Old Favorites: Agatha Christie

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2019, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Though she’s been dead for over 40 years, Agatha Christie is a perennial favorite with mystery readers. Her mysteries still circulate very well at our library, and I’ve been an avid reader of her work since I was a teenager.

I’ve blogged before about her work that we have at the library–here and here–and even written a guide to how to survive an Agatha Christie novel. 🙂

But since this week also marks the 129th anniversary of her birthday, I thought books that celebrate her life would be the best way to honor her. Because, even beyond her career as a writer, Dame Agatha had a fascinating life. . . .

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Old Favorites: H.P. Lovecraft

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2019, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Today marks the 129th anniversary of the birth of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, known to generations of readers as classic horror/weird fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft. Though he was writing in the early 20th century, Lovecraft has been a major influence on countless contemporary horror writers, including Stephen King.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Lovecraft’s nightmarish fictional world or one of the completely uninitiated, today’s the perfect chance to revisit his work–or sample it for the first time.

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What We Do For Love voting bracket

What Do We Do For Love

Voting for the Great Berryville Read continues this week with a new category!

Welcome to Bracket #4 – Great Berryville Read What We Do For Love Edition. Next week on Tuesday, October 9th, the Great American Read episode will focus on literary love stories.

This episode is all about love–romantic love, familial love, tragic love. We’ve assembled a bracket that requires you, gentle reader, to pick your favorites and decide which of these 16 books should advance to the next round of the Great Berryville Read voting.

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Old Favorites: Mary Shelley

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

August 30th marks the 221st birthday of English author Mary Shelley, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of her most famous book. She is best-known for her classic novel Frankenstein and her dysfunctional family life, but this daughter of two noted writers and wife of another is a fascinating literary and historical figure in her own right.

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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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Old Favorites: Edgar Allan Poe

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2018, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

Whilst I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. . . .

I was first introduced to Edgar Allan Poe as a child. I don’t remember how I acquired it, but somehow I got my hands on a collection of his poems and short stories, and they became instant favorites. For many years afterward, when I was feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, I would flip to “The Raven,” and despite the fact that it is not in any way intended as relaxing, I always found it therapeutic.

Well, this week (January 19th) marks his 199th birthday, and there is no better way to celebrate the wonderfully unusual, macabre, and creepy world of Edgar Allan Poe than by revisiting his work.

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Movie Double Feature: Dracula (1931)/Near Dark (1987)

So, here’s a confession that will surprise nobody who knows me: I rarely like the hero in a story.

Ever since I was a child, I vastly preferred villains in books, movies, and television. And I don’t mean anti-heroes who you’re supposed to like or squishy villains who feel bad about themselves. No, the badder, the better.

Compared to the hero, good villains–by which I mean really bad villains–almost always have more memorable lines and better clothes. They always seem to be enjoying themselves way more than the hero ever does and usually have a great sense of humor (okay, a dark sense of humor but still a sense of humor) and usually are smarter or at least seem to display more ambition and basic organizational skills than the hero.

This love for villains started early. When I was 5 or 6, my favorite television show was Skeleton Warriors. I watched it faithfully every Saturday morning to see the adventures of Skeletor and, well, his skeleton warriors. I was so disheartened to never find anyone who knew what I was talking about anytime I talked to someone my age about cartoons.

It was only years later when I was in my mid-20s that I realized I had been watching He-Man and had somehow convinced myself that the show was actually about the bad guy. I still think rather fondly about Skeletor and his pet Panthor, but for the life of me, I cannot remember a single thing about He-Man himself. I don’t think I noticed him as a child, either. He wasn’t on my radar because he had nothing on Skeletor!

I have changed little as an adult in that regard. And since it is Halloween, I thought I’d pay tribute to some of my favorite vampiric villains in cinema.

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