Book Report: Best ‘Doctor Who’ Books, Tracking Your Reading, Abrams Takes on The King & More!

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How I Track My Reading
One reader’s impressive and somewhat scary spreadsheet to track her intensive reading.

Genre Kryptonite
Is a time travel story your weakness when deciding what to read?

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey
Not getting enough Doctor Who? Here’s a great list of Doctor Who-related books.

[read more . . .]

“After the Quake” by Haurki Murakami (Knopf, 2000)

After the Quake
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Murakami are, unsurprisingly with the title, set in February 1995 after the devastating Kobe earthquake.  The stories don’t deal completely with the after effects of the quake, but in the classic Murakami style, the characters have had their lives altered in various subtle ways by this natural disaster.

All six stories are told from the third person perspective, which is a change for Murakami and his usual first person point of view.  The stories each have their own unique feel, presenting an unusual situation that continues to get weirder until the end, when the reader is left deep in contemplation and wonder.  There is the story of the man who is an electronics salesman and finds one day that his wife has left him; when he agrees to deliver an enigmatic package, he finds out more about himself and who he really is than he ever thought he knew.  A religious man follows the pursuit of another elderly gentleman, believing he might be his long lost father.

The highpoint of the collection is with the wonderfully amusing “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo,” which is about exactly what the title says.  A man meets a giant frog who tells him a giant worm beneath the city will destroy everything if they don’t stop it.  Taking some time, the man eventually believes the super-frog, but just as they are to venture beneath the city, he has an accident and ends up in the hospital.  Thinking he can no longer help his new froggy friend, he later discovers he has helped in more ways than he knows.

With such a short collection, the stories have a way of growing on the reader, as opposed to other longer collections, where by the end readers can forget some of the earlier stories they’ve read.  For anyone looking to try the great Haruki Murakami for the first time, After the Quake is a great start.

Originally written on May 16, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of After the Quake from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Sputnik Sweetheart  The Windup Bird Chronicle  Hardboiled Wonderland
  Kafka on the ShoreNorwegian Wood  IQ84

Book Report: Authors Against Amazon, Writer’s Late Starts, Books For Batman Fans & More!

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Book Art Sculpture
Wondering what you’d like to turn those extra books you have into?

Authors Unite Letter to Amazon
As the battle between Amazon and Hachette continues, Authors Unite has send a personalized letter to Amazon voicing their feelings and opinions.

Author Success at 50
Some authors who didn’t achieve notoriety and success until after 50.

[read more . . .]

“Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey” by Nick Bertozzi (First Second, 2014)

Shackleton: An Antarctic Odyssey
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From the author and artist of the popular Lewis & Clark graphic novel comes his next bold adventure, taking on the life and legacy of Ernest Shackleton. In this short but poignant graphic novel, Bertozzi covers a lot of ground historically with regards to Shackleton.

Told with short scenes where the adage a picture speaks a thousand words is put to full use, Bertozzi covers Shackleton’s failures in trying to reach the south pole in the heart of Antarctica, and his next bold mission to cross the great Antarctic land mass. Readers get scenes of Shackleton putting the team together, a hodge-podge of men who will soon become very close starving on the ice; crossing the ocean and reaching the frozen wasteland; and then their journey upon the Endurance through the ice until they become stalled and must make some monumental decisions.

Bertozzi uses his skill as a storyteller and artist, bringing humor to a seemingly dry historical subject, but also color and life to the various characters, making them real people suffering in these harsh conditions. Shackleton does a great job of telling a complete, emotional story in a short book that will provide useful quick reading for anyone wanting to know more about Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Originally written on August 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Shackleton: An Antarctic Odyssey from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: French Bookstore in NYC, Forbes Top Earning Authors, The Return of Indie Bookstores & More!

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At one point Mr. King was an English teacher, and here’s how he did it and what he recommends.
Ten books that help take you back to those innocent, fun college days.
Book Riot presents the results of their recent audiobook survey.

