Thursday, 30 April 2015

There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house. ~Joe Ryan

Yes and yes. Today I was a bit stumped as what to blog about as there are only so many thoughts floating around in this brain of mine (better go and read some more). That was when my friend suggested, why not places to read? And I agree! This is a whopper really because what is a book if there is no place to read it. So here are my top five places to read a book.

1. In bed
Of course this must be the number one spot because where else can you be so warm and cosy all at once while enjoying a rollicking good story? This even beats movies in bed. I know. It's that good. I once read somewhere that you should only sleep in bed instead of doing other studying or reading (?!) because then your brain won't associate sleeping with bed. Hogwash I say! Many a times I've read though tired - although not because the book was boring but the opposite in fact! You press on through the tired tears because you just have to read And of course you're in your room (I am assuming you're not in a public bed (do these even exist?)) and where else would you rather be?

2. On the train/tram/bus
Now this is not the obvious choice I feel for many due to motion sickness. If you are one of sufferers of this, turn away now. But it's a great way to pass the time instead of playing on your phone/pretending to play on your phone and/or create some distance between you and the other passengers by brandishing your book. Be warned though that you may miss your stop depending on the engrossing factor in question. I did also miss my stop once because of Tetris too but that is another story. Oh and reading in public places also makes you look intellectual and who doesn't want that?

3. The beach
Sun shining, lying on the beach, waves lapping, a good book in front of you - paradise! Who can protest lying on the beach reading a good book? It's relaxation to the max. Beach in French is 'la plage'. Anyway, the only pit falls that I can think of are sand in your book (although in truth will remind you of your wonderful day), the uncomfortable lying on your stomach position, and if you don't like beaches full stop. But this can easily be transferred to somewhere else. In a hammock though I always feel like the urge to go to the toilet makes the whole experience impractical. Have you ever tried getting out of one?

4. At a café
Eating while reading combines two of my favourite passions. When I was younger in fact, I used to get up two hours earlier than necessary just to read and eat my breakfast. That is dedication. I was only eight! So it makes sense that you can multitask the two to gain optimum pleasure. This is closely followed by eating while watching a cooking show. Great stuff. Of course the only downfall to the book + food is that it can often lead to food splatters on your favourite book. Shucks.

5. When you should be doing something else
Okay, okay, this is not a place but holds true anyway. This must belong to the category of human traits that says that we always want what we can't have. For me this includes reading a few chapters of my book while the computer loads, while waiting for food to cook and in a boring conversation. I'm joking but seriously, you do want to whip your book out. JUST LET ME READ MY BOOK! Oh well. They'll have to wait I guess, meanwhile the pile near my bed is growing bigger and bigger...

And there you have it my friends, my favourite places to read. What are yours we'd love to hear them!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Some Things Never Change, or, Some Words You Will Probably Never Use

It is always worth it, I feel, to have a dig around in ex library books, opshops and nature strips top look for some literary gems just waiting to be found. If you are in dire need of some knowledge imparted to you today here it is! I will be sharing with you (vous form) from 'A Handbook of Literary Terms' (1950) and then later the 'Penguin Modern Guide to Synonyms and Related Words' (1968). These two are gold in my library and you'll never know when you'll need to impress someone with an excellent word. There are truly so many interesting things out there to find in old (ish) books. That's the upside of hardcopy, you can find insightful things even when you don't know what you're looking for.
So! From a random selection from the former verbatim:
Crown of Sonnets: A poem consisting of seven interlinked sonnets. The last line of each stanza become the first line of the next. The final line repeats the first.
Burden: The refrain or chorus of a song.
Encomium: In Greek literature, an ode in praise of a person; now simply any speech or writing in laudatory nature. It is also known as eulogy and panegyric.
Malapropism: The use of a word in a wrong context, usually instead of another somewhat similar form.
Prolixity: The enumeration of unnecessary facts which obscure the main point, resulting in a tedious style.

Prosody: The science of versification. Prosody includes the rules governing quantity and accent and the analysis of metre.

Verbiage: The use of superfluous words, wordiness, also called verbosity.

And from the latter:

Disfigure: blemish, deface, deform, mar

Flimsy: frail, insubstantial, tenuous

Heedless: careless, incautious, inconsiderate, insensitive, thoughtless

Moron: dullard, dummy, idiot, imbecile, numskull, simpleton

Pseudonym: alias, nom de guerre, nom de plume, pen name

Relinquish: abdicate, cede, renounce, resign, surrender, yield

Now go impress someone. Go!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

This Has Nothing To Do With Books (Is That A Problem?)

Sometimes I wish to delve into the musical world even though it has no relevance to the literary stuff we usually talk about (or does it?)

Anyway, while we all celebrate the joy that is Chet Faker - I do love that he is from Melbourne, it's nice to remember where he took his namesake from!

