#bookadayuk A book you pretend to have read. I haven’t. And a confession about Romeo and Juliet

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Why would you pretend to have read a book? I’ve never lied about what I have read, because what’s the point? I do have a confession, though. We studied Shakespeare at school. I first read his work at the age of eleven and struggled with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Then at fifteen we looked at Romeo and Juliet as one of our GCSE texts. I struggled with romantic books then, and I still do in a way. Somehow, the whole forbidden love element of the story didn’t grab my attention. So I listened to the discussions, read the notes and miraculously managed to get a good grade in English Literature, despite never having read the whole text.

I later saw Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation but I struggled with this, too. I can understand why it was popular and I think he has an amazing eye for what works, but it was too overly dramatic for me. It wasn’t until we studied Othello that I really began to enjoy Shakespeare, and I made up for my sad lack of reading Romeo and Juliet by reading Othello three times! There was something about the darkness of Iago, and his persistence that held my attention. I saw a production of the play a few years ago at the Donmar Warehouse and was equally captivated. Both plays are tragedies but the effect they both had on me were vastly different.

Here is an interesting video of Ewan McGregor talking about the character of Iago in the play:


Do you have any favourite Shakespeare plays?

Or have you pretended to read something that you haven’t actually read?

#bookadayUK Book to Film Adaptation: The Great Gatsby

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This one was a choice between To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby. Film adaptations from books can often be a huge anticlimax, and it can be an even greater disappointment in reverse. If I have not managed to read the book before a film is released, then I come to the book with preconceived images in my mind. I find that it completely ruins the story. Part of the joy of reading is the creating of a world in your mind as you delve into the pages.

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The Great Gatsby, for me, was anything but a let down. I don’t really need to say anything about the book, but the film was an extravaganza to fill the senses. Some may say that the cinematography detracted from the story, but I disagree. It is one of the most striking films I’ve seen for a while. In typical Luhrmann style, the film is a modernised version of the original story. I liked the addition of music which would not have existed in the 20s. His originality of style is partly what makes the adaptation work.

As of 2014, it is Baz Luhrmann‘s highest grossing film to date, earning over $350 million. At the 86th Academy Awards, it won both Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

I’m very much looking forward to the film adaptation of Before I Go to Sleep, due to be released in 2014!