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  • Jeff Somers 3:30 pm on 2017/02/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , what if?   

    The 5 Most Brain-Warping Fan Theories About Books 

    Where once delirious theorizing about novels was the province of English professors and their students, safely locked away in the ivory tower of academia, in the modern age the democratizing force of the internet has made it everyone’s business to think way too hard about what they watch, read, or listen to, and then type up Tumblr posts about their new theory.

    Most of these theories are pure bosh, of course, and are quickly swept aside by the rising tide of the next day’s theories—and none of them can be “proved” anyway, at least not in any real sense. But some of these fan theories are a lot of fun—and some have more staying power than others. These five may not hold up in a court of literary law, but they will mess with your mind.

    Theory: There is no Mr. Hyde
    Book: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Did you ever notice that in Stevenson’s classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we never get a glimpse of Mr. Hyde’s point of view? While most of the usual discussion about the story takes for granted that Mr. Hyde is literally a separate personality that Jekyll has unleashed—younger, different in appearance, and of a completely different, er, temperament—the fact is we only have Jekyll’s unreliable evidence to back this up. A lot of readers speculate that Hyde is just an excuse for Jekyll to go ham on some really unacceptable behavior he has always wanted to get into. Readers have been fooled because we take Jekyll’s words at face value, and Jekyll believes himself to be a good man who couldn’t possibly do such terrible things. But if Jekyll is unreliable—as he clearly is—then why take him at his word on that?

    Theory: Jane Austen’s novels are about sociopaths and Game Theory
    Book: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

    This one will really get at Austen fans: there’s a prevalent theory that you can use Austen’s novels (not just Pride and Prejudice) as a guidebook to Game Theory, because all of Austen’s characters are basically sociopaths who manipulate everyone around them like game pieces on a board. If you think about it, this is blood-chillingly obvious: Just about every major character in Austen’s stories is playing a cold-blooded game, breaking down their opponents’ weaknesses, deceiving them, and then using their mistakes against them, all to gain social ascendancy. Put in that light, Austen’s work is some Game of Thrones–level stuff.

    Theory: Jack Torrance wrote Apt Pupil
    Book: Different Seasons and The Shining, by Stephen King

    Over on Reddit last year, this theory popped up and took root due to its plausibility—especially when you consider how hard Stephen King has worked to connect his books into one sprawling multiverse. It boils down to a few simple facts: Jack Torrance in The Shining is a frustrated writer who has lost a teaching job because of a violent run-in with a student, and he’s working on a story featuring a character named Denker. Apt Pupil also features a character named Denker, who meets a student who’s a much worse version of the kid Jack attacked. There’s not much more to the theory, but the idea that Jack might have been writing Apt Pupil while going insane in the Overlook Hotel is so exciting we’d like to suggest King go back and revise his books slightly to make the connection overt.

    Theory: George is homosexual
    Book: Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

    Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, way before homosexuality was something discussed freely in public, much less accepted in everyday life. There are some references to homosexuality in the book, but they serve to underscore how bad it would be to be outed back in those days. And there is some evidence that Steinbeck may have intended George to be gay. When he sees Curly’s wife, the only woman in the book and a woman who is clearly reveling in her sex appeal among the men working the ranch, George barely looks at her and doesn’t have much reaction. But when George spies Slim—or any other man—his descriptions become far more effusive. It’s subtle—but it adds an unexpected dimension to the story.

    Theory: Heathcliff is a werewolf
    Book: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

    Wuthering Heights is an amazing book, very dark, centering on a romantic duo that’s deeply polarizing. Heathcliff’s story is certainly tragic and deserving of sympathy, but he’s also a destructive, vengeful force, and a malevolent one, at that. When you consider how easy it is to imagine Brontë wrote an early supernatural romance and just made all the references super subtle for plausible deniability, however, it all changes. Cathy? Totally a vampire. And Heathcliff, a man repeatedly described as “savage,” a man who lives in a house with a pack of dogs, a man with “sharp cannibal teeth”? A werewolf. In fact, turning Wuthering Heights into the first-ever Twilight requires you to squint just a little bit.

    The post The 5 Most Brain-Warping Fan Theories About Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:30 pm on 2017/02/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , what if?   

    The 5 Most Brain-Warping Fan Theories About Books 

    Where once delirious theorizing about novels was the province of English professors and their students, safely locked away in the ivory tower of academia, in the modern age the democratizing force of the internet has made it everyone’s business to think way too hard about what they watch, read, or listen to, and then type up Tumblr posts about their new theory.

    Most of these theories are pure bosh, of course, and are quickly swept aside by the rising tide of the next day’s theories—and none of them can be “proved” anyway, at least not in any real sense. But some of these fan theories are a lot of fun—and some have more staying power than others. These five may not hold up in a court of literary law, but they will mess with your mind.

