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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

Book Review: The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Plot Summary (Taken from Goodreads): Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touch-paper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

My Review: One of the best things about this book is some characters. The Hempstocks, the women prominently featured in this book, were amazing. Old Mrs. Hempstock and Ginnie Hempstock were so motherly and caring, you would want them in your family. Lettie Hempstock is a very brave and wise heroine. While the narrator of the book is someone to care about, he was hard to truly connect to because he is never addressed by name.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book is Gaiman’s writing style. Although I’m used to it, it is always something I appreciate. He has a way of describing magic that makes you really feel it. Also, he does a good job  making a story something anyone can connect to.  Furthermore, some of his sentences are memorable because they honestly reflect on something. A favorite goes, “I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”

Despite these good aspects, the lack of a plot resolution kept this book from being really enjoyable. The reason for this is that the purpose of the magic is never explained. Why is there an ocean at the end of the lane? Where did it come from? Without these questions answered, it feels like the reader is missing something.

Gaiman has crafted an engaging story, but he has written better works. However, this book might be enjoyable to teens and adults who love fantasy. At only 178 pages, it is also a decent summer read. If you enjoyed Gaiman’s Coraline,  then feel free to give this book a try.

Written by Serena Zola

July 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Album Review: Imaginaerum

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U.S. Release Date: January 10th, 2012

Six years after their first album with new singer Anette Olzon, the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish is back with Imaginaerum. According to the band’s website, the album was inspired by various composers such as Hans Zimmer, film director Tim Burton, and author Neil Gaiman.  This album definitely has the feel of all three and then some, guiding the listener through a wonderful and dark fantasy world. Some people think that Anette Olzon’s vocals aren’t as good as former singer Tarja Turunen. If you give the ballad “Turn Loose the Mermaids” a listen, then you might change your mind. Of course, she’s not the only one singing on this album. Marco Hietala, the bassist, also lends his deep and powerful voice to the Finnish song “Taikatalvi” as well as some other tracks. Another notable track is “Song of Myself”. At thirteen minutes, it is the longest song on the album and for good reason. It was inspired by poet Walt Whitman and his poem Song of Myself, and not only includes vocals but spoken word poems as well. Overall, this is a fantastic album.

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