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Posts Tagged ‘The Princess Bride’

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Anyone who has been to a drugstore in the USA lately knows that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. All those red hearts can only mean one thing — valentines are coming. And, after a completely unscientific survey of those we have met the past few days, we have concluded people fall in two camps – those who embrace Valentine’s Day and those who don’t. (Some claimed to ignore it, but seriously, who can successfully do that?!?)

No matter how you choose to deal with this holiday, a very good book can help you cope with the pressure to find or keep love. And, now that we think about it, we admit they can even help you ignore the whole thing if you wish. To help with whatever strategy you choose, we have picked three books for Valentine’s Day – one for those of you in need of a love story with an edge, one for those of you who would like to embrace its sentiments, and one for those of you in need of a laugh as you search for and/or advise others as they navigate their path to “true love”.

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For those who need the catharsis of an angry love story

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015) – This book is going to be BIG.  We will describe it as the next Gone Girl (from a British perspective), but we will not say much more as almost any description of the plot will ruin the experience of reading it. We can also say this book is a great pick for those needing to feel a bit better about their own love life, and/or for those stuck in troubled places, and/or for those of you needing a page turner on these cold winter days. Read it before the inevitable movie based upon its prose arrives in a theater near you.

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For those needing a good book unapologetically about love 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2015) – As people who love bookstores and booksellers, it is hard not to like this charming novel about a bookseller and his bookstore, the love found when a baby is left among his shelves, and the love life of one of his publishing reps. A “shelf talker” the author wrote for Mr. Fikry, the fictional bookseller hero of this book, to use in his store to sell this book (yes that is confusing) succinctly sums what we would say about “The Storied Life…“. Thus, instead of crafting another review, we now share Ms. Zevin’s fictional shelf talker. “Despite its modest size and the liberties the author takes, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has some lovely moments. Though my taste runs to books that are less sentimental than this one, I’m sure my wife, my daughter, and my best friend cop will love this book, and I will heartily recommend it to them.” And thus, we recommend this to anyone in need of a story that leaves you smiling, or for anyone needing a book to give someone who loves a sentimental tale. (e.g., your Mom)

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For those who need a laugh or two as they journey towards true love, and/or for those of you helping guide teens as they navigate their paths towards love

We Should Hang Out Sometime!: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist (2014) – Mr. Sundquist — a paralympian, a Youtube sensation who was helped along the way by the Vlog-Brothers – Hank and John Green (of The Fault in Our Stars fame), and a cancer survivor — has written an often hilarious, sometimes painfully awkward memoir about his attempts to find a girlfriend. As a reader, you follow him from his Christian Youth Group to college, and then to LA as he attempts to find a date. Ultimately, this book is about how self doubt and fear crippled him more than his actual amputation. Written for young adults, this memoir would make a great reminder to anyone that dating is awkward no matter who you are, but that somehow, we all manage our way through it. (PS – he finally gets the girl.)

And, we finish with a quote from a superb book and classic movie —  The Princess Bride — “This is true love — you think this happens every day?” May love happen for you often, even if not every day.

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“Princesses” – The Book’s Eye View From Vermont: Just because we wear clogs and flannel shirts doesn’t mean that we’re not interested in royal wedding dresses being worn across the pond! Both Lisas watched from a clapboard house on a dirt road as William and Kate tied the knot in Westminster Abbey and then kissed at Buckingham Palace. These are the books that then came to mind. 

Listen Now to Princesses or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_765741554

The recent royal nuptials (what a fun phrase to write and say – royal nuptials – try it), got us thinking about life as a royal personage.  And we started to think, as we tend to do, about books to help us empathize/fantasize about royalty.  Our conclusion? — even with the best books, there is no way to truly relate to the royal treatment other than to actually be in a royal family.

So we decided to focus on a former commoner like us – the newly crowned Princess Kate. Then we turned to stories about princesses. And once we started along this line of thought, the titles kept on coming.  We edited a bit, and the books we dicussed on the BookJam podcast are:

Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch  In this classic picture book, Princess Elizabeth wears fancy clothes and is to marry Prince Ronald. Then a dragon abducts Ronald.  So she dons a paper bag, tracks and tricks the dragon, and rescues Prince Ronald.  When Ronald says “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess,”  well let’s say they do not live happily ever after. But she does save the prince.

The Light Princess by George Macdonald – a tale from the 19th century – really. We surmise that Gail Carson Levine read it somewhere along the way (see next entry).  The Light Princess is a simple tale, written for children. A princess is cursed by a wicked witch with lightness and thus is condemed to float blissfully about the castle all day long, missing gravity, weight, sorrow, suffering and love. The tale relates how she finds her own gravity — and how she saves the prince, too.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – This Newberry Honor Award winner has a cursed princess too.  At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience by a fairy named Lucinda. Thus, anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. As with many fairy tales her mother dies, her father remarries a wicked woman and her life is not so great.  But Ella decides to solver her problems herself. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this version of Cinderella sticks with you with twists and deviations from the original.

The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine- As in Ella Enchanted, Carson Levine turns fairy tales upside down and inside out.  We enjoyed her versions of a sleeping beauty who wakes covered in dirt and cobwebs and a Rapunzel who chooses her own entrapment.

Other titles of interest that we mention on the podcast include:

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman – Takes all the elements of a classic fairy tale and up ends them a bit.  This is a great book that also made an excellent movie.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – Mia Thermopolis, your average urban ninth grader, discovers her father is prince of a small country and that she is now considered the crown princess! She doesn’t even know how to begin to cope, but we enjoy watching her try. (Good movie as well.)

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory  – Sisterly rivalry drives this vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn.

And since most of this podcast focussed on books that are often downright silly, we end with a more serious recommendation – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel provides a fantastic well written look at life in the court of King Henry the VIII.

Musical selections to bookend this podcast include Margaret Whitman’s original recording of “Moonlight in Vermont”  and “Dig a Little Deeper” performed by Jenifer Lewis (Mama Odie).

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