Thursday, December 10, 2009
Reading Guide: The Magician's Book by Laura Miller
The Magician's Book by Laura Miller was given away here on the blog and was won by Jaime in Colorado. Congrats Jaime! I am currently reading the book and wanted to share the reading guide with you all. If you haven't picked up a copy of this book, I hope you will. I am thoroughly enjoying it.
1. Laura Miller was introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia by her teacher and was immediately swept into their magical world. Describe your own discovery and reaction to them.
2. When Miller writes about her most powerful reading experiences while growing up, she cites Island of the Blue Dolphins, Five Children and It, and the Little House on the Prairie series. Name some of the formative books of your childhood and discuss why they were important to you. What about them has stayed with you into adulthood?
3. In the excerpt that opens The Magician’s Book, Lucy encounters the best story she has ever read. Afterward, she is unable to remember what happened in the story or to reread it. Have you ever lost yourself in a story as Lucy did? What were you reading? How old were you? Discuss why you think you were able to forget yourself so completely. How do our daily lives affect the way we read? What does this say about the role readers play in the creation of a story’s meaning?
4. Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Franzen note the importance of C. S. Lewis’s books in their own lives and work. Discuss the similarities and differences between their books and the Chronicles of Narnia. Have you noticed Lewis’s influence on other writers? If so, which writers? And why does their work remind you of the Pevensie children’s adventures?
5. Does Miller’s description of C. S. Lewis’s life and personality alter your view of his novels? In what ways? Have your opinions of other books changed after discovering personal details about the author? Why does biographical information affect our interpretation?
6. Laura Miller writes that she will not address the religious symbolism in the Chronicles, focusing instead on the stories and their creator. Do you agree with her decision? Are there other aspects of the books you would have liked Miller to address?
7. When Miller discovered Narnia’s Christian messages, her feeling of betrayal drove her away. Eventually, she returned and reexamined the books as an adult. Why was she upset by her new understanding? Discuss the role that the passage from innocence to understanding played in her reaction. Is one experience more valid than another?
8. Part memoir, part biography, and part literary criticism, The Magician’s Book touches on the many factors that shaped the author’s relationship with the novels. Discuss the extent to which each reader’s knowledge informs and shapes his or her interpretations of stories.
9. At its core, The Magician’s Book is the story of Laura Miller’s attempt to regain her childhood enchantment with the Chronicles. Have you reread the Chronicles of Narnia as an adult? If so, how has your enjoyment or understanding of them changed? Do you think it is possible to regain the childhood experience of reading? Why?