Archives for category: Bibliophile

The thing I love most about editing books for authors that aren’t American and aren’t writing about American culture is how much I learn. I learn new phrases. I learn new words. I learn new meanings to words I already knew. I learn about different people and places. And the more I learn, the more enchanted I become with some place I’ve never been.

And, some times, I get that same pleasure just from meeting people online and having conversations with them. Because, who doesn’t want to answer the question, “That phrase you just used? What does it mean?”

*goes into a dark corner and hides away for a while***
I love editing. I really do. And I really love authors who open up a view of the world that is radically different than my own. But sometimes, I read something so horrific that I know I’m going to have nightmares about it. 

I did not enjoy, but at least understood a gritty whipping scene. And although I understand why it’s necessary, I simply cannot stomach this…baby scene. When the author told me he had to take a break after writing this scene, I understand why. 
I know the world is full of evil. But I can’t stop and ponder certain types too long before I want to go on a murdering spree of all the evil men that commit such horrors.

I love this heroine because she can accomplish with courage things that would make me sick. Because, let’s be honest. I’m more like the wet-nurse crying in the corner than I am the brave heroine bringing vengeance and justice.

I’ve been reading a book (not by an author I know), and there hasn’t been much conflict. So, in the midst of yet another romantic scene, I find myself thinking, “Something bad needs to happen soon, or I might quit reading this.” Luckily, it did the very next chapter. But, authors, if you don’t have conflict in your story, it fails to hold interest. And then even stubborn readers like me consider quitting. 

Pardon me while I geek out for a minute.

While I was at the library, I picked up the newest list of Newberry and Caldecott Award books. I am SO excited about what the next couple of years are going to bring.

When I was about Little Frog’s age, my mom got the lists, at that time, and we spent a couple of years tracking down every one of the books and reading them. This is one of the many things that made me a life-long bibliophile. Many of these books became my all-time favorites. And this is one of the leading factors in my desire to be a children’s author and a teacher.

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There comes a point in a book that a statement of truth is made. And it rings through your soul. Ah! It hits you! That’s what you’ve been missing. That’s where you kept mis-stepping. And now you see the light. Now you know what to change. You have learned something and you will never be the same. Your very essence has shifted.
And you look up to share your excitement with your people, and none of them have changed in the last second. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they see how the world has been transformed? Don’t they know that you can see so much more now? Oh, wait, they haven’t read it yet. And even if they do, they probably won’t understand why it’s so important.
I read for lightening moments.

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Where’s the “all of them” option?

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NPR has an excellent article about Dorothy Dunnett. I haven’t read any Dorothy Dunnett, but I shall soon be correcting that mistake. There was one sentence from the article that really caught my attention:

“It really taught me that finely wrought emotional pain can be an exquisite joy for readers, even if they claim it hurts!”

This makes me think that my favorite authors really are readers of Dunnett. Because my favorite authors are masters of exquisite pain. They’re the authors that I’ll read in all-night marathons for days or weeks on end even though I cry through every book. Even though they keep beating the main hero. Even though they keep laying the heroine bare. Even though death is always an option. I keep reading them over and over again. Devouring page after page, like I have no idea what the outcome will be, even though I’ve read the entire series dozens or hundreds of times. Exquisite pain.

I am one of the people that uses books to escape the reality of every day life. Because life is hard and painful and unfair and cold. So why would I chose to escape into a world where life is harder, more painful, more unfair, and even colder? Because the chapter is not finished until the hero wins. Because the book is not closed until the heroine conquers all. Because the series is not over until love has vanquished death. And, sometimes, that simple reassurance that all will be made right in the end…that’s exactly what I need to make it through the hard, painful, unfair, cold days.

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I love opening a new book from an author. Especially if it’s a Universe I haven’t read yet. What will I see I click on that title? Will it be a grand adventure? A epic quest? A thrilling chase for the truth? A series of unfortunate events or a comedy of errors? Will I discover some great truth about myself or humanity or our universe? Which character will I become? What character will I totally fall in love with? What character will I love to hate? And what character will remind me of why I love our crazy, messy world?

There is nothing like diving into a new universe, coming up for air days later, and realizing that you’ve been changed, even if the rest of the world doesn’t realize it yet. This is why I read.