Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reading and Other Media

Perhaps ironic for a book review blogger to admit, but I feel rather out of touch when it comes to feeding my love of books with technology and social media. One of my friends keeps urging me to get into BookTube, where she says YouTubers discuss or review books via video. There are also podcasts, websites (such as Sparknotes, Amazon, Google Books, and Goodreads), blogs like this one, forums, and of course the zeitgeist-obligatory Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages.

I've seen many of these in passing, usually when searching for more information on a particular book. I'm more likely to delve deeper into things like Facebook or YouTube if a book is particularly obscure and therefore hard to find sources of criticism or reviews on it. While I really would be interested in spending more time surfing literary-related interwebs, I've come to the sad conclusion that I simply don't have enough time. One could, I think, spend all of one's reading time on reading (or listening or watching material) about reading or about books instead of actually reading those books. And, since I've got my own blog, it's more of a priority to read published material. 

Unless I were to pioneer a new trail and become a blogger who blogs about other people's blogs and reviews their book reviews. 

Nah, I don't really want to do that.

Portraits of characters from The Chronicles of Prydain, by Justin Kunz. Information and image from Pinterest. 

Although again this version of Gurgi doesn't quite match my conception of him, 
this is a great deal better than many other interpretations where he's practically a monkey or a cat. 

Fflewddur Flam, however, is spot on. Isn't it weird when you see an actor or illustration and recognize the character as if they were an acquaintance of yours?  This is what I feel when I see this portrait.
And am I the only one who thinks this version of Gwydion looks a lot like Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan? You can't unsee it now, can you? 

But interweb bookloving is a great thing and one of the better ways technology is used nowadays. Since reading is such a solitary thing, discussions online or even comments under a YouTube video can help readers connect with each other and feel like more of a community than isolated individuals. In a society where reading has lost popularity to other forms of entertainment like television, this feeling of camaraderie is wonderful.

Our society has also become one that is increasingly fixated on fandom. You can't buy or read or watch or visit a webpage without being asked to Like or Tweet or Share or Follow or some other "call to action" that allows a consumer to broadcast what they're consuming to all their friends and colleagues. Again, with things like Tumblr or Pinterest, this desire to proclaim one's likes can be directed into a productive stream when it comes to bibliophilia. Suddenly "comments" on a forum become an online book club or sorts, and "fan-art" becomes supplementary illustrations to books that perhaps don't have any images at all.

One social media I do regularly use for supplementing my reading is Pinterest. As it is more image-based, Pinterest doesn't feel like a substitute for reading, and also is faster to navigate for subjects that interest me than a list of reviews on Amazon. I love looking at fan art in particular, because it literally illustrates that other people love a certain book or character as much as I do.

I won't actually discuss it much here, but to conclude my series about Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain I'd encourage any Prydain fan to look it up on Pinterest and enjoy the various book covers, character interpretations, and simply the enthusiasm of artists and readers expressing their enjoyment of the books. In particular I'd like to point out the character portraits done by Justin Kunz, such as the sampling given at the beginning of this post. There are several more portraits posted on Pinterest, although the source website didn't seem to be valid anymore so I was unable to track this fan art back to an artist website or anything more substantial.

So next time you find a book you really enjoy, try looking up more information online. You may find kindred spirits. You may even be inspired to doodle some fan art of your own. Reading is after all not some passive, mindless activity, but one of engaged thought, of encouraging discussion, and of liberating our imagination to a constructive purpose.

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