Category: Must Love Books

Celebrate National Theater Day With 7 Amazing Plays

As you may have seen all over your Instagram feed, today is National Theater Day! To celebrate all things theatrical, we’ve got seven great plays that definitely deserve a spot on your TBR (cast)list.

1. A street Car named desire 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This play is the instant classic written by Tennessee Williams. It’s the story of how Blanche DuBois, the once beautiful, southern belle, is pushed over the edge by her brother-in law Stanley Kowalski. It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but it is very important in the canon of American theater.

2. Who’s Afraid of VIRGINIA Woolf? 

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Another play important in the American canon is Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play takes you into the dysfunctional lives of George and Martha. They are hosting a party for a new history professor and his wife. George and Martha use their new “play things” to stir up drama and expose the horrors of not only their own lives, but of the couple who just wanted to have a nice evening.

 

3. A raisin in the sun 

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Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun is another book that all who love both great writing and great theater should read. The story is a bit of a tragic one, following an African-American working class family hoping to get out of the South-Side of Chicago. It gives a look into the aspirations and hopes, but also what can hold back a black family in the mid-20th century.

4. Medea 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Medea is a Greek myth by Euripides, who’s english translations are done by Gilbert Murray. The myth is about a proud Amazonian women who’s left by her husband Jason. Jason leaves her to marry the kings daughter, so he himself can one day hold the throne. The short play is about Medea’s revenge, and execution of said revenge on her ex-husband.

5. Angels in America 

angels in america

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Tony Kushner’s Angels in America shows an insight into the horrors of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It follows the stories of three groups; a proud gay man with AIDS and the impact it has on him and his lover, the closeted Roy Cohen who has “liver cancer” (or so he says), based on the real-life figure, and a man in an unhappy marriage who’s slowly coming to terms with his sexuality.

6. The curious incident of the Dog in the night-Time 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time book cover

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This modern play by Mark Haddon is on its way to becoming a classic for theater lovers. It tells the story of 15-year old Christopher Boone has Asperger’s Syndrome. Although living a very sheltered life, the boy is a whiz with numbers and mysteries. He observes his neighbor’s dog being killed one night, and that starts his journey to not only finding who killed the dog, but finding himself along the way.

 

7. Our town 

our town cover

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a glimpse into what living in a small town in America was like during the early 20th-century. The play, set in Grover’s Conner, New Hampshire, is split into three acts with the first act focusing on the daily happenings of the town, the second on love and marriage, and the third is the most grim, discussing death.

feature image via commentary magazine

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Bookstr’s Three To Read This Week 03/05/2020

Welcome back, book lovers! It is that time of the week again and I have three amazing new books for your reading pleasure! As ever, we have a Hot Pick, a Coffee Shop Read, and a Dark Horse. Let’s get to it.

HOT PICK

the freedom artist 

by Ben Okri

image via amazon

Synopsis:

In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner? When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization that to find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of her question.

Karnak’s search leads him into a terrifying world of deception, oppression, and fear at the heart of which lies the prison. Then Karnak discovers that he is not the only one looking for the truth. The Freedom Artist is an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. In Ben Okri’s most significant novel since the Booker Prize–winning The Famished Road, he delivers a powerful and haunting call to arms.

“Like George Orwell and Margaret Atwood before him, the Booker Prize–winning Okri writes a passionate cri de coeur, a clarion call to activists everywhere to resist apathy and recognize that we are all on this beautiful globe together and that it is ours to lose.”
Library Journal

Why?

Ben Okri’s newest novel The Freedom Artist is a call for rally against oppression, following the arterial vein of The Handmaids Tale and Farenheit 451. Man Booker prize winning author, Okri, hooks the reader from the very beginning and spins a tale of courage in the face of institutionalized oppression. The short, punchy chapters keep the story moving and give the prose an addictive quality. The novel taps into ideas of morality, psychology, and sociology. The world building maintains an air of mystery, and the abstract nature of the prose adds to this.

