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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Reading, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,018
26. Take Action for Kids in Need

Action Kit coverWhen Melissa Deneen Shipp surprised each of her students with a new book of their very own, their reaction surprised her. “Normally this is the part when they maul me with hugs,” she said. “But instead they just stared. They literally couldn’t believe their eyes!”

She told her students, “Yes, YOU are the owner of that book!” Jumping up and down, her students shouted in reply, “This is mine, this is mine!” It was one of the best days Melissa has ever had as a teacher.

For over 20 years, teachers like Melissa and supporters like you have joined First Book to bring moments of joy, comfort and learning to millions of kids in need.

But there’s so much more to be done. Over 32 million kids in the U.S. live in poverty. In their homes, schools and communities, books are rare.

Action Kit Outside Envelope StampAs our kids return to school this month, we invite you to support them – now, throughout the year and into the future.

How can you make a difference? Volunteer your time, tell educators in your community about First Book or donate to get books in the hands of children in need. Check out our 2014 Action Kit and discover the many ways you can get involved today.

First Book will provide 15 million books to kids in need this year and we believe we can meet this goal because of supporters like you. Take action today!

The post Take Action for Kids in Need appeared first on First Book Blog.

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27. Yawn

I recently began reading Far from the Madding Crowd on my Kindle. I am so glad I am finally getting around to reading Hardy. Why did I wait so long? Please don’t answer that.

Anyway, after work today on the train I was reading and Oak, the main character thus far, was playing Peeping Tom, watching an older woman and a young lady he had just seen for the first time earlier that day feed a cow and take care of her new calf. The hour was late, somewhere around 1 a.m. by the stars Hardy tells us. The young lady yawns (but not in an inappropriately large way, she does have manners) and Oak, peeping through the gap in the barn boards is overwhelmed and suddenly yawns too. And I, reading the book, found myself attacked by a yawn.

Has this ever happened to you before? You are made to yawn by a character in the book yawning?

Or what about when a character is really thirsty, have you ever suddenly found yourself thirsty too? Of hungry? Books make me hungry all the time and there doesn’t even have to be a description of a great meal that makes my mouth water. I am currently reading The Memory Garden and there is an amazing dinner scene. I was doing fine, until they had blueberry sorbet. Oh that sounded good, give me a some please! I could even taste it and feel the cold in mouth even though the author didn’t spend any time actually describing it. But what has really gotten me is the chocolate cake that was mentioned a couple times. I was struck by a sudden craving. I came really close to asking Bookman if he would make one.

Other times while reading I have felt hot or cold or found myself squinting along with the character in an imagined bright sun. And of course tears. There have also been tears springing to my eyes as quickly as they spring to the eyes of the character in the book.

Being so affected probably has something to do with an active imagination and mirror neurons. When you see someone pick up a cup, for instance, mirror neurons supposedly fire in your brain in the same areas that would go to work if you were actually picking up the cup yourself. I’m wondering if I start reading books in which people get lots of exercise whether that means I am exercising too? Wouldn’t that be nice? Reading about someone running a marathon does not equal me actually running one. Very much wishful thinking but you can’t blame a girl for trying.


Filed under: Books, Reading

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28. Reading Fuels Writing

Need some inspiration to write? Fall into a great book and read like a writer!

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29. The Man Behind The Woman in Pink

Sites that advertise ebook sales seems to be popping up all over the internet. From Bookbub to Book Gorilla to Pixel of Ink, all strive to “personalize” listings for subscribers. But when I stumbled across The Fussy Librarian, I was impressed with the clean beauty of the site, the level of personalization for readers and […]

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30. Monday Mishmash 8/18/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. I'm home!  I finally got to go home this weekend. The walls are back up and most are painted. Two more floors have to be installed, and the kitchen still needs to be finished, but we're making progress.
  2. Blog Tour Prep  I'm finishing up blog tour prep for Into the Fire this week. The Perfect For You posts are all sent and ready to go.
  3. Reading I'm making an effort to catch up on my reading, which took a big hit from not being home.
  4. New Meme Buttons  Now that others are joining in on my weekly memes, I made new buttons. Check them out and feel free to participate in any of my memes.

  5. Crow's Rest Cover Reveal  Check out this cover for Crow's Rest by Angelica R. Jackson.

Avery Flynn arrives for a visit at her Uncle Tam's, eager to rekindle her summertime romance with her crush-next-door, Daniel.
But Daniel’s not the sweet, neurotic guy she remembers—and she wonders if this is her Daniel at all. Or if someone—some thing—has taken his place.
Her quest to find the real Daniel—and get him back—plunges Avery into a world of Fae and changelings, where creatures swap bodies like humans change their socks, and magic lives much closer to home than she ever imagined.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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31. Jumping Jack by Germano Zullo Book Review & Activity {Guest Post by Hannah Rials}

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Jack and his rider Roger Trotter are a star combo.
Jumping Jack
People come from all over the world to see this dynamic duo jump the course. But suddenly, Jack can no longer jump. He’s tripping all over the trail, wedging himself between rails, basically losing his tail. Roger doesn’t know what’s wrong with his partner. The doctor’s say his boo-boos aren’t causing him problems. The psychiatrist says he’s just a little tired–he just needs a week of relaxation. Now after a bit of R&R, it’s time for the biggest competition of the year. Roger and Jack think they’re ready…but are they? What will come of the dynamic duo? Will they reclaim their title and prestige? Or is Jumping Jack done jumping forever?
Jumping Jack is an adorable story with uniquely wonderful illustrations. I love the loyalty, friendship, and sense of confidence portrayed by Jack and Roger. Learning not to give up on your dreams no matter what is an important lesson for children to grasp, especially now. Keep this story in your back pocket when your child is down.
Activities:
1. Set up your own jump course. Grab anything you can think of to jump over–a stool, bench, really big pillow. But here’s a good idea: take it outside. Mom won’t appreciate leaping all over the house.
 *note-Games for Kids Under Five has a Foot work / coordination drills: Horse Show Jump Parcour Preschool Learning Activities!

2. Make your own race horse with an old pool noodle here with Mrs. King Rocks  
pool noodle ponies
3. CandiQuik has some some simply adorable Triple Crown Cookies!
triple crown horse cookies
Born in the hills of Louisiana and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Hannah Rials is a eighteen year-old aspiring author and editor. She’s been writing short stories since she was a little girl, but for the past several years, she has been writing, editing, and reediting a novel of her own that she hopes to publish in the near future. Hannah has always loved reading and the world of books. With a librarian grandmother who can tell the most magical stories, how could she not fall in love with the written word. Her library collection and love for books grows every day. Visit Hannah’s blog or find her author page on Facebook.
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The post Jumping Jack by Germano Zullo Book Review & Activity {Guest Post by Hannah Rials} appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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32. Shark Week Is for Readers, Too: 10+ Books to Read this Week

JAWSEach year for one week, The Discovery Channel takes over the airwaves with a seven-day onslaught of movies, documentaries, survivor tales and semi-factual mockumentaries about sharks. As fascinating as it all is, readers are left high and dry—where are all the books about sharks? I’ve rounded up several—some classic, some campy, some for kids, some nonfiction—for those of us who want all the thrill of Shark Week, but with somewhat less screen time. (Or supplement your Discovery marathoning. There are no rules in Shark Week.)


