Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s New Book Idea

Normally, I don’t focus on a famous author, but I have a sweet spot for J.K. Rowling, the writer of Harry Potter. As a child, I grew up as Harry did while reading the books. Later in my undergraduate classes we discussed how Rowling  revolutionize young adult literature. With an epic series of fantasy and coming of age, who wouldn’t want to see what she has coming up next.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/24/world/europe/jk-rowling-new-book-deal/index.html

According to CNN, Rowling has an adult book in store for readers worldwide. After the stunning growth of her characters and her writing, there is a lot of promise in this new book.  Most people in the publishing biz don’t expect her to receive the same success as HP.  I, however, have an optimistic approach for this book. Maybe it’s because I enjoyed the development of the HP series, but out of courtesy to another writer I believe we all can develop in different levels of writing. The switch from young adult to adult may be difficult for some writers. There is a huge difference in the themes and style of young adult that make the literature part of that genre.

According to the article, Rowling’s editor of choice is known for crime thrillers giving a hint to the book’s contents. The rumor is that Rowling’s setting will be her hometown of Edinburgh, and she may be writing a whodunnit. I am thoroughly excited about this because I have a special place in my heart for crime novels. It is important to note that having new books by well-known authors may help the publishing industry. With a name like Rowling on a new book, people may stop and buy the book.

We will have to wait for the book to come out to be sure, but the anticipation for Rowling’s new book definitely has me inspired.

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The Twisted, Messed Up Reader Inside Me

Recently, I purchased a few books from an awesome bookstore in Pittsburgh. I was excited to start reading because I had found two books from the genius science fiction writer Issac Asimov. Since I hadn’t read many classic science fiction writers, I saw the books as an opportunity to learn more about the genre. Noticing the word “Foundation” as one of his best pieces, I picked up two books.

One problem. The ignorance of my purchase was validated when I picked up the book, Foundation and Empire to find that it is the second installment in the trilogy. In addition, I had purchased the third installment, Second Foundation, which was sitting at home waiting to be read.

I have the two books on the right: The ones with the orange and blue cover art.

How could I begin the series without the first installment?

Well, folks here is the kicker. I have a secret habit of reading most new series out of order. You’re probably thinking: Just go and buy the other book you need and then read it. My response: Why should I wait to read the story when I have two perfectly good books right here? I can go back and read the beginning of the series later. This mantra has consumed my life for as long as I remember. I pick up a book, read the entire thing, then find out there are three other books that come before and after it.

This accidental out of order reading has happened so often, I have accepted it as a normal habit when reading books. It is rather comical going back, and thinking about what book series I have read in the most interesting order.

Let me take you back to the first time I read a book in a series out of order. It’s 1999, I’m 10 and walked through Kmart or some department store. I’m with my dad when I notice the following cover of a book. It’s a thick book, but up until then I hadn’t seen a good fantasy novel that caught my attention.

I asked my dad to buy the book for me, and by the end of the trip I was at home reading it. Now I might have known about the series if I paid attention to the news, but the internet wasn’t as instantaneous or important to me at 10 years old. No, I read the book cover to cover, never knowing it was the third book in a series of seven.

How can a 10 year old say no to that?!

What book series, you ask? Harry Potter. The book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I was hooked on the story, but didn’t have any more of the books to fuel my addiction. Slowly I began collecting the other books (in the right order from that point) so that I could read the entire story of this boy wizard.

The funny thing about reading a series out of order is how your perception of the story changes. As you acquire more information, the story shapes itself like clay being molded rather than a flower unfolding. For most of the novel, I thought Harry Potter was actually Neville Longbottom because he gave a fake name while getting on the Knight Bus. Try thinking that the main character is pretending to be someone else, then going back to read the first book to find out he’s someone entirely different. Even at a young age, I loved piecing together the story line rather than just read it in order.

Let’s jump ahead to high school. I spent as much time as my schedule would allow in the library. Like any good bookworm, I sought after compelling books to take up my waking hours. As I searched though the stacks I came upon the final book in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series.

You see that one down there on the bottom right? That's the book I chose to read first!

Anthony is one of many fantasy/science fiction writers that inspired my career today, but our relationship started out a little hazy. Like I said, I picked up the book And Eternity, thinking it was a standalone novel. I was impressed to find that it was the final part (well, now I know it’s the second to last book because he added another one on and I just found out) of the series. I wouldn’t figure this out until I picked up the 5th book in the series of 7. To save time, I will name in numerical order how I read the series: 7,5,1, 3,2,4,6. I know, I know, it seems like the weirdest way to read a series, but it worked. The shock when I discovered the connections between book 5 and 6 were much more drastic than if I had read them in order. The discovery of connections was confusing at first, but eventually became a satisfying result.

It may seem as backwards as reading the series in reverse, but the adrenaline rush I received from putting the story together is incomparable to reading it in chronological order. Also, the fact that I have found an additional book in the series I thought was finished makes me incredibly excited.

Check out the middle book in the bottom row. Doesn't it look appealing?

Moving on to a more recent trip down out of order lane, I was perusing through the fantasy section of a book store when I came upon this series. It was clearly stated that it was part of a series, but I had no clue in what order. Like most chain bookstores, they might have two or three selections from a series or from the author. In this case, I picked up what looked like the most appealing cover matched with the back cover blurb. Again, I had chosen the second to last book in the series, Cape Storm. 

