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Facebook’s Most Read Books of 2012… and the Giveaway Winner!

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I may be a bit behind the curve on this super cool infographic (perhaps you saw this around the new year), but it was so interesting that I just had to share it.  In the past, I shared a list of the most read books in the past 50 years; below, you’ll find something slightly narrower in scope but also fascinating nonetheless, Facebook’s Most Read Books of 2012.

Most Read Books 2012 infographic - Novel Conclusions - literary blog - writing blog - Christi Gerstle

Facebook’s 2012 Most Read Books of the Year via facebookstories.com

I was most surprised by The Great Gatsby’s appearance on the list.  Although the source of this infographic doesn’t philosophize on why some books might be on the list, I wonder if Gatsby made it due to the publicity for the upcoming movie, English teachers hitting it a little more than normal, or just that the book is one of those that sticks.

Giveaway Winner

DRUMROLL…

Random.org gave me the gorgeously round number 575.  This makes Tracy Cembor, with the number 500, the winner of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess!  Congrats Tracy!  You can check out her blog over at tracycembor.com.

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Should I Really Read the Classics? AND a Giveaway

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MacBeth apparition - why read classic literature - enjoying the classics - Novel Conclusions - Christi Gerstle - literary blog - writing tips

MacBeth: the Apparition of the Kings by Théodore Chassériau, via Wikimedia Commons

There comes a certain point in your time as a reader, at least for more serious readers, when you decide you should read some classics.  When I was a kid, I wanted to read the classics because it was the smart thing to do (and smart was cool, in my lexicon as a middle schooler – although that lexicon also involved lots of ugly baggy 90s shirts, but whatevs…).  Other people read the classics because they’re curious or because someone recommended a certain book or even just because they have to for school.

When I was at the book signing week before last, I was talking with a couple teenage girls there, and they said they hadn’t really read any classics, that they really preferred girly YA books.  And there’s nothing wrong with girly YA books!  I love me some adventurous, booty-kicking YA heroines.  So why read classics?

For a few reasons:

  1. You can more fully understand the fun books you’ve been reading this whole time.  How is this?  Well, most authors are very well-read and tend to incorporate that into their work.  Take JK Rowling as an example – the Harry Potter series is filled with allusions to works like the Iliad, MacBeth, the Canterbury Tales, and the Bible.  The characters even have a discussion about the meaning of I Corinthians 15:26 (“And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”), among other things, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Other examples of this are the frequent allusions to Tennyson’s poetry and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series and Suzanne Collins’s abundance of allusions to the Roman Empire and to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in The Hunger Games trilogy.
  2. It makes you part of a unique group. Not everybody reads classics.  You get to be part of the “in jokes,” so to speak, in the literature and book publishing arena whenever people allude to the books you’ve read (and no worries – no one has ready every classical book out there).
  3. It gives you a broader perspective of the world in general.  When could a broader perspective ever be truly bad?  Broader perspectives lead to things like the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.
  4. It’s fun.  Some classics are just as fun to read as books written in the current era.  See below for a short list.

Easier Classics
A small sampling:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – basically a romantic comedy.  Who doesn’t love Elizabeth and Darcy?
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – love in wartime.  It’s a little sad, though, so advance warning.
  • Candide by Voltaire – a French comedy with adventure, love, pirates, and Turkish chain gangs.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oliver Wilde – a mistaken identity comedy.
  • The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan – a hilariously gossipy comedy, with character names like Lady Sneerwell, Sir Backbite, and Snake.
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare – get the edition that has explanations on every other page, makes all those Shakespearean insults more understandable (and therefore funnier).
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – dystopian fiction from long before The Hunger Games.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY

As promised last week…  If you’d like to be entered into the giveaway for a signed copy of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess, here’s what you do:

  1. You need to already live in the US or Canada (sorry, international folks, postage is expensive for huge hardcovers).
  2. Comment below with a number between 1 and 1000 by next Sunday, April 7, at 9 pm Pacific Time.
  3. In your comment, if you like, answer this question: what’s your favorite classic book and why?  And if you don’t have a favorite classic, what’s one you’d like to read?

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Cassandra Clare’s Book Signing

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Clockwork Princess - Infernal Devices - Cassandra Clare - Novel Conclusions - Christi Gerstle - City of Bones - Lily Collins

Clockwork Princess Cover via CassandraClare.com

Have you ever been to a book signing?  I hadn’t been to a book signing in years, and I heard about Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess book signing at a Barnes & Noble in central LA this past week and thought it would be a fun little literary event.  It was fun but definitely not little.  The crowd and staff treated Cassandra Clare like a rock star.  I would guesstimate that 1200 people waited in line to see Ms. Clare; it was some craziness.

Cassandra Clare is the author behind The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones series, soon to be a movie starring Lily Collins (I also found out that the always hilarious Robert Sheehan of Misfits plays sidekick Simon, making the movie that much more awesome).  Lily Collins and director Howard Zwart were at Barnes and Noble for the question and answer session before the signing, and authors Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan joined Cassandra Clare for the signing.  What stuck out most to me during the Q&A was Ms. Clare’s explanation of how, in City of Bones, she “was going for a confluence of the real and the magical,” the idea that coffee shops and warlocks could co-exist on the same street.

Everyone I met in the crowd and in line at the signing was super friendly and cheerful (we YA readers must be a good bunch!).  One woman had driven down from Visalia (that’s 3 hours without traffic!  On a Thursday!) to see Cassandra Clare.  I also met the bloggers from Sparkles and Lightning and Tackling Tinseltown – check out their fun blogs.

What I Learned:

  1. Either plan to swing by the book shop early in the morning to get a wristband closer to the front of the line, or make friends with some employees.  We didn’t get our books signed until 10:30pm at a 7pm signing.  Yes, that’s a little intense for a school night.
  2. Buy/bring books by the mid-list authors that came with the front list author (in this case, the authors I’m referring to are Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan).  I wish I’d chit chatted with them a bit more about their books and their experiences as YA authors as they were much more available than Ms. Clare, who was busy signing approximately 4 books for each person who came up.  Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan were super friendly, making jokes and chatting up the crowd as we made our way to the front of the line.
  3. Ask more readers in line if they have blogs (I love finding local reading/writing-related blogs!).

Since I got two copies of Clockwork Princess signed, DRUMROLL… there will be a giveaway coming up this week!  Keep an eye out on the blog this upcoming week for a giveaway of a signed copy of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess.

Have you ever been to a book signing?  What was it like?  Do you have advice for signings?

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