Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming Film Adaptations That I’m Excited For

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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May 14: Page to Screen Freebie (Books that became movies/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before watching their movie/TV show, movies you loved based on books you hated or vice versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vice versa, etc.)

This week I’m highlighting some film adaptations pf books that I’m eager to see.

  1. Where’d You Go Bernadette? Based on the novel by Maria Semple

2. We Have Always Live in the Castle based on the novel by Shirley Jackson

3. The Spanish Princess (limited series) based on the novel The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

4. His Dark Materials based on the novels by Phillip Pullman

5. The Chaperone based on the novel by Laura Moriarty

6. Ophelia based on the novel by Lisa Klein

7. Ladies in Black based on the novel by Madeline St. John

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Sharing Resources

One thing that I’ve noticed is that in almost every field there seems to be a notion that there isn’t enough success to go around and that when we have an advantage we have to protect it. But that’s something I’m trying to move away from. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.  One of the advantages of the internet is  the incredible resources we can find, so let’s share. These are some great tools and things that I’ve discovered that help make life a little easier.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Health

NextGen Jane– A data driven women’s healthcare company that tracks data to allow women to make more autonomous decisions regarding healthcare.

Career

Fairygodboss-  A career community for women with jobs, company reviews, advice and connections.

Ladies Get Paid– a free, private online network that connects thousands of women around the world who share advice, resources, and opportunities.

Self Care

Positively Present– A blog focused on helping readers to be positive and live in the moment.

Mindful– Offers information and resources for people who want to practice meditation and mindfulness. It offers practical suggestions, guided meditations, and podcasts.

Noisli– This site lets you mix and match sounds and create ambient noise that will let you relax or improve productivity. You can even get it as a chrome extension.

Activism

5 Calls- Allows people to easily call their representatives about national and local politics, which is one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard. Provides scripts about important issues and explanations of the issues and their history.

Fitness

Charity Miles– An app that donates to the charity of your choice for each mile, you run/walk/bike etc. You get exercise and your charity gets money. It’s win-win!

Cocolime Fitness– Suzanne Wickremasinghe created this fitness program aimed at people who suffer from chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, and more. You don’t need these conditions to do the workouts though! Medium intensity exercise can benefit lots of people whose bodies can’t handle high intensity for whatever reason and you can still get a great workout. The youtube channel has free full length workouts and there’s more information available on the website.

Jessica Smith TV– Jessica Smith’s youtube channel features hundreds of free workouts of various lengths and intensity. You can find hour long workouts but even if you only have 10 minutes you can get a workout in. Her website also features fitness tips, workout programs and more.

LWR Fitness– Lucy Wyndham Read’s fitness channel is awesome if you don’t have a lot of time, but still want to get in shape. She has a lot of 4 minute and 7 minute workouts (along with some longer ones) that keep you burning more all day long and she explains how and why these work. She also has lots of ebooks, courses, recipes and podcasts, and her blog has a ton of information .

Writing

The Hemingway Editor– This is a writing software that edits your writing for adverbs, passive voice, phrases that have simpler alternatives, and difficulty. You can paste your writing into the website or download the desktop version.

Grammarly– This free software checks for grammar, spelling, plagiarism. It’s available as a browser extension or an app.

Scrivner– I use this software for writing novels and it’s a life saver! It lets me compose text out of order and put it together later, in sections as large (or small) as I want. Everything I write  is integrated into an outline so I can go from one chapter to another with a quick click rather than scrolling through a lot of pages! I can also keep resources and research right by my draft so I can easily refer to them when I need to. You can download a 40 day free trial and then it’s only $45 to buy the full version.

What are some of your favorite resources?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Me

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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May 7: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

I did something like this a while back, but I think I may be able to come up with a few other books….

91s0lx2enl._ac_ul436_1. Sonja in Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorothe Nors– Actually while in some ways I have a lot in common with Sonja (like a fear of driving!) in other ways we’re very different. But we are both single women, living and working in a big city and trying to stay connected: to our friends and our families and our lives in general. That effort, and the anxiety around it, as something I definitely related to hen reading this book.

