“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”
Neil Gaiman, “Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming”
This is wonderful.
I want to tell you as story. When I was in the 2nd grade I was lagging behind everyone else at the 2nd grade reading level. English is not a phonetic language and I was never good at “sounding it out” anyway. My school’s response was to take me out of class for remedial reading time. Under any other circumstances I might have agreed with them but my mother, an early education teacher herself, found the school more interested in maintaining their status as a “school of excellence” than actually motivating me to read better. It was pretty unsuccessful, I mostly refused to read during my remedial lessons because fuck you that’s why. I also took a ridiculously long time to learn how to tie a knot for the same reason. Eventually they gave up or mom side-eyed them enough to leave me alone.
Then I discovered the Boxcar children. And later the Babysitter’s Club. And I was reading above grade level by middle school because I actually wanted to read and was interested in reading and there was my motivation to get better.
At the same school we had a reading competition where the classes and grades competed to see who could read the most over a couple months time. One teacher always won because she assigned a lot of reading to her students. Kids aren’t stupid and many of her students left that class less willing to read than they came in.
You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan is… I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange - no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.
Yvaine - Stardust (2007)
Neil Gaiman’s, ‘That’s all I’ve got’ face. By now, twenty people have probably already done this, but I’ve had a boring morning so have another anyway. :)
I’m really tempted to use this as a reaction image.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make it available in the US!!!!
Wherever you are in the world, you should be able to access BBC’s iPlayer, which should have each episode of Neverwhere up for a week after it’s broadcast. (It won’t stream to mobile devices, or not in the same way, although you should be able to get it on your phone when it’s broadcast live, or by using TuneIn or any of the radio apps.)
So when it is available in the UK, it will be available EVERYWHERE.
Good to know. Will actually have to figure out itunes I guess.
I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase “In these days of political correctness…” talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, “That’s not actually anything to do with “political correctness”. That’s just treating other people with respect.”
Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase “politically correct” wherever we could with “treating other people with respect”, and it made me smile.
You should try it. It’s peculiarly enlightening.
I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “Oh my god, that’s treating other people with respect gone mad!”
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Neil Gaiman is smart guys, you should read him sometime.