StumbleUpon Sunday (11)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Sound Composition: Calm Thunder Storm
    Want to enjoy the soothing sounds of rain and thunder without ruining your hair or soaking your shoes?  This site is all the good without the bad!
  2. Map of Literary Road Trips
    How cool!  Now you can relive the journeys of On the Road or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…or just hang this on your wall and look cool.
  3. I Has a Bucket
    HAHA, okay, this has no value apart from restoring some fond college nostalgia.  Maybe it also has historical value, as one of the Internet’s first memes?
  4. 15 Books Every High School Student Should Read
    I haven’t read six of the recommended books, but based upon the nine that I have, I think this list is a great starting place for choosing readable classics.
  5. Architectural Watercolors by Maja Wronska
    Any art that makes me say, “Um, NO,” because I cannot fathom how it is possible deserves a spot on this list.
  6. Famous Television Show Home Floor Plans
    Take this to an architect and you too can live like Monica and Rachel.
  7. Underlined Book Quotes Become Clever Illustrations
    These are beautiful!  I particularly like the drawing for “listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door, let’s go.”
  8. Some Perfectly Timed Photos – Part II
    Hehehe.  It’s always fun to indulge in some low brow humor.
  9. Halloween Costume Ideas – 50 Pics
    Never hurts to plan ahead…especially if you’re going to create Princess Leia and R2-D2 costumes for little toddlers OMG!
  10. 10 Ways to Up Your Campfire Cooking Game
    Mmmmm!  Lamb Ribs in Balsamic Huckleberry BBQ Sauce?  Yes please!

The Giver: Book vs. Movie

Ithe-giver-first-look-jeff-bridges-brenton-thwaites recently reread The Giver and watched the movie for the first time.  It’s fairly obvious that the book is infinitely better than its film adaptation, but it was, I think, worth watching.

But first, what I didn’t like.

The movie moves too quickly, speeding through explanations and experiences where the book lingers.  The Community is hastily shown to us, whereas the book spends long chapters introducing us to their society, only slowly revealing how ominous their rules truly are.

The movie lacks a cohesive logic.  In the book, Jonas and the Giver are the only two people capable of deep emotion.  The actions and apathy of the other characters are seen as tragic and maddening, but we understand that without memories and emotions, they cannot help themselves.  They are little more than robots.

In the film, however, characters act on emotion when they have no ability to do so.  Lily looks sad at Gabe’s release, although in the book she happily agrees with her father that they did all they could for the child.  Asher hints at jealousy when Jonas and Fiona start pairing off, and later he saves Jonas’s life out of what can only be loyalty–an emotion he ought not to have.  And Fiona.  Ugh, Fiona.

the-giver-brenton-thwaites-babyI loved her in the book.  She (and Jonas’s father) are our most intimate windows into the tragedy of the Community.  Although Jonas’s feelings for her mature and grow passionate, hers remain simple and naive.  When Jonas rails against his father after learning the true meaning of “release,” he takes comfort in the fact that Fiona would never do such a thing.  That is, until the Giver tells him that she is already being trained to release people.  She stands in stark contrast to what we expect, allowing us to see the necessity of the memories Jonas is inheriting.  She’s a good person; we like her.  Yet because she does not have the empathy born of emotion, she will unwittingly do horrible things.

But in the movie, she fights alongside Jonas.  After mere hours of being without her injections against the “stirrings,” she accepts a kiss and soon helps him escape.  I understand that they are implying the power of love, but really?  It cheapens Jonas’s journey and the importance of a shared history.  If all it takes to buck the system is hormones coursing through their veins, a much simpler plan would be to get everyone to stop taking their injections for a day rather than attempting a dangerous escape.  Plus, it turns the whole story into a romance, and come on.  Don’t we have enough of those?  I liked the plot much better when it was a boy’s love for an infant that spurred him into action rather than a pretty girl.  Romantic love is an inspiration, but it is not the only emotion that encourages bravery and self-sacrifice.

enhanced-buzz-wide-10061-1405372530-18And the Chief Elder!  In her (admittedly brilliant) argument with the Giver at the end of the film, it seems like she has had just as much access to the memories as the Giver himself.  If so, what is the point of his station?  And again, this cheapens the tragedy of the book, where we see the elders deliberately avoiding any knowledge of the memories, wanting only the Giver’s advice out of context.

Whew.  Okay.  Apparently there were more things I disliked than I realized.  HOWEVER, I stand by my earlier statement that the movie is worth watching, and for one simple reason.  The memories.  The first time Jonas sees full color, transported to the view of a dramatic sunset on the ocean, waves turned red in the waning light, my eyes filled with tears.  The beauty was overwhelming after so much grey scale.  I was moved to emotion again when the Giver transferred memories of courage to Jonas, of people parachuting, riding rapids, protesting, standing firm in front of tanks.  And again at the end, when all the memories return to the people of the Community, and they see tornados, babies, concerts, lights, tears, running, praying, sunlight, death, pregnancy, and rain.

The movie is at its best when it takes on the role of Giver, filling our minds with memories and emotions, reminding us of the beauty, pain, and intensity that comes with being human.