51iosghk0l-_ac_us218_2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling– I’m definitely the bookish, sensible one in almost any group! I don’t make friends quickly or easily but when I do, I’m also fiercely loyal. I guess I can deal with some of the awkwardness involved in being like Hermione as long as I have some of her good qualities too.

 

811ptptqf4l._ac_ul436_3. Olivia Curtis in Invitation To the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann– I haven’t (yet) read The Weather in the Streets, which is this books sequel, so I don’t yet know what becomes of Olivia but at 17 she was much like me at that age: simultaneously eager for growth and change, and afraid of it. She’s very sensitive to the feelings of others, but often she projects her own thoughts and ideas onto them, without much basis. That’s something I also related to.

71-frikc1l._ac_ul436_4. Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith- Like me, Cassandra feels everything very deeply and she replays it for herself after the fact. Her musings on what she should have said/done in different situations definitely rang true, as does her dedication to try to capture something real and concrete, even as things seem to slip through her fingers.

51mssp4enl._ac_ul436_5. Margaret Schlegel in Howard’s End  by EM Forester– She’s practical but she still has high ideals that she holds dear. She’s imaginative and loving.  She is very much the caretaker for her family and she embraces the role, she doesn’t resent it. Obviously her circumstances are very different to mind, but I’ve always found her an admirable, classy character.

 

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_6. Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day by Winifred Watson– I’m not as bad as Miss Pettigrew but I definitely have a tendency to be a bit of a straitlaced wallflower. That’s why I try to keep company with the Delysia LaFosses of the world: I would wouldn’t want to only live for a day, and they remind me that there’s a whole world out there.

 

41ufepph-wl-_ac_us218_7. The Second Mrs. DeWinter from Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier– I can definitely understand what it’s like to feel like you can never live up to some ideal- regardless of how real that actually ideal actually is. I think I’m definitely stronger than this character but she speaks to many of my insecurities and the fear of not being good enough.

 

51z5jz2frjl-_ac_us218_8. Peter Pan from Peter Pan by JM Barrie– Again this isn’t a literal “OMG we have so much in common! Who could possibly tell us apart?” connection. Rather it’s a sense of recognition and sympathy.  When I was a kid I never wanted to grow up either. Adulthood looked like it was difficult, boring, expensive and exhausting. But unlike Peter, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. In some ways I am grateful for the wisdom that’s come with age, and the things I’m able to do now that I couldn’t as a child. But I sometimes have a wish for some pixie dust and a chance to run off to Never Neverland…

What’s The Good News? Part 3

I’ve had a rough week, and once again it seems like the world has too. So here are some reasons to be happy:

  • A 10 year old boy walks a blind deer to a new patch of grass to make sure that she finds food, every day, before he goes to school.

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  • Bored teens like this one took a challenge to clean up an area that needed it.

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  • Doctors in Denmark have discovered that premature babies who cradled a crochet octopus toy had improved breathing, regular heartbeat, and strong oxygen blood levels. It’s believed that the tentacles remind the babies of the umbilical cord, and the toys have calming effects.  Babies with these toys are less likely to pull on their tubes. (x)

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  • A London HIV patient has been cleared of the virus following a bone marrow transplant, making him the second person ever to be “cured” of HIV. While the procedure can’t be used as a general cure, due to risks associated with stem cell transplants, it has the potential to be a crucial step toward finding a viable, large scale cure. (x)
  • Paul Barton is a volunteer at a rescued elephant sanctuary in Thailand. He plays classical music to the elephants on the piano. They find the music calming and soothing. (x)

  • An Indiana elementary school partnered with a nonprofit called Cultivate to repackage unused cafeteria food and give out on Friday afternoons to students who otherwise wouldn’t have enough to eat over the weekend. (x)
  • In Wales and Scotland a “Climate Emergency” was declared to address climate change, in response to protest. Both nations plan drastic reductions in carbon emissions.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set In A Single Day

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

April 30: Inspirational/Thought-Provoking Book Quotes

Since I felt like this week’s topic was too broad, I decided to make up my own.  Books set over the course of a day are often referred to as circadian novels. This is sort of inspired by my list last week.