 

Coffee SHOP READ

trouble is what i do 

by Walter Mosley

image via amazon

Synopsis:

Leonid McGill’s spent a lifetime building up his reputation in the New York investigative scene. His seemingly infallible instinct and inside knowledge of the crime world make him the ideal man to help when Phillip Worry comes knocking. Phillip “Catfish” Worry is a 92-year-old Mississippi bluesman who needs Leonid’s help with a simple task: deliver a letter revealing the black lineage of a wealthy heiress and her corrupt father. Unsurprisingly, the opportunity to do a simple favor while shocking the prevailing elite is too much for Leonid to resist.
But when a famed and feared assassin puts a hit on Catfish, Leonid has no choice but to confront the ghost of his own felonious past. Working to protect his client and his own family, Leonid must reach the heiress on the eve of her wedding before her powerful father kills those who hold their family’s secret. Joined by a team of young and tough aspiring investigators, Leonid must gain the trust of wary socialites, outsmart vengeful thugs, and, above all, serve the truth — no matter the cost.
“Watching McGill coolly deploy the physical and intellectual skills he’d acquired in his previous life as an underworld “fixer” provides the principal pleasure of this installment, along with Mosley’s own way of making prose sound like a tender, funny blues ballad…Mosley delivers enough good stuff to let you know a master’s at work.”―Kirkus
Why?
This novel is a sure win for readers that are already fans of the McGill character and series, drawing them once more into his murky New York City. As it is a quickfire, shorter novel, it is accessible for all and the plot is so engaging you’ll be hurtling through the pages at breakneck speed. For newcomers to Mosley’s crime thrillers, it serves as an interesting opener into the series as a whole. For a lot of readers, their only criticism is that it isn’t long enough to satiate their need for all things Leonid. Plus, the novel deals with white privilege and racism, giving the overall book more of a weight.

dark horse

the regrets

by Anna Bonnaffons

image via amazon

Synopsis:

For weeks, Rachel has been noticing the same golden-haired young man sitting at her Brooklyn bus stop, staring off with a melancholy air. When, one day, she finally musters the courage to introduce herself, the chemistry between them is undeniable: Thomas is wise, witty, handsome, mysterious, clearly a kindred spirit. There’s just one tiny problem: He’s dead.

Stuck in a surreal limbo governed by bureaucracy, Thomas is unable to “cross over” to the afterlife until he completes a 90-day stint on earth, during which time he is forbidden to get involved with a member of the living — lest he incur “regrets.” When Thomas and Rachel break this rule, they unleash a cascade of bizarre, troubling consequences.
Set in the hallucinatory borderland between life and death, The Regrets is a gloriously strange and breathtakingly sexy exploration of love, the cataclysmic power of fantasies, and the painful, exhilarating work of waking up to reality, told with uncommon grace and humor by a visionary artist at the height of her imaginative power.

“Bonnaffons’s wonderful debut novel is a tale of ghostly love and passion…The tension of an ephemeral romance and impending loss will keep readers turning the pages, and the luminous prose is vibrant with penetrating observations, whether about moments that are a ‘crucial node in the universe’s vast plan’ or about dying-with or without regrets. This sexy, witty novel about life, death, and love’s power will enchant readers.”―PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Starred Review)

 

Why? 

Who doesn’t love love? Especially when it’s the twisty, messy, illicit kind of love. No Regrets has it all. The novel is “at once a love story, a ghost story and a low-key philosophical investigation into the nature of existence.” It is a darkly dazzling insight into female desire, shining a light on a topic that doesn’t get the spotlight it so often deserves. It will have you forming your own opinions about the limits of fantasy and the extent to which our own desires can betray us. The novel contains equal parts amazing and weird, carving out its own niche in the category of romance fiction. It is dark and entertaining, sexy and funny. You won’t regret picking up a copy.

featured image via bookstr

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Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces Shortlist

Amid a record breaking year of submissions, the shortlists have been announced for the fourteenth edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Out of 1,900 submissions from across forty-nine countries, an independent judging panel selected the shortlists for each. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in April, and will be awarded a prize of 750,000 UAE dirhams (204,181 USD). The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of the world’s leading prizes, specifically dedicated to Arabic literature and culture. The awards cover nine categories: Arabic Culture in Other Languages, Children’s Literature, Contribution to the Development of Nations, Cultural Personality of the Year, Literary and Art Criticism, Literature, Publishing and Technology, Translation, and Young Author. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award was established in memory of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan and reflects some of the most exciting and challenging works to come out of the Arab World. 

