I Just Read Books: Three Days of the Condor (1975)

I am not a spy. I just read books! We read everything that’s published in the world. And we… we feed the plots – dirty tricks, codes – into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, I look for new ideas… We read adventures and novels and journals.

We watched this film in a class I was a teacher’s assistant for, America at the Movies. Some of you might not feel that isn’t a mystery but more of a political drama, but au contraire, this film won the Mystery Writers of America’s 1976 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. So it counts!

To all you haters

I  loved this film. You have a movie that centers on reading books

And stars Robert Redford!

Swoon

The film starts out with Joe Turner (Redford) just doing day to day “office work”. Turner works at the American Literacy Historical Society-preserving the books that are important to the culture and history of our times.

Just kidding-that is the cover story. In reality Turner works for the CIA, codename Condor. His division reads mystery and spy novels looking for secret messages, plots, concepts, ideas, etc. It’s an easy job, pretty much all you do is read all day. Sounds perfect to me!

Turner reads one novel and submits it to CIA headquarters as the book has a few questionable elements and has been translated into many languages.

Hmm…

One day Turner steps out to get lunch for the staff. While he is gone, armed men enter the building and promptly kill the six staffers on duty. When Turner arrives, he discovers the dead bodies.

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scared, Turner follows protocol and reports in, giving codename “Condor”. He is supposed to meet his head of department, but it all turns out to be a trap. Now Turner is in a cat-and-mouse game, trying to outwit the CIA and assassins.

I love this as it is so similar to The 39 Steps or other Alfred Hitchcock films. Just normal guy, doesn’t really know what is going on and gets caught up in this big huge adventure.

The only thing we are missing is a beautiful blonde.

Enter, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), a woman he encounters by chance that he forces to take him to her home and keeps her hostage, using her apartment as a hiding place.

What a jerk

This doesn’t last as the man after him, Joubert, discovers his hiding spot and sends the hitman after him. Turner does manage to overcome the hitman disguised as a mailman. He gets a name and address of Leonard Atwood, Director of Operations of the Middle East and why the killings happened.

Joe Turner: What does Operations care about a bunch of damn books? A book in Dutch. A book out of Venezuela. Mystery stories in Arabic.

Atwood: Wait!

Joe Turner: What the hell is so important about…[He stops as he sees the connectionOil fields. Oil. That’s it, isn’t it? This whole damn thing was about oil! Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?

Atwood: Yes, it was.

The book was fictional, but hit too close the truth and the story had to be eliminated, and those who had read it. Joubert comes on the scene and kills Atwood, the head of the CIA determining that he is too much of a liability. They have decided to let Turner “go” for his ingenuity-but will they really? Joubert warns Turner it will never be over. Just like in The Godfather, he gives him notice of how the hit will go down.

Joe Turner: I’d like to go back to New York.

Joubert: You have not much future there. It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.

Turner meets with CIA operative Higgins in public-Times Square. Higgins talks more about the “plan” Turner stumbled on.

Joe Turner: Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?

Higgins: Are you crazy?

Joe Turner: Am I?

Higgins: Look, Turner…

Joe Turner: Do we have plans?

Higgins: No, absolutely not. We have games. That’s all. We play games. ‘What if?’ ‘How many men?’ ‘What would it take?’ ‘Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime?’ That’s what we’re paid to do.

Joe Turner: Supposing I hadn’t stumbled onto a plan; say, nobody had?

Higgins: Different ballgame… the fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan. No, the plan was alright; the plan would’ve worked!

Turner wants out and has insurance to protect himself. He gave The Wall Street Journal the whole story-anything happens to him it is published…or will it?

Higgins: Hey, Turner! How do you know they’ll print it? You can take a walk. But how far if they don’t print it?

Joe Turner: They’ll print it.

Higgins: How do you know?

It is a powerhouse of an ending. Is Turner safe? Will he be protected? Or will he be living his life always looking over his shoulder?

