Archive of ‘My Reading Life’ category

Raise a Glass to Reading

Can you believe Memorial Day is next weekend?! The unofficial start of summer is days away, and plans are being made left and right. Of course, books factor into all my trips down the shore, long car rides, and pool days because I never leave home without one.

Right now, I’m slowly cultivating my summer reading list. Like a fine wine, I want this list to be both robust and well-balanced. I want titles that match my exquisite taste in fiction, quench my thirst for knowledge, and fill my glass to the brim with lots of great flavors.

Most of the books I have selected are already on my shelves, but there are a few that I will acquire to round out my collection. I have been researching different titles based on recommendations from the sommeliers of the literary world – like the New York Times bestseller list, the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club, and #bookstagram. Next month, I will briefly lift my self-imposed, book-buying ban, select what I hope are “excellent choices,” and then put a cork in it for the rest of the summer.

I hope you will join me in celebrating this upcoming summer of books and wine. A wise man once said, “Great wines are like great books. Once you take your first ‘sip,’ they are hard to put down.

 

 

 

The Clock Story

When I was a child, my parents labeled different things in the house to teach me to read. In our living room, the lamp on the end table would most likely have had a sign taped to it that said “lamp.” In my bedroom, signs for the bed, desk, window, and door were in my line of sight. Even the clock that looked like a flower in our 70’s kitchen had a sign next to it with the word “clock.”

I spent a good part of my early years reading these signs and learning all kinds of new words. My mom tells me that this habit of reading signs stuck with me, and as I got older, I would point out signs on the train like EXIT and STOP. I guess it was a good thing my parents never took the subway. Can you imagine what new words I would have picked up by reading the graffiti on the wall?!

Anyway, the time came for me to move to another room because my baby sister was on the way. The wallpaper my parents picked out was a pretty floral print of pinks and yellows. I can still see the wallpaper of my childhood bedroom in my mind, and when I googled it, I recognized it immediately (see below).

Upon seeing this wallpaper, I yelled out “clock, clock, clock,” pointing to each flower because they reminded me of the flower clock in the kitchen. It made perfect sense to me at the time. I guess my parents didn’t think to put signs out in the garden for flowers, trees, and bushes.

Of course, if they did, they would have missed out on an adorable story about me as a young reader (which they love to tell people at parties).

Thanks, Mom & Dad for teaching me to read. It was definitely a sign of things to come. 

The Book vs The Movie

I used to be excited about going to the movies. I went all the time as a kid. I loved the big screen and the candy. And it was great to go every year on December 25 because my family celebrated a Jewish Christmas. The movie theater was the only thing open, and my friends were all there. We could hold a minyan if we wanted to because the entire congregation – including the rabbi – filled up the seats.

Now, Christmas is a big movie release day, so it isn’t just for the members of the tribe (MOTs) anymore. But back then, it only cost $4 to see the latest feature film. You could take your entire Hebrew school class and see every movie in the theater for less than $25 plus the cost of popcorn. And then, we would all go out for Chinese food afterward.

As a teenager, I went to the movies almost every weekend. It was a little more expensive, but my dates usually paid. Now, as an adult, the experience is not as fun anymore. The previews are endless. People look at their cell phones instead of watching the movie (not me, of course). And even though I’m fully vaccinated, I don’t want to be in a crowded theater. I have perfected the art of watching films in the comfort of my living room. I can even pop my own popcorn and save a lot of money.

But, the number one reason I’m not interested in going to the movies is this: the book is always better. I mean, thank G-d for the wonderful actors that are cast in these roles – like Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures” or Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in “The Shawshank Redemption.” I admit they bring the characters to life in ways that I enjoy. But even the best film directors can’t possibly capture all the intricate subplots and themes in two hours. I give them plenty of points for costumes and cinematography – but the story almost always suffers, especially the endings. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

In “The Devil Wears Prada,” the assistant Andi gives Miranda Priestly precisely what she deserves in Lauren Weisberger’s book, and it’s AWESOME! But, in the movie, not so much. The ending pales in comparison and neatly tied up in a bow. Disappointing!

Same with “Crazy Rich Asians.” I’ve watched the movie several times because it is a good story, But Astrid and Michael have a great storyline that is never fully realized in the film. And the relationship between Rachel and her potential mother-in-law does not end as well in the novel as on-screen.

And don’t even get me started on the ending to “Gone Girl.” I can’t even… If you’ve read the book AND seen the movie, you know what I mean.

When you think about it, the book costs around $16, which is about the same price as the movie (depending on where you live). Rationally speaking, why would I spend that money twice on the same story? As a side note, I never by the book with the movie poster on the cover. I refuse to feed into the marketing of the film and carry it around like a mini-billboard.

So, perhaps it isn’t the sticky floors or the endless previews that I dread at the theater. More likely, it is that I am often so disappointed. Call me a book nerd, but I can’t help but shake my head and wonder why I wasted my money and my time.

Are there any movies you liked better than the book?

 

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