Book Challenge: Rule Britannia, Numerous, Illustrations

What's On the Bookshelf?

Day 19: Book that turned you on

I like books that force me to read other things, be it to get a better understanding of the setting, or just because I’m interested. I have a small library of books about Nelson’s navy, purchased and acquired because of my interest in that time period, spurred on by Patrick O’Brian and CS Forester.
Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times

To be honest, I have no idea. I’ve read the Harry Potter books scores of times. Lord of the Rings, same thing. Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander…all of these books I’ve read at least seven times.

Probably the first Harry Potter book, though. I think I’ve read that one twenty times at least. I’m not sure. I’ve lost count.
Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood

I loved Jan Brett’s books, like The Trouble with Trolls. Her illustrations are beautiful. Lively, energetic and funny, what more does a children’s book need?

That, of course, is a secondary storyline often featuring a hedgehog. This storyline is illustration only, and takes place in the margins of the book. So adorable. I still love looking at the books, reading them, and admiring the paintings.

Thesis Update: Midpoint Revelations on The Prisoner

Thesis Updates

One week ago tomorrow, I turned in the half completed portion of my thesis (which will probably end up meaning its but a third completed, as I have a lot I still wish to discuss).

A huge relief in passing the thing in. I’ll have roughly a month before jumping back in, but during that month I’ll be rewatching The Prisoner, either for fun or actually picking out arguments for the thesis, along with writing up an appendix with brief descriptions of each episode. Why? Well, its a cult show. I think probably about 7 people on my entire campus have seen it start to finish, and that’s a liberal guess. Unfortunately, if I say I’m writing about The Prisoner, if someone’s heard of it, they assume its the remake. No no no.

I’ve learned three things while writing this first half (all of which can be named with the letter “P”):

Planning

I’m not generally a fly by the seat of my pants person when it comes to writing papers. I need to gather data, make outlines (of a sort) and need an idea before I can really start working.

Persistence

Ah, the essay known as “The Essay of a Thousand Directions.” Each time I met with my supervisor, I had a different topic in mind. “I’ll do a character study of Number 6 using Cambell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces! Oh, I’ll look at the stifling of individuality in The Village! The presentation of The Village as a prison! Ooh! Ooh! New shiny topic! So many topics my supervisor suggested I just write my doctoral dissertation on this…(not going for my doctorate at this time…)

Well, while reading sources and brainstorming, I persisted in my quest to come up with an original topic. Though not my entire paper, I’m looking into the perversion of childhood signs in the show.

For next semester, I’m keeping on target, working hard and finishing this paper up.

Passion

Roughly seven months into this project, and I still enjoy working on it. I still love The Prisoner. I’m happily devoted to this project. It interests me and continues to hold my interest. That, and I care deeply about writing it well.

My friends see this project as bordering on obsessive. So what if it is? It’s fun.

 

Here’s to the upcoming semester. May it be fruitful! And may Christmas break be restful. 🙂

Happy Deathday, Mr Dahl

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters
Roald Dahl

From Wikipedia. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten

Roald Dahl died 20 years ago today, 23 November 1990.

What can I say about one of my favorite writers that hasn’t been said before?

Roald Dahl, the writer who continues to weave his way through my life. As a child, I loved his books. I wanted powers like Matilda’s. I loved the story of the BFG. My sister had a Book On Tape of it, and we listened to that story on car rides to visit my grandparents or on family vacations. In elementary school, we read James and the Giant Peach during a very long fire drill. As a young child, I read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator first, and never forgot those Vermicious Knids.

But then I hit that barren wasteland of middle school, where it was no longer cool to love his books. They were kids’ stuff, to be regulated to a far corner, to the back of our minds, to be remembered fondly but never admitted.

High School brought a return to the awesome. My prom theme was Golden Ticket, styled after the Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, complete with golden tickets, candy everywhere, and a (fake) chocolate waterfall. But still, I ignored the books.

Cue sophomore year of college. My roommate, the fantastic Holmes, got a copy of a collection of his adult short stories. She made me read “Genesis and Catastrophe”. I was hooked on the way my stomach felt after reading that story. I began to read more, to crave more. “Lamb to the Slaughter” introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the story “Beware of the Dog” brought me to 36 Hours (a really good thriller).

Through it, I read a book called The Irregulars, about Dahl’s time as a spy during WWII, which subsequently kicked off my interest in the RAF (or may have just helped to spawn it, I’m really unsure of how that came to be).

I’ve read most of his adult stories by this point. When I travel, I bring Over to You, a collection of his RAF stories, with me. It’s a slim book, perfect for sticking into a computer bag. I want to read My Uncle Oswald, a novel about his delightfully devious character of the same name.

Recently, Holmes and I have started rereading some of his children’s books. We recently finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I never realized how delightful of a morality play it is. The evil children all meet their very fitting ends, all receive their punishments in accordance to their crimes. Its delightful how twisted the tale is. In rewatching the Gene Wilder movie, we realized how much it distorts the story, how it takes away from Charlie being such a deserving character. In the movie, he misbehaves as the other children do. And Grandpa Joe is such a bad influence in the movie.

Dahl’s wicked sense of humor appeals to all ages, from the child looking for a creepy bedtime story, to the adult looking for a good gut-twisting story. There’s a magic to his work, an appeal that transcends ages.

In honor of Mr Dahl, I shall be eating chocolate today (a favorite food of his, in fact, he allegedly was buried with some), and reading a portion of Over to You.

Read one of his short stories today. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s to many more years enjoying Roald Dahl’s stories, the fantastic, the strange, the heartbreaking, the wicked.

30 Days of Writing: Day Four

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Where to begin? With my epic stories I’d tell myself when I was a little kid, acting them out with my Barbies and action figures? The plethora of stories I wrote in the first grade (including my simplistic history of the American Revolution)?

No.

My fourth grade class started publishing work. My teacher would select the works she liked best and we would edit, rewrite, and illustrate the books to be bound and put in the school library, where they would be available to check out.

I wrote a story called Hike, Champion, Hike! It was about a lovable Siberian husky named Champion who’s owner Catherine enters a sled race. Champion was the lead dog.

I don’t remember much of the story. I was big into the Iditarod at the time, and set the story in Alaska (despite having never been there. Which is still true). It was cute.

One of these days I’ll see if the book is still at the library.