Rugrats, Reading, and Rapunzel

Three pieces of evidence that my kids are actually aliens from outer space:
1. The other day they were running around the house yelling “Miraculous Hemulen!!!!” and shaking little boxes of beads behind them. Upon questioning them, it was revealed that they were actually saying “Maraculous,” as in maracas.

2. SillyBilly is obsessed with space. He constantly wants to make rockets, and claims that every chunk of asphalt or oddly shaped rock he finds is a “moon rock.” The other day he made this lovely moon lander from odd things out of the recycle bin. Please note the handy ramp leading to the “moon surface” complete with craters and shiny moon rocks:

3. Napoleona obsessively sets up this little scene with the Nativity play set. We’ve had at least 3 locations and multiple iterations, including one where all the figures were laying down (I thought perhaps baby Jesus had exploded and they were in the blast radius, but she assured me everyone was just sleeping.) There’s some serious adoration going on in our house:

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Copy Editing Conundrum:

I have been reading nonstop since I was four years old. Yet, except for brief exceptions in college and the corporate world, I have always read for pleasure.

Now, I find myself being paid to read (woo hoo!), yet I cannot so much pick and choose my reading topics. Of course, I have some say in the matter, but as a freelancer it’s not necessarily wise to turn down work as you’re never sure when the next job will come. So I’ve done quite a bit of reading lately that I never would have chosen otherwise.

On the other hand, many books I’ve edited lately have started out very dry and boring, yet I’ve really warmed up to them after a few chapters. For example, right now I’m working on a second edition of a book about “contemporary moral problems from a personalistic perspective.” The first two chapters were dry as dust (to me) because they set up all the philosophical premises for the author’s arguments. But now I’m into the chapters on such juicy topics as euthanasia and the treatment of animals.

Perhaps this explains why all of my pleasure reading has slipped into a morass of light fantasy. No pithy tomes to review for my loyal readers. No, it’s just young adult sci fi and Regency romance around here!

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Speaking of YA SF, I just discovered Garth Nix’s trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. (Actually I couldn’t get Sabriel from the library, so I started with Lirael and am about to start Abhorsen. That’s one sign of a good trilogy: you can pick up even in the middle.)

In reading these books, I realized that one limitation on my SF/fantasy reading has always been the level of complexity of names required to follow the story. I’m not consistent on this: surely no books have more odd names of people and places and things than Lord of the Rings?

But I think I’ve figured it out: the books need to lead me gently into their world, with a minimum of odd terminology to decipher and remember before I’m truly hooked. I’ve found myself, with some inferior books, having to bookmark the handy glossary (often a bad sign in and of itself, though not always — cf. any book about Pern for an acceptable example) and struggling to remember which character was which.

Nix’s books definitely have their quirky words and names. This is an alternate world he’s building here, after all. But he doesn’t pile them on too quickly, and he’s able to weave powerful images without resorting to too much funky terminology.

But why do I especially like these books? Why, Lirael herself, of course. How could I not love a girl who finds her true path through her job as a librarian in a magical library! Librarians who have to carry weaponry and safety devices on their persons at all times due to the unknown fell creatures and ancient spells lurking in the lower depths of the Great Library? Yahoo! Sign me up. (I’m so not doing justice to these books. I’m making them sound like Harry Potter or something. They’re not. They’re much more serious in tone, like Le Guin’s Earthsea.)

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A final thing, a nice photo in honor of the big snowstorm we’re supposed to get tomorrow. This one’s for Helen, who once questioned me about suburban US architecture and turrets:



Filed under Books, Kid Talk, Silliness and Mayhem

6 responses to “Rugrats, Reading, and Rapunzel

  1. The nativity picture is marvelous and gives such a charming echo of Napoleona! I’ll have to try the Garth Nix – though it has echoes of the Library at Unseen University in Ankh Morpork to me.

  2. Leading into your story about the nativity play set and then remarking, when you found all the figures horizontal that “I thought perhaps baby Jesus had exploded and they were in the blast radius” gave me fits of laughter. Seriously the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    Regarding the “dryness” of what you have to read as a freelance book copy editor: can we talk? Count your blessings. As a corporate editor at an international law firm, I get to read (thrill! thrill!) contracts, advisory letters and ongoing client correspondence. Believe it or not, the most interesting work is the client correspondence, since that stuff really has “voice”. There’s a human being talking to a human being, and there’s a great deal of subtlety to the tone one has to strike when these people are trusting the firm to advise them on deals worth millions of dollars.

    So, from my perspective, editing books sounds real exotic. I used to edit business news, which was interesting and exciting at times, and routine to the point of tears at others.

    My personal reading is almost all non-fiction nowadays, and it’s all mysticism related. I have so little time to read for myself, I feel it all has to count. Quite a switch from only a few years ago, when everything I read for myself was all fiction.

  3. URD: I have never heard of the Library at Unseen University in Ankh Morpork, and I’m a little afraid to Google it! But do check out Nix, in all your copious spare time.

    Scribbler: I know, I know, I really only have those whiny moments when I first start a seemingly dry topic like ethics, or a somewhat disturbing one, like the genocide book I did last month. But I’m thrilled to be doing this work. I could have selected a more highly paying editing niche (as I assume a law firm would be) but I had the luxury of choosing academic work. I’m very grateful. As for personal reading, I’m in a place where I feel the need to escape from reality, so it’s fiction for me right now. I should be reading Steiner or something, but I just can’t. I’m weak, I’m weak, I tell you!

  4. Yeah, now that I’m not an editor, I find myself actually reading outside of work. Books even. Fancy that.

    Also, you must be the top hit for searches on “nativity scene blast radius.” Just sayin’.

  5. Papa B: Sadly, I’m not even in the top 20 Google hits.

  6. Lirael is one of my favourite books ever, Sabriel is good too but I found Abhorsen quite disappointing.

    The nativity set reminds me of the Little People one that Kiko was playing with at his playgroup on Wednesday. I didn’t know things like that existed, in fact, you’ve given me yet another idea for a post, all I need to do is write all these posts, eh?!

    Oh, that photo is of my dream house! I am going to imagine the interior is entirely in pink…

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