A book from a genre the person wouldn’t normally read.
I think that receiving a book that isn’t typically within the genre of books you read is a great thing as it broadens your horizons and allows you to explore new genres and stories. It forces you to look outside your comfort zone and experience new plots and characters.
A ‘guide to writing’ gift set
As a Christmas present from my sister I received a ‘writers toolbox’ as a gift. Inside it had a multitude of things such as first sentence ideas and plot twist ideas which help to inspire you whilst writing. I think it is a great gift as it gets your mind working and allows you to use your imagination to the fullest.
When I was younger I received a personalised book from my auntie. I have always loved the book but when I first received it I thought it was so magical. It was the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but with myself incorporated into the story. I was Belle’s friend and helped her throughout the story. It also featured people from my family in the story also. I think that receiving a personalised book, especially when you are younger, is an incredibly special experience as it makes you feel like you are a part of something. It makes you feel important and helpful as you are a main part of the storyline. As you get older it may be a slightly different effect but it is still a great experience. This is a great gift idea as it brings whole new meaning to being involved and engaged in the story.
A book subscription is also a great gift as there is hundreds of different boxes you can choose for and be able to find the one that most suits the person you are buying the gift box. It also enables you to give the person an opportunity to explore new books and authors that they wouldn’t usually choose. It also adds a bit of fun and excitement to the gift as you don’t know what you are going to receive.
A print of their favourite quote
A print or painting of the persons favourite quote is also a nice gift as it is special to that person and unique to them. It shows you have thought about what the person would like and why. If you receive one you can look at it and be inspired by it daily. It can set your day off well.
A personalised bookmark is also a great gift. If it is personalised with all the things the person loves its exciting every time they open their books and see it. It can also often relax people as they recognise things similar and that they know.
I have always loved to read and I have always looked for new books to read like many people my age and older.
However, when I begun high school I did read a lot less and lost my interest a little bit. I think it was due to trying to come to terms with such a big change going from primary to secondary school. I also think that making new friends and suddenly having a ton of homework in comparison to primary was a contributor.
I don’t think I am the only one that feels as through high school or higher education has gotten in the way of reading and therefore people lose interest. I fortunately didn’t lose interest completely and I got back into it in my last few years of high school and now college. I also believe that when people go onto college or university a lot if things can get in the way and they have other priorities. Getting a huge workload and meeting up with new friends as well as often having a part time job. I personally always take the time to read something before I go to sleep. I go to college and have a part time job so there isn’t always time to read during the day and so I always read a little before I go to sleep. Even if it is a sentence, paragraph or chapter I have to read something otherwise I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. I must read a part of the book I am reading each day and then I feel like I have completed something that day if I hadn’t anywhere else in the day. It relaxes me and makes me feel less stressed.
I think that your social group can be a big influence on if you continue to read or not. It you are constantly going out or meeting up with friends it’s a great time but that often takes over from reading, which isn’t a bad thing. It allows you to grow as a person and enjoy life in that way. I personally have a group of friends who during my first few years of high school took up most of my time and I am greatly thankful for that however as we grew older everyone had more of their own things to do such as homework and family time. That allows you to take the time to read a little more and it did for me even although we would still meet up and see each other at school every day.
Overall , I would say that if I wasn’t reading I would feel a void in my life as I love exploring other worlds and becoming involved in the storylines. Not everyone feels like this and in my family it’s a great example. My big sister always loved to read and I think partly that’s why I do but on the other hand my twin sister could think of 1000 other things to do before picking a book up to read but I personally would recommend reading to everyone. I think it is just the case of finding the perfect genre or author or book that is powerful enough to get that individual into reading.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS feel free to comment your thoughts of being a bookworm or if you aren’t)
People’s reading experiences can be completely different from one another, even if reading the same book and it can be down to the simplest of things such as where you are reading it. It can be extremely important to read a book in your own way and can affect the way you interpret the way you comprehend the book. Some people like to read in public places like cafes or coffee shops whereas others prefer to read in their own space.
