Books are more than pages sewn and glued together with words printed on them. Books are magic. They can take the reader to another place and time and they can open the mind the reader. Many book worms (myself included) started their love of books early in life.
For several generations, a love of books was assisted by the PBS television program, Reading Rainbow (1983-2006). Hosted by Star Trek actor LeVar Burton, the genius of the show is that instead of speaking down to its young audience, it spoke to the audience. The children watching were encouraged not only to read, but to explore, imagine and to grow, using books as a means to explore, to imagine and to grow.
The show was cancelled in the 2006, but it has since been revitalized for the modern digital age.
I come from a literary family. My parents encouraged their children to read from a very early age. But not every child is so lucky. For many children, reading is an unappealing chore that has to be done or it is an activity pushed aside for something else. I have fond memories of watching this show and knowing that it’s ok to be a bookworm. Books can change the world.
I recommend it.
I think it’s safe to say that Jane Austen is an icon. Almost 200 years after her death, her books are still staples of libraries and bookstores. Hollywood and modern literature has given us numerous adaptions of her novels over the years.
On one level, it seems easy to re-create her writing. Put the characters in a Georgian era England with Georgian era clothing (or if it is a modern reboot, referencing her characters and story lines), creating an Austen-like story and it seems that success is imminent. But it’s not that easy.
At first glance, Shannon Hale’s novel, Austenland seems interesting. Jane Hayes, a single American woman in her early 30’s, is obsessed and finds solace from her job and a string of failed relationships by re-reading Pride and Prejudice and re-watching the 1995 miniseries of the book. When her aunt dies, Jane receives an inheritance of an all expense paid trip to Austenland, a vacation where one immerses one self in everything Jane Austen.
I saw the movie last year, it was one the of the worst movies I have ever seen. The book is just as bad.
The problem with the book and especially the movie is that the main character is exactly what someone who does not get the nuances and in-jokes of her novels, is exactly what she appears to be. She is single and so obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and Fitzwilliam Darcy that she is incapable of finding real, long lasting relationships. It’s as bad as conjuring up an image of Star Wars or Star Trek fan, a nerdy looking person living in their parents house with no relationships other than their immediate family who spends most or all of their time re-watching the movies or the TV series. This book makes me embarrassed to be a Janeite.
Don’t visit Austenland.