Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

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Prof. Tarma Amelia Black
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Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:19 am

What is an abridged book? Have you heard that expression before?

According to one source, abridged is a verb meaning to shorten (a book, movie, speech, or other text) without losing the sense. These are just some of the books which have been abridged: Les Miserables, Black Beauty, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, White Fang, Frankenstein and (to my surprise) The Hobbit. As you can see, these books are of a wide genre to reach a wide audience.

What benefits are there to abridged books? What disadvantages are there to them?

Have you read books which are abridged? When you read it, did you know it was an abridged book or did you find out later? Did you find the original book and read it after reading the abridged one? Which did you like best?

You have until February 18th, 11:59 pm HOL time to answer in here. You are welcome to post twice, earning 5 points per post for a maximum of 10 points. Each post needs to be at least 50 words long. You need to wait until others have posted (or two days) before posting a second time. In your second post, respond to what other people are talking about! You are free to respond as many times as you like, but only the first two count for points.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Gail Allen » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:46 am

I actually really really dislike abridged books. Mainly the ones with the same cover that are made into ebooks or audiobooks, because I am always so afraid I'll accidentally buy the abridged one. I like my books long and filled with details and I don't want to lose even a tiny bit of them.

I do see their benefit of course to young or weak readers, and I think it's a good idea to make them, but I wish people would at least give them a different cover and make it VERY clear it's an abridged version.
I also dislike that often it's only the abridged version that is being made into an audio book. Which makes sense of course; less time that someone has to read aloud on tape, but I always find that something gets lost. Otherwise the book would have been shortened in the editing process and been shorter from the start.
So for me abridged books are not something I want and I want them clearly distinguishable from their full length counterparts and I want the full length books to be made into audio books as well.
If that was accomplished, I would think abridged books were entirely awesome.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Prof. Scarlet Leslie-Lewis » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:02 am

The only real experience I have with abridged books was when I was really bored one day and looked through all the bookshelves at home for something to read. My parents moved to the United States from Taiwan in their mid-20s, so they had several boxes of abridged classics, like Tom Sawyer and Moby Dick. Since Chinese and English are very different, it made sense for them to have the abridged versions of those books. They could learn English and become knowledgeable about novels most people have at least heard of for everyday conversation. I might have read one of those abridged books that day, but otherwise I do prefer the full version of books.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Kathren Johnsun » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:10 am

I'm going to disagree with you Gail. While I will admit that it would be annoying to find out the book that I was reading was only the abridged version, I actually really like abridged versions. I first read abridged versions of some of the books actually mentioned in the first post. The public library had a large number of the Great Illustrated Classics series and those were actually my first exposure to books like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Since these books were meant for children, they would be abridged and some of the wording would be changed to reflect a younger audience. Had I not read these books as a younger child, I don't know if I ever would have picked them up as a teenager/adult when I could read the full version of the stories (I've read an unabridged version of Oliver Twist probably five or six times now).
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Aurelia West » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:14 am

I have an interesting story about reading an abridged edition of a book. In my Spanish class my junior year of high school we read Don Quixote de la Mancha in Spanish and it was abridged though none of us knew it. Because of the fact that it was in Spanish, I didn't even realize it until afterwards and wish that we had read the unabridged edition. I think I'd like to go back and read the full version, but perhaps in English this time. I definitely agree with Gail about making it more recognizable if a book is abridged rather than giving it the same cover with little indication. I didn't realize that sometimes only the abridged editions of books are made into audio books, so I'm glad Gail pointed that out as well.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Bull J. Johnson » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:10 am

I love abridged books. I just got three new abridged books which are David Copperfield, Hans Brinker, and Captains Courageous. I can't wait to start Captains Courageous.This story is about a young boy accidentally going to sea. Anyway that best abridged novels in my opinion comes from Great Illustrated Classics.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Gail Allen » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:22 pm

Kathren, I am not saying that I dislike the fact that abridged books exist. Merely the fact that they are sometimes hard to tell apart from the original version.

