The door flew open and a hulking figure lurched into the room. It stopped, glared at me, then lumbered to the bookshelf, grabbed a small volume, ripped out a page, wadded it up and swallowed it whole. “Good book,” it belched as it left the room.
What makes a “good book?” Unlike the figure described in the nightmare above, “devouring” a book does not have to be literal, but it should hold your attention long enough to finish the book. To me, the key requirement for a “good book” is that I care about at least one of the major characters. I have been known to read a book others might consider boring, looking in vain for that one character who deserves some degree of sympathy.
In junior high (now known as “middle school” where I live), our English teacher made a practice of reading to us each day. I still remember her reading Kon Tiki to us and I can still hear her voice when I say the title.
In high school, our daring and handsome young English teacher read Raise High the Roof Beam. I would not have read J.D. Salinger without that introduction.
When my son was two years old, he became fascinated with “funches”. We weren’t quite sure what a “funch” was until we visited a book store that had a wonderful display of children’s books featuring “funches.” (That’s right, Fire Engines.) Of course we bought the book.
Not too long ago, I read a YA (young adult) novel featuring the youngest son of a family of seven boys growing up in Eastern Washington State. It was set around the time of the War in Vietnam. I did read it in one day. The next morning, my first waking thoughts were of the main character. I found myself thinking about him, hoping that he had had a good life. It took me a minute to realize I was thinking about a fictional character, not a live human being. That is powerful writing.
Just a nice sunset. Nothing to do with this post! Some of my books.
Our son and daughter-in-law have lived halfway around the world from us for the last four years. We have been fortunate enough to visit them (once), and very happy to have them visit us at least once each year. They will be moving back to the U.S. very soon. At last, we will all be living on the same continent. As a result of this experience, I have begun to accept that the cell phone and “texting” do serve a purpose, even in my life. I am truly amazed at how easy it is to stay in touch with someone halfway around the world, even if it is through texting dialect!
I have also caved on my initial reluctance to use an e-reader. In my case it was the result of a Kindle I received as a Christmas gift. I have a tendency to read mystery novels the way some people eat popcorn. I justified my addiction by donating the lightly read paperbacks to the local library. Unfortunately, the library will receive fewer book donations from me since the arrival of the Kindle.
My “mystery” reading has focused on mystery series. I take note of how the author handles the “information dump” with the books following the initial book of the series. I’ve also focused on how different authors deal with character development. It is fun and informative. I’ve also researched children’s books. I particularly enjoyed An Elk Dropped In by Andreas Steinhofel, illustrated by Kersin Meyer and The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed. Both are beautiful books, offbeat in their approach.
Since my last post, I have been busy writing a series of chapter books. I have four manuscripts so far and have been looking for a publisher. I have heard it takes longer to find a publisher than it does to write a book. I hope that is not entirely true. I know I will eventually find a publisher who loves the characters and their stories as much as I do.
Benicia Community Garden July 2013
Recently we have spent some time in Benicia on the California Coast. It was the first capitol of California – for one year. They have an amazing community garden in this small town. Here’s a picture.