1. Jaws

It wouldn’t be a list about shark books without the one that started it all. Peter Benchley’s classic inspired Steven Spielberg’s film, and 40 years later it’s still deeply, relentlessly terrifying. Hank Searls’ followup novelizations of Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge and Benchley’s The Deep are also highly encouraged reading for the week.

2. The Old Man and the Sea

Hemingway’s tale of a Cuban fisherman going head-to-snout with a marlin is remembered for many reasons, none of which pertain to Shark Week. We should change that. The Nobel Prize in Literature is nice and all, but this week is a big deal right now, and an entirely unscientific survey I just conducted reveals that only one in several readers outside of high school has bothered to pick up The Old Man and the Sea, except when rearranging bookshelves. (That one is me. This book is worth reading any week of the year.)

Megbook3. The Meg series

You don’t have to be an especially well-read fan of megalodon lore to enjoy Steve Alten’s bestselling undersea thriller series featuring the rediscovery of the largest shark species in history. Begin at the beginning with Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, then dare yourself to tear through the next five Meg novels (The Trench, Primal Waters, Hell’s Aquarium, Nightstalkers and Origins) before you have to enter a body of water larger than a bathtub.

4. In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

Technically, Doug Stanton’s harrowing story of the 317 men who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis isn’t specifically about sharks. But it’s damn good reading, and a sufficient quantity of sharks are involved in the story to include it on this list.

5. Sharks! by National Geographic Kids

Sharks are scary, but they’re also super-cool. If you have a small person who enjoys reading, consider picking this title up on your next trip to the library. Or check it out for yourself—no one dislikes 32 pages of cool facts about sharks.

Nugget and Fang6. Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever–or Snack Time?

So maybe stories about vicious attacks or details about shark migration are a little too advanced for some kids. Fortunately for them, there is Tammi Sauer and Michael Slack’s adorable little story about vegetarian sharks who make friends with a school of minnows.

7. Shark Girl 

Kelly Bingham’s debut young adult novel chronicles the life of a girl who has lost her arm to a shark attack, and then must return to high school with a prosthesis to face the potential mockery of her fellow classmates. Shark Girl is less shark-centric than, say, Meg, but more personal and introspective than most other books on this list. And as a young adult novel in verse, it’s possible that Shark Girl is the only book (so far) about a shark-attack-survivor in high school that also rhymes. (Joking aside, Bingham’s work here is impressive and award-winning, and worth reading even outside the brief moment that is Shark Week.)

BAIT8. Bait

If you put four drug addicts on an island, heroin on a nearby island, and a shiver of sharks between, what happens? This is the premise of J. Kent Messum’s award-winning first novel, Bait. You’ll have to find out for yourself what happens after that.

9. The Secret Life of Sharks

For every myth Jaws perpetuated, Pete Klimley debunked three in his celebrated collection of real facts about sharks—what they eat, when, how they raise their young, when and how they migrate. From hammerheads to great whites, there are few books as full of firsthand data on shark behavior.

10. Shark Fin Soup

There are few books more appropriate for this week than Susan Klaus’ thriller about a man who avenges his wife’s murder at the hands of shark finners by becoming an ecoterrorist called Captain Nemo. Nemo’s methods may be suspect, but his heart is in the right place.

There’s no way to include every book about sharks on this list. What are your favorites?


headshotWD

Adrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

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33. Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just For Kids

You don’t have to be a kid in elementary school to listen to a book read aloud. You don’t have to be the parent of a preschooler to read aloud.

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34. Dog Training, http://www.amyhuntington.blogspot.com

Amy Huntington

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35. Secret Place

There's nothing better than a secret place for getting lost in a book.

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36. Question of the Week: How Long Will You Try a Book Before You DNF It?

Hey everyone! Clara Kensie here. A few times a month at Adventures in YA Publishing, I post a question for you and the Adventures in YA team to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers and book lovers: craft, career, reading, books, and more. Join the discussion!


Question of the Week:

DNF (Do Not Finish): How long will you try a book before you DNF it?


DNFing a book: soooo disappointing!
(image courtesy of Katy https://flic.kr/p/4P4rmS
)

Clara Kensie: It kills me to DNF a book, but I don’t want to spend time reading something I don’t enjoy, when there are hundreds of other books in my to-read pile. I don’t have a set “trial period” of reading a specific number of pages before I DNF it. I’ll stop reading a book once I realize I don’t care what happens to the characters, if the plot is too contrived, if it doesn’t make me suspend belief, if it’s poorly written— any reason, really. I recently DNF’d a book after the second chapter because it was confusing and hard to follow. Reading should be fun: an escape, not a struggle. Recently, a friend highly recommended a book to me, a book she loved-loved-loved. I read chapter after chapter, thinking, “The good part must be coming up next.” “Okay, the next part has to be when it gets good.” But the good part never, ever came. That was one book I wish I had DNF’d. But, it made for a great discussion with my friend!

Alyssa Hamilton: I usually read about 150 pages of a book if I'm feeling iffy about it. If by that point I'm not interested in it, I'll put it down. If I am really not feeling it before that point, I'll definitely put it down. I'm not the kind of person who feels overly guilty or bad if I don't finish a book that I've started. Why spend time on something I'm not enjoying, when I have shelves of other books I may love?

Martina Boone: It really depends on the book. I very rarely DNF, but if I do, lately it’s usually on a book I’ve bought because I wanted to buy it to support an author and therefore I try my best to get through it. Obviously, not every book, including mine!, is for every reader. I try to buy at least an ebook for every author I know or whose work I generally enjoy.

Much, much more difficult for me is when I find a book that I was really excited to read because I picked it, because someone recommended it and it sounded exactly up my alley. You know that book, right? You hoard the idea of that book in your heart and you bide your time waiting for the right moment to read it. You settle in with your cup of tea and your snack and you blanket and your cat, and you start to read and . . . Eeeek. It’s okay. Or it’s awful. Or it’s not bad, but it’s not GREAT. I always read those far longer than I should, because I don’t want to let my disappointment color my thinking. Sometimes the writing is brilliant and the concept just doesn’t live up to it, or sometimes the concept is brilliant and the book just missed the opportunities. That’s heartbreaking. HEARTBREAKING. There was a day when I wouldn’t quit reading even then. I’d just slog through my disappointment. Now, I’d rather just part company and keep looking for the books I truly, truly, truly love. There are so many great ones out there!

As for what makes me DNF a book? The above aside, the one thing that’s guaranteed to make me DNF is a story laced with plot holes.

