By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
Amazon recently released a list compiled by the website’s book editors entitled 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. According to the editor, they wanted it to encompass “all stages of a life” and provide a guide to a reader’s most essential literary endeavors. Their effort is admirable — I just have one question: Whose lifetime are they referring to?
The list is meant to cover the most vital books to read from childhood to maturity, and it is true that the editors are successful in balancing the list with everything from children’s classics such as “Charlotte’s Web” to indelible masterworks such as “Pride and Prejudice.” But what strikes me most as I peruse the selections is the sheer amount of recent bestsellers that are on display.
If I am meant to take this list to my grave, should there be so many titles that solely represent today’s cultural climate?
My specific issue is directed at the books meant to represent the category of young adult fiction. Such inclusions compromise both Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” and the “Sorcerer’s Stone.” While it is true that these books ignited an immense cultural phenomenon, it is not unfounded to think that their popularity will decrease in a matter of a few years.
Youth culture is always driven by a desire for the new and innovative. With each new generation, adolescents strive for their own cultural identity. While the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione may have enraptured their parents, it is safe to assume that children of the future will take hold of a new literary outlet.
To a lesser degree, I am also skeptical toward the presence of such selections as Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City.”
I will fully admit that I have never read either of these books. However, I single them out because their existence on the list is due to the fact that they are recent bestsellers. Before decade’s end, they will most likely fade from the public consciousness, replaced by another slew of acclaimed prose.
Popular culture is in a constant state of fluctuation. Attempting to bring any sort of definitive representation is impossible. Perhaps “100 Books to Read At This Moment” would be a more accurate description of the list they’ve compiled.
Of course, you can’t count out the real reason they assembled the list: to spread the love of reading to all generations. I admire them for that.
And who knows? Perhaps 60 years from now children will still hold Katniss and Harry dear to their hearts.
By Heather Goldin, Multimedia Editor
Trident Booksellers and Café is the ideal location for a literary magazine launch party. Lined with shelves upon shelves of colorful books, the Newbury Street bookstore’s dim lighting is perfect for a poetry reading, and their menu has everything a college student needs to convince their friends to show up (namely beer and Trident’s deluxe grilled cheese).
Boston University’s Literary Society came to the same conclusion when they decided to book Trident for the launch of their lit mag, “Coup de’Etat.” BU Literary Society President Abigail Clauhs explained that the lit mag title translates to “overthrow of the government.” Putting a creative spin on the French motto, Clauhs said that they chose the title to symbolize an “overthrow of literary forms and traditions.”
The lit mag’s message comes across loud and clear, the logo of their lit mag featuring a grenade topped with the head of a fountain pen.
At the launch party, Clauhs introduced several contributors from near and far, without which the publication would be nothing but blank white pages. Several of the contributors — including a man from Michigan— took turns reading excerpts from “Coup de’Etat,” from humorous prose to heartfelt poetry.
Although it is hard to pinpoint my favorite contribution, one of the most entertaining entries had to be a prose piece submitted by Graduate College of Arts and Sciences student Kyle Jepson. His fictional story involved an enraged man who lost his love to someone else, a knife and a picnic (I know, I wanted to know what the ending was too). Sadly, Jepson stopped reading just when it was getting good, and everyone in the room was left wondering what would happen next.
By Deborah Wong, Staff Writer
Gather around, book lovers and inspiring artists!
It’s that time of that year in Boston where book lovers unite at Copley Square to share their love for the power of words. The fifth-annual Boston Book Festival will be bustling with people attending fiction-writing seminars, listening to inspiring authors about their artistic endeavors and swaying to the music of a local band. Here are the top five events that will inspire all you young writers, artists and visionaries out there:
11 a.m., Oct. 19
Trinity Forum, Copley Square
Authors Andrew Goldstein, Douglas Kennedy and Randy Susan Meyers will read their newest novels that explore the topics of lives, secrets and lies. Each author will taking the audience through a roller coaster ride of suspense and leaving them pondering over psychological questions by the end of the seminar.
