The Momentum Blog
Posted April 23, 2015 by Eve Merrier
Last week I came to a point in my life where I thought I had too many books. I’m talking physical books here. Thankfully no one can see how stuffed my ereader is and its fullness doesn’t affect how easy it is to walk around my house, unlike the paperback pile-up. Then I realised I was being ridiculous. There is no such thing as too many books, just not enough bookshelves. That’s more easily rectified than parting with my tomes.
Having bought my wall-sized shelving monolith, the issue was how to arrange my books. I have a good deal of book arranging experience from my time in libraries. The Dewey system is a clear option for the non-fiction, but that did feel a little too much like work. My home is not a library. Yet.
It would be sensible to have the fiction alphabetically by author, but that just created a multi-coloured wall that was rather hard on the eyes. Also, it felt a lot like work.
It briefly crossed my mind to have it thematically, organised by similarities and genre, but that seemed too much like pigeon-holing works that deserved more.
So I went with the only solution that made sense to me. I organised them by colour. And, my goodness, is it beautiful.
It’s a rainbow of absolute joy, and very easy on the eyes, so simple to see what’s where. I also learnt that I have a lot of white and cream books, very few greens and a lot of mauve and purple. I wonder if that shows a genre preference or a shopping prejudice?
It was lovely to do and involved minimal admin and no cataloguing whatsoever. It was the ideal librarian’s day off.
How do you arrange your books?Tagged: alphabetical, book covers, Books, bookshelves, Dewey Decimal system, ereader, library, organising by colour, reading, too many books
Posted April 7, 2015 by Eve Merrier
Pet care, military history, even the reference shelf: this guy is going to read a book from each of them. Robert Sedgwick wants to expand his reading, and to promote his local library. He decided the best way to do this was to read a book from each bookcase in the library – there are 133 bookcases, by his count – and blog about it here. He has over 20,000 books to choose from.
As with any self-imposed Herculean challenge, one must set oneself some rules:
Firstly, he defined a bookcase:
‘For my purposes a bookcase is a set of parallel horizontal shelves with vertical sides. As soon as you cross a vertical line it’s another bookcase. Tables of books laid flat I will treat as one bookcase.’
Then a book:
‘I will only read English prose/poetry books, so things like telephone directories and dictionaries which are not meant for reading I won’t consider as books, likewise audio cds and recordings of people reading books are not for this project. If there are no valid books on a bookshelf then I will ignore that shelf.
If possible I will not read any book or author I have read before and I will select books at least 150 pages long. I’ll only break this rule if there is no other choice on the bookshelf.
My intention is to stick to the adult library and not to select books from the children’s section.’
He also states that if he is utterly loathing the chosen book he reserves the right to abandon it and choose a different title from the same bookcase. Very wise.
He started at the beginning of the year so is already 19 shelves into the challenge. He began at the front door and is working his way around the library in an anti-clockwise direction, gradually spiralling into the centre. He’s been through true crime, thrillers, young adult and book of the week. You can take a virtual tour of his chosen library here to get a sense of what he has in store.
As a person who works in libraries I have two things to say about this:
1. Everyone should look around sections in the library they don’t often visit – there are hidden gems and Dewey-decimal quirks that mean you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Ask the people working there for recommendations – we know where the buried treasure is (and we’ve read half of it)!
2. Also, keep going back to your favourite sections because libraries are constantly getting new books, either brand new or circulated from around the county. They don’t all go on the ‘new titles’ section to make sure you go to the shelves and see the older stuff too. We want you to take out a new book and an old favourite!
What do you think of Robert’s idea? Could you do it? Is there a section you’d never consider taking a book from? Comments please!Tagged: book blog, Books, bookshelves, challenges, crime, Dorking Library, First Off the Shelf, library, reading, Surrey Libraries, thriller, young adult
Posted February 3, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
Gaelland is a nation gripped by fear.
In the country, fishing boats return with their crews mysteriously vanished, while farms are left empty, their owners gone into the night, meals still on the table. In the cities, children disappear from the streets or even out of their own beds. The King tells his people that it is the work of selkies – mythical creatures who can turn from seals into men and back again – and witches. But no matter how many women he burns at the stake, the children are still being taken. Fallon is a man who has always dreamed of being a hero. His wife Bridgit just wants to live in peace and quiet, and to escape the tragedies that have filled her life. His greatest wish and her worst nightmare are about to collide. When an empty ship sails into their village, he begins to follow the trail towards the truth behind the evil stalking their land. But it is a journey that will take them both into a dark, dark place and nobody can tell them where it might end …
The Last Quarrel Episode One is now for sale. All other episodes are available for pre-order.