We will never know. That’s the beauty of its creepiness.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Who Did I Marry?: The Stranger Beside Me (1995)

For more spy films, go to Someone Has Erased His Memory: Total Recall (1990)

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Book Club Picks: The Illustrated Man

Thirteen weeks after a Friday the 13th, we have another

Don’t worry I got you covered with my new post.

So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I am now right on track!

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I don’t remember when I first read this book, but I know it was after Fahrenheit 451Out of all his short story collections; this is my ultimate favorite. The stories range from funny, thoughtful, and downright creepy. It is an incredible collection and once you start, you just can’t stop. I’ve talked about this book before, but here we go again:

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

Since I have posted on this before, I am only going to discuss the stories we went over in our book club.

The Illustrated Man starts with an average joe taking a walking tour in the summer of Wisconsin. As he stops for the night he is come upon by an illustrated man.

This man used to work for the circus, but back in 1900 he broke his leg. Looking for a way to make money while he rested, he went to a tattoo artist who covered him from neck to belt. What he didn’t know was that this tattoo artist was a witch.

Yes, she infused his illustrations with magic making them be alive and always moving telling their story.

However, there is one blank spot on his back. If you are a woman, you see your whole life from birth to old age. If you are a man, you see how you die.

The illustrated man warns his companion not to look, but he doesn’t listen and has to see them…

Illustration I: The Veldt

The Lion King

This is what the DCOM Smart House is loosely based on.

The live in the future in a smart house that does everything for them. They even can change the pictures on the walls to be anything they want them to be. The children constantly want it to be a veldt with lions.

The parents try to discipline their children and get them to do more but all they want to do is sit around and have the machines do everything for them. The parents determine it is time to turn off the house and go back to how things are supposed to be. Will the parents be able to change their kids? Or will the kids make sure their parents can never boss them around again?

“The lions look real, don’t they?…I don’t suppose there’s any way—–‘

‘What?’

‘—that they could become real?”

No one else really enjoyed this story as they felt it was too sad. I like it as it is a great blend of creepy and thrilling. It shows you why you should not spoil your children-and a big wake up to having your kid just sit in front of a tablet, phone, or TV. I love it, and think you should check it out.

Illustration III: The Other Foot

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Mars has been colonized only by African Americans. Now they hear that European Americans are traveling to Mars and decide to institute a Jim Crow law for them. Will they decide to make them pay for past wrongs, or will they all be able to start a new life in equality?

“This is the other shoe, Mayor, the other foot…”

We all loved this story. It has such a great message and a fantastic ending!

Illustration V: The Man

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A crew arrive on a planet ready to have glory and fame, but find the people uninterested as the person who came before them brought extreme happiness and bliss. One crewman believes him to be Jesus and wants to learn from the people. The Captain, however, is set on getting his glory and will stop this man any way he can.

“Leave these people alone. They’ve got something good and decent, and you come and foul up the nest and sneer at it. Well, I’ve talked to them too. I’ve gone through the city and seen their faces, and they’ve got something you’ll never have–a little simple faith, and they’ll move mountains with it. You, you’re boiled because someone stole your act, got here ahead and made you unimportant.”

The member who chose the book, this is her favorite story. She loves how it plays out and how the character’s testimony was so strong it helped the one man believe and have faith. She compared it to Christianity and Jesus. We all enjoyed this story as well. 

Illustration VI: The Long Rain

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We have colonized Venus, but it is a horrible place of endless rain. Sun domes were built to help us stay sane and in health, and this story follows a group of astronauts as they hope to make it to the dome, but will they?

“Drops fell and touched other drops and they became streams that trickled over his body, and while these moved down his flesh, the small growths of the forest took root in his clothing.”

We all enjoyed this story as well. One member posed a very interesting question: Does the sundome exist or is it just a mirage?

Illustration VII: The Fire Balloons

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A group of priests go to Mars to start a church and help bring peace and morals to a crazed group of colonists. One priest makes it his mission to try and bring Christ to the Martians.

“We feel absurd here—even I; for it is something new, this business of converting the creatures of another world.”

