第 80 期

2023 年 4 月 30 日出刊




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2022 2022 Book Talk Judging Reflections—Windows to A Magical World



On a pleasant Sunday morning, a family of four relax in the living room after breakfast. Sunlight streams through the windows while steam wafts up from freshly steeped oolong tea.   They cozy up on the couches, with their heads bending down.



On a pleasant Sunday morning, a family of four relax in the living room after breakfast. Sunlight streams through the windows while steam wafts up from freshly steeped oolong tea.   They cozy up on the couches, with their heads bending down. Each of them is gazing at something that completely absorbs their attention. Now what do you picture the items they are holding? Smartphones? Tablets? In fact, if you come closer, you’ll realize that those are actually BOOKS.

It’s a fairly accurate description of my nerdy bookworm family, immersed in the world of fiction. As an incurable book addict and high school English teacher, I’ve been blessed to have the privilege of teaching a wide variety of YA novels, including Number the Stars, The Alchemist, and To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve relished these opportunities to discuss with my teenage students universal human experiences and values through these novels. My most treasured teaching moments happened when my students raised thought-provoking questions about a character or spontaneously started debating about the issues of equality and courage.

In my free time, I sometimes listen to The Book Review Podcast hosted by editors at The New York Times. The host invites world-famous authors and critics to introduce new fiction that is available in bookstores. From time to time, they revisit award-winning books, shedding new light on them or exploring their personal relationship with them over the years.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to be one of the judges at the 2022 Book Talk Contest last year. I had a lot of fun listening to different book talks, and was especially intrigued by some of the books I haven't read before, such as Cinderella Is Dead and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Books such as Huckleberry Finn, Anne Frank’s Diary and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may be well-known stories, yet the presenters’ passion for the novel and creativity were palpable. I was thrilled to learn that there are young like-minded book lovers out there, and got even more excited when they introduced a couple of new books I’ve never heard of. The contestants were basically a younger version of the podcast hosts/critics, who arouse literary interest by giving others a quick peek into different worlds.

As for how to become even better book talk speakers, the following are two useful tips. First, no spoilers. Your job is to provide enough incentive for the audience to be interested in the novel you're introducing, so don't treat it like a book report where you have to provide all the detailed information. Pique our curiosity without giving away the entire plot. Secondly, consider adjusting the pace at which you speak. A more relaxed pace yet passionate tone is a difficult balance that requires practice. In addition, you may adjust your pace based on the plot. At an important point, you can use a faster pace to generate excitement or slow down a little bit to create suspense.

If books are a “uniquely portable magic” like Stephen King wrote, then book talk speakers are like appealing glass windows that invite people to take a sneak peek of the magical world. All in all, I’d like to congratulate you all on your achievement, and I look forward to hearing more interesting book talks from you in the future. So read on! 







閒暇時我也會聽紐約時報編輯主持的The Book Review Podcast,他們專訪世界知名的作家和文學評論家來介紹剛上市的新書,有時也會回顧得獎書籍,從新詮釋這些文學作品或探討經典故事的個人省思。