Erin Cashman: I'm in two book groups, which is great, because I read books I would not normally pick, and often love them. I used to finish everything, even if the book became a chore. Now, I give a book fifty pages. If after 50 pages, I'm not looking forward to picking the book up again, I don't. I love a gorgeous setting and well developed characters, but I need to be swept up in a story. I'll overlook some flat writing or dialogue, an undeveloped or unforgettable minor character, but the story has to captivate me for me to keep reading. If it's an author that I love, I will read more of the book before calling it a DNF. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling was one of those books. I was confused when I first started it, but once I sat and read the first 50 pages in one sitting, the characters all became very distinctive, and I loved the book.

Lisa Green: I am definitely ADD and admit I stop reading pretty quickly unless it's a strong recommendation from a trusted friend.

Katharyn Sinelli: Probably the biggest reason I don't finish a book is because I get distracted by another bright and shiny one. Disingenuous dialogue can be off-putting, unless the author has really taken the time to get me invested in the characters. Then I'll buy into a bit of schmaltz.

YOUR TURN: What makes you DNF a book? How long will you try a book before you give up on it?


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37. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 8

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book lists, growing bookworms, ebooks, apps, KidLitCon, Cybils, reading, schools, libraries, and summer reading.

Books and Authors

I can't believe that people are protesting The Scarecrows' Wedding b/c the bad guy smokes http://ow.ly/zYVlU via @bkshelvesofdoom

Children’s Lit Questions From Beyond the Grave: A Wild Things! Interview of @SevenImp + @FuseEight by @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zZ2fS

Book Lists

es! RT @BookChook: @JensBookPage Think u wd like: @BooksBabiesBows Ten Reasons to Read Aloud During Times of Tragedy http://www.booksbabiesandbows.com/2014/06/ten-reasons-to-read-aloud-during-times.html?spref=tw …

New Stacked #BookList and general thoughts from Kimberly on Matriarchal Societies http://ow.ly/zZ2a2 #yalit

Stacked: Get Genrefied: Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi) http://ow.ly/zVYbo #yalit @catagator #BookList

Top Ten Novels in Verse by @katiestrawser @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zTWpJ #kidlit

THIS is a great resource | Easy Reader Books That Are Actually Easy, selected by @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/zVXDe

Nice list of Back to School Books for different ages from @bankstreetedu http://ow.ly/zTSEw via @ChoiceLiteracy

Children's and YA books featuring unlikely friendships from the SSHEL #Library http://ow.ly/zRc5C #BookList

5 Superhero Comics with Girl Power | Friday’s Five @5M4B http://ow.ly/zRbP1

25 Contemporary Picture Books To Help Parents, Teachers, And Kids Talk About #Diversity @buzzfeed http://ow.ly/A1RrK via @FuseEight

eBooks and Apps

Eight Apps to Support Early Reading and Writing | Cool Tools @ShiftTheDigital http://ow.ly/zZv6r

Important thoughts from @MaryAnnScheuer | Reading Online: How will it affect developing readers? http://ow.ly/zZ0ED

Smartphones: The Silent Killer Of The Web As You Know It @ow at The Next Web via @cmirabile http://ow.ly/zRkWL

Growing Bookworms

Great advice from @TrevorHCairney | Helping toddlers to develop reading comprehension http://ow.ly/zVXip #literacy

#RT @ReadAloud_org Babies are born learning and parents are a child's first and most important teacher. Download our 15 Books & Tips http://www2.readaloud.org/15ReadAloudTips

Raising Readers: The Power of Rereading from @SunlitPages http://ow.ly/zZ37Y #literacy

10 easy tips for keeping the love of books alive in an early childhood classroom | @NorahColvin http://ow.ly/zYW43

Kidlitosphere

On Poetry Friday, @JoneMac53 has A Couple of Announcements about #KidLitCon + the call for #Cybils judges http://ow.ly/zRdZ3

Various interesting #kidlit tidbits in: Morning Notes: See You in 2114 Edition — @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/A56VN

Kidlit PictureRT @KidLitCon: Check out some of the people who will be at this year's #KidLitCon. Will you be there, too? http://t.co/pk1Xzlpcpw

A #Kidlitcon program teaser @charlotteslib (+a note that the deadline for panel ideas has been extended a week) http://ow.ly/zTWrA

Congratulations to @FuseEight + @SevenImp on the publication of Wild Things! Lots of fun stuff planned http://ow.ly/zYXuu

At A Year of Reading, @MaryLeeHahn + @frankisibberson are Celebrating the fabulous @KateMessner http://ow.ly/zRcCR

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

"Being readers makes us friends" | Happy Esther Day, Nerdy Friends! | @CBethM @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zTVLN

Gorgeous post on The State of Photography Illustration in 2014 @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zRewm #kidlit

Interesting: Wikipedia, Amelia Bedelia, and Our Responsibility Regarding Online Sources — @fuseeight http://ow.ly/zRd6s

Programs and Research

New @RalphLauren program has designs to promote kids' #Literacy, 25% of price goes to @ReachOutAndRead http://ow.ly/zYSvJ @Scholastic

Very nice, from SFC Blog: The Y Helps Kids Combat ‘Summer Slide’ http://ow.ly/A1QVQ via @FuseEight #literacy

Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain, more important than class time | @NPR http://ow.ly/A5lT5  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Schools and Libraries

Love it! A Librarian's Guide to getting to 10,000 Steps in a day from @abbylibrarian http://ow.ly/zTWjU

TEN TIPS FOR A PERFECT AUTHOR VISIT at school by Michael Shoulders | @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zYWTv #kidlit

Nice idea to encourage reading outside of class | The Phenomenon of the 100 Page Club @stephaseverson @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zVXYK

Summer Reading

Rocking #SummerReading and STEAM @RIFWEB http://ow.ly/A56jG

#SummerReading Tip36 @aliposner | As we head into August, take a moment to reflect on your kids’ reading lives | http://ow.ly/zTW4c

#SummerReading Tip37 @aliposner | When in transit to your destination this summer, establish some no technology time http://ow.ly/zTWgh

#SummerReading Tip38 @aliposner | Parents of boys, pay special attention to your boys’ reading this summer http://ow.ly/zZ2QI

#SummerReading Tip39 @aliposner | Consider motivating summer reading with some great graphic novels! http://ow.ly/A2GJN

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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38. Reading makes you smart!


Reading makes you smart!  I thought to try to make this page in the style of Mary Blair.  Photoshop seems to avail itself to spare blocks of color.

John Nez
www.johnnez.com

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39. Monday Mishmash 8/4/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Into the Fire SWAG  I have awesome swag for Into the Fire! I'm loving the fire pendants and phoenix buttons. Check them out. Watch for a giveaway soon since the book releases on September 9th!

  2. Free Monthly Newsletter  My newsletter goes out this evening. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
  3. Blog Tour Posts  I'm getting all my blog tour posts for Into the Fire together this week. Thank you to everyone who signed up for the tour. If you tried to sign up and were told the schedule was full, feel free to contact me. We can still set something up separate from the tour.
  4. Reading  I've been a little LOT stressed lately with the construction on my house. I'm coping by reading.
  5. Leap Books Editor  I'm so excited to be part of the editorial team at Leap Books. I'll be editing for all three of their imprints! I couldn't be happier about it. If you missed the big announcement about the new direction of Leap Books on August 1st, you can read it here. If you're interested in submitting to Leap Books (I'm not the acquisitions editor.), you can find their guidelines here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?


