It's summer! The best time to curl up with a cold book and a deep read. Recently, for Displaced Nation, I asked some authors and writerly friends to give me some ideas about their favorite beach books. The result? Two posts full of novels, memoirs and other adventures!
Take a look here at Part I, featuring Alli Sinclair (author of Luna Tango and a former Novel Adventurer), Brittani Sonnenberg (Home Leave), Christine Kling (The Shipwreck Adventure series), Heidi Noroozy (translator and a former Novel Adventurer).
In Part II, we get recommendations from Mark Adams (author of Meet Me in Atlantis), Marianne C. Bohr (to-be-published Gap Year Girl), Shireen Jilla (The Art of Unpacking Your Life), me and my editor M.L. Awanohara.
This time for my Booklust, Wanderlust column at The Displaced Nation, I interview the lovely author Shireen Jilla about her second novel, The Art of Unpacking Your Life. Set in the Kalahari, this book puts together a group of friends who were once best friends in university. Many thanks to Shireen for agreeing to the interview!
Read it here.
This month on Displaced Nation I take a look at Allen Kurzweil's globe-trotting memoir about the search for his childhood bully as an adult. Part thriller, part comedy and all too-crazy-to-be-fiction, WHIPPING BOY was a pleasure to read. Check out the full review here.
Click on the image above to go to this month's book review on The Displaced Nation. "Passionate Nomad" by Jane Fletcher Geniesse looks at the early life and development of hotshot wartime Middle East expert and lifelong adventurer Dame Freya Stark and is a gripping read.
This week in my Booklust, Wanderlust column on The Displaced Nation, I review Peter Hessler's "Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip."
I loved old China hand Peter Hessler's books on his early years studying and working in the Middle Kingdom. "River Town" and "Oracle Bones" are detailed memoirs that were both good reads and a good primer for what to expect when I moved to China. "Country Driving" continues in Hessler's tradition of showing the small details of everyday Chinese peoples' lives to illustrate some of the bigger challenges facing the Middle Kingdom.
Please stop by the site to take a look at my review and the dozens of other articles by The Displaced Nationers--international creatives.
I'm excited to announce that today my first review as a columnist for The Displaced Nation is live!
The Displaced Nation, which bills itself as "a home for international creatives," invited me to start a book column to review books on topics that would be of interest to their readership of long-time expats and adult "third culture kids."
My first column looks at an engrossing series I recently finished, the Dublin Murder Squad books by Irish writer Tana French. Please stop by the site and check out my review, and the other great articles by Displaced Nationers!
Every year, sometime in January, I try to calculate how many books I read in the previous 12 months. Reading books (specifically novels, though I seem to be reading more nonfiction in the last two years) is a daily habit, and I usually have more than one book going at a time.
Last year and the year before, I was able to make a guess at how many books I read because I could count the titles on my Kindle. Unfortunately, over the Christmas holiday my Kindle decided that three years of constant use was a long enough life span and stopped working. I'm trialling reading Kindle books on my iPad instead, but will probably bite the bullet and get another dedicated ebook reader in the next couple of months. I read email and webpages on my iPad every day, but it's not really a comfortable platform to read a novel on, especially just before going to sleep: the screen's bright and it's too heavy to hold up for several chapters.
Anyway, this year, I've decided to look forward rather than back and plan a little as how many books I'm going to read this year. In January, I read 12 books--behind my usual pace for a month that included a holiday, and I'm blaming that on the indecision about reading on my iPad or not. I'm guessing most months I read between 5-15 books, with an annual total of around 100.
One of the books I did read this month was part of the Untreed Reads reading challenge, which I'm happy I stumbled upon before the deadline to enroll. Basically, they're giving me a book a month and asking me to then write an honest review of it when I've finished. I've been meaning to post more book reviews on Goodreads for some time now, so this seemed like a fun way to make that happen (and get free books, whee!). For January, I picked Lesley A. Diehl's A Deadly Draught, which looked like fun because it mixes mysteries and beer--two topics I enjoy. You can see my review on Goodreads here. As the year progresses, I'll mention the other titles I read in this blog under the "untreed reads challenge" tag.
What are your reading goals for 2014?
Confession time: I'm a cheap traveler. So cheap, in fact, that I will sometimes stay overnight in the airport to save money on accommodation, if I have a flight that arrives late at night. Luckily, Southeast Asia has some of the best airports in the world, whether you're bunking out until morning or just passing through for a few hours. My article on ThaHoliday.com introduces what I consider to be S.E. Asia's four best airports. Happy flying!
