Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

A new dream cast post should be appearing soon, but until then, here are a few unpopular bookish opinions. Please feel free to share your responses to these questions too!

  1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (see my thoughts here) and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein. I’m all for World War II stories, but I did not understand this book at all. I was so lost about what was going on and eventually decided to give up on it. (Here are a few more popular books I didn’t care for.)

  1. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake was one of my favorite books of 2016, but when I looked on Goodreads, there were a lot of negative comments.

  1. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn people for spoilers) OR an OTP (One True Pairing) that you don’t like.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jami Ford – because if he loved her so much and did so much for her and her family, why didn’t he wait for her?…
  • How about Harry and Ginny? Who really believed in that match?!
  1. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.
  • Biographies
  • Memoirs
  • Short stories
  1. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

I didn’t make a connection with Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. My first name is Anne, and my aunt gifted me the Anne of Green Gables books when I was younger and I just remember being soooo bored. I know Anne is experiencing a resurgence of popularity with an audio-book read by Rachel McAdams and a Netflix series, but I’m not interested.

  1. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

Hm, maybe Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame. I tried reading the first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief, but I gave up after a few chapters. It just didn’t hook me. This is possibly because I had seen the movie previously and it just wasn’t something I cared for, despite enjoying mythology. I’m also not much of a John Green fan (see here).

  1. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

I’m getting tired of the “girl-falls-for-the-guy-who-is-mean-to-her” trope. It just feels like we can be doing better than perpetuating the idea of boys treating girls badly because they secretly like them. I’m all for a bad boy or a mysterious boy with a secretive past, but why must they mistreat girls and the girls put up with it?   

  1. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I haven’t read the books or seen the movies. Instead, while everyone was freaking out about Christian Grey, I was reading the epic romance of Tatiana and Alexander in Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman trilogy.   

  1. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

There are actually several movies I enjoyed more than their books – and I think it’s because I saw the films before reading the books (read my post about those book/film duos here). I didn’t have an allegiance to the books or notice that I was missing out on anything. One such film is Stardust, which was based on the book with the same name by Neil Gaiman. To me, the film added conflict and entertainment to a book that was too sweet.

Share your opinions in the comment section below, or post about them on your own blog and link back here so I can check out your answers. This isn’t a new tag, so if you’ve already responded to it, I’m still curious to know your thoughts!

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Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming

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As a lover of local libraries, today I’m sharing a fantastic article about a lecture author Neil Gaiman gave this fall in London. Gaiman has written short stories, novels, comic books, graphic novels, and films. His works include Stardust, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. The article, titled “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming,” focuses on the importance of libraries and the need to continue to provide information even in our digital age.

Gaiman states, “Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.” This is something I tried to stress to my students when they asked “Why do we have to read this?” or “Why do we have to take four years of English?” or “How come we have to write papers?” Reading and writing are such important skills—skills needed for any career a student may choose to pursue. And even beyond employment, reading and writing are important for personal growth and enjoyment as well.

The article is lengthy, but it’s worth it! It’s full of wonderful points and quotes. Towards the end of the article, Gaiman lists several obligations we have as readers, writers, and citizens. He states, “I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.” I also totally agree when he says, “We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.” Such wise words.

Click the link to read the full article from The Guardian: Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Entry #6: Adaptation

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Entry #6 — Adaptation:  Normally the motto is “don’t judge a book by its movie,” but sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised – which book-to-movie conversion was one that you liked?

I know I’ve been guilty of saying, “The book is so much better!” plenty of times in my life, but there were also times when the film adaptations took me by surprise.  It seems to be if you read the book first, you prefer the book.  If you watch the movie first, you like the movie.  This is probably because if you read the book first, you have created mental images of what the characters and scenery should look like.  When you see a film adaptation, you’re let down by the choices a director made.  For example, my mom never read any of the Harry Potter or Twilight books—but she loves the movies!  She loved the characters and the plot, and didn’t care about how much was “wrong” or  “missing.”  She didn’t know that she should be upset!   

As stated in a previous post, The Outsiders was a great film adaptation.  This was partly due to the fact that the cast was so fun, and partly due to the fact that the movie was requested by teen readers.  There was a need to stay truthful to the story.  It’s said that the first viewers were disappointed that certain scenes were missing, so these scenes were later added to the movie.  Readers get attached to their book characters and directors have a lot of pressure to remain true to the original story.

Another great movie adaptation is the 1995 version of A Little Princess.  The film, starring Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe, was absolutely stunning.  Sara’s enchanting life in India is contrasted with her strict new life at a boarding school.  The characters are wonderful and the costuming is lovely.  I watched this VHS tape over and over as a child.  I wish I had it on DVD so I could watch it again now.  Several years after watching A Little Princess, I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s original 1905 story.  I was bored by the novel, and found out that the movie had changed much of the story.  However, I preferred the movie version and couldn’t get into the novel version. 

Stardust was another film that I preferred over the book.  The 2007 film stars Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, and Henry Cavill.  For a cast this impressive, it is underappreciated and very few people I know have ever seen it!  Again, creative liberties were taken with the film—but I liked those liberties.  They made sense to the story.  There was more romance, more violence, and a faster pace to the movie.  It was a fairytale that adults could enjoy.  On the other hand, Neil Gaiman’s novel was a bit too sweet.  There were moments of vagueness (characters didn’t always have names), there were chapters that didn’t make any sense whatsoever (why is a lion fighting a unicorn for a crown?), and the villain gives up on their quest.  Take my advice, and rent Stardust.  Skip the book version this time around.     

Other Notable Mentions of Movies I Preferred to Their Book Counterpoints:  

  • The 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, trumps Jane Austen’s 1813 novel.  (I know I may not be very popular for admitting that!)
  • 1971’s musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, trumps Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I love Roald Dahl, don’t get me wrong, but this film is a classic.
  • The 1987 film, The Princess Bride, will forever remain one of my favorite movies of all time.  However, I didn’t fall in love with William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name.