51l9obcg9dl._ac_ul436_1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf– An upper class British woman reflects on her life, her marriage and her relationships as she prepares to throw a party. Meanwhile, a WWI vet suffering from shell-shock serves as a sort of doppelganger or alternate for the title character.

 

 

71bet2bs-vl._ac_ul436_2. Ulysses by James Joyce– I have to confess that I’ve never read this all the way through. I’ve read bits and excerpts; enough to get the general idea. But I find it very hard to follow without grammar or chapters. I understand what Joyce’s intention was, but it’s not an enjoyable read for me. Joyce once said that he “put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.” X which  sort of makes it feel (to me) like he’s playing a game with readers.

41o9-2wwf5l._ac_ul436_3. Saturday by Ian McEwan– This book, about a day in the life of a London neurosurgeon is very informed by the post 9/11 mindset. We see the character (successful, privileged, and generally happy) play squash, visit his elderly mother, and cook dinner for his family, but a sudden episode of violence prompts his reflection that the world has become “a community of anxiety.”

51-pdoml6l._ac_ul436_4. Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk– We follow the lives of several women in Arlington Park, an ordinary English suburb over a rainy day as they feel anger at their husbands, their children and the world in general. I wasn’t a fan of this one really. It just felt like several unpleasant women being miserable for an entire day.

 

81qilif8rul._ac_ul436_5. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple– This comic day in the life of Elinor Flood starts off normally. Elinor wakes and resolves to be “better” about her attitude and her life. Of course, that’s before her son decides to fake sick to stay home from school, and her husband goes off to work. When she calls his office she discovers that he’s told them (but not her!) that he’s on vacation. As Elinor navigates through the day, we learn about her life, and how she got to where she is.

51ycpilxgcl-_ac_us218_6. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- This may be cheating a bit, because it takes place over one night, but since all the action is set within the same 24 hour period, I think it counts…

 

 

510bxhy2vel._ac_ul436_7. Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons-Didi is an ordinary, albeit heavily pregnant, woman leaving a shopping mall in Dallas when she’s abducted. Her husband and the FBI try to reach her in time, and each chapter is timestamped and the whole thing plays out over (spoiler alert!) eleven hours. I didn’t particularly like this one. I found it predictable and Didi didn’t make a compelling heroine.

 

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_8. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson- This novel of an uptight English nanny who finds herself a job as a social secretary to a free spirited aspiring actress is light and funny. But because was written in 1938 reading it now, we know that the carefree Londoners we spend the day with will soon face horrors. This gives a bittersweet tone to what is intended as a light, fluffy read.

 

8104r4ac5ql._ac_ul436_ 9. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier- This re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello is set during one day at a 1970s era elementary school in a DC suburb. In some ways Chevalier makes a very strong statement: in the original play the escalation and lack of communication is typical behavior for ten year olds. So in this book Chevalier set these characters where they act like they belong: in a playground. But you could also argue that by doing that Chevalier belittles the source material. You’ll have to read it to decide which side of the argument you take.

And some variations on the theme

51t5nldq8kl-_ac_us218_The Hours by Michael Cunningham– This book is heavily inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, but it takes place over the course of three single day periods. One is the day that Virginia Woolf starts to write the novel. Another is the day that a 1950’s housewife begins to read it. The third is the day that a contemporary reincarnation of the main character throws a party and reflects on her life.

