E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)

Charlotte's Web

Wilbur is a sweet pig with a big problem. He’s, well, a pig. And no matter how delightful of a friend he is to young Fern, the young girl who saves him from a tragic early end, or Charlotte, the spider who lives in the barn, he’s still going to end up as Christmas dinner. That is, unless Charlotte can think of a way to save him. . . .

Confession: I’ve never read this book until now. Yes, I know that makes me a weirdo–who hasn’t read Charlotte’s Web?, you may ask. Well, me, that’s who. However, since it was the winner of the Great Berryville Read and is now officially our town’s favorite book, I decided to remedy my ignorance. And I’m glad I did.

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Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938)

rebecca

Asking people about which book they’d select for the Great American Read has been an fascinating exercise in armchair psychology this past few months–at least for me. Some folks have an immediate answer while others take some real time thinking it through.

Put me down as one in the thinking category. I couldn’t even pick 1! I finally narrowed my picks down to 3, but that was only after coming up with some perimeters to consider and pondering whether or not it should reflect personal favorites or some grand statement about the best/most influential American novel and resonant themes in American literature. (Gotta put that English degree to work every now and then.)

But, truth be told, if I were just picking one book solely on personal enjoyment, it would probably have to be Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

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Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

At the Berryville Library this summer, we’re all busy reading the books on the Great American Read list and pondering which ones we’ll vote for in the Great Berryville Read. When I mentioned the Great American Read to my friend and one of my former English professors Elise Bishop, she mentioned really enjoying A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Well, that was one I hadn’t read, so I was determined to make it one of my selections. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it! (Thanks again for the great suggestion, Mrs. B!)

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From Page to Screen: The Man Who Would Be King

 

We’ve been focusing on schools this month, but not everything worth knowing is learned in school. Sometimes the school of hard knocks delivers more memorable lessons. . . .

Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan have decided that the 1880s British Empire does not appreciate their talents. And the two former British army sergeants do have a point. They feel like they’ve contributed more to building the Empire than administrators and British authorities, who are less than appreciative of their military exploits or how they have occupied themselves once they were discharged. Specifically, the powers that be are not pleased with Danny and Peachy leaving a trail of blackmail, fraud, and smuggling, among other things, in their wake.

They know that going home to England would mean menial work, which doesn’t seem very enticing given their adventures in India. But they also realize that further prospects in India are now limited, as well.

The two friends, thus, decide that they will go away to the remote, mysterious kingdom of Kafiristan. Once there, they will use their martial skills to serve as mercenaries and ingratiate themselves with a local chief as a stepping stone for them staging a coup, setting themselves up as rulers, and robbing the locals of their wealth. It’s not a retirement plan endorsed by most financial planners, but Danny and Peachy are pretty sure it will work out marvelously for them. What’s the worst that could happen?

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From Page to Screen: Old Yeller

I’ve talked on here before about my hesitance concerning depressing animal books for children.

There are a lot of books/movies that could be added to the list of depressing animal stories for kids, and Old Yeller is definitely one of them.

However, even though it is the granddaddy of all depressing animal books for kids, it is a story that I have a soft spot for. In fact, I’ve reread it a few times and always enjoy it. I can’t deny that it is terribly sad, but I think it has a lot of good things to offer before it rips your heart out and depresses you for days.

Though the book is something I have revisited on numerous occasions as an adult, I have not watched the movie since I was a child. I remedied that this past weekend.

As always, beware–some spoilers do follow.

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From Page to Screen: In Cold Blood (1967) and In Cold Blood (1996)

My love for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (which some ungenerous souls might call an obsession) has been well documented on this blog.

But my interest in the story transcends the book. The 1967 film adaptation is one of my favorite movies and is one of the examples I always point to when people claim that a movie can never be as good as the book.

A few months ago, I watched the 1996 miniseries adaptation of the story with my coworker Jen. If the 1967 version is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen, the 1996 version is easily one of the absolute worst.

Usually the “From Page to Screen” series is a venue for me to compare and contrast books with their adaptations. But this is my series and my rules, and I’ve decided to bend the rules for this one. So, this month we’re comparing and contrasting two adaptations and exploring why one is considered a masterpiece and the other, well, isn’t. Let’s just call it Screen vs. Screen for this month.

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2016 Library Challenge: An Author with Your Initials (S. E. Hinton)

The Outsiders

The author with your initials challenge took me an embarrassing amount of time to find a book for. None of the authors with my initials seemed particularly interesting to me, until a few weeks ago when Mynette told me I really needed to read S. E. Hinton’s classic coming-of-age story, The Outsiders. In addition to being intrigued by her recommendation, I also realized that Hinton shares my first and middle initials. In the weeks since then, the book has come up a couple of times with other people, and whenever I would admit to never having read it, the response was always a confused “You’ve never read The Outsiders?”

Having finally read The Outsiders, I now understand everyone’s reaction. I’m actually  embarrassed that I hadn’t read it before.

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