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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Ender's Game and NYT best seller list

   
Author Topic: Ender's Game and NYT best seller list
natural_mystic
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I've noticed Ender's Game rising on the best seller's list the last few weeks; any one know why now? For example, GRRM's "A song of ice and fire"'s appearance is presumably fueled by the HBO production. Is there a similar impetus for Ender's Game, or simply new readers finding it organically?
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Shanna
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Maybe school summer reading lists.
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Jeff C.
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More and more schools are placing this under "required reading", both during the summer and regular school year. For about two decades, a book might be read by mostly fans, but after a while certain classrooms will start picking it up, and then others, and so on. My guess is that EG was so popular with the kids that they were reading it and scoring higher on the tests or papers because it was actually a really good book, and it's fun (unlike Shakespeare and others, which are meaningful, but extremely dated and boring). Word gets around about these things, so now I'd assume more schools are getting on the EG bandwagon.

This will probably last for a while longer. At least until something else comes along and takes over.

It's just too bad the rest of the series isn't treated the same. EG wasn't even written to be a groundbreaking novel; OSC wrote Speaker for that. EG was just supposed to be a kind of introduction to Speaker, but the fans have spoken and I don't think OSC is complaining.

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JonHecht
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I agree with everything you said, Jeff, except that Shakespeare is boring. If Shakespeare were "boring" or "dated", would the hit 1970s musical, "Hair", have used a soliloquy from Hamlet to write a song?!

"I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so."

I don't think that Shakespeare is boring--it's just that he uses words like promontory and firmament, which throw high schoolers off. Once the language problem is alleviated, Shakespeare is beautiful and definitely not boring. I think kids are just behind where they could be on that end, but that has more to do with a fundamental problem in the American education system and now I'm going way off topic.

Edit: Unclear syntax.

[ July 19, 2011, 01:28 AM: Message edited by: JonHecht ]

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Lyrhawn
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I think that Shakespeare on the whole is unpalatable, for me anyway.

I think that individually cherry picked quotes from Shakespeare can be beautiful and riveting, and I think his plots can be timeless and highly enjoyable.

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fugu13
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Shakespeare isn't boring at all, but a lot of teachers suck at teaching it. I mean, the guy wrote an entire sonnet with layer upon layer of puns about penises and vaginas; boring he ain't.

edit: some of the tragedies do require a lot more background to get. The comedies are extremely accessible, though.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Shakespeare isn't boring at all, but a lot of teachers suck at teaching it. I mean, the guy wrote an entire sonnet with layer upon layer of puns about penises and vaginas; boring he ain't.

edit: some of the tragedies do require a lot more background to get. The comedies are extremely accessible, though.

This exactly.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Shakespeare is incredibly boring when you don't have the skills to understand it.

The skills required to understand EG enough to enjoy it are far less.

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Wingracer
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Sonnet 29 has always moved me:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

That being said, it can be quite a slog to read his stuff. Yes, the language is beautiful but it's also archaic and unfamiliar to the uninitiated. It can make it quite difficult to understand what the heck is going on. So much of the subtlety can be lost. I still love him and will read his stuff until the end of my days but I will not begrudge someone that can't handle it.

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Samprimary
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Ender's Game will always be the more popular, accessible, and noteworthy work, and this probably shouldn't surprise anyone. I don't even really describe speaker as the 'better book' anymore. Out of the two, there's only one I think I'm inclined to re-read or share.
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Samprimary
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Also, I need to take a quote out of context here, for humor (or depressing insight) purposes

quote:
Originally posted by JonHecht:
I don't think that Shakespeare is boring--it's just that he uses words


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dkw
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Most play scripts are boring to read if you don't have the skills/background to "produce" the play in your head. And far too many teachers try to teach scripts, including Shakespeare, as if they were novels.
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Marek
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Also some of the "translations" of Shakespeare really suck, I had to read the student version of Julius Caesar for English class in ninth grade, and kept having to look in the real book to get what it meant.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
"translations" of Shakespeare
:shudder:
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kmbboots
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I think that teachers are often desperate to get kids reading anything at all so popular and easy is better than nothing regardless of quality.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Indeed. The first step in getting them to read great literature is to get them to read.
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Amilia
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Most play scripts are boring to read if you don't have the skills/background to "produce" the play in your head. And far too many teachers try to teach scripts, including Shakespeare, as if they were novels.

I had a wonderful 11th grade English teacher who said that Shakespeare was meant to be watched, not read. So we watched an RSC recording of Macbeth in her class. And if we chose any of Shakespeare's other plays (or any one else's plays for that matter) for our individual reading, we were to find a live production or a movie. It was awesome.
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sarcasticmuppet
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Most play scripts are boring to read if you don't have the skills/background to "produce" the play in your head. And far too many teachers try to teach scripts, including Shakespeare, as if they were novels.

This. As a high school student, I was never that big of a fan of reading Shakespeare. But seeing the Tempest at an outdoor show when I was 17 was a transcendent experience.
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Wingracer
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It's definitely better watched than read, though I like reading them as well.

Reminds me of Stravinsky. I just didn't get Right of Spring at all the first few times I listened to it. Then I saw the full ballet performed. It was absolutely brilliant in that form.