The Giver:  Do you know what that’s like?  To love someone?  I do.  I’ve cried, felt sorrow.  Love, song, dance.  Felt real joy.
Chief Elder:  Then you should know better than anyone.  You have seen children starve.  You’ve seen people stand on each other’s necks, just for the view.  You know what it feels like when men blow each other up over a simple line in the sand.
The Giver:  Yes, I do, I do.
Chief Elder:  And yet–and yet!  You and Jonas want to open that door again, bring all that back.
The Giver:  If you could only see the possibility of love.  With love comes faith, comes hope!
Chief Elder:  Love is just passion that can turn.  It turns into contempt and murder.
The Giver:  We could choose better.
Chief Elder:  People are weak.  People are selfish.  When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.  Every single time.
The Giver:  Loss, pain, music, joy–the raw, beautiful, impossible feeling of love.  We are living a life of shadows, of echoes, of faint distant whispers of what once made us real.

StumbleUpon Sunday (7)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 16 Things I Know Are True But Haven’t Quite Learned Yet
    Great words of wisdom!  “All you need to do to finish things is keep starting them until they’re done.
  2. Rashad Alabarov Paints with Shadows and Light
    These are so incredible I almost can’t believe they’re real.
  3. 35 Tumblr Posts That’ll Make You Reevaluate Your Entire Existence
    Hahaha!  Great (idiotic) thought-provoking scenarios like:  “I won’t take a bullet for anyone because if I have to jump in front of a bullet, you have time to move.”
  4. 31 Places Everyone Should Visit Before They Die
    Wow!  Chittorgarh, India looks like a fantasy land!  *checks flight costs*  AND #27 is incredibly useful.
  5. A Photo Exploration of the Nomadic Culture in Mongolia
    Mongolia!  Probably my favorite place I’ve visited, in terms of uniqueness and beauty.
  6. Bookshelf Porn
    If I weren’t before, I’m now convinced that my future home must be wall-to-wall bookshelves.
  7. Funny Airplane Announcements
    “As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
  8. Photos: What the Sky Should Look Like Without Light Pollution
    These are stunning.
  9. 10 Things You’ll See in Almost Every Tim Burton Film
    I love Tim Burton, and knowing he repeats himself does nothing to lessen my affection.
  10. 14 Amazing Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know
    Cool stuff!  I was especially intrigued by this one:  “Your decisions are more rational when thought in another language.”

Book Pages: UPDATE

For those who haven’t explored my site thoroughly (shame on you, what are you doing with your life?), you may not know that when you let your mouse hover over the “Books” page at the top of the site, four more options appear.

The first two, “Title Archive” and “Author Archive,” are self-explanatory and remain unchanged.

The third, “Illinois Awards,” is a great place to go if you want recommendations on Middle Grade or Young Adult books.  Each year, librarians and teachers in Illinois compile a list of around twenty books for middle and high school students to vote on to determine the states’ favorite.  I just added the Lincoln Award list (for 9th-12th graders), and it has several of my favorite books on it!  I added links to my reviews, and I hope to add more as I make my way through the lists.

The fourth, “Recommended,” is my one-stop-shop for your book-related needs.  Rather than creating lists based upon genre or age level, I decided to sort my recommendations by type of Reading Need.  For instance, my “Give Me a Series So Engrossing I’ll Start Thinking It’s Real Life” is perfect for the summer, when you have a lot of time on your hands and you want to trick your brain into believing that elves live just beyond your vacation cabin in the woods.  I’ve just updated this page to include the books I’ve read most recently.  Check it out, and let me know if you agree or find something intriguing!

StumbleUpon Sunday (2)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. This is what happened when a photographer came face-to-face with one of Antarctica’s most vicious predators
  2. 14 Hacks That’ll Help the Laziest Person Host a Dinner Party
  3. Just Puppies:  Pure Breed Information
  4. 23 Best Movies on Netflix You Haven’t Seen Yet
  5. 10 Popular Books for Teen Boys
  6. A Guy Photoshops Celebrities Into All His Holiday Party Photos
  7. 10 Unusual Beaches You Have Never Heard Of
  8. 10 Most Beautiful Views From the Top of Famous Landmarks
  9. 15 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Egypt
  10. Family Tree of the Greek Gods

StumbleUpon Sunday (1)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 29 Fascinating Photos You Probably Never Seen Before
  2. Pets That Don’t Understand the Concept of Personal Space
  3. These Innovative Ideas are Beyond Awesome
  4. How to be Well-Read in No Time:  40 Short Novels
  5. Turn a Scribble into a Drawing (video)
  6. There’s a Word for That:  25 Expressions You Should Have in your Vocabulary
  7. Incredible Small Towns You Would Want to Live In
  8. 4 of the Most Expensive Homes for Sale
  9. Night Sky Panorama – Bonneville Salt Flats
  10. We All Agree that Mad Max: Fury Road is Great.  Here’s Why It’s Also Important.

D.C. for Book Lovers (Guest Post)

Elizabeth Waibel works in communications in the D.C. area. Her laptop has been broken for months, so she gets a lot of reading done. She once did an internship located mostly in the basement of the Folger library.

Washington, D.C., may be better known for Supreme Court briefs than its literary hangouts, but the District is also home to many universities, flourishing independent bookstores, and the largest library in the world. Julia Child lived in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, both before and after a stint in France that inspired her work on the revolutionary cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Its museums and archives are home to the founding documents of America and some of its most iconic movie memorabilia.

DSC00755When Tricia visited me in the D.C. suburbs in 2013, short on time, we decided on a literary theme to narrow down our options of places to visit and to indulge our mutual love of books. Whenever we had trouble deciding what to do, we picked the activity that involved the most books — problem solved. As an indecisive person, I loved delegating decisions to a pre-determined theme, and I also loved having an excuse to watch a Shakespeare episode of “Doctor Who” when we got tired of exploring.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of the places we visited, plus a few I’ve discovered since then.  Continue reading