Did that stop me from reading it? Hell, no. This time, though, it took me a bit longer to read the rest of the series. In this instance, I didn’t have the time or cash to supply my addiction. The time separating the first read from the rest of the series spanned two years at least. When it came to finding the other books, it took little research. Half.com provided me with perfect prices to own the series, IN ORDER. After choosing a book at the very end, I decided to try reading it in order. Only that didn’t work either. While attempting to find the right price for the books, I bought a few that were not in numerical order. One from the beginning, two from the middle, and a few missing in between. I read whatever arrived in the mail. I don’t remember exactly what order I read them, but the reaction was the same. Joy from piecing together a story I first read years before. The details of the first book were a little hazy, but eventually everything fell into place. At the moment, I am a few pages into the final book.

It’s sad to think most people never give this a shot. It’s somewhat like the idea Japanese manga has by placing the order of their books right to left rather than the normal setup. It’s a secondary challenge added on to the act of reading. You are the reader first and foremost, but you have the opportunity to approach the series from whatever angle you chose. You aren’t limited to reading it in the linear fashion we are taught. The book police aren’t going to burst into your room because you haven’t read the first book first.

Take a few minutes and think of what your favorite series would be like if you read it out of order. Try taking your favorite book of the series. Start from there and see how the story would change. It might surprise you how much you take for granted reading in order.

Share your story if you have ever read a series out of order! Maybe I’m not the only crazy one!

 

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The Funny Side to the E-book Debate

As the sales of e-books soar past print books without a second glance, I feel the need to bring some laughter to this heavy issue. I will not be stating any argument on the debate, as I feel there is merit to both print and digital books. I will, however, give you an example of the downsides to e-books only Cracked.com would bring to our attention.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/8-unexpected-downsides-switch-to-e-books/

What happens when you take a well-known comedic site and combine it with the debate of oh the next 50 years or so? The monstrosity of an article shown above. It details the satirical and true downsides to e-books coming to power.

The first downside, you ask? Where will assassins hold their guns? With security and surveillance becoming more high tech, assassins and hit men must become more creative in hiding their weaponry.  So why not just hide it in your coat? Metal detectors solve that problem outright and as the author of the article goes through the strangest places to hide a gun, we come across books as the cliched place to hide a gun. If e-books take over and make books obsolete (don’t think it will happen for a while) then carrying one around will be odd and out of place, making guns in books undesirable for killers.

The list continues to include mundane tasks like holding up a wobbly table and doodling in textbooks. While people might not find ultimate value in these odd reasons, the root of them is the same. What happens if we change the entire facet of books? Just like phones when they became mobile, the culture began to change to create something people 50 years ago wouldn’t recognize. The mobile phone example is perfect because while most people use their cell phones,  land lines are still prominently used. The influx of cell phone eventually leveled out and became consistent while land lines were simply used less. To me, this seems like a possible example future for books. As print books have been such a long standing form in the medium, I believe they will hold strong to the people who need them. At the same time, there isn’t anything wrong with using both for different reasons and keeping the history of the medium alive.

One of the most interesting downsides on the list is the use of ancient texts and mystical books in movies and games. Many movie plots and even whole genres rely on the use of books that either have a magical quality or important information only found in old books. There would be no plot to The NeverEnding Story without the old, mysterious book. If you replaced the mysterious, almost magical book with a Kindle, the movie wouldn’t have the magic in it.  Where would the old witch find her potion recipes or the young sorcerer learn his trade. For the fantasy genre, it almost solely relies on the use of these ancient books in the plot to suck us in to the story. Would we take those out and replace them with e-books as most technological updates have required of movies? I don’t know, but I sure don’t want to live in a world where I’d have to find out.

We move on in the list to the use of books in opening secret passages and the sanitation of bathroom reads. One of the things people don’t understand about new technology is how it truly affects our perception of the world and changes our culture. While some people prefer to read harlequin books in the bathroom rather than take them out into the world, e-readers require you to have all your books in one place. This isn’t ideal for the bathroom reader, but neither is by two Kindles just so you can read on the John.

Speaking of changing culture, the most shocking realization of e-books rising above print books is book burning. What has plagued controversial books for decades? The threat (or not) of book burning. Contrary to Fahrenheit 451, replacing paper books would make book burning less appealing. Would you rather burn a bunch of 5 dollars books or burn a $200 electronic device that doesn’t actually hold the only copy of the book. It make the statement of book burning completely useless.

For authors like Mark Twain and J.K. Rowling (as well as librarians and bibliophiles) this could be a relief. However, the point of book burning is not such a terrible thing, is it? Does it stand to reason that a book, which can rile the masses to burn its pages is important? Without this option, how would we know that books hold a power above just the pages? If a book on an e-reader is too controversial, you would just get rid of it. You wouldn’t burn your Nook. The only indication that a book was too controversial would be the peer reviews on the app and Oprah’s Book Club wouldn’t read it. Although I’m obviously against burning books (unless I’m stranded and have a bunch of Twilight books), there is something powerful in that action to stand against someone’s view of the world. Though many people would find it a blessing to be rid of this act, I find that the world would be a less honest place if radicals couldn’t burn books and provoke people to read them more.

Either way, there are upsides and comical downsides to e-books, but this much is true. There is no way for us to know the results (positive or negative) of this new technology until it has had more time to prosper. Print books have had hundreds of years of head start. Give e-books time. They may have their hindrances, but everything in the world does. Cracked as always gives you a relaxed way of looking at a heated, sensitive issue.

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