Books on Film: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom: title page

Soo.. I just watched Moonrise Kingdom on Friday night. Directed by Wes Anderson, it centers around two loner preteens who decide to run off into the wilderness together. This sets off a hunt by the local community. Quirkiness abounds, and everything is filmed with deliberation and general loveliness.

Perhaps it’s because the story’s protagonists are twelve, and Moonrise Kingdom is set during a summer in 1965, when kids are at camp or reading books and listening to records at home, but I was stuck by how much this movie evoked a sense of nostalgia. It’s a weird sort of nostalgia though. Everything is made up. Essentially, it’s a nostalgia for something that never existed.

Suzy reads from Shelly and the Secret Universe

My favorite props have to be the books that twelve-year-old Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) read. Of course, it would be the fictitious books with titles like Shelly and the Secret Universe and awesome old-style covers that stoked this book nerd’s sense of nostalgia.

Moonrise Kingdom: Suzy's suitcase of books

These are my books. I like stories with magic powers in them. Either in kingdoms on Earth or on foreign planets. Usually I prefer a girl hero, but not always.

Suzy reads The Francine Odysseys by Gertrude Price

Suzy: I always wished I was an orphan. Most of my favorite characters are. I think your lives are more special.
Sam: I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are six books in this movie, and I took screen caps of them all. But did you know, not only did Wes Anderson have artists make book covers, and wrote passages that are attributed to each book, but there are also animations for each book? According to the Internet, Anderson considered putting the animations in the movie, but instead used them in a promotional short. It is quite awesome and worth a watch.

Sam: These are all library books. In my school you’re only allowed to check-out one at a time. Some of these are going to be overdue.

Sam hesitates. He suddenly realizes something. He asks bluntly:

Sam: Do you steal?

Silence. Suzy nods reluctantly. Sam looks confused.

Sam: Why? You’re not poor.

Suzy stares at the books. She absently brushes some dust off them. She rearranges them slightly. She says finally:

Suzy: I might turn some of them back in one day. I haven’t decided yet. I know it’s bad. I think I just took them to have a secret to keep. Anyway, for some reason, it makes me feel in a better mood sometimes.

Suzy reads The Girl From Jupiter by Isaac Clarke

Suzy reads Disappearance of the Sixth Grade by Burris Burris

Suzy reads from The Light of Seven Matchsticks by Virginia Tipton

Suzy reads from The Return of Auntie Lorraine by Miriam Weaver

NYC Library Way (picture post)

I had so many pictures of the Library Hotel Weekend that I had to break it up into two posts. This part is about the free celebration of literature on the sidewalk of East 41st Street, called Library Way. I took a lot of pictures, on both sides of the street (FYI some of these repeat, so walking a block should yield most of the quotes to see).

This is what the Library Way is (taken from Grand Central Partnership’s website):

“In 1996, GCP, along with the New York Public Library and New Yorker Magazine, convened a distinguished panel of literary experts and librarians to select the quotations from prominent works of literature.

These quotes have been brought to life by urban sculptural artist Gregg LeFevre in beautiful bronze plaques installed in regular intervals in the sidewalks along 41st Street leading to and from the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. The Library Way bronze plaque initiative was subsequently honored with an “Excellence in Design” award by the New York City Arts Commission in 1998.”

This is a image heavy post (there are 45 images of the plaques on the library way here), so here’s a preview. Click it or see after the jump for a gallery with bigger images!

Continue reading

The Library Hotel (picture post)

A couple of years ago I stayed at the Library Hotel in New York City. I waited for a deal on room prices and stayed one weekend while visiting the city. I took a bunch of pictures, and then somehow never posted them! So here they are.

front door

The front desk has a card catalog behind it

Our room number! Sixth floor, room 6 (or: 600.006 Health & Beauty)

The best “please clean my room/do not disturb” sign!

Junior suite – nice big bed with bookshelves on the side – unfortunately they were all non-fiction about health & beauty. I wasn’t excited.

Health & Beauty.. eh.

Suite sitting area

View from the window – Madison Avenue

guest lounge on the 2nd floor. Loved this place – snacks and coffee and tea whenever you want, plus books (fiction this time)

better picture of the bookshelves in the lounge

The hotel is about a block away from Grand Central, and in the other direction, a block away from the NYPL (Stephen A. Schwarzman building) and Bryant park

There’s also a really cool library walk on 41st street and I took a ton of pictures of that. But I think I’ll leave that for a second post.

I would stay here again mainly because it’s a really nice hotel in a VERY good location, but I didn’t think the library theme added much. The concept was a little gimmicky and not a reason to stay there by itself.

On Childhood Summers Spent Reading

from about.comI listen to NPR a lot now as I drive to and from work. This week I was listening to All Things Considered and there was a segment which I thought was such a lovely personal tale of how Ralph Eubanks, now an author and Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress began his love of reading:

“The bookmobile began stopping at my house in the summer of 1965, one year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. As a boy, I took it for granted. A library on wheels was just part of the rural landscape. Isolated on a farm and oblivious to much of the turmoil of the civil rights movement, most Wednesdays I was finishing a book on the front steps when I heard the bookmobile’s tires rush over the gravel in my driveway. The civil rights movement remained distant, even though I knew that because I was black, I could not go to our local public library.

Even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Mississippi resisted enforcing it. But when my mother, a school teacher, asked for the bookmobile to stop at our house in the summer of 1965, the librarian did not hesitate even though schools were still segregated. By simply following the law rather than ignoring it, the bookmobile transformed me into a lifelong reader and eventually a writer.”

Listen to his commentary here, or read it online.

It was wonderful listening to this. It reminded me of my own childhood introduction to reading and how much libraries and librarians helped cultivate my love of books. There weren’t many English books where I grew up. We had a small school library which I loved but was only open when school was open. There was a British Council Library which needed a membership (and most of those were reference books so I rarely went). And then there was the row of used booksellers that sold tattered old mass market paperbacks in what was essentially a bunch of tiny shacks on the side of the road with books packed in so high that there was no room for more than a tiny gap to walk between them.  You could buy books there with a discount if you worked out a deal to return them. My mom would buy us stacks of series books – lots of Carolyn Keene mysteries which she bought along with a her Harlequin Presents. Those trips in a trishaw to get more books and then lying in bed reading them are a lovely part of my early memories of summer.

(Pictured here is a bookstore in India, but it’s not exactly the same thing).

What are your memories of learning to love reading?