GUEST POST: Wizard of Oz Spinoffs

When listing classic American films, or just films period, no list is complete without The Wizard of Oz. Based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900, this film has stood the test of time and engaged generations with it’s meaningful message that no matter how old you are, there’s no place like home. The film, first released in 1939, is turning 75 years old this year, so to celebrate this milestone, let’s take a look at some of the dozens of spinoffs and adaptations that have come from both the beloved musical and the novel.

Oz the Great and Powerful

This blockbuster from the modern entertainment powerhouse that is Disney cost the studio an estimated $325 million to make, but dazzled audiences across the planet with its 3D images and dazzling computer generated graphics. Serving as a prequel to the original film, Oz the Great and Powerful tells the story of Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a down on his luck con-man and traveling magician who gets swept into a tornado while riding in a hot air balloon in an effort to escape from people he swindled, and crash lands in a place called Oz. There, he meets a series of women including Glinda (Michelle Williams), Theodora (Mila Kunis), and Evanora (Rachel Weisz who, in my opinion, was the best part of the film).

The film sets the scene for the original in a much darker way than many would have expected. There are many parts that could be deemed downright frightening when considering its young target market, and between Kunis and Weisz tearing up the screen it’s hard to see much relation to the original. However, the gamble Disney took to make it paid off, since it pulled in nearly $500 million worldwide during its theatrical run. Luckily, you can still easily catch the film on demand through DTV or watch it online though Disney.

Wicked

One spin off of the original film and novel managed to successfully draw in a whole new legion of fans and endear itself to millions across the world. I am, of course, talking about Wicked. Much like Oz the Great and Powerful, Wicked is a prequel to the original story, however that’s where the similarities end. Based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, the musical tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (named Elphaba) and Glinda the good.

The musical, which premiered in 2003 with Kristen Chenoweth as Glinda and Frozen’s Idina Menzel as Elphaba, begins when the two witchy women meet in school. Glinda is, naturally, well liked and popular, while Elphaba is subject to ridicule because of her skin color. Both young women come into their own while embarking on an unlikely friendship which ultimately becomes deeply fractured when the two venture to the Emerald City and meet the Wizard.

The musical has gone on to win three Tony awards as well as a Grammy for its original cast album. On top of that, it has become one of the longest running shows in Broadway history with a staggering 4,500 performances. It’s been translated and performed everywhere from Mexico City to Seoul. Despite rumors of a film version coming, there appears to be nothing substantial yet.

The Wiz

The Wiz is another musical take on the classic story, albeit a significantly more eccentric one. The musical started as an all African-American version of the original book and premiered in 1974 in Baltimore before moving to Broadway the following year.

It created enough buzz that Motown Records Barry Gordy decided to purchase the rights to the film. On the insistence of his star recording artist (and girlfriend), Diana Ross, Gordy cast her as Dorothy in the film version. Acting alongside Ross was a young Michael Jackson as Scarecrow, Lena Horne as Glinda the Good, and Richard Pryor as The Wiz. The film, which cost $25 million to make only earned $13 million at the box office, more or less ended Ross’s big screen career (although she has gone on to do two made-for-T.V. movies since). Despite its financial shortcomings its psychedelic sets and disco-esque music has earned it a major cult following in the years since its release.

The attempts to capitalize on this timeless film and book have been a mixed bag to say the least. Of course, as with anything good, Hollywood will keep trying to churn out sequels and prequels and spinoffs for what is sure to be decades to come. However, nothing will capture the magic of the original. So, in honor of it’s 75th anniversary pop it in the DVD player, make yourself some popcorn, and return to that wonderful land of Oz.

Kate Voss
@kateevoss

Book News: Stephen King’s 22 Writing Lessons, Teacher Arrested For Being an Author, Libraries That Robin Leach Would Die For & More!

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If you’re looking to read Margaret Atwood’s newest project, it’s going to take a while to read it . . . a hundred years in fact.
The great Stephen King imparts 22 lessons on how to be a good writer.
I know it’s hard to believe that these people exist, but they’re out there, and here’s how you deal with it.