How to survive that book-to-movie matinee

Every time a big book becomes a big movie (see recently: Divergent, Catching Fire, and The Hobbit), my library’s holds list becomes full of people who want to read the book, and my library becomes full of people upset that we don’t have the book because they have to read it before they can go see the movie. But I have a secret that I share with them, and now with you, that helps make them happier in the short- and long-term:

You should watch the movie first.

I know, I know, it seems like blasphemy, especially coming from a librarian, but I have seen a lot of movies based on books, and 95 percent of the time? The book is better. (The other 5 percent? Movies like the amazing Stardust.) Why rush to read a book so good they made a movie out of it just to get to the theater and be disappointed? Watch the movie, be entertained, and then grab the book later, after the library’s holds list is shorter and you’ve probably forgotten most of the movie, and enjoy it at your own pace.

“But I have to read the book first because I won’t know what’s going on!” Movies are, generally speaking, made to appeal to the widest possible audience. Movie studios know that there are going to be people in the theater who have read the book seventeen times since breakfast and are dressed up in custom-made costumes, and also people who got to the theater at 7:45 and this was the only movie playing and they said, eh, okay, why not? You are probably somewhere in between these extremes, and so you should be fine. There are notable exceptions (e.g. all of the Harry Potter movies except Prisoner of Azkaban), but even those are going to at least be fun to watch, and hey, you’ll pick up the rest of the story when you read the book later!

“But I know they’re going to change a lot to make this 800-page book into a three-hour movie and I want to know the right story going in!” Do you? Do you really? The movie studio is going to cut out or change or add characters and plotlines and change people’s eye colors or skin colors and you’re going to know each and every time what they’ve done “wrong”. Would you rather come out of the movie thinking, “Man, that would have been great if only they hadn’t CUT OUT MY FAVORITE TERTIARY CHARACTER, those jerks”, or finish the book thinking, “Man, that tertiary character was really awesome, I hope she comes back in the sequel!”?

“But what about that crazy twist? You’ll ruin the crazy twist if you see the movie first!” Well, sure, but you’ll ruin it for the movie if you read the book first, so. There’s no getting away from the book-to-movie with the crazy twist. But personally, when I read a book with a crazy twist, I have a hankering to go back and read the book again later to see if the twist was really crazy, or if I should have seen it coming the whole time. If you already know that the twist is coming, you can save yourself that second set of reading hours for another book!

“But I already read the book when it came out five years ago! I can’t unread it now!” An unfortunate truth. You can’t go around not reading books because they might someday be made into movies or you’re just never going to read any books. But you also don’t want to be the girl watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the theater and staring baffledly at your best friend who is loving the movie while you’re thinking, “Wait, did that even happen in the book? I don’t remember that happening. And why are we leaving this scene, we can’t be done yet, I don’t understand what’s going on!” (Not that I speak from experience.) You’re going to have to exercise judgment, here — if you think it’s going to be one of those blockbuster movies that hits the high points at the expense of explaining what’s going on, it might be best to re-read it before going (see: HBP) and just remember that the movie is not going to be as good. Otherwise, I recommend attempting to forget the story entirely so that you can watch the movie as a movie, whether by hypnosis or by waiting for the movie to show up on Netflix in a few months.

If you find yourself consistently disappointed with film adaptations after you’ve gone to all the trouble of reading the book, try the Watch It First technique for a few movies and see how quickly your movie-going life changes!

Sounds and Moving Pictures

So it’s been two weeks since my last post here, which seems like eight billion years in internet time. It’s not that I don’t have books and stories that I want to talk your faces off about, but instead that I have yet again embarked on the terrible journey that is called Having a New Job.

Having a New Job is always a bit exhausting, what with all the learning that has to get done, but this one’s a bit rougher on account of doing my training literally within sight of Georgia in a gorgeous historic town, which doesn’t sound too rough until you consider that I live on the complete other side of the next county over, so I’ve got two hours a day of just sitting in my car to contend with.