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40. The Boys in the Boat Book Review

Title: The Boys in the Boat Author: Daniel James Brown Publisher: Viking Publication Date: June 4, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0670025817 416 pp. Reading copy via local library If you're looking for a historical nonfiction title that will appeal to teens as well as adults, then The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the one. Don't let the subtitle, "Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold

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41. June Bug reads a page-turner! Amy Huntington

http://www.amyhuntington.blogspot.com

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42. "Reading" sketches

Here are a few rough sketches I recently blogged, which fall under this month's theme of READING.


Storytime




Pictures by June Goulding

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43. August is for Readers

Animalogy by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison
August's theme is READING. Here's an image from Animalogy with a family reading by the campfire. This was my first book for Sylvan Dell Publishing, now Arbordale Publishing and I'm starting my eighth one now. And it's going to be another book by Marianne Berkes. Happy reading!

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44. Writings and paintings

This passage from Kate Rundell's gorgeous Rooftoppers always makes me think of an impressionistic painting:


Paris lay still below them. From where Sophie stood, with both her hands wrapped round the neck of a carved saint, it was a mass of silver, except where the river shone a rusty-gold colour in the lamplight. (p.224)

The way she adds the 'rusty-gold' to the 'mass of silver' - what a lovely contrast of warm and cold metals... and look at those tiny yellow specks from 'the lamplight', which you can just see, can't you, on the surface of the Seine? 

I love the fact that it's a child seeing all this from above, from a place that people generally don't go to, and that she's there with her arms hugging a stern, stone figure - as if trying to give it the affection it's never had. For me, it's this painting:

Gustave Caillebotte, Rue Halévy (1878)

Stories almost never unfold in my head like films when I read, but I do sometimes 'see' static images - paintings, photographs - often specific styles or artistic currents. Sometimes it's the other way around: I'm reminded of a book when I look at a work of art. The other day I went to Madrid for the first time, and I saw in the huge and wonderful Prado museum this well-known triptych by Bosch:

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490?)
Immediately I was reminded - of course in part because I'd just read it - of J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm, with its grotesque gallery of monstrous protagonists and torture scenes:

charming
But also, one little detail called back to my mind a similarly gripping summer read from years ago I'd almost entirely forgotten, Michael Connelly's A Darkness More Than Night... A Harry Bosch adventure, not coincidentally:

it's a story full of Boschian owls, that's all I can remember...
Now Galbraith and Connelly are linked in my mind as inextricably as Rundell and Caillebotte.

Generally, it happens with very famous rather than obscure works of art, perhaps because those tend to stick in one's head more. In children's literature, here are other associations, personal and therefore not always logical, though some are much more obvious than others:

Lois Lowry's The Giver and the 1956 French film The Red Balloon
Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses and Norman Rockwell's 'The Problem We All Live With' (1964)


Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon is Anselm Kiefer all the way. Anne Fine's The Tulip Touch is this Edward Hopper...:

yep, it's the Bates Motel, too... not a coincidence, I'm sure.

I didn't like Neil Gaiman's Coraline very much (sorry), but it was Louise Bourgeois's 'Maman' spiders:


Some authors make explicit reference to paintings, films or other visual art forms, like Marcus Sedgwick in Midwinterblood. I love that - I love looking up the works of art mentioned in books, especially when I have no clue what they are and it throws a completely new light on the text. Some painters, some paintings and some movements seem to crystallise writers' attention. Da Vinci, of course, but also the Surrealists in general, it seems.

Similarly, when I write, I never really picture my characters in my head, but there's always a lot of colours, and many static images, like paintings or stills from films or photographs. Fun adventure stories, whether I write them or read them, look quite like Sonia Delaunay's circles and spirals:

Pippi Longstocking!
Is it a kind of synaesthesia? Not sure, it's not automatic - it only happens with some books, and some paintings or works of art. It also depends hugely on what I've just read or seen, and in which contexts. Does that happen to you too? With which texts and which images? 
_____________________________________

Clementine Beauvais writes children's books in French and English. The former are of all kinds and shapes, and the latter humour/adventure series - the Sesame Seade mysteries with Hodder, the Holy-Moly Holiday series with Bloomsbury. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.

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45. BWFBC: Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt/Carol (1952)

Welcome to July’s Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club in which we discuss Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt/Carol. It’s original title was The Price of Salt and that’s what some editions in the US still call it. In Australia and the UK it’s called Carol. That’s how I think of it because that’s the edition I first read and fell in love with in my early twenties.

This is the first book we’ve discussed that one of us knows really well. I’m a huge Highsmith fan. Have read everything she’s published as well as all the biographies and memoirs of her I can find. So this discussion is a little different from the previous ones.

Because the book was originally published as a hardcover but did not take off until the paperback edition came out1 I thought it would be fun for you to see the different covers. Quite the difference, eh? From what I’ve been able to figure out it was that second version that sold the most copies. At least one of the dates in the image bleow is wrong. The hardcover version of Price of Salt was first published in 1952, not 1951.



Note: in the discussion below my information about the original publication of the book and how many copies it sold comes from Patricia Highsmith’s 1989 afterword which is now included in most reprints of the book. She says almost a million copies. As you can see some of the paperback covers above claim only half a million.

One last thing: apparently Todd Haynes is currently directing Cate Blanchett in a movie version to be called Carol. Yes, I’m excited.

For the discussion on Twitter we’ll be using the hashtag #BWFBC. You can also join the conversation in the comments below.

If you haven’t read Price of Salt/Carol yet there are many spoilers below.

And here at last is our take on this bloody brilliant book:

JL: This is my third or fourth read so I’d really like to hear your take on it first. Very curious to know what you thought.

KE: I’m about a third through.

I think it is quite well written. And I’m really impressed by how she captures Therese’s stunned attraction. Also, something about Highsmith’s point of view is so interesting to me and I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. Maybe because the situation doesn’t feel as desperate as some of the other books where we can tell from the subject matter and the tone that a dire fate awaits the women characters. This isn’t precisely a comedy, but it is a book in which there is a fragile sense that a woman can contribute to her own destiny? That she has a hope of happiness and success of a kind? Does that make sense?

I’m enjoying it. The initial phone call exchange where Carol rings up and realizes who it is who called her is brilliant.

JL: Yes to all of that. Except that I think Highsmith is a genius and her writing perfect.

The pov is deeply strange. It verges on omniscient.

The description of Therese’s desire, love, obsession is remarkable. Every time I read it I’m absolutely desperate for them to kiss already. WHY AREN’T YOU BOTH KISSING ALREADY?! And I do mean kissing. They barely so much as hold hands for most of the book. Sexual tension = this book.

I can’t help thinking how disappointed the 1950s straight men who read lesbian pulps for the titilation must’ve been with this book and how beyond delighted the lesbians must have been to discover it. No wonder it was an underground hit.

