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Posts Tagged ‘Literature

Neil Gaiman On Reading and My Two Cents

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I was making my usual rounds on the Huffington Post when I saw this link to an article about why author Neil Gaiman thinks reading is important for the future. The article is lengthy, but thought-provoking.

As an avid reader and aspiring author, I agree with every word Gaiman said. The only thing that would impress me more is if Gaiman turned this lecture into a fantasy novel. However, I want to add a few things.

First, fiction is not the only genre that can impact a reader.

As they get older, kids get exposed to other things and have to read non-fiction. If they have to do a paper on their favorite author, then they will have to read biographies or autobiographies.

If a reader enjoys an author’s work enough to read the author’s  biography or autobiography, then the reader might appreciate the author’s work even more. The same thing can apply if you read a biography or autobiography about any creative or innovative person.

By reading more about certain people, you can learn to appreciate certain aspects of life more or want to do something to improve it.

Secondly, reading fiction has a special message for some readers. That message is, “You are not alone.”

One of the worse things that you can feel is that you’re only person experiencing something. Finding a character in a fictional work going through the same thing you are is as comforting as a warm hug.

Last but not least, I think the ultimate reason reading is important is that it inspires other people to express themselves through any medium.

The short stories I have been writing as practice have been influenced by teen fiction, news stories, and a little personal experience. Some of my poetry has a similar influence, but has also been inspired by classic poets.

Without people reading books, the world wouldn’t be where it is today.  I will always be grateful for libraries, books, and the authors who write them.

Written by Serena Zola

October 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Why I Read YA Books

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I read this article about why YA books appeal to adults when it was first published and found it amusing, deciding to bookmark it for a future blog post. Today, I decided to compile a list of reasons about why I read YA books and ask my readers and fellow bloggers, “Why do you read YA Books?” I understand this question might not apply to everybody, but I’m asking out of curiosity because I have a feeling that some of the reasons listed on the article don’t apply.

Here are my reasons in no particular order:

1. As an aspiring young adult author, YA books are my inspiration

For the most part, I read contemporary YA books because that is the exact YA genre I want to write books for. Sometimes, if ideas aren’t coming or I’m frustrated, thinking “Why am I doing this again?” I reread the book that inspired me to write for teens in the first place: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

2.  To remember the comfort received as a teen

A quote from S.E. Hinton about her enjoyment of reading goes, “The act of reading was so pleasurable for me. For an introverted kid, it’s a means of communication, because you interact with the author even if you aren’t sitting there conversing with her.” This sums up perfectly what YA books meant to me as a teen. I didn’t have a lot of close friendships and relationships, so sometimes books and their authors were my closest confidants. They made me experience a wide range of emotions that sometimes matched my own, creating an amazing feeling of empathy. As a result, a very important message was communicated to me: “You are not alone.”

3. To keep up with what everybody (or at least some people)  read

I might not like some of the trends in YA books **coughs** vampires **coughs**, but I like to think that one unlikable trend is connected to a likeable one. For instance, if I had turned my back on the whole paranormal trend completely, I would not have discovered that I enjoy a book from the Riders of the Apocalypse series.

There you have it. Does anybody have the same reasons for reading YA books as I do? Also, what do think of the article I linked to; do you agree with it? Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting!

Written by Serena Zola

January 6, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Book Review: After Tupac & D Foster

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  D Foster, Neeka, and Neeka’s best friend are known as Three The Hard Way. Together, they have a strong bond of friendship and a passion for the music of the rapper Tupac Shakur. For two years, Tupac helps the girls through their personal struggles. As time passes and things change, each of the girls are guided toward their Big Purpose.

One of the best aspects of the book is how the author conveys the impact of Tupac’s music on the characters. During vulnerable moments, D Foster explains to the girls how she connects to the music. These moments are raw because they are only observed by the characters themselves. They do a great job of showing how close the three girls are, making their friendship more tangible.

Another good way the author shows the impact of Tupac’s music is by relating Tupac’s life to the lives of the three girls and those around them. She connects the book to realistic things such as prejudice and the overall plight of young people. Furthermore, she shows how people can misjudge the music and how some people can be badly influenced by it.

Besides conveying the impact of music well, the book also has some well-developed the characters are. An example is the girl who is Neeka’s best friend. She is the brain in the group because she reads biographies. A unique thing about her is that she serves as the book’s narrator, but is never addressed by name. This makes the narrator’s experience universal. Also, the author is skilled at switching between the narrator’s inner thoughts and outer observations.

In addition to the character development, the unity between them is heartwarming. This goes not only for the main characters, but for the supporting characters as well. The latter members vary from adults, to parents, to older siblings. Together, the main and supporting characters form a loyal community. When the author shows how one person’s life affects everyone else, the loyalty is demonstrated.

Overall, this book was a great read. I recommend this book to any young black middle schooler, especially if they are a reluctant reader. Also, anyone who appreciates the music of Tupac Shakur or music in general should give this book a try.

Written by Serena Zola

June 25, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

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Just after the Spanish Civil War, a boy named Daniel is taken to a secret library known as the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. There, he is told to choose a book that will have special meaning to him. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind, goes home, and reads it in one sitting. Deeply touched, he tries to find the author’s other works only to find that someone has been systematically destroying them. When that someone finds Daniel, he is thrust into a mystery that threatens everyone dear to him.

One of the most moving things about this book is its tribute to the power of books. In fact, there are a few memorable quotes about the impact books and words can have on a person. One such quote is, “Books are mirrors; you only see in them what you already have inside of you.”

Another notable thing is the mystery itself. As the novel progresses, it goes from something innocent to something gothic. Carlos Ruiz Zafón seems like Spain’s Edgar Allan Poe. Overall, this is a fantastic and beautiful novel.

Written by Serena Zola

January 27, 2012 at 8:39 PM

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