Everyone with a blog and a counter looks at their stats. Everyone. Some people may be too cool to care about hits or visitors, but they still look.
I obsess over our search string referrals from engines like Google or Yahoo. Hardly any are for porn and they're also not very weird. Not surprisingly, most visitors land on us while looking for information about books. A thing I think we do well, besides discuss books, is provide meaningful and ongoing coverage of a select catalog of titles.
Many of the queries we receive are easily answered by reading through our discussions. It is unfortunate when some people leave without the information they seek. In this post, I will try to help the helpless by responding to our most common unanswered search strings.
Search String: the five people you meet in heaven narrator
Today alone, we received more than 30 similarly worded searches for the above. I don't know if there was a Five People scavenger hunt going on or if a single person was in denial over not finding a satisfactory answer, but that's a lot of hits for an easy one. The book is written in the third person; there is no narrator. If your American lit instructor absolutely demands an answer, say it's the author, Mitch Albom.
Search Strings: coraline spark notes and coraline cliff notes
Neither exist because Neil Gaiman's Coraline is a children's book that anyone over the age of 12 could probably finish in a few hours. Sucks having to do your own work, doesn't it?
Search String: What Is the Point of Reading?
The point of reading is to get some point (or meaning) from what you read. If you don't get my meaning from reading the last sentence, then there is no point. Go watch TV.
I hope everyone's had a chance to read Coraline. I've been a fan of Neil Gaiman for quite some time, starting with his comics (Sandman Series) when I was in high school and going from there. I found Coraline to be an easy read, appropriately enough, considering that it's billed as a children's book. I enjoyed it's pacing and tone, which to me felt distinctly British although I'd be a little hard pressed to say why. Maybe I'm just projecting what I know of the author into the novel.
Here are a few questions to get the discussion started:
1. As an adult, did you enjoy the novel? Do you think you would have enjoyed it more or less if you had read it as a child? Would you read this novel to your own child or encourage him or her to read it?
For myself, I enjoyed the novel quite a bit but I think I would have been creeped out as a child. Not having children, I think I would read this with them, taking care to go at their speed and level of fright. In other words, I feel that if I read this to them, I could gage how well they were taking some of the scarier parts and perhaps help with explanations and / or reassurances. Having said that, I think if my child was maybe 8 years or older, I'd encouarage them to read it for themselves.
2. It's very obvious that there's a message in Coraline's character - her bravery. Did anyone find any different messages in the story or in the characters?
I read this pretty openly, without looking for any secret meanings so I didn't find any. I'm just curious.
3. "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - G.K. Chesterton
In my copy of the novel, this quote is placed at the beginning, right after the dedication. I'm guessing that it's part of the inspiration for the story. Do you feel that the story holds up to this quote? Is it a fairytale? Could it be one? Could we teach it to our kids as one?
I think so, but I'm willing to acknowledge that I fall into the "rabid fan" category and so may be biased. I have every intention of putting this on the shelf with my other kids books, waiting for the day I have children as I think it's a great example of a modern fairytale. It has the classic elements, but a modern setting and I think it will hold up well over the years.
4. This isn't really a question, just more general raving: I got the hardback copy with Dave McKean's artwork. I felt it was pretty cool and appropriate to the novel. Anybody agree or disagree?
I hope you're all having a good summer. Just a reminder that the discussion for Coraline starts on Monday, so you've got the weekend to read the book, if you haven't already! (Don't worry, it's short!)