 

image via The Sheikh Zayed Book Award

The six categories for which the shortlists have been announced are Young Author, Literature, Children’s Literature, Publishing and Technology, Translation, and Arabic Culture in Other Languages. In the Young Author category, a notable mention includes Kuwaiti author Bothayna Al-Essa, who was previously longlisted for the award in 2012. Other notable mentions include a poetry collection by Tunisian poet Moncef Al-Wahaibi, who was longlisted for Literature in 2014. In the Children’s Literature category, the shortlist includes all female, established novelists with American-Palestinian prize-winning author Ibtisam Barakat among the nominees. Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Authority and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, Dr. Ali bin Tamim, said of this year’s submissions,

 

 

“We have received exceptional works from prominent authors and publishing houses, cultural centers, and universities. Such an impressive improvement in the volume of participation reaffirms the award’s resounding success achieved year-on-year. It also underscores the cultural status of the United Arab Emirates, being a global hub for culture makers, intellectuals, creators, publishers, and youth.” 

image via The Sheikh zayed book award

The shortlist titles:

 

Literature 

  • Ma’wa Al Gheyab (Shelter of Absence) by Mansoura Ezzedine
  • Belkas ma Qabl Al Akheera (The Penultimate Cup) by Moncef Al-Wahaibi
  • Arwah Sakhrat Al Asal (Souls of Honey Rocks) by Mamdouh Azzam

 

Young Author

  • Kol Al Ashya’a (All Things) by Bothayna Al-Essa
  • Al Muhawara fi Adb Abi Hayyan al-Tawhidi: Derasah fi Khasaes al Tafa’ol Al Tawasoli, Al Adab AlMajlisi fe Mudwenat AlTawhidi (Dialogue in Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi Literature: A Study in the Characteristics of Communication Interaction) by Dr. Manal Saleh M. Al-Mohimeed
  • ilm Al Kalam Al Islami fi Derasat al Mustashrikeen Al Alman (Islamic Theology in the Studies of German Orientalists) by Hayder Qasim

 

Children’s Literature

  • Saqi Almaa (The Water Provider) by Maryam Saqer Al Qasimi 
  • Nuzhati Al Ajeeba Ma’ Al Am Salem (My Wondrous Picnic with Uncle Salem) by Nadia AlNajjar
  • Al Fatat Al Lialakia (The Purple Girl) by Ibtisam Barakat 

 

 

Translation

  • Al Manteqa Al Mo’atemah: Al Tareekh Al Seri Lelharb Alsebraniya (The Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War) by Fred Kaplan, translated from English to Arabic by Loay Abdel Mageed
  • Al-Insan Al-Romantiqi (L’Homme Romantique) by Georges Gusdorf, translated from French to Arabic by Mohamed Ait Mihoub
  • Al Shokouk Ala Galen (Abū Bakr al-Rāzī: Doutes sur Galien) by Abu Bakr Al-Razi, translated from Arabic to French by Pauline Koetschet

 

Arab Culture in Other Languages

  • Warum es kein islamisches Mittelalter gab (Why There Were No Islamic Middle Ages) by German author Thomas Bauer
  • 1001 Buch: Die Literaturen des Orients (1001 Books: The Literatures of the Orient) by German author Stefan Weidner 
  • Croire au Maghreb médiéval: La sainteté en question XIVe-XVe siècle (Beliefs of the Medieval Maghreb: Sainthood in question in the 14th-15th centuries) by French author Nelly Amri
  • The Thousand and One Nights and Twentieth-Century Fiction: Intertextual Readings by Dutch author Richard van Leeuwen
  • Sufi Network. Le confraternite islamiche tra globalizzazione e tradizione (The Sufi Network. The Islamic Brotherhood between Globalization and Tradition) by Italian author Francesco Alfonso Leccese 

 

Publishing and Technology

  • Library of Alexandria, Egypt
  • National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris
  • Banipal Magazine, UK 

 

While the winners will be announced in April, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be present at The London Book Fair (March 10-12) and is hosting a panel event titled Sheikh Zayed Book Award: The Positive Impact of Prizes on Translation, held at the English PEN Literary Salon on Tuesday, March 10th at 1:30 pm. 