Although, actually, this can be nice because it means I can still listen to some of my beloved podcasts, if not all. Here are the best ones that made the cut:

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
I basically consider a week unstarted if I haven’t heard Carl Kasell’s voice reading ridiculous limericks, and also this show is helpful for keeping up with the news in Florida.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
My other NPR bookend, this show comes out on Fridays and includes lively discussion about TV, movies, books, comics, and German art song, which is basically all I need in life.

Literary Disco
This is a new podcast whose backlist I am currently working through — I picked it up because Rider Strong but I’ve stuck with it because he and his co-hosts have really awesome thoughts and opinions on books and stories.

ABC Book Review
I of course have to give some love to my awesome friends Beth and Cari up in Ohio, who delight me on a semi-regular basis with what always starts as book talk but often veers off into entirely different territory by podcast’s end.

Another book podcast of awesomeness, with three hosts whose tastes more or less line up with mine, except when one of them really likes Castle (it’s been four years and I am still not over it).

Books on the Nightstand
Because I don’t get enough talk of books in other podcasts or at work at the library. I love the way Ann and Michael interact with each other and with their audience, and how they provide a publishing perspective that I otherwise would not hear.

When I’m not working or driving slash listening to podcasts, I’m often trying to read but instead zoning out in front of my phone playing Candy Crush (sad but true) or in front of my giant television, which has been bringing me a couple of quality shows as of late!

Holy crap, Luther. I knew basically nothing about this show going in except that it was supposed to be fantastic. I have one episode left to go in season two and while I would say that whoever said “fantastic” was technically correct, I think the better term would be “absolutely batshit bonkers.” It all started off so normal, and now I am just like WTF basically every other scene. Every scene? Somewhere between those two. It’s a crime show about a detective (Luther) with Issues, and the first episode features Luther attempting to solve a surprisingly perfect murder. If intriguing murder mysteries are your thing (they are very much mine), I would recommend giving this a go.

Under the Dome
At one time in my past I was a devoted follower of the Church of Read it First, but then I realized that if the book is better, you should probably read it second so that you can like the movie or the TV show or whatever on its own merits. Also, sometimes I am too lazy for a Stephen King doorstop, or at least more than one in a twelve-month period. So when I found out that this show existed, I gave it a shot, and now I am kind of obsessed. I’ve heard other talking about how awesome the book is and how they’ve changed quite a bit between it and the series, so of course now I’m going to have to go read the book later, but I think the show is doing a fantastic job of killing me with tension. It’s also doing a good job of subverting my expectations with regards to several plot points, so it’s definitely a DVR keeper.

Someday I’ll get back to reading, but until then, do y’all have any suggestions for other things I can fill my commute and/or my brain-dead evenings with?

Alive and Well and Reading at the Beach

2013-06-30 08.49.50

I was totally going to post things for you this week, but when I’m not working my life looks a little like this, because it’s 4th of July week at the in-laws’ beach house! My favorite sister-in-law is also in town (I have two, but she’s the one who’s here, so she wins!), and so there have also been board games and card games and general mayhem. I will see you guys next week!

Happy New Year!

It’s that time again, the time when I look back on my year of reading and think, “I could have done better.” Not that my year of reading was bad; actually, I’ve read a ton of awesome books this year, including some potential faves forever. But, you know, I could have not read that one terrible book or I could have read more books in translation or I could have listened to more audiobooks or whatever. It happens.

I’m also looking back on my year of blogging and thinking, “Goodness, it’s like I haven’t been here at all!” I was all sorts of energetic last January, even reserving the right to become more ambitious with the blog! Oh, how I laugh at my one-year-younger self. She’s so precious.

Obviously I’m terrible at resolutions, so I’m just going to say that this year I plan to keep on reading and keep on letting you guys know what I think about the things I read, and if inspiration strikes I may write other things from time to time. I think I can handle that. 🙂

Well, I’d better get started on writing about all the books I read while on winter break, so for now I will leave you with this list of five books that I read in 2012 that you should absolutely go read right now if you haven’t already.

