9 July 2009

Part Eight: Of Literature & Film

Could you pick a favourite book?

I do not really have a singular favourite book, however there are a few number of books which I adore more than others.

The first is actually a novella, that of [the] Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story explores the duality of man, of the inherent good and evil within us all, and how those feelings and thoughts manifest themselves within us. From a purely psychological viewpoint, the story is a wonderful narration fitting the Freudian theories of the conscious and unconscious mind. Beautiful and deeply chilling, it really is an amazing read.

Before Lord of the Rings, came Tolkien's The Hobbit, ever the children's favourite. I first read it when I was eight, and it was quite literally like stepping into a fantasy world. The only other place I had really experienced the same was with the Narnia series, yet for me this was so much better.

Sticking with the childhood theme there are a number other children's books that I love - J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, Charles Dodgson's (Lewis Carroll) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, but to name a few. I suppose childhood classics litter my favourites list simply because of the memories they bring back and the impact they had on me whilst I was growing up.

When it comes to American literature, my favourite novel is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A story of exploration and the search for freedom. It is a brilliant read for sitting under a tree during lazy summer afternoons. There are also a few other American reads that I love for the summer months.

Much has already been written of the beauty of The Catcher in the Rye, and admittedly it is often blown out of proportion for what it is. But it is simply one of the greatest coming of age stories out there, which for some reason I am always drawn to comparing to Jack Kerouac's fantastic journey in On the Road. I believe they are both books you really do have to read as you are growing up.

Books can show you the world from the comfort of your favourite chair. They can take you to places far away, to other lands, to other cultures, or even just to the places within you that you never knew existed. I am always wary of those who say they do not like to read, for to me, they are blind to one of the very things which makes us all human. That inescapable childhood thirst for wonder.

Straying away from the realm of fiction novels, I also happen to enjoy reading plays, even if I am not always able to see them performed. Shakespeare would obviously have to feature on this list somewhere, and my two favourites are The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing. One a story of magic, exile and romance, whilst the other a charming romantic comedy. Reading or watching either really does make me smile.

If you were allowed to read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame.

It was actually the first real (I am not sure whether that is the best of terms, however I hope you understand what I mean) novel I read as a child. Indeed the copy pictured above is that very same one. Whilst my mother used to read the Narnia series to me when I was younger, this was the first novel I read and completed by myself. As such, it would be rather fitting that it should be my last.

It is a book that for me is magical, in that it is the essence of childhood wonder and excitement. Of course, given that it was the first piece of literature I fell in love with, may have tempered my opinions, however I really do believe that it is a story all children should read. Even now, when I go back and read it once again, a flood of memories and emotions seem to well up inside of me, and it really is a wonderful experience.

What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

There are actually a number of novels I would love to see adapted to film, however the one that stands out most for me in that respect is Heart of Darkness. Whilst I suppose Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now came close in its concept to the novella, I really would like to see the original setting and period of the story. There is something powerful to be said about the story, and indeed Kurtz's parting words of "The horror! The horror!".

From exploring the history and politics of imperialism, to exploring the very depths of the human soul, a film adaption would take a very talented crew. I feel that the director would have to have a clear sense of what interpretation they would like to portray, although I guess the most poignant adaptation would stay close to the ambiguity and complexity of the original story.

I have often imagined the opening close up shot of Marlow narrating the start of his tale, to the crew of the boat off screen. His slow opening dialogue would lead to the camera panning out, revealing the ship and quickly panning out and across to show a period London shrouded in fog. The legend of Heart of Darkness would be emblazoned across the screen in a scrawling cursive script, the black ink standing in stark contrast to the foggy London scene behind it.

The classical music that played softly at the opening would crescendo with the titular caption, just as Marlow mentions the name of Kurtz. The crescendo would then transform and dive into the playing of tribal drums, before coming to a complete silence. The silence would hit just as the camera which had panned up to the thick fog of the London sky, came down to a younger Marlow on the streets just outside the Company.

What are some of your favourite films?

Johnny Depp has always been one of my favourite actors, and as such I pretty much love all of the movies he has ever done. From Cry-Baby to Chocolat, from Don Juan DeMarco to Donnie Brasco, from Ed Wood to Edward Scissorhands, from Sleeping Hollow to Sweeney Todd. As one would also assume, I also happen to be a huge Tim Burton fan, and indeed he has to be one of my favourite directors.