Tagged: Books, cover reveal, fantasy, fiction, reading
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Posted January 23, 2015 by Eve Merrier
This week I read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s very special. One of its best qualities is the blend of ordinariness with the fantastical. This is epitomised by the eponymous ocean, which looks like a duck pond. It struck me that all the best means of travel through space, time, and various other dimensions, are ordinary. Or at least they look it. That’s the joy of it: bringing the magic into the real world, making it feel like you just have to find the right wardrobe…
Narnia is a good place to start. The wardrobe is, of course, the most iconic means of reaching Aslan’s realm, but you can also get there via train platforms, with magical rings given to you by a sinister uncle, or through a picture in your aunt and uncle’s spare bedroom.
Fireplaces work well too. Not to take you to a different world, but to travel around Harry Potter’s version of our own. The traveller also needs to be in possession of Floo powder and to speak the name of the place they want to go to. Apparently, it’s also important to keep your elbows in. I think I might start telling children that Santa Claus is Dumbledore’s brother, travelling by Floo.
The TARDIS may be iconic these days, but the UK used to be covered in police boxes, so it was a subtle way to travel. The interiors of the boxes used to be used as mini police stations, so you could, quite easily, plop it down anywhere and step out without anyone batting an eyelid.
Powered by the fire, the innocuous wooden door of Howl’s Moving Castle has a dial to turn, depending on where you’d like to step out. This works no matter where the castle is. The flower meadow, which Howl is showing Sophie for the first time below, is my happy place.
In Yonderland, the funniest TV series in existence, the pantry functions as a portal. Debbie is a suburban English mum, and a bit bored, until and elf appears from her cupboard, insisting that she is The Chosen One and must save Yonderland. Though they’ve lost the scroll that says how she’s supposed to do it. Each episode, they venture through her pantry to a magical realm, ensuring she’s home in time to pick up the kids. Watch a clip.
Fiction is also full of swirling wormholes, rips in time and high tech teleporters. They’re cool too. But I think there’s something truly excellent in using the ordinary as the basis for the extraordinary. The more closely it resembles our world, the easier it is to believe in magic.anime, Books, C. S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, doctor who, fantasy, fiction, Floo, Harry Potter, Howl's Moving Castle, J.K. Rowling, Miyazaki, Narnia, neil gaiman, police box, portals, science fiction, Studio Ghibli, tardis, teleportation, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, time travel, writers, Yonderland
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Posted January 20, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
Love, revenge, secrets – and murder – in a medieval kingdom at war.
A young woman, left alone and destitute after the mysterious death of her mother, plants a sprig of rosemary on her grave and vows, somehow, to bring the murderer to justice. But who can Janna trust with the truth? Even the villein Godric, who wants to marry her, and Hugh, the dashing nobleman, have secrets that threaten her heart and her safety.
In a country torn apart by the vicious civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, Janna needs all her wits and courage to stay alive as she comes closer to those who are determined to silence her forever.
Tagged: Books, cover reveal, Historical Fiction, Janna Chronicles
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Posted January 16, 2015 by Eve Merrier
You’ve heard that enough monkeys with enough typewriters would eventually create the complete works of Shakespeare? Well some people with access to monkeys got a grant, and a computer. Then Hamlet happened. Sorry, that’s not true. Here’s what really occurred:
They put the computer in the monkey enclosure to see what literary masterpiece they might type. It turns out that monkeys really like the letter ‘S’. The six Sulawesi crested macaques, called Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan, typed little else on the five pages they produced. They also mostly destroyed the machine and used it ‘as a lavatory’. Monkeys, we expected more of you.