The List
1. Gone Girl. All your friends have read it, so even if you hate it (which I hear is possible), at least you’ll be able to hate it loudly with other people?
2. The Fault in Our Stars. Because you need to have read a John Green book in your life, and this one’s probably the most universal.
3. A Confederacy of Dunces. The inanity of the book will break your brain, but it will make you feel much better about your own life.
4. The Man from Primrose Lane. This book will also break your brain, but in a completely different way.
5. The Phantom Tollbooth. I read the annotated version this year, but you can skip that and go straight to the unadulterated original, which is far and away my favorite book ever.

Books That Followed Me Home

I haven’t done a “Books I Put on Hold” post in a while, largely because we haven’t been cataloging many books since the end of the fiscal year. Now they’re coming back full force, which is awesome! This time I’m not leaving them on hold forever, because then I forget why I was excited about them in the first place, so I do actually have a small stack of books to talk about today. Let’s see what they are!

The Joy of X, by Steven Strogatz. I actually put this book on the purchasing list for my academic library, but I can check it out longer from the public library so that’s where I got it! I’m a sucker for math and and especially popular math (see: The Drunkard’s Walk), and this book promises to tell me how best to flip my mattress and how many people I should have dated before I got married — I hope that answer won’t get me in trouble with Scott. 🙂 I’m excited for this one.

11/22/63, by Stephen King. I’m less excited for this one because it’s so dang long, but I’m reading it for my book club and they’re all saying that it’s fantastic and goes quickly, so fingers crossed! Even though I’ve developed a new appreciation for Mr. King since the last time he infiltrated my book club, I’m not sure I care enough about JFK to get into this one. I guess I’ll find out in a couple weeks!

How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman. You won’t see a post about cookbooks around here, because I’ve never figured out how to talk about them. “These recipes look yummy!” “I made two of these recipes and one was pretty okay!” Yeah, that sounds terrible. But I do read them, and every once in a while I get around to making a recipe out of one, and sometimes they’re decent! And this one looks especially awesome, because in addition to the recipes it also tells you, well, how to cook everything so that it comes out the way it’s supposed to. I can’t guarantee I’ll do it right anyway, but now I’ll have a fighting chance. 🙂

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. This is a book I’ve been avoiding because I’m not so well-versed in the horror-y things, but I read a lot of blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts and this series has come up a lot recently with Hallowe’en and all. If fall ever comes back to Florida (today’s high: 77), I may grab some hot chocolate and try this one out.

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Emma Thompson. I… love Emma Thompson. I also read all of Beatrix Potter’s books as a child. Is there anything else to say about this one?

What do you guys have stacked up this week?

RIP is over; fall is here!

The weird thing about doing RIP in Florida is that for most of those two months I’m reading spooky novels set in drafty old houses or whatever while still maintaining a suntan and running the air conditioning. But Mother Nature (and possibly a bit of Sandy?) stepped in at the last minute to make my Hallowe’en week relatively freezing. I’m talking sweater weather, people! It has been lovely.

Wednesday night was especially fun; Scott and I went over to his uncle’s house to pass out candy since all the kids in our apartment complex skedaddle to real neighborhoods to trick-or-treat and since Scott’s cousin is five and is the adorable-est and we don’t spend nearly enough time with her. Last year she got scared by a costume that a lot of people were wearing, so we didn’t see her much, but this year she made it through the candy-getting portion of the evening just fine and decided to help us out with the candy-giving portion afterward. She made sure to give everyone exactly two pieces of candy, but we still managed to run out of a giant tub of fun-size candy bars as seen in the awesome phone picture below.

Alison and Scott

Seriously, I do not know where all the candy went. There were a lot of kids out, apparently!

I had tried to finish off RIP the right way by finally getting around to the rest of The Graveyard Book on audio, but apparently I did a terrible job of ripping the CDs and several of the tracks were three seconds long instead of three minutes, so that didn’t happen. Instead I convinced Scott to watch Clue with me, which was awesome for me because OMG Clue, but Scott was like, it’s okay.

I was thinking about posting a review of the movie like I did for Dial M for Murder, but that review would basically be a list of all the delightful quotable bits of the movie, which is basically the entire movie, and that just didn’t seem exciting. But really, if you haven’t seen Clue, go do that, because it’s wonderful. It’s possibly more delightful the second or fifth or hundredth time, though, so if you have seen Clue, go watch it again. It’s on Netflix streaming as of Hallowe’en, so you have practically no excuse.