When I was a child I used to read the classics in abridged versions too, or even generally simply "rewritten versions". Particularly Robin Hood which I've read in at least three or four different versions and heard an audio play of as well. I also read Ivanhoe in an abridged version, and I do think it's a good way for children (or weak readers) to access works of literature that they wouldn't otherwise have been able to access. I am simply advocating that there should be more of a difference in the way they look so you don't accidentally get the abridged version when you wanted the full version.

I actually only realised quite late which Robin Hood was the 'original', even though with that story even the original is based on a collection of other things. I am glad I found it though, cause it has a wonderful language and style. It's the Howard Pyle version, if anyone is interested. But even there the abridged versions often have that name on them even if someone else changed them, sometimes rather drastically.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Arianna Stonewater » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:25 pm

I really like abridged books, especially on a scholarly level. Part of this is because the majority of abridged books are required reading for the AP/Honors English classes I took in High School. This meant I could still get the themes and plots of the books but spend less time trudging through the world-building parts that weren't quite as important and so I'd have more time for other homework or sleep. It also helps when writing research papers. It's been than just reading the sparknotes/cliffnotes but easy than reading the full novel. I would also like to mention that abridged tv series (particularly anime ones) are a lot of fun too!
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Hannah R Thomas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:41 pm

I agree with you Gail. I do believe that there are, I like to think of them as “short stories,” out there that do catch some people’s interest. I, personally, would like to see it as another path to reading for individuals who have a difficulty in reading original versions or other versions of the edited story. Or, they can be seen as a substitute for folks who love to read, but have so little time in their hands that they love reading so much but want to finish a book. The only major downside I see when reading with such small stories is that you don’t get the “big picture.” I am the kind of person who likes to have detailed information in regards to a story.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Maxim Trevelyan » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:14 pm

I do not think I ever read the abridged book but once, and that was fairly recently. I picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, so I could read it for Book Bingo, but it seemed rather thin to me. However, I disregarded that, since I clearly told the librarian that I need the full book. When I opened it book, I noticed the word 'abridged', but still read it. It drew me in, however it was not after that I read the full version that I noticed just how much of it was missing. Sure, plot at large remained the same, but I found myself a bit, annoyed, I guess? Like Gail mentioned, different covers would be a great solution for this problem (since I believe that the librarian took the abridged version of the book by accident).

However, I do see the positives to abridged books. It is easier for younger people, or those with reading difficulties, to read and understand them. You can more easily discuss it in class or just use them as a taste of what the full version of the book has to offer.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Pezzie Wolfe » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:39 pm

I see the good points of reading one and the not so good.

Good side is that one gets an idea of the book. Say for example it's War and Peace. Well, if one wants to read a short version, by all means let them read it. Yet encourage them to read the whole book. To get more from the book and story where more details are to be read.

I have a friend whom I'm trying to help just read the first Harry Potter book. Now, seeing the movies is great and all,but I read the books first before the thought of the first movie came to be. So I'm so book first then movie.

As there is so much more that happens in a book that is not Abridged. You might lose something a detail of the story line when reading such a story that way.

Yet if it is a way to get someone into a good book, story, get a sample of it. Then read the whole book.

Myself, I want to read a Wrinkle In Time but I'm afraid that I won't understand it. I know my brother and mom have read it. But I'm like whoa, what if I need help?
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Will Lestrange » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:55 pm

Occasionally we have an interesting twist where the abridged version is actually the original: an author first writes a shorter version of the book and then expands it into a longer work! My favorite abridged book of that form was a guilty pleasure of mine back in sixth grade: Flowers for Algernon. It’s a story about a man with a low IQ who really wants to become smart so he gets an operation which grants his wish... only to realize he is now smart enough to prove that the effects of the operation will wear off, leaving him worse than before!