Personally, I find reading much more enjoyable when I am on my own and it is fairly quite. It allows me to concentrate fully on the story and become fully involved. Therefore before I go to sleep, I always take the time to read a little in bed. Even just one page or a paragraph as it makes me feel like I have accomplished something. I have completed a task that day and it makes me feel good.
I also often read when I have a little bit of spare time, whether it is on my break at work or when I’m finished work at college. It gives me time to step away from what I was doing and relax.
Reading in a bookshop or library is also a great place as you are surrounded by other books and are in a quite space. It is interesting as you can read these books whilst being in a space with a scent that is easily recognisable and often liked.
I know of people who prefer to read in the company of others or with a little bit of background noise as it allow them to feel involved in the story. Like you are a part of what the character is doing. For example if the character is in a café and that’s where you are reading your book it can make you feel much more involved. I can read a book with noise but it usually has to be a book I absolutely love or I am totally engrossed in otherwise I can’t always focus on the book in the way I would like to.
A place where a person chooses to read is a very personal thing and I believe it affects the way someone enjoys a book. Everyone’s opinions are different and I think that it makes sense. I personally like to read in my bed or somewhere comfy and quite whereas others would prefer to read in a café or coffee shop and I think that this is a personal choice and is very important to understand.
‘On the front line with the women who fight back’ by Stacey Dooley is a biographical novel that looks at the women Stacey has met throughout her years making documentaries. The book looks at women from all walks of life who all deal with different issues and events daily. Throughout Stacey Dooley’s time making documentaries she has looked at a multitude of difficult and harrowing topics from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria. These experiences have inspired this book as at the focus of the majority of her documentaries are the strong and brave women in a variety of different circumstances.
Throughout the book, we are introduced to many women who Stacy has met through her documentaries and we are told their stories. Many of these women face unbelievable circumstances and have difficult lives. This book looks at these issues and shares them respectfully in a very educative way much like her documentaries however we do get to see an insight into Stacey’s own opinions and how these have been changed or strengthened throughout her journey meeting these women. Although Stacey shares her opinions, it is very much up to the reader to create their own and decide for themselves what they think about these circumstances.
I also feel that this book shows that Stacey is great at sharing a topic and teaching about what happens in other countries in an inspiring and enlightening way and she tells it respectfully and with real passion. She shares stories that she herself is inspired about and that transpires. She knows what she thinks and isn’t scared to share that which is admirable.
I find the book inspirational in many ways. We are given the opportunity to see what people are dealing with elsewhere in the country yet we see these strong and determined women. The book is ultimately there to raise awareness and is there to show “what’s going on in the world so that people can make up their own minds about how best to fight back”. (On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey Dooley)
I think having watched some of the documentaries is a bonus because as she tells you about a certain topic you can look back at the documentary but with extra insight and information but I don’t believe it is necessary at all as you are giving all the information in the book. I would fully recommend this book as it looks at serious topics beautifully and provides education into these issues.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to comment your thoughts on this book or you have any other books that share the same theme)
Between Shades Of Grey is a book set in 1941 during the Second World War and is based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors. It is a story of a young 15 year old girl, Lina, whose life is turned upside down when her and her family are dragged from their home in Lithuania and deported to Siberia by Soviet officers. It follows her journey to a labour camp in Siberia and what she has to deal with during this horrible time in her life. She deals with life changing events at the age of 15 which I feel no young person should go through. She sees members of her family die and people she has met along the way become her friends only to be ripped apart. She is separated from her love interest during her journey but is reunited at the end once she has been through the worst moments of her life. This book is incredibly powerful and shares a story of a strong and resilient young woman that would inspire anyone, especially young girls.
I asked the author, Ruta Sepetys, if she could possibly answer some of my questions which she did so I am extremely thankful for that.
Ruta Sepetys is a Lithuanian-American author of historical fiction. She is a New York #1 bestseller, international bestseller as well as a winner of the Carnegie Medal.
What made you decide to become an author?