One member just loved this story. He felt that it was a perfect illustration for missionary work and just loved how the one priest had such a fire and desire to be there for the fire balloons and try and show them God’s love.

Illustration IX: The Last Night of the World

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A married couple realize that today is the last day on Earth. How would you spend your time if you had such an inclination?

“What would you do if you knew this was the last night in the world?”

One member just loved this story. She felt that if it was her last night on Earth she would spend it the exact same way.

Illustration X: The Exiles

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On Earth, countless literature from Edgar Allen Poe to William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens have been banned on Earth. They remain alive on Mars as their last books are still undamaged there. But when humans decide to completely destroy every page, these characters and their creators decide to wage a war on them. Will they win?

“His last book gone. Someone on Earth just now burned it.’

‘God rest him. Nothing of him left now. For what are we but books, and when those are gone, nothing’s to be seen.”

I love this one. Books fighting back, trying to survive in a world that feels they aren’t needed, a great story.

Illustration XVII: Zero Hour

Miscommunication is always funny as a kid. Not so much later on in life.

Kids are playing that aliens are coming, an invasion in which they will rule and the grow ups will be gone. But what if it isn’t a game?

“Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

All agreed super creepy, but a very good read.

Illustration XVIII: The Rocket

From the film Stargate.

From the film Stargate.

Fiorello Bodoni has saved $3000 to send a family member into space, but only one can go. Which one?

“We will remember it for always, Papa. We will never forget.”

We all loved this story. Just the love this family has and how much they care about each other. A fantastic read!

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

For more books by Ray Bradbury, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For more on The Illustrated Man, go toEach Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man

I Started a Book Club

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So you all know how I enjoy reading:

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For years I’ve been trying to start a book club. I thought about doing one where we read a book, than watch the film version:

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But did that happen?

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Then I wanted to do a Jane Austen book club, where we read the books and the adaptations.

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But did I do that?

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Then I thought about doing a book club where we read the book and then do something like in the book; in essence “living” the book or acting it out. Like in Daring Chloe

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But did I do that?

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So finally I started one, but this one is simple. We read one book a month, each member having a month where they choose the book (any type), and then we meet and discuss it with good food.

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I don’t know how it will turn out, but if we make it to next year I’m planning on choosing Northanger Abbey or Persuasion to honor their 100th anniversaries.

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Right now the book we are reading is The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. I’ll post after our meeting to see how it turns out!

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Never a Lender Be…Because You Might Not Get Your Stuff Back in the Same Condition

Yes, I don’t know about you all but it seems like today’s world that we are living in is missing some crucial morals; such as respect and treating others and their belongings the same way you’d want to be treated.

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I mean I work in a library and I see it all the time. People borrow items and when they return them they are in horrible condition!

ew! Gross Yuck

They are written in, dog eared, wrinkled, water damaged, stained, and just beat up.

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It is horrible! When you borrow something you should treat it and the person with respect. Return it in the same condition as the one you borrowed it in.

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Or treat them bad.

It’s like people think because it doesn’t belong to them it is worth nothing and they can just toss it about.

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But just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean it is worthless. It is actually worth more as someone else paid for  it and are trusting you to treat it right.

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Now I know you’re thinking well it is a library, there are too many types of people who are coming and going, too many hands, etc. But it isn’t just them, my friends have been doing it too.

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I lent someone a book I thought they would enjoy, and then I saw that they had open, but laying face down. That is the fastest way to get the spine broken and once that happens you can’t really fix it.

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Another friend returned the book with the pages all bent and folded.

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Someone returned a book to me horribly stained, and the back cover torn off.

The horror!

The horror!

And that is if they return them to you.

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I understand accidents happen, and sometimes you don’t mean to do something: but when did we get so cavalier about borrowing.

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This is not the attitude we should be having!

And it is not just books, clothes, cars, etc.; whatever. We need to stop being so disrespectful and treat others items not as we want our stuff treated, but better!

