“African Myths of Origin” is a book that concerns the different regions of Africa, their creation stories and theme-based narratives. Themes of hunting, food, humanity, morality, death and dying, the Gods, supernatural ability, war and battle, masculinity vs. femininity and others prove that these stories are not only well-written and sophisticated but also prove that these narrators understand the very essences of human existence. Along with the ability to make it into an entertaining narrative, a lot of these stories echo and almost Biblical experience of life. The outline of the book is to treat these historical stories as a part of a geographical location and an entire population of people. The most notable thing is how all of these themes link together to make a narrative that contains a teaching, a tale and characters who are relatable to any time and place. As the narrative states on the theme of hunting: “the original human lifestyle is foraging mixed with hunting.” (p.3). Thus showing that the nature of humans looking for food is not only important thematically to the stories, but is also a quintessential part to every human no matter upon place, time etc. Past, present and future, humans will always require food to survive and this is only one of the bases of human existence that is seen in the book.
It has been a few years since I’ve read “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough. I read it for the first time when I was nineteen and it was the first book I read before I started university reading from then on for a few months. I discovered the book after a re-read of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” that I was doing in order to compare the book to the movie and see exactly what I really thought about the casting choice for Scarlett O’Hara. I was told online by someone on Reddit that “The Thorn Birds” was basically the Australian version of “Gone with the Wind” and that it would make me emotional in the same way. And it didn’t. It made me far more emotional than I’d ever been with “Gone with the Wind”. I was actually so emotional that whilst I was at work, I finished the book and had to excuse myself so that I could go and cry in the foyer. The book managed to change my opinion on how epic a 20th century novel could really be and to this day, even when I think about it - I can feel the same tears start to well up in my eyes. Only if there was more communication between some of the characters, most of this mess would not have occurred and everyone would be okay.
This book is something I read purely because for a while, I had been interested in what this has to do with Harper Lee. By the time I read it, I knew what the book concerned, but I hadn’t got a clue what that had to do with the writer Harper Lee except for the writing of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. So, when I did read it, I paid extra attention to the first two sections in which Casey Cep seeks to teach the reader about racial politics in the courtroom during the early 20th century in the Southern States of America. It is by no means a pretty sight but it is able to tell the reader why Harper Lee felt that, especially in the state of Alabama, it was important to write a book that struck the heart of the political community, their wrongs and the way in which they treated certain skin colours as worse than others even when under oath.
I read “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley primarily because it was on the syllabus for GCSE Literature whilst I was at school. I found it on a reading list online and thought I would spend the summer trying to understand the angles of it, even if we didn’t study it - I thought it was a good exercise in my ability to read and understand an older text. I was thirteen years’ old and it would prove one of the most intense experiences of my life. It took me only one day to read the entire book. I just could not drag myself away from these extensive narratives. Over ten years’ later when I would be in the midst of teaching this book, I found I had the same passion and the same vigour for the novel I had felt in my teen years. It made me feel almost so young again. This book would become to a thirteen year old what a best friend that accepts a freak becomes to the freak. It became a statement of power. It became to me what I had never really had too much of before - it would become my friend. Especially the Monster. The Monster would be my very best friend.
Welcome to part 31 of our journey! You will have noticed that part 30 ended on a great note and we covered some of the new projects I'm working on this year. What I wanted to go through today is communities of reading and what they mean for people who enjoy books. I want to go through the pros and cons briefly and look at ways in which reading communities may be able to improve their aspect on inclusion.
It has been just about twelve years since I first read “Interview with the Vampire” by Anne Rice and what a great year it was. I became so obsessed with the Vampire Chronicles series that I began to draw comic strips dedicated to depicting the storyline of each of them. I drew out each character in some sort of manga style and used the dialogue from the book and yes, I began with Daniel and Louis finding each other in that San Francisco apartment and Daniel having the living shite scared out of him. “I am flesh and blood but not human…” God I love that part because you get all excited that it is really about to go down for the next series of over ten novels. The way in which I discovered it was through the film. I hadn’t actually seen the film but I had heard that it was good and I knew there was a book to it and so I wanted to read the book first. By the time I read the book, I put off seeing the film and “Queen of the Damned” until I had finished the series. Back then only up to “Blood Canticle” was out and I had to wait ages for the next books. This first book in the series changed my entire perception of what vampire fiction could be and that modern fiction could also be beautifully written in a style that was both provocative and suggestive.