719ok4vdvzl._ac_ul436_One Day by David Nicholls– This book follows two characters on a single date over the course of twenty years. So from that point of view it’s one date but not one day. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set in A Single Location

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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April 23: (First Ten) Books I Reviewed (These do not have to be formal reviews. A small sentence on a retailer site or Goodreads counts, too! Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)

Since I can’t think of where to begin with that (I’ve written some form of book reviews for years!) I decided to make up my own topic: books set in a single location. While some of these have an opening and/or closing scene in another location all of them have about 70-80% of the narrative set in one space.  Some books, like Room, don’t apply because they’re only 50% in one space and then the story moves elsewhere. Others, like Jane Eyre or The Shining, are set largely in one place but important events to the story and the characters happen elsewhere, during the action of the story.

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1. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett- While there are flashbacks to other places at other times, the bulk of the action in this novel takes place while the characters are held hostage in home of the Vice President of an unnamed South American country.

51qf7-d2cl-_ac_us218_2. Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews– About 85% of this book takes place in the attic of Foxworth Hall. About 10% takes place elsewhere in Foxworth Hall. I think only the first chapter or two takes place in another location.

51sslc2wctl-_ac_us218_3. Misery by Stephen King– This novel is set entirely (save for the epilogue) in an isolated farmhouse where the main character, novelist Paul Sheldon, is being held hostage by Annie Wilkes, a woman who rescued him from a car wreck somewhere in the Colorado Rockies.

51lz9ueudjl-_ac_us218_4. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie–  In this case all the action takes place on a train. The train itself moves (until it’s stopped by a snowdrift somewhere in Croatia) but no one gets on or off.

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5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson– In this case we learn things about the characters, and their lives prior to their arrival at Hill House, and their motivations for being there, but the action of the story itself takes place in the house.

51mny8nb9il-_ac_us218_6. The Ruins by Scott Smith- I’d estimate the first 20% of this book is set elsewhere in Mexico, leading up to the four protagonists arriving at the titular ruins. But from the moment they arrive there, they’re trapped.

518ejevmohl-_ac_us218_7. The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn– In this case, the protagonist, Anna Fox, is  an agoraphobic who is unable to leave her Harlem townhouse. We learn about how she developed her condition via a flashback but a few steps outside of the door is as far as we see her travel during the action of the plot.

41oieugca5l-_ac_us218_8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey– The action of this novel is set almost entirely in a mental hospital. Once again, we learn (in some cases) how the characters ended up there, but that information is conveyed via flashback and conversation.

Does anyone have any other novels set predominately in one location?

 

 

 

Let’s Not Judge People Based on Literary Taste

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From The New York Times

Once again I’m responding to an opinion piece in a newspaper about reading (see my last response here). This time, I’m looking at a New York Times piece by author Jennifer Weiner titled “‘What’s Your Favorite Book’ Is Not A Trick Question.” In it, she discusses the response to the fact that Georgia politician Stacey Abrams writes romance novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery.  Recently she appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show where he read excerpts from her work:

As Weiner says:

 With salacious glee, and with a visibly uncomfortable Ms. Abrams beside him, Mr. Colbert read a sex scene from her novel “Reckless” on TV. She writes bodice rippers, was the joke, which played into layer upon layer of prejudice against women writers, women readers, women’s pleasure and women’s stories, especially when those stories are by, and about, women of color. Ha ha, sex! And also, lady-trash!

This plays into society’s misogynistic bias against the romance genre, which I discussed a bit in this post.

Firstly, it’s difficult diminish Abrams based on the fact that she writes romance. She has a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a JD from Yale Law. She is a former Deputy Attorney General for the city of Atlanta, and served as the Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for six years. In 2018 she was the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s gubernatorial election, making her the first black female nominee from a major party in US history. In 2019 she also became the first African American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address. In addition to her work as Selena Montgomery, Abrams has published articles under her own name on issues of public policy, taxation, and nonprofit organizations. She also wrote Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change under her own name. The fact that she writes romance doesn’t negate any of those achievements.

