Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Importance of the About Me Page

This is me being creepy on the internet.

I’m going to admit to some of my slightly stalkerish tendencies here.

Whenever I stumble across a new (to me, at least) book blog, I always visit the About Me page first if there is one.

No, I don’t look for addresses, pictures of firstborns, or blackmail material. I usually look at the blogger's favorite books (dearsweetjesus, please don't say Twilight/Fallen) and why they started a book blog (on a quest to read books in the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels List? to stay sane? to have a creative outlet?). Knowing the little details, like his or her favorite book is Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, makes reading posts a little more personal, like you’re communicating with a real person instead of a computer screen.

For me, The About Me page sets the tone for the actual blog. When I read a short bio on a book blogger’s About Me page, I can start to tell if they blog with a humorous, completely serious, or warm voice. I get a handle of what the rest of the blog is like.

Since About Me pages fascinate me so much, I wondered how I come across when people read my About Me page (which, I assure you, isn’t often). Slightly deranged might be the answer to that, but that’s just me. On a serious, however, I did try to sound like myself on my About Me page, including smalls details like my fascination with Ryan’s Goslings abs or how much I love The Great Gatsby. Those are just tiny things that don't sum up who I am, but I hope they make people feel like we could  be friends in, like, real life.

So, do you think About Me pages make the whole blogging experience a little more personal? Do you also check out the About Me pages of other bloggers or am I just really, really nosy?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thoughts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is slowly becoming one of my favorite fictional characters.

Like, ever.

When I read A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, I thought, “Nothing really sets Sherlock Holmes apart from other characters I’ve read about before. Sure, he’s kind of a nut, but there are TONS of nuts in classic literature.”

I was wrong.

I realized that little factoid right after I finished reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. The book is a collection of short stories (cases?) all featuring Sherlock Holmes and, of course, Watson. The cases are all very interesting—ranging from incriminating photos of royalty to an engineer’s severed thumb—and you get the feeling that only Sherlock Holmes can possibly solve them.

I always thought Sherlock Holmes was a flat character, a mystery-solving machine with very little personality. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sherlock Holmes is brilliant, arrogant, and, even if he’ll never admit it in a million years, he does have a heart. In The Copper Beeches, for example, one of his clients goes to work as a governess for a strange family. Holmes keeps thinking about her, and I like to think it’s because he’s worried about her, not just because he’s hankering after another case to solve.

Believe it or not, Holmes can also be very funny. His sense of humor comes out in the most unexpected of times. In this scene, for example, Holmes is being threatened by Dr. Grimesby Roylott, and he decides to be a smart ass:

“Ha! You put me off, do you?” said our new visitor, taking a step forward and shaking his hunting-crop. “I know you, you scoundrel! I have heard of you before. You are Holmes, the meddler.”

My friend smiled.

“Holmes, the busybody!”

His smile broadened.

“Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office!”

Holmes chuckled heartily. “Your conversation is most entertaining,” said he. “When you go out close the door, for there is a decided draught.”

This book proved a lot of my preconceptions regarding Sherlock Holmes wrong. I always thought he was brutally honest, ready to spill out his thoughts at any moment. It never occurred to me that he could also be brutal but in a completely subtle way. In this scene, Holmes coolly takes his arrogant client a notch down or two:

“A most painful matter to me, as you can most readily imagine, Mr. Holmes. I have been cut to the quick. I understand that you have already managed several delicate cases of this sort, sir, though I presume that they were hardly from the same class of society.”

“No, I am descending.”

“I beg pardon.”

“My last client of the sort was a king.”

Oh, before I forget, I just want to say I loved how Arthur Conan Doyle portrayed female characters, especially Irene Adler (also known as The Woman). The fact that the only person who managed to beat Sherlock Holmes was a woman earned Arthur Conan Doyle a ton of cool points in my book. Let me just say that Irene Adler beat Sherlock Holmes not because of her looks or her hot body. She managed to beat him by using her BRAINS. Now, that’s someone the females of today can look up to.

I loved The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. When I finished it, I immediately started reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (the next book in the canon if you go by publishing date), because I could not get enough of the brilliant detective.

I am definitely turning into a Sherlockian or whatever you call it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch—two actors I would not hesitate to fangirl over any day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thoughts: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

I've always viewed Rudyard Kipling with a somewhat suspicious eye, mainly because of The White Man's Burden and partly because I hated The Jungle Book when I first saw it as a kid.

So, I dived into The Jungle Book with little or no expectations at all, and I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I started reading about Mowgli and the wolves, I forgot about Rudyard Kipling and the literary baggage that he came with. It was just me, The Jungle Book, and the wonderful characters inside it.

