First book off the rank for 2019 is…surprise, surprise! A Neil Gaiman book.
This book contains speeches, poems and creative manifestos that makes for a great read for teenagers to the elderly. His words have been supported with funny yet sweet black and white illustrations drawn by Chris Riddell.
The first piece Credo speaks about the free existence our ideas deserve to thrive in, whether they’re liked or disliked. If there is anything I would show to someone who has a skewed, restrictive view on the idea of free speech itself, it would be this. Because he explains how uncontrollable ideas can be once they are out in the open, and how we will never have control over how others may receive them in all vicinities. In that we all have the right to reject and disagree with ideas we don’t believe the validity of, or we believe are harmful to us as a humanity. But we don’t have the right to silence someone who has opposing views to our own, however we have the opportunity to discuss our different views instead. Allowing us to see each other’s views for the life experience and knowledge we have all accumulated so far. Which I think is a way more empathetic and productive step for our growth as a humanity. Rather than making an oppressive effort of silencing any opposition in fear of their views and values.
The second piece, Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Day Dreaming, preaches on the necessity for libraries and their books to remain as a staple of our communities. I think that this essay is fantastic at pinpointing the many reasons as to why it is necessary for all of us to read, and that libraries are one of the only environments that foster our love for the written word. He shows that in sharpening our ability to read also improves our abilities to communicate with one another, exchanging our conflicting ideas and being able to convey our own individual thoughts. While also assisting us to make sense of the world around us, by showing us that reading is one of the only activities that forces us to fine tune our imaginative abilities, that can help us in creating a better future for ourselves, on both a micro and macro level.
And the best part of it all is when he mentions that reading is actually a fun activity! It shouldn’t be seen as a tiresome activity that we feel like we should do more of because it is an ideal, you should want to pick up a book to explore it’s contents. Reading helps us become more well informed and open minded individuals, who can then form and convey our own thoughts and opinions from our own knowledge of life and the written word.
His third piece, Making a Chair, is a all about the commitment it takes for him to write a novel and complete other tasks. By relating it to the process of building a chair for his desk. My interpretation of this piece I think is quite a stretch, but hey tell me what you think. I think it’s about relating the chair he made for his desk to the novels he writes in the sense that every piece made should come with a warning note, in case it is used in the wrong way. For example if the chair is used as a step ladder, there is a chance it will break because that piece of furniture was never intended to be used in that way in the first place. In terms of his novels then, I think it means that if it’s used for purposes beyond say a fictional novel, then the piece wouldn’t be able to work in the way it was intended to in the first place. That in a sense distances himself from his creations that take on a life of their own once their published, in the same way a chair does once it is built and used in a person’s home. Like I said, this interpretation is a stretch.
His fourth piece, Make Good Art, is probably a speech you’ve heard before. It’s about making art that is completely your own and about discovering what you have the knack to uniquely create. While being able to do it confidently live your creative lifestyle, no matter the road blocks you may come up against. It’s a great read for anyone who may have felt disheartened or stumped creatively in their field of work at some point in their life. He relays his opportunities and the mistakes he has made along the way, revealing both pros and cons of being a writer in a challenging industry.
Overall this was a lovely read, filled with realistic encouragement and wisdom anyone can take on and apply to their life. I loved Riddell’s illustrations supporting Gaiman’s words, there is a real youthful and playfulness to them. I don’t think illustrations are only for children in picture story books, I think that as adults we are all capable of viewing and appreciating good art as well! Have a go.
P.S i managed to snag a signed copy! Call me materialistic and all, but i persuaded myself at the time that this was worth the purchase, and i still stand by my decision. #materialgirl #longlivethewordsofmadonna