Talking About Books . . .

The BBC has an article that may interest you if you’ve ever watched Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho.  The article is about five books that are in varying degrees based on actual murders.

Another BBC article that you might enjoy concerns (mostly but not solely) writers (both male and female) and their muses (both male and female).  The pairings range from Dante and his beloved Beatrice, to D. H. Lawrence and his lover and wife, Frieda von Richthofen, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Both well-written articles are by Hepfzibah Anderson.

— — — — —

“Talking Classics” is the name of a series of audio novels that I recently found on Spotify.  All are public domain novels that are condensed into audios that are slightly less than three hours long.  And each is of high quality with excellent narrators.  The entire list is shown below:

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • A Christmas Carol
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Adam Bede
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Anna Karenina
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Barchester Towers
  • Billy Budd
  • Call of the Wild
  • Crime and Punishment
  • David Copperfield
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Dracula
  • Emma
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Frankenstein
  • Great Expectations
  • Jane Eyre
  • Les Miserables
  • Little Women
  • Lorna Doone
  • Madame Bovary
  • Mary Barton
  • Middlemarch
  • Moby Dick
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Oliver Twist
  • Persuasion
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Rob Roy
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Scarlet & Black (The Red and the Black)
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • She
  • Silas Marner
  • Sons and Lovers
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • The Bostonians
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Forsythe Saga
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • The Thirty Nine Steps
  • The Three Musketeers
  • The Turn of the Screw
  • Three Men in a Boat
  • Tom Jones
  • Treasure Island
  • Vanity Fair
  • Villette
  • War and Peace
  • Women in Love
  • Wuthering Heights

To listen to them, go to Spotify and search for “Talking Classics.”  From the list that you get, choose “Talking Classics Audio Books” which is a playlist created by Andy Pianoman.

If you search “DBS audiobooks” at Spotify and you’ll find the following audiobooks plus many more:

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Art of War
  • The Red House Mystery
  • The Children of Odin
  • The Bells of San Juan
  • Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
  • The Last Trail

I suspect that all of these “DBS Classics” are Librivox recordings of the unabridged books, but I haven’t checked out all of them.  The narrators seem to be quite adequate, but all mention of the narrator’s names and of Librivox seem to have been removed.

Speaking of Librivox, Mil Nicholson, an actress and professional narrator, is superb.  She has narrated many of Charles Dickens’ novels for Librivox and has said that she intends to narrate all of his novels eventually.  She has also narrated a few works by other authors as well.  The list of her Librivox narrations includes Barnaby Rudge (version 2), Bleak House (version 3), Dombey and Son, Great Expectations (version 3), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (version 2), Little Dorrit (version 2), The Old Curiosity Shop (version 2), Oliver Twist (version 6), and Our Mutual Friend (version 3).  Additionally she has narrated Can You Forgive Her?, The Eustace Diamonds, and Phineas Finn the Irish Member by Anthony Trollope; Mr. H. by Charles Lamb; and Pride and Prejudice (version 6, dramatic reading) by Jane Austin.  Check out Nicholson’s works before buying any of the above audiobooks.

— — — — —

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Annenberg Foundation has been responsible for some wonderful TV series that just happen to be educational.  They include programs about literature, foreign languages, statistics, physics, chemistry, psychology, math, and many more topics.  Some of the series are designed for students while others are designed for teachers. You can see the entire list of programs here.

I want to spotlight one particular literature course that I find extremely interesting: Invitation to World Literature.  The description of the course gives you an idea of the make-up and breadth of many of the courses.

“See beneath the surface of 13 great works of world literature that have traveled the globe with this course resource for teachers, students, and lovers of literature.”

The 13 great works include The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, The Bhagavad Gita, The Tale of Gingi, Things Fall Apart, and The God of Small Things.  As an example of how the 13 part series is structured, watch program 11 which is about the wonderful novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez – one of the greatest authors in the genre called “magical realism.”  The program is not a dry lecture by a professor standing at a lectern, but rather a series of comments by a diverse group of commentators – some latinos, some not – who give us a feel for the novel and the historical background that influenced Márquez’s writing.  Regardless of your opinions of the novel and about “magical realism,” you’ll be impressed by what you see.


The other series I want to highlight is the 52 part program Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish.  I watched the entire series on public TV many years ago, and I assure you that it is a unique and wonderful way to learn Spanish.  Destinos is anything but a dry recitation of vocabulary and verb conjugations.  Instead it is the story of an elderly, dying man who receives a mysterious letter that reveals a secret from his past.  He hires an attorney, Raquel Rodriguez, to look into the matter, and she travels to a number of Spanish-speaking countries to solve the mystery that the letter alludes to.  It is essentially a telenovela, a Spanish soap opera, that is extremely well done.

Each  unit in the series is broken down into two parts: The story itself, and a review of the story by Raquel. You are explicitly told to try to get the meaning of the story by using the visual cues, and not to worry about understanding each and every word.  The series is so well designed that you will be able to follow the action quite easily.  If you wish to see what is being said, you can enable closed captioning to view the Spanish that is being spoken.

Best of all, there is a textbook – also titled Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish – that follows the outline of the video series, but provides what you would expect in a Spanish textbook.  You can buy a copy of the used textbook through Amazon for a reasonable price.

Destinos is a wonderful introduction to Spanish.  But it is only one of many series that exist only because of the generosity of The Annenberg Foundation.

— — — — —

Reading a bedtime story to your children is an excellent way to bond,  but could it be doing more than just that?  According to Jessica Logan, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, a recent study that she completed indicates that it makes a huge difference in preparing children for learning to read.  The Mental Floss article that reports Logan’s findings also claims that a recent study found that children who grow up in a home with many books “tend to have higher reading comprehension rates and better mathematical and digital communication skills” than children who grow up in homes with few or no books.

— — — — —

When you think of romance novels you probably envision mass-market paperback novels with covers that feature a shirtless hunk with a gorgeous, adoring woman clinging to him.  However, there’s a lot more to romance novels than that, and you’ve probably read some of the best of them. No?  Well, according to the article “A Brief History of the Romance Novel” from the New York Public Library, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and even Gone with the Wind are examples of romance novels.  Still want to deny that you’ve read romance novels?

— — — — —

Open Culture features a brief introduction to the life and thought of Friedrich Nietzsche.  The information in the animation comes compliments of author and philosopher Alain de Botton.  At the end of the animation you’ll see links to similar animations of other philosophers.

— — — — —

The Designer's Dictionary of Type

We read all the time, but we seldom pay attention to the various typefaces that are used in what we read.  Who chooses the typefaces for our books, magazines, and advertisements, and why?  In The Designer’s Dictionary of Type it’s author, Sean Adams, sets out to educate us about the history and characteristics of 48 classic typefaces as well as when and why they should (or shouldn’t) be used.  His descriptions of five typefaces in a Fast Company article reminds me of a wine connoisseur describing the attributes of a bottle of wine.  But Adams has some valid points as well as some very interesting facts about the typefaces and their often forgotten inventors.

— — — — —

Flashman 2

Do you assume that the narrators in books are good people?  Don’t. Many are evil – very evil. A Guardian article features the top 10 evil narrators in books according to journalist and novelist Leo Benedictus.  My favorite, by far, is the poltroon Harry Flashman.

— — — — —

Did you ever see a movie in which one of the characters is reading a book?  Did you do your best to determine the name of the book?  Literary Hub has assembled 50 literary cameos from 1990s movies.

This entry was posted in Books, Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s