Thursday, 3 November 2011

Booking Through–To the Centre of the Earth (And Back)

All other things being equal, would you rather read a book that’s hard/challenging/rewarding or light/enjoyable/easy?

The BTT questions come from Deb at Booking Through Thursday.

All other things being equal” … In my experience, they never are! My body, my emotions, my thoughts and my interests keep changing; as does the world around me.

Let me put it this way: I like a book to be challenging, enjoyable and rewarding; and neither too hard nor too easy. I like to learn things and be entertained at the same time; thanks!

It might not help the statistics, but that’s how it is.

My latest (re)read:
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864) -
in Swedish translation. Picked it up last time I was at The House (my parents’ old place). If I ever read it before, it was a long time ago - like 40 years or so. I’ve also seen one or two spiced up film versions in more recent years, and ended up wondering how close those really came to Verne’s story. I’d say not very close.

I can certainly see the difficulty of making a film just following the original book, since half of it or more is mostly concerned with the narrator’s anxiety and disbelief in the whole project. I guess there is some narrative skill here though… Just as the narrative ego and his uncle are drawn into the adventure by a surviving piece of evidence that someone before them undertook the journey and managed to get back; so the reader is drawn into it by the (fictional) fact that the narrator must also have been there and survived, or else the book would not have been written. And we want to know how. So in spite of our disbelief, we go on reading. (Or at least I did.)


The travelers discover a giant cave filled with
prehistoric mushrooms.

One of the rewards of (re)reading books like these later in life  is that one’s frames of reference have widened, so that by now I ‘m better able (I think) to also see how the work relates to other authors and books and literary styles; both earlier and later. As I (re)read this book at the age of 56, a whole whirlwind of other authors and stories, as well as the development in scientific ideas in the past 150 years, blows through my mind. And writing that down, it strikes med that that experience too might be compared to some of the discoveries made by the characters in the book…

Which brings me back to where I started:
“All other things” are never equal.


  1. Enjoyable and rewarding -- that's what I want, too! Don't see why a book can't be entertaining and challenging at the same time. That would be the ideal, of course.

  2. last week, i read a book that i very much enjoyed, Sandra Brown's SmokeScreen. a few days after I finished it i saw that Lifetime had made a movie from the book, for TV. the movie was really bad, they changed all the best parts and you hit the nail on the head, the books are better because we are in their minds and thoughts and in a movie we cant be. i like books better than movies, but do enjoy movies. I rather watch a movie that i did not read the book.

  3. I don't really go for challenging books - that's probably why my brain is mush most days!

    Trish @ Tales from ...

  4. Sandra, I agree it is often quite hard to take to the film version of a book you've read, especially if it is a long novel being cut down into a short film and there is much "thinking" in the book which is hard to transfer to visual images instead. Sometimes a film based on a book can be good in its own right; but if you have read the original it can still be hard not to make comparisons.

  5. Enjoyable and rewarding sounds good to me.

  6. Yes, I totally agree with you! Books I have read when I was very young, now I can't remember about them and when I re-read them now that I'm older, it is so much better!! As to what kind of book I read, it does depend on what is going on with me and whether I need a good laugh or want to delve into something deeper.

  7. I like books to be both too but occasionally I just want a book where I don't have to think. Usually when I am stressed or have a lot on.

  8. I couldn't agree more. Things are never equal - especially where one's moods are concerned. And I want a book to be entertaining, challenging, rewarding and nowadays, more and more, enjoyable.

  9. I think I like to read Brave New World again.


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