Wednesday, September 20, 2006

junior fiction addiction

i love to read. i practically inhale books. i can exist on words alone. when i get started reading, there is no stopping me. work becomes a nuisance, something that gets in the way, food is inconsequential; all i want to do is finish the book. i haven't read a really great book in quite a while. in fact, i don't remember the last book i read that i literally could not put down - maybe the last harry potter book. then last week i got sick and stayed home from work for three days. a delia's catalog came in the mail and as i was flipping through it, i saw an advertisement for a book called new moon, the second book in a trilogy. the first book came out last fall and is titled twilight. the tagline was brilliant, it had me at "love bites." i was hooked after reading the teaser.
what a lot of people don't know about me - and those who do, make fun of me - is that i love teen lit and junior fiction. i'm not talking about the sweet valley high type books, although i read them in junior high school, of course. i kind of have a thing for fantasy fiction - not the cheesy space/dragon/sci-fi type books, but a very particular kind. i'm not even sure what the classification would be - but i know them when i see them. i love all the newbery medal novels, and i sometimes stumble across other junior fiction books that are just as compelling; the lemony snicket books, harry potter series, the goose girl and princess academy by shannon hale, and anything by terry pratchett.
for some reason watching tv when i'm sick makes me feel dizzy, so i went to barnes & noble to look for the first book, twilight. i read the inside cover and knew instantly that i would love it (i wish i would have thought to buy the sequel, new moon, which just came out this month, at the same time. i had to wait until saturday to get to the book store and buy it). as soon as i got home and started reading, i didn't stop for like 10 hours straight. i literally did not want to put it down. i took it to the bathroom with me, i read while i was brushing my teeth, and was annoyed that i couldn't read it in the shower or while i was sleeping at night.
as soon as i got up the next morning, i read the last four chapters and couldn't wait to buy the sequel. i went that day and bought the next one. now these books aren't short - i think they are around 550 pages each. which turns out to be not enough. i could have read thousands of pages of this story. i'm a sucker for teen romances - probably because i never really experienced anything like a dramatic teen romance. i'm vicariously reliving my teen years and i'm 30. ugh. but mostly i think i loved this book because it's a remake of a classic story. some of my favorite movies are stories that have been remade - bridget jones (pride & prejudice), clueless (emma), oh brother, where art thou? (homer's odyssey - even though the coen brothers deny it) to name a few. and of course i love baz luhrmann's romeo + juliet. twilight is a modern adaptation of romeo and juliet - it's a very interesting version, with a twist. besides loving the book (the story is good, but it's really the author's writing that i love - so descriptive and compelling - she writes in interesting patterns).
i also discovered something while i was reading. i made a playlist in my itunes a while back for reading books - mellow songs from the fray, death cab, joshua radin and iron & wine. i mixed that old playlist with some songs from the new soundtrack to the last kiss that i had just bought. it suddenly occured to me during one chapter that the playlist was like a soundtrack to the book - some of the songs were perfect for the mood of the storyline. i jumped up and started scrolling through my library and adding songs and i came up with the perfect soundtrack to the book. listening to that playlist brings all the feelings of reading the book back - and i can't stop listening to it. i have always noticed that the music in a movie can completely make or break a scene - it's what creates a profound and powerful experience (movies like garden state, in good company, ever after, and last of the mohicans come to mind).
i thought i'd share the playlist and the reasons why these songs made the list. i'm definitely going to have to do this again with the next book i read - it made the experience that much more fun.
i wanted to pick songs that are filled with emotion, and slightly haunting. and this is what i came up with (to hear a sample of the song, click the link and scroll down until you see the song title):

twilight soundtrack
1. here with me - dido. this song is haunting. the whole book is kind of haunting in a way so i thought it fit the mood perfectly. the book takes place in a town that is always overcast. that really struck a chord with me since the weather completely sets my mood (i don't know if i could live in the rainiest place in the states, but if i did, this is the soundtrack for a place like that). besides, the main character, juliet basically, could have penned the lyrics herself. "i won't go/i won't sleep/i can't breathe/until you're resting here with me" - i get the chills every time i hear it.
2. warning sign - coldplay. i love coldplay, and this song is one of the best. plus the lyrics, once again, perfectly fit the situation with the two main characters.
3. that dress looks nice on you - sufjan stevens. sufjan has an interesting and very unique sound. this song is moody - i love the ethereal quality of the guitar. and i thought the lyrics "i can see a lot of life in you/i can see a lot of bright in you" fit the story.
4. trust me - the fray. i love the lyrics of this song. "looking for something i've never seen/alone and i'm in between/the place that i'm from and the place that i'm in/a city i never been/i found a friend or should i say a foe/said there's a few things you should know." it's uncanny how that fits the beginning of the book.
5. she cries your name - beth orton. this is purely nostalgic for me, and a little bitter-sweet. every time i hear this song, i see a memory so clearly in my mind it's like being there again. i was driving to vancouver, washington with my ex-boyfriend sam and this song came on at 6am as we were driving through the columbia river gorge. this song was perfect, and we replayed it over and over again (he loved beth orton). twilight takes place on the olympic penninsula in washington state. to me, the pacific northwest has a certain eerie vibe, and this song fits the atmosphere perfectly.
6. run - snow patrol. possibly one of the most mood invoking songs ever recorded. it's always been one of my favorites, and it fits the mood and storyline with almost creepy exactness - like snow patrol wrote it for the book. this song puts a lump in my throat every time i listen to it.
7. ride - cary brothers. this song is what did it for me. i was reading chapter 13 of twilight and suddenly i was very aware of this song playing in the background. this song is one of the most haunting songs i have ever listened to. it's amazing, and it also seems like it was written specifically for the book. when i hear this song, i am completely transported somewhere else - it's amazing that a song can have that kind of effect on you. i'm momentarily stunned every time i hear it because it always the same effect.
8. look after you - the fray. this song is great. the whole album is great - i love it. imagine my surprise when, in the back of the book, the author actually listed a bunch of bands that helped inspire her when she was fighting writers block, and the fray was one of them.
9. to be alone with you - sufjan stevens. this song is just plain amazing. when i listen to it i get the uncontrollable urge to cuddle.
10. faded from the winter - iron & wine. i first heard iron & wine in the movie in good company. and of course lori already knew about them and introduced me to the rest of their stuff. lori is all things great new music.
11. fair - remy zero. this was on the garden state soundtrack. the lyrics are heavy - weighted and deep. "what if you catch me/where would we land/somebody's life for taking his hands . . . /tonight the sun shall see it's light."
12. let go - frou frou. this song has that same haunting, ethereal quality that just sends shivers down my spine. again, this song is from the garden state soundtrack; which is probably one of the best soundtracks ever made.
13 missing you - jem. this song actually is more fitting for the sequel, new moon. but it's such a great song, that i decided to add it as a bonus track. it's full of foreboding and has a kind of ominous tone.

(in case you were wondering, there was a painful process of elimination and these songs almost made the list:
angel - massive attack
today's the day - aimee mann
such great heights - iron & wine
title and registration - death cab for cutie
we looked like giants - death cab for cutie
here you me - jimmy eat world
in the devil's territory - sufjan stevens
all the trees of the field will clap their hands - sufjan stevens
hallelujah - rufus wainwright
it ends tonight - all-american rejects
for wicked girl - band of horses
compliments - bloc party (which very nearly matches the music in the background on the novel's website).


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