Technically today's post should be highlighting a book or two for your reading pleasure, but me being me, I'm not going to do that. What I'm going to do is ramble a little bit first (always a given when it's me writing a blog post), offer up a topic that probably isn't strictly within our guidelines (in other words cheat), then ramble a little bit more.
That's just so you know what to expect. I wouldn't want to be accused of not forewarning you, after all.
Anyway, reading. Isn't is great? I mean, what else can provide hours of enjoyment (I'm watching you, oh Watery Tart), make your imagination run wild (Tami! *glares*), and provide escapism of the highest order? OK, so some people would say that TV or the movies can do all of these things, but I disagree. Yes, visual stimulation (love that word) could probably do the trick, but they don't get any of those lovely creative juices flowing. When you read, you have to fill in the blanks yourself. You have to picture the scenes, the characters, everything.
Anyway, before I continue stating the obvious, perhaps I should get on to the particular bit of reading that I wanted to talk about. Books are obviously the best way to get your reading fix, but what if you have read every single book in your possession at least ten times? What if your local library should really be called a bookshelf seeing as how it only has about twelve books (or maybe that's just my local library)? What if, no matter how much you wish otherwise, you simply can't afford to go out and buy half a dozen books every week to feed your reading habit?
Thankfully, we have the internet. There are a number of ways you can access reading material on the World Wide Web, but one of the best ways to discover something new is to hunt through the fan fiction sites. It can be a bit of a hit and miss endeavor - a lot of fan fiction is pretty poor - but along with the bad is most definitely the good.
The best thing is, you can pick your subject. Almost everyone has a favorite TV show or book, and I'm betting that most of these favorites have a fan fiction archive. The best place to visit is fanfictiondotnet, where you can browse through the categories and have a very good chance of finding something that interests you.
For me, it was fan fiction that got me started in writing. My obsession with a certain boy wizard (well, not him personally, he's a bit young for me) led me to HPANA, a community-based website catering to all of your Harry Potter needs. Of the many sub-forums, the fan fiction section drew me in and introduced me to the (mostly) joyful world of writing.
The thing with fan fiction is that not only do you get to read the further (or past) adventures of your favorite characters, it actually teaches you to recognise good and bad writing. And sometimes you even discover a gem so shiny you wonder how the author hasn't managed to get published yet. Reading a few of these gems got me inspired to write something myself. So maybe my first few efforts were more rocks than gems, but still, I was writing, and that felt pretty wonderful.
So fan fiction is what I am recommending you to read if you ever get a spare moment. You may have to dig a little before you find something great, but even the poorer stuff is entertaining, on a So Bad It's Good kind of scale. And it definitely teaches you about what works and what doesn't.
And lastly - something you may or may not know - fan fiction is the common bond of every single Burrower. *nods* Yup, it's true. Every single Burrower has written a little (or a lot, in some cases) of fan fiction over the years, and it was these forays into the established Harry Potter world that drew us all together. By reading the various offerings, we were all able to get a little insight into the authors themselves, which is a difficult thing to do normally when you interact with folks on the internet. You can generally get a good feel for someone's personality by reading what their imagination comes up with.
Tami's works were easily the most planned out, but they always had a streak of fun running through them, just waiting to jump out and surprise you every once in a while. Rayna's efforts usually warmed the heart, and offered a little moral teaching in them more often than not. Jason's stories were always a toss-up between being the most clever or the most funny, while Mari's often quirky nature shone through in every chapter that she shared.
Anyway, what I'm trying to point out is that through the power of reading, I managed to find the best friends you could ask for, plus be entertained at the same time. You don't get any better than that as far as I'm concerned. *nods*
So fan fiction - whether you hate the idea of it or not - is definitely worth recommending. You never know what you are going to discover, and that is surely one of the best reasons to read after all.
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