story was sparked by an excerpt from Die Moldau From My Country, Smetena; a runaway character inspired by The Box, Johnny Flynn. Someimes songs or artists hint at underlying themes or settings, such as the dark, urban, possibly future dystopian society that Burial’s lonely music conjures up; or the dreamlike, over-exposed world of Sufjan Stevens. If I write a story “to” a piece of music, I always feel like a person cannot truly read and understand that piece of writing without hearing the music aswell. Is this a failing on my part to convey the atmosphere and feeling of the scene through writing alone, without relying on another artist to create the mood? Or is it simply an enhancement to my writing, an added dimension?

I’ve also wondered whether it is only my understanding of the specific piece of music and the piece of writing that links the two so intrinsically in my mind: would an objective reader see the importance of the song Talk Show Host by Radiohead in the story I’ve just written? Or could they read the text without hearing the music, and not miss out on anything? Would hearing the music affect their view of the scene at all? I found that while reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, I felt no compulsion to look up and listen to the songs she’d listed in the playlist at the end of the book. When I listened to the songs I already knew and had, I could sometimes see the connection between the music and the scene, but having a soundtrack didn’t really make reading it better. So perhaps the vitality of a piece of music for a piece of writing exists only in the writer’s head?

On the other hand, I’ve never really put a piece of music to a scene in a book I’ve read: I’ve always felt I might be misinterpreting what the author is trying to convey and that in subsequent readings I might figure out the real meaning. However, if I’d linked a song to the flawed version of the scene that I picked up the first time I read the text, I might end up with that version of the scene stuck in my head and not search for deeper messages. A bit weird, I know, but I hate the idea of intentionalism and hermeneutics (at the same time as being fascinated)… call me a stickler, but I like getting the exact message the author meant to send out.

 

The Hunger Games Film

I went to see The Hunger Games last week in a seriously excited mood: I’ve posted before about the books and how much I enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to the film. I loved how the film was shot; not blockbuster style, but more “indie” as one friend put it. District 12 was perfect; maybe not quite as urban as I’d pictured it, but I felt the meadow and forest was spot on.

The Capitol was not portrayed exactly as I’d imagined; I thought it would be brighter, flashier, more shiny. But I felt it worked. Even the make-up on the people of the Capitol was amazing, but not quite as I’d expected.

However, I felt slightly cheated on leaving the cinema. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the film (I did); I just felt like they’d missed some of the depth of the books, and that some scenes had felt extremely scripted.

I’d recommend the film to friends, but I would warn die-hard fans to be cautious… some plot points such as the familiar Avox, and Peeta getting his leg ripped off are just… missing. Which I thought was a bit odd.

It didn’t live up to the books, but it was a good watch. Four out of five stars.