Monday, July 06, 2009

Link Shelves

Self Styled Siren "anecdote of the week" the great Myrna Loy (Manhattan Melodrama) on John Dillinger -- a great choice 0f topic given all the discussion about Public Enemies this week.
PopWatch the future and end of Friday Night Lights, one of the best shows on television. If you haven't yet watched, please do yourself the favor and rent the DVDs.
Kenneth in the (212) on the documentary "My Big Break". A documentarian decided to film his struggling actor roommates and three of the four ended up finding some fame.
Lazy Eye Theater is a patriot. He alerts the authorities to Roland Emmerich's questionable activities. "If you see something, say something!"


The Hot Blog David Poland has some deep thoughts on the audience/critical divide and what we (the audience) need and accept from movies. Good stuff though I'm not so sure about the final Star Wars examples. CGI Yoda not being the problem with the new movies.
World of Wonder Lindsay and Michael Lohan celebrating.
Boy Culture video of Madonna's 'Sticky & Sweet' tour changes. Couple of song switches and a Michael Jackson tribute
Cinematical has guarded hope for Indiana Jones Part V. Ouch. Does anyone (anyone?) outside of those who would directly profit by the million$, really think in their heart of hearts that this is a good idea? Why does no one demand more of these people before showering them with money? I'm absolutely convinced that if George Lucas announced Star Wars Episode 7: The Journey of Jar Jar Binks people would still line up in droves. And then complain about it afterwards. Why should filmmakers even try to make good movies when we reward them for hurting us? Current Blockbuster Movie Culture = Stockholm Syndrome.

Finally, Pop Culture Nerd is embarrassed that he's read only 13 of Newsweek's Top 100 Books: The Meta List. I haven't done much better. How many have you read? I'm guessing more than me. The Boyfriend consistently chastises me that I am to books what I complain the general public is to movies i.e. I usually go for the easily digestible ones within my favorite genres (fantasy/sci-fi) and devour sequels even when I think said franchise has become embarrassing.

my goodreads profile. not that i'm that active a reader

I must admit, with some shame, that he's right. I regularly miss the new critical darlings and the old classics to pick up yet another fantasy or sci-fi book, even when I think the author is shamelessly repeating themselves for a buck. My adventurous cinephilia has sadly never transferred over into book form though I usually do love the classics once I actually read them. I've been thinking of bringing back the "cast this" series (a book club for film lovers) but haven't quite decided given all the other projects on hold.

What are you reading right now? Or are summers all about the air conditioned movie theater for you?
*

59 comments:

Curtis said...

Many of these same books are on my lists as well, lol.
I read "To The Lighthouse" earlier this year; have to say I can't comprehend Woolf most of the time unless Michael Cunningham has written her angst. Own "The Line of Beauty" but have never actually made it to the end of the book. Cheers for "The Body Artist"; strange and beautiful.

DJ said...

Reading is my favorite passion.

Favorites: The Shadow of the Wind, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Bean Trees, and The Great Gatsby

Books read in June:
The Bell Jar by Plath (5/5)
The Shadow of the Wind by Zafon (5/5)
The House at Riverton by Morton (4/5)
Mrs Dalloway by Woolf (4.5/5)
The Glass Menagerie by Williams (3.5/5)
The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood (5/5)
Animal Dreams by Kingsolver (4.5/5)

Currently Reading: The Angel's Game

To read in July: The Blind Assassin, The Thirteenth Tale, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence

Ryan said...

Make Middlesex the next book you read. Seriously. You won't regret it.

I started The Road and REALLY want to finish it.

Marsha Mason said...

No offense, but your reasons for reading repetitive second offerings for books are the same reasons Indiana Jones 5 has no problem getting made. People are creatures of habit for everything but their few passions.

I feel the same way about my musical tastes. I mostly end up listening to the overdone radio-friendly saccharine put out in the name of some hot 19-year-old by some saturnine record executive, when I'm sure there's still great music being made somewhere.

Seeking Amy said...

Reading used to be such a passion for me. I haven't read a whole book in oh...14 months? It was Persepolis I and II in quick succession. And those are graphic novels, so I haven't done some heavy reading in ages. I started and got about half way through Atonement, Blindness (I was so fascinated by this one!), Catch 22, Pride and Prejudice, and some random tween book I found in the closet one day called Guitar Girl.
I just end up getting distracted and never finish =( At least I've never read the Twilight books!


Generally in the summer i'm much better about reading though, so I think i'll pick The Hours and A Home at the End of the World.

NATHANIEL R said...

Marsha Mason I KNOW. that's why i mentioned the double standard. embarassing it is.

seeking amy Blindness nearly made my top ten. it's such a great book.

dusty said...