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For more book-filled posts, go to 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 1852 this book was published and created a phenomena. It became the highest selling book of the 19th century, just behind the Bible. The first year it sold over 300,000 copies in the United States and three years later over a million in the U.K.

keanu Whoa

This book is credited with, like The Jungle, being a revolutionary change in the actual world.

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In fact the political change they believe it started, was the helping bring about more awareness of slavery in the South and promoting abolitionism that sparked the Civil War.

Wow

Wow

In fact, Stowe’s family claims that when Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln, he greeted her with “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Whether or not this is true has been disputed for years with no one really certain whether it happened or not.

dean whinchester shrug smile oh well

Stowe was the daughter of minister Lyman Beecher, and wrote this novel to depict slavery, along with showing Christianity and being an allegory of Christ.

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I started reading this book when I was going down a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. As I borrowed the book from the library my mom spotted it and said she loved the book, it was one of her favorites.

I wasn’t thrilled to read it at first as I had heard it was a “bad book”, you know making fun of those of African-American descent.

I don't know...

I don’t know…

I started reading it and became sucked in:

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I was surprised as it was AMAZING! I couldn’t understand why people hated it. It was fantasticly written and such a great story.

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So many people today view the novel negatively; the way it uses “sentiment” to pull at heart strings, how all the slaves “had” to be helped by white men and women, and the fact that Tom never ran away but chose to honor the “contract” of his masters.

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But what they fail to see is that it is a powerful story, has some truly great African and white characters, and that Tom is supposed to represent Christ and the things he went through to save our souls.

Wow

Wow

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So the book focuses on six main characters: Tom (called Uncle Tom by others), Eliza, Augustine St. Clare, Eva St. Claire, Ophelia, and Cassey; and their views, interactions, and how they are changed or shaped by slavery.

Tom is a strong, middle aged, African-American slave. He is also a devout Christian and tries to embody the scriptures and live his life for the Lord.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” 1 Timothy 6:1

Tom has been a part of the Shelby family for a long time, and has a family and children. As Tom knows how to read, his cabin is the place for the other slaves to go and hear about Christ along with getting individual instructions. George Shelby is the young “master” of the house and spends all his time with his “Uncle Tom”. In fact Tom is more of a father to him then his own father, and also his religious instructor.

Family

However, the Shelby’s have debts and they have to sell somethings…or in this case some people. They choose Tom as his height and strength will get a lot and we have the incredible sadness of seeing a family torn apart because of an archaic principle.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

Another slave, Mrs. Shelby’s maid, Eliza is married to a slave from another plantation. After a series of miscarriages, the two were finally able to give birth to a boy, Harry. While the Shelbys are a kind people, George’s master is cruel and he can’t stand it anymore.

“My master! and who made him my master? That’s what I think of–what right has he to me? I’m a man as much as he is. I’m a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,–and I’ve learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,–I’ve learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?–to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do…he puts me to just the hardest, meanest, and dirtiest work, on purpose!”

George decides to flee to Canada, earn enough money, and then return to purchase his wife and son. After he takes off, Eliza gets the news that she will be sold as well to pay the debts.

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Afraid to be separated from her child, she too tries to take the long road to freedom.

Not good

As Tom is taken away, George vows to one day buy his friend back and free him.

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Tom is sold to a trader and being transported on a riverboat when he spots a little girl, Eva St. Clare. He misses his own children, so he begins amuses her, and she begs her father to buy him. Augustine St. Clare loves his little girl and gives in to her every whim. He buys Tom and takes him to his plantation.

Here Tom and Eva share their love of Christ as they both have a strong faith and relationship with the Lord. We also meet St. Clare’s sister Ophelia, who is from the North, who has moved to help take care of the house. Now here we have a great critique on the North’s treatment of African Americans. Ophelia is an aggressive abolitionist, constantly lecturing St. Clare and talking about the evils of slavery, yet she can’t stand to be around those of African-American descent. She is a complete racist, but can’t even admit it to herself.

