Have you ever joined something new and exciting and just didn't know where to start with your work? That is definitely my current situation. As one of the newer bloggers on this site I was really unsure where to start. I have so many things I could say about books and my love of reading, but I couldn't pin down that one starting topic, because we all have to start somewhere.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks...book recommendations.
Obviously I want to push all kinds of books on you fabulous readers and I hope that I can increase your to read list, but this is a little different. This isn't me reading a book and telling you how awesome it was and that you should read it. This is me taking a book that I have treasured for so long and telling you that you really need to read it. This is me picking a long time favorite and trusting that you will read and treasure it too. This is straight from my bookshelf.
And since this is one of my firsts posts on here, I thought it would be kind of cool to pick the first book I read from a particular author.
We start at the very beginning of my journey with...Neil Gaiman.
The full synopsis of The Graveyard Book can be found on the Goodreads page.
To sum it up, the book is about a young boy named Nobody Owens. Nobody experienced tragedy at a young age; his parents were murdered. How was he not murdered? Well this toddler got out of the house and wandered over to the graveyard near his home before the murderer could get to him. From that point on Nobody, also know as Bod, was living in the graveyard with the ghosts and other supernatural creatures.
As one can only imagine, there are many adventures to be had in a graveyard, though not all adventures are safe. But Bod continues to have those adventures and to be educated by those that reside there. Outside of the graveyard, the killer of his family still lurks and Bod isn't completely safe. So in the graveyard he stays as he grows up.
This book is, in fact, classified as a children's book. There are illustrations to go along with the book, which really does add to the story. I mean, right from the beginning you can see just how well the text and illustrations work together. However, just because this book is classified as children's does not mean that adults will not enjoy it. In fact, when I really think about Neil Gaiman's books I find that I actually enjoy his children's books more than his adult books (though his adult books are wonderful too). I think that, as a children's author, Gaiman isn't scared to really push the envelope. As adults we may read this and see it as creepy and possible nightmare fuel for a child, but they just see it as a funny thing. How funny would it be to run into a kid who said that he was raised by ghosts? How much of a laugh would your 9 year old self get at the stories he tells and the adventures he might take you on? On top of that, think of all the things that children these days go through. So many are going through way more than I ever did at their age, so don't you think that this would be a great escape for them? Maybe they can relate to something and work out some deeper issue without even knowing. Most children wouldn't find this book too scary, and if they did then they wouldn't read it.
I loved the strangeness of this book. A boy raised by ghosts and spirits. You best believe he knows a lot of history, but how much does he know about his real world? This becomes an issue, and an issue I think that we all can really relate to. How much do we concentrate on the past instead of what is really happening? I know I struggle with that, and I know that while I read this book I was suddenly aware of it. I noticed just how much time I spent thinking about the ways people may have hurt me or events that I could never change. I thought about what had happened instead of what was happening. This story really explores that topic that we all really need to hear in the best possible way. How will Bod deal with his present situation? Will he live in the graveyard forever? Will he be stuck in the past for the rest of his life? So many good questions came from reading this book.
On top of the importance of living your life, Gaiman touched on the most important lesson we can tell children...be yourself. Nobody Owens is definitely a unique character. He is raised by ghosts, some which are hundreds of years old and remember so many different historical events. They were raised in different time periods, and think of how much our world has changed even from just ten years ago. The people who raise you, or ghosts in this case, definitely influence and help shape who you become. Who will Bod become, and will he always be true to himself?
This book is essentially told in short stories, where each chapter is a year or so in his life and the next chapter takes place a year or two later. It's really incredible to read, and gave me some moments of laughter while also letting me sit and think of the big picture stuff. A few quotes that I really loved from this book...
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is just ONE of my many favorite books (and just one of my favorite Gaiman books). I cannot wait to share more recommendations with you from my shelf.
What is one of your favorite books?
Published by Emily Nelson