People can count on book lovers to remind them the book was better. The phrase can be found on t-shirts and other merchandise in your favorite bookish Etsy shops. When I overhear a discussion about the latest stream of upcoming book adaptations, the impulse to ask, “Have you read the book yet?” isn’t easy to ignore. To which you might …
Everyone’s favorite adaptation is five episodes in and running out of source material. This season, as everyone is well aware of, the show is going to go off in its own direction and go off-book.
While the series is very loosely based on the War of the Roses which started in England around 1455 with the House of Plantagenet and the houses of Lancaster and York claiming rights to the throne of England, it’s hard to say that the books are supposed to have the same ending as the history they are based off of. So how can the show creators go off script if they aren’t sure how the book series is supposed to end?
Well, G.R.R. Martin told the show’s creators the ending he has in mind. This is where the problem arises—at least in my mind. If the creators know the ending and G.R.R. Martin hasn’t yet written the character’s paths to that point, the show gets to do the path-forging. This in itself isn’t bad, but what happens if G.R.R. Martin and the show create two different paths for the same ending?
Where there are fandoms, there are fan theories. The Harry Potter world has a ton of them. The latest to gain attention is that the Dursleys were not just mean to Harry because they were bad people, but because they were under the affect of a Horcrux.
Specifically, they were under the affect of Harry, who is himself a Horcrux. Remember?
The theory started on Tumblr—because where else—where Graphic Nerdity wrote that the Dursleys were ordinary, perfectly respectable people before Harry was dropped off on their doorstep. She continues, “For the next decade it proceeded to warp their minds…The fact that they survived such prolonged horcrux exposure without delving into insanity or abandoning a helpless child only solidifies their place among the pantheon of noble and virtuous heroes in the Harry Potter universe.”
And, I suppose, on the surface the theory makes sense. Both Ron and Ginny become possessed when exposed to a Horcrux for a long period of time—Ron with the Slytherin locket and Ginny with Tom Riddle’s diary. The wizarding world had long since been surprised by the Dursley’s complete lack of familial love for Harry.
All this to say, yes, I felt it too. Reading the books, especially as a child myself, I wanted to understand the sort of people who’d keep a little boy in a closet under the stairs.
But while the Harry Potter universe does have a “pantheon of noble and virtuous heroes,” I don’t think the Dursleys are among them. Nor were they meant to be. Sometimes bad people just have to exist.
The universe Rowling created also has many evils, and while most of those belong to the magical world, there are plenty of evils that are very much human.
Rejoice movie and book lovers! May and June are filled with great books-turned movies for you to read then watch, or watch then read.
On May 1st, Far From the Madding Crowd
Bathsheba Everdene has three men fall in love with her within this novel by Tomas Hardy – a devoted shepherd, an obsessed farmer, and a dashing solider. Who does this strong minded heroine choose? You’ll have to read the book or watch the movie to find out.
On May 15th, Every Secret Thing
Birthday parties are supposed to be fun, but Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller find an abandoned baby after being kicked out of the birthday party. What follows leaves three families devastated. Alice and Ronnie, seven years later, try to continue on with their lives but can’t leave the past behind them, especially when another child goes missing. Laura Lippman’s novel explores innocence, guilt, love, redemption, and murder in this tale of mystery and suspense.
We’re all biased, for we are all thinking, feeling beings with opinions and experiences all our own. This means that, no matter what we write, the nature of the text will always be slightly unreliable because what is presented through the text is a projection of our understanding of reality, not reality itself.
Now you can do your best to hide your bias and hide the unreliable nature of your text, or you can embrace it and choose to present your literary vision through a set of unreliable eyes.
There are a few different varieties of unreliable narrators used in text and some great examples out there in literature.
Humbert Humbert from Lolita
Lolita, if you haven’t read it, is a book with a charming, literary, intelligent, protagonist who tells the story of his love affair with a 12-year-old girl to justify the murder of her other lover. Let that sink in for a minute. The opening lines of the book illustrate just how seductive this unreliable narrator is:
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Humbert Humbert’s command of language can sometimes mask his unreliable nature, but in the book the audience he is addressing with his tale is a jury that is trying him for murder. Humbert Humbert is being charming and displaying wit to literally try and get away with murder. When it comes to unreliable narrators, Humbert Humbert is a plain old liar, or an unreliable narrator that deliberately tells a skewed version of events that take place within the story. Humbert Humbert is most certainly twisting reality to serve his purpose of avoiding a conviction.
The Narrator from Fight Club
Fight Club‘s never-named narrator isn’t unreliable by choice. You see, he suffers from insomnia and, despite everything he tries like visiting doctors or joining support groups for diseases he doesn’t actually have, he cannot sleep. This lack of sleep creates a split personality and a disconnect from what is really taking place in the story that completely catches a reader off guard.
There are a ton of great books out there that you should be reading that fall under the realm of Russian lit.
Many people skip out on some really awesome and well-written stories because they are put off by Russian discourse because it isn’t as easy for a reader to follow as English discourse. Even when translated, there are a few mechanics of Russian literature that can make it difficult for someone unused to reading Russian literature to follow. But I do have a few tips to make reading these classics a bit more accessible.