Secondly, Abrams’ work as Selena Montgomery is quite popular. Her books have sold more than 100,000 copies and she is the winner of the Reviewer’s Choice Award and the Reader’s Favorite Award from Romance In Color for Best New Author, and was featured as a Rising Star. I haven’t read any of her work, but according to Weiner, Reckless, the novel that Colbert mocked “is an especially challenging journey to happily ever after, given that its star-crossed African-American lovers were lawyer and the cop who pulls her over.” In other words, it seems that Abrams is a good novelist and people enjoy her work. So why the mockery?

Weiner contrasts this mockery to the response to  Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend Indiana, who shared his list of ten books he’d like to bring to a desert island. Buttigieg put James Joyce’s Ulysses on the list.

Clearly, Mr. Buttigieg wants us to know that he is smart. “Ulysses” is a great book, a book that is firmly ensconced in the canon, but probably doesn’t end up in a lot of beach bags. I am ready to concede that Mr. Buttigieg is an outlier, a man who truly enjoys “Ulysses” and expects that other readers will dig it, but it is not a book that many people read for fun.

First of all, there could be many reasons that Buttigieg has this book on his list. He might be showing off. Maybe he’s never been able to get through it, so he would bring it to a desert island where he’d have the time to attempt it. Or maybe it’s something he didn’t appreciate when he read it but is familiar with its reputation and wants to tackle it again. Or maybe it’s his #1 favorite book of all time, and he just can’t get enough. There’s no way to know for sure. But aside from a bit of eye rolling, there was no mockery of Buttigieg’s presumed love of Joyce.

The contrast between Abrams and Buttigieg isn’t exact because Abrams is a writer of several romance novels whereas Buttigieg is a reader of another writer’s work. Also the same people aren’t doing the mocking: in Abrams case it’s a late night television comedian, and in Buttigieg’s it’s a vague “Some people rolled their eyes at this; the literati swiftly leapt to his defense, some saying they’d rather reread Joyce than attempt a graphic novel.” Um, why? I’m not criticizing anyone who wants to read Joyce, but what’s wrong with attempting a graphic novel? Yes there are bad graphic novels and trashy graphic novels. But there are also graphic novels that are groundbreaking and literary and artistic. Should we dismiss Maus or Peresoplis because of their format?

I take Weiner’s point: that Abrams is a WOC and Buttigieg is a white man. Her writing career is mocked because of genre whereas what he reads is praised for being literary. I think that she’s conflating two things. One is the tendency to praise white men for well, just about anything, but to hold others to a much higher standard. The other is the tendency to place reading literary fiction above writing genre fiction.

The comment about graphic novels shows that it isn’t just about romance.  Recent comments from Ian McEwan about sci-fi also show that there is a general dismissal of genre fiction from mainstream media and literati. Yet most people who read fiction, read genre fiction.

What qualifies as literary changes as the world changes. Once upon a time, Shakespeare was considered lowbrow populist entertainment. Today his work is considered quite possibly the high point of the English language. Novels as a literary form were once dismissed (prompting Jane Austen’s famous defense of the novel). Obviously things have changed. A hundred years from now, no one knows what we’ll consider great. So let’s reserve judgment.

Books As An Accessory?

I was reading an article in the Washington Post titled Books Have Become the New “It” Fashion Accessory. Is That Such a Bad Thing? The article discusses the trend of celebrities (generally female) being photographed with a book in hand. It tends to conflate several trends involving celebs and literature. One is the bookish paparazzi shot. Another is the celebrity book club, and another is celebrity book pics on instagram. Let’s look at these separately for a moment.

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Bella and Gigi Hadid carrying books. Pic from Glamour.com

With paparazzi shots, it can be difficult to tell whether they’re staged (unless the shot features the celeb in question doing something hideously embarrassing in which case, chances are it isn’t staged!) but there are places that celebs can expect to encounter a photographer. Think airports in major cities like LA and NYC. What is a popular activity that many people (famous and nonfamous) do on planes? Yep, that’s right. Read. So is there an awareness on the part of celebs that they might well be photographed? Yes. I’d imagine that they take care to look good at the airport for that reason. But if they have a book with them it might just be for reading purposes! More suspicious by far is if a celebrity is photographed emerging from a nightclub with a book. Because no one (to my knowledge) reads in that setting.