And that is Chet Baker - a jazz trumpeter from mid last century! I first heard of him when I was younger and my mum used to play his CDs. Safe to say that I was very confused when i thought everyone was saying I love Chet Faker!' I thought it was a bit peculiar to find out that everyone liked him again. Turns out I was wrong and they meant Chet Faker (yes, like they were saying).

Meet  Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy (image from interview here)

And Chet Baker aka Chesney Henry Baker Jr

Chet is definitely a cool name. Anyway, it seems that even in music (actually especially music) comes around pretty often.  Listen and love!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sing Your Little Heart Out

Today I thought we'd cover books that have since been turned into musicals because, well why not!

Now I cannot go past firstly (and have a friend who would be very annoyed if I didn't mention it), LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo!

First published in French in 1862 about the class struggles of the common people and quest for a better life, it first premiered as a musical in 1980. Although originally opening to bad reviews, it has since become a cult classic with movies (most notably - or notoriously) and telefilms everywhere! You don't have to look very far to find some 'Les Mis' paraphernalia. Personal favorites include One Day more and the Finale. Who can disregard a bit of ensemble singing and dancing to a better tomorrow? Not me.

Another one of my favourites is WEST SIDE STORY, although not directly adapted (although are any?), from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I absolutely adore the music by Bernstein and clever lyrics from Sondheim to create a riveting story line. The music is just ahh! How can one musical float through so many different genres and encapsulate the whole mood so perfectly?! I suppose this is a play in itself so maybe it's cheating but whatever!

And to go even further away from musicals (I don't care) is the adaption of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT by Mark Haddon. I have not yet had the pleasure of watching this as I believe it has not been played professionally in Melbourne yet but do I want to see this! Perhaps we can start a petition if there's enough of us...

Safe to say that I love the theater in any which way

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Am I Doing This Write?

Are you a budding young - or not so young writer? If you're like me and like to write but don't really know what about - or have the stamina to finish a piece, then competitions are a great way to force yourself (if you will) to write! Hmm, maybe motivate is a better word... 

The Australian Writers' Center is a great place to begin and is a hub of activity and knowledge relating to writing of course.

For younger authors is the Rosie Respect Creators Awards which is a great resource that supports  young women as well as provides a discussion space for issues present today with gender equality. That one does close on the 20 of this month so get cracking if you haven't already!

Your local library may also put on a number of creative competitions too! The Whittlesea branch of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library is having a Whittlesea Writers' Festival on May 30 which would be great to go to to get a lot of exposure to other works and tips. The YPRL network also run an annual short story competition so keep an eye out for that!

Hahaha found this online and too funny not to post...

Sunday, 12 April 2015

We Legitimately Live in a City of Books (A City of Literature that is)

There are books about every subject it seems. As we've previously covered from beer to bricks from cats to cardboard (okay that's not a book yet...I'm still waiting!). Well as you may know we have a beautiful art section as well as craft, style, design and architecture!

As Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature, it only seems fitting that we have an ART BOOK FAIR held at the National Gallery of Victoria. I do love the good old NGV, beautiful works, beautiful building and beautiful gardens! What's not to love? I am supremely excited at this fair coming up as it combines my two loves and the event includes a myriad of talks and workshops. 

When: May 1 - 3 2015
Where: NGV St Kilda Road
Cost: Free!

I say May 1st and free but the first day is actually a preview night (that I have tickets to!) with food, music, talks and the opportunity to buy cool magazines and publications which is $20. I know this sounds like a spiel but I am incredibly excited to attend! There are so many great things on at the NGV all the time with a good lot of them being free which is an added bonus.

From their website:

"The 2015 Melbourne Art Book Fair will be the first of a series of annual art book events developed by the NGV. From 1-3 May 2015, the inaugural Melbourne Art Book Fair brings together emerging and established publishers, artists, writers and designers. Stallholders at the Melbourne Art Book Fair will provide visitors with access to artists’ books, catalogues and monographs, periodicals and independent publications, showcasing new types of art publishing, in the one venue at NGV International.
As well as showcasing local and national publishers, the 2015 Melbourne Art Book Fair is proud to present special international guests Printed Matter (USA), making their Australian debut, and a curated focus on Japanese publishing.
The Melbourne Art Book Fair will also feature a dynamic program of free talks, forums and performances, as well as spaces to enjoy food and drinks and music, set within a uniquely designed experience by Melbourne Architecture firm Fold Theory."

I absolutely love living in a Literary City, there's always something to stimulate your mind and get involved in.  There are only ten other Cities of Literature! They are Edinburgh, Prague, Iowa, Dublin, Norwich, Reykjavik, Grenada, Krakow, Heidelberg and Dunedin.

Learn more about what it means to be a City of Literature here

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Copy Paste Copy Paste...Oh No I Can't Delete! (I'm Collaging That's Why)

Sorting through the children's picture books, I stumbled upon one of my old classics from when I was sifting through books in my dusty primary school library. Now it's not just because I share her name and NO ONE HAS MY NAME but the details in her works are so detailed and intricate. They're almost too good for children (sorry kids) and tell tales of change, growing up and diversity - often without words, allowing readers (lookees?) to discover and digest a hidden gem each time the book is open. I am of course talking about JEANNIE BAKER! Using both natural and found materials, her books are a delight for the eyes.