Have you finished yet? Didn’t want to write more of my thought until you’ve finished.

I will say this one thing since it’s clear that Richard is like this early on. I’m struck by how in every single novel we’ve looked at there’s a guy who will not take no for an answer and who pathologises the woman for her refusal to marry him/be with him.

KE: Yes. Richard doesn’t seem bad at first but then it turns out he’s awful. Dannie is better because of he isn’t bothered (seemingly) by the revelation that Therese has had an affair with Carol, and because he genuinely does seem like a person who will not demand.

The man who won’t take no for an answer is a familiar and comfortable trope, still present today in guises that make such a man seem worthy and attractive, but in all these novels the writers simply skewer that notion.

JL: It’s lovely to see that revulsion at that guy is not a recent development. He’s been loathed for much longer than either of us has been alive. And yay for that! Now if only we could get him to go away forever.

I just reread Malinda Lo’s review of the book. I was really struck by how weird I found it that she saw it as a love at first sight novel. I didn’t read it that way at all. I mean Carol doesn’t even realise that it was Therese at first she thought it was some guy who served her that day. Carol pretty clearly isn’t immediately attracted to Therese it’s more of a slow burn. The falling in love is even a slower burn. I feel like Carole doesn’t even take Therese seriously until she realises that she’s a set designer.

Therese is very much attracted straight away. But that’s not love at first sight that’s lust at first sight which I’ve never found hard to buy at all.

Your thoughts?

KE: I absolutely read it as Therese falling in love at first sight. Carol feels the attraction but, I think, is mature and experienced enough to be amused by it because she knows what it is.

But I simply can’t agree that it is lust at first sight.

JL: Wow. I think I have a totally different understanding of what love at first sight as a narrative device is compared to you and Malinda. Because I really disagree. I’ve always seen it at as something that happens to both in the pairing—a la Twilight or Tristan and Isolde. They might struggle against it but they both feel it. A narrative in which only one person is into the other is not a love at first sight narrative.

Carol definitely does not feel it. She doesn’t even remember who Therese is at first and if Therese hadn’t contacted her Carol would never have thought of her again.

Therese feels an attraction—I think it’s lust—that she doesn’t quite make sense of until she sees Carol a few more times. But, yeah, I think her immediate attraction to Carol is physical. And that she lets herself understand it as something more romantic because she doesn’t quite have the means to understand being attracted to a woman. It’s part of what she tries to talk to idiot Richard about when she asks him if he’s ever been attracted to a man. So, yeah, I definitely feel the attraction is instant but the love comes later.

I don’t read Therese as truly being in love with Carol or even truly understanding Carol until the very end of the novel when she’s wowed by Carol’s bravery in deciding to be with Therese even though it means she’s going to lose her daughter.

One of the many things I adore about this novel is that it shows the reader Therese and Carol getting to know each other fairly slowly and falling in love fairly slowly. Therese learns that Carol is not, in fact, who she thought she was.

KE: Therese is so sure of herself and how these feelings permeate her. I think it’s beautifully written in capturing the sense of floating and surety. Besides the really good writing I think what I love most about this book is that Therese never questions herself, never hates herself for having what most people at that time (and too many even now) considered “unnatural” feelings. The power of the emotion that hits her is so strong that she simply accepts it in a way that might typically be written in a heterosexual romance of the time (and still today). There’s no agonizing forr her, it’s Cupid’s arrow straight between the eyes. I love that. Although over the course of the novel Therese slowly comes to realize what it means for her and Carol in terms of society’s disapprobation and the real threat it poses to both of them for different reasons.

JL: Here we can agree. (Though I think Cupid fires lust darts, not love.) I adored Therese’s surety about her own desires too. And it’s a huge part of why it sold almost a million copies in paperback and caused so many lesbians and gay men to write to Highsmith about the novel. Here was a story where a woman falls in love with another woman without believing that she’s deranged or infantile or any of the things that awful Richard acuses her of being. Here’s a story in which the lovers get to be together at the end.

KE: So, yes, put me firmly in the love at first sight camp.

Carol’s is a slower burn but I read that in part as caution and, as you say, in part that at first she seems to find Therese more amusing (and maybe a little flattering) than anything.

(Very true about Cupid. My bad.)

JL: If she’s a slow burner than how on earth is it love at first sight?! That makes no sense! I read it as Carol being depressed. Her ex is awful, she’s just broken up with her best friend, her daughter’s with her awful ex, she has a housekeeper she doesn’t trust, she has no job to distract her. So, yes, as you say she’s enjoying the flattery of Therese’s crush on her but doesn’t take it seriously beyond that. She’s certainly not imagining them living together. Pretty much until they go on the road trip Carol tries to encourage Therese to stick with her odious boyfriend.

KE: The set design does change Carol’s view of her. I wonder if you have any thoughts in how Carol reacts (with the negative criticism)? It could be seen as a compliment (I’m being honest) or as a little more passive aggressive. Or some other option. It’s interesting though.

JL: For me that’s the first moment Carol starts to really see Therese and not just the flattery of this pretty young thing having a crush on her.

I read her criticism as part of Carol’s general discomfort. Carol’s up against so much that she’s not talking about. Two break ups in a row. She’s constantly kind of on edge and irritable and I see the picking at Therese’s designs as another part of that. She spends a lot of time trying to push Therese away. And there’s a lot of weirdness around her break up with Abby and Abby’s interaction with Therese. I also think she’s a bit freaked out by her growing feelings for Therese and the ramifications for Carol. She is, as you say, much more aware of the consequences of being a lesbian in the 1950s in the USA than Therese is.

I’m coming out of YA where there’s a metric tonne of love at first sight in the sense I mean it. In the fairy tale sense. And YA is where Malinda is from as well which is how I read her as responding to the book: “Oh, God, not that awful trope again.” Whereas I think this novel is SO not that trope.

However, I still don’t see Therese as instantly in love. Intrigued and crushing, yes. Full of desire, yes. In love? No. I also see a very slight amount of omniscience in the narrator. Through those eyes I feel like the novel is very lightly mocking—mocking is too strong a word—Therese’s growing obsession with Carol. But there’s a definite feel of someone much older telling the tale of this nineteen year old’s first real experience with love.

KE: If you are defining “love at first sight” as necessarily mutual, then no it isn’t. But I’ve never defined it as having to be mutual.

In Carol’s case, she even says toward the end that she went over to Therese in the department store because she was the least busy, and not wearing a smock.

JL: I don’t think either of them really start to fall all the way in love with each other until the road trip when they get to know each other and discover they have great chemistry in bed.

KE: Nah. I just disagree. Therese is in love from the get-go, although I should specify that I think of it as infatuation-love rather than love-love, if that makes sense. But it is not just lust. The emotion made Therese stronger and more sure of herself. Lust (to my mind) doesn’t create the same grounding.

