July 21, 2006

Lisa: waiting for people to die

Last week I attended my third children's literature symposium at BYU, and as usual came away energized and more excited about my job. Seriously, they are geniuses to send us to these things.

Shannon Hale, local author and Newbery Honor winner for her book Princess Academy, was my favorite speaker. Her subject was 'reading for pleasure.' She talked a lot about high school reading curriculums (curricula?) and how people often feel obligated to read the classics, which can make reading more of a chore than a pleasure activity. Shannon had a ton of energy and was hilarious. Here are a few of her points that I jotted down:

  • "Dickens was paid by the word. SUM UP." That reminded me of an interesting idea from A River Runs Through It that has stayed with me much longer than it probably should have. The father of Brad Pitt and NotBrad gives NotBrad a writing exercise. When he completes the exercise, BradDad makes NotBrad cut out half of the words he used, and then cut out half again.

  • High school reading lists are not going to change as long as people with certain attitudes are in positions of power. "What can you do but wait for these people to die?"

  • Literature is about options. We need to allow ourselves to explore many different types and styles of books.

  • Adults need to overcome their prejudice toward young adult literature. Shannon recently wrote an adult book (which she said was "much sillier and shallower" than her young adult titles), and after one rewrite her editor told her they were good to go. She said she was shocked, as she was used to rewriting for a year. Shannon said that adult readers are less discriminating--they are willing to overlook typos, and probably will read the book only once. Younger readers will read a book over and over, analyzing every detail.

  • She had us all take the following pledge: On this day, July 13th 2006, Shannon Hale, the famous and beautiful writer, told me I never have to read a boring book for fun again. Whether I have read 15 or 50 pages, if it is still boring, I can put it down. And if someone tells me that what I'm reading is too young for me because it is a picture book or a comic book or Captain Underpants or too short, I will tell them "You're wrong, thank you very much."
  • Other quotes heard at the conference...

  • "Never trust anyone who writes more than he reads." --Samuel Johnson (I think)

  • "Libraries are the repositories of our will to be free." --Leonard Everett Fisher (or at least the quote was mentioned in his introduction. Mr. Fisher himself is unfortunately a pompous ass.)
  • Nancy Farmer was really fun to hear from too, and I was so excited to get P.J. Lynch to sign my copy of Melisande (now out of print in hardcover)!

    In other news, I have accepted a job at a new library. I am sad to be leaving Whitmore, but I think it's a good move for my career. Wish me luck!

    Posted by lisa at July 21, 2006 11:57 AM

    I agree with you. ALSO, the title of your entry made me think of the Diane Rehm Show. Have you ever listened to it? Because I swear, she will die on the air someday..

    Posted by: Mallory on July 24, 2006 10:59 AM

    That's funny about Diane Rehm... the interesting thing is, she is not as old as she sounds, and is strangely hot for a 70-year-old. I think her voice sounds like that because she has a rare neurological disorder or something.

    Posted by: Dave on July 25, 2006 03:00 PM

    So you think 70-year-olds are hot? This confuses me.

    Posted by: sarah on July 25, 2006 03:25 PM

    Dude, no. I was just saying, "as 70-year-olds go," which is a pretty major qualification, I'm sure you'll agree.

    Posted by: David Anderson on July 25, 2006 11:52 PM

    good luck with your new job! does this mean you won't be able to waive my library fine at whitmore? ;)

    Posted by: nicole on July 26, 2006 01:11 PM

    Ha, ha. Correct, I STILL won't be able to waive your fine. But I can renew things for you still! Or put things on hold!

    Posted by: lisa on July 26, 2006 01:28 PM

    Your take on me as a "pompous ass" was quite amusing. Would you mind telling me how you c ame to such a conclusion.

    Posted by: Leonard Everett Fisher on August 3, 2006 10:40 AM

    I can't get over Rehm being spelled like that. I have pictured it Ream, and now I have to remark that Rehm looks like it should rhyme with phlegm. Anyway, Diane is frequently taking time off for voice treatments, so I think work has been rough for her but she definitely gives it her all.

    Thank you for sharing the quotes, Lisa. Being a library addict, just reading them gives me a nice little buzz.

    Posted by: Jen on August 4, 2006 06:55 PM
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