I read obsessively but am always disappointed how I stack up in lists like these. I've only read 23 of Newsweek's top 100 in full -- but I feel I deserve some points for having read The Odyssey (which is paired with the Illiad) and large chunks of the Bible, Ulysses, the Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Democracy in America, and a few others.

Anyway. I just read Larry McMurtry's gargantuan western Lonesome Dove while bumming around on chicken buses in Central America. Highly recommended. The book, that is, not so much the buses.

Max said...

I started The Road but couldn't finish it -- it's really not a summer read. Maybe I'll pick it up again when the fall comes back and the weather gets all Viggo-y.

I just finished Revolutionary Road, which is an absolute must-read. The first book since Harry Potter where I was actually sad to be done.

Marsha Mason said...

Oh, duh, you did say that....reading too quickly.

Anyway, i'll add my kudos for The Road as a book. And the writing so spare, and so evocative for it, that a director with a great visual sense could really make a movie of it, which is rare for a really good book. Wonder what Malick would have done with it...

Kyle Pinion said...

About to start reading "Slaughterhouse Five", my father raved about how much he loves it for years when I was growing up, but it took an episode of "Lost" on one of our tv on dvd days and my girlfriend telling me "how it was basically a riff on Slaughterhouse Five" to give it a shot...I'm excited to see how it is.

I read Dracula not too long ago, it definitely deserves every accolade that's ever been heaped upon it...how can it be so hard for Hollywood to make a good version of this book??? Frankenstein is pretty draggy and slow sometimes, but damn, Dracula just moves...

Seeking Amy said...

I loooved Dracula. Slaughterhouse 5 is a very interesting book. I read it in one day a few years ago back in high school. One of the few books I didn't have to sparknote back then.

Kyle said...

I'm getting into it at the right time it seems, Time Travel is the new vampire ;-)

MrW said...

I'm counting 34 books I've read.

By the way, no mention of Robert McNamara's death? He is after all the subject of the finest documentary ever made and one of the five best films of the decade... (and this can't be only me saying that)

Glenn Dunks said...

I'm a terrible book reader. I feel terrible about it, I really do, but I just struggle to read books. I find my attention drifts away far too easily and think I could watch a movie in the time it would take me to read even a portion. I'm terrible, I know. I keep wanting to try, but then... don't.

Ben said...

I've read 29. The Guardian compiled a list of 1000 books to read before you die that, for me, was much more interesting. It was separated into separate themes - love, war, family etc. - and included a lot of contemporary novels alongside the classics. So there was room for Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith alongside Austen and Eliot. The list can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jan/23/bestbooks-fiction.

I'd second Ryan's recommendation of Middlesex. I've read it twice and it's one of most moving, humane things I've ever read.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I confess, the let movie marquees pick my reading list for me. I just finished "Playing the Enemy" and am right in the middle of "Cheri", and next it shall either be "Shutter Island" or "The Lovely Bones".

Favorite books ever, though, include: Lolita, A Key to the Suite, And Then There Were None, Ethan Frome, Atlas Shrugged, Laughter in the Dark, The Hours, and Miss Marple/Poirot mysteries.

I've read 24 on that list. That's not bad, I feel, about 1.2 books a year. That's fine.

Jose said...

I finished "Emma" a few months ago and I'm currently reading a collection of stories by Chekhov.
I've become such a slow reader though. Curiously I read the most when I work the most (all that idle time in public transportation...) and right now unemployment isn't helping.
As soon as I'm done with Anton I plan to dig into "Atlas Shrugged" or "Moby Dick".

Ron said...

I definitely recommend "The Scent of Shadows." It's a fun, engaging read, particularly if you're a Buffy fan (which I know you are, Nathaniel).

Ditto on "The Road." Amazing. One of my favorite books ever. Absolutely CANNOT wait for the movie to come out.

Have you read the "A Song of Ice and Fire" books by George R.R. Martin? Pretty much the best fantasy series out there right now for a lot of people, including myself. Soon to be an HBO series.

Guy said...

I tend to balance reading two books at the same time, dipping in and out of them as the mood takes me. So right now I'm immersed in "Netherland" by Joseph O'Neill (brilliant stuff) and the lowbrow delights of "T is for Tresspass" by Sue Grafton (business as usual).

I personally think "On Beauty" is a wildly overpraised book that blurs the line between homage to, and lazy reworking of, E.M. Forster. If you haven't read "Howards End" before "On Beauty," drop the latter and read the former. If you HAVE read it, well, read it again instead -- it's much more rewarding. But that's me.

Guy said...