To look at it from one aspect, the point is not actually to discover if monkeys can do it, but to find out if randomly punched keys, ad infinitum, will create Shakespeare. In fact the origin of the phrase held no mention of monkeys. It’s probably a variation of Aristotle’s example of a book whose text was formed by letters randomly scattered on the ground. Eighteenth and Nineteenth century French mathematicians often discussed the idea of a book which was created by a random splurge of letters from a printing press. It was one of these French number-chiefs, Émile Borel, who brought monkeys into it: he said they could eventually come up with every tome in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
So real life monkeys are no good – they will just pee over everything – and the capacity for monkey concentration is kind of not the point, but how about hypothetical virtual monkeys? A computer generation was set up, in which virtual monkeys typed at random. Each day they created an eighteen or nineteen character string of real words that happen in Shakespeare.
Pretty early on a twenty-one character string, recognisably from Love’s Labour’s Lost appeared:
KING. Let fame, that [wtIA”yh!…
Which looks remarkably like:
KING. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live regist’red upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death.
The record was this from Henry IV, Part 2:
RUMOUR: Open your ears; [9r’5j5…
Which matches the first part of:
RUMOUR: Open your ears; for which of you will not stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?
On average, one character was added to the string each year, so truly infinite (virtual) monkeys, with infinite time and/or greater speed might just pull it off.
Shakespeare’s fab, but we’ve already got Shakespeare. What use is monkey plagiarism? If I had infinite monkeys, I think I’d try and coax them into writing something new. I would like to see infinite monkeys trying to get an agent, securing a publishing deal, and eventually collecting the Booker Prize and making their awards speech. Sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen, so for the moment I’ll stick to reading books written by humans. Reality, you disappoint me sometimes.
Tagged: Books, infinite monkeys, Monkeys and typewriters, reading, Shakespeare, typing, writing
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Posted January 9, 2015 by Eve Merrier
A new year comes with it pressure to make resolutions, and in the reading world, it’s usually, “How many books are you going to read this year?” Personally, I’d rather not set a numerical goal: What if I choose to read Ulysses, then War and Peace? Or one unending tome? I’d rather not race through it to arbitrarily win against myself. I think all reading time is time well spent. Many book bloggers do the number thing beautifully- 50ayear.com, for example – but personally, I’d be terrible at keeping to a target. I’m sure I can’t be the only one.
That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge.
When not writing, editing, or generally spending time on the interweb, I work for the library service. I’d like to introduce you to the brilliant game that we’re all playing in the libraries at the moment. It’s called ‘Book Bingo’.
Here are the rules:
1. You pick a line of six squares. The line can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.
2. For each square, match the description with a book of your choice.
3. Read the six books (not necessarily in row order). Tick them off as you go.
4. Glory in your reading achievements.
This is the Surrey Libraries version of the Book Bingo card. If you happen to be reading this in Surrey, England, I strongly suggest you find yourself a participating local branch. If you’re not, do it just for fun with the shelves of your local bookshops, library, charity shops and the contents of your ereader (perhaps with a few shiny new Momentum titles). You just need to read six books, of your own choosing, in your own sweet time. That’s my kind of challenge.
Book Bingo could inspire you to discover books that you’d never think to try. It’s also a bit of an intellectual challenge: While covering at a charming village library we tried to come up with books set in schools that were suitable for adults (and weren’t Harry Potter). Another brilliant attribute of Book Bingo, and specifically this card, is that it encourages you to ask for recommendations (especially from people who work in libraries – they know their books!). In my opinion, this is the absolute best way to discover new favourites. It also encourages you to chat to other book lovers, which is always a life-affirming treat.
While I’m on the subject, enjoy the sneak peek of my bookshelves in the above picture. I unreservedly recommend 100 Facts About Pandas.
Join me in a game of Book Bingo! Do you want to play? Tweet me @EveProofreads.2015, Book Bingo, Books, challenges, ebooks, libraries, New Year Resolutions, reading, reading games
Posted January 6, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
Alex Morgan is back and he isn’t playing by the rules.
Policeman, soldier and spy for INTREPID, black ops agent Alex Morgan is hunting the Night Witch—the head of a shadowy criminal empire spanning the four corners of the globe and connected to Chinese triads, corrupt cops, and the Russian mafia.
When Morgan’s sent to China to shadow INTREPID’s newest agent, Elizabeth Reigns, he soon discovers she’s been sold out and the triads are after their pound of flesh.