Then there’s the celebrity book clubs. Oprah’s is the most famous, but Emma Robert’s Belletrist, Florence Welch’s Between Two Books, Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf, Reese Witherspoon’s RW Book Club, are all on the radar. These clubs have different purposes. But there’s some skepticism expressed in the comments and even in the article:

“These posts make reading look both cozy and chic, an activity best done with polished toes, in a slouchy yet stylish sweater, on a plush piece of furniture, in front of a fireplace and/or in the company of a highly Instagrammable dog. “

But is it fair to accuse these personalities of hopping on the book bandwagon for the sake of image? Reese Witherspoon’s book club highlights books that she enjoys. However her production company frequently options the books for film adaptation. Sometimes she stars in them (Wild, Big Little Lies) and at other times she serves as a producer (Gone Girl). Do you really think she doesn’t read a book before investing time and money on an adaptation? Emma Watson is a vocal feminist in addition to being an actress. Her book club, Our Shared Shelf shares books by and about various female experiences. It encourages discussion. Watson is the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and she has a degree in English Literature from Brown University. She is very capable of both reading books and leading discussions about them.

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from openculture.org photographed by Eve Arnold

But this questioning of female celebrities when they’re open about their love of books isn’t anything new. Recently Christie’s auctioned off Marilyn Monroe’s personal library of over 400 books. Photographers often thought that it was funny to pose the world’s most famous “dumb blonde” with her nose in a thick book, but according to those who knew her she was an avid reader with a curious mind. In 2010 her poems, notes, letters, diary entries, and more were published as Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters. These informal scribbles reveal a thoughtful, sensitive soul who used literature as a lifeline. In spite of this being known about Monroe, she is still sealed in popular imagination as a spacey, somewhat clueless tragic figure.

Logically we know that all actors play parts that may be very different from who they are in their personal life. But we still have trouble when we’re presented with evidence of that. That trouble is elevated when we are discussing female performers. I think the reason for that goes back to why male actors once played all parts or why actresses were once regarded as prostitutes. Something in western culture is deeply suspicious of a woman who has something going on behind the curtains. Our society wants to be able to “see” what a woman is. But if she presents a different face to different audiences, it’s hard to know if you’re seeing the real thing. That’s scary to many people.

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pic from thelitnerds.com

The article then goes on to discuss the #bookstagram phenomenon.

Some bibliophiles take their ink-on-paper fetish a little too far online. “Ladies are draping their bodies across a swath of opened books like some sort of Abrahamic sacrifice to the gods of paper and ink,” Hillary Kelly wrote in Vulture last year, identifying one of the more unsettling bookish fads to sweep Instagram.

I could get into a whole discussion about why this is “too far” and “unsettling” but I won’t. That’s a whole nother topic! But  I find it interesting that in the comments several people questioned the validity of celebrities photographed with books because they were holding physical books rather than ereaders. I think this goes back to the reason that I don’t believe that ebooks will ever completely replace physical books. Physical books have a power as objects that ereaders lack (I discussed that a bit in this post). Books as physical objects are really what ties this article together.

Think about it. When you see someone reading a psychological thriller, or a romance novel or a political biography, you make assumptions about them. You make guesses about what they’re interested in, and why they’re reading that book. Your guesses may not be right, but that’s another story. What a person is reading is a little window that can potentially reveal a lot. I think that aspect of the reveal is part of what makes people uncomfortable. It’s almost similar to people being uncomfortable next to someone in a very revealing outfit. I think that with celebrities we assume the books they hold are performative because we are uncomfortable with the idea of them being so comfortable as to share that. I think that this is really the crux of what seems like a pretty thoughtless opinion piece in the newspaper.