There's reading and there's reading. Reading, when everything is fine and good and you can appreciate the author's skill and have no real complaints, and then reading, when you fall head-first into a story and are swept away by the magic of it, and it nestles in your readerly heart forever.
It seems that the more I learn about writing, the more critical I am when reading. It's getting harder and harder for me to be pulled deeply into a story and experience that pure pleasure of reading that I experienced when I was younger. But that's what I experienced this weekend when reading The Graveyard Book, and it was fantastically fun.
I've only read three Neil Gaiman books (The above as well as Neverwhere and American Gods, all highly recommended). And I only read the first like four months ago. So, I feel like a very unworthy fan, jumping on the bandwagon extremely late. I did ever so slightly make up for it by attending pretty much everything Neil did at WFC. And, I'm psyched to learn he was recently nominated for an Edgar for the short story he read at WFC about Sherlock Holmes and honeybees and immortality. Everything he writes is so unique and imaginative and has that element of magic that I just love.
And one of the things I love about Neil's work is that he writes for all different ages. I had been dabbling in writing middle grade for my son about a year ago, but it was at WFC that my desire to write for a younger audience really gelled. I also have Tamora Pierce to thank for that, because at WFC she spoke of how amazingly rewarding it's been writing for kids, and I remember falling in love with her books when I was a tween. It's kind of a fun challenge to be a versatile enough writer to write for all ages.
So, who do you have a literary crush on? Who inspires you? What books live in your heart forever?