armchair bea: literary fiction

30 May 2013

This a genre I love so much, and I can't wait to discuss it! I'm not into reading recently published for many reasons. Mainly because its too expensive and because I'm focusing on classics. I feel like classics are the foundation to reading and I'm embarrassed that I don't know many classics. Granted, I have read many more than the average teenager, but its not enough for a bookaphile!

Are there any books I'm excited about (this year)?

I'm a massive Hosseini fan, and when I heard that this was coming out, I think a part of me died from excitement.

An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else.

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. 

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. 

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

What authors/novels would you recommend to someone new to the genre?

  1. Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  2. Khaled Hosseini
  3. Markus Zusak
  4. John Green

Honourable Mentions:
  1. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  2. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
  3. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Are there any misconceptions or things that you'd like to clear up for people unfamiliar with literary fiction?

I don't think there are any misconceptions about literary fiction, not so much as other genres like horror ("Oh no, I don't have the stomach for it") or mystery ("I always flip to the end! Haha, I can't stand not knowing!") or fantasy ("Just a bunch of dragons and voodoo magic, bah. It's not realistic!"). Literary fiction just is. While searching for titles, I tried not to tread into "classic" or "modern classic" territory because there's a thin, wavering border between them.

What got you started into this kind of book?

There was never a definitive moment where I just delved into literary fiction. I unknowingly started to read books that fit into the genre because I classified everything as "young adult fiction" and "adult fiction".

Name a novel that hasn't received a lot of buzz that definitely deserves it.

The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah
In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.

With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it. 

Thank you all very much for stopping by! Leave a comment and a link to your own post so I can visit :D (psst: if you like my blog, I recommend following. A bit of shameless advertising, I know ^_^)

armchair bea: blogger development and genres

29 May 2013

Hello everyone!
   Today's discussion for Armchair BEA is Paths to Becoming a Better Blogger. I'd like to say I have experience as a blogger with almost five years, but I'm still growing.

Blogger Development

 Have I branched out in the community?

 No, I have not. I'm a closet-blogger and sometimes I feel that I should go out there and talk to people about Pages. But the opportunity hasn't struck.

Do I partner with other bloggers?

 Ah, the affiliate-craze of 2010. I was affiliates with Cate from Sparrow Review (she left), Liz from Cleverly Inked (also left), Brent from Naughty Book Kitties (stopped being affiliates) and my last, surviving afffiliate, Precious from Fragments of Life (we haven't done any big stuff of late!). On my writing blog, I hosted competitions with other bloggers and I'm planning another one now. As for Pages, I've been going solo.

How has my online personality developed over the years?

When I first started out as an almost-thirteen year old blogger, I was quite naive and immature. You can totally check out my old book reviews and such: HOW embarrassing. I wrote literally a sentence or two as a "review" and wrote comments on other blogs with excessive exclamation marks and emoticons. I can definitely say I've matured. My online personality has always reflected my actual personality: so its not as if I have a double identity: my real and my online one. They're two of the same and I believe its better that way. Keeping it real and being honest are two important aspects of my life. Besides, I don't want to show someone this website and have them say "Wow, doesn't sound like you at all". Blogs are an extension of the writer (like wands are to wizards).

Of course, I'm more formal and sophisticated when I blog than when I speak. I have the time to find the right words and being a writer, I can put my thoughts into words better than I can put my thoughts into verbal speech, if that makes sense?


As defined by Wikipedia:

Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is plot-driven fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.[1] Genre fiction is generally distinguished from literary fiction. Screenwriting teacher Robert McKee defines genre conventions as the "specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres."[2] These conventions, always fluid, are usually implicit, but sometimes are made into explicit requirements by publishers of fiction as a guide to authors seeking publication. There is no consensus as to exactly what the conventions of any genre are, or even what the genres themselves are; assigning of works to genres is to some extent arbitrary and subjective.
Genre fiction is often dismissed by literary critics as being pure escapism, cliched, and of poor quality prose.

I enjoy reading genre fiction and I hope to expand my tastes by exploring horror and thrillers. I enjoy escapism, and that's not something that should be criticised. Everyone wants escape. I don't know what else to discuss on this matter, so leave comments or links to your posts so I can visit them!

armchair bea: introduction

28 May 2013

Hello everyone!
 I am back from my hiatus! I've actually been working on a review of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley these past few days to break the ice, but I'm procrastinating on that. Instead, I thought I'd do something more fun and interesting and current: like Armchair BEA!

 I've to chose from a list of questions, some that are such typical "interview" questions that I think I'll just link to posts where I've answered them in the full :) I hope you all don't get bored or anything, I'm not all that interesting!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? 

Good question. Who am I? I don't know myself, and I don't want labels to define me. But it's the only way to put myself in words, so: reader, writer, student, friend, blogger. I have been blogging for 4 complete years and I'm going on my fifth (I started in October of 2008). I initially started blogging with a friend in elementary school about global warming issues, but decided I wanted a blog that I could run by myself on something else that I felt passionately about: reading.

2. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? 

I have. I participated in 2012 (here) and I remember having fun and wanted to do it again! Honestly, I forgot until I saw another blogger's interview post and remembered. Don't look at me like that! I've been on hiatus, I had no idea!

3. What are you currently reading, or what is your favourite book you have read so far in 2013?

I haven't been keeping up with modern YA novels and in fact, I've been reading the classics, like Dracula and The Stranger. I'm currently reading Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. It's absolutely amazing!

Winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize for Literature, Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, critic, novelist, and dramatist, holds a position of singular eminence in the world of letters. Among readers and critics familiar with the whole of Sartre's work, it is generally recognized that his earliest novel, La Nausée (first published in 1938), is his finest and most significant. It is unquestionably a key novel of the twentieth century and a landmark in Existentialist fiction.

Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling and sensation. His thoughts culminate in a pervasive, overpowering feeling of nausea which "spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time—the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain." Roquentin's efforts to come to terms with life, his philosophical and psychological struggles, give Sartre the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his Existentialist creed.

4. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Last year, I said J.K. Rowling. This year, I'll say...Albert Camus (The Stranger). First of all, he's pretty hot. He's my latest literary crush, and I think my first. He's got that suave, classy French feel about him.
Second of all, he's a French Existentialist (not the German sort) and I'd love to hear him "lecture" with me over a cup of cafe. Existentialism is a complicated subject matter and what I read tends to differ from other existential writings. I'd love to learn from Camus!

5. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

If you all have read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (its my writing-bible), then you'll know about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It's a secret library in Barcelona that safe-guards books. If one is introduced to it, then that person must chose a book to protect and is allowed to put a book inside. The setting of the novel is when the main character, Daniel, chooses a book called The Shadow of the Wind and learns that its the only surviving copy at that someone has been systematically destroying all copies of the works of Julian Carax (author of The Shadow of the Wind). It's such a romantic idea, and it sounds like a book lovers' paradise and hell all in one. That magical gothic feel I got for it while reading attracts me to it. If you haven't already read The Shadow of the Wind, I highly recommend it!

So there are my five questions! Thank you so much for stopping by, and have fun travelling to other blogs :)

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