A dramatic reading of “The Book With No Pictures”

One of my favorite (non-) picture books is The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. It’s written to be performed, and I’ve enjoyed reading it to my nieces’ classes. Kids seem to love it, too, and small children seldom humor us with polite laughter.

So, while so many of us are stuck at home, here’s my dramatic reading of this fine piece of children’s literature.

If you enjoy the book, consider ordering a copy for your family.

Rethinking Game of Thrones

I’m very much behind on this one, but I’m currently reading the Game of Thrones books (or should I say the Song of Fire and Ice books?). I started the first novel several years ago and read a little over a hundred pages, but it wasn’t grabbing me. So, I left the bookmark in, put it back on my shelf, and moved on to other books.

On a whim recently, I decided to give George R. R. Martin’s series another chance. I just picked up where I left off, and this time I found myself appreciating how well done it is, and how engrossing. I’m about halfway through the third book, A Storm of Swords.

(And I’ve watched the first two seasons of the HBO series, but the books come first … until the series runs out of book source material, of course.)

I love the technique of alternating POV characters. The world-building is extraordinary; it’s almost like a historically plausible fantasy epic, and the gradual introduction of those fantasy elements is intriguing. More important, the characters remain grounded in humanity, for good and for bad. And Arya Stark is quite possibly the greatest child character created for an adult series.

It’s not a perfect series, of course (what is?). The second book, A Clash of Kings, while still very good overall, drags a bit too much at times. Personally, I could do with fewer sex scenes (and less nudity in the TV series). And never mind all the blood and guts—the incest is what’s truly disgusting. This is not a fantasy world I’d want to live in.

So, I’m certainly not a hardcore GoT fan at this point. Nevertheless, I finally see what so many others have seen in it all this time.

This is why I don’t like to bash books that aren’t working for me. In some cases, it might actually be just a bad book, but it could also be that it simply didn’t work for me at that point in time. I could have been in the wrong mood or the wrong frame of mind, or perhaps its flaws just bugged me more than others. No book is perfect. No book is beyond criticism. At the same time, a book that’s deeply flawed may still resonate with some people.

We’re not smarter just because we hate what everyone else loves or love what everyone else hates. There are certainly well-established principles of storytelling that are worth paying attention to. Ultimately, though, reading is a subjective experience.

I started reading Game of Thrones and didn’t like it. I resumed reading Game of Thrones and am enjoying the series. Which me is correct?