3 p.m., Oct. 19
Boston Common Carver, 40 Trinity Place
Sam Wolfe Connelly, the illustrator of the new Folio Society edition of “The Great Gatsby”, will describe his creative journey of putting the classic novel into modern society but also staying true to that lifetime’s style. This event is perfect for illustrators, graphic designers and layout designers (or even those who love the style of the 1920’s).
2 p.m., Oct. 19
Old South Mary Norton, 645 Bolyston St.
For those writers who are looking for a breakthrough, bring your best fiction stories, stand in the spotlight with the microphone in front of you and present your masterpiece. The Drum, an audio literary magazine, will record each story and choose the best ones for publication in their magazine.
2:15 p.m., Oct. 19
Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston St.
Living in the technology era, it’s important (and absolutely riveting) to discuss how digital technology will change how we create and display art. This event is for artists who need to know how to use the newest technology to help break through their creative boundaries. Multimedia artist Clifford Ross and photographer Abelardo Morell will present how they used technology in their artworks.
3:30 p.m., Oct. 19
Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place
Journalists and witnesses of the Boston Marathon will come together and unfold what was going through their mind as they were covering one of the biggest stories of the year. Prepare to come with questions for the panelists, which include Carlos Arredondo, Kristen Daley, Marc Furcarile, Scott Helman, Charles Krupa and Jenna Russell.
By Alexandra Diantgikis, Staff Writer
When you’re in a literature course that requires twelve books, a trip to the used bookstore is a must. Not only will it save you a bundle, but also I personally find it to be a great adventure.
Wandering through a bookstore and browsing the shelves is enough to put any avid reader in a good mood, but when the books are nearly seventy percent off, book collectors of all kinds are ecstatic.
There are no restrictions. There is no guilt in purchasing eight books when you’re currently reading three and have a small mountain of unread books back at home. There is a certainty that this sentence will be uttered if not to anyone but yourself: “They are all so cheap!”
I say go for it. Indulge. You can never have too many books. But there is some strategy to finding the right ones.
If I’m browsing through the shelves and happen across a book I’ve wanted, I usually grab the one that looks to be in the best condition. Despite the fact many used books contain marginal writing, dog-eared pages, and underlining, I welcome those charismatic touches. I feel it gives the book character.
You can tell how many people owned the book before you, what they thought at certain times, and what kind of life the book has had. Sometimes comments are insightful and make you consider the text in a way you hadn’t before. Sometimes they are absolute rubbish and you get to argue with the commenter. But you enter a kind of discourse with the book’s past owners – a weird sort of book club.
Used books have this other element that a new book can’t compete with. They have a past and story to tell other than just the text on the page.
By Kimberly Clark, Science Tuesday Editor
With the semester coming to a close and with finals just around the corner, it’s finally time to crack open your books and actually read them.
Or you could try this science trick instead. It’s up to you.
I’ll admit it. I was a disbeliever at first. So, of course, I did as any good science nerd would and carried out an experiment. I pulled out my anthropology and writing books, dusted them off a bit and followed the directions on the video.
And, to my amazement, it worked. It was hands down the best use of my books to date. Even my roommate got in on the fun and tried to help me pull the books apart.
We were unsuccessful.
So what’s the secret behind this trick?
Any good physics enthusiast would know that the answer is friction. In case you have forgotten what you learned in your high school physics class, friction is a force between two objects that opposes motion.
A car will stop when the driver presses on the brakes because of the friction between the brakes and the wheels. If the road is wet, the car will slide a bit before coming to a complete stop because the wet surface is smoother than a dry surface which means less friction.
But don’t get me wrong, liquids and gases do offer some friction. Think about a boat gliding through the waves or an airplane soaring in the sky.
In the case of my anthropology and writing books, the pages of the two books rubbed against each other to create enough friction to keep me and roommate from pulling the books apart. Keep in mind that the friction between only two sheets of paper is basically nonexistent. So when you try this trick for yourself, make sure you interleave as many pages as possible.
Then do as the man in the video says, and you can even bet someone money that he or she cannot pull the books apart. Then go buy yourself something nice.