Archive for the Books Category

More Harry Potter? … well, kinda

Posted in Books with tags on August 6, 2008 by macmystery

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard"

I got an e-mail from Barnes & Noble today letting me know that the new J.K Rowling book was available for pre-order. Obviously, I was interested in what the Harry Potter author had coming out next, and to my surprise it was a Harry Potter-related book.

“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will e released on Dec. 4 … just in time for Christmas, no less.

It contains all five wizarding tales left to Hermoine Granger by Professor Dumbledore in the seventh and final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Only one of these tales, “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” was recounted in the book. The rest are revealed in this 128-page book that lists for $12.99.

Here’s the synopsis from the Barnes & Noble Web site:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”

The stories are accompanied by delightful pen-and-ink illustrations by Ms. Rowling herself, featuring a still-life frontispiece for each one. Professor Dumbledore’s commentary-apparently written some eighteen months before his death-reveals not just his vast knowledge of Wizarding lore, but also more of his personal qualities: his sense of humor, his courage, his pride in his abilities, and his hard-won wisdom. Names familiar from the Harry Potter novels sprinkle the pages, including Aberforth Dumbledore, Lucius Malfoy and his forebears, and Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington (or “Nearly Headless Nick”), as well as other professors at Hogwarts and the past owners of the Elder Wand. Dumbledore tells us of incidents unique to the Wizarding world, like hilariously troubled theatrical productions at Hogwarts or the dangers of having a “hairy heart.” But he also reveals aspects of the Wizarding world that his Muggle readers might find all too familiar, like censorship, intolerance, and questions about the deepest mysteries in life.

But not only are thesetales the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter. This purchase also represents another very important form of giving: From every sale of this book, Scholastic will give its net proceeds to The Children’s High Level Group, a charity cofounded in 2005 by J. K. Rowling and Emma Nicholson MEP to make life better for vulnerable children. CHLG helps around a quarter of a million children each year through its education activities, outreach work in institutions, and a dedicated telephone and e-mail help line.

Gatsby great, this time around

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on July 26, 2008 by macmystery
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I did something Friday I don’t do very often anymore … I finished a book.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had read it before. High school. Tenth grade, maybe. I wasn’t impressed then. I simply couldn’t relate to the early 20s lifestyle with the parties and drinking and the implied sexuality.

This time, however, I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down. In a grand total, over parts of three days, it may have taken me five hours to read. That’s a high estimate, I think.

I don’t know why I chose to pick up this particular book. I do a lot of reading at work. So much so, that sometimes it’s difficult for me to enjoy reading outside of work.

In recent memory, books of fiction I have read over the past 10 years: All seven Harry Potter books. And maybe 10-12 Perry Mason mysteries by Erle Stanley Gardner … they’re short, quick and interesting. And a book called “Name the Baby.” (It’s not a parenting book.)

But that’s it. Lots of magazine articles and newspaper stories and tons more online, but not many books.

But as for this book, it makes me think, how many books do we push as “classics” in high school lit classes that simply go misunderstood by kids? I think maybe I just didn’t have the life experience at 15 or whatever to fully grasp this story.

Though, I say that knowing I was reading William Faulkner and John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway at the same time and enjoying them. And those three, particularly Faulkner, are no walk in the park and certainly not always easy to understand.

But it makes me wonder what else I should try and read again, knowing I may find myself reading a totally different book than I first encountered in my high school literature class.