With Reigns in his corner, Morgan must find a way through a complex labyrinth of scattered connections and corporate takeovers to find the real Night Witch, and crush an empire built on trading in human life. But there’s only one problem. To achieve his objective Morgan must confront an enemy he thought was already dead and buried. Will Morgan have what it takes to survive?
action adventure, Books, cover reveal, ebooks, espionage, spy thriller, thriller
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Posted December 24, 2014 by Eve Merrier
The film isn’t as good as the book: that’s what we bibliophile purists are supposed to say, and sometimes it’s true. But it’s Christmas; and, here in merry England, when we’ve eaten too much, the crackers have been cracked, and the Queen’s speech is over, there’s little else to do except settle in and watch some proper Christmas telly. Some of the best are based on books.
There are many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, though none so entertaining and close to its source material as the Muppet version. Dickens was a committed Christmas revivalist. Because of him it is legally obligated to snow in London on Christmas day. This blog post has collated every filmed version of A Christmas Carol they could find. Particularly novel is the 1901 silent film: the earliest adaptation in existence, made just 30 years after the death of Mr Dickens.
Polar Express is based on the book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. He’s the genius who wrote Jumanji. In the book, the train doesn’t stop or slow down on its way to the North Pole, and apparently the kids get nougat to eat, instead of just drinking hot chocolate. There’s a delightfully pedantic website called thatwasnotinthebook.com that nicely summarises the differences for us.
Die Hard begins at a Christmas party on Christmas Eve, his wife’s name is Holly, and John McClane brings us the gift of fighting terrorists who want to ruin Christmas parties with their nonsense. Ergo Christmas film.
It’s based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. Also worth a mention is the Community Die Hard Christmas spoof, which is many levels of special.
We cannot talk about Christmas films without mentioning Raymond Briggs for both The Snowman and Father Christmas. Briggs himself is not a fan of Christmas and feels The Snowman has been hijacked by sentimentalists. The Snowman melts (sorry – spoiler!) to teach children about mortality. The visit to Santa isn’t in the book, and I’m not sure Bowie’s in it either.
Briggs said, “I thought, ‘It’s a bit corny and twee, dragging in Christmas’, as The Snowman had nothing to do with that, but it worked extremely well.” It did indeed.
What are your favourite Christmas films?
Merry Christmas to you all and have a jolly time, as Dickens put it, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”Tagged: A Christmas Carol, Books, Bowie, Christmas, Christmas Films, Community, Dickens, Die Hard, Father Christmas, Polar Express, Raymond Briggs, the Muppets, The Snowman
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Posted November 21, 2014 by Michelle Cameron
When a massive sinkhole opens up and swallows a retired couple from Iowa it seems like a freak occurrence. But it’s not the only one. Similar sinkholes are opening all over the world, even on the sea floor. And they’re getting bigger.
People living near the pits begin reporting strange phenomena—vibrations, sulfurous odors, and odd sounds in the stygian depths. Then the pets begin to go missing.
When people start disappearing as well, the government is forced to act. Professor Matt Kearns and a team of experts are sent in by the military to explore one of the sinkholes, and they discover far more than they bargained for.
From the war zones of the Syrian Desert to the fabled Library of Alexandria, and then to Hades itself, join Professor Matt Kearns as he attempts to unravel an age-old prophecy. The answers Matt seeks are hidden in the fabled Al Azif—known as the Book of the Dead—and he must find it, even if it kills him. Because time is running out, not just for Matt Kearns, but for all life on Earth.
Book of the Dead comes out on December 11 in all good ebook retailers!Tagged: Books, cover reveal, horror
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Posted November 13, 2014 by Eve Merrier
I’ve been reading the gorgeous and fantastical Trinity: The Koldun Code by Sophie Masson. Set in Russia, this got me thinking about all the extraordinary things I’ve heard about that vast country: some even more ridiculous than Putin’s manly photo shoots . These facts about Russia are stranger than fiction and read like writing prompts, or a game of Mad Libs that got out of hand.
Right, I’ll stop Putin it off.
There was a television hoax in 1991 that convinced a solid proportion of the Russian population that Lenin had consumed so many psychedelic mushrooms that he had become a mushroom himself. Someone from the Party had to come out with an official statement which said, ‘Lenin could not have been a mushroom as a mammal cannot be a plant.’ More correctly, it’s a fungi – but Lenin wasn’t! Who wouldn’t read the children’s book ‘Lenin the Mushroom’?