It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that Flowers for Algernon was also expanded into a novel... while it was itself an interesting read, it took longer to get through - and seemed to have many more adult themes thrown in gratuitously. Here, the abridged version, which was actually the original, feels much more “true” and “natural”! (It is the short story version that has left an impression on me all those years later ;))
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Prof. Scarlet Leslie-Lewis » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:50 am

Oh cool! I loved Flowers for Algernon! I believe I first read it in high school and then again a few years later. I had no idea that it was originally a short story. I should try to find a copy of it.

There are some books that I think I would enjoy, but I can't get myself to finish because of the author's writing style. It's possible that an abridged version could be easier to get through. I'm sure it is difficult to figure out how to shorten a book, but still preserve the characters and themes that so many other readers have fallen in love with.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:36 am

One of the first abridged books I read was a story by Dick Francis, Nerve. It was in a Reader's Digest magazine (book?). While I knew that Reader's Digest is basically a thing which shortens books and everything to something ... digested? ... I didn't know the difference because I'd not read the regular version. But I'm so glad I read it, because that introduced me to the books of Dick Francis! \o/

Later on, I found out that the stories in there (and other abridged books) didn't always have all the flavour of the entire story, and I grew to simply choose to read the original.

That said, I didn't know that Flowers for Algernon was rewritten into a longer story. (Research shows that it won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960.) How amazing, and how wonderful, that it was fleshed out into a book! I also remember watching the movie Charly, with Cliff Robertson, which I think depends more on the longer version of the book than the original short story.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Will Lestrange » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:03 pm

Most of my experiences with truly abridged books (where the original version was the longer one) were much less satisfying; what I remember the most were those books that were turned into a film or play and then back into a book! (The screenplay version of the diary of Anne Frank, for example, does *NOT* make for a good read in my opinion. And the book-to-TV-to-book versions of the Goosebumps books from the 90s? They showed none of R.L. Stine’s captivaring writing style). Basically, I’m coming to the conclusion that the original is *usually* a better read than the abridged/expanded version, regardless of length!
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Shiloh Adlar » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:06 pm

When it comes to abridged books, I definitely read a few when I was younger. It made it easier for me to read more difficult books that way. Now that I am older, I certainly prefer the original. I do think they should make the versions easier to know which is abridged and which isn't, however, that information is often found within the first few pages and sometimes on the publishing info page.

When I listen to audio books, I always make sure the one I download from the library is the unabridged version. It's not that I'm against abridged books at all, but I'm old enough now to be able to understand and take in the original versions of these wonderful books.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Gail Allen » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:14 pm

I can also see a sense in reading abridged versions for school by the way. If you're not reading the book for your own pleasure and it's not mandatory that you should read the full version, then by all means, save yourself some time and effort! There's no sense in bogging yourself down with 500 pages of a story you don't care for at all, if you can get 'pretty much the same' from reading a 150 pages long abridged version, and then maybe reading a chapter or two from the original to get a sense of the style and language use for detail analysis.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Bull J. Johnson » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:49 pm

I do not like the idea of using abridged books for school, especially if there will be a test or book report on it, because you don't always get all the small details and that is what teachers like testing on. Or at least that is what I've noticed during my school years.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Gail Allen » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:53 pm

I think that depends really. If you are meant to do a bookreport, then you choose what goes into it. If you're getting a test on it, you don't. And it's better to read an abridged version than not at all. I'm not saying I think people should read the abridged version if they have the time to read the original, but if it's the entire abridged version or half the original, I am very sure I'd prefer the abridged version.
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Re: Week 3 - Discussion: Abridged Books

Post by Shiloh Adlar » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:28 pm

One of my teachers in school actually assigned us the abridged version of a book one time. I still don't understand why considering it was an honors course, but I wouldn't have argued anyway because it was hard finding time to read everything I had to read for that class to begin with. We didn't write any papers on the book and she didn't test us on it, but I think it was some sort of prelude to the book we were reading next that we were tested on.

On the other hand, in my French Literature course, we did often read abridged versions in there simply because it was for reading comprehension and not necessarily material. While we did discuss style as well as historical and cultural context of the reading to better understand the region, we weren't being tested on the same things we were tested on in an English Literature course.
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