Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Street Gang.

The Book Thief with Pride...

We had our book club meeting on Sunday at Jo's house for The Book Thief, and I'm pleased to say it went very successfully. Jo had invited another couple of girls to join the group, as both Lisa and Bec didn't attend this time, they were both busy. We had Rebecca and Joanne, who I think are both teachers at Cassia Primary and they seem like really nice girls too.

Jo had googled the book and found some learning questions online, which she sent around to each of us. It had discussion points such as the significance of colours in the book, who was your favourite character and why, why was this character like this, and so on. It was really helpful as it gave us something to get focused back on as we continually wandered off the subject!
I really enjoyed this book. I liked that it was written from the point of view of Death, during World War II and the cleansing of Germany by Hitler. He wrote, "I carried the souls of the dead over my shoulders and in my arms, but the children were the only ones I would carry in my hands." Very sad. I can see why it was so popular as he has a real way with words, and it sparked a lot of discussion amongst us about the Holocaust and Hitler. One of the girls had seen Mein Kampf (My Struggle, written by Adolf Hitler) in a bookstore years ago and wanted to buy it out of interest, as she'd visited a Death Camp in Europe years ago on holiday. But she was too embarrassed to because of the social connotations of buying a book written by Hitler. We all agreed it would have been an interesting read. We discussed movies that also covered this subject, as I was interested in seeing Schindlers List but it wasn't at the video store. Shane said this is probably just as well as it was a pretty depressing movie. Britt suggested A Beautiful Life which won an Academy Award in the 90's, so I might try that one.

We of course discussed every other book and movie under the sun. Jo and her mum Jennifer are prolific readers and we were all throwing book names around like anything. We are swapping books at Book Club, as I lent Jo my copy of Edgar Sawtelle, and Jo lent Britt her video of the movie Roots. So we are going through other books even while reading the Book Club book nominated!
Yesterday at Kmart I scored a movie book package for $20, which had Revolutionary Road, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Slumdog Millionaire. I saw Revolutionary Road on DVD recently and couldn't stop thinking about it for days, it was quite harrowing at the end. Jo has recently read Striped Pyjamas and recommended it to me and I loved the movie for Slumdog, so I'm looking forward to having all these read over the Xmas period.
I also recently bought Stephen King's new one, Under The Dome. It's like the Simpsons movie, where a dome is lowered over a town in Maine, except this one chops a woodchuck in half, cuts off a gardeners hand and causes a light plane to crash into it and fall burning in pieces to the ground... very good so far!
We decided this time it was Jennifer's turn to nominate a book as she'd indicated she was going to return to a classic. As neither Rebecca nor Joanne had read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jennifer decided to go with that one. Also, as Xmas is coming up, we can't meet now until January, so it will give everyone plenty of time to read it. Unless you've read it a few times, the elongated way that she writes takes a fair bit of concentration. Jane Austen takes 50 words to explain something it would take you or me 20 words to do! I re-read this book just last year, so I'm not in any hurry to read it just yet. I'll wait til I've finished the 3 on the go I have now!

My picture this post is of the iconic Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. I really didn't like the Hollywood film version of this movie with Kiera Knightley. Not when you've seen the BBC version above, with Colin First and Jennifer Ehle. It's about 6 hours long and it's just a beautiful movie. They are appropriately subdued, as you imagine the English gentry to be, and the scenery and filming are just stunning. I have seen it hundreds of times, and I'm not joking!

So I shall check in again on this story, once we've met on 24 January, Jo's birthday, so discuss why we love this book. As I already know I do. So much. TTFN.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Could If I Wanted...

The Reader and The Book Thief

Rather than give excuses about why I haven't posted for so long, I'm going to say 4 words - we bought a house. And leave it at that. I've been very busy!

So we had our next Book Club meeting a few weeks ago at Jo's house, hosted by me. It was a long time coming, as we scheduled, rescheduled and rescheduled and we just couldn't agree on when to meet because someone was going away and this person was doing this or that or whatever. And in the end Britt helped me decide by telling me that Johnny's transfer had come through and he and Alice were leaving. So we made it for the weekend before she left and there were only a few of us - myself, Britt, Jo, her mum Jennifer and Alice. Bec and Lisa were both away, in fact, I haven't seen them for months so I don't know if they even got the email about reading The Reader or have started on the next book yet. It had been about 2 months since our last meeting.
Jennifer couldn't get into the book so hadn't read it, but the rest of us had and we all seemed to enjoy it. I liked how it was such a short book but packed a lot of punch. The story is based around a teenage boy who meets an older lady one day, Hanna Schmidt and they begin an affair. He begins to read to her during their meetings and falls in love when inexplicably one day, she is gone. Years later as an older student, he is stunned when attending the Nazi trials for inhumane treatments to the Jews, that Hanna was being tried for being a German guard being held responsible for the deaths of over a hundred people in a fire. Refusing to admit she cannot read or write, she takes the blame and is sentenced to prison, and he sends her books on tape while there, which she uses to teach herself to read and write. They meet again as adults, upon her imminent release back into the world she doesn't really want to be in anymore.
The writing was well done and I also watched the movie soon after, which jarred my memory of it when attending the meeting, but this was also because it had been over a month since I'd read it by the time we met. I really enjoyed the movie of course because it starred Kate Winslet, who's a very giving actor and I felt it followed the book well. But nothing can beat a good story and I would recommend this book highly.
Jo has picked our next book, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. She had reread it recently and loved it. It's a really popular book and I'd tried reading it years ago, only to give up after the first few pages as it was really hard going. Britt has mentioned the same thing when I've seen her, so I was trying to finish the great book I was reading (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) so I could get onto it before our next meeting on the 15th. I've just started it about 5 days ago and am happily engrossed so far, about 100 pages in. The story is about a young girl in Hitler's Germany (yes, the Holocaust again) who craves knowledge and how she obtains the books that are so important to her. It's actually written from the point of view of Death, as in, He first saw her when coming to take her brother and kept an eye on her, being very busy when Hitler first started 'cleansing' Germany. He sees her steal a book from a book burning held by Hitler's youth. Good stuff so far. I'll keep you posted.
And I was devastated to see an ad on TV this morning for the new movie 'The Time Travelers Wife'. I sat there quite stunned for a few seconds, wondering why it bothered me? Because from the ad, it looks okay; it stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, both actors I like. But I'm not sure they'll be able to convey Henry's tired, helplessness at his uncontrollable time travel and Clare's ultimate contentment at being mostly alone. It looks very... relationship-ey, rather than concentrating on the journey of what happens to him which I found fascinating. I'll watch it for sure at any rate, so we'll see.
Okay, am off to read more. And see what Death has to say on Leisel's latest book.... TTFN.