Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Beatrix Potter and the Loch Ness Monster

The Times of London reports that Beatrix Potter's letters show that she had ideas about what the Loch Ness monster would have looked like if it did in fact exist. Look for interest in all things Peter Rabbit when the biopic of the author opens soon with Renee Zellwegger as the author and accomplished naturalist and illustrator. The Times states, "Such is Potter’s enduring appeal that The Tale of Peter Rabbit alone has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide since it was first published at the turn of the last century. Although more than two million Potter books are sold each year, the film — due for a nationwide release on January 5 — is set to inspire a dramatic rise in sales. "
In completely unrelated book news, NPR reports that, "Each year, thousands of tourists create their own Rocky moment by running up those [Philadelphia Museum of Art}... stairs. Photographer Tom Gralish and writer Michael Vitez spent a year meeting and photographing those runners. They've written a book called Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps."
The Guardian book blog has a poll that asks what is your favorite book and why. Blogger Sarah Burnett asks, "What makes a book your favourite? Is it certain characters, is it because it changes your life, or is it down to memory and circumstance?" She goes on to say, "On a writing course recently we were all asked to bring a favourite book. We nodded sagely as the usual suspects rolled up: Orwell, Waugh, McEwan, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And then someone flourished The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. It was a good book to read if you were thinking of changing your life, said its advocate.
I should confess straightaway that The Alchemist doesn't do it for me: I can't think of a reason why anyone would finish it, let alone nominate it as their favourite book. But putting my prejudice to one side, it still struck me that something 'being a good book to read if you are thinking of changing your life' is an unusual reason for choosing a favourite (of course, she may have had other reasons as well, but those escape me)."

I was interested in her reaction to the Alchemist, because a local book group just finished that book and although opinions were generally that it was somewhere between "ok, a light read, not bad, and new age clap trap," it did lead to a very interesting and lively discussion. The book is an allegory about a shepherd who goes on a journey to find his "Personal Legend" or what might commonly be called a life's dream. The book has an almost cult-like following, including Madonna, which is of course enough to turn a reader off right there in guilt-by-association. If your book group is looking for a short read, a break from the long tomes, and a possiblity of a good starting place for a discussion though, ignore the cheap shots and sarcasm employed by the Guardian book blogger and this blogger; try the Alchemist. Or, I could say, if you liked Jonathon Livingston Seagull, or other inspirational books, this might interest you also.
Finally, Conversational Reading has a link to a list of book lists which are fun to browse.

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