On the note of directors, I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies, especially those starring James Stewart. Rear Window is the obvious favourite, however I also love The Man Who Knew Too Much. I have watched almost all of the movies Hitchcock ever made, with exception of two of his earliest works, and still enjoy sitting down to enjoy them. Another director whom I admire would have to be George A. Romero, I am definitely a fan of zombie movies, and he really does make the best.

When it comes to animation, Hayao Miyazaki has to be the master, I absolutely love his movies. My favourites are Laputa: Castle In The Sky and Howl's Moving Castle. There is the beautiful charm of childhood fantasy, and the obvious beauty of the animation. He really is a genius in his work.

Other movies which I love include the likes of The Pianist, where I thought Adrien Brody was absolutely stunning. I also loved the chemistry between Robert Redford and Brad Pitt in Spy Game, where they fell into the role of master and student easily, indeed to the point that they could have easily been father and son. I really admire Edward Norton's skill, especially in American History X and The Illusionist. And The Great Escape also happens to be one of my favourite films for the Christmas period.

P.S. Be sure to join the Pay-It-Forward competition tag for the chance to win a little gift from me. Winners shall hopefully be announced tomorrow!

Currently playing: The Last Waltz - Oldboy OST



  1. i see that you like myself are very fond of classics.
    i love heart of darknes and jekyll and hyde.

    wow its funny i have wind and the willows but i never got around to reading it . maybe i will lend it to my younger cousin

  2. "Books can show you the world from the comfort of your favourite chair." I love the way you said that because it is so true. My favorite book is Passing by Nella Larsen because I like that when I tell someone about the book. They are like I never heard of it and they are intrigued to read it. I really enjoy your picks. I really need to get back into reading books. I used to read books like crazy in middle school and high school. While I've been in college, I really haven't found the time to just relax and read a book. But, I miss it.

  3. Thanks for tips on books. I read a lot these days, I finally have the time! The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sound very interesting. I'll make sure to read it during the summer break!

    I just wrote a post about "The Other Hand", a book by Chris Cleave. Have you read it? It's amazing, a deeply moving story. I strongly recommend it(:


  4. Oh my! I LOVE Alice in Wonderland all time favourite indeed! :)

    P.S. Check your 'junk' mail!! :P

  5. hmm I don't think I could pick a favorite book mainly because I love to read so much.

    If I could only read one book for the rest of my life it would probably be Tithe by Holly Black

    I actually found out the other night that a very beloved book "Solanin" is being made into a film so i'm very excited and looking forward to that!

    hmm Mirrow Mask is one of my all time favorite but usually no one else has ever watched it. I also loved Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir. Son of Rambow is adorable, I almost cried.

    I love Hayao Miyazaki films you should know that he's coming out with a new one really really soon. It's called Ponyo. It's based off the little mermaid. Ponyo starts off as a goldfish and you see her desperately evolve into a human. I can't wait!!

  6. Choclate and Alice in Wonderland...OMG!


  7. I have always felt a strange connection to Alice...your photos of the books are magical...I can't pick a favorite book or movie. I am obsessed with both & depending on my mood, it changes...however, I LOVE anything quirky, whether it is a character or a plot line, I am not interested unless it has a serious twist.

  8. You have very good taste in books and movies. I love the Catcher in the Rye, and Alice in Wonderland has a special place on my bookshelf. I read On The Road last summer and was very impressed by it.
    Johnny Depp is one of the best actors out there. Even watching movies like Ed Wood are fun. I watched the Man Who Knew Too Much a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. I love the Pianist as well.

  9. i love to read. I think reading is the best mode of expanding one's horizon and experiencing life we otherwise might miss.

  10. I love to read. LOVE. I just can't get enough books. Really, and I am nuts because I have to own every one of my books, I literally have hundreds. I know going to the library would be wise and peaceful, but I just love sitting at home staring at all my books, and the older they get they more I treasure them. There is no way I could pick one. Each has taught me something!

    Great post.

  11. I'm a fan of Hayao Miyazaki too. Spirited Away amazed me (and kind of creeped me out when the little girl's parents transformed into pigs).

  12. Winnie the Pooh brings me back to my childhood every time. IMO, Edward Norton will go down as one of our generation's greatest actors. American History X always leaves me feeling uncomfortable. The mark of a great movie. It gets under your skin.

