If there is magic anywhere in England it’s in this bookshop. Did I say bookshop? Barter Books is so much more than that- it’s the home of the most intense passion for books that walls can contain. And what great walls they are…
Location, location! Barter Books is one of the biggest secondhand bookshops in England, located in an old Victorian train station in the historical town of Alnwick. The owners, Stuart and Mary Manley, put a lot of passion in creating a world dedicated to old books. They started the shop in 1991 and it has since proved to be such a success that it has been called by the New Statesman magazine “The British Library of secondhand bookshops.” The best landlord in the world and my dear friend Laura brought me there last weekend. It has proved to be an unforgetable trip, something I will probably talk about a lot to everyone that will listen. So please listen… Read the rest of this entry »
As an English student there is a constant battle within me to read the books I really want to read or the books on my syllabus. Sometimes, if I’m taking a literature course, balancing things is impossible (like the time my class was going through one novel every week) but sometimes it’s more flexible and I can squeeze in some favorites. I normally try to read two things at one: one for school and one for myself (it helps keeping my sanity intact). If I happen to read British classics for school, I try and make my choice something completely different, like sci-fi or something (although that rarely happens).
This term things are a bit different since I’m not studying literature at all, but media. However, there is loads to read (textbook chapters, articles, massive amounts of googling to be done). This gives me the possibility to read more literature of my choice. Happy days ahead! Read the rest of this entry »
Except the book is not dead yet. As a matter of fact, far from it. The electronic vs. paper books seems to be a popular debate for today’s avid readers. Should we get our intake of literature from ink or pixels? Well… why choose just one option when you can have both? This is not going to be about the ongoing discussion where “the real book feels better in my hands and I like the smell of paper”, although I wholeheartedly agree. This is about what goes beyond personal preference and the olfactory sense. Read the rest of this entry »
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I don’t understand something, so it must be wrong.
It sounds funny when you read that, doesn’t it? Imagine a world where everything you don’t understand has no value and is disregarded. You can’t figure out how your computer works? Better get that pen and paper out. You don’t have the slightest idea about plumbing and running water? Better start digging that well. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Not everything we don’t understand is bad or wrong. Being a skeptic is a healthy attitude most of the time, but we can’t blindly go around the world saying this and that is wrong just because we can’t figure it out. The same analogy goes for taste: just because YOU think it’s bad, doesn’t mean it really is. It only means it’s not for you. Which is fine.
I could name tens or even hundreds of authors that were promised they will never get published, or artists that were told that they will never make it, all now renowned in their chosen field. In contrast, not everything you like is of real importance to the humanity (after all, ´´guilty pleasure´´ books didn’t get their nick name from nothing). Read the rest of this entry »
I recently had a very interesting conversation with a friend regarding books both of us abandoned for various reasons. The majority of these reasons, it comes as no surprise, were along the lines of not liking the book after all or getting bored middle way. While these sound like legitimate reasons to close a book and call it a day, I admitted in having some very peculiar examples of my own. Here are my four books that I really liked, but never finished: Read the rest of this entry »
I have been waiting for this book for what can only seem to a Neil Gaiman fan such as myself an eternity. I have been talking about it to my friends, telling them how fantastic it will be, and how I couldn’t wait for it to finally be released. And then a thought crawled to my mind: what if it wasn’t going to be as good as I expected it to be? What if I was getting hyped about it only to get disappointed? The day I finally got the book I couldn’t wait to get home, so I started reading it on the train, horrified by a literary as well as a personal self-esteem catastrophe (I had been spending my days talking about the book and recommending it to virtually everyone I met). I am here to say (write) that I was wrong in thinking that this book could ever be bad or even mediocre. Oh so wrong….
Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane is everything I was looking forward to and much more. What I was expecting was a high level of craft. Gaiman’s writing leaves me hypnotized, drawing me into a fantasy world that is so delicately created it almost sounds plausible. As a literature student I always enjoyed paying special attention not only to what he writes, but HOW he writes it. There is that special feeling, that ‘’magical’’ something in the air as you read the book. Read the rest of this entry »
I am a huge fan of the “creepy” literature genre. And in that category I believe there is only one person that does it right: Tim Burton. I liked his movies ever since I was very young. One of the best memories regarding Burton is from when I was much younger, and was watching The Corpse Bride on TV. I was giggling, and I remember my mother reading something next to me while making nasty remarks from time to time. ´´How can you watch that? It’s disgusting´´. But soon enough she started giggling too and we ended up laughing together at the amusing ´´kinda-dead´´ characters. The episode had quite an impact on me and my way of thinking of a ´´good creepy movie´´, and ever since then I tried my very best to keep up with his stuff. I find it to be magic, funny, smart, and creepy just enough to make it interesting and detach it from the rest. And here I don’t mean movies only.
Yesterday I gave in and bought a book that was tempting me for quite a while: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories´´. I am not a big fan of poetry and verse in special, but this was such an experience I might just change my mind about that. The book is rather small, you can read it over lunch, like I did, trying not to laugh out loud. Read the rest of this entry »
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a very special picture book written by Chris Van Allsburg in 1984. “A picture book?”, you are probably asking now. Well hold on a second! This book is something much more than just that. If you answered my title question with a ´´No´´, looking all confused at your monitor, let me enlighten you on who Harris Burdick is. First of all, he is a fictional character. His story goes like this: One day Mr. Burdick, the prolific writer that he was, went to a publisher called Peter Wenders with a collection of 14 illustrations. After proudly telling him that he has a story for every illustration, as well as many more where those cme from, he was informed by Mr. Wenders that he would love to publish his work. But Mr. Burdick, the tricky thing that he was, did something that would drive any publisher insane. While Mr. Wenders was dreaming of fortune and glory, looking greedily at the 14 illustrations, Mr. Burdick did something very very rude: he never came back. So now Mr. Wenders was left with a sad-looking deadline and 14 illustrations together with their titles and short captions from the texts. But not the stories! Wait a minute! People can make the stories. So many people did their own stories, based on the Burdick illustrations, titles and captions. Some were scary, some were emotional, some perhaps a little dull.
Did this raise your interest? Well then I will spice it all up a little bit by telling you that the author of this amazing book, Chris Van Allsburg, wrote and illustrated Jumanji and The Polar Express. Now you know who wrote this. Now you even know who Harris Burdick is. You are very welcome!
If your answer to my question was a knowledgeable´´ YES! Everyone knows who Harris Burdick is. ‘Doh.´´ ,well then you have to calm yourself ! Do not worry though, this blog entry will not be about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, but about The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. This is a collection of short stories based on the original illustrations. The authors involved in the project are: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate Dr. Camillio, Cory Doctorow,Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire,Walter Dean Myers,Linda Sue Park,Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Allsburg himself. It is a great collection of short stories that are appropriate for children (most of them, some could be a tiny bit scary or hard to understand; this is of course depending on the age). Read the rest of this entry »