“Well!” said Miss Ophelia, “you southern children can do something that I couldn’t.”
“What, now, pray?” said St. Clare.
“Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn’t have anything hurt; but as to kissing – ”
“N*****,” said St. Clare, “that you’re not up to, – hey?”
“Yes, that’s it. How can she?”

St. Clare, tired of her constant lecturing, buys her a slave girl, Topsy, and bets she won’t be able to help her. At first Ophelia does poorly, having to instead be lead by Eva in showing kindness.

one word kind change day

Eva and Topsy become best of friends, even though they “should” be separated buy race and class, it doesn’t matter to Eva as all she sees is someone who needs love.

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Augustine is another interesting character as he isn’t a fan of slavery, but won’t do anything. He sees the way Christianity is, how his daughter lives but won’t commit to it. He is supposed to represent the people who were against slavery but never took a stand against it, waiting for future people to decide or others to fight. When his daughter dies, he is utterly heartbroken.

heartbroken

He promised Eva on her deathbed to release the slaves and become an abolitionist for his daughter, but waits too long and is killed before he can do it.

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Meanwhile, Eliza has been running for her life and from slave catchers, and she actually manages to find her husband. After they go through horrible hardships they manage to make it to Canada and freedom.

Tom is sold by St. Clare’s wife, while Ophelia returns to the North with Topsy, taking what she learned with her, as Topsy does the same.

Tom is sold again, this time to the incredibly cruel owner Simon Legree. He rapes and beats his slaves. He begins to hate Tom and treat him in unspeakable ways. He has a slave, Cassy, who is his unwilling mistress. He has stolen her children from her and sold them, beat her, and just given her a horrible life. She is bitter and in pain.

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She is a quadroon, one quarter black, so she has a strange place in society. She is better educated than most, but is a sex slave, representing the harsh lives of female slaves and how they are at the whim of their master more than the men. Simon is planning on replacing Cassy with a young girl he just bought, Emmiline.

One day as they are picking cotton, Tom sees a woman struggling to fill her sack and looking at horribly beaten or worse. He helps her, aided by Cassy, and is then ordered to whip the women by Legree. When Tom refuses, Legree whips him and Tom has earned a permanent spot on his hit list.

This movie

Tom’s pain makes him consider turning back on his faith, but he sees a vision and remains true.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

Cassy knows the life that Emmeline will have and decides to run away with her. When Simon finds them gone he tries to beat the answer out of Tom, but he will not reveal anything. He is so horribly treated that he begins to die.

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George arrives to buy him, but is too late. He fights with Simon and takes Tom’s body, giving him a proper burial.

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

Cassy and Emmeline reach Canada and find themselves with George Harris and Eliza. It turns out that Eliza is Cassy’s daughter, and the two are finally reunited.

Double double yay

In the end George goes home and decides to honor Tom and free all his slaves:

“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it is possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”

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So this story is an amazing thing. Why would people call it horrible?

Why not?

Why?

Well what I personally feel has caused this shift from honoring Uncle Tom and all the other characters to having their names now be used as derogatory terms was the over-popularity of the novel.

Say What

As this book became so sought after and was selling millions of copies; everyone wanted a piece of the pie; but when there such a wide amount of people madly grabbing to make their fortunes, they tend to forget about what the book actually stood for and was trying to change. Plays and films were being made based on the story, but instead of honoring and revealing the social issues that Harriet Beecher Stowe was writing about, these pieces became all about entertainment and cheap laughs. No longer are we shown the characters going through different trials to reveal the hypocrisies and social injustices of the time, but instead are given pure comedy or in extreme cases sexual innuendo.

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Too few people actually read the novel and understood how the characters and situations can be easily relatable.

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Uncle Tom is more than a slave toiling in the United States waiting for his freedom, but is a figurehead for any oppressed people. As David Reynolds writes in his book, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Fight for America, Tom easily connected to the Russian serfs; the Chinese peasants, the Chinese immigrants in America, Jews all over the world, black slaves in Brazil, black slaves in Cuba, etc. Tom’s passive resistance to Simon Legree, as he does not listen to Legree’s warning but continues to stand up for what he believes in and aids Cassy, and Emmeline; can even connect to passive resistance done by Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the South, and Cesar Chavez here in California. While the unjust situations may never be the same as those that Tom or the other slaves faced, wherever trouble arises and people are suffering Uncle Tom is there struggling alongside and encouraging the oppressed that everything will be alright in the end.

