Girl on Fire: How literature opens doors to opportunity

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, December 19, 2013]

For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of my time playing video games. But, recently, I decided to finish a few books I’d started more than a year ago. I’m glad I did, because I realized just how much I missed reading books just for the fun of it.

Since Monday, I finished three books: young adult novel “After” by Francine Prose, “The Kiss” by Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Kathryn Harrison and “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien.

These books are all over the map in terms of genre, covering young adult, adult fiction and fantasy for all ages.

My next task is to get reviews written and posted on my book review website, The Obsessed Reader, I started The Obsessed Reader in May 2012, while I was searching for a job and living in my parents’ basement (doesn’t that sound familiar).

But, it’s really taken off. I love reading a book, then writing a review about how the author weaves stories together, how dialogue shows the character development or that something might not have worked so well as compared to a previous novel.

I’ve also found by writing out what makes or breaks a novel, I learn more about making my own fiction writing better. What may work for one author, might not work for me. Or, I see where my strengths are and keep building on that. It varies with the books, but it’s something I notice when I’m sitting down typing up a review.

Having these reviews also helps me find good literature. There are so many books out there for people to read, in so many different genres and age groups, that sometimes it’s hard to decide. By reviewing books, then reading other bloggers’ reviews of different books, what people find interesting might not be the top of the list. But, I’ve learned what literature I like, and what other people like reading about in reviews.

What’s more, my website has also opened the door to other interesting things. Recently, I received an email from a friend overseas asking if I would like to review a book by an author who goes through the publishing company my friend works for. I agreed immediately. We went through the formalities, and he sent me a digital copy of “The Obsidian Pebble,” a fantasy novel by Rhys A. Jones. I’m excited to start it! My friend also informed me of a contest Jones was hosting, and asked if I would be willing to host it on The Obsessed Reader as well, to which, of course, I said yes. I am also happy to announce I will be posting a question-and-answer session with Jones on the website after I finish a review of his novel.

The thing I love most about literature is all the opportunity available in all sorts of ways because of it. Whether it be just a less constricted imagination, or the option to interview a published author, there is so much out there to be discovered.

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