Boris Yeltsin in his pants on Pennsylvania Avenue with a pizza: not a winning guess in Soviet Leader Cluedo, but what happened on a state visit to the USA in 1995. Apparently he’d had a bottle of vodka to himself and had gone out in search of a slice. The secret service escorted him back to his room. Feels like a surrealist short story: actually happened. Please someone write a series wherein world leaders get drunk and go for pizza. Netflix original waiting to happen.
Here’s another fact about Russia to Chekhov your list: 22% of all the trees on Earth are in Russia. That makes for a glorious setting; one quarter of the country is forests. Potentially there are nooks of this vast land that no human has ever been to. Just imagine what could be hiding, then write a fantasy novel about it and sent it to me. Thanks.
Speaking of hiding, secret cities were created in Soviet times, mainly to hide nuclear sites and associated industry. Many of these still aren’t mentioned on maps or in official records and are off-limits to foreign visitors: whole cities, full of people, officially don’t exist. I see a tale of espionage adventures and confused postal workers: the eternal struggle to deliver letters to non-existent addresses.
This is a country that in its history had an actual tax on beards, named vodka after ‘water’, and turned up to the 1908 Olympics 12 days late as they hadn’t quite got the swing of the Gregorian calendar. Russia has a rich and multi-faceted past and present, waiting to be Borodin fiction (borrowed in…sorry that one was tenuous).
If anyone can think of a pun for Gorbachev, please Tweet me @EveProofreads. Cheers!Tagged: beards, Books, children's book, fantasy, forest, Historical, Putin, russia, settings, sophie masson, Trinity: The Coldun Code, vodka, writing prompts
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Posted October 20, 2014 by Patrick Lenton
Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Established in February 2012, we publish high quality ebooks globally. Our website and blog is the hub of our operation, and we’d like to include as many diverse voices as possible. Our blog currently hosts opinions from Momentum employees, authors and other contributors, and now we’d like you to have the chance to have your say about the world of books, writing and reading on the Momentum blog.
We are looking for someone who is interested in books, specifically with an interest in genre fiction (predominantly thrillers, horror, YA/NA and science fiction/fantasy).
What we want from you:
– 4-8 blog posts a month, with a minimum word count of 300 words each
– The posts can cover any topic that you think is relevant to reading, writing, book and storytelling culture and can be in the form of reviews, interviews, author profiles, recaps, catch-ups, re-reads and reader polls – creativity and audience engagement is the main aim
– Preference will be given to a blogger with a relevant social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc)
– Genre bloggers step to the front of the line. If you love romance, science fiction, fantasy and thrillers show us your passion for your genre(s)
What we are offering in return:
– An audience of readers and writers
– $20 per post (minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 posts per month)
– free Momentum ebooks
To apply, send a sample blog post, covering letter and brief resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 27th 2014 with the subject line ‘Momentum Blogger’ and be sure to include your name, city, country of residence and occupation. We welcome applicants from all over the world, but the posts must be in English.
Your sample blog post should be the type of thing you’d be posting on a regular basis (not a hokey introductory post). And of course, if we select you as our resident blogger then you will be compensated accordingly if you decide to use your sample blog post as your first post.
If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments below.
Terms & Conditions
- The winning applicant will be subject to a trial period of one month.
- Posts will be vetted by staff before going live.
- Posts will remain the copyright of the author, however, Momentum will retain an exclusive right to first posting for a period of no less than six months.
- The successful blogger will invoice Momentum monthly for posts within the previous four week period.
- The successful blogger’s contract can be terminated with two week’s notice.
- These conditions are subject to change.
Posted September 12, 2014 by Patrick Lenton
At Momentum, the only thing we like more than the working week, is having a weekend off to get excited about the next working week. So in our infinite largesse, we’ve given you some AMAZING free and cheap-as-free books, available at their current prices for limited times only, to read over the weekend.
When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother. Winner of the ARRA 2013 Favourite Contemporary Fiction Award. Finalist in Romance Writers of Australia Ruby (Romantic Book of the Year) Award 2014.
A brutal massacre. A terrifying madman. Get it FREE.
To celebrate the release of AURORA: MERIDIAN, we’ve discounted AURORA: DARWIN to $0.99 and AURORA: PEGASUS to $2.99.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Tagged: bargain books, Books, cheap books, free books, promotion, weekend reading
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Posted July 15, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke
So when I’m not writing posts here I’m actually living a whole other secret life full of action, teaching secondary students about books and writing and stuff. Kind of like Batman. Just without the hero status and heaps of money. But otherwise just like Batman.
