There is something to be said for experiencing the Harry Potter series for the first time as an adult. Yes, you read that right. I grew up during Harry Potter’s prime, and yet I couldn’t get into the books as a kid. I was an avid reader, mind you, but I was more interested in vampires and other dark creatures. …
Summer may not officially kick off until June 20th, but here in California, the weather is already providing an excuse to throw on a swimsuit and head down to the water. It’s also giving me an excuse to search for bookish beach towels to bring along with me, like the one above (cats are jerks, so it only makes sense that they’re secretly plotting world domination).
Below you can find some more of my favorites.
It’s story time in this dark forest, where a friendly monster and cute bunny find a quiet spot to read. I love the soft, muted colors and imagery in this print.
Anyone who knows me can tell you my favorite movie is Jurassic Park (the book, though quite different, is great too), and as such, I’ve always been fascinated with dinosaurs. On this beach towel, the artist has combined dinosaurs and books. I love the fact that the dinosaurs aren’t only reading them, they’re made of them—their bony armor replaced with colorful books.
I’m part of a book club at work. We enjoy getting together and discussing a book every two weeks over lunch. But, for some reason, more than half the books we read are set in WWII. All of the villains are, generally, Nazis.
I was wondering if this was just related to the tastes of my book club – maybe they all are WWII enthusiasts or like, really hate Nazis.
But then I realized, maybe, just maybe, the reason we read so many WWII fiction books is because there are so damn many of them on the market.
When I do a search in Amazon, for example, for WWII under books, I get 20,203 results. If I narrow it down to non-history books, I still get about 5,000 books from literature, fantasy, mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, teen, etc.
I hate to say it, but guys, WWII is an unoriginal theme. Don’t make it your setting. Don’t make your bad-guys stereotypical Nazis. It’s been done. It’s been done so many times. How many times? 20,203 overall, or, if you just want to go into the fiction realm, at least over 5,000 recently.
While Juliet from Romeo and Juliet felt that names weren’t as important as character, when it comes a story, names give away a lot about the characters. While Juliet asks the following question:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
The playwright, Shakespeare, has fair Verona divided between two feuding households—making name loyalty and the power behind influential names a theme within the play itself. Indeed, it is the young lover’s last names that keep them apart and their struggle to overcome their names to be together which leads to the character’s deaths. So, Juliet, a name is a very important thing.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, named her characters carefully so that the character names reflected the personalities of the characters themselves. This may be more obvious with her characters that have Latin and Greek-based names, like Severus, Latin for stern or Sirius—a Greek name associated with the Sirius dog star Alpha Canis Major. Even the more simple names in the series, like Harry, have carefully selected meanings. Harry is an English name that means army ruler and is a diminutive form of Harold or Henry, former kings of England.
The power of names can stretch across series and authors as well. A good example of this is the name Sam. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, as well as Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, characters named Sam share many characteristics.
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.
Last Friday, a few students and professors from my graduate program got together at a local bar on campus and began drunkenly discussing trips taken over the summer, upcoming classes, and books over a glass of beer.
“Technically that’s mead,” a classmate corrected me.
“Even better,” I told her. “I feel like a hobbit.”
My mention of the hobbit, of course, began a rousing talk about Young Adult literature–pieces like Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Rowling’s Harry Potter.
“I took a YA class last quarter,” a MFA student named Hannah tells us. “After we read Harry Potter, another student tells the teacher, I don’t get what the point is.“
Which gained a lot of outrage, a lot of “And this from our children’s future teachers?!” and “What’s the point?!”. In the midst of our mutual outrage, I never heard one person say what the point of books like Harry Potter actually was, however. The answer to that question depends on who you ask.
Roald Dahl once said:
“The prime function of the children’s book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most marvelously through the tangles of his later years.”
R.L. Stine’s view is a bit more simple:
I think both authors are correct. On the most basic level, the point of Young Adult books is that they get children reading. Yet personally, I think the greatest point of a YA novel is that they generally tackle large issues, like war, racism, death, or even rape, in a way that is accessible to young readers. The Hunger Games, for instance, causes its readers to think about war, poverty, death, and power, and according to author Suzanne Collins, this is important: (more…)
Oh yes, it’s February, and we all know what that means.
Romance abounds and, for the couple that loves books and tattoos, we have something cool for you.
So, in honor of mushy stuff, here are some great literary tattoos for couples.
I’m a fairly nontraditional person, so when it comes to romance, I go for nontraditional things too. Generally, I’m not one to celebrate Valentine’s day with a night out at an expensive restaurant, but I do still like to give gifts.
There are the traditional gifts, like roses and chocolate and teddy bears, but what fun are those? No, it’s way more fun to be offbeat for Valentine’s day than it is to be traditional.
That being said, guys and gals, here’s some cool offbeat Etsy.Com gear for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.
(Don’t forget the ink)
I’m not a girly-girl, but I am a book girl, and when I stumbled upon these literary tights, I got really excited. Tights are great to wear under dresses during cool weather, and what could make tights better than poetry and book quotes and pictures from our favorite stories? Nothing, that’s what. These tights are absolutely fabulous and perfect.
And, if you like what you see but want a different quote or poem, ColineDesign does custom orders!
While reading an article about self-publishing, I happened to stumble upon this fact about book covers:
“75% of 300 booksellers reviewed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) recognized the look and design of the book cover as the most important part. They agreed the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book.”
I struggle with this, because, to me, I fundamentally disagree that the cover is the “most important part” of a book, but on a marketing level, I supposed I understand. When I go into a bookstore or search shelves virtually on Amazon, I generally already have an idea of what I’m looking for. It’s either a text that my teacher assigned, a sequel to a novel I’ve been obsessing over, or perhaps something entirely new. But even when I purchase something new, the first thing I do is grab the book, turn it over, and read the description. I don’t see a pretty picture of a bird or flower on the cover, or maybe even a woman, whose back is mysteriously facing me, as is so common in chick-lit these days, and automatically decide the book is for me. But maybe there are readers who do.
“Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something.”
Or as Naomi Blackburn, top Goodreads reviewer, states in the same article:
“If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalog photograph with block lettering, I bypass it. If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”
To be fair, an author might give away the responsibility of cover design when they choose to work with a publisher. If you ever plan on writing your own book or working in publishing, here are a few things to keep in mind during the design process.
For one, it’s important that the cover doesn’t give away too much.
It’s also important that your cover doesn’t give readers nightmares.