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Shark Week

There are three major holiday seasons at my house: Christmas, Easter, and Shark Week. If you haven’t heard of it (do you live under a rock??), Shark Week is a television program on the Discovery Channel. According to their website, Shark Week is the longest running summer TV event, with this July marking its 30th year running.

I love sharks, and Shark Week is a time for me to not only get my fill of shark related pseudo-science TV shows (I mean, Phelps vs Shark was not exactly top-notch  science), but I also get to share my love of sharks with friends and family. I might make shark-themed treats, wear a shark shirt or hat (both items of clothing I own), and maybe even enjoy a sharky read. However you choose to celebrate, the library has some great materials to check out if you have sharks on the brain.

7.23 JawsJAWS
By Peter Benchley
(1974)

You’ve seen the movie, but have you given the book a try? When it was published, Jaws sold millions of copies and was a best-seller for 44 weeks in a row. And if you haven’t seen the movie, widely considered to be one of the best films of all time, you need to stop what you are doing and watch it now. Trivia: Author Peter Benchley actually makes a cameo appearance in the film as the reporter on the beach that discusses the shark attacks.  

 

7.23 Close to ShoreCLOSE TO SHORE
By Michael Capuzzo
(2001)

Now that you are familiar with the story of Jaws, check out the historical inspiration behind it. This book tells the true story of a rogue shark that terrorized swimmers off the New Jersey coast in the summer of 1916. This was the beginning of our country’s shark hysteria and panic, causing beach-goers to think twice before going in the water.  

 

7.23 Devils TeethDEVIL’S TEETH
By Susan Casey
(2005)

This is the account of journalist Susan Casey’s obsession with great white sharks that led her to the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. While not overly data-heavy, this book gives readers a sense of magical wonder at great whites and their relationship to these islands.  

 

7.23 Encyclopedia of SharksTHE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SHARKS
By Steve Parker
(2008)

Maybe you are tired of the largely false stereotypical Hollywood portrayal of sharks as mindless killers, and you want to learn more about these fascinating creatures. This volume gives you details and scientific facts on hundreds of shark species. You’ll learn about shark evolution, mating rituals, life-cycles, and conservation and protection efforts. That’s right, sharks need protection from an even scarier predator—us! Sharks are in danger from over fishing, sports fishing, and “finning,” and the ecological impact from losing these apex predators is proving to be dire.  

 

7.23 JawsGREAT WHITE: THE MAJESTY OF SHARKS
By Chris Fallows
(2009) 

Maybe you just want to look at stunning photos of massive great whites, leaping out of the water in a spray of foam and teeth. Well, here you go. You’re welcome.

 

austen ranking 1

 Well, my friends, the Austen obsession continues, and this week we move on from the tolerable to the amiable. This adaptations are good, but they just missed being included among the best of the best. Here’s why.

7.13 2008 Emma12) EMMA
Directed by Jim O'Hanlan
(2009)

I found this adaptation enjoyable, but forgettable. Bonus points for Johnny Lee Miller playing his second Austen hero and bonus, extra, super points for casting Ramola Garai, who is a gift to us from the period drama gods.

 

7.13 Bride and Prejudice11) BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
(2004)

I think the bland male leads and a slightly disjointed storyline are what hold me back from loving BRIDE AND PREJUDICE completely, but the film is still a whole lot of fun. The best known cross-cultural Austen adaptation, it’s frothy and colorful and a little bit whacky, and it’s hard not to enjoy it. And it’s a MUSICAL, which few other Austen film adaptations can claim. Plus, Aishwarya Rai is a delight.

 

7.13 Persuasion10) PERSUASION
Directed by Roger Michell
(1996)

We're finally getting to the point where I feel guilty ranking the adaptations, because from here on out, I love them all deeply.

This is a quiet adaptation that doesn’t get as much fanfare as many of the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless. Amanda Root is absolutely perfect as Anne – her subtle performance manages to capture Anne’s pain, her exasperation with her relatives, and her quiet determination as well as her shyness.

I do have to confess something, though. As a teenager watching this movie for the first time, I found myself wondering where all the pretty people were. The cast of this film is surprisingly normal looking, which is a refreshing change from typical Hollywood casting and seems particularly appropriate for the time period.

 

7.13 Mansfield Park9) MANSFIELD PARK
Directed by Patricia Rozema
(1999)

A lot of people hate this adaptation (my mother among them), but I’m a fan. Fans of other Austen adaptations are sometimes thrown by just how dark and gritty this version is, and by, well, the brief nakedness (there’s understandably not much nudity in most Austen adaptations). In addition to showing that Fanny was pulled out of serious poverty by her not-always-kind cousins, this version also addresses MANSFIELD PARK’s elephant in the room: the Bertrams earned their money in the West Indies, which means that slaves earned it for them. It’s not always a pretty adaptation as a result, but that honesty adds a depth and context to the adaptation that I really appreciate.

I’ll add that Fanny Price is the only Austen heroine I don’t like very much, so I don’t really mind that the film turned her into a completely different character.

 

7.13 emma8) EMMA 
Directed by Douglas McGrath
(1996)

This adaptation of Emma and the adaptation of Mansfield Park I just wrote about are a study in contrasts, and I love them for completely opposite reasons. Emma holds a special place in my heart for simply being so PRETTY. The costumes, the sets, the hairstyles, the script - they're just so fluffy and beautiful and charming, much like Emma herself. Gwyneth Paltrow annoys me as a human being, which is probably why I adore her as Emma.

If you enjoy period dramas, it’s hard to hate this one. And the score by Rachel Portman is delightful. All the fluff, very little of the substance.

 

7.13 Sense and Sensibility7) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Directed by John Alexander
(2008)

This adaptation didn’t get as much attention as I think it deserved, and I hope you’ll watch it if you haven’t already, as it's certainly the best of the 2007 and 2008 ITV/BBC Austen reboots. The opening scenes are surprisingly scandalous for an Austen adaptation, but don’t let them scare you away from the miniseries.

It pains me not to include this as one of the best of the best, since it's a personal favorite. As great as Emma Thompson is, Hattie Morahan is exactly how I pictured Elinor, and Charity Wakefield is lovely as Marianne. It's a full-length miniseries, which allows it time to cover plot points that the 1995 adapation didn't have time for. And it does it so very well.

Note: For fans of the "Darcy emerges from the pond" scene in in the '96 Pride and Prejudice, this Sense and Sensibility gives you Downton Abbey's Matthew revived from the dead and angstily chopping wood in the rain. Enjoy.

 

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