Thoughts While Reading “The Magician’s Book”

I am currently reading The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller. I recommend this book very highly, though I’m only a few chapters in. It’s not a kid’s book. In fact, I would recommend kids NOT read it. It shares Miller’s reflections on what CS Lewis’ Narnia books meant to her–and to other kids–when they were children and is also a meditation on what reading means to kids. Kids: wait till you grow up for this one. Enjoy the moment you’re in now as readers; reflect on it later. (Miller’s book also has biographical elements about Lewis and explores some of the symbols, ideas, themes in the Narnia books. It’s a lot of things, really!) Anyway, Miller is an excellent writer as well as a deep thinker, and as a lover of Narnia myself, I find myself underlining much of the book. I’m going to share one quotation now, and probably more in later blogs.

“The meeting of an author and reader has a similar soul-shaping potential. The author who can make a world for a reader–make him believe that the people, places, and events he describes are, if anything, truer than his real, immediate surroundings–that author is someone with a mighty power indeed. Who can forget the first time they experienced this sensation? Who can doubt that every literary encounter they have afterward must somehow be colored by it? If we weigh the significance of a book by the effect it has on its readers, then the great children’s books suddenly turn up very high on the list [of great books ]” (p. 11, emphasis added).

Miller likens that book that sweeps you off your feet when you are a kid to first love–nothing ever quite compares in the same way. I think this is partly why I write for kids. When I walk into a book store, while I see many adult titles that I admire/respect/feel strongly about, it is in the middle grades and YA sections that I see books that I adore without reservation. It may be that at that stage as a reader, my critic was non-existent. It was story that spoke to me–much like that first crush or infatuation where there is no rationality. You just feel what you feel. As a writer, I want my stories to be part of that kind of reading, that kind of feeling. I want to create worlds and characters that  exist for my readers in a real way.

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~ by ellenjensenabbott on February 9, 2009.

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