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Stone_Wolf_
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When it comes to modernizations...I particularly enjoyed the movie "Romeo and Juliet" with DiCaprio and Danes. Although I would never attempt to watch that movie without subtitles.
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Aerin
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I have seen a handful of "If you are an adult and miss Harry Potter, try Ender's Game." articles, so maybe that's it.

Also: sequel coming out.

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Samprimary
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I enjoyed Scotland, PA.
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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by Aerin:
I have seen a handful of "If you are an adult and miss Harry Potter, try Ender's Game." articles, so maybe that's it.

Also: sequel coming out.

Yeah I've seen a couple of such articles mentioning EG along with Dance With Dragons.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Amilia:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Most play scripts are boring to read if you don't have the skills/background to "produce" the play in your head. And far too many teachers try to teach scripts, including Shakespeare, as if they were novels.

I had a wonderful 11th grade English teacher who said that Shakespeare was meant to be watched, not read.
Me too. [Smile]
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Jeff C.
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About Shakespeare:

Most of the defense for Shakespeare seems to be, "look at this, it's pretty awesome". Followed by an excerpt.

I'm not denying that it isn't awesome, because I like me some Shakespeare, too. But most of us aren't kids anymore. We forget what it was like when we first picked up a book. Can you imagine trying to read Shakespeare having never read anything for pleasure before? It's a tough road to go down, especially for the average high school student. You have to remember that kids have a really short attention span, and they usually don't understand words like "hitherto" and the like.

That, coupled with the fact that the language is dated, make it very inaccessible for the average teenager. Ender's Game, on the other hand, is easy to read, plainly written, and it's about kids, which is who the audience is.

Back in high school, I personally hated reading. It wasn't until I picked up my first scifi adventure book (quickly followed by EG), that I discovered how badass reading actually was. From there, I matured to the point that I could read and appreciate Shakespeare. I think that's what schools need to do. Start with something like EG and build up to Shakespeare. Like mr_poitero_head said, the first step is to just get the to read.

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scifibum
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quote:
If Shakespeare were "boring" or "dated", would the hit 1970s musical, "Hair", have used a soliloquy from Hamlet to write a song?!
Alternatively, there's pretentiousness. Although I don't imagine it's easy to find any in a stage musical, so never mind. [Wink]

---

You know, Shakespeare performances are usually so bad that I think there's potential backfire in the recommendation to watch instead of read.* If the actor doesn't understand his own lines - and this is shamefully common** - he's going to bungle the delivery to the point that trying to decipher the meaning - let alone any puns or other humor value - is such a chore that I'd sooner read the script.

I suspect Shakespeare is overdue to fall out of popular favor, though. I think its continued popularity is due more to pretense and inertia than genuine appeal.

*If you can successfully stage it in your head, all the better.

**Of course the solution is for kids and inexperienced actors to quit trying to cut their teeth on Shakespeare. Just because some of his plays are great classics doesn't mean they are the right choice for an amateur production.

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Aerin
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quote:
I think its continued popularity is due more to pretense and inertia than genuine appeal.


I don't. I have seen several comedies at Shakespeare in the Park, and every time I thought "This is FUNNY. And well-structured. It's hilarious. That Shakespeare. He's a good writer."

And then there are the tragedies. Hamlet is amazing - shaking, piercing. That's not a fad.

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kmbboots
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Scifibum, I am sorry you have been subjected to only bad productions. I suggest that you watch some of the very good productions that are on film. The Kenneth Branagh Henry V and Much Ado are quite good. So is the David Tennant Hamlet.
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kmbboots
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Watch this and say that Shakespeare has no genuine appeal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewbuPY3uGQ4&NR=1

I tear up every time.

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TomDavidson
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To be fair, Kate, the most moving part of that sequence was the song, which of course isn't in the play.
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scifibum
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Hey, I'm sorry if I came across saying Shakespeare isn't that good, or anything. I guess by lack of genuine appeal I mean it's not very accessible to most of the people who get it foisted on them by the educational system (or local play producers).
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
To be fair, Kate, the most moving part of that sequence was the song, which of course isn't in the play.

But we are talking about Shakespeare plays in production. Music certainly is and was a valid part of that total experience. Different choices in set, music, blocking, casting, interpretation of the lines are all part of the play, the structure of which comes from Shakespeare.

What gets me in this production is the response of the soldiers, especially Westmorland.

It is great scoring though. The non nobis and te deum are especially good and right after the part I linked.

ETA: To scifibum. That is the fault of those who badly teach and badly produce Shakespeare, not the fault of Shakespeare. I will say that some plays are better than others, though. Did you watch that clip? I can put it in context for you if that would help.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
"translations" of Shakespeare
:shudder:
Frankly, I consider making kids read Shakespear approximately on par with making second year french students read a Les Miserables in the original french. It IS a foreign language. They can do it, but they're not going to get all the beauty you want them to.
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happymann
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In high school, my English teacher had me teach a segment on Midsummer Night's Dream since I was concurrently performing in a production of said play. The teacher had several questions about the play that she didn't fully understand, and she was an ENGISH TEACHER!

Shakespeare definitely better watched than read, and even better performed in than watched.

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Blayne Bradley
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I think it depends on the play, I liked Merchant of Venice alot. Though things like Hamlet without David Tennant in it are alot less approachable.

Richard the III and other politics related ones are neat for me.

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