To make a long story short (too late!), the weather forecast is predicting temperatures not conducive to hot chocolate drinking for the next couple of weeks, but fortunately I still have a pile of not-yet-read RIP books to keep me company until the library demands them back. And then I’ll just add them to the list for next year! So thank you, Carl, for keeping my imagination cool and terrified; I can’t wait to do it again. 🙂


Hello blog friends! I feel like I’ve been absent forever, even though it’s only been a couple weeks. I haven’t been doing much book-reading, so I haven’t had anything to talk about!

Except that, oh, right, it’s RIP time and I totally have things to talk about! My lack of books lately stems partly from the fact that I have been kind of obsessively watching television, and luckily for me said television is totally RIP-appropriate. Here’s a synopsis of what’s been invading my brain lately (possible spoilers if you haven’t seen these things yet!):

Doctor Who
omg Doctor Who. I was a little nervous going into this half-season because it had been so long since the end of the last one, and because I knew that the format was going to be very different — standalone episodes rather than the giant season-long arc that I enjoyed so much last time. And indeed, I was a little iffy on the relative shallowness of the stories, but at the same time it was nice not to have any cliffhangers! Of the five episodes, I’d have to say my favorites were the first, Asylum of the Daleks, and the last, The Angels Take Manhattan. Asylum I liked largely for the character played by Jenna Louise Coleman, who will be back at Christmas to play the new companion. If said companion is anything like Oswin, or is somehow Oswin (you never know with this show), I will be very very delighted. Angels, on the other hand, I liked for all the most RIP-y reasons, like mystery and noir and time travel and scary Weeping Angels. The only downside is that both Scott and I were very very sad for about two days after watching this episode. Strangely, that just makes me like this show even more…

I had tried to watch this show maybe a couple of years ago, but I didn’t make it past the first two episodes. They were okay, but not something I was super-interested in. Even when I started seeing star Colin Ferguson everywhere, and found out that Cool People Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day were involved, I was like, maybe. Then Scott got a hold of it and watched two and a half seasons in seemingly no time at all, and I was like, hey, wait, let me catch up to you and we can watch it together! And, yes, the first few episodes were still only kind of okay, but two seasons in I am hooked. I really like the characters and the way they interact with each other, I am amused by the weird and implausible science, and I like the way the show has several different large mysteries to solve so that it’s always making progress on something. I wouldn’t call this great television, but it is fun and absorbing and often delightful.

Okay, so I’m not really technically watching this show, but Scott is (are we noticing a pattern here?), and so I’ve overheard a lot of it while doing other things. I really did not like the first few seasons of this show, and so avoided it, but Scott showed me some of the funnier and meta episodes (i.e. one that takes place at basically a Supernatural convention, one that manages to takes place on the set of Supernatural) and I thought those were wonderful. The show does funny really well; I watched in full a few episodes toward the end of last season that involved a main character being possessed by Lucifer, but instead of Lucifer being, like, standard evil, he was more like little-brother evil, singing terrible songs and being generally annoying. This season I’m back to overhearing things, but maybe once they get rid of the teenager (or bring back Misha Collins, my favorite!) I’ll be interested again.

Got any more fun and/or weird shows for me to watch? My books might not thank you, but I will!

Books I Put on Hold This Week

This week’s theme is apparently “Books I Do Not Know Anything About.” But that’s okay, because sometimes it’s the books I go into blindly that end up being the awesomest! (She said, optimistically.)

Shadow ShowShadow Show, ed. by Sam Weller. Well, so, first of all, who can resist that cover? Very cool. Second of all, who can resist the call of Ray Bradbury? Not these authors, apparently, and since I love me some Atwood, Gaiman, and Niffenegger, I can’t imagine I’m not going to have a fun time with this collection. And it’s a perfect read for RIP! Isn’t serendipity wonderful?