JL: It’s lust with romantic longings. That ain’t what I call love. I do not call infatuation love. I call love what you’re calling love-love. So I think we’re agreeing but we have definitional disagreements. Frankly I don’t believe in love at first sight. I believe in lust at first sight, infatuation at first sight, but not love. Love takes time. You can’t love someone if you don’t know them.

KE: I should note that I myself am skeptical about the idea of love at first sight. On a personal note I actually have a statement about “love at first sight” in my forthcoming YA fantasy novel, in which a father tells his daughter about the first time he saw her mother. He emphatically does not believe in “love at first sight” and then describes what pretty much what in any book would be “love at first sight.”

I should also note that from my own experience I know that “instant attraction” (sometimes sexual but often a more intangible quality that is an instinctive “connection” between two people) does exist but I have experienced it with both men and women. It always startles me when I instantly like and feel drawn to someone (even as I know I don’t really know them, but something sparks that connection and I am sure I have no idea what it is).

JL: Yes to all of that.

KE: I’m enjoying your analysis of Carol. I think in this case that is a perspective that can’t be gained from a single reading of the novel but only from a re-read.

JL: It is true *cough* that this is at least my fourth read of this novel. It fascinated me because it is so not like Highsmith’s other books yet at the same I can see so many places where it could take a turn into Highsmith territory. Like when awful ex, Harge, shows up, there’s a moment where either Therese or Carol could plausibly have killed him. The fact that Carol brings a gun on the road trip and it never goes off! If this were a regular Highsmith Carol could have wound up killing that detective.

KE: Yes, I recognized the business with the gun and felt it was, perhaps, a tip of the hat to her thrillers? I was pretty sure it would not go off because the tone of the story wasn’t right for it, but it was a reminder that the entire narrative could have taken a far darker turn.

JL: Oh, I like that interpretation. Hadn’t occurred to me. It’s just the sort of thing Highsmith would do too.

KE: What’s interesting is that I think the story may have been far more important to readers because it did not take that dark turn.

JL: Absolutely!

KE: The ending is brilliant and adorable, and the cinematic romantic in me is just beaming because it is so sweet and yet somehow Highsmith pulls it off without making it saccharine; she makes you want it.

JL: The first time I read it I cried. Sobbed my heart out with joy. Not just because it’s a (relatively) happy ending but because they’re both now in a place and the novel takes place over at least a year and a half where they’re right for each other, mature enough for each other, and brave enough for each other. *sniff*

KE: I must say that I did feel a pinch of anger at Therese for that business of “she choose Rindy over me” because I’m a mother and so I entirely empathize with Carol’s situation. Having said that, Highsmith has carefully set up that Therese has no reason to understand “motherly love” as she never got any and, in fact, was herself discarded when her mother chose her second husband over Therese. So it makes psychological sense.

JL: Oh, sure. I also think it’s meant to be a bit appalling. Even without her awful background Therese is still very young. It’s a very young person’s selfish thought.

KE: So while Therese’s story ends well, Carol’s remains filled with a combination of triumph and heartbreak, very bittersweet. In my fanfic, Rindy will start writing secret letters to her mother and then, as 16, will start seeing her mother secretly and, at 18, tell her father where to go.

JL: That’s hilarious. I was going to tell you that I imagine Rindy constantly running away from her dad until he finally gives in and lets her go live with Carol and Therese. He won’t mind because he’s found himself another trophy wife and had more children. And Rindy’s proven herself to be too much trouble.

But, yes, my heart breaks for Carol.

One of the lovely things at the end of the book is that we finally get to see Carol without all those weights on her. She knows, at last, where she stands with her ex, she’s lost custody of her daughter. She doesn’t have to hide. She doesn’t have to pretend anymore. That brittleness about her is gone.

KE: The only thing that mitigates my annoyance with the plot device of Carol having to lose her child in order to be “free” (very dicey plot device, that one) is that I know that legally it would and could have happened in that way. But in this particular case the plot line of a mother losing her child always comes across to me as traumatic.

JL: It happened to a close family friend in the 1970s. Lesbian mothers didn’t start winning custody battles til later in that decade. At least not in Australia and I bet it was just as bad in the US. So I never thought of that as a plot device but rather as absolutely what would have happened. Because that’s what did happen. Sometimes still does happen.

I also think is clear Carol doesn’t see losing Rindy as making her free. She’s clearly heartbroken. But in the choice between denying who she is to people who hate her and won’t to keep her from her daughter and will use any excuse to do so she chooses love with Therese.

KE: I’ve thought a bit more about this and I realize that in fact Carol doesn’t read to me as heartbroken and in fact her relationship with Rindy never felt true to me; it is the one thing in the book that doesn’t ring true to me. It feels obligatory but not emotionally authentic. So it isn’t the plot device that didn’t work for me — the legal aspect — it’s that I never quite believed in the mother/daughter relationship as depicted between them so that it came across as a plot device rather than something I truly cared about because I never (as a reader) invested in the Carol/Rindy relationship. All the other relationships felt true to me, even the minor ones like Mrs Robichek.

JL: Again I disagree. One of the things I’ve noticed on rereads is that Therese is not a reliable narrator though she absolutely strives to be one (which is a key distinction between kinds of unreliable narrators). but everything about Carol is filtered through her gaze. Therese does not give a shit about Rindy. She doesn’t much ask about Rindy except in a pro forma way. So Carol doesn’t much talk about Rindy with Therese. Yet even so she’s there haunting the entire book and a huge part of Carol’s grief and brittleness. When letters arrive Carol always reads Rindy’s first. And Therese is puzzled by that. To me that was a huge tell that Therese just doesn’t get Carol’s love for her daughter.

KE: If that is the case, and I think you make a compelling argument about something that might not be as obvious EXCEPT on a re-read, then there’s a second layer to all this in that Therese essentially acts as did the second husband for whom her mother discarded her. It would be interesting to think about how and what it means that, as an abandoned child, she can’t (yet) empathize with a girl about to be separated from her mother.

I wanted to make a brief mention of how brilliantly Highsmith uses excerpts from letters. She’s such a skilled writer, and it’s interesting to see how the narrative voice differs from the voices displayed in the letters (naturally, but it’s not easy to do).

JL: As I have now mentioned multiple times I am a huge fan. Can I admit now that you’re initial comment that Highsmith writes “quite well” had me fuming? Yay, that you saw the light. :-)

KE: Justine, “quite well” is a huge compliment from me. I don’t gush much. If I say, “that was a good book” it is strong praise.

JL: Weirdo.

KE: Probably!

There is a period of several chapters where Therese does a cascade of “growing up” that turns her into a person of budding maturity and—quite the most interesting to me—a woman with determined goals and a sense of herself. She is a woman who will succeed and also be true to herself (in many different facets of her life). Wow. What a fabulous emotion to leave the reader with.

JL: Yes to all of this. I too think that was beautifully done, which I guess is pretty obvious given how many times I’ve read it.

KE: I would like to hear more about the context of this book’s bestsellerdom because I confess it surprised me that a book with this content would have been a bestseller in 1952. I’m not surprised people wrote to Highsmith. Again, I can’t express enough how unusual it is EVEN TODAY but especially then to read a lovely story like this in which her sexual coming out (if I may use that term) is depicted so positively, and sexily. And without any need to ever have Therese question, doubt, dislike, or try to “change” herself.