  13. I could not possibly pick a favorite book...but I am beyond ecstatic that Tim Burton has tackled Alice in Wonderland. I can't wait to see that next year. Catcher in the Rye is the book I have probably read the most times. Holden is one of my favorite characters in literary history. He reminds me of myself and of everyone else. Trainspotting is probably my favorite movie...the cast, directing, acting, script, style, everything is amazing to me about it.

  14. I love to read. I have always loved Alice in Wonderland as there is so much darkness in the whimsy that I am attracted to. I also read the Kite Runner, while not a classic, has been the only book to actually keep me up at night.

    Oh and Johnny Depp, yes please! Crybaby is the best! :) XO

  15. Alice in Wonderland !!!!! Back into the moments wen i read that..I still remember that teacher and the class room...


  16. alice in wonderland & chocolat - a couple of my absolute favourites. will you see tim burton's film when it is released?

  17. I made sure to add many of these to my ever lengthening list!
    At this rate I'll be old and decrepit before I will have completed it :P


  18. Your picks are spot-on. Some I don't know, and will eagerly discover soon!
    My personal favourites in terms of literature are Oscar Wilde (for some reason I was surprised you didn't mention this iconic Dandy!) and Rimbaud (although more poet), and favourite directors Sofia Coppola, Woody Allen and Truffaut.
    Oh, and thanks for your insightful input about Couture on Blog de Tendances, I answered to your comment.
    ps: do you think sun will ever return to Londontown, or is it the traditional British summer?? ;)

  19. The Wind In The Willows is also one of my favorite children's books. My mom made sure that when we were children we would read, or she would read to us, a variety of classic childrens literature. That and Peter Pan come out top on the list...well and of course Alice.

    Chocolate is such a wonderful movie. Have you read the book? Equally good, a bit different though.

    Miyazaki ia wounderful. I remember seeing Spirited Away for the first time and just falling in love. Howls Moving Castle is nice too, it was based on a book as well, by Dianna Wynn Jones. The book is a bit different, but so good, better I think than the film.
    There was one other Miyazaki film I just loved and that was Whispers Of The Heart. I highly recomend it!

  20. What a great selection! A wonderful list.

    I try to find some Graham Greene to look throught at least once a year. Brighton Rock has to be my favorite of his because I actually love Pinkie..& always thought Sting would play him with such perfection. My mom has the soundtrack on LP to Brimstone and Trackle that Sting was in.

  21. Wow, I love all of these classics! Great list!


  22. Can you move to Canada?
    You and me could talk about literature all day.

    On a little personal note, I am changing career paths and returning to university in the fall to study English Literature. I am very excited to be doing something I love and want to learn.

    I have way too many favourite authours, I think I would die if I was only allowed to read one book for the rest of my life. I don't think I could chose one, every book is magical and opens a new door, either to your heart, mind, dreams or desires.

    Good night, deary.


  23. I remember reading the hobbit and also reading LOTR all the way through. What an immense book! Love Alice in Wonderland too and honestly...the Pianist is such a fantastic film!

    Speaking of anime and studio Ghibli have you seen Grave of the fireflies? Incredibly sad!

  24. Your blog if fantastic! I look forward to adding it to my daily repetoire! xx - kate

  25. I absolutely love all the movies you've mentioned here, youve got great taste, you should watch any movie by Deepa Mehta, have a look at Water, its a gorgeous movie, also Noi Albinoi.
    I love old french film noir and french movies in general like La Haine, i also just watched Paris Je t'aime,its fantastic, movies by Wong kar-wai and Spike Lee too.

  26. what a great post!!

    Chocolate is my favorite!!

    Thank for the book tip!!


  27. Chocolat was one of the best book to film adaptations I've seen.

  28. Even though I have a degree in literature, I am terrible at sticking with the classics. While One Hundred Years of Solitude sits half-read on my night stand, I blast through murder mystery after murder mystery.

  29. Yes Alice in Wonderland and Chocolat, I agree completely.

    Also Laputa: Castle In The Sky, is such a beautiful movie. If you're into Japanese animated flicks, try checking out Paprika. Its about dreams and how they are such a part of individual personalities. The storyline is about a villain invading the dreams of individuals.

  30. Oh, these are some of the greats. I really did not like Catcher and the Rye though...my favorite coming of age stories are by Madeliene L'Engle, I think I relate to her heros and heroines more.
    Have you read any Jack London?

