Monthly Archives: September 2014

Celebrating Occasions with Books

It’s no wonder that many people love receiving gifts – from gift cards, to big things, small things, expensive things, and all other things in between. Sometimes the gift is just the thing you wanted, and other times it’s something that you hope came with a gift receipt.

When it comes to book lovers, what’s the first thing that they ask for during any major holiday, whether it be their birthday (hey, to them it’s a holiday), Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other day, books are usually at the tops of their list.

But what if you don’t know their reading style? What if you get them a book – or series – that they already have?

It can be hard to shop for a reader, especially when so many different factors can play a part into what should and should not be given them. Let’s take a moment to explore some ideas for your average book lover:

  • Gift cards – they’re a great gift during any occasion, and you can give gift cards for specific stores, such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon. You can really never go wrong with this option.
  • e-Readers – they’re not all expensive and can hold thousands upon thousands of books in just the palm of your hand. From the nook to the kindle, there are several e-Readers that do the job just fine. You can even get accessories for each reader, which makes it more personal, and fashionable.
  • Book-themed apparel – yes, it exists. Haven’t you seen the “Okay? Okay.” shirts looming around some stores modeled after “The Fault in Our Stars“? Or what about the Harry Potter themed clothing items that can be found at Hot Topic? Do a little digging and you’ll find many places carry book-themed apparel.
  • Audiobooks – they can be just as expensive as hardcover books, but audiobooks are a great way to listen to a book for your busy, on-the-go, reader. There’s a wide range of different kinds of audiobooks, but not all books are made audio, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a specific title.
  • Custom designed anything – have you ever viewed Etsy? It’s a website where people can hold little online shops and sell items custom designed for others. You can find many people who do custom bookmarks, totes, and other objects and make them personal to your book lover.

Those are just a few examples of the what you can gift your book lover. They will love anything given to them that’s book themed (as long as they liked the book). It can be challenging, but with so many different tools out there in the world, you can find that some of these things are manageable, affordable, and totally perfect for the book lover in your life.

What kinds of gifts do you give to your book lovers? What kinds of gifts have you received as a book lover? Let me know in the comments!

Kids & Reading

It’s no shocker that kids who read do better in school – and not just in their English classes. In fact, the American Council on Education, as restated on Do Something, says that “53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally ‘almost every day,’ while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.”

Think about that. Just over half of young readers read for fun, while just four short years later the numbers drop over 25%. What would cause something like that?

It could be that the school systems become harder, kids growing up just have less of an interest because it’s “not cool,” or some other factor that prevents them from reading.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, “Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country [the United States] that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.” I would be so sad if I couldn’t read to my child when I have one. Stories bring to life so many adventures and create vivid imaginations that can take many children to places they’ve never been – especially in their playtime.

Reading not only brings up literacy and allows children to succeed well into their adult years, including, but not limited to, higher education, attaining a career, and keeping out of jail. Yes, jail. It’s a scary fact (see sources linked above), but it’s true that having the ability to read above a certain level can actually help to enhance a child’s future rather than hinder it.

If you live in the United States (and other places in the world), we have this wonderful place called the library. Many larger cities have their own, as well as many schools, and so allowing children to take advantage of reading free books (so long as they have a library card and no late fees to pay off) is well worth the trade off of having a child who is happy from reading. For a list of public libraries by state, check out this link.

When picking out a book for a child, or allowing them to choose on their own, simply think of their interests: do they like animals? Superheroes? Trains? There are so many wide varieties of books to choose from that they will never be bored of it. I know that, personally, when I walked into Barnes & Noble or my local library at a young age and gravitated toward the children’s section, I was always swept away at the amazing amounts of books and the many, many different kinds I could choose from. I personally enjoyed puzzle books and animal books, but your child may enjoy books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or any other kind of book.

For young readers under the age of eight, I recommend books like Stellaluna, Verdi, and Eloise.

For young readers age eight to thirteen, I recommend books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and really anything from this list.

But reading doesn’t have to be limited to those kinds of books. Let a child dip their toes into some more mature reads (obviously not too mature, depending on their age) and see if they can handle the language and structure. It can be a challenge, but sometimes that’s just what they need.

So what do you think about the importance of reading for a child? Do you think it’s worth it to have someone who enjoys having a big imagination, a broader vocabulary, and a sense of adventure? Sure, reading doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen (except the broader vocabulary part), but it still does allow them to find more dreams in the world than what may seem to be out there. We all know reality can be a harsh place to live in, so why not allow them to dream for just a little bit longer?

Do you think it’s important for kids to read? What would you recommend to a child under the age of 12? Do you remember what you read as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

Movie Adaptations of Books

We’ve all seen and heard of book to movie adaptations, such as Twilight, Divergent, The Great Gatsby, Life of Pi, etc. The list goes on and on.

But what is it about book to movie adaptations that make them so much worse (generally, not always) than the books themselves? And in retrospect, what makes some movies better than the books themselves?

As an avid reader and book lover, I must say that when I first read a book, and I love it, and then hear about a movie adaptation coming out of it, I have high expectations. There’s nothing that upsets me more than a bad book to movie adaptation.

Let me take a second to talk about one adaptation that really ticked me off: Blood & Chocolate. I first read this book about werewolves in middle school and loved it. It was dark, humorous, adventurous, and more. When I heard that a movie was coming out of it, of course I had to see it.

And I was severely disappointed.

The age of the characters was wrong, the plot was completely different, the acting was just bad, any form of CG was low quality at best, and it was just an overall horrible book to movie adaptation.

It kind of puts a damper on movies when you think about it because so many movies nowadays are based off of books. When the Harry Potter series first came to the big screen, many people were unsure if it was going to live up to the expectations that had been set so high by the fan base. Luckily the movies did well in representing the books (so I hear as I’ve only read the first two books thus far, but have seen all the movies). It seems to be a rare occurrence to have a decent, let alone true, adaptation.

What I think the movies lose is the sense of who the characters really are from the books when they’re being written for the screen or are spoken by a certain actor, or that there isn’t enough budget to make the world look believable, or there’s just some element missing that makes the movie that much worse than the book itself. This isn’t always the case, and there will always be some flaws in every adaptation, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some good ones out there.

The best adaptation I’ve seen recently was The Fault in Our Stars. Every line of the book and every scene from the book took place in the movie, minus one scene that was changed from what was in the book. Obviously some parts were snipped out due to time restraints and budget, but it was the most faithful book to movie adaptation I’ve seen in a long, long time.

And then there are some movies that are actually better than the books. These seem to be few and far in between, but they do exist somewhere out there!

Though adaptations can be a controversial subject as to quality on each medium, the fact of the matter is how you view each and your own opinions on them.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on everything discussed in the comments!