Anyway, one of the enviable tasks I get is to introduce fifteen year olds to the subject of Literature. Which means a type of explanation needs to occur where what distinguishes Literature from ‘normal’ English is clarified, and why the books read in Literature are different to those read in English.
It’s a strange conversation, and it’s noticeable just how much the students struggle to articulate the difference between something that is literary and something that isn’t. To be honest, I’m not sure if I have yet worked out a way of making this point clear. What is clear is that they quickly discover that they need to divide their reading, between what is serious and worthy of study, and what is enjoyable.
I loathe this moment. The point where teenagers feel they must put away childish reading and grow up, as if that’s what literary means. Yet we see this distinction reflected everywhere.
In her piece for Slate, ‘Against YA’, Ruth Graham argues that adults should be embarrassed for reading a novel targeted for a younger audience. Titles like Divergent and Twilight and The Fault In Our Stars are singled out for being pleasurable yet trivial moments of escapism, and far beneath a mature and ‘adult’ sensibility.
A cursory glance at the book reviews in last weekend’s papers reveals something in the region of seventeen titles that would appear on the literary end of the bookshelf, and three toward the genre end (if one is running with the literary-genre dichotomy). Of the three genre reviews, two are under 200 words long, compared to the 800-plus afforded to the literary reviews. The genre titles are described as ‘taut’, ‘terse’, and ‘well-structured’, whereas the literary are allowed to look at ‘complex and persistently myth-confused questions’, with characters who are ‘witnesses to extraordinary revolutions [yet] resigned to their fate.’
Even more, one of the genre titles is unfavourably held against Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch – which is comparable neither in plot, style or genre – and Charles Willeford, whose entries into the genre have been around long enough to earn literary esteem.
Okay, maybe it was a bad weekend. But I hazard not. We seem unable to escape this idea that one type of book is worthy, and another not. That one type gets all the ink and the awards and the measured reflection, the other is sidelined and measured against redundant standards. One gets festivals, the other conventions.
And when one might stray into the other, there’s short shrift that borders on disdain.
But I think there’s something in this idea that (some) people view genre as childish, and therefore embarrassing to read – as Graham suggested – and that it is a guilty pleasure and we should really be above such indulgences. It’s the moment I see in the classroom, when the students feel like their childhood imagination is being frowned upon.
It’s hard not to see why.
With almost clockwork regularity, the books that top the lists of favourite/best/most acclaimed young fiction are distinctly genre titles. They involve magic, talking animals, imaginary lands made real, wizards and witches and adventures through time and space. There are distinctly dystopian stories, and others that are pure fantasy, others that push magic-realism into childhood imaginations, and collisions between one genre and another, between one real world and one entirely fantastic.
And like that, we ask it all to stop. All these award-winning titles must then be shelved, and we must go and read serious things. And yes I know we don’t, but this is the illusion that is presented. This is the fallacy that is created by calling a subject Literature, by classifying and critiquing one set of stories one way, and others entirely differently.
What is so wrong about the types of stories we read as children that so many are afraid to recognise their worth as adults? Why can we easily view The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe alongside Anne of Green Gables in children’s book lists, yet shudder at Doctor Sleep occupying the same space as The Perfect Scent, as ABC’s The Book Club did recently?
If we consider genre titles to be enjoyable, even necessary for children, there is something in that for us adults. In spite of the limitations of a subject called Literature, the one thing I try to impress on my students is that once upon a time, Romeo and Juliet was popular, genre fiction. As was (and is) Frankenstein. The only reason they can be classified as ‘literary’ now is the good grace of time, and familiarity.
The stories that last are the important ones, and the ones that will last are the ones we read the most. And just like Batman, they may not be the books we feel we need but instead they’re the books we deserve. And keep coming back to.
Tagged: Books, children's books, genre, literary fiction, reading
Posted July 11, 2014 by Mark
We’ve done specials on Star Trek and Doctor Who, now we bring you a special episode all about Game of Thrones! We discuss the TV series and the books with special guests, including former Podmentum host Anne Treasure. This is also Mark Harding’s final episode as host. Oh, and massive spoiler warning for Game of Thrones.