After some confusion, I have gather that she was actually born in the UK but immigrated to Australia in 1975 which explains her beautiful native landscapes. It's lovely to find stories that relate to the here and now. I was reading an article earlier in the week about the decreasing production of live action television shows for children that are made in Australia due to their high costs in comparison with imported British and American shows. The contention of the article was that now Australian children are losing a sense of their own 'Aussie culture' and are increasingly influenced by overseas programs. Where are the ocker Aussie accents and reflection on school life? Other than just a few stand outs, we are potentially facing a sad farewell to live children's TV.  Bottom line is, we want shows made by us for us! Anyway, getting back to Jeannie Baker, she is making exactly what a children's book author should be creating. Books that challenge the reader but can be enjoyed at any age and that can be used to create conversations.

Here we have shared some notable titles from her body of work.

Most recently released is MIRROR,  an evocative book that explores life in parallel stories in Morocco and  Australia through the eyes of your 'average family'. With the 'mirror' image in Arabic, I love the exposure to other cultures it brings, highlighting that ultimately, the human experience is a universal one regardless of race, religion or gender.

Another classic is WHERE THE FOREST MEETS THE SEA, a fresh look into the natural world that Australia is blessed to have. Beautiful waterways, colourful birds and bubbling sea life - I'm pretty sure that every time you read it you discover something new, a creature that you never saw before.

And finally (because we are running out of time!) companion books HOME and BELONGING as well as slightly similar WINDOW tell the story of an ever evolving town and the stages of growing up all told through the bedroom window of the protagonist Seamlessly transcending time, it's a powerful testament to how we are all part of a changing wold. That's probably as deep as I'm going to get for today.

Her illustrations are really something to marvel. Come in and see for yourself!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Oh, So That Was What It Was For!

Flicking through some of my maths studies, I realised that I will probably never use half of this stuff again. What hyperbole are for? Or how about how to calculate sin(x)=40? Nup, didn't think so. But then I was catching up on some Oliver Jeffers (of course) and realised he had snuck in the QUADRATIC FORMULA into one of his PICTURE BOOKS. FOR CHILDREN. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the quadratic formula, it is used to calculate the x intercept on a parabola graph (or something like that, I'm not great at maths...). But again, why is this kind of maths the illustration in a kids book? Maybe it's just starting them young...

As you can see in his book ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET, (even in red on a black and white background) is the formula! What a clever octopus - and owl, is all I can say. Just when I though that was all I would find, looking in the teen section, the covers for the GEEK GIRL series by Holly Smale also include pretty obscure maths terms like the Chain Rule (for finding derivatives (don't get me started)) and the quadratic formula. Again. Actually on each of the four books, there are different formulas so I  revise my first answer and include the rule for finding the measurement of a line and an actual quadratic equation. Quelle coincidence! 

Who thought we'd be talking about maths on a book blog? 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Books into Movies...Movies into Books...I Wish This Was A Movie...Maybe Not...

It has come to my attention recently while stocking our ever crowded, brimming over shelves, that more and more books have been/are being made into movies! Sometimes it's hard to keep up in all honesty and it can get even more tricky when what looks like an original book is actually written and released after the movie as a tie in. Don't get me started about film covers! And for some reason, most of these seem to be teen books that are adapted. Good old sappy teen books. So here we take you friends, on an odyssey through the written and acted word.

Okay, to start us off here is a list of big name movies that were released last year (2014 if you have forgotten) that were from books originally.

Teen and Children:
The Hunger Games -Mockingjay Part.1 by Suzanne Collins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
How to Train Your Dragon No.2 by Cressida Cowell
Love Rosie (originally Where Rainbows End) by Cecelia Ahern
Paddington books by Michael Bond
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The Hobbit by Tolkien

Non Fiction
The Theory of Everything (originally Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen) by Jane Wilde Hawking

American Sniper by  Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice

I am sure that there are billions more that have slipped my mind at this point in time AND not to mention the films that have come out this year or are just about to! Just think; 50 Shades of Grey by E.L James, DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (although I feel that he writes his books specifically for them to be adapted), and all those other sequels coming out! Phew that's a lot! Honourable mentions go to The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp released in 2013. Then there's the Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging books, Bridget Jones Diaries... I am becoming more convinced that just about every movie has come from a book originally. Actually no, Paper Planes became a book after it was a film. Otherwise the list is endless.

Personally speaking, I would love it if the Ashbury High Series by Jaclyn Moriarty would be made into films but it'd be a challenge to work around the actual format of the books as they are based on letters/emails/personal musings. Then again, I wonder if that would ruin the books. Adaptations of any Maureen McCarthy books may also work very well also!

Which book would you LOVE to see made into a movie? Why not drop in and tell us!