Random Inspirations

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We’re Never Too Old to be Read to: Reflections on a Book Reading

on July 24, 2014

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of speaking on a writers’ panel at the Hera Hub Authors’ Salon. I also read an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, “Amish Baby: Jakob and Hannah’s Book.” It’s been a while since I’ve read aloud to an audience, and the experience was so much fun! The rapt crowd really seemed to enjoy the characters, dialogue, and the Pennsylvania Dutch words I’d sprinkled in. I was reminded of the many times during my childhood when I’d told my younger brother stories in our backyard tent or spun elaborate tales around the campfire.

Here I am reading "Amish Baby: Jakob and Hannah's Book"

Here I am reading “Amish Baby: Jakob and Hannah’s Book”

This started me thinking about how awesome public book readings are. Whether it’s a poetry reading in a coffee house or a reading circle at the local library, there’s something magical about reading–or hearing–a book aloud. It harkens back to ancient times, when oral storytelling was the main way that bards reached their audiences. How amazing must it have been to hear these stories, told in their most raw and elemental forms, right from the hearts of the bards?  And how equally incredible must it have been for the storytellers, gazing out over the enthralled faces of the villagers as their epic tales of intrigue unfolded? If you’d asked these storytellers about the most rewarding part of their  jobs, they’d probably have said it was the knowledge that their stories would outlive them, and be passed on from generation to generation. Today, we writers have this same opportunity with our literature; such is the power of stories.

If you’re an author, I would totally recommend reading your work in public. Not only is it amazing exposure for you, but hearing the rhythm and cadence of your own prose  is a great way to evaluate your writing techniques and the overall flow of your work. Book readings are fun for the audience, too, since your characters come alive through your voice modulation and dialogue. Reading with expression and even body language allows you to hold the audience’s attention, absorbing them entirely into the world you’ve created.

Before you do a public reading, however, I’d strongly advise attending a reading first. Not only will you pick up on important dos and don’ts , you’ll also realize the same thing I did the other day: that we’re never too old to be read to. Listening to an author read his or her work brings you beyond the page and into a totally new dimension.

Writers out there, when was the last time you read your work aloud to an audience? How did it make you feel, and how did your listeners respond? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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