JL: It may not be technically a bestseller. But it did sell close to a million copies and it was one of the bestselling lesbian pulp paperbacks of the 1950s. It did not do well in its original printing in hardcover though it got some nice reviews including from the NYT. But it’s real impact was in paperback.

Those lesbian pulps were mainly aimed at titilating straight male readers but many lesbians also read them and I’m pretty sure this novel would have stood out like a sore thumb. It became a novel that was passed around by lesbians and by which they could recognise each other. Marijane Meaker (M. E. Kerr) was one of Highsmith’s lovers and talks about the book’s impact in her 2003 memoir about her relationship with Highsmith:

Pat was revered [in the lesbian community] for her pseudonymous novel, The Price of Salt, which had been published in 1952 by Coward McCann. It was for many years the only lesbian novel, in either hard or soft cover, with a happy ending.

It stood on every lesbian bookshelf along with classics like The Well of Loneliness; We, Too, Are Drifting; Diana; and Olivia.

KE: The book dragged for me a little in the middle, mostly because I was waiting for dragons or ninjas to appear and they never did. But the ending is really masterfully written.

JL: You do realise that there will be no dragons or ninjas in any of the books we’re looking at, right?

KE: WHAT?!?!?

So glad you had us read this one! I’d never even heard of it. But then again, because of the lack of dragons and ninjas and sword fighting, I tend not to have heard of a lot of mainstream fiction.

  1. Pun intentional.

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46. I Couldn’t Help it, the Words, They Made Me

I read a review in the Los Angeles Review of Books the other day about a collection of essays called Xylotheque by Yelizaveta P. Renfro. I had no idea what xylotheque meant and I had never heard of the author before but before I even got to the part of the review that began to explain the title I had already decided I was going to buy the book. Why? I had no idea what the book was about, I still don’t really because I never actually finished reading the review, but the reviewer hit so many key words and phrases that had my synapses buzzing I had to have the book.

What had me so worked up? Let’s make a list!

  • lyrical essays
  • borderland between prose and poetry
  • sure-footed in their gamboling
  • revel in the gap between knowing and unknowing
  • provoking meditation

I was caught hook, line, and sinker. The book is now sitting next to me on my reading table and I still don’t know what it is about. for the record though, xylotheque is a collection of wood.

Then I got to thinking about other words that pop up in reviews that make me pay attention and want to read a book. And that led to words that make me not want to read a book. The words on both lists aren’t always the same (sometimes they might change lists depending on my mood) and they aren’t even words I would necessarily use when describing a book, but they are words that trigger a reaction in me when someone else writes them.

For future reference, if you are writing about a book and want me to read it, these words will serve you well:

  • thought-provoking
  • provocative
  • meditative
  • lyrical
  • complex/difficult/challenging
  • quirky
  • unusual/different
  • darkly funny
  • mind-blowing

Also, if anyone ever calls a book a good mind-fuck I will squeal in delight. I love it when a book messes with my head and such a description is so rarely encountered even when expressed less crudely that I will pretty nearly come close to dropping everything to read that book. Unless it is horror. When messing with my head turns into nightmares, won’t go there.

Words describing a book that usually turn me off wanting to read it:

  • cozy
  • simple
  • part of a series (I will sometimes make exceptions for this)
  • romantic
  • in the style of *famous author* (unless you say “this book could be the love child of Virginia Woolf and David Foster Wallace” or something equally as odd, then you’ll have my interest)
  • if you liked X then you will like Y (though it is ok to say “this book reminded a little bit of X”)

Hmm, I thought the turn off list would be longer. I will very likely think of more words for it after I click the “publish” button.

So what about you? What words trigger an “OMG I have to read this!” reaction in you and what words immediately convince you a particular book is not for you?


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47. Confession




classic-winnie-the-pooh 4_720x960

I do not want to read books written for teens.  I do not want to read new books.  I want to snuggle down with Winnie-the-Pooh and Uncle Wiggily.

 I want to revisit the flood in which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water and the boat made of an overturned umbrella.

I can not get interested in road trips made by fledgling adults, or the struggles of young people whose best friends have all moved away.  I want to to find Goldbug on every page.  I want to meet Anne Shirley again for the first time.

And I want to sail on the pirate ship with Obadiah, the Bold, chant "Not I!" with the dog and the mouse and the cat - or is it a rooster?

It is the waning of summer, a time of nostalgia and I want to go back, go back, go back to the first time I opened Little Men.

This, too, shall passToddlers turn to school children.  Tigers turn to butter and I will turn to new books some time.

But not right now.

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48. Who is My Audience?

On Twitter ages ago N. K. Jemisin asked “*do* white writers want only white readers?”

The immediate, obvious answer for me is: No, I don’t want only white readers. And I’m really glad I don’t have only white readers.

But I’ve not been able to stop thinking about that question. And the shadow question which is “do white writers only write for white readers” regardless of what kind of audience they might want?

In order to respond I need to break it down:

Whiteness

I’m white. That fact has shaped everything about me. I know the moment when I first realised I was white. I was three or four and had just returned from living on an Aboriginal settlement in the Northern Territory. My parents were anthropologists. I was on a bus with my mum in inner-city Sydney when I pointed to a man of possibly Indian heritage and said loudly, “Mummy, look it’s a black man.” My mother was embarrassed, apologised to the man, who was very gracious, and later tried to talk to me about race and racism in terms a littlie could understand.

What happened in that moment was me realising that some people were black and some people were white and that it made a difference to the lives they lived. I’d just spent many months living in the Northern Territory as the only white kid. The fact that I wasn’t black had not been made an issue.1 We played and fought and did all the things that kids do despite my difference. So much so that tiny me had not noticed there was a difference. Despite seeing many instances of that difference being a great deal I wasn’t able to make sense of it till I was living somewhere that was majority white, majority people with my skin colour, and then the penny dropped.

Many white Australians never have a moment of realising that they’re white. That makes sense. Whiteness is everywhere. White Australians see themselves everywhere. Our media is overwhelmingly white, our books are overwhelmingly white. In Australia whiteness is not other; it just is. Whiteness doesn’t have to be explained because it is assumed.

Because whiteness just is, like many other white people, I don’t identify as white. For me whiteness is the box I have to tick off when I fill out certain forms. While it shapes every single day of my life it doesn’t feel like it does. Because what whiteness gives me is largely positive, not negative. My whiteness is not borne home on me every single day. I don’t need to identify as white because, yes, whiteness is a privilege.

When I see a white person talking about “their people” and they mean “white people” I assume they are white supremacists. Anyone talking about saving the white race from extinction is not my people.

For many different reasons I do not think of white people as my people. As a white writer I do not write for white people.

