Like poetry, a novel often takes on a new life when read aloud.
In October, I was reading a lot of Twitter chatter about A Monster Calls by an author named Patrick Ness. As a thank-you for some computer assistance I was able to offer, Alyson Beecher (@alybee930) sent me an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the book. I read it on the train to New York City, captivated by the mix of prose and unusual ink drawings.
Here is the book blurb fromt Ness’s site, http://www.patrickness.com/books.html.
A Monster Calls
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Check out the awesome trailer:
And yet it wasn’t until my friend Brent Peterson read it and we started talking about it that I truly appreciated the book. Books can be like that: they are meant to be shared. And the tree of ideas that grows out of a conversation–fertilized by insights from both sides–is a thing of beauty.
If you know the book, you know why I chose tree for that metaphor.
After seeing the book passed around my classroom, and talking with other teachers who have since read it, I knew I needed to read it again. After finishing The Mighty Miss Malone, I knew it was the perfect time.
And still, I wanted to share it with my wife. I had told her so much about it. So as we were finishing dinner the other night I asked her if she’d let me read to her. She agreed, and after the kids were in bed we settled into the couch and I began.
I was amazed at how different the words felt coming off my tongue compared to how they bounced around inside my head. And my appreciation of the book grows all the more. It should be known that my wife was in no hurry for me to stop–38 pages later.
Here is a great recording of Ness reading from the first chapter of the book, followed by an interview with some background (it will pop up in a new window):
I’ll write more another time about the book itself. Perhaps you’d like to borrow a copy–or buy one yourself…
Whatever book you choose, try reading some of it aloud. Read to those older; read to a child; read to your peers. Let the words build a bridge between you.
In today’s Nerdy Book Club blog, Donalyn Miller–AKA “the Book Whisperer”–serendipitously posted about the importance of reading aloud. Check it out.