His Dark Materials Proves Fantasy Is Better As TV Shows Not Films

his dark materials

The BBC’s new adaptations of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy proves that fantasy novels deserve to be made into TV shows, rather than films.

The Northern Lights, the first book in critically acclaimed series, designed originally for children, was adapted as a film a few years ago and renamed The Golden Compass.  

The film was a flop, for the simple reason that it tried to fit so this vast book, with all of its exposition and explanation, into one film. It was a long film, but not long enough to fit in all of the knowledge required to make viewers fully understand the concepts and worlds Pullman created.

The appeal of the show, rather than the film, is that it doesn’t ‘tell’ the story so much as it shows you. There are no huge info-dumps, nor any rambling conversations that are exclusively exposition designed to fill you in quickly before something else happens. Instead, the show draws you into the world of Lyra and Pan, showing you everything that happens whilst not overwhelming you.

The critical success of the TV series also shows that fantasy epics belong on television, not in films. HBOs beloved Game Of Thrones is another good example of a book set that would’ve made an awful film series, but as TV show it flourished (until the writers went and blew it on the final series).

Sometimes films can bring fantasy books to life, as is the case with Lord of the Rings, however it can be argued that the films are far too long, and would be better off serialised on TV. Indeed, Amazon has commissioned a series based on Tolkien’s epic novels, proving that the stories have yet more potential that, I don’t think, more films could fulfil.

Overall, it’s clear to see that fantasy belongs on TV. Adapting it for films means cramming it into too little time, or creating far too many, far too long movies that are hard to sit through. The best way to experience fantasy is always to read it, as that way you can let your imagination run away with you and really immerse yourself in the ideas and new worlds the author has created. However, if you’re going to watch fantasy, I urge you to watch a TV show version of your favourites, rather than slogging your way through a boring film

Audiobooks Aren’t Better Than Normal Books: They’re A Different Thing

headphones Audiobook concept

An Esquire Magazine article I read recently had me livid. They claimed that certain audiobooks were better than the actual books themselves.

Before anyone points it out, yes I did spot the disclaimer at the top so yes, I understand that this is an affiliated post and they’re basically just trying to earn money using a controversial headline to get people to buy audiobooks so that they’ll get the commission for the sale. I’m not completely uninitiated on how this sort of advertising works.

However, what got me was how easily the magazine could claim that certain books were better as audiobooks whilst missing the fact that audiobooks are completely different things. Unlike ebooks, which are simply books stored on electronic devices and which still require actual reading, using your eyes, audiobooks use a different sense, hearing.

As such, audiobooks are a completely different experience from reading an actual book. While they are enjoyable in most cases, there’s something to be said for reading an actual book. And whilst there are some books that some people might prefer to hear in audiobook form rather than reading themselves, they won’t get the same enjoyment out of them because audiobooks are completely different to real books.

Also, in reading books our imaginations are able to craft the voices, settings and general characterisations for us, whereas audiobooks use sounds and different voices or accents to lend atmosphere to the listening experience. As a result, less imagination is required, but people get less from the experience of listening to an audiobook, and often have a completely different view of the text than they would’ve done if they read it.

In conclusion, it’s my belief that saying a certain book is better as an audiobook is like saying that you shouldn’t read a specific novel and instead just watch the TV show. You can like one, you can like the other, but you can’t seriously tell me that they’re the same thing.

Why Jane Austen Is The Ideal Antidote To Today’s Troubles

jane austen

Recently the Guardian published an article about how Americans have embraced Jane Austen’s work and now want to live like they’re in one of her novels. There was also a film about this phenomenon called Austenland, proving that the whimsical draw on Austen’s work is not a new concept.

This got me thinking: why on earth would anyone want to live in Austen’s England? This was a land where women had no rights, there was no healthcare, pensions or child benefits and poverty was rife. Life expectancies were low because of the poor sanitation and child death was high for the same reason. Why would anyone want to go back to that time?

Then I started to think about it logically. Whilst Austen was a famed wit who included satirical references to inequality, poverty and social inequality in a number of her works, the majority of her books focused on the trivial. They were about how her version of love, a practical, yet all-encompassing emotion, was the single most important factor in anyone’s life.

She focused on certain characters and quickly and wittily overlooked those that did not suit her purposes. Her works give some insight into society at the time but, in general, their focus is on levity and social graces. For those who choose to overlook the barbs and wit, these are books almost exclusively about a middle-class society that doesn’t exist anymore and never will again.

They are about a group of people in the centre of society with a little mobility to go up and a lot to go down. This topic is fascinating to today’s youth, and makes the idea of a ‘class defying’ romance all the more alluring. It’s this escapism that’s what prompts people to want to read and embody these books.

After all, in today’s society, where we’ve got natural disasters, Trump being a bellend and whatever the fuck’s going on with Brexit and the UK’s general election, there’s a bloody lot to want to escape from. Austen’s work is so far removed from modern life that it is practically a fantasy, and for that reason I can understand why so many people are obsessed with it.

Why Cookbooks Make The Perfect Gift

cookbook 2

Last month I moved to a new job, and as a leaving gift from my old workplace one of my fabulous formed colleagues gave me a cookbook. I suspect this was prompted, more than a little, by my poor showing in the office’s Bake Off competition, but as I flicked through it the other day I realised how great cookbooks are as gifts.

This got me thinking about Christmas, and the gifts I’ve got to purchase for friends. Some are hard to buy for, like my friend who’s a vegan and loves reading. She has loads of novels and non-fiction texts, so a cookbook is actually a good shout, and as the trend for veganism grows there are so many vegan cookbooks out there now. As such, I’ll have loads of choice when I go to buy her one.