I admit that I have used the phrase “my people.” I’ve used it jokingly to refer to other Australians. Particularly when homesick. Or when someone Australian has done something awesome like Jessica Mauboy singing at Eurovision at which point I will yell: “I love my people!” Or an Australian has done something embarrassing on the world stage: “Oh, my people, why do you fill me with such shame?”

I’ve used “my people” to refer to other passionate readers, to YA writers, to fans of women’s basketball, to Australian cricket fans who like to mock the Australian men’s cricket team and care about women’s cricket, to people who hate chocolate and coffee as much as I do etc.

All of that comes from a place of privilege. I can’t think of a single time in my life when I have been referred to as “you people.” I’ve gotten “you women” or “you feminists” or “you commies”2 or “you wankers” but never “you people.”

White people are rarely asked to speak for their entire race. N. K. Jemisin’s question about white writers writing for white readers is not something that gets asked very often. Meanwhile writers of colour are asked questions like that all the time. They are always assumed to have a people that they’re writing for.

Audience

When I sold my first novel3 I was not thinking about who would read those books. I wasn’t thinking about it when I wrote those books either.4 Frankly I was still over-the-moon ecstatic that they’d sold, that there were going to be novels out there that I wrote! I didn’t get as far as imagining who would read them.

I’ve written stories ever since I was able to write and before then I would tell them to whoever would listen. My first audience was my sister. And, yes, I tailored some of those stories to suit her tastes, adding lots of poo jokes. But, come on, I like(d) poo jokes too. It’s more that I got lucky that my sister liked what I liked.

All my novels are books that, if I hadn’t written them, I would want to read them. I write for myself. I am my main audience.

However.

That all changed when I was published, when my stories found distribution beyond my sister, my parents, friends, teachers.

When I, at last, had an audience and that audience was responding to my novels is when I started thinking about that audience.

When members of my audience started writing to me and I met members of my audience is when I really started thinking about who my audience was and how they would respond to what I had written.

That’s how I know my audience isn’t all white. It’s how I know my audience isn’t all teens. How I know they’re not all women. Not all straight. Not all middle class.

As my books started to be translated I found myself with an audience that isn’t all English speaking.

Discovering how diverse my audience was changed the way I wrote which I have discussed here.

Addressing a White Audience

There is one place where I am addressing a mostly white audience. And that’s on this blog and on Twitter when I’m trying to explain these kinds of complex issues of race to people who haven’t thought much about them before. White people tend to be the people who think the least about race because it affects them the least. So sometimes that’s who I’m consciously addressing.

Writing to an Audience

But white people who are ignorant about racism is never whom I’m consciously addressing when I write my novels.

Even now when I have a better idea of who my audience is I don’t consciously write for them. When I’m writing the first draft of a novel all I’m thinking about is the characters and the story and getting it to work. If I start thinking about what other people will think of it I come to a grinding halt. So I have learned not to do that.

It is only in rewriting that I start thinking about how other people will respond to my words. That’s because when I rewrite I’m literally responding to other people’s thoughts on what I’ve written: comments from my first readers, from my agent, and editors.

My first readers are not always the same people. If I’m writing a book that touches on people/places/genres I have not written before I’ll send the novel to some folks who are knowledgeable about those in the hope that they will call me on my missteps.

Any remaining missteps are entirely my lookout. There are always remaining missteps. I then do what I can to avoid making the same mistakes in the next books I write. And so it goes.

I hope this goes a little of the way towards answering N. K. Jemisin’s question. At least from this one white writer. Thank you for asking it, Nora.

  1. When we returned when I was 8-9 my whiteness made a huge difference.
  2. Many USians think anyone to the left of Genghis Khan is a communist.
  3. First three, actually. The Magic or Madness trilogy was sold on proposal as a three-book deal way back in 2003.
  4. Well not the first two, which were written before the first one was published.

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49. 3 FAB AudioBooks & a poem for Poetry Friday!

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Howdy, Campers!

It's POETRY FRIDAY!
Thanks to Margaret for hosting Poetry Friday today!
(My poem's at the end of this post.)
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Our topic is What are We Reading?  I love this topic...I've learned so much about my blogmates, our readers and books.

Carmela, JoAnn, Jill, Laura and Esther have each checked in about the books they've checked out this summer.

My turn!

Here's what I've read recently:
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green on my Kindle (loved it)
WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride ~ adult book (wonderfully written...but why are adult books so sad?)
TEA WITH GRANDPA written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg ~ (SPOILER ALERT: I've bought copies to give to grandparents who Skype their grandkids)

What I'm currently reading:
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth on my Kindle (not crazy about the writing so far).

But I am CRAZY CAKES for audiobooks.  I live in Southern California, so maybe that explains it.  Or maybe I should say I live in my car in Southern California. :-)

So here is my list of  3 WONDERFUL audiobooks in the order I read them.  And yes, you can say "read them" if you listened to them. Because I said so.

ONE:


Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork, read by Lincoln Hoppe (read a review here)

Lincoln Hoppe is an AMAZING voice actor.  I think I want to marry him.

Hang in there with this audiobook. At first it felt soooo slow...I wasn't sure I was going to keep listening. But, boy, am I glad I did. I mean, wow.

From the Random House website:
"Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary audiobook is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside."

TWO:

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Sam Freed

From Wikipedia:
"Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, published by Clarion Books, is a 2004 historical fiction book by Gary D. Schmidt. The book received the Newbery Honor in 2005 and was selected as a Michael L. Printz Honor that same year. The book was based on a real event. In 1912, the government of Maine put the residents of Malaga Island in a mental hospital and razed their homes."

“Schmidt’s writing is infused with feeling and rich in imagery. With fully developed, memorable characters. . . This novel will leave a powerful impression on readers.” ~ School Library Journal, Starred


THREE:

Okay For Now by Gary D. SchmidtNational Book Award Finalist.  Read by Lincoln Hoppe.  (!)

Here's what the National Book Award website says:
“In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.”

His main character, Doug Swieteck, first appeared in Schmidt’s Newbery Honor book, THE WEDNESDAY WARS.

Listen to an 8 minute NPR on-air interview of Schmidt about OKAY FOR NOW here.

There.  Those are my Fab 3.

What I look forward to listening to next:

~ THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Joel Johnstone. I think I may have this read years ago; I can't wait to listen to it. (I'm inspired by Esther and am reading a string of books by the same author...something I almost never do.  Gary D. Schmidt is a brilliant and deeply affecting writer.)

LISTENING IN THE BACKSEAT
by April Halprin Wayland

Are we twisting,
risking all,

listening to what the writer
wires us,

what the teller
sells us?

Twisting, uncertain,
wheeling...to the final curtain?


Did you know that many folks read books aloud for your listening pleasure on YouTube?  Go to YouTube and search for a book title.  For example, click here for a sampling of folks reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

And...if you know any flat-out beginning picture book writers in the Los Angeles area, my six-week class, Writing Picture Books for Children in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program starts August 6th.  (The student who benefits most from this class has never heard of SCBWI.)

poem and drawing (c)2014 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

posted by April Halprin Wayland...who's amazed that you've read all the way to here.  Thank you. 

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50. Bookhopper


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