Mowgli's stories were funny and kind of sad at the same time. His adventures with Baloo and Bagheera were hilarious, but there was always an undercurrent of something rotten beneath the surface. When Mowgli finally has to live in an actual, human village, we see the all-too human struggle to fit in, to belong somewhere. Mowgli didn't fit in with the wolves because he was too human, and he didn't fit in with humans because he was too much of a wolf. In the end, he ends up a nomad, stuck between the two worlds.

There were other stories too, like The White Seal (about an almost mythical white seal who leads other seals to safety), Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (about a mongoose who has to fight a cobra couple--I'm not kidding), and Toomai of the Elephants (about a boy who is allowed entrance into the elephants' ballroom).

I didn't like these stories as much as Mowgli's, but, through them, I saw how Rudyard Kipling loved and understood animals. I'm not saying that all his portrayals of animals were accurate, but you get the impression that he knows a thing or two about the heart of the jungle and how it beats.

This reading experience taught me that, sometimes, not knowing anything about a writer can help you enjoy his work more. I avoided reading anything by Rudyard Kipling for so long because of his beliefs that I almost missed out on something as amazing as The Jungle Book.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

But, mostly, I was crying because I was suddenly very aware of the fact that it was me standing up in that tunnel with the wind over my face. Not caring if I saw downtown. Not even thinking about it. Because I was standing in the tunnel. And I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite.

I first read this book two years ago, and I managed to unearth my thoughts from my old Tumblr account. Here they are:

When the novel starts, Charlie is fifteen and about to embark on his freshman year in high school. He has the whole world ahead of him, and he’s only beginning to shape his life. I’m now a college senior, and I miss the feeling of having my whole life ahead of me, ready to start a brand-new adventure. Charlie’s innocence made me realize that I started the said adventure years ago, and that I might have screwed it up.

After reading this, I wanted to smack my ninteen-year-old self on the back of the head. How could I possibly think that my adventure was over? I was nineteen, about to graduate from college and about to embark on a completely new adventure with new faces and new rules. How dare I even think such a thing?

I finished rereading The Perks of Being a Wallflower a few days ago, and I was amazed to find that I have more in common with Charlie at 21 than I did at 19. Two years ago, I thought I was perfectly normal (doing all the normal college things like getting drunk with friends and trying not to flunk any of my classes), but, now, I've come to realize that I have a tendency to hide behind books, to not participate.

And participating in life? It's pretty damn important.

When I get invited to parties or any other social event, most of the time, I'd rather stay home and dive into another classic (most likely another Sherlock Holmes book). There's nothing wrong with that, but, sometimes, it wouldn't hurt it if I decide to get up, make an effort to look nice, and actually interact with other people, to experience new things.

That, I think, is the main point of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Yes, there's something to be said about stepping back and merely examining people's motives--the things that drive them--but stepping up to the plate and doing something, going after the things you want, is important, too.

On the surface, The Perks of Being a Wallflower seems like your typical coming-of-age novel, but it is so much more than that. It's about living in the moment, not worrying about the future or carrying baggage from the past around. It's focusing on where you are right now, at this very moment, and feeling infinite.

- - -

I know that this has been made into a movie starring Logan Lerman as Charlie, Emma Watson as Sam, and Paul Rudd as Bill (Charlie's teacher), and I'm very excited to see it.

When I read this book two years ago, I actually imagined Logan Lerman as Charlie. I always thought he would be perfect for it, and you can't imagine my delight when I found out he had been cast. And Emma Watson? I always imagined someone with a wilder image as Sam, but I'm sure she'll do a great job (I guess I'll always have a soft sport for Hermione Granger).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Does your significant other have to love books as much as you do?

While trolling through the Internet, I came across nerimon's video entitled Nerdy Personal Ads. The video is composed of personal ads contributed by nerds from all over the world, and one of them, in particular, caught my attention. Must value book space over living space.

This led me to wonder: Do bookworms search for fellow bookworms as life partners?

Personally, I don't think I could ever date someone whose reading diet is composed solely of Maxim magazine, someone who thinks the Harry Potter series is composed of eight books just because there were eight movies. I shudder at the thought of ending up with someone who does not understand why my bookshelf is bursting with unread books, and why I keep lugging two books around in my purse, even if I barely have time to read them.

I do, however, see myself with someone who has a soft spot for Rudyard Kipling or maybe even Neil Gaiman, and someone who understands why the name F. Scott Fitzgerald itself is simply epic. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere? J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit? Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet? My ideal life partner has probably read them all (I know I sound completely idealistic).

In a nutshell (before I start rambling again), it would be great if the person I end up with in the future loves books as much as I do, but it's not a necessity. I'm only 21, and I have all the time in the world to figure out what I want. My priorities may change, and, someday, I might rank 'not bald' higher than 'reads books' in the list of qualities I want in a life partner. Nothing is set in stone for me yet.

But what about my fellow bookworms? If you're single, do you think finding someone who loves books as much as you do is very important? If you're married, does your husband/wife like to read, too?


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