 

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featured image via The Sheikh Book Award

The Poisonous Charm of White Oleander

White Oleander was written by Janet Fitch and published in 1999. While the novel itself is now over 20 years old, its story is both engaging and extremely provoking for its readers. I came across this novel back in high school and it was one of the books I had to read as part of my curriculum. I immediately found myself in love with this book, and I’m going to tell you why.

 

image via amazon

 

White Oleander starts off with Astrid Magnussen, a twelve year old girl living with her mom, Ingrid Magnussen, in Santa Ana, California. The opening pages introduce a world of ethereal description that, like Ingrid’s personality, tricks you into sense of calm security. However, that’s when the book startles you with its poison, like the white oleander flower that the book is named after.

 

While beautiful, this coming-of-age story has some darkness to it, and it’s nothing to casually look over. Astrid finds herself constantly switching foster homes due to unforeseen circumstances, either with herself or with the family that has taken her in. As a result, abuse and grief become center stage as themes in the book. Astrid has to deal with loss after leaving subsequent foster families, and she is forced to find her way through the world essentially alone as she transitions into an emerging young adult.

 

image via flickr

 

At the end of the book, we’ve been with Astrid long enough to know who she is, and the person she’s unfortunately become, due to the forced life of moving and the grief she’s experienced after just twelve years. We end with her being 18, and although she finds some comfort and stability, we still are left feeling a bit hollow. The future is uncertain, not only for Astrid, but for ourselves. This is one parallel that the book makes with its readers.

 

featured image via IMDB

 

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Anya Taylor-Joy Shines In Newest “Emma” Adaptation

Just because Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day is over doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself some more love. Bookstr had the opportunity to see Emma. before it hits theaters and the experience was lovely.

 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as “Emma Woodhouse” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release.
image via Focus Features

Here’s the synopsis: Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending is reimagined in this delicious new film adaptation of Emma. Beautiful, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.

The movie was great for a couple of reasons. The costuming was amazing. The sets and locations they shot on were stunning. Though this is Autumn de Wilde’s debut as a film director, she has directed countless music videos. The dancing scenes in the movie, in particular, had a great show of musicality to them. The entire film’s score, orchestral to fit the time period, had a light and airy feel to it.

 

 

Wilde is also an acclaimed photographer having works in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and more. Her keen eye for detail was evident within the still shots of Emma, the setting, and the beautiful pieces of art. The coloring of the film is also worth noting: It seems they only shot with natural light for sequences outside. While inside, like in the Woodhouse estate for instance, they used the light that came through the windows. Furthermore, night scenes were candlelit and gave the characters a lovely soft glow. Don’t believe me? Check out more of the stills from the film.

 

Mia Goth (left) as “Harriet Smith” and Anya Taylor-Joy (right) as “Emma Woodhouse” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release.
image via Focus Features

 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as “Emma Woodhouse” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release.
image via Focus Features

 

Anya Taylor-Joy (left) as “Emma Woodhouse” and Johnny Flynn (right) as “‘George Knightley” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release.
image via Focus Features

As far as adaptations go, Emma. is one of the best I’ve seen. Anya Taylor-Joy brings Ms. Woodhouse’s character to life. She can be arrogant and unapologetic but still sweet and caring… Taylor-Joy strikes a delicate balance. Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley makes a great match to Taylor-Joy’s Emma. He’s charming, nothing but honest with Ms. Woodhouse, and is completely in love with her. Thus, making me fall completely in love with him.

Going into the film, I didn’t have high expectations but I was pleasantly surprised. I walked away having really enjoyed myself as had a fellow editor here at Bookstr, Saoirse. Don’t just take my word, go and see it yourself!

To get more information on the movie EMMA , check out Focus Features on their website and on social media: Official Site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Emma. is out today in theaters in New York and LA and will be wide released everywhere on Friday, March 6th.

 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as “Emma Woodhouse” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release. Credit : Focus Features

 

Featured image via Focus Features

 

 

 

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