10/29/14

5 Reasons "Beowulf" Is Awesome

Yeah, Beowulf. Grendel, dragons, swords and moors and people with names that look like your cat sprinted across your keyboard. Bit antiquated, isn't it? Like, you hear the story in Year Three and don't look at it again until you're studying for a degree in ancient history.

Wrong. There's a blasted good reason this story is such an integral part of western culture - it's because it's awesome.

In no particular order - here are my top five examples of why.





1 - It's Beautifully Written


There are plenty of translations of Beowulf roaming the literary world, but whether they go for style-over-substance or seek to stick to every Old English root they can wrap their hands around, there's no denything this saga is a stunner in the world of prose.

Shove over, Homer - Beowulf doesn't need metaphors as long as the Yellow Pages to invoke the sights, sounds and smells of haunted Geatland, deep moors stalked by unseen shadows while wenches and warriors chase away the shadows with mead and song that makes the ceiling ring with the names of legends.

2 - It Has An Awesome Protagonist

Beowulf, like many of his ilk in the world of the epic, is a bit like a pre-Roman Superman; inhumanly strong, a charismatic leader of men, the greatest warrior his homeland has ever seen, favoured by the gods themselves - and his singing voice makes choirs of angels fangirl like tweens at a One Direction concert, too.

But get all images of untouchable gods out of your head - Beowulf is as down and dirty with the rest of us as you could wish for. He's clever, he's loyal, he loves people and noise and crows, and his powers of sarcasm are truly something to behold.

On top of that, you can see why everyone loves him, why his men fling themselves into the path of peril to stand beside him. Yeah, some guy's sword proved kind of useless fighting the demon swamp monster, but he'll thank the guy for giving it to him anyway, because that's the decent thing to do. And when he loses a man to Grendel's appetite because something doesn't go to plan, he is genuinely upset and begrieved.

You'll never enjoy yourself so much listening to a guy tell you about how he started strangling sea monsters before his first chin hairs grew in.

3 - It's Scary!


The atmosphere in this story is intense, people. The glorious writing goes a long way to building up a wonderful sense of the stakes in play, even in the smallest of moments. The sense is terror, and the smell is every bodily fluid you never wanted to admit to containing.

Stephen King, eat your heart out. I'm way more scared of being alone in a dark feast hall waiting for the horrible monster to bite my legs off than I am of your demon clown!

4 - It's Got An Amazing Setting

You might not recognise the names of the countries and halls any more, but Beowulf has
worldbuilding out the wazoo. The cultural ties, trade relations, oaths and promises made between figures large and small all form part of the story's backdrop. The world is steeped in its own lore and history, from the references made in conversation between characters to sweeping declarations made of the passing of years between events. Think Tolkien, but with less walking and more unstable political relations.

5 - It Is Inspiring

I saved this one 'till last, partly because it comes as something of a summation to the rest, but also because I feel it is, in a way, the most important. One of the key purposes of an epic poem is to showcase the roles of gods and men and their interrelation in the workings of the world. You get examples of the bad and the good, the brave and the cowardly, and how everything can shift and change as time and circumstance wend their way into deeper and deeper peril.

Beowulf has been an inspiration across the centuries, from Superman to Tolkien, even to Harry Potter. It's such a human story, driven by loyalty and bravery and a desire to prove oneself bigger and bolder than even the most alien of terrors lurking beyond the borders of knowledge. It's about pulling together, pushing boundaries, and overcoming even the most horrendous of circumstances because we know it has to be done. 

Fate deals a heavy hand, yes. But that's no excuse to lie down and take it. Beowulf tells you to get up, to stand, to grab your sword and gather your dearest ones about you and charge down your last foe with a gleam in your eye and scream your battlecry loud enough that every god in the heavens will stop and listen in awe.

. . . Wouldn't recommend the movie, though. Not even Angeline Jolie could save that mess.

~ Charley R

10/25/14

Do you like book titles to be long or short?

by Cait

As you probably know...I read a lot. (Mostly YA because, I won't deny, it's my favourite.) This leads me to analyse books quite a lot. I analyse covers and blurbs and genres and characters...

But what about book titles?

Book titles can range from the length of the Great Wall of China to just one word. There are also fabulous medium-title-length books. It makes me ask myself: which do I prefer? What absolutely catches my attention without fail?


Short Titles:
One word can be incredibly punchy and easy to remember...but...it also can be super generic. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I've seen a book called Chaos or Scarlet. UGH! I want to be able to list a title and people know which book I mean!



Medium Titles:
Like consuming tuna, "all things in moderation" is a great guide for book titling. I consider up to 4-words a "medium" sort of title. You can say them in breath to a librarian when you can't find it on the shelves. They capture more of the story than short titles.


Seriously Ginormous Titles:
They hold power! They hold quirky uniqueness! But gosh, they're incredibly hard to muster up the energy to say. You feel like taking a small nap in the middle. And remembering the whole darn thing? It's hard enough to remember your own birth date and library card number without massive book titles on top of that. But yet...they're beautiful.



Personally? I'm always attracted to the long titles. They just strike me as so super quirky. But I prefer the one-word titles for remembrance sake. And they're so short and to the point! You can just bark them out.


But I definitely want your thoughts on this!! What's your favourite title length and why?

10/16/14

My Towering TBR Pile

Actually, it's a TBR shelf (well, a couple of them). But either way, there are a lot of books. Eventually. But there are a few that I'm really itching to read.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Cait and Mime have both spoken very highly about this series, and our tastes usually tend to match. Plus, it's fantasy! Fantasy rocks.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell could write about lint and it would be interesting. Basically, anything she puts her name on, I'd read.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I bought this last year at the bookstore near the beach where my family went on vacation. I read three pages and got distracted (ooh, shiny!) by another book. I think it was Eleanor & Park. Anyway, it looks awesome, and tons of people are talking about it. :)

Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska by John Green

I feel a little embarrassed that I haven't read more by him, especially since I loved The Fault In Our Stars so much. *hides in shame* I'll probably read Paper Towns next, since it's being made into a movie, but I've heard that most people like Looking For Alaska more. For those of you that have read the books, thoughts? [Note: I read Paper Towns soon after I wrote this, and really liked it! :) ]

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Lydia and Cait love this book, and anything my fellow Chewers like, I usually like. :) (With the very bizarre exception of The Book Thief. But I'm not going to talk about that, because there is a good chance that they'll rise up against me to convince me otherwise. Did anyone else not like that book, or am I some sort of anomaly?)

Now the only problem is going to be deciding which one to read first . . .

What's on your TBR list?