This has been a slower reading week for me than the past few weeks in March. School is in high gear preparing for the end-of-the-year assessments. This means more grading for me, and less personal reading time. Oh well….I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and that light is only 5 weeks away and it will come in the form of summer vacation!!
I did start a new book for me — new book and brand new genre. I began reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and I am very happy to say that I really LIKE this book so far. As many of you know who regularly read my blog – fantasy literature is not a genre to which I can easily relate. I am a black/white – square shaped realist — and oftentimes the plot and characters in fantasy fiction totally derail my rational side. This has not been the case with this book, however. I am totally intrigued with the idea of bringing literary characters to life, and while I have only read about one-third of the book (I am on page 187 out of 563), the author has truly created a credible venue for this surreal experience to occur.
I think one of the main reasons this book has held my interest (verses others in this genre) is that the author has a way of describing a love of books in words that truly captivates my attention. The 12 year old protagonist, Meggie, has always been surrounded by books because her father, Mo, is a bookbinder and restores old, dilapidated books to pristine condition. Their entire house (as small as it is) is crammed full of books, and yet it still sounds so inviting:
Stacks of books were piled high all over the house — not just arragned in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no! The books in Mo and Meggie’s house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of rooms. There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages, they kept boredom at bay when thte weather was bad. And sometimes you fell over them. (page 4)
Early in the story, Meggie and her father must escape some bad guys, and in doing so they go to the house of Elinor, who is an even greater collector of books than Mo. She has a huge mansion, in which every single room (and she lives there by herself) is crammed full of books. It is a bibliophile’s dream home!!
There were no haphazard piles lying around as they did at home. Every book obviously had its place. But where other people have wallpaper, pictures, or just an empty wall, Elinor had bookshelves. The shelves were white and went right up to the ceiling in the entrance hall through which she had first led them, but in the next room and the corridor beyond it the shelves were as black as the tiles on the floor……She was just staring at the books. The shelves on which they stood smelled of frshly sawn wood. They went all the way up to a sky-blue ceiling with tiny lights in it, hanging there like stars. Narrow wooden stepladders on casters stood by the shelves, ready to help any reader up to the top shelves. There were reading desks with books lying open on them, held in place by brass chains that shone like gold. There were glass display cases containing books with pages stainged by age but showing the most wonderful pictures.
The fantasy aspect of the novel surrounds Mo’s ability to bring books to life when he reads them aloud. It began when Meggie was young and his reading aloud mysteriously produced only inanimate objects. However, when Meggie was 3 years old, Mo read aloud from the book Inkheart to his daugther and wife. This time, however, actual characters from the story came to life – and Meggie’s mother disappeared into the story. Mo desperately tried to read the characters back into the story – or read his wife back out – but to no avail. It was at that time that Mo decided he would never read aloud again, and Meggie began reading books on her own.
The “bad guys” chasing Mo and Meggie are the antagonists from the novel and their ring leader is Capricorn. They want to use Mo’s amazing powers to bring the money, gold, and treasures from other works of fiction into their greedy possession. They capture Mo – whom they refer to as Silvertongue – and have him begin reading Treasure Island. The words and phrases that Funke uses to describe Mo’s reading inflections are masterful:
To think of the magic that he could have worked in her room with his voice, a voice that gave a different flavor to every word, made every sentence a melody! (page 175)
“I have read that book many times,” said a voice that shook, “but I never saw it all as vividly as I did today. And I didn’t just see it….I smelled it, the salt and the tar and the musty odor of the accursed island….”(page 177)
I will probably not finish this book for a while. I still have to teach (and therefore review) the Hobbit, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cyrano de Bergerac and several adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I do think it is a book that I can easily pick up after a respite of a few days, and I look forward to the many adventures ahead of me.
So how about you? What books do you plan to read in the month of April?