It’s not just friends with dietary requirements that will love a cookbook this Christmas: they’re a great all-round present too. After all, everyone eats, and most people love food. Even those who say they don’t, and live off frozen ready meals and takeout still enjoy a good meal, even if they can’t cook one to save their life.

There’s also something about reading, or watching, someone else make food that’s so incredibly enticing. That’s why there are so many reality TV shows focused around cooking. There are also a lot of shows out there that aim to teach people how to cook, but somehow a book is a much more satisfying gift. You really feel like you’re the one doing it if you use a book, and the feeling of not having to rely on technology is also really lovely in this day and age.

So this Christmas if you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone special, or a general present for someone you don’t know that well, then choose a cookbook. You can’t go wrong with a good cookbook, and they come at varying price points; from full whack at Waterstone’s to older books you can buy comparatively cheap at the Works. There’s something for everyone and you can make someone really happy with a well-thought-out cookbook gift.

Booker Prize Winners Prove Award Needs Categories

the booker prize

Following on from my previous post about the Nobel Prize for literature choosing two controversial winners, I’m pleased to say that the Booker Prize has this year chosen two winners based solely on merit and literary prowess.

In doing so, the prize has been awarded to the first black woman in its history, Bernardine Evaristo, as well as the oldest winner in the prize’s history, Margret Atwood. Atwood won for the sequel to the revered The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, which was released in September, more than 33 years after the original was published in 1985. Evaristo won for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, a tale of a group of very different characters, predominantly black British women.

As well as being the oldest and first black woman to win, Atwood and Evaristo are also the first joint winners of the prize, which proves that it should definitely change in order to adapt to today’s growing literary market.

After all, this illustrious prize began in 1969, and since then it has hardly evolved. Whilst the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ might be said to apply to such a revered accolade, it could also be said that the Booker Prize needs to move with the times in order to remain relevant.

Whilst back then there were still as many books being written and published, there were many who would not have been able to get their work long or shortlisted due to racial prejudice, sexism, homophobia and other factors. Times have changed, and today’s progressive literary market, which is working hard to become truly inclusive, now has many books in it that need to be considered.

As such, it is my opinion that the Booker Prize ought to embrace the widening of its remit and the constantly growing literary market by creating a series of categories so that it can properly showcase the rich variety that today’s literary space has to offer.

Nobel Prize For Literature: Courting Controversy Makes Prize Meaningless

Nobel prize lit

Having been suspended for a year after a controversy involving a convicted rapist who leaked the names of nominees, the Nobel Prize for Literature returned this year and awarded the 2018 and 2019 prizes in the same year.

Last year’s accolade went to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, while the 2019 prize was awarded to Austrian author Peter Handke. It was originally predicted that the Swedish academy that awards the prize would avoid selecting controversial opinions 

Both nominees have had controversial views over their long careers writing books across multiple genres. Tokarczuk has caused consternation among Polish patriots for her views around Poland’s culpability in colonialism, whilst Handke has previously showed his support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war. He also spoke  at the 2006 funeral of former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide and other war crimes. 

Previously Handke had called for the abolishment of the prize that he has now accepted, as he believed at the time that the Nobel Prize for Literature was just an attention-seeking exercise and that the awards weren’t worth anything.

However, his mind might have been changed by the huge amount of prize money awarded, which is nine million Swedish kronor, or around £740,000. Both winners will also receive a medal and diploma, and doubtless the awards will do no harm to their future book sales. 

As such, it’s no wonder that Handke has reversed his views on the awards, but I personally can’t help but feel like by selecting two incredibly controversial figures, albeit for completely different reasons, the academy that awards the prize has proved itself to be completely ignoring the author’s contribution to the literary community, and instead focusing on courting headlines and media attention.

Obviously, both winners of these awards have made incredible contributions to the world of literature, but the fact that they are both being recognised in the media more their political views and controversial comments shows that the academy’s decision has paid off, and that the winner’s opinions are more important than their work.

By selecting two controversial winners, the academy has made itself headline news again and ignited debates among many, particularly in the case of Handke, whose views constitute, as many argue, a rewriting of history itself. However, the author’s works themselves have been mostly overlooked by those celebrating or critiquing the choice.

In the end, it is my belief that if awards like this aren’t throughly researched and properly awarded for services to the literary market, then they’re almost entirely pointless.

Crime Fiction: The Genre That Transcends Class

crime fiction class

Recently I read a fascinating article by author Derek Flynn about how he considers crime fiction to be a working class genre. His justification for this seems to be that his work is rooted in his working class background and knowledge, and how many other authors incorporate working class characters and tropes into their work. 

Whilst Flynn definitely has a point, it has to be said that crime fiction isn’t strictly a working class genre simply because it often involves working class characters. After all, many crime fiction novels require those with limited money and resources as characters because of the nature of the work, and the nature of the story lines that the authors use.

In his article Flynn has failed to discuss the other styles of crime fiction out there, and how they incorporate just about all elements of society. From the toffs all the way through to ordinary middle class folks and beyond, class distinctions are a big part of crime fiction, but the genre doesn’t discriminate. It allows everyone to be a part for the simply reason that everyone is.

Everyone is the victim of crime, and as such every type of person of all classes, races and abilities are involved in the crime fiction space. It is true, the working classes are often incorporated the most on account of the fact that those with fewer resources tend to encounter more crime, but the genre involves everyone, and its diversity is what makes it stand out from other, more niche styles of writing.

Whilst some sub-genres focus on specific sectors of society, as a whole crime fiction is versatile and often contains people from throughout society. Whilst some other genres, such as period fiction, often focus on one particular class, crime fiction spreads itself throughout the human spectrum.

Overall, it’s my belief that crime fiction is the genre that can most be said to completely transcend all notion of class, as at its core the genre is about showcasing crime, and this affects everyone of all classes.