  31. I love to read. I read a lot of the classics. You listed a lot of really wonderful books.

  32. You have an exquisite taste in books and films I must say. I love The Pianist and most of the books you've mentioned are my personal faves.


  33. You have an exquisite taste in books and films I must say. I love The Pianist and most of the books you've mentioned are my personal faves.


  34. I just started blogging and your style and writing is an inspiration. I found your blog through the interview at Extra Dressing. I will be adding you to my blogroll so that, hopefully, more people will be inspired by you!

  35. I love Alice in wonderland!

    also i've been wanting to read The catcher in the rye, but I just can't seem to put my hands on any of the copies they hold at my university library ):
    they're always taken.

    I read a few months ago The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I loved it, do you like that book?



  36. I really want to see Edgar Allan Poe's work made into a move the one problem is movies never seem to do justice to great literature. I always love to think about what might be classics that where written in our time

    wonderful post =]

  37. I love On the Road and The Pianist. It's so fun to read about what other bloggers like to read an watch. Two things I need to do more of...

  38. Seriously, I love the way you put your thoughts into words. I've said it once, and I know I'll say it again (with the hopes of not being too redundant) you have such a knack for writing, my dear!
    The Catcher in the Rye and On the Road are two of my all time favorite books. I reread them both at least once a year. I can remember identifying with both stories and the characters in them (though that alarmed me at the similarities I felt with myself and Holden Caulfield!).
    And I'm also a huge Hitchcock fan. It never ceases to amaze me how suspenseful his films are without the use of modern technology. They're so well crafted. Strangers on a Train is one of my favorites :)

  39. I was actually thinking of buying the classics in their leather-bound editions for my bookcase. Good investment!

  40. huckleberry finn.
    but the most amazing book is 'alice in wonderland' i dig it. i totally dig it. old books are always great. the smell, the cover, the letters...

  41. good post!
    great selection. reminds us to catch up on a few classics.
    pistolwhipped. xxx

  42. i love d book version of alice in wonderland....

  43. I've got the exact same edition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

  44. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is my favorite book. It's very comical, but a bit hard to follow so you'd have to be a careful reader. The ending of it is just absolutely brilliant. And another great book is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I am disappointed with the film adaptation of the story though. I think Kesey made a reference that it was like watching his sister get raped. And I wholeheartedly agree, it just felt excruciating to watch a book that you love get so ruined :(
    If there were ever an adaption for Heart of Darkness, I don't think a directer can truly emphasis the darkness that lurks in all humankind.
    I enjoy child stories as well. But reading them as a child, I looked at the surface and has the same expectations like any other child, a hero, a villain, a great battle, and a happy ending. But reading the originals as an adult is different, especially The Little Mermaid where Marina actually dies for true love. It makes your perception of life a little different, because it makes you realize that not everything will have a happy ending, but rather that we should always hope, and hold onto our childhood thoughts and dreams so maybe there can be real magic in the stories we learned as children.
    I also enjoy Johnny Depp. To me, he can go no wrong. His range is absolutely remarkable. I cant wait to see Alice in Wonderland, I've been waiting for that movie for years! :)

  45. I love to read, but I can't pick my favourite! It's a few of them...


  46. I LOVE Chocolat. Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp together are electric ♥

  47. Love your choices and the accompanying photos ~ lovely! Fave books include anything by Jane Austen or Jorge Luis Borges.
    Fave movies: The Princess Bride and Anchorman :)

    Fabulous post, DK!


  48. What a wonderful selection of books you posted. I see you have a thing for the penguin paperbacks ;-) Reading was probably the main hobby I had as a child and growing up. I think I must have gotten through almost a book a day. I had completely forgotten about Wind in the Willows, which I adored as a child. You've inspired me to re-read it. I think I would get a very different perspective of most of the children's books I read, reading them now as an adult. But then again, considering all these books are written by adults, it wouldn't surprise me if they did have a different meaning I couldn't grasp as a child :)

  49. The Catcher in the Rye ...I will never understand what the fuss is about! I do think it's more of a boy book, because every guy I know who read it LOVED it, while the girls were very much undecided!
    However, I loved The Hobbit! It was just miles better than Lord of the Rings!
    I hope you've read To Kill a Mockingbird! It's such a beautiful classic, and I think if someone put a gun to my head and made me choose that One Book for Life, it'd be that one! (although I'd probably try to sneak a few others under the floorboards too, lol!)