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Another way that Tom’s character is still so relatable and present in today’s time is how loving and willing he is to protect others. Tom lives by the mantra “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”; causing him to be the type of person we all want to be. The way Tom lays down his life so that the rest of the Shelby slaves could be spared and in the end dying to protect Cassy and Emmeline; is behavior we all admire and hope would imitate in such situations; as no one wants to imagine themselves being a Sambo or Quimbo character; betraying their fellow man to protect their own interests. We all recognize the value and honor of self-sacrifice for a person or a cause.

In Stowe’s novel she hit upon so many issues, and attempted (and in some cases succeeded) in trying to make a difference in how African-Americans were treated. While she did not completely change the way the United States worked, or resolved every issue; her novel did bring awareness and start people talking and thinking about abolition, integration, education, religion, politics, etc. This initial jolt eventually set America on a path to striving for change.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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For more Harriet Beecher Stowe, go to If It Means A Lot to You

For more on the Civil War, go to Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

For more Frank Peretti, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

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Today’s song is O Holy Night. In 1843 Roquemaure, France; the church organ was renovated. The priest asked wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the event. Four years later it was turned into a Christmas carol by compser, Adolphe Adam.

In 1855, minister John Sullivan Dwight translated and created the version that most sing today.

I choose the version by Josh Groban.

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For more Josh Groban, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Christmas Carols, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves

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Yes it is that time of the year, our new tradition of a 30 Day Challenge. As I am a book lover and just can’t get enough books, I decided this year we will cover that love.

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As any book lover knows, it is difficult to choose a favorite book.

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So this will either fit the category of the book challenge, or will be a book I love. I’m hoping to meld both, but I know that won’t happen for every one of them.  I also ran into a few issues finding 30, so I had to get a tad creative.

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I am also going to skip the Jane Austen novels as I always talk about them on this blog. I’m going to try and do books I haven’t mentioned already, but no promises on that.

I can't help it.

I can’t help it.

Now every time I try to do something in December, it tends to fail. I just get toooo busy.

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But this year I am really going to try.

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So here we go!

30 Day Challenge:

Day 1) A is for Apocalyptical: Choose a book with an Apocalyptic theme

Day 2) B is for Best: Choose a Best-Selling novel

Day 3) C is for Childhood: Choose a book you used to read over and over again when you were a Child.

Day 4) D is for Diary: Choose a novel or memoir in Diary form

Day 5) E is for Elephant: Choose a book with a Elephant on the cover

Day 6) F is for Free: Choose a book you got for Free

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a fairy tale

Day 9) I is for Island: Choose a book that takes place on an Island

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

Day 11) K is for Killer: Choose a book with a murderer

Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List

Day 13) M is for Merry Christmas: Since this 30 Day Challenge is being done in December, let’s pick a favorite book that captures the merry Christmas spirit.

Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

Day 15) O is for Ocean: Choose a book that takes place on or in the Ocean

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a book that is a Retelling of a classic

Day 19) S is for Short Stories: Choose a collection of Short Stories

Day 20) T is for Translated: Choose a book that was Translated from one language to English

Day 21): U is for Unhappy: Choose a book with an Unhappy ending

Day 22) V is for Vanished: Choose a book with a missing person

Day 23) W is for Weather: Choose a book where the Weather plays a major role

Day 24) X is for X: Choose a book whose author has an X in their name

Day 25) Y is for Young: Choose a junior or Young adult book

Day 26) Z is for Zombie: Choose a Zombie retelling of a classic novel

Day 27) One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Shoes symbolize wealth. Choose a novel that involves wealth or fashion

Day 28) Three, Four, Shut the Door: Doors symbolize new beginnings. Choose a novel where a character has to start over

Day 29) Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks: Sticks symbolize power, strength, or judicial decisions. Choose a book that revolves around a powerful ruler or ruling.

