Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

I don't remember who in the blogosphere read this and blogged about it, but whoever it was, thank you, thank you, thank you. This little book is an absolute gem. The only thing I'm angry about it that I read it back in February and still haven't written anything about it... I felt so passionate about it as I was reading it and when I was done and now the passion has died down and it bothers me that this post will be flat.

Ah well.

So, The Rights of the Reader. It is an amazing, enlightening book (or essay) on why people read and how we can get more people to like reading, starting from when they're kids. Pennac is a teacher, passionate about reading, and he does his best to pass his enthusiasm along. Successfully.

There are so, so many things he talked about that I want to mention, but I think that would mean re-typing the whole book here. So, I'll just talk about a few things.

Firstly, I loved how he talked about the time when a child is just learning to read. He (or she) loves when mommy and daddy read to him, he loves stories, he loves the magic. He also loves the magic of learning to read, the magic of words appearing on a page and meaning something that is beautiful. (Daniel Pennac describes these first moments of recognising words in an amazing, beautiful way, I could never do it justice here.) And then the child gets more comfortable reading on his own and his parents just leave him to it, happy that they have an extra ten minutes in the evening to do something of their own. But the child is still struggling and because that support, that reading companion is gone, some of the magic dies too. And some kids just never recover from this disappointment of reading and grow up to be adults who don't have time for books.

Then, Pennac talks about how we from the beginning distort the experience of reading by giving it inappropriate labels. Surely you're not meant to enjoy whatever you are assigned to read in school if adults make a difference between 'reading for school' and 'reading for pleasure'. Surely TV is a much more enjoyable pastime if punishment consists of 'no tv' and you're forced to sit quietly and do something boring, like read a book. This really struck a chord with me, perhaps because I am desperate to get Shane to like books.

The actual rights of the reader that Pennac talks about it are so thought-provoking. Like the right to skip over passages that don't speak to you. Isn't it better to enjoy parts of War and Peace than to not read it at all? Or the right to be read to out loud, even as an adult. For some people, this really turns reading into an incredible experience.

This is now getting pretty long, so I'll stop,  but I strongly urge everyone who loves reading and who wants to encourage kids and teens to read more to get Pennac's book. It's a real treat.

And a last note - Daniel Pennac is a Frenchman and the book is written in his native French. It is translated into English by Sarah Hamp Adams.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time to talk about books

I've been off work for two weeks and now I'm back. Which means that blogging will be back in my life too. I try not to spend too much time on the computer when I'm at home, I try to read if I have a spare moment instead, which means blogging breaks. But I like to blog on my breaks at work, so here I am.

My time off was great. The wedding was great of course and in the week that followed I managed to squeeze in a day all to myself as well as a honeymoon day with Joe. The day with Joe was taken up with life stuff like grocery shopping but I made sure that my day off included nothing that I 'should' do. I was so lazy that I didn't even do laundry, seriously, basically I had my own private read-a-thon. It was great. As I was saying to Alexandra during lunch today, that's really the one thing I miss from my days before baby came along. Not going out, not spontaneity, but those days when you can sit on the couch and read all day, with nowhere to go and no responsibility. So I take one from time to time, it's just more of an effort to plan it in.

What did I read? I finished Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, I read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and I finished Fables 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham. It was a great day. :-) Reviews will be coming soon, I just need to catch up and review the books I read before!

So yes, I guess that wedding post spent enough time in first place and I need to go back to normal life now. Good thing we're doing another ceremony in June, I'm already looking forward to it! :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Last Saturday, I got married

That's right. :-) I'm now Joe's wife. And oh so happy.

It was a beautiful ceremony and a great party. We're having our spiritual ceremony in June only so we get to do it all again too! :-)

I'll be back blogging at some point, but not just yet, I need a longer break...