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Monday, October 15, 2007

A Carnival of Bookworms: books that keep you up at night

The October carnival of bookworms just came out today- it highlights blogs on books, readers and writers and has a Halloween-related theme: books that keep you up at night. Thanks to Kirsten for hosting this traveling carnival. Kirsten says:

I'm so thrilled by the range of titles represented in the reviews submitted for this carnival. There are classics like Dracula, Beowulf, and Northanger Abbey. There are books that I consider new classics like Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrel, The Historian, and The Handmaid's Tale. I'm excited that there are children's and young adult books represented in this carnival and really enjoyed reading both the author interview and the book excerpt. My to-read list has definitely grown and I hope yours will too! So, without further ado, here are Thrills and Chills: Spooky Books That Keep You Up at Night:

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14 comments:

  1. It's interesting to see Beowulf on that list. I may check in on what the reviewers say. I'm always skeptical of claims made for this, that or the other classic. I suspect that people who say they have read them have not and that new, ballyhooed translations are aimed at folks who want to impress their friends.

    On the other hand, if the market of people who really read such books is a niche market, I can't think of a more worthwhile niche.

    But back to Beowulf. I've discussed Macbeth and Hamlet on my crime-fiction blog, noting elements of both that are equally at home in the crime-fiction tradition. A corollary is that crime-fiction readers would feel right at home reading Shakespeare.

    If I wrote about horror films or books rather than crime, I could say the same about Beowulf. A scene of the inhabitants of the hall cringing in fear of Grendel, the fear induced not by what the monster does but by the hall-dwellers' anticipation of what it might do, is the direct ancestor of every haunted-house or gored-teenager story ever told. Fans of such things might find an equal thrill in Beowulf.
    ==============
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
    http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

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  2. Well, I know I haven't read all of the classics personally, though don't tell anyone! I hope that, as an aggregate, we have read a good fraction of them, although, as St. Nick (Nick Hornby) reminds us: life isn't better if you do read them and isn't worse if you don't. Still, one's misery could be better-informed with a few classics under one's belt.

    On Beowulf, my dad read it to me when I was a kid. I never read it myself. I remember reading John Gardner's "Grendel", written from the "monster's" perspective, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember much any more. I guess I need to re-read it.

    I bought a copy of the Seamus Heaney's recent "Beowulf", but I never read it. Now that I'm just reading up my stock instead of buying new books, maybe I'll get to it.

    I agree that there is much in common in between contemporary stories and the classics.

    I also had someone from the Middle East explain to me at length how all candy and sweets are an attempt to mimic or recapture the primal honey found in ancient desserts.

    I've enjoyed your comments on Hamlet and Macbeth, and I don't think that your connections are a stretch at all. Nevertheless, not many seem to want to explore Bill the Bard they way they follow Bob the Builder.

    The language itself seems to be a barrier for many, which is too bad. Attention span is also an issue. One can shoot a lot of space aliens in the time it takes to meet just a few minor characters from Dickens. Luckily, I am immune to video games (or, should I say, knowing my addictive personality, I don't let myself go near them).

    Thanks for the feedback, Jim

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  3. God, Nick Hornby can be an ass.

    ==============
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
    http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Peter, Nah, I don't think so. I think Nick is funny and clever and not full of himself at all. His comment, as more or less quoted by me, probably seems out of context and gave you the wrong impression. He was writing about ending snobbishness where it comes to reading, and that it is better to read something you like than not to read anything at all. He wasn't saying that the classics don't enrich you, but that many things can enrich you. As you have shown, the same stories from the classics are found all over, and may be just as deep, or nearly as deep, in other settings.

    High Fidelity was, I felt, a really funny book that incorporates music and obsessive behavior brilliantly. Fever Pitch has an incredible opening salvo from the mind of an obsessive. I could relate.

    Take care, Jim

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  5. Some interesting titles there. I'll see if I can get my hands on some of them!

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  6. Thanks for the feedback, Craig. Best wishes, Jim

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  7. Good reads here. Essentially a must read for writers like me.

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  8. This is the second time I've read a statement by Nick Hornby that seemed designed to win him applause for his cleverness yet leave him the out of claiming he was being ironic if anyone called him on it.

    Taken out of context, at least, he's wrong. Books can improve our lives.
    ==============
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
    http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Peter, that was his point.

    I just don't feel you should call him an ass because of my quote- you can call me an ass instead.

    To pass judgment on Hornby, I feel that you should read "Housekeeping vs. the Dirt", which is only perhaps 80 pages. That is where the quote/paraphrase came from. It is his collected monthly writing for The Believer magazine on "What I read this Month", a way of writing about books that he is reading because he wants to read them rather than because some publisher wants a good quote for a book jacket, etc.

    I would be very happy to hear what you have to say about the book, and I won't argue with your opinion, whatever it is (and whether I agree with it or not).

    Jim
    http://nearlynothingbutnovels.blogspot.com/
    http://greenchemistry.wordpress.com/

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  10. Dear mn yano, thaks for the kind reponse! Jim

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  11. MIGUEL TORGA

    THE PLOUGHMAN OF THE WRITING

    A SHARED PATH

    In the 1st centenary of his birth

    BY CRISTÓVÃO DE AGUIAR

    A GREAT SMALL BOOK

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  12. I liked what I read of Beowulf. (I admit that I skimmed parts of it.) It also seems to rank high on the list of books that people have said to have read but haven't.

    It seems that everyone is having the same conversation. Fall must be reading season.

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  13. Thanks for reading and commenting. I have to get back to Beowulf, too! Jim

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