Day 30) Seven, Eight, Lay Them Straight: Straight means upright. Choose a book with a moral or strong moral character

Additional one to keep the Symmetry

Day 31) Nine, TenA Big Fat Hen: Hens symbolize motherhood. Choose a book that revolves around a family or strong motherly character.

Have Card will Travel

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For more 30 Day challenges check out 30 Day Challenge: All About Me! and 30 Day Challenge: Disney Edition

For more book loving posts, go to Sadly I’m a Stalker

A Book Only a Reader Could Write

So I wanted to publish this post yesterday, but my computer and I weren’t on the best speaking terms. We have since resolved that issue.

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And the computer has since then come along to my way of thinking. So sorry if I’m a day behind, but better late than never!

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Some books you read and you just know that there was no way this book could ever exist unless the author grew up as a huge fan of reading.

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Such as Matilda by Roald Dahl. Only someone who grew up reading could create a character that gave a voice to all us bibliophiles out there.

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Or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Only someone who truly loved to read could create the most dismal future, a time when books are outlawed and destroyed. The book is full of glimpses into what might actually happen, unless we take the time to read and value the thoughts and creations found between the pages.

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Well The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, is definitely one of those books.

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The book was first published in 1979 and then translated into English in 1983. As this is it anniversary, thankfully pointed out by Google, I thought it deserved no less than a post by me.

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The story was such a big part of my childhood, with book and film.

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So the book begins with young Bastian Balthazar Bux; a shy, awkward, introvert:

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Who has been grieving over the loss of his mother and feels disconnected from his father.

Aw, man.

Aw.

He doesn’t really have any friends and is bullied at school. The one thing that Bastian does have is his books.

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With their help he is able to escape reality:

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And here is reason number one why this book is awesome and proof, author Ende must have been a reader; he just understands us so well. I mean even today I still like to escape my reality with a good book:

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Anyways, so Bastian is being chased by bullies when he runs into a bookstore owned by Carl Conrad Coreander. While hiding out, he spots the book The Neverending Story.

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Bastian just has to have the book, but the ornery shop owner doesn’t seem interested in the idea of selling, and such a book that would be far too expensive. So Bastian does something he has never done before, he steals it.

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He runs up to school, deciding to hide away in the attic, reading the story and being thrust into the world of Fantastica (Fantasia in the film).

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Fantastica is falling apart. The dark nothing is destroying it, piece by piece until it will fade away and there will be nothing left. Only one thing can save them; the childlike empress has chosen Atreyu, a native of the plains, to search throughout Fantastica to discover what can be done. As Bastian reads, he becomes more and more involved with the characters. So wrapped up in the book he stays throughout all his periods, in the cold, all the while starving.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

But that’s silly. They aren’t real people.

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But yet, the characters do seem real. And it almost seems as if they know he exists and is part of the journey with them.

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When Atreyu is traveling he hears what the salvation of Fantastica is:

Born of the Word, the children of man,

Or humans, as they’re sometimes called,

Have had the gift of giving names

Ever since the worlds began,

In every age it’s they who gave

The Childlike Empress life,

For wondrous new names have the power to save.

But now for many and many a day,

No human has visited Fantastica,

For they no longer know the way.

They have forgotten how real we are,

They don’t believe in us anymore.

Oh, if only one child of man would come,

Oh, then at last the thing would be done.”

But where to find such a human child?

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Atreyu continues on his journeys, getting help from Falkor, the luck dragon.

One of the best parts of the book, at least I think so, is when Atreyu faces Gmork, the werewolf. Gmork has become an agent of the Nothing, trying to destroy Fantastica and along with it the human world. Without Fantastica, the world is filled with lies instead of truth, despair instead of hope, destruction instead of creation; pretty much containing nothing.