Tagged: audio, Books, Game of Thrones, podcast, podmentum, reading, tv
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Posted July 4, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke
If there was one fascinating thing to take away from Season 4 of Game of Thrones, it was how much the show was beginning to deviate from the books.
With George R.R. Martin giving showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss inside knowledge on the fates of all the major characters (not on the overall storyline, mind you), it’s become an interesting game in itself to take note of how certain moments from the books are kept and others jettisoned. Similarly, particular themes in this latest season have been amplified more, providing perhaps a clearer indication of where the show is heading.
When you combine this with the fact that next season should cover most of the remaining published material, the show is quickly heading into territory that neither the readers nor the TV viewers know anything about. Exciting indeed.
So, in light of that, I decided to survey a bunch of people to see how they thought next season and the rest of the series would pan out.
Of those surveyed, two thirds hadn’t read the books. This is interesting just on its own, showing how much farther the reach of a TV show can be when it captures critical and popular opinion.
Which character won’t survive next season?
Obviously the book readers know what’s up here, but the two characters most expected to be killed off next season were Hodor and Jaime Lannister. Given Hodor’s popularity for a minor role, I can only assume everyone feels GRRM is in the mood to kick a few more puppies, and that might leave Hodor on the chopping block.
Jaime, on the other hand, has run a rather interesting trajectory as a character, and at the moment nobody is entirely sure how to view him. This is not so different from his portrayal in the books, but I think there’s perhaps a touch more sympathy for him there than in the show, and maybe that’s leaving everyone feeling like his time may be up.
Whose storyline are you most interested in next sesaon?
Three standouts here: Arya, Tyrion and Jon Snow.
Jon I think ends up there by default given that his storyline – along with Daenerys – seems the one most closely aligned with the major arc of the series. He is the closest to the white walkers, and that gives his storyline immediacy and validity over, say, whatever Brienne is up to.
Tyrion will always be of interest to viewers of the show, thanks largely to both the writing of the character and Peter Dinklage’s performance. But now that he’s abandoned the cloak and (relative) comfort of his family, and is paired up with Varys, there’s a new dynamic added to his character’s destination which I’m looking forward to.
Arya’s storyline with the Hound was probably the most favoured by the viewers this season, again down to the performances and the writing. The quality of both stands out as well given how little time they actually spent on screen, and how little they had to do. Knowing as well where Arya goes in the books from this point on also leaves me very keen to see how that’s realised in the show next year.
On the other end of the scale, nobody is interested in seeing more of the Boltons and Theon. Can’t imagine why.
Now to the big crystal ball predictions.
Who will end up on the Iron Throne?
Over two thirds seem to think it’ll be Jon or Daenerys. And really, that’s likely as the series does set them up to be predestined for some royal conclusion, one way or the other.
But, the question to ask is whether the relevance of the Throne will still be around come the end of the series, or if the game will become insignificant and the prize meaningless.
Someone also suggested that a different Targaryen might end up on the Throne, but unless the show goes anywhere near that part of the plot from the books next season, I doubt we’ll see it included at all.
Who will the final battle be between?
Half seem to think it’ll be between the white walkers and the dragons.
Considering the series title is A Song of Ice and Fire, this would seem to be a logical guess. Considering that the white walkers are on one side of the map, and the dragons the other, an eventual meeting would also seem to be logical. Considering that Daenerys realises she can’t ride all three dragons and needs others to aid her cause, and that Bran was told in the finale that he will one day fly, this again seems logical. Additionally, this part of the show has seen some interesting deviations that has inevitably prompted much speculation around the internet.
What’s interesting in this is we can see how irrelevant certain plots become. The Greyjoys and Boltons don’t really factor in this equation, nor does Stannis, despite being the current top pick for taking over any available throne. Additionally, Littlefinger’s manipulations don’t seem to extend to controlling dragons. And there’s no love at all for the Lannisters – except Tyrion.
All this points to the possibility of GRRM offering us a story that vanquishes old and corrupt powers, and offers up newer, more morally sound replacements. (If by morally sound we mean people riding dragons and burning undead ice people in all-consuming fire.) And this isn’t that unusual or revolutionary. But as we’ve seen with the story so far, there will surely be many more twists in the tale before we get to the end.
Tagged: Books, Game of Thrones, george rr martin, predictions, tv series, tv show
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