But please do read "In Cold Blood," Nathaniel -- easily one of favorite books of all time.

Catherine said...

I've chalked up 35 on that list, which is respectable but still low, given that books are my primary passion. But hey, the list was kind of a weird jumble of novels, histories, political treatises, religious works, etc and I tend to mostly read novels. The Guardian's list that Ben pinpointed earlier is much better, much more inclusive of contemporary and foreign literature, I think.

Right now I'm rereading Infinite Jest and beginning a biography of Stalin. Can't even begin to pick an absolute favourite book, but I would recommend White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I read her backwards, for some reason, beginning with On Beauty and finishing with WT, so I inadvertently ended up saving the best for last. I was in the middle of reading a particular scene on the crowded, early morning train and the scene was so funny that I couldn't help myself from braying aloud dementedly.

I also looooove: Pale Fire, Beloved, The Hours, The New York Trilogy, Cat's Eye.

amir_uk said...

Nathaniel, I'm shocked and slightly appalled by your reading habits! Though I do think you a brave and big man to point to your own double standard like that! I just would've thought someone who is so well-versed in the cinema would be as equally well-versed in, well, verse. For me, they're just so inextricable from each other.

Sometimes I think I love literature more than film...

But anwyay, you'll love To the Lighthouse. I gulped it down in two sittings. But the one Woolf you really should read is her last, Between the Acts. It's the perfect summer read; it's one of the most poetic prose works I've ever come across - and it's also her shortest ;-) .

The Line of Beauty is incredibly moving. One of my very favourites. A book to really luxuriate in. I also can't recommend Hollinghurst's first novel, The Swimming-Pool Library, enough. I want to live inside that world. Erotic and literate. Amazing.

On Beauty is clever and witty - as you'd expect from Zadie - and the ultimate campus novel.

Have you read The God of Small Things or In the Country of Men? The former won the Booker, the latter was runner-up in its year (incidentally to one of the worst Booker-winners I've read); both were the saddest, most cathartic reading experiences of my life.

Then there's poetry! And memoir! Ah!...

amir_uk said...

P.S. Curtis - just followed the link to your blog for the first time. I think I'm slightly in love with it, your Top 100 list, and you.

Anna said...

If you're looking for thought provoking, well written sci fi then I can highly recommend anything by Robert J Sawyer. The man is a genius!
I love to read pretty much anything, but good sci fi is definitely up there as my favorite genre. Sure it's useful to expand your horizons, but that doesn't mean you should stop looking for great books in your favorite genre!

NATHANIEL R said...

amir Yeah, Curtis's list is pretty interesting. I love reading top 100s that feel personal rather than derived from consensus or somesuch.

also my reading habits aren't always this bad. I tend to go in waves. Before this recent stretch of only easy read genre stuff I read about 5 non genre books. The problem is once i get started on the genre stuff again it sucks me back in and I have to purposefully extricate myself.

which is what i'm feeling now.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Currently reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I really don't give myself the time and space to read novels properly, though.

Talking about Roland Emmerich, have a look at this on youtube if you fancy a sideways glance at 2012:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW2qxFkcLM0

Slayton said...

Middlesex is really bad.

For a really good, entertaining read about deformity, read "geek Love"!

Jorge Rodrigues said...

If you love Blindness Nathaniel, then you should check out «Death with Interruptions». It's Saramago's most acclaimed book in Portugal...


He is such a great writer... «Baltasar and Blimunda» and «The Stone Raft» are also good choices.




The last 3 books I've read were The Road, The Lovely Bones and curiously The Line of Beauty. I am currently reading one of Saramago's best, «Lift up from the ground» (I don't know if the translation is any good but the Portuguese and Spanish title mean that, Levantado do Chão).

Wayne B. said...

I've only read 13 and one third of the books on the list. I need to read more.

Re: Hot Blog's article, I'm guilty of that where I'll like a movie based on one or two strong performances or will pay money to see a dull film if it stars one of my favourites. I agree with what he says: "Older movies were slower, yes. But they often built up over 100 minutes to a full, complex, thrilling experience." Gone With the Wind is a great example of that, when you watch it from the beginning, the last fifteen minutes still have power to them.

Drew said...

Don't knock your taste, we have The Hours, Orlando and The Road as favourites in common.

Liv. said...

just finished The Great Gatsby. loved it! now i'm reading The Lovely Bones so i can have it read before the movie comes out. and my summer reading book is Unaccustomed Earth, but there is approximately a 467% chance i'm going to procrastinate and read it at the end of august.

Curtis said...

Thanks guys its a work in progress.

NATHANIEL R said...

drew oh, i'm not knocking my own taste. I highly recommend sharing it.

