Tag s | Reading

The First Novel I Ever Read

boy reading

It was the summer of 1970…I was dreading a long family car trip mainly because I was 14, I had braces on my teeth and was starting high school in the fall.  I was required to be full of dread.

The big hits on pop radio that summer were “Mama Told Me Not to Come” (Three Dog Night), “Close to You” (Carpenters), “Everything is Beautiful” (Ray Stevens), “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles, “The Overture from Tommy” by the Assembled Multitude, “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago and “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  On and on the list goes…great stuff.  I still have some of the 45’s. (If you don’t know what those are, tough luck)

But I had a long car trip ahead of me and I was miserable.  I couldn’t even drive yet.

To pass the time on the trip, I went to the library and saw a book that caught my eye…relatively new from Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain.   I checked it out and started to read.  I couldn’t stop reading.  I was transported to an underground virus containment facility deep in the desert and worked desperately to find a way to combat a subspace virus that threatened to destroy the earth.

It was the shortest car ride ever.  I don’t even remember Nebraska.  It was the first full-length novel I ever read.

Great stories can do that.  They don’t just pass the time, they transport you to a time and place where we experience things we could never do in our time and place.

Forty-three years later (go ahead, do the math), I have read a lot of great stories and been transported to any number of times and places I have never actually been.  And now I am working every day to find great stories to potentially give them a place in the world.

Story is not limited to fiction.  I’ve read great biographies that were great stories.  History is one long story. The Bible is a story of a people and their God.

While not intended for authors or publishing per se, I find great enjoyment each Monday from a marketing blog from “The Wizard of Ads,” Roy Williams.  He challenges marketers to tell stories rather than sell facts.  Stories are profound., they move emotions.  Let’s be story-tellers.

If you want to subscribe for free to his “Monday Morning Memo,” click here.

Read Steve Laube’s Monday blog post first, then read Roy.  You will be glad you did.

Your Turn:

What was the first great story you read?

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Fun Fridays – July 20, 2012

I love visual experiences that make me want to read more. Enjoy this unique video short (six minutes) extolling the joys of discovery found in books. The last scene gave me goosebumps.

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News You Can Use – May 1, 2012

Amanda Hocking is Happy with her Publisher – An update from the woman whose self-published ebooks garnered a monster traditional deal.

10 Best First Lines in Fiction – Chosen by editors at the Guardian (UK). Do you agree or disagree?

How We Will Read in the Future – An excellent interview with Maria Popova, the curator for the great BrainPickings blog. (The article is about 2,500 words long so take your time to absorb her thoughts.)

The Return of the Novella – “The Atlantic” article things this art form will have a resurgence. I contend it has been around, but not in a sizeable way. Try presenting one to a publisher and then talk about how easy they will eventually sell to the public.

How Do You Know You’ve Made it as a Writer? – Steve Ulfelder attempts to answer the question right after being nominated for an award for his first novel.

Market Your Book Through Google Ads – Ever wondered if this is a good use of your money? And if so, how you would go about it? Vikram Narayan does an excellent job introducing the idea. If it works, let us know!

The Most “Kindled” City in the U.S. – The answer may surprise you. The analysis of the whole article is fascinating.

Four Best Twitter Tools – Agree? Any you want to add?

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On Reading the Classics

“A classic is a book which people praise and don’t read.” 

This quote attributed to Mark Twain made me think of classics I didn’t enjoy, but also those I did. I have a lifelong habit of choosing classics for my leisure reading.

When I was in the seventh grade, I enjoyed Gone with the Wind so much I read it a second time. Unfortunately, this intense involvement in the full story caused me to be very disappointed in the movie when I saw it for the first time in college because time constraints meant they had to leave out too much of the 1200-page plot.

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21 Influential Books

by Steve Laube

There is a shelf in our living room where I have placed the books that had the most influence on my spiritual growth. I call them my “Punctuation Marks” because in a metaphoric way some books were a comma, some an exclamation point, and some a period or full stop.

The beauty of having them all in one place is the visual reminder of those moments where God reached out through the pages of creative people who listened to the call to write and thereby touched me. It is a large part of why I have been involved in the book business for over thirty years.

Here are the books in no particular order:

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Think Before You Read

by Steve Laube

I collect books. I graze through them like I’m at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I sample this tidbit and that. Eventually I get enough to eat or have found the right morsel to consume until it is finished.

It helps make me an eclectic sort. But there are days, even weeks, where I must discipline myself to become immersed in extraordinary writing. It is there where the soul can be fed and nourished.

I came across a quote from the great Charles Bridges, a well respected pastor in the Church of England whose Exposition of Psalm 119 (published 1827) is a masterpiece. A couple years later he wrote a book directed at those in the ministry. But I thought it applicable to everyone who reads. Especially in our modern era of content consumption without digestion.

Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, “a zeal not according to knowledge.”— There is too great haste in decision, and too little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the treasure. Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books, rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface, and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study books more than themselves. They lose themselves in the multiplicity of books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as “making books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Bishop Wilkins observes, “There is as much art and benefit in the right choice of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most profitably converse.” No man can read everything; nor would our real store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

May you be inspired to think about what you are reading and why you are reading it.

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News You Can Use – Mar. 20, 2012

Why Finish Books – I loved this essay! He had me at the picture of C.S. Lewis…

Why Your Book Isn’t Selling – Suggestions from a book marketing expert.

The Publishing Industry May Not be Falling Apart After All – One author suggests that today’s crisis sound awfully familiar. And underneath all the talk of seismic changes and Amazon, she has a valid point. If you click all the way through to her original article you will find a “Live Journal” site that is hard to read on screen.

Free E-book on How to Attract Customers with Twitter – From Hubspot. Must submit registration info to get the free e-book. They offer a number of these papers on a regular basis.

Is Your Facebook Account Part of Your Estate? – Facebook says that if you die your Facebook account must be closed. So all your writing, pictures, etc. will disappear. And they don’t like it if someone else simply uses your password to keep it online. Goes to the heart of what you “own” and do not “own” on the Internet.

How One Man Started Writing for “Sports Illustrated” – He worked on his craft for six years before submitting something to an editor.

The Making of the Hunger Games Blockbuster – Whether you like the book or not is beside the point. Read the article to find out how this YA phenomenon grew via word of mouth and intentional marketing. Fascinating.

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