On Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne JonesI first discovered Diana Wynne Jones through the adaptation of her book Howl’s Moving Castle by the well-known film company Studio Ghibli. I love the film and the book, and the two other books she wrote that tie into that world. Since finding her work, I’ve become more interested in her as an artist. Perhaps this may be partly influenced by stories told about her by other authors I like, such as Neil Gaiman who wrote about her and how he first met her. I don’t know why, but I’ll never forget that little story (if you want to know about it, you can read it in his book A View From the Cheap Seats).

I read her book Reflections: On the Magic of Writing which is almost more a memoir than a book about the craft, which suited me just fine. I learned more about her, which made me want to learn even more about her. One thing that really stuck out to me was that she had both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as professors when she attended Oxford. Her thoughts on both of them were amusing to be honest. She had an interesting childhood though tough at times. Her wonder for the world never diminished despite living through darker moments of human history (primarily referencing World War II here). Her stories are skillfully written but are often marketed to children. I think she wrote them for children, but I think they have something for everyone, especially for adults who have forgotten the wonder they once held for the world.

I hope to introduce or read her stories to my children. They are magical and wholesome. I’m curious how my reading habits would have been different had I discovered her books earlier. I was probably mid-twenties when I first found them. Now that I have, I can return to them when needed so as to (hopefully) never lose my own sense of wonder in the whirlwind of adult responsibilities. I am grateful to have the opportunity. I am grateful she wrote her stories and let them out into the world. I’m sure she has impacted more lives than she could have dreamed possible. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in 2011 at the age of 77. Her works will likely live on for a long time. Much longer than my own lifetime at least, because once you discover a book that nestles its way into your heart, it will remain there forever to bring you comfort and joy. My hope is that you give her work a chance if you have not done so already. Of course, I suggest starting with Howl’s Moving Castle. 

Coraline

Coraline Book CoverCoraline by Neil Gaiman is a quick read that I think has been, and remains, a source of inspiration and bravery for many readers. I have not yet seen the movie adaptation, having just read the book for the first time, but I know that the movie has expanded this story’s audience and influence. All this being said, I believe Coraline is a great story with a great effect. Though I didn’t love the story and felt a little old for it, which may just mean I’m in need of a rediscovery, I did like the story and believe it can be an very important book for those who need it or find it while younger or at the right time. It can easily be influential for younger minds, and I hope to read this story to my daughter when she is a bit older.

The premise of Coraline is that Coraline likes to explore. While exploring, she find finds a door that opens to a brick wall, except sometimes it opens to another place. This place is occupied by her “other mother” who very much wants Coraline to stay with her forever.

When I first saw images of the movie adaptation, I was a bit confused as to how the story would be for younger children. I saw the black button eyes and promptly thought it was a scary story. To be fair, it is a bit scary, but the story is more about bravery. Taking action despite being scared in order to set things right. I think this book has a lot in common with another of Neil’s works titled The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which could arguably be a “Coraline-themed book for adults” but instead of arguing about it let’s just take that as a secondary recommendation and enjoy reading both of them.

I understand why so many readers love this story. I was not as enamored with it though which may partly have been influenced by knowing about the story before reading it, knowing how popular it was thus having (unconsciously) higher expectations, or simply being/feeling old while reading it. Honestly, it might not have been one I would have loved either way. I think I am more excited to read it to my daughter, and perhaps my two nieces, than I was when reading it alone, which may be the biggest reason I am recommending this book.

Perhaps you will find this book more to your liking, or you may find it at the right time like many others and have it be a source of bravery for you. I hope so. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading it or sharing it yourself.

Happy Reading.

The Foundation

The Foundation Trilogy Book CoverThis recommendation is going to be split into three parts (all in one post) and each part will cover one book in this trilogy. The Foundation by Isaac Asimov is considered a classic science fiction tale that remains popular today. The television adaptation only recently began on Apple TV and partly prompted me to finally start reading it. I have the trilogy in one volume hence the structure of this post. Continue reading

Welcome to My Blog

I have been actively posting on this blog for 4 years and have created nearly 350 posts. Much has changed as I maintained this site while being busy with other aspects of my life (getting an MFA, buying house, getting married, having a baby, and now finishing an MBA). I figured since I have been doing this for a while and have somewhat settled into a rhythm and focus for this blog, then now would be a good time to provide a welcome to any newcomers and give a brief tour (perhaps frequent visitors will learn something also). Continue reading

Mythos

MythosI am a big fan of all kinds of mythology. I finally got around to reading Mythos which is Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Greek myths. Yes, Stephen Fry the comedian and actor. He even read/performs the audiobook, roughly 15 hours in length, which is how I made my way through this book. Though the overall story tells of a history of the world, it is a collection of smaller stories which makes it is easy to find stopping points or pick up without getting lost even when many stories build upon or reference earlier ones. I really enjoyed listening to Fry tell these stories and recommend the audiobook version though any version will prove entertaining and enlightening.

One thing I really enjoyed about Fry’s retellings was his method of showing how each story influenced the world we live in. He does so primarily by telling how certain words derived from or retain connections to the myths. You can certainly tell that he, perhaps with some assistance, conducted thorough research into these myths and enjoyed not only telling the stories but showing how they continue on.

It is commonly known that many of the Greek myths, or rather the problems at their center, stem from Zeus’s inability to keep it in his pants. This is of course true, but there is a lot more to the myths and there was much from this volume that was new to me. There were several stories I had not heard before and many characters I had known about but did not fully know their backgrounds or origins. For example, I knew the standard interpretation or general reference to Sisyphus, but I knew practically nothing else about him. Now I do and I feel much better about it for some reason. The same goes for many others including those who came before the more common Greek gods. I knew of Chronos and his relation to Zeus but I did not know his origin or those who existed before him. I did not recall how humans came to be via Greek myth but now I know that too. Thank you Prometheus.

There is so much depth and richness (both fascinating and horrifying) to the Greek myths and they greatly influenced, and continue to influence, much of the world. They are arguably the most well-known of the world mythologies and many stories today are influenced or reference them. There are of course those that directly relate to or incorporate the Greek gods such as the Percy Jackson series (that I have yet to look into), but there are many that are more subtly influenced by these myths. Fry has published additional myth-related books and I may eventually read, or listen, to them.

If you are a fan of mythology, history, or just interesting stories, then this is a book for you.

Happy Reading.