Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seen any good movie adaptations lately?

My Netflix queue has been dominated by the Road to Avonlea series for the past four months (only two seasons left to go!), so I haven’t seen too many movies lately. However, one new release I did break from Avonlea for was Ramona and Beezus.

As a kid, I loooooved the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I haven’t read them in years, but I’m pretty sure I still would love them. When I was a kid, I loved Ramona for her spunk, her imagination, and for the shenanigans she seemed to always get herself into. I loved them for how Beverly Cleary could write so well about the awesome simplicity of being a kid—no drama for the sake of drama, just practical jokes, climbing trees, and frustration with school. In fact, I wasn’t particular to the Ramona books; I loved all the Beverly Cleary books. Henry Huggins, Muggy Maggie—what a gift of alliteration!

Though I know now that Beverly Cleary wrote most of her books from the fifties through seventies, the stories are so timeless because I always pictured them in the present-tense (which was the early- to mid-90s when I was reading them). The characters, the setting, the situations are relative to kids of any decade, which is why I was happy to see Ramona and Beezus (though the appropriate order is still “Beezus and Ramona” in my head) make it to the big screen in, what I found to be, a successful fashion. [Sidenote: I vaguely remember a Ramona TV series from the 80s, and lo and behold, there was one, starring…Sarah Polley, star of Avonlea! Oh the coincidences in this post!]

Anyway, the 2010 Ramona and Beezus has a plethora of well-known actors, all of whom I completely ADORE, and was very enjoyable for this kid at heart. I recommend, for you and your kids!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In which I come back on bended knee.

I have been a very bad reader/blogger lately. Ok, not so much a bad reader, but definitely a bad blogger. I have the March funk. Yes, a serious funk. While many people nationwide feel this revitalization of life with Spring in the air, one does not feel that in New York. At least, not this girl. Why? Because the forecast for tomorrow is 38 with snow. SNOW!

BUT, hopefully Spring is somewhere close in the neighborhood, and warm weather outdoor reading is just around the corner.

Lately, I’ve read:

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart — Wow, how I would kill to experience NYC in previous decades. Marjorie’s memoir of a 1940s summer spent working at Tiffany and Co. is wonderfully nostalgic. It’s sweet and simple and full of slang like “gee whiz” and “golly.” Hart describes a New York I certainly have never seen—one with daily lunches at the Automat and hats covering everyone’s heads! I’m sure I glamorize this era of NYC history just as many people (or, ahem, TV shows) glamorize the NYC of today, but I don’t care. It’s a great escape, and that’s what reading is for, right?

Side note: To any of you visiting for BEA week and interested in NYC history, check out the NYC Transit Museum. Admission is cheap, and you can see all the old subway cars from decades ago. So fun!

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson — I thought I’d love this book because a) it’s NYRB, b) it was recommended by Idlewild, c) it’s about SUMMER. But it was only “meh.” The book is pretty much a series of short vignettes about a grandmother and 6-year-old granddaughter spending the summer on a remote island off the coast of Finland. It’s supposed to be the contrast of a girl starting her life, while another one is ending hers, as told in simple pieces. But mostly, I was just kinda bored. The characters had an interesting dynamic but I didn’t really like either of them, nor see their merit. I did like the grandmother’s methods of imparting wisdom to Sophia—a very “learn through lessons” kind of way—but I thought Sophia was just a brat. Maybe I should reread this sometime when I’m in a better mood.

This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson — The author is basically out to prove one thing: that librarians are absolutely necessary, especially with new technologies, though the means by which they perform their services are always changing and expanding. Johnson uses a variety of case studies to make her point, most of which were very interesting. This is one of those books I need to own so I can mark the pages that interested me, mostly because now I want to search out all the librarian blogs and archive websites she listed. My only gripe was an overly long chapter on Second Life which seemed less relevant (she could’ve just said “Real life librarians become librarians in Second Life” to make her point rather than write pages on specific Second Lifers). The book was definitely interesting, but I think only those interested in Librarianism will enjoy.

I swear I’ll get back to real reading and posting soon….

Monday, March 7, 2011

New on my New York list

This day finally had to come. A web ad got me. I clicked-through. I saw an ad for a book on the Time Out New York site with the tag line “…and other observations from a Southern Belle turned Brooklyn Hipster,” and I thought, “Hey, this is my life,” minus the stereotypical extremes of ‘Belle’ and ‘Hipster’ (neither of which I can completely call myself). But hey, the locations are the same. Therefore, I Totally Meant to Do That is on the list.

So Jane Borden, your Random House marketing team got me.

And because I am now a grad school student and officially on my way to becoming Super Librarian, I am intrigued by Algonquin’s new When Tito Loved Clara, partly because it takes place in New York but MOSTLY because author Jon Michaud is the head librarian at The New Yorker and is a M.L.S. degree holder, as well. I mean, what a sweet gig. I can only expect the best from M.L.S. club members.

And still on my list is Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace. I briefly met him last year at a WORD bookstore event, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading his book. But man, do I love New York historical fiction, and this one takes place in the Coney Island of the 1920s. On of my favorite reads from a couple years ago was Dreamland by Kevin Baker, which covered turn-of-the-century (last century) NYC with gangsters, tenements, factory strikers, and sideshow entertainers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

World Party: Why I would probably like Showtime’s The Tudors better

England was February’s country of choice in the World Reading Challenge, and I chose the recent Man Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Setting: 16th-century Tudor England, during the reign of Henry VIII. Mantel chronicles the King’s split from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and pursuit of Anne Boleyn as he splits from Catholic Rome and declares himself Head of the Church of England—all this because he wanted to sleep with another chick!

At 651 pages, this was a book. I started it once, got to page 70 or so, and decided to start over and really concentrate. This is not a book to casually read on the subway. Wolf Hall is definitely a well- and interestingly-written novel, foremost because of its perspective. The entire book is written in the third-person present-tense, focusing on Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to the King. What’s confusing is that in the narrative, he is not addressed by name, unless as part of a quote; Mantel simply refers to Cromwell as “him,” which can be very confusing at first. Once you get into the swing of that, the book is pretty easy to get through.

I think Wolf Hall definitely deserves its mark as “prestigious-book-award-winner,” but frankly, I was a little bored with it, completely because of personal taste. I have never had an interest in this time period of history. I find the ages of medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment—the height of royalty in Europe—to be rather dark and barbaric, too much so for my tastes. Therefore, I didn’t have enough of a background or interest in the subject matter to really enjoy this book. Aside from the very basics about Henry VIII and his wives, I could not recall many details about the outcome of these individuals (my AP Euro teacher would be so disappointed). I refrained from Wikipedia-searching until I had finished, because I figured the end would have a climactic conclusion, but no. Mantel seemed to cover only one aspect of Henry VIII’s reign—his split with the Catholic church—and left out all the drama on which most recent literature focuses.

I wish I had read this as part of a book club or at least been able to discuss with someone who enjoys this time period and had a different perspective while reading. [Has anyone else read it?? Please comment if you have!] My Google-searching on Henry VIII and his six wives made for an enjoyable afternoon at work, but because it’s the scandal and drama that piqued my interest, I’d probably prefer to see Henry’s story on Showtime. Minus all the beheading.