I am however knocking my reading habits. Since I love superbly written books I should probably read more of them rather than continually picking up paperworks that I'm slightly embarrassed I'm reading... half of which are only mildly amusing ;)

brianmaru said...

I'm reading the recently released book on Columbine. You know, fun summer reading. I was waiting for my wife at a mall, reading the book, and started crying in the foodcourt...awkward indeed.

Ben said...

brianmaru I read that last year and think it's easily one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. Not just a comprehensive recounting of the events themselves but of the media storm surrounding it, mistakes made by both the police and the press and an intelligent, measured account of the killers themselves. I cried at least four times reading it and it's really stayed with me, even months after reading it.

adelutza said...

I've read 34 of that list. It is a weird list though, first great author missing that comes to mind is Alexandre Dumas - no love for the musketeers?
Anyways, I read now "Deaf Sentence" by David Lodge. Not bad but a far cry from his awesome trilogy ( "Changing Places", "Small World" and "Nice World"). Which I hugely recommend by the way.

John T said...

I hate to be that guy, but I've read 81 of these. I'm oddly missing some of the most popular entries, however (GWTW, LOTR, His Dark Materials, The Color Purple, Malcolm X). And I'd like to meet the person who actually made it through all of the Second World War and Das Kapital.

Christine said...

I've read the whole list but it's my job (English professor), so I'd be in trouble if I hadn't.

Geeky rant to follow:
Ditto to everyone who said these consensus lists tend to be bland. They also tend to include a lot of stuff that's well-known but not that well-regarded academically. That's because they almost never specify what they mean by "best" and have a bunch of other methodological flaws so something like 1984 ends up as number two. (Not a bad book, but I don't know anyone in my line of work who would put it in even in the top 100).

On the other hand, I love reading people's personal top 100 lists of anything. Those lists reveal a lot about the person compiling it.

Michael said...

I was hoping to be that guy with my "I've read 50 of those books," but now I'm that other guy.

Right now I'm reading The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay New York by George Chauncey.

Christine said...

Yeah, I realized my "I've read all the books" statement seemed kind of obnoxious right after I sent it. Like I said, it's just because it's a job requirement; it's not because I'm particularly industrious or anything. (In fact, as I'm typing this I'm also watching a Law & Order: SVU marathon).

I've often wondered if people who watch films for a living feel the same way about film lists as I feel about book lists. Do those of you who write about film get sick of seeing the same films showing up over and over? Are there films that always show up that are really overrated?

Christine said...

Also, John T don't bother with GWTW. The movie, sure, but I'm always puzzled by how high the book ranks on these lists; it's pretty cheesy.

Or do read it, and we can all start a "that guy" club together.

adelutza said...

I actually like GWTW the book much more than the movie. Not that the movie is bad but it couldn't encompass the complexity of the book.
And I don't think it's cheesy at all, au contraire .

KEVIN M. said...

"The Line of Beauty" will change your life.

Mason Mahoney said...

I've read 13 of them.

Most of my spare reading time goes to drama, which this list mostly ignores.

I LOVE that His Dark Materials is on the list though!

My favorites are: East of Eden, The History of Love, Atonement, The Road, Blindness, and The Dark Tower series.

Rebecca said...

My favorite books are 'One Hundred Years of Solitude,' 'Song of Solomon,' 'The Road,' 'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Aventures of Kavalier and Clay.'

Right now I am reading Gaiman & Pritchardt's 'Good Omens' and I lurve it.

DJ - I hope you like 'The Blind Assassin.' It took me quite a while (150+ pages) to get into it, but then I was hooked. I also just finished Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake' which was quite good.

The Know Nothing Know It All said...

I'm reading "Push" right now. I wasn't sure what to expect. Part of me was expecting it to be typical pulpy contemporary black fiction, but it's actually very captivating. The structure, and the use of dialect are somewhat distracting, but it actually reads like a sort of "Color Purple" for the 90s (when it was published).

I find myself wondering if the movie will retain the graphic nature of the book. It's really REALLY graphic and wrenching. I'm more convinced than ever that Mo'Nique will win that Oscar now. If the movie is even a little true to the book, there's a lot of scenery chewing that'll be going on.

Anonymous said...

Middlesex and The God of Small Things are excellent.

If you haven't read them, try them.

Marcelo - Brazil.

Michael said...

I read most of the 50 I have read because they were on another list that's probably just as crappy--the Modern Library's "100 greatest novels written in English in the 20th century" or whatever they called it, of which I've read 73. I'm a slave to lists, if only because they bring books/movies/music to my attention that I might not have encountered otherwise. But once you make it through one list (I'm 73 books into the Modern Library one), you start turning up your nose at other lists that contain the same books.

