Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Question About Characters in Books and Film, & New Book Trailer

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.




Books I Read & Reviewed This Week:













Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist -- I enjoyed this novel, by the author of Let the Right One In -- which was adapted into the movies Let the Right One In and Let Me In -- and Handling the Undead, though I was disappointed by the ending.














The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk -- My daughter, MovieBuff25, recommended that I read this YA mystery, and I really liked it, particularly since I quickly connected with the main character. He was one of those characters I kind of miss when the novel is over.

New Book Trailer:














I really like this trailer for The Siren of Paris by David Leroy -- you can also read my review of The Siren of Paris and this article, by the author, on the emotional impact of researching a novel on World War II, which I found particularly interesting.



Reading Now:












from a review by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness:
The book starts out with children’s book illustrator Irina McGovern, a middle-aged woman living in London with her boyfriend Lawrence.  Each year Lawrence and Irina have a birthday dinner with an acquaintance, Ramsey Acton.  One significant birthday Lawrence cannot go and Irina has dinner with Ramsey alone.  At the end of the first chapter, after their dinner, Irina is presented with a choice: given into her strange desire to kiss Ramsey or leave and go back to her secure life with Lawrence.

The subsequent chapters alternate perspective — one showing what would happen with the kiss and one showing what would happen without.  Each set of chapters covers the same period of time, so you can see how Irina’s life might have turned out in two different ways. That’s pretty cool by itself, but what makes it even better is that that Shriver continually makes parallels between the two lives. 

I started this novel, by the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I'm not sure whether I want to continue. The premise interests me, especially with the parallel threads of the protagonist's life. I am also impressed by the author's skill and style. However, I'm just not connecting with the characters for some reason. So I may send this back to the library and choose something else.

Which is more important to you in a novel or movie? Are you more drawn to well crafted writing and lyrical prose? Polished scriptwriting, brilliant acting, and outstanding film-making? Or do you fall in love with a film or book because you connect with the characters?

With me it's definitely a combination of both factors, and it varies from one book or movie to another. But I definitely have a weakness for character driven stories, and I want to empathize with a character and -- in some way -- enjoy his company. For example, my daughter MovieBuff25 and I recently watched the critically acclaimed movie Shame.


A fellow blogger -- I think it was Alex -- talked about sharing this film with his father, who responded (loosely paraphrasing): "I didn't like it, but I appreciated the hell out of it." That sort of reflects how I felt. The acting was phenomenal, the directing and cinematography were terrific -- sometimes a single wordless frame spoke volumes. It was a tremendous movie. Yet neither my daughter or I really liked it. As movie buffs, I suppose we appreciated it. But we didn't really like it.

Why? Mainly because we didn't really connect with -- or like -- any of the characters. I pitied them, I empathized with them at times, and they were unquestionably real. Powerful, painfully real. But I couldn't really "root for" them. I'm not entirely sure why -- it may have been partly because I knew so little of their back story.

Maybe this is not a problem for really serious movie buffs, who are immersed in the film-making. ;-) Or maybe it is. No matter how seasoned a reader/film watcher/reviewer, in my opinion, one's reaction to a book or movie is always deeply personal.

What are your thoughts?

29 comments:

  1. The Siren Of Paris looks good, I enjoyed the book trailer. I have to say I fall in love with a book because I connect with characters in some way whereas with films it's a bit of everything!
    Sent you an email re winning copy of The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd :)
    Have a great week and happy reading

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    1. Thanks! :-) I just responded to your e-mail. I'm glad you enjoyed the book trailer -- I did too. I'd watch it for the glimpses of Paris alone.

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  2. Those are all new books to me. Happy reading.

    My favorite read last week was Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves (audio) by Kazu Kibuishi. Please come see what else I'm reading.

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    1. I enjoy fantasy, and the Amulet series sounds intriguing.

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  3. The Post Birthday World sounds like an interesting read :) Can't wait to read your review of this one!
    Happy Reading!
    Check out what I'm reading this week :)

    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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    1. Thanks for visiting! :)

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  4. That is one very spooky pic!

    Enjoy your books.

    Here's my Week in Review.

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    1. That is creepy, isn't it? :)

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  5. I have to connect with at least one of the characters in a book or movie to thoroughly enjoy it. I also love lyrical writing in a book and great presentation in a movie. I guess I want it all! lol

    Love the look of The Post Birthday World. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. You sound a lot like me in terms of how you respond to books and movies. As long as I can connect with at least one character, I'm good to go -- but I definitely have a weakness for beautiful writing and film-making. On the other hand, I often enjoy "fluff" too.

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  6. I don't care much about lyrical writing. I want there to be a great story that pulls me in.

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    1. Great storytelling is incredibly important, isn't it? While I sometimes enjoy a more "arty" book with beautiful language and little plot, I generally gravitate towards a terrific story, too.

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  7. Oh...I haven't been doing It's Monday for quite some times now. I should get back to it again one of these days.

    The Question is really interesting. I don't care much for lyrical prose, for me...what's important in a book is the story. If the story is engaging then if the writing is not incredibly terrible, I can still enjoy it. The existence of interesting character is also important, like in The Da Vinci Code, not really a great book but I really like Silas...he is a very interesting character

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    1. You made a good point about storytelling and characters. I do enjoy lyrical prose, but in general, I am more interested in a good story and engaging characters. As my mother-in-law used to say, "I like a good yarn."

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  8. I picked Harbour up when it was in a Kindle sale but not sure when I'll get round to reading it.

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    1. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it.

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  9. All new titles to me! Need to check them all out!
    Have a great week!

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    1. Thanks for visiting. :)

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  10. Looks like a good week, I love that pic with Tilda Swinton, it's so haunting!

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    1. It is haunting, isn't it? It's kind of disturbing the way their mood and posture mirror each other.

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  11. I think Shame is one of those movies that shows how fascinating people's responses to films may be and how much they are based on who we are and what our experiences were. I think this, along with Mulholland drive and Black Swan is one of those films that some can appreciate as good movies while others will found profound connections to the story. And that's true for most films.

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    1. That's an excellent point and beautifully said. :-) I've always said there's an individual chemistry between a film and viewer or between a book and reader. That's also why I don't think there is any such thing as a wholly objective book or movie review.

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  12. These are all new reads for me - looking forward to checking them out!

    Check out what I'm reading at Between the Bind.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. :)

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  13. I started a Lionel Shriver a few weeks back(The New Republic) and just could not get into it :( That's always a bummer.

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    1. I know what you mean. :)

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  14. Obviously, I love Shame to death, but I completely get what you're saying. It isn't an easy film to "like" per se, for all the reasons you mentioned.

    Thanks for the link by the way!

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  15. I have to get to Let the Right One In. So many people seem to love it.

    There are plenty of novels in which I cannot stand the characters or what happens throughout the novel but the writing is so compelling that you have to love the story. Some books though absolutely require connecting with the characters. It all depends.

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  16. I had similar thoughts about Shame, with a different end result: I couldn't connect with the main character on any level, and therefore couldn't empathize with him. He didn't seem like a real person, just a caricature of misery.

    - Tippi

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Hello, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts -- reader comments make this blogging gig worthwhile. :-) Due to excessive spam, we are now moderating all comments. Like that dude in the Monty Python skit, we just Don't ... Like ... Spam. I will try to post and respond to your comments as quickly as possibly.