    Theory: There is no Mr. Hyde
    Book: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Did you ever notice that in Stevenson’s classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we never get a glimpse of Mr. Hyde’s point of view? While most of the usual discussion about the story takes for granted that Mr. Hyde is literally a separate personality that Jekyll has unleashed—younger, different in appearance, and of a completely different, er, temperament—the fact is we only have Jekyll’s unreliable evidence to back this up. A lot of readers speculate that Hyde is just an excuse for Jekyll to go ham on some really unacceptable behavior he has always wanted to get into. Readers have been fooled because we take Jekyll’s words at face value, and Jekyll believes himself to be a good man who couldn’t possibly do such terrible things. But if Jekyll is unreliable—as he clearly is—then why take him at his word on that?

    Theory: Jane Austen’s novels are about sociopaths and Game Theory
    Book: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

    This one will really get at Austen fans: there’s a prevalent theory that you can use Austen’s novels (not just Pride and Prejudice) as a guidebook to Game Theory, because all of Austen’s characters are basically sociopaths who manipulate everyone around them like game pieces on a board. If you think about it, this is blood-chillingly obvious: Just about every major character in Austen’s stories is playing a cold-blooded game, breaking down their opponents’ weaknesses, deceiving them, and then using their mistakes against them, all to gain social ascendancy. Put in that light, Austen’s work is some Game of Thrones–level stuff.

    Theory: Jack Torrance wrote Apt Pupil
    Book: Different Seasons and The Shining, by Stephen King

    Over on Reddit last year, this theory popped up and took root due to its plausibility—especially when you consider how hard Stephen King has worked to connect his books into one sprawling multiverse. It boils down to a few simple facts: Jack Torrance in The Shining is a frustrated writer who has lost a teaching job because of a violent run-in with a student, and he’s working on a story featuring a character named Denker. Apt Pupil also features a character named Denker, who meets a student who’s a much worse version of the kid Jack attacked. There’s not much more to the theory, but the idea that Jack might have been writing Apt Pupil while going insane in the Overlook Hotel is so exciting we’d like to suggest King go back and revise his books slightly to make the connection overt.

    Theory: George is homosexual
    Book: Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

    Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, way before homosexuality was something discussed freely in public, much less accepted in everyday life. There are some references to homosexuality in the book, but they serve to underscore how bad it would be to be outed back in those days. And there is some evidence that Steinbeck may have intended George to be gay. When he sees Curly’s wife, the only woman in the book and a woman who is clearly reveling in her sex appeal among the men working the ranch, George barely looks at her and doesn’t have much reaction. But when George spies Slim—or any other man—his descriptions become far more effusive. It’s subtle—but it adds an unexpected dimension to the story.

    Theory: Heathcliff is a werewolf
    Book: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

    Wuthering Heights is an amazing book, very dark, centering on a romantic duo that’s deeply polarizing. Heathcliff’s story is certainly tragic and deserving of sympathy, but he’s also a destructive, vengeful force, and a malevolent one, at that. When you consider how easy it is to imagine Brontë wrote an early supernatural romance and just made all the references super subtle for plausible deniability, however, it all changes. Cathy? Totally a vampire. And Heathcliff, a man repeatedly described as “savage,” a man who lives in a house with a pack of dogs, a man with “sharp cannibal teeth”? A werewolf. In fact, turning Wuthering Heights into the first-ever Twilight requires you to squint just a little bit.

    The post The 5 Most Brain-Warping Fan Theories About Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Diana Biller 7:38 pm on 2015/04/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , exceptional you!, frank bruni, , graduates, graduating, , , , , , , , , , , , , victoria osteen, what if?   

    10 Books to Inspire Graduates 

    Graduation is thrilling—and sometimes scary. Fortunately for today’s graduates, some very smart people have written down their thoughts on how to navigate what comes after the cap and gown. Here are seven books that will guide, support, and inspire your graduates on the next stage of their exciting journeys.

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    This breathtaking memoir will have readers thinking deeply about the value of education and what it truly means to be educated. After being raised by survivalists, Westover entered school for the first time at 17 and went on to earn a PhD from Cambridge. Her graduation into “the real world” was a unique experience, and her account will inspire others as they make their own transitions.

    Exceptional You!, by Victoria Osteen
    This book is essential reading for readers who want to look beyond the to-do list and urgent present to a more meaningful future. Osteen shares simple practices designed to help anyone who isn’t sure where to spend their time and energy. By opening your heart to God’s purpose, choosing gratitude, and setting intentions, you’ll gain clarity and confidence for meeting the future.

    The Path Made Clear, by Oprah Winfrey
    If your graduate is looking for a roadmap, who better than Oprah herself to guide and point the way? In this book, she’s gathered wisdom from everyone from Jay Z to Ellen Degeneres to help readers young and old understand if they’re on the right path. With milestones and guideposts clearly marked, inspirational quotes and gorgeous photographs, this book makes it easy for new graduates to navigate an uncertain world.

    Becoming, by Michelle Obama
    In this book, Mrs. O shares how she became the woman so many look up to. From her college years to life in the White House, her standard of excellence and generous spirit will inspire a new generation. This is a memoir that graduates, professors, and professionals alike will be proud to have on their bedside table.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    After 20 years of being trained to give a lot of f*cks in school, graduates may find themselves spending the next 20 years unlearning neurotic habits and thought patterns. This book can help jumpstart the healing with lessons on resiliency, prioritizing your energy, and embracing your faults. It’s wisdom that both graduates of universities and the school of life will appreciate.

    Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Joel Holland
    Very Good Lives is an illustrated version of J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard University commencement speech, in which she spoke less about success and more about failure: “Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.” She also dwells on the importance of imagination, and of taking responsibility for your own actions. This is a great book for graduates, and a great book for almost anyone else, too.

    Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, by Frank Bruni
    College admissions are rough these days, and there are a lot of soon-to-be high school graduates who could use a reminder that, as the title of this book suggests, where you go is not who you’ll be. Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times, goes beyond just reminding readers that the Ivy League is not the only game in town: he also wants to talk about how to make the most out of your education, no matter where you end up. This is an energizing and enjoyable read, reassuring for students and parents alike.

    What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe
    Written by the guy behind xkcd, this is the perfect book to give to graduates who know that the fun is in the learning. What If? is comprised of Munroe’s impeccably researched answers to the tough and bizarre questions his fans ask him: for example, can you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns (clearly one of the most important questions of our time)? And just what would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? The lively and informative text is illustrated by Munroe’s trademark stick figures.

    The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, by Elle Luna
    Here’s a crossroads familiar to most of us: follow your passion or do what others expect of you? The Crossroads of Should and Must guides those facing that decision through both the inspirational questions (how do you discover your passion?) and the practical ones (but what about money??) in an accessible, beautiful, and inspiring fashion. Recommended by people as varied as author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter and the founder of Medium, this is the perfect gift for anyone who has some important life decisions ahead of her.

    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
    This mega-bestselling book from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charles Duhigg proposes a simple answer to a whole host of complicated problems: habit. Want to produce more, work smarter, lose weight, be more successful? Harness the power of habit. Named a Best Book of the Year by both The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and praised by publications ranging from Wired to The Economist, The Power of Habit delves into the scientific explanations for why people do the things they do, and proposes that once we understand how habits work, we can successfully use them to achieve our goals.

    The post 10 Books to Inspire Graduates appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 pm on 2014/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , dissident gardens, , everybody's got something, , , , , , personal, , robin robinson, , , the burning room, , , , what if?, , why grizzly bears should wear underpants   

    What to Read Next if You Liked What I Know for Sure, The Bone Clocks, We Are Not Ourselves, Personal or What If? 

    WTRN9-11-14

    What I Know for Sure, by Oprah Winfrey, collects pearls of wisdom and life lessons from more than 14 years of her columns in O, The Oprah Magazine. These brief essays on finding joy, clarity, power, and possibility will empower and uplift readers. Though there is most definitely only one Oprah, Everybody’s Got Something, journalist Robin Roberts’ memoir of a battle with cancer, is similarly inspiring, and as filled with important lessons on how to make the most of the time you’ve been given.

    The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell, is nearly incomparable, blending familiar elements of literary fiction, sci-fi, dystopian fantasy, and metafictional, self-referential narrative tricks into a heady brew that is entirely unique and entirely Mitchell (and par for the course from the author of Cloud Atlas). Still, his fans might find similar appeal in Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, an eerie, ethereal postapocalyptic novel set in a world ravaged by a killer plague, in which a disparate group of survivors attempts to preserve some semblance of societal order through performances of Shakespeare. Though more linear than Mitchell’s work, Mandel’s debut carries the same metaphorical heft and leaves the same emotional impact.

    We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas, is a multigenerational Irish-American family drama following the rising and falling fortunes of the Learys of Woodside, Queens. At its center is Eileen, who was born just as the U.S. was entering World War II and grew up in the shadow of conflict, caring for her alcoholic parents and dreaming of an escape to a better life. She thinks she’s found it when she meets Ed, a brilliant scientist, but he’s more dedicated to the pursuit of scientific truth than a house in the suburbs. The struggle to make do with what life has given you while striving always for something better is the engine that drives the book.  Dissident Gardens, by Jonathan Lethem, is another New York–set story covering 35 years in the lives of an Irish-American family and two women who battle ceaselessly against the status quo.

    Personal, by Lee Child, is the latest in his pulse-pounding, mega-popular Jack Reacher series. Finding a character that can go toe-to-toe with a guy like Reacher is tough, and not just because the dude is 6’5—Child’s series provides a perfect blend of mystery, thriller, and action. If you’ve already torn through all of them, however, you might want to try Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. Like Reacher, Bosch is a former military man who isn’t afraid to question authority in pursuit of justice (even if he is only 5’9). The series starts with The Black Echo, and book 14, The Burning Room, comes out in November.

    What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe, isn’t afraid to broach those delicate subjects. Like, what would happen if you dropped a T-Rex into the Sarlacc Pit from Return of the Jedi? How many arrows would it take to blot out the sun like in that battle scene from 300? The cartoonist behind the popular webcomic xkcd answers these queries and more. For more utterly useless but indispensable information delivered via cartoons, you can’t go wrong with The Oatmeal, another web comic known for its elaborate graphs and flow charts. Choice cut: “Hammer Pants vs. Hipsters: A Visual Comparison.” (That one’s from Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants.)

    What books have you recommended lately?

     
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