I have signed up to do 24 in 48! I have literally no hope of actually making it to 24 hours, but I would like to try. Mostly, I’d like to finish the half finished books I’ve started in the last six months so I can turn out some reviews. Are you also doing 24 in 48? Even if you aren’t, what are you excited to read this weekend?
Something that always interests me is how accents or dialects are presented in literature and how those things can act as a stand in for something else (like class or race). I’ve recently finished listening to Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and two of the main characters, Robin and Cormoran come from places in Britain that are either known for their accents or have some very good reasons why they’d have distinct accents. The standard British accent (sometimes called RP for ‘received pronunciation’, or ‘Southern English Standard Pronunciation’ (SESP), ‘Southern British Standard English’, or ‘King’s English’) wikipedia tells us the standard in the South of England and can be heard all over England and Wales. The thing with standard accents or dialects is: they are fiction. No one speaks them. There are regionalisms everywhere. We all do our own thing. But, we operate as if we’re all doing the same thing so there is power in performing in a way that aligns with the standard. There’s also an invisibility that comes with being in line with the standard. But, I’ll circle back to that. The standard dialect is what you are used to hearing if you watch a lot of BBC television (or listen to a lot of BBC radio). The video below is from a YouTube channel that helps people practice their standard pronunciation. I picked this one because standard British is known for being ‘non-rhotic’ which means that at the ends of syllables and words, r-sounds are not pronounced.
‘Cart’ and ‘Fast’ do not have the same vowels for me. But, they do in Standard British English!
Since neither of our main characters speak this standard dialect and both of them speak a dialect that could mark them as outsiders, so lets talk about what they might sound like.
Let’s start with Cormoran.
Cormoran is said to have a Cornish accent. Cornwall and Devon are in the Southwest of England. There the little sticky-outy bit that is below Wales. So, in the map below, you can see the island of Britain to the right of Ireland. There is a red line around England and a bit in the West that is excluded by the red line. That excluded bit is Wales, Cornwall is below that.
Cornwall is pretty small as a region. It regained its Independence following the Roman exit but eventually fell under the rule of Wessex in the 1300s and was eventually fully integrated into the monarchy. (Thanks, wikipedia!) Cornish, a Celtic language, was spoken in the region and was thought to have died out. But, its undergoing a revival now.
First, Cormoran’s Cornish accent would probably be rhotic, meaning that he has all of his r-sounds every place you’d expect it. He might also have f-sounds and s-sounds that sound more like v-sounds and z-sounds respectively.
Now, onto Robin’s accent. Ayup! (There’s no way I’m using that right.)
Yorkshire is in the North of England and includes cities Leeds and Sheffield.
Some of my favorite English-isms are apparently from Yorkshire. For example, faffing. As in, “She was taking her time, faffin’ about, not getting much done.” Faffin’ is one of my favorite words. Also, Yorkshire might be one of my favorite English accents. In my mind, Yorkshire is the quintessential Northern English accent. Speakers with this accent have an “i” sound as in “in” at the ends of words like “city” where you might have an “ee” sound. It is a dialect that is known for contractions. For example, speakers may contract the definite article “the” and so something like, “I’m going down the pub.” might sound more like, “downt pub”.
Here you can listen to Yorkshire native Harrison Fletcher discuss his accent.
So, both of these characters have non-standard accents and, in the books, they are definitely set apart from most of the people they interact with. In the first book, they are hired by John Bristow, adopted son of Sir Alec Bristow to investigate the death of his sister, Lula Landry. Throughout this novel, they meet moneyed individuals who sometimes go out of their way to make it clear that they are from a different class and their betters. Nowhere is the contrast more great than between Cormoran and his ex-fiancé Charlotte Campbell, whom he met at Oxford. Charlotte is a blue blood and, if I’m being honest, also the worst. Robin does a great job of hiding her accent, but it does come out at times. I found it a really wonderful addition to the book, reminding you that both of these characters are outsiders in the city of London, which is perfect as they investigate their cases.