I love this part as it shows why stories and books are so important. They help us create, they give us hope, dreams, ideas, etc. We need stories, we need hope, we need it as much as we need life.

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And we need to start reading at a young age; so we can have the foundations to fight against all the darkness we will face as we grew older.

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So Atreyu returns to the Empress, defeated. He has no way to stop the nothing. He has failed.

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But the empress is not upset at all. In fact, she says that Atreyu has fulfilled his mission. He has brought a human child here through all his adventures. And she is talking about Bastian!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

The reader has been called into the story? And not just called, but the hero! How cool is that! And how awesome if that could happen. Can you just imagine if the characters started talking to you in the middle of your favorite story?

So cool, I want it to be true.

So cool, I want it to be true.

This is my favorite part of the book, the second half isn’t as strong (in my opinion) as the first half. But still one great book.

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The movie was just as amazing. Now they did make changes, but I thought it kept the soul and heart of the book. I used to watch it over and over.

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Even now I cannot think or say the words “Neverending Story” without singing them like in the film’s song.

I recently showed the film to my niece and realized I am not only like Bastian, but Coreander. Yes, I have the soul of an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like the youth’s fascination with technology rather than books.

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The rest of the story is just as beautiful, fascinating, adventurous, and powerful. And don’t forget the end of the film when the childlike Empress is talking right to you.  Shivers run up and down my spine, it is so good.

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I mean I feel like she is talking right to me!

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The other movies I didn’t really enjoy, but that first one was a true winner.

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So there you have it. One amazing book that I am glad existed to become a part of my childhood, in both print and on the screen.

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And you can bet your boots I will most definitely be checking out the film Sunday when they rerelease it in theaters. Don’t worry childlike Empress, Fantastic/Fantasia will always exist as long as I am alive!

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For more on The Neverending Story, go to The Neverending Story

For more anniversary posts, go to Here’s to Another Year

For more book-filled posts, go to A World of Teas

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For more Roald Dahl, go to We Shall Rule the World!

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Ernest Hemingway, go to Fiction or Reality? I Choose Fiction

For more Markus Zusak, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more Richard Marek, go to Crazy Book Lady

What Separates the Real Fans from the Fakes

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But whether they are cat or woman, one thing remains the same.

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Let reading cats lie.

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For more on Harry Potter, go to The Ultimate Torture

For more on Cats, go to Cat Lovers All Know This

For more book-filled posts, go to Six Degrees of Separation

I Hate Those Kinds of People

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I mean it’s like I hardly know you but I don’t like you:

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After all:

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I mean, what’s the focus of your living room? Your bedroom? Like seriously:

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For more book filled posts, go to When I Get Into a Novel

For more on Lemony Snicket, go to The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries

Fr more on Horace Mann, go to A Sad and Lonely Place

For more quotes, go to Keep Moving Forward

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Now to end on a happier note, today’s carol is A Holly Jolly Christmas. This song was written by Johnny Marks in the early 1960s, and was sung by Burl Ives in the Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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This is one of the top 25 holiday songs written by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

It was #30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1998, and #5 on the holiday chart in 2011.

I just love how sweet the song is as we are wished a holly, jolly, and wonderful Christmas.

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For more Burl Ives, go to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

For more Christmas carols, go to You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

When I Get Into a Novel

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It’s true, they are my home away from home; sucking me into different lives, worlds, people, and experiences.
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Yep:

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For more book filled posts, go to Rainy Days & Rainy Nights

For more on Colin Firth, go to Always There for You

For more quotes, go to Keep Moving Forward

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Yesterday I went to a Christmas party, and everyone there was saying how wonderful Christmas is. There is just something so special about it, how it can truly change attitudes from the miserly Scrooges and grumpy Grinches to love, compassion, giving, etc. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year, just like today’s Christmas Carol says.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was written in 1963 and first performed by Andy Williams, being covered many times by others. It was also named by Billboard as one of the top 10 holiday songs. I know I love it!

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For more Andy Williams, go to It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For more Christmas Carols, go to A Cowboy’s Christmas