Read the book, watch the movie, or, if you’re like me, do both? With this guide, you can figure out which option you’d like to pursue.
Out March 13th, In The Heart of The Sea
If you like the tragedy of The Titanic (not to be mistaken for the love-centered movie Titanic) and the whale in Moby-Dick, then say hello to your new favorite book. This book is based on the story of the Essex crew, a ship that was captained by George Pollard Jr. and was attacked by a sperm whale in 1820. The story of the Essex is what actually inspired Herman Melville’s whale in Moby-Dick. Author Nathaniel Philbrick reconstructs the tragedy that happened to the ship along with the ordeal of the crewmen drifting at sea for over ninety days.
Out March 20th, Insurgent
This is the second book of the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. War is going on in Chicago between the different factions. Tris, the main character, continues her story from where it left off in Divergent. This time she is faced with a story that pulls her through the world of grief, love, politics, loyalty, identity, and forgiveness.
Out March 27th, Serena
George and Serena Pemberton are newlyweds traveling from Boston to the North Carolina mountains in 1929. There, they hope to start an empire of lumber. Serena proves herself a strong woman – both in the lumber camps and out in the wilderness, finding herself at comfort in command of crews or killing rattle-snakes. The story turns dark once Serena realizes she can’t bare children, and her husband George has fathered an illegitimate child with another woman in camp before her arrival. Ron Rash’s story isn’t necessarily a happy one about a strong woman.
While I have yet to and probably will never see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie nor read the books that inspired it, I am happy it has been written, has become popular, has been made into a movie, and has changed what is and isn’t taboo for the public to have a conversation about.
Literature is reflective of the society it is written in and can often point out uncomfortable truths about the world around us. Is Fifty Shades of Grey literature? I don’t want to get into that debate. I know the grammar is awful and it started off as Twilight fan fiction, but I’m not the ultimate authority on what and what isn’t literature nor do I know what future generations will think is great literature from our time.
What I do know is that Fifty Shades of Grey has started multiple conversations throughout multiple news sources, on multiple blogs, and even on multiple people’s Facebook pages related to women’s rights, affirmative consent versus coerced consent, BDSM, capitalism, and pornography. If Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t around, would these conversations be happening in the open? Would our society be looking at these issues?
I, at first, was wary of clicking on articles related to Fifty Shades of Grey because I had no interest in the story, but when I noticed a trend of critical societal examination in the titles, I started to click on articles and I was happily surprised.
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed Staff member, Alexis Nedd, published a post called “My 2015 Reading List Includes Nothing Written By White Men.” According to Nedd, “After a long time reading books written by people in publishing’s privileged majority, I want to spend a year seeking some balance in the perspectives and voices I take in.”
Are white men overrepresented in almost every aspect of the publishing industry, as Nedd states? Sure. Male authors still produce about 75 percent of the work being published. And while men make up only 26 percent of the publishing workforce, 89 percent of that workforce identifies as white.
Putting those numbers in perspective, however, also means that there is a great deal of work being published by authors who are neither white or male. Forbes estimates that somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published each year (nearly half of those are self-published). If even a quarter of those books are written by diverse authors—women and men of all shapes, colors, and backgrounds—then that’s still more books than one person can hope to read in a lifetime.
It’s hard to be critical of a personal commitment, like Nedd’s, that 1) gets people reading, 2) gets people talking, and 3) points readers to books that they may not have otherwise heard of. But my own bias is this: most of the books I read every year are written by women. That isn’t because the publishing industry shoves those books at me. It’s because I gravitate towards them, and I believe that’s how most readers are. Nicole, a fellow blogger, reads graphic novels because she wants to. And Tiffany reads YA because she wants to. Entire blogs are dedicated to specific genres because those are the types of books that audience can’t get enough of.
According to Urban Dictionary, star-crossed lovers are two people who care immensely for each other, but due to their circumstances cannot be together.
For whatever reason, “star-crossed lovers” is a term that people seem to think means a very romantic, happily-ever-after, Disney-like kind of love. I’m going to go ahead and ruin it for all those who still think that: this kind of love is depressing and dark, often characterized by betrayal, rape, suicide, or death (my definition). Not so fun, huh? Still, these types of stories will probably help you feel a lot better about your own love life.
I should warn you that there will be some book spoilers, but I think they’re pretty obvious by now.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
If you didn’t already know, they both die in the end. It’s a story of two teenagers who rushed into a relationship, and they couldn’t tell their families because of a rivalry between them. They made a plan to fake Juliet’s death and run away together, but it went awry; Romeo killed himself because he thought Juliet really had died. When she woke up, she killed herself too. Sure, there are a lot of lovey-dovey quotes that teenagers love to use, but if they were to actually read the play in its entirety, they would see the err of their ways. It’s not a happy story, kids.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
When Robby and Cecilia finally realize they are in love with each other, everything in their lives falls to pieces. The very night of their acknowledging one another’s love, Cecilia’s sister accuses Robby of raping Cecilia’s cousin. Instead of avoiding the problem by running away with Cecilia, Robby goes to prison. After prison, he goes to the front lines of World War II, where he dies of septicemia. Fun.