This has been just a very brief look in at these accents. If you want to have a deeper look, you can check out the BBC Voices project, which can be found at the British library. (Here’s a link to a conversation with folks from Penzance in Cornwall and another one from Bishopthorpe in Yorkshire.). There are also some nice slide shows on Slide share, such as this one by Natalia Ramirez. The Dialect Blog has a post on Cornish accents. And, of course, Harrison Fletcher has a few videos on Yorkshire English.
As you may know, Ursula K. Le Guin died in January of this year at the age of 88. Over the next few weeks, I thought I would post a small round up of links and videos so that we can get to know the author and the influence that she’s had on the world. First up is the video of Le Guin’s acceptance of National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. This video is only 6 minutes long, but in it she comments on why speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction is important.
In the comments below, tell us why you think science fiction and fantasy are worth reading. What have they brought to your life? Why do you keep coming back to these genres?
Today in my mailbox was a delightful email telling me about a book deal on a book that I’ve been wanting to read but have yet to buy yet. The Body Electric by Beth Revis was her follow up book to her brilliant series Across the Universe and today it’s only $0.99. I’ve been wanting to read it because I loved her first series but I also the story of sounded interesting. What can I say, I like to read people with special powers. If you are looking for great deals on ebooks, bookbub is the way to go. You can set up emails to be send you deals once a week or every day. You can also set up alerts for when deals come available from your favorite authors. It’s a economical way to keep your book habit growing and also gives you suggestions for books and authors that you might not have considered but maybe you’ll try for $0.99. Why not? So a little tip on where to find affordable ebooks, I recommend bookbub. One caveat. The deals only last for a day so if you see something that catches your eye you better act fast before the deal ends. Where do you find good book deals? Let us know in the comments below.
As of yesterday, I had finished my Goodreads.com reading challenge by finishing my 50th book this year. I decided to look at my own challenge to read more Diverse Narrators and see where I am in it and sadly, I’m not any further along then my last update. I have books picked out for some categories but I still haven’t read them and I still don’t know about the others. So dear friends of the internet, help me out with some book recommendations. What should I read to for the following.
A Book with a Trans Narrator I thought about using Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead but the story is only from Magnus point of view so that’s out. I’ve read good reviews for If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo. So I’ll think I’ll try that one but do you know of any other good book with a Trans Narrator?
A Book with an African Narrator I’ve settled on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because everyone I know who has read it has loved it and I do love him on the Daily Show. Of course, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor I’m also interested in too.
A Book with an Asian Narrator I thought about using Warcross by Marie Lu but Emika Chen is Asian American and I already have two books for that one and Hideo Tanaka who is British Japanese is not the narrator of the story, only Emika. A friend recommended Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee but I’m not sure.
A Book with a Native American Narrator Sadly, I’m not sure. Sherman Alexie’s books? Has anyone read Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series?
A Book with an Indigenous Mexican Narrator I’m even more loss on this one. I thought for a second about All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater but by the beginning of the story, the Soria’s have lived in Colorado for over a century and the story is more about the family now then their pasts. So any suggestions?
I’m open to anything. Fiction, Non-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance. Whatever you got I’m up for it. Leave your suggestions in the comments below or hit me up on our Twitter @StacksXLiveX and Facebook
September 24-30 is Banned book week. The week that American Library Association releases their top 10 challenged books of the last year and we talk about censorship. A topic that has been getting a lot of talk recently. Anyway, so why do books get challenged? ALA has this helpful infograph to help us out.
No surprise that most of the content that people object to have to do with sex and LGBT lifestyles. Violence and offensive language is also a big one but nothing seems to get people uptight then their poor innocent children reading about having sex or Gay people. THE HORROR! So who are challenging. THe ALA has another infograph to help us out.
And what are the most challenged books of 2016?
Out of 323 challenges recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom
- This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
- George written by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
- Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
- Looking for Alaska written by John Green
Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
- Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
- Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
- Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
- Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
Reason: challenged for offensive language
Let’s not forget that books like Harry Potter, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Where’s Waldo? have all been on this list before. So go read a banned book. Don’t let ideas go to waste.
