Fresh Off the Boat – Reading Challenge (January)

So I’m at a decent position in terms of my new year’s resolution to read more books, and am on track with the reading challenge I’m currently doing.

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Who wrote it?

Hey y’all,

So I realized that I’ve taken a different approach when looking for new books. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to notice– it started back in March earlier this year I suppose.

I used to look for books by searching through the bestsellers and top 10s of different stores. However, I was quick to realize that a lot of these books weren’t actually that satisfying or good. I’m guessing there’s a lot of paid advertising involved in some of these lists.

Anyway, I now think of a certain author, and only then do I search for a book. For example, I wanted a Neil Gaiman book, so I went and search up his works and picked one. I did the same for several other authors. I find that I find much better books this way. I’m not relying on any lists, nor am I simply picking up the latest hot book (which doesn’t really stay popular for that long in many cases). I’m relying on what I know about the author and their writing style, and through that I make my decision.

Speaking of books, I remember last year, one of my creative writing profs were telling us about how you can judge if a book is actually good or not. You go to your nearest Salvation Army/Thrift Store and look at their books section. See which book has the most amount of copies. These are basically the books that although people bought (probably because of all the hype around them when they were first released), but ended up realizing that they weren’t really worth another read.

So here are my finds at a local thrift shop:
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Surprising? Not surprising? What do you think?

– Karen

Ye Olde Comic Book Shoppe – The Fall of Print Publishing

The ABC Book & Comic Emporium – GO VISIT THEM BEFORE THEY CLOSE! EVERYTHING IS ON SALE! You have until the 31st of November.

I was going down to Broadway for lunch with my mom, and she had to leave early. So I decided to go visit the comic book store on Broadway and Granville. When I got there, my heart sunk. Emblazoned on its store front was “Sale- Going out of business”. I cannot say I have been a regular customer at this comic book store, but I have been there every once in a while. It all started around two years ago when my friends and I came back from a movie and decided to venture into the store. Inside we found cheap comic books, as well as a huge variety of other books, magazines, DVDs and some novelty items. It was mostly a second hand book store, but they have a section of new comic books too. I have always thought that it was a nice place and would visit now and then on my way home from UBC.

I actually felt like crying when I walked in, realizing that these walls of books and boxes of comics were to be moved, sold or god knows what else is going to happen to them. I talked to the owner, an older fellow (maybe in his early sixties?), who I have seen every time I visited them. He was always the one who was by the cash register, ready to answer any questions on their selection, or general questions such as what a “variant edition” of a comic book meant. He told me he will try to find someone to buy the store (I am assuming their name and their inventory), and he assumes that if someone does buy it, they will move it to a cheaper location. Rent was around $9000 a month, which made me wonder if they even raked in $9000 in revenue a month. They probably relied on the small sector of ever-diminishing regular customers that they have built up over the years.

For me, I have always loved reading comics. It probably started with my mom borrowing Garfield comics for me at the local library when I was young, then moving into an Archie and Friends phase. More recently, I have been quite into Marvel and have looked into DC. That is why I visited them today. However, it is really sad that the ABC Comic Emporium is closing.

It is not just comics. They have old issues of magazines, really neat looking old novels, as well as new stuff too. You can easily find a second hand hardcover copy of Brisingr by Christopher Paolini on sale for $15. I also saw in their glass cabinet a Game of Thrones, first edition, first print version selling for $80 ish, but now reduced to half. This place was special and had character. You look over to Chapters across the street from them and you can already guess what you will find inside the two storey, glass enclosed building. However, walking into ABC, you have no idea what you will discover!

It is such a shame that print comics and books are being replaced in the modern world. There will always be people who insist that the feel of holding a good, physical book is much better than an e-reader. I am one of those people. However, that did not stop me from turning to my iPad. It is very handy having a bunch of books stored in this simple and small tablet. I used to bring 3-4 books with me on vacations. Now, I can carry a small collection with me, without taking up half my suitcase.

If you have never been, or have not been for a while, I highly suggest giving the ABC Book & Comic Emporium a visit before they close down. You just may end up buying something you never knew you wanted! Say hello to the owner for me! Let him know there is people out there who will miss him and his store. 🙂

– Karen

To read or not to read?

The second season of Game of Thrones premiered on Sunday! My friends and I had a little premiere of our own at Monica’s house. At first, we were going to cook food inspired by the books/ TV show, but since it was the last week of university and everyone was super busy and preoccupied, we ended up going to Safeway to choose Game of Thrones-like food. Basically, we bought roasted chicken, loads of bread, bread dip, salad, cheese and sausages. Very Westeros-esque? Well, we tried. Oh and to add to the authenticity, we ate with our hands and dressed up.

Our take on food from Westeros. Thank goodness for Safeway!

I attempted to dress up as Irri...

The first season of Game of Thrones corresponded to the first book in George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I watched the first season before moving on to reading the books and I did not like that experience. I then read the second book, and am now on the fourth book (which for some reason, I cannot get past. I keep putting it down because I can’t seem to get absorbed into it). After watching the first episode of season 2, I can now safely say I definitely prefer reading the books before watching the TV show.

IT BEGINS!

I think one thing that annoyed me to watching the show first was that it robbed me of my chance to create my own interpretations of the characters and setting. While reading the first book, I already had premade images of who the characters were and where they lived. For the second book, although some characters were in the first book and I did not get to mentally create them myself, there was still lots of new characters and settings. I found it really fun to watch the second season and realize certain scenes were just as I imagined, or even the opposite—they were nowhere near what I had in mind!

Although creating my own characters based on what I read is, in my opinion, one of the most important part of the experience, there was also a negative part to reading the books first. As I was watching the season two premiere, I realized I knew what was going to happen next. It was as if everything was spoiled. I hate knowing how something is going to end before I watch it. But despite this, I still enjoyed reading the books first.

On a similar note, I watched the Hunger Games with a bunch of friends the day after it was released. I have already read the whole series well before the movie was even announced, so I found that I had forgotten a lot of the plot. However, as I sat in the cinemas watching the movie, I found a lot of bits and pieces were coming back. And then I remembered how the series ended and I actually started crying in many of the scenes that reminded me of the ending. People were obviously thinking I was crazy because the scene that was playing was not even sad. But for me, I kept thinking about the ending and thus wept. Story of my life.

My opinion towards the Hunger Games movie is that it was really well made. A lot of movies end up deviating quite a bit from the book and making a lot of changes. I thought this movie stayed well on track and kept changes to a minimum. Along with Holes, I would say the Hunger Games were one of the movies that allowed for a pretty accurate portrayal of the book.

So what is your take on the topic? Book first or movie first?

-Karen