I wanted to be an author when I was very young. I wrote my first book in 3rd grade. But after a while, I lost my courage to write and feared I didn’t really have a talent for it. When I picked up writing again I did not start with historical fiction. I wrote a mystery for young readers and shortly after wrote the first chapter of “Between Shades of Gray.” An agent read both the mystery and the first chapter and told me that my authentic voice was in historical fiction. I’m so grateful for his advice!
Were you inspired by any specific authors/books?
Yes, I was very inspired by Roald Dahl, Edith Wharton and Lois Lowry.
Regarding your book ‘Between Shades of Grey’, why did you choose to write a novel about such a hard and difficult era and compelling story?
I’m interested in WWII because my father was affected and involved. My father fled from Lithuania as a young boy and some of his extended family was deported to Siberia. That inspired “Between Shades of Gray.” My father himself was a displaced refugee for nine years and that partially inspired my most recent book, “Salt to the Sea.”
Why did you decide to make the central character a young teenage girl?
The idea for the character of Lina came from a woman I interviewed in Lithuania. She was a teenager in Siberia and her story was so powerful, her hope so strong. The Soviets had taken her family, her country, but she wouldn’t let them take her spirit. She found a way to speak, even though her voice had been extinguished. She became a role model for me so I used her to create Lina.
Did you have a specific message you wanted to get across?
I am drawn to hidden history and stories of strength through struggle, so I look for topics that contain those elements. Writing historical fiction is like being a detective. I love discovering secrets and lost heroes. Sometimes history can be perceived as boring. But through characters and story, historical statistics become human and suddenly we care for people we’ve never met, we can find their country on a map, and then—the history matters. Through historical fiction we can give voice those who will never have a chance to tell their story. That inspires me!
I consider Lina to be an extremely strong, powerful and resilient who is also very inspirational, would you agree? And was this the intention?
Yes and yes! It makes me indescribably happy that you say she inspires you. Thank you!
Did you do any research whilst writing this book?
For “Between Shades of Gray,” the research was particularly challenging because there was very little information in English on the deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia and Lithuanians hadn’t spoken of the terror for decades. For research I first read all of the nonfiction sources available. I speak with academics and historians. I then travel to the country where the story takes place to research the landscape, the culture, and the people. I generally interview many people while researching a book. I then weave stories from many people together into one character so that way I’m representing a larger human experience and not just one person.
Do you go though any specific process whilst writing?
For me, the writing process involves:
Carefully researching the topic
Interviewing witnesses or survivors
Spending time thinking about the characters and story
Spending hours writing and achieving a state of creative flow
Revising, revising, and revising some more
What would say was your favourite book/author?
I have many favorite books. Some are:
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Do you have any advice for an aspiring author and/or avid reader in general or specifically when writing about a major event that happened in the past?
My advice for research would be to try to interview people who either experienced the time period or historians who have spent years researching it. Sitting down to speak to someone can sometimes yield more dynamic results than just reading about a piece of history. Once you have received testimonies and information you can then consult a historian or academic about the information you’ve received to evaluate the accuracy.
Films today are a huge part of getting people into reading as if you loved the film and find out it’s a book you often want to read the novel it was based upon. For example, books such as Harry Potter by JK Rowling or The Fault in Our Stars by John Green have all inspired young people to read the books if they haven’t already. When many lucky authors get the chance to be able to put their written novels into films or TV programmes, I believe can either work or not. This is my opinion of a few of those books:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Stephen Chbosky
I think this novel is a great book and a book I would 100% recommend. I think it brings a different outlook into teenage lives whilst growing up. It was written in 1999 and therefore you would think that a lot would have changed for teens in that time however I believe it is relevant as ever. I believe all of the characters and their stories which I think helps to deepen the storyline and add interest. Having a realistic set of characters is one of the main reasons I often become attached to a book. This book was then adapted into a film in 2012. The film is a good film and received many positive reviews including getting 86% on rotten tomatoes. Whilst I enjoyed the film, I believe it ruined the book for me a little. I read the book and watched the film in one night which I really don’t recommend as just as I was finishing and loving the book I was disappointed by the movie produced to represent it. It had a great and well known cast also, including Emma Watson, but I believe this was another reason as to why I wasn’t really a fan. As you read a book and you are given descriptions, no matter how much detail you are given you are always going to create a picture in your head that is different to someone else reading the same book. I don’t believe that those actors fitted my interpretation of the characters written by Chbosky. I know that it is a personal thing but I believe hiring extremely well known actors also hinders the aim of the novel as you recognise the actors from something else before even watching the film and I think that this affects the way you watch and interpret a movie. You are focused on their reputation as an actor rather than focusing solely on the character first.