  50. You know I remember trying to read Wind in the Willows as a child before I could even read. It's my favourite children's book and I quote from it at length. Scrape & scratch & scrabble & scrooge. LLGxx

  51. lovely photos of some of my favourite books, especially Alice in Wonderland.

  52. can we hang out and watch movies? and we could have a book club as well?
    my favorite book of all time, that i plan on reading every 5 years, is east of eden by john steinbeck...
    happy weekend! xo s

  53. aww.. i'm so into books! and i'm so into classics.. :))))


  54. Great post! I love coming across EVEN more books I find I want to read. Huckleberry Finn was assigned to my class a few months back and I thought I would hate it, but it ended but being a great satirical novel. I'm glad to hear you like "On The Road" and "Catcher in the Rye" because those are on my list to read next.

  55. Beautiful post as per usual, Monsieur Dapper Kid (:

    You've captured exactly why I love books so much! And I see that we both share a love for the same classics!

    La C.

  56. i am mad for books and movies, too. i think i just like ESCAPE, and books and movies are the perfect vehicles for transportation!

    i hope you have a great weekend. may it include it a great read and a super movie! ;)

  57. wow! i've read (and loved) most of those books, except the catcher in the rye, of which i have been rather curious of late. would you strongly reccomend it?


  58. ah, great post.
    the pianist is one of
    my favorite movies as well.

    a splendid performance by adrien brody.

  59. Beautiful picks! I love The Tempest and The Pianist. x

  60. I have never read Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde nor have I read Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Fin. I need to get a move on ahaha. I love Chocolat, it's an awesome movie! :)

  61. Ah yes Catcher can be a bit blown out of proportion (well-said), not necessarily overrated, but it gets a lot of hype. I did love reading it though, and it has stuck with me. It was a good book to soak in when I was 15. And I am always sad I didn't read the Hobbit as a wee one. I'm craving that kind of fully-immersed fantasy reading you've described.
    P.S. I have a little shout-out to you and one of your comments on my blog. Check it out!

  62. I love classic...and have to favor books, I think every single book that I read become my favorite.

    I love your book choices, I have read most of them except for the catcher in the rye and dr. jekyll and mr. hyde... but I will definitely check them out :)

  63. I have lots of favorites... I used to really love the classics but now I just want a great narrative and something to make me laugh. David Sedaris is probably my favorite author. I also love Kerouac and Carson McCullers... and Elizabeth Wurtzel just because she's so interesting. When I love a book I'll read it 3x+.

  64. Love to read!! Especially old finds...but I really can't pick favorite one...love your picks! great post! :)


  65. I love classics too! I used to love little women a lot :D

  66. everytime we walk into a bookstore and see The Catcher in the Rye, my mother sighs, "Oh, i love this book!" Her being an english teacher, I have loved to read...well, since i could read.
    i must say that i adore your blog. (:

  67. brideshead revisited - evelyn waugh
    sound and fury - william faulkner

    velvet goldmine

  68. I love your answers. I've always been a book worm and the thing that I mostly hate about going to med school is that I don't have time for reading anymore :( Thank god for vacation time in less than 5 days :D

    I love the classic titles you've chosen. My English tutor used to bring me those Penguin Classics books when I was younger, I remember being so freaked out yet in love with Dr. Jekyll! I also had a Shakespeare moment too, when I read nothing but that. I must thank old Bill for helping to improve my English :))

    Johnny Depp = LOVE!

    One of my ex-bf was a Hitchcock fanatic and it so rubbed off on me too. Love his movies!

  69. i've watched chocolat! great movie.

    "Books can show you the world from the comfort of your favourite chair. They can take you to places far away, to other lands, to other cultures, or even just to the places within you that you never knew existed." <--- this is what i love about reading books. as a little girl i used to go to sleep with books under my pillow! haha

    I haven't read many classic books though. I find them a bit hard to read. a lot of the words i don't understand.

    i will share with you that i'm reading the da vinci code at the moment! at first didn't know if it were for me, but now I'm loving it!

    love your blog


  70. wow, i could never get through much ado and i applaud you for reading it. you have the best taste and i have always believed a person's soul can be well read by what they read

  71. Thanks for this post, pretty effective piece of writing.