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. I think I had vaguely heard of this novel when it came out, but I had no interest in it at the time. Then I saw a blurb about the upcoming movie in an Entertainment Weekly I had bought to stave of airport boredom, and the movie looked kind of weird and not like something I would really want to see. But then I saw that the book apparently goes back and forth between time and narrator and I was like, oh, reeeaally? I am such a sucker for that, and I’m more willing to put up with weird in books than movies, so I guess I can give this one a try!

The Prisoner of HeavenThe Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Okay, seriously, I can’t tell you anything about this one, except that I loved Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and thought The Angel’s Game was pretty okay, and so therefore I am reading this one. Okay, let me cheat and go look up a summary… aha! Our friend Daniel from the first novel is back in his rightful spot as protagonist, and I am promised a “mysterious stranger” and a “dangerous adventure.” Well, that settles that.

What are you guys waiting for this week?

Books I Put on Hold This Week

Wow, I feel like I haven’t been around here in ages! I just got back from a fantastic tiny-cruise-ship vacation to Glacier Bay in Alaska, which I must say I highly recommend, largely because I was too busy having fun to get any reading done. Weeeellllll, okay, I did read quite a bit, but it was in The Stand, so even though I read like 500 pages I am far from finishing that one. 🙂

But mostly I was doing this:

Kayaking in front of Lamplugh Glacier
No big.

Anyway, my point is that when I got back to the library there were tons of new books to put on hold, and so I did just that! Here is a sampling of interesting things:

The InvestigationThe Investigation, by Philippe Claudel. Well, so, first, that cover! So cool. And then there was the description, which sounds incredibly boring: “The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. … The Investigator’s train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, there’s no one to pick him up at the station. It is alternating rain and snow, it’s getting late, and there are no taxis to be seen.” Are you yawning yet? But the book jacket also promises me something akin to Kafka, Beckett, and Huxley, so I’m pretty sure that tedium is going to lead to something quite intriguing.

The Other Woman's HouseThe Other Woman’s House, by Sophie Hannah. I feel like I’ve heard of Sophie Hannah before, and I feel like whatever I heard of her made me not want to read her stuff. If that’s the case, don’t tell me, because this book sounds really interesting and I’d like to give it a fair shot. In this one, some lady is browsing real estate listings when she comes across an image of a horribly dead person in one of the houses. But when she tries to show someone else the picture, it’s mysteriously devoid of dead body. What the what?? Tell me more!

Other Worlds Than TheseOther Worlds Than These, by John Joseph Adams. I love me some parallel world stories, and someday I am going to read another short story collection — hey, maybe it’ll be this one! I love the theme, and I am intrigued to see what these authors have to offer. I obviously enjoy me some Stephen King, but I’m more excited about the authors I’ve been meaning to get around to reading but haven’t: George R.R. Martin, Ursula K. LeGuin, Catherynne M. Valente.

What books or kayaking adventures are you looking forward to this week?

Books I Put on Hold This Week

Okay, none of these are technically from this week, because there haven’t been a lot of books coming through cataloging lately and also I’ve been busy reading actual books, what? Craziness.

RedshirtsRedshirts, by John Scalzi. This is one from a while ago that I thought I’d have devoured by now, but it hasn’t even been delivered to my library yet so who knows. I actually had a dream the other night that I bought the book when I found it unexpectedly in paperback (I love me some trade paperbacks), and was a little disappointed when I woke up! Why do I want this one? Well, it’s John Scalzi, whom I love for Zoe’s Tale and the rest of the Old Man’s War series, doing a parody of Star Trek and its friends. Red shirts, people, what could possibly go wrong?

BlackbirdsBlackbirds, by Chuck Wendig. Just look at that cover! It’s so pretty! Also, the plot — there’s a girl who can see how people die, and she meets a dude whose death is gruesome and murder-ful and while he’s dying he’s calling her name. She’s all whatever about other people dying, but when she might be the next victim, she starts to care a bit.

Gone GirlGone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. So I read Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, a couple years back, and it was icky and gross and weird and I didn’t particularly like it. But I did like the writing, and I was willing to give her another chance (though I never did), and I’ve heard so many good things about this book from people I trust that I guess it’s time to hang out with Flynn again.

What are you guys waiting on?