Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hello Again & Reading Aloud to Each Other

I apologize for leaving off on the blog for so long. I took a much longer blog break than I had intended!

The book is still coming along. It was going very slowly there for a while, at the rate of a chapter a month. I have since picked up the pace, and now I am writing chapter 19. I have approximately 30 chapters planned in my outline, although that may change with my revisions. The first draft is clicking along again, however, and I'm mighty happy about that.

I also wanted to share something that my husband and I do together that is very special. We read aloud to each other. We've read several books this way, mostly when we're tooling about in the car, with him driving and myself reading. I don't have the greatest reading voice in the world, but it is a great way for us to read a story at the same time and discuss it. In fact, very often we'll stop in the middle of some dialog and discuss/debate/argue about it for a few minutes ... or for miles and miles if we're on our way to Florida. It's a great bonding experience and a good way to while away the time when you are stuck somewhere.

It's easy to feel self-conscious at first if you aren't used to it. But if you pick the right book, soon you will be lost in the story and find yourself reading aloud better than you ever thought you would.

We read the entire Harry Potter series this way. I made a serious attempt to do all the accents, but I just couldn't keep it up for those ten hour drives to Orlando, so eventually I stuck with my own Tennessee twang. I did have fun with the HEM-HEM's with Dolores Umbridge, though.

Some books read aloud better than others. This does not reflect the quality of the book overall; it is just one aspect of the book. For example, I love love love Dragonriders of Pern, but I have a very difficult time reading it aloud. For one thing, I guess I'm not enough of a Pernese fan that I know how to pronounce all the names. Also, the narrative is very flowery, and my delivery is just not suited for that high of a writing style. However, the more conversational tone of "The Hobbit" makes it a very fun book to read aloud.

I got the idea from one of my co-workers at my previous employer. She said that her husband and two kids would get together once a week and take turns reading a chapter or so out loud, and they really enjoyed the time together. It also builds public speaking skills. Even though you are reading someone else's words, it helps you put together your delivery and trains you to project your voice. I would expect to stumble a bit if you are reading it cold. I do; I'm not creating an audiobook. I haven't studied a script. Most of the time, I am reading the words for the first time. I do spend some time re-reading a little dialog because my tongue got tangled!

Other books that we've read that were fun:

By John Scalzi, the "Old Man's War" series, the first 3 books, "Old Man's War", "Ghost Brigades", and "The Lost Colony".

Mr. Scalzi has a style that flows across the tongue. The dialog is a lot of fun, and in this case it was easy for me to change my voice for each character. John Perry, the main character and the narrator of the first story, is a real hoot to read. There were times that I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard that I was crying and could no longer see the page. It's not as ha-ha absurdly funny as Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, but it does have some very funny bits that made me stop for a breathing break. If you like space marine stories (my favorite!!!!!), I highly recommend this series.

In fact, with his style, you could read just about anything out loud by Scalzi and be happy with it. Some stories may not be suitable for the very youngest of readers. If you are reading with your kids, I suggest reviewing any book first if you have concerns about content.

I haven't read any Adams or Pratchett out loud, but I believe they would do quite nicely. I loved the radio dramatization of "Hitchiker's Guide". As kids, we listened to it over and over!

We just finished "Enemies & Allies" by Kevin J. Anderson, one of my favorite authors. Just about anything by Anderson will read aloud well, as he has a very smooth style that lends itself to the voice. This particular book is a book about Batman and Superman in the fifties and how they first met. It's a fun story. If you are a comic book fan and enjoy the World's Finest comic series, you will like this book, as it is written with a comic book aestethic in mind. I love reading Perry White's dialog, although it's possible I try to make him sound a bit much like Jolly Jonah Jameson.

Again, "The Hobbit" is a priceless read-aloud. Don't worry about the accents if they are difficult. Just enjoy the story.

Up next for us is the "Anne of Green Gables" series. I haven't read the books yet, but I have watched the series. I am really looking forward to reading in Marilla's voice. Colleen Dewhurst was seven shades of awesome in the show as that character.

Well, time to go. Until next time -- and I hope it isn't long -- take care of yourself! READ! And be excellent to each other, as the Great Ones would say.