And yes, the films that end up on these top 100 lists are usually overrated because any time you poll a bunch of people, your final list is going to gravitate toward middle-of-the-road things that everyone has seen. I prefer lists by individuals (Christine, if you want to post a list of books I'd be in heaven) because they're much more interesting.

Jim T said...

"The Line of Beauty" is on my list too. I am a really slow reader because I get distracted all the time. Everything I read reminds me of some exerience I had.


I haven't read many of the books on the list but that's OK. I've read many good books. I am currently reading Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro. Very good!

Arkaan said...

I've read 34.5 (I've read all of the Illiad, and none of the Odyssey).

Christine, along with Great Expectations and Crime and Punishment (speaking of - no Dostoyevsky on that list? WTF), 1984 is one of my all time faves (I'm not in the same field as you, though - science geek here). I read it in High School, and thought it was shattering. I wonder if the fact that you are in the English Faculty (one way or another) makes you promote the lesser-known works. I had a teacher who loathed Fitzgerald with a passion and used Dos Passos as the club to beat him with (I haven't read any of the latter).

I love Zadie Smith the way that Nathaniel loves Michelle Pfeiffer.

Last book I read? The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. The Great Game by 13 writers (thirteen one act plays about Afghanistan. VERY VERY interesting).

18 Year Old Blogger said...

Middlesex is my favorite book of all time. It's so well written and real that by the last page I turned to the beginning again. I'm constantly reading chapters and passages randomly based on my moods.

Ben said...

Well, HBO are getting ready to make Middlesex into a TV series: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/307592-EXCLUSIVE_HBO_to_Develop_Middlesex_as_One_Hour_Series.php.

Interesting. I'd agree that the story suits a TV series more than a film, but I would have all sorts of concerns with any adaptation. The casting of Callie would have to be spot-on and no young actress immediately springs to mind that I'm convinced would be able to handle the character. But it's HBO so I have trust.

Deborah said...

I count 24 that I've read front-to-back. I've started a few others and not finished them, and I've read pieces of the Bible.

Right now I've got a bunch of books I'm reading for the purpose of writing reviews, as well as reading for work. The most interesting of the bunch are Cinema of the Occult, which is uneven, and Bad Girls Go Everywhere, a biography of Helen Gurley Brown which I am absolutely loving.

Christine said...

I'm a slave to lists as well. I was obsessed with completing Clifton Faidman's Lifetime Reading Plan when I was a kid and I'm slowly working my way through the 1000 best film list this site linked to a while back. Even though a lot of the lists developed by committee seem bland and safe to me (I'm looking at you AFI film lists!), I can't tear myself away.

My personal favorite books:
Tristram Shandy, Persuasion, La Distinction, Alice in Wonderland, Bleak House, Phineas Finn, How to Cook a Wolf

I prob. wouldn't put most of my personal favorites in the top 100 best books of all time though. There are a lot of other books that are more important because of their influence, historical importance, ground-breaking nature, etc.

Margaret said...

I have read 43 on that list and I would like to recommend any book by Nabaoov (who wrote "Lolita") I read just about everything he wrote when I was younger and his prose is just beautiful. You have to re-read passages again and again just for their sheer beauty.

Margaret said...

Oops meant Nabokov

18 Year Old Blogger said...

Ben,
I think Saoirse Ronan would be perfect as Calliope.

But I think the book would work best as a 7-8 episode miniseries. As a show it wouldn't be ideal. I mean, what if it gets canceled? I would be very disappointed. As a mini-series they would just film everything at once and I think it would be perfect.

rz said...

Hi Nathaniel, just found your site, and I enjoy it quite a bit. Definitely bookmarked.

Just wanted to comment/give kudos to you on your likening our collective blockbuster movie expectations to Stockholm Syndrome...very, very true...and more succinct than I could ever hope to put it. A lot of wisdom there.

Also, I see people are talking books here, which is great. Nice to see such high praise for "The Road"...it is summer yes, but I've decided to belatedly dive into this book...I'm only 45 pages in thus far, but I certainly look forward to the journey ahead of me.

Is it wrong that I feel a sense of shame to have crumbled in the book store, and bought the little paperback version that features Viggo's worn face on the cover, and the utterance "Now a Major Motion Picture"? I can't help but feel a little less pure for picking up this version, but I feel it's a must-read, and this commercialized version is cheapest (obviously), and what's a broke-ass actor/writer wanna-be to do?

ersin said...

I was hoping to be that guy with my "I've read 50 of those books," but now I'm that other guy.

Right now I'm reading The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay New York by George Chauncey.