Monday, October 5, 2015

Currently Reading 10/5

Now most people, during the school semester, are faced with a pretty hefty reading list. Whether an English student tackling Joyce or a Chemistry major faced with stacks of dense textbooks, we're constantly pushing forward and taught to appreciate the difficult works in front of us. But recently, I've been more interested in books stemming from the opposite direction. To be honest, the bulk of what I've been reading is Roald Dahl.
And look'it the li'l puppies
I don't know why exactly I've been drawn to children's books so much right now - perhaps because I'm currently undergoing my seasonal slip-from-reality-and-subsequently-develop-a-fear-that-I'm-losing-my-mind-for-good-this-time or because I recently got it in my head that children's books are the top form of literature or because I want to try my head at writing a demented and postmodern children's book - but the fact stands that this is all that can seem to hold my attention.
I mean, who doesn't want to read about this fellow?
But it occurred to me that this was some of the point of children's books, and so I figured I'd write a quick thing to defend how brilliant children's authors have to be. As someone with absolutely no attention span whatsoever, I can't usually even sit through a full movie because I get too distracted. But children's authors expect this kind of mentality; I share it with nearly every person under the age of 10. And so they adapt, and they write books that have to be quick enough that the young readers will keep an interest.

And on top of this, a children's author must also:
  • teach the child something about moralities or life (i.e., Don't steal; people die but that's a part of life; etc)
  • include language that will expand the child's vocabulary without being polarizing and off-putting
  • talk about things that kids will be interested in (so maybe, for example, leaving out romance and sex (what?! how?!))
  • have an imagination arguably bigger than any other sect of writer
Now, maybe I'm biased because this is what I've been reading recently, but I feel like I may be onto something. When I was a child, I read a Roald Dahl book that declared it to be in poor manners to spit in public; this has haunted me for years and I am utterly unable to break that more - simply because Dahl told me not to.

Also, I have just one more parting thought for y'all to chew on: a good children's writer will write books that will encourage kids to read. These kids, having been encouraged, will grow up and become readers of other books, of novels and of adult literature. Most people I know who are avid readers don't remember a time in their life they weren't reading, and it's all thanks to these writers.
So thanks, Roald Dahl, even though you were debatably an asshole.

And just another side note: the other thing I've been reading is El Desayuno de Campiones, the Spanish translation of Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions. And I'm just going to leave you with my two favorite quotes from that book, the ones that left me curled in the fetal position shouting to Kyle that Vonnegut understands my soul and no one else does. It's really weird reading them in Spanish; they don't hit me as hard because I have to actively/passively translate while reading. The mind is weird, man.
  1. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: it can be done.
  2. "This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself behind my leaks. "I know," I said. "You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said. "I know," I said.

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