April 2016 was our most successful month page views wise. We had 589 views, which beat our previous record of 552 in December 2015. It made me wonder what were we writing about a year ago to get so much traffic. Well, The Raven Cycle and Maggie Stiefvater. It’s hard to believe that the The Raven King came out a year ago. That it has been a year since we found out if Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam would find the sleeping Welsh King and If Blue and Gansey would kiss and if Gansey would die. Those mysteries have been solved. Thankfully, we know that we haven’t read the last of the Gang as Maggie is working on a trilogy about Ronan. Whee!!!
My editor is going to hate me, but I just outlined three books for a Ronan-centered trilogy.
— Maggie Stiefvater (@mstiefvater) August 7, 2016
And we have another Maggie book coming in October. So we have a lot to look forward to but let’s take a moment, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the release of The Raven King and the end of the The Raven Cycle, to look at everything we have ever written about the series.
I would like to discuss the format. What do you think about John Lewis presenting this story as a graphic novel instead of a straight narrative story? I personally, I loved it. I think it was kind of genius. It’s one thing to read about the sit-ins, marches and the violence that followed but it’s another thing to have it visualized. The illustrations are truly powerful and really make his story and the story of the Civil Rights movement come to life. The graphic novel format also makes it more accessible. How many kids or teens willing read history books? All three books were quick reads but still powerful. Giving the readers a full look of all the challenges that John Lewis and the movement faced. The sacrifices that they made, knowing that they could be arrested or killed. The visual aspect of the novel makes all of these more powerful because the illustrations are simple, yet specific.
Do you agree with me? What do you think of the presentation?
So question for you. As you know, here at Stacks are trying to broaden our horizons by seeking out stories, narratives and authors from diverse voices. Last year we created our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge and we had mixed results. I think we both only completed half of the challenge. This year we decided to split up our challenge and focus on different aspects of the our original Challenge. Kate is leading our Diverse Authors Challenge and I’m spearheading our Diverse Narrators Challenge. So far this year I have read 10 books and I have read some diverse narrators from Essun in The Fifth Season, Ms. Marvel and Frangie and Rainey from Silver Stars. I’m starting to read King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard, who has described her main character, Mare as a mix race (white/Latinx). I’m looking at my challenge and wondering about characters like Mare and Essun. They are both described as olive or dark skinned respectively. They are not the traditional white heroines that we have come to identify in fantasy and well fiction in general but they do not reside in our world. They live in a fantasy worlds that the authors created on their own. In the case of Mare though, she lives in a world that came out of the ruins of the US after years of wars and natural disasters. Technically, Norta is the US but hundreds of the years in the future. So can we count them in our challenge? Is it cheating? Or is it okay since they represent people and cultures in our world. They may not be African American or Latina in the sense that we define them but they represent that narrative. Women of Color can look to these characters and others like them and see themselves in them and isn’t that in the spirit of our challenge? So dear readers out there, how do you define diversity in our reading? Are strict in definition or if a character is define as “dark skinned” or “olive skinned” or anything but “fair skinned” as a diverse characters?
Let’s discuss this, sound off in the comments below.
Beth and I have both finally gotten our copies of March in the mail, and I started reading it at breakfast this morning! This couldn’t be a more pertinent read. As I am sure you have seen, Senator Elizabeth Warren was officially silenced for the rest of the hearing on whether to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. She was silenced for reading out part of a letter written by Coretta Scott King to the chair of the judiciary committee in 1986 on Sessions’ possible appointment to a federal judgeship. Warren was officially silenced for, ‘breaking Rule 19, which forbids members from imputing to a colleague “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”‘ (quote from NPR.)
In the letter, King writes about the march from Selma to Montgomery in the letter, setting the stage to discuss subsequent actions designed to deny people their right to vote. She writes, “I was privileged to join Martin and many others during the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965. Martin was particularly impressed by the determination to get the franchise of blacks in Selma and neighboring Perry County.” You can read the letter in its entirety here.
Volume one begins with Lewis’s early life; we won’t get to Selma until volume 3 (I believe). It is not often that we read historical pieces that are so immediately relevant as we read them.
For this post, I’m not going to ask discussion questions. So, please feel free to comment with your first impressions of the graphic novel. Are you reading along with us? Have you started? How do you feel about pet chickens? We look forward to hearing what you have to say in the comments.