Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Reading Challenge Week 17 - A book you can finish in a day

Well, after bolting down a book that was over 500 pages long, it was time to have a light meal with a book that could be finished in a day.

Of course, that didn't mean you had to finish it in a day. No one would mind if you took your time and savoured it. Some people took the opportunity to read several books in one day. That's the great thing about reading for pleasure (or because someone challenged you to read certain types of books) - you can play with it.

So, what were some of the books we read this week?

Scott Dale read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.

Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull (found at 810 BAC), served as a pilot in his younger days and has been involved in the world of flight for much of his life. The man loves to fly, something evident in his writing.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a gull who likes to fly. I remembered that much about the story from when I was at school and a few friends were reading this book. I also remembered that the book was very short and would be perfect for this week’s Reading Challenge.

Jonathan spends his time practicing flying while other gulls are screeching and fighting for food. He finds a deeper meaning in flying and wants to share it with the other gulls but is eventually banished from the flock for his flying ways. From there Jonathan practices further, always learning and aiming for “perfect flight”.

This book came out of the 70s and feels like an early self-help book. It is a story of self-realisation, a spiritual story of discovering what is possible and not giving in to the limits of the world. The writing is simple and the story is short. Many people will enjoy this book in some way and for those that don’t, it’s over before you know it.

Sharon Bryan read The Eleventh Hour : A Curious Mystery, by Graeme Base.

If you grew up in Australia in the 1980s or beyond, there is an excellent chance that two books by Greame Base have a special place in your heart: Animalia, and The Eleventh Hour (both can be found in Curriculum at 820.94 BAS). Heck, even if you came to these books as an adult, there's an excellent chance you loved them at first sight.

These two books are beloved by generations of Australians, and they really should be recommended reading by anyone who is new to the country and wants to experience something culturally significant to "us" - something that has probably been part of the childhood of every second kid who grew up here over the past few decades.

Is that an unnecessarily weighty description of an illustrated children's book that tells the story of an elephant's birthday party in which someone steals the lunch while everyone is playing games? Maybe. But it's such a great book. You can read it just for the story and the pictures, if you wish, but every page has puzzles within puzzles - and there are extra bonus puzzles to go back and find after you think you've worked out the central mystery.

I reread this book roughly every three or four years, and I'm constantly impressed by the level of thought and attention to detail that Base has used in each illustration. Not only is is a book you can read in a day, but you can easily spend the whole day pouring over it - or come back to it over several days. It's a good book.

Nathan Miller read Asterix Legionnaire, by Goscinny and Uderzo.

After children’s picture books, one of my my earliest memories of library books is coming across the Asterix comic series. Now I know that this is supposed to be books you have read in a day, so let’s update these titles as "graphic novels" (so you can revisit them in week 45 of the challenge).

Now I would have easily read any Asterix story multiple times in one day. They are works to me of true artistic endeavour that weave multiple strands into enjoyable popular work for both children and adults. These are a product of French culture from the 1950s and 1960s onwards that have been translated into dozens of languages. Crammed with puns, modern pop culture references, historical (although not always accurate) information, witty drawings and driving adventure, they enthralled me as a child and still do.

In our collection we have a few titles in the original French (find them in the Curriculum collections at 440 GOS) and I doubt I could read these in a day - but I enjoyed looking through them this week.

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