When Books Reference Books

Have you ever read a fiction book where the author decides to reference another work of fiction? When that happens I love it! It adds another level to the characters and story.

One example that pops into my mind is when a main character from Half Bad by Sally Green mentioned their favorite book was One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. At the time I did not think the book being referenced was an actual book because of the type of fiction it was. Half Bad is set in a universe with white and black magic, why would it be referencing something from our non-magical world? However, when I perusing my favorite used book store the title caught my eye. I immediately grabbed it, bought it home and started almost the moment I walked through my door. The book was about the Soviet work camps from the POV of one of the prisoners. I was surprised that Ms. Green had referenced a book that attempted to portray the cruelty and the ugliness of the gulags.

At another time when I once again have Half Bad in my possession I will write about what the author’s intentions might be, what it adds to the story and how it relates to the character that brought it up.

Let me know if you have run across books referencing books, what books they were, and what your thoughts on the subject are. Do you think more authors should reference other books? What do you think about authors that bring it up?

Always,

R

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August 2015 Books

These are the book I read in August. I would say I had a pretty good balance this month. All of these I would recommend because each talk about a different aspect of what it means to be human.

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The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

page count: 225 / hours: 3

“At the same time, most if not all of the Nanking massacre survivors vanished from public view.” pg. 182

This is one of the books you can’t set down because of morbid curiosity. This is one of the few books that has made me cry not because of how cruel humans can be, but how such monstrosities can be forgotten. How could such a horrific thing occur and people not know about this? When we think about WWII we cannot forget the jewish victims of the holocaust. Yet because of politics the victims of Nanking are not only invisible, but they never saw justice.

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House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

page count: 709 / hours: 10 (not enough time!)

I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have. This was the pick for the book club I am in. There was roughly four weeks in which to read and dissect this mammoth novel. However, this book requires far more time then I was able to give. There are many levels, point of views, secret messages, and some profound insight into what it means to be human. This is one of those books that takes two months to feel you have completed it. If you are reading this book I recommend looking up some interviews with the author. It really helps clear up some of his intentions.

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The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

page count: 282 / hours: 3 1/2

“He had one of those curious moments that seem to have neither a cause nor any connection with actual things. While it lasted, he was disquieted not by thoughts-for he had no definite thoughts- but by a slight emotion like that caused in a dream by the presence of something invisible, soundless, and yet fantastic.” pg. 31

A friend highly recommended this book to me. This is a great coming of age novel during the rapid change America faced during the late 1800’s. It is also more then a novel about a young man and his follies, which as you quickly learn people wait for his comeuppance. It reveals the protest or willful denial of technological progress that changed the America dream and attitude we know today. Not everyone is in favor of change.