Posts Tagged reading

Wordsmith Wednesday – Sharing Is Caring

The best part about books you love, authors you adore, is sharing them with others. We like to say things like, “Go read Storm Front by Jim Butcher, it’s awesome times a thousand,” and then leave it be. For those of us who collect books like other people collect stamps, we do not share the actual books except to a few select people. We’ve been burned before. We loaned our Douglas Adams collection to our best friend and never saw it again. Because their kids ate half the pages.

However, some people have passed our test. They borrowed our precious books and not only returned them, they kept the binding pretty and even shared some of their own collection in return. These are people we keep with us always. Which is why, even though I had barely spoken to him since we broke up, I loaned two books to my ex-boyfriend and didn’t bat an eye.

Yes, you read that right. I contacted my ex to see if he’d read the most recent two offerings in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series. When I found out that he had NOT, I was horrified and immediately offered to loan him both books at once. Maybe we couldn’t hack it as a couple, but man are we sympatico as readers. He needed those books. I needed to share them.

 

Who have you shared with today?

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Fangirl Friday – Harry Potter – I Open At The Close

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

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I blame Nick Rhodes. Honestly, almost all my fandoms can be blamed on a member of Duran Duran. I started reading the books when Mr. Rhodes made a (seemingly) offhand remark about Muggles.

Now, with the series at a close, I look back at one of the most influential series of our time. Reading had been on the wane until J.K. Rowling made it fun again. Make no mistake, there are lessons to be learned in the series. Things like friendship, loyalty, hope, and a score or more other virtues were woven into the seven books chronicling a young wizard’s growth.

Each book was darker than the last, which some folk complained about. I agreed with it. Our world gets darker as we grow older and accept more responsibility. Things get harder. We have to make more and more sacrifices. Even so, Rowling handed us Pandora’s box, with hope still fluttering around inside it. Hope that good will triumph over evil, that there are still honorable, kind people in the world.

I love those books for many reasons. First, they are an escape. Even if we don’t pay mind to the broader meanings, dragons and goblins and magic transport us out of our mundane existences to a more exciting place. Second, as stated before, they bring hope, a desperately needed commodity in this world. Third, they brought reading back. Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, which is all well and good, but bringing reading back in this age of instant gratification was nothing short of a miracle, yes?

People learned patience as they waited for each new book or film in the series. And even though there were those jerks who bootlegged things and put them up on the internet days before release, we still had to wait while they were being created. No matter what else she does in the future, J.K. Rowling has gifted the world with wonder, inspired new generations, and for that I will always admire her.

 

How did you all feel about the Harry Potter series? What did you learn (or just enjoy) while reading? If you’ve never read them, then why? Please share your thoughts here!

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Wordsmith Wednesday – All Aboard For Books

Open book

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There’s something magical about a good storyteller. They can suck us into the worlds they weave almost without our knowing. One minute we’re sitting at home, maybe with a cup of tea – Earl Grey, hot. The next we’re in Narnia, fighting the White Witch, or perhaps we’ve found ourselves on Platform Nine-and-three-quarters, waiting to board the Hogwarts Express. Some days, we even find ourselves on the streets of Ancient Rome, lending our ears to Mark Anthony.

How do authors like C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, and William Shakespeare capture our imaginations? How do they transport us into their worlds?

First, of course, we have to invite them in. We have to suspend our disbelief by opening the book.

Second, we need the stories to have good structure. My friend Kristen has a good series on that in her blog.

Third, there has to be conflict. Why else would we keep turning the pages if not to find out what happens next? This is also something Kristen explains very well.

Fourth, we need them to resonate with something inside us. This need is why some books that don’t adhere as tightly to the second and third options can take the world by storm.

Let’s take one of those excellent authors from earlier that fulfill all the needs, and look at why one of their stories resonates. How about J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series?

Okay, there’s lots of excitement, solid structure, enchanting scenery, and so on. That got us, especially the target demographic of eleven-year-olds, interested. What really hooked all of us was that it tapped into our fears of abandonment. We’ve all been there, right? From the moment we left the womb, there was a sense of separation, loss. We were no longer physically tethered to another soul.

Then there’s those of us who have lost a parent. We know that feeling of abandonment on a far deeper level.

How many of us would feel like that loss had meaning if it forged us into a hero? That it was not in vain if, rather than a car accident or bad health, it was because of a tangible monster we could train ourselves to defeat?

Rowling also tapped into our bone-deep need for hope… that our suffering could be the learning blocks for saving the world. We can be that lonely kid living under the stairs with spiders, learn to not only face our personal demons, but conquer them as well.

Most of all, she showed us that we are not alone. Our friends can be part of our family if we let them in. They add to our strength, make us more than we are.

Through all of that, she consistently advanced her writing. The older Harry got, the more complex and mature her storytelling became, making us feel as though we were aging with Harry or watching him grow. We felt the passage of time. No mean feat, if you ask me.

When the series came to a close, we felt we had completed a journey. Our hearts bore the scars and yet were left whole. Closing the book, we blinked owlishly as our mundane world came back into focus.

To what worlds have you travelled? What authors have led you to lands far from (or near to) home? How? Why?  And what effect did it have on you?

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