The Handmaid’s Tale: Comparing The Novel To The Series

Image result for the handmaids tale book huluI read The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, and I didn’t ‘get’ it, TBH. I understood it, of course, but it didn’t resonate with me in the way my teacher had hoped it would. It wasn’t until watching the new Hulu adaptation that I was really interested in the story. But I couldn’t understand why my memories of the book were so far from what the show was saying, so I dug out my old copy, still covered in post-its and margin scribbles, and forced myself to give it a second chance. Image result for the handmaids tale hulu

With my first reading, for whatever reason, I had a very obscure picture of the world Atwood was writing about. I wasn’t able to imagine what it would be like. But, after watching the series, I was able to really picture the world of Gilead, and it made me want to understand it better. So I decided to revisit the book, and I re-read it while watching the show. It completely changed my opinion of the novel, and now I love a book that I once hated.

Although I loved both the book and the series, I can’t ignore their differences. Though both are important and relevant, they have different missions and different lessons. The ideal would be for audiences to read and watch both; they inform each other, each provides what the other lacks.  Continue reading

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My Top Picks For The Great American Read

Image result for the great american readThe Great American Read is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). All of the books that made the list are truly great, but only one can be named The Great American Read.

Read our last post to see which 40 Books are leading the race, and find a list of my favorites listed below. If you don’t see your book, there is still time to change that. You can vote for your favorites each day until Thursday, October 18, 2018 at midnight PT, when voting closes. Click here to vote now.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

The 1984 book explores the issues of womens rights, religion, and individual liberties. Atwood conceived the novel as ‘speculative fiction,’ (similar to Louis Lowry’s The Giver), works that imagine a future that could conceivably happen without any advances in technology from the present. In other words, she said, “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” Every aspect of the book was inspired by social and political events of the early 1980s, but remains poignant because we can imagine this happening today.

 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is a classic choice for The Great American Read because it is an archetypal representation of The American Dream: if you work hard enough, you can succeed. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his passionate obsession with a married Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

 

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

People should read The Help because it is real. Though it is a work of fiction, it is based on true events. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. Kathryn was born in 1969 in Jackson and grew up in a household with a black housekeeper.  The story was based on her experiences growing up and it was just adjusted to occur in the 1960s in the midst of the civil rights movement.  A beautifully written but painful story steeped in American history.  It tells the story of black household workers in the South in the early 1960s—domestic helpers who take great risks by sharing stories about what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. Their tales not only reveal the great sense of empowerment that comes from sharing and having your voice heard, but also remind us of the greatness of the real women who do this work today under sometimes terrible conditions. It is a novel about empowered, heroic women taking a stand for human rights during the civil rights era. It was also adapted into a movie in 2011.

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The Top 40 Books in The Great American Read

The Great American Read has reached TWO MILLION votes in the search for America’s best-loved novel. (That’s an average of  only 16,600 votes a day!)  It’s still anyone’s game! Below are the TOP 40 BOOKS from the list of 100 that are currently leading the pack. If you don’t see your book, there is still time to change that. You can vote for your favorites each day until Thursday, October 18, 2018 at midnight PT, when voting closes. Click here to vote now.

TOP 40 BOOKS

(LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER, NOT BY VOTE RANKING)

1984
A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
And Then There Were None
Anne of Green Gables
Atlas Shrugged
The Book Thief
The Catcher in the Rye
Charlotte’s Web
The Chronicles of Narnia (Series)
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Color Purple
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Da Vinci Code
Dune
Gone with the Wind
The Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations
The Great Gatsby
The Handmaid’s Tale
Harry Potter (Series)
The Help
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Hunger Games (Series)
Jane Eyre
The Little Prince
Little Women
Lonesome Dove
The Lord of the Rings (Series)
Outlander (Series)
The Outsiders
The Pillars of the Earth
Pride and Prejudice
Rebecca
The Stand
To Kill a Mockingbird
Where the Red Fern Grows
Wuthering Heights

The Great American Read returns to PBS starting on Tuesday, September 11, 2018, with 7 new episodes airing weekly on Tuesday nights at 8/7c.  The winner will be revealed in the final episode on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

The Great American Read

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The Great American Read is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (*as chosen in a national survey).  It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience. The series is the centerpiece of an ambitious multi-platform digital, educational and community outreach campaign, designed to get the country reading and passionately talking about books. Continue reading

What Should I Read?

If you love to read, and read a lot, it can be hard to find well-written books that meet the standards of a bibliophile. Even harder when the bibliophile is looking for something specific.

We all have specific tastes; we know what we like, and what we don’t like. With the advent of online book selling, I can’t tell you how many times I have ordered a book based on the description, only to find upon arrival that it wasn’t quite what I was looking to read.

Below, we have compiled a list of websites that can help you find exactly what you are looking to read! Continue reading

The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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Alice Hoffman returns, 22 years later, to tell the first part of the story. The Rules Of Magic follows Franny, Jet, and Vincent Owens as they uncover the mystery of their witchy heritage, and try to break the curse that haunts their fate. This prequel to the 1995 best-seller Practical Magic is an essential prelude to the first book, providing a fundamental understanding of the family and the secrets that follow them.

In The Rules Of Magic, we are introduced to Maria Owens, the Salem witch Hoffman uses to root the family tree in witchcraft and magik. The plot opens with Franny, Jet, and their younger brother Vincent, and explains to readers why they are the way that they are. Witch-y.

“What mattered was the blood that ran through him, the same blood that flowed through Maria Owens.” (53).

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Lotería

Lotería was the 2013 debut novel of Mario Alberto Zambrano.

With her older sister Estrella in the ICU and her father in jail, eleven-year-old Luz Castillo has been taken into the custody of the state. Alone in her room, she retreats behind a wall of silence, writing in her journal and shuffling through a deck of lotería cards. Each of the cards’ colorful images—mermaids, bottles, spiders, death, and stars—sparks a random memory.

Pieced together, these snapshots bring into focus the joy and pain of the young girl’s life, and the events that led to her present situation. But just as the story becomes clear, a breathtaking twist changes everything.

This book was stippled with Spanish aphorisms and phrases, and included an impressive amount of vocabulary in-context, to help teach Spanish to non-speakers. A full deck of Lotería cards is presented back-to-front, to mark the chapters, as if the reader is flipping a card when turning the page, reminiscent of Isabelle Allende and Salvador Plascencia’s magical realism. Image result for loteria el nopal

“I didn’t feel like remembering today so I laid out the cards close to each other so that they were touching like tiles, like El Nopal.” (175).

Luz associates her memories with the Lotería cards, using them to prompt her, to spark her memories. Than she writes about it in her journal. As we read her diary — addressed to “You”, always capitalized, in reference to the reader, or in reference to a higher power — we understand the trauma she is trying to run from. Continue reading

The Crown

This book is the official companion to the Emmy-winning Netflix drama chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and starring Claire Foy and John Lithgow, The Crown by Peter Morgan, featuring additional historical background and beautifully reproduced archival photos and show stills.

Elizabeth Mountbatten never expected her father to die so suddenly, so young, leaving her with a throne to fill and a global institution to govern. Crowned at twenty-five, she was already a wife and mother as she began her journey towards becoming a queen. As Britain lifted itself out of the shadow of war, the new monarch faced her own challenges. Her mother doubted her marriage; her uncle-in-exile derided her abilities; her husband resented the sacrifice of his career and family name; and her rebellious sister embarked on a love affair that threatened the centuries-old links between the Church and the Crown. This is the story of how Elizabeth II drew on every ounce of resolve to ensure that the Crown always came out on top.

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