I would say that I absolutely loved the book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I would also suggest reading the book first so you can take the chance to enjoy the journey and creating your own pictures then maybe leave it a while before you watch the film in order not to ruin the picture you just created.
The Fault in our Stars
By John Green
This is a book that I think is very good and emotionally engaging. Not only are the characters realistic but are reflective of many teens’ lives that are not necessarily represented in teen movies. I read this book one night sitting in my living room and as I reached the end I cried. It was the first time I had ever cried at a book and thought that this was a sign it was good. I had engaged and been a part of that story from the beginning and I was so invested in it that by the end I was emotionally drained. The book was released in 2012 and a film adaptation was released in 2014. There wasn’t a huge amount of time before it was decided that it was going to maybe made into a film and I completely understand why after I had read the book. I think that this film adaptation was one I was more of a fan of than Perks of Being a Wallflower as I didn’t know who the actors were and they fitted more into my idea of the characters. I didn’t find I was as emotionally engaged in the film whether that was because I knew what would happen or it just wasn’t the same however I did believe that it was a good film and good adaptation. I will forever say that the book is better than the film and I stick by this so therefore I believe that the book was better. I believe a books ability to create your own pictures and use your imagination to evolve the story is an incredibly magical thing and an experience that a film doesn’t give to me.
Overall, I would say that definitely read the book first and I would also recommend the film. John Green’s other novel ‘Paper Towns’ was also a book which was adapted for film and I would say the same for that to. The book is better but the films not bad either.
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
By Stephen King
This is a novella written by renowned author Stephen King in 1982. The book and the film are often seen as a symbol of hope and determination. It’s about never giving up on the truth and we see this through the character of Andy Dufresne who is wrongly imprisoned and he never gives up hope of being released. He also passes on hope to his friend in Shawshank Ellis ‘Red’ Redding who has long given up any hope of being released but through being friends with Andy his view changes and he believes he can survive outside of prison. The film and the book are both great pieces of work and the film adaptation has kept many things that were in the book and put them into the film. A lot of the dialogue found in the novella was used word for word or extremely similar in the film which shows for Andy’s court case as the script is exactly as found in the book as well as being in the same order. It can also be seen during the prison escape scene. There are however differences which can often be expected when looking at a film adaptation. For example the characters descriptions didn’t match the actors, or some of the characters took on multiple roles such as the warden as there was only one main guard in the film but multiple in the book. I watched the film before I read the book which I would say is the wrong order to do it but I was studying the film for my English class and before then I hadn’t had an interest or known that the film was based upon a book. It is not very often that I find that I prefer the book but in this case I think I do. Not by huge amount but in the ending particularly I found the films much more engaging and dramatic and the books less so. In the book the warden resigns from his job and in the film he resigns from life. It gives it a much more final ending. I would recommend both works and I would say that it doesn’t really matter in which order you do so in this case as both are very good. I would say that the film is definitely one of favourites through.
There are so many other books I could have written about but these are the ones I felt I had the most opinions about. Books such as the Harry Potter Series and all the Roald Dahl books that have been adapted for film I believe are good either way. I personally believe that the book is always better. It adds another element to exploring the story and characters as you let your imagination create the images and pictures inside your head and as much as you are reading a story that’s already written it allows you to put your spin on it inside your head.
Many Thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to comment your opinions on film adaptations of books or have any that you feel strongly about)