Last month I went to Singapore on a family trip and had the luck to catch the Australian cast of the Broadway hit Wicked. The story of the Wicked Witch of the West’s path to infamy, the musical is based on the book of the same name, by Gregory Maguire.
The show was fantastic. We had excellent seats, courtesy of my partner’s mother (thanks again Marilyn!) and the actors took me away to Oz just as easily as the tornado took Dorothy.
But, seeing the hit play made me start thinking of book adaptations. I’d read Wicked more than 10 years ago, and loved it, and so I decided to re-read it now that I’ve seen the Broadway version. When watching the play, I realized that I’d forgotten a lot of the details of the book. And when I went back and read the book I realized that the show had changed the story around quite a bit. Some of those changes were fine (telescoping the timeline was important to fit a book that covers 40 years into a three-hour show) but others were a little more disappointing. (Did it really need a happy ending? Bittersweet would have been fine.)
I don’t watch a lot of TV shows, but two series that I am an avid follower of are HBO’s The Game of Thrones and True Blood—both adaptations of book series.
The Game of Thrones (as probably everyone who reads this already knows) is an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire fantasy books. Martin has written five hefty books in the series so far, and the TV show attempts to bring the first two books to live-action drama. Without being a fangirl, I do think I know the books pretty well. Each time a new book in the series comes out, I re-read the past installments, and when I had lasek vision correction done on my eyes a few years ago and was avoiding watching videos or reading books, I spent several months listening to the audio book versions.
The TV series (the second season has just started) is trotting along quickly, trying to keep up with the huge cast and intertwining story arcs that make the book the wonderful read that it is. I know who all the characters are, I recognize the lines that they’ve lifted from the book and I catch some places that they’ve changed or simplified details to make it better for TV. But I wonder how the show could be interesting for people who haven’t already read the books. The cast is so huge—I think the last episode I watched followed the point of view of Tyrion, Arya, Jon, Sansa, Catelyn, Renly, Bran and Theon—and remember all those scenes have those characters interacting with yet more characters—but neglected to show the viewers the points of view of Daenarys, Robb, Asha (who they’ve renamed to something…Yara?), Davos…
How many characters can a TV viewer be asked to care about in the space of an hour? It works in the book, partially because sometimes you can leaf back a few pages and read it again to figure out what the heck just happened.
True Blood remains one of my favorite series to watch, and I’m looking forward to when the fifth season starts this summer. The series is based on the universe created in the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. Part paranormal mystery, part paranormal romance, the books are fun, quick reads following would-be normal mind-reader Sookie Stackhouse as she works for vampires, falls in love with vampires, and dates werewolves and weretigers. Oh, and discovers she’s part fairy.
Unlike The Game of Thrones, True Blood doesn’t try to catch every detail of the books. In fact, the series diverted from the books early on in the first season, when Lafayette wasn’t murdered and instead went on to become one of the main (and maybe the best) characters. Now, the books and the TV shows populate the same universe but in parallel dimensions—showing us different episodes of what could have been in the lives of the characters.
At first this two-faced storytelling bothered me. I liked the books and I wanted to see it on the screen. But then, I realized that I also liked the story line that was presented on TV. Enough details are different now that I have no problem differentiating the storyline in the book from the arcs presented in the show.
Despite enjoying these three examples of adaptations, I do remain wary of works that have been adapted. Probably the reason for that is the terrible movie that was made out of one of my favorite books, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. But that’s a subject for another post.
Today I'm thrilled to announce that I've been invited to blog regularly for The Novel Adventurers, a group of novelists who love to travel--especially on the page. The writers have a world's worth of experience between them, including experts on Italy, Iran, South America and the Indian diaspora (sorry if I missed anyone!). I learn something fascinating about a distant land every time I check out the blog, and I'm flattered to be included as a blogger for this group. I'll be writing there roughly every other Wednesday.
My first blog as one of the regulars is out today. This week's topic is reviews, and I've shared one of my favorite detective series--the Sonchai Jitpleecheep books by John Burdett.
Please go on over and take a look! http://noveladventurers.blogspot.com/2012/04/troubles-brewing-in-bangkok.html
Beth is an American freelance writer who has lived in Europe and Asia since 2003. She grew up on a sailboat and, though now a landlubber, still enjoys a peripatetic life. She writes articles and suspense about travel, expatriate living, and many other topics.