Books, Publishing, Slice of life

Midnight Musings and a Bookish Perspective

Tonight, I find my fascination turning once again to the collection of words that we call a book. This strange curation of an author’s imagination pressed in black ink upon the delicate souls of trees bound, tied together and pressed between two covers. What is it about this ordinary item that captures us, that captures me so?

At this point in my life, I’ve handled many books. I’ve rifled through 10-cent book sale bins in surplus, wandered among stacks in the basements of old bookstores, and admired crisp new hardcovers stacked high on warehouse shelves. They are common objects and yet, they are anything but ordinary.

Words on the printed page are intimate. They are chosen, crafted, built upon the geography of a page. They allow you to read someone’s thoughts in your own voice. And their poignancy deepens when met with the unique experience of each reader. For this reason, no story will ever be experienced the same way. A scene conceived in the mind of an author will take on a whole new aspect in the mind of the reader. Some book characters will be your friends, but others will most definitely be your enemies. (And not every reader will agree on who is friend or foe!)

It all depends upon your experiences, your personality, your perspective. This is not to say that the author’s vision isn’t to be considered, but we all have different lines of sight in this world. It’s important for us to consider those beyond our own, and then embrace the opportunities that new ideas present.

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.”
– Margaret Atwood

This is why the written word continues to fascinate me. Books are an eternal expression of life, and their impact resonates into our lives long after the last full stop. So I ask, dear reader… what do you bring to the bound pages of a book… and what will you take away?

Book Reviews

Music & Masks: A Book Review

As a true bibliophile, my summer reading list is quite long. . . or rather, the book stack is tall. The stack may be ambitious for the summer months when outdoor projects and Hulu competes for my attention, but I happily made reading the ARC of The Orphan’s Song by Lauren Kate a priority. When the book comes out next week, you should pick up a copy for your summer page-turning adventures.

The Orphan's Song

This historical-fiction novel is steeped in the culture of Venice in the 1700s. We find ourselves at the Hospital of the Incurables, an orphanage/hospital/music school/church that maintains a rigid social structure for its wards. The girls aspire to sing in the church coro (and swear an oath not to sing anywhere else) until they marry or become nuns. The boys are forbidden to practice music and instead learn the skills of tradesmen. That doesn’t stop the young coro-member-to-be Violetta from singing to the horizon on the Incurable’s rooftop, where she meets Mino with his patched-up violin. Their first song is is broken by the missteps of youth, but it echoes in their memories as they search for family and get swept away by the masked pleasures of Venetian society.  (Seriously, there were a lot of masks—or bauta—in the book. As the bauta allowed major characters to operate with certain anonymity, it was a great plot device.)

The Orphan’s Song is Kate’s first adult historical book. (You may recognize her name from the her bestselling title, Fallen, the first book in the supernatural YA series.) As someone who hasn’t read any of her previous books, The Orphan’s Song was a pleasant introduction to the author. This even-paced novel wasn’t earth-shattering, but I really appreciated the musical references and historical immersion. I’m pretty sure I shed a tear midway through the book (you’ll know where, when you read that part) and it wasn’t predictable, like so many historical-fiction romances can be.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. . . and I really want a bauta of my own now.

Publishing

A Foray into the World of Genre Fiction

I love fiction of all genres. Right now, I’m hauling a beat-up fantasy novel in my purse. I’ve read everything from Pride & Prejudice to Harry Potter, and I heartily agree with George R. R. Martin, who wrote in the introduction to Warriors, “Books should broaden us. . . expand our horizons and our way of looking at the world. Limiting your reading to a single genre defeats that. It limits us, makes us smaller.” Sure, it’s great to have a favorite genre. I naturally gravitate toward fantasy and historical fiction. But it’s also exciting to venture into undiscovered worlds of fiction.

To understand the breadth of genres, I researched and created an infographic detailing 5 main genres, and their associated sub-genres. Each word cloud contains elements of the main genre, and within each subgenre I’ve noted the various stylistic elements and publication examples. Of course, this is not a complete list. It could never be. Genres simply categorize publications, and provide basic plot ‘recipes’ to meet the expectations of readers. Many good stories are solidly planted within their genres, while others defy genre stereotypes. They all inspire the imagination. I hope this visual representation of genre styles serves as a beginner’s guide to the many genres of fiction. Happy reading!