reading

Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and You

Written by Grant Goodman, 2/16/2015 Time travel. Rocket ships. Wizards. Dystopias.

You will meet many people in your life who look down on “those kinds of stories.” They are the serious types. They believe in their serious literature.

We can let them believe in that.

They can have their stories about sad people in sad cities. Because, honestly, we read those books, too. Every now and again, we need a palate cleanser, a waystone that lets us step back into our own world.

The deep truth is this: we like other worlds. We like worlds that don’t already exist.

Besides, the biggest milestones of human storytelling tend to be about magic and dystopias.

The Odyssey is full of witches and sea monsters and Cyclops. Beowulf fought a dragon. Shakespeare filled his plays with ghosts and wizards and prophecy. Mary Shelley brought the dead back to life. Jules Verne sent humanity to explore the moon long before John F. Kennedy was born.

Reading fantasy and science-fiction connects us to the roots of the world. The desires to explore and to escape and to imagine are built into us.

That’s why we need Suzanne Collins to send us into the arena. That’s why we need Darren Shan to show us the hidden world of vampires. That’s why Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

So go ahead and dive into sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t be afraid to dip your toes into realistic fiction, either. There’s excellence to be found there, too.

LINK: Marissa Meyer's Top 10 Books/Series of 2014

My guess is that some of you know about Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. You know, the one that starts with Cinder.

She went ahead and listed the 10 best books/series that she read in 2014. Since she's a YA author, you already know that she has great taste in books.

Check out her list and add all of those titles to your stack of books to be read.

A Reader's Resolution

A Reader’s Resolution Written by Grant Goodman, 12/31/2014

This year I will go on a thousand adventures. I will travel across countries, through space, and all throughout time. I will partake in daring rescues and tragic failures. I will be a part of star-crossed romance and the kinds of deep friendships that we should all be lucky enough to have.

I will discover twenty new sentences that give me chills. I will find a new author whose words give my world more meaning and color.

I will do what I can to deal with the fact that there will always be more books than I have time for.

I will stop losing so many bookmarks.

This year I will turn more pages, tame more dragons, and solve more mysteries.

This is a year for reading.

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program: Part I

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program: Part I Written by Grant Goodman, 11/16/2014

I’m lucky enough to work in a school where our reading programs are unbelievably successful. Our Media Center (the new term for libraries, for those who aren’t in the education world) participates in the state-wide Black Eyed Susan reading program.

Maryland has a committee of readers from around the state who spend time picking out 10 featured books for students to read. (There are 10 books for elementary school, 10 for middle, 10 for high school, and 10 graphic novels)

What I love is that there is a mix of genres every year, including supernatural, science-fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as prose.

They are all entertaining reads (though I will admit that some do skew younger than others) and if you’re looking for new reads, you’re bound to find a new author or two who will really impress you.

This year’s middle school list is as follows:

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Eddie’s War by Carol Fisher Saller

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

Four Secrets by Margaret Willey

Poison by Bridget Zinn

Post #001: What It Means to Be a Reader

Post #1: What It Means to Be a Reader By Grant Goodman, 9/21/2014

You get it. You’re in on the big secret. You know the password.

You have an active imagination. You know how to tune out the noise around you. You’re a page-turner, you have ink on your fingers, your homepage is set to GoodReads.

To be a reader, of course, means everything.

It means that you’re willing to jump into other people’s shoes. You’re okay with exploring a new world. You understand that it’s fine to feel like fiction can surpass reality. You spend so much time surrounded by reality, anyway. So you open up a little door to somewhere else, you test the waters, and when you come back to your own world, you see things a little differently.

Being a reader makes you a magician. You make something out of nothing. You bring life to someone who doesn’t exist. The flick of your eyes across the page is the spark that makes characters run and fly or crash and burn. Without you, nothing happens. Harry stays under the stairs forever. Katniss never leaves District 12. Beatrice Prior never becomes Tris. You make that happen.

The world of a reader is often solitary. You don’t get together with people so you can all read in the same room at the same time. That isn’t really how it works. You spend your time in that worn, comfy chair, or out on the balcony in the sun, that place where the light is just right.

But you have to do it by yourself.

This is not a curse. You learn to become happy with being in your own head. You explore your thoughts. You learn to appreciate silence. Sometimes, you realize, it’s better to step away from the glowing screens and the buzz of traffic and the constant conversation. There’s time for that, too, but you don’t need it as much as you used to.

You, like so many of us, know the value of words, the weight that they can carry. They can melt you down, they can freeze your blood, they can soothe. But words can hurt you, too. They can leave scars, they can break your heart. Maybe you turn those scars into tattoos. Maybe you write down those seven magic words and tape them to your desk. Or maybe you just lock them away and keep them as a treasure for yourself. That’s fine, too.

Whatever the case, you’re a reader. You’re one of us.

So, welcome. This is November Notebook, a place for people like you. You’re going to like it here.

-Grant