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Reading (and comparing) multiple books | Reading

You know what's better than reading a book? Reading TWO BOOKS. Let's talk about how books and stories relate to one another, how book series work, and what you can learn from comparing stories from around the world.

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Video transcript

- [David] Hello readers. You know what's better than reading a book? Reading two books. Reading a bunch of books. Reading a mountain of books. This may sound self-evident, but great readers read a lot of books. Good readers read widely. They read lots of different types of books. Sometimes these books will be similar, and sometimes they'll be very different, but one thing that good readers do is think about how what they are reading might connect with other books they've read in the past. They think about how books connect with other books. I have been reading a lot this year. Mostly cookbooks, mysteries and science fiction novels, so they're alike in some ways and different in others. Right now, I'm reading these mystery novels that take place in Australia. They're all written by the same person and they all feature the same main characters. A collection of books that are about the same character in different situations is called a series. Reading a series is a great way to see how the same characters grow and change over a longer period of time. There's the hero of the series with a fabulous feather in her hair and a magnifying glass ready to solve some mysteries. Now not all books by the same author are automatically part of the same series. Authors can write standalone books or start completely different series. Here's the author hard at work on a typewriter, an ancient writing device. If you don't know what that is, politely ask an older person. Often, writers have a similar writing style even when what they're writing is not connected. For example, if you like funny books, and you find an author that makes you laugh, chances are that the other books they write could also be funny. Books can have similar plots. So the series I've been reading is a mystery. The main character is a detective and she figures out how and why someone committed a crime. After many years of reading, I've learned that I really like books that share this quality, of a hero that solves mysteries. But, just because two books are both mysteries doesn't mean they're going to work the same way. Two mysteries by two different writers with different characters and situations are going to be pretty different from each other. As a reader, I have to be careful not to assume that I know where a book is going to go just because I'm familiar with what kind of story it's telling. It's like fairytales, right? Every culture around the world has traditional stories and those stories all pretty much have the same purpose which is to teach people how to behave like a good person. There are stories all around the world that have a similar structure to the story of Cinderella. Young, poor girl with an evil stepmother, unfairly punished and then through magic and the goodness of her own heart, she marries into royalty. There are thousands of versions of this story from every culture on Earth. I love reading stories from all over the world because it helps me understand the values that different cultures share or how they differ. This is why it's fun to read lots of stories from different times and different people. It can help us understand what's important to people, what was important to people in the past, or what's important to us now, and it's fun. Reading lots of books is fun. You might find an author or a character that you love. You might be transported to a whole new land or time. Reading widely and thinking about how books connect is the best way to become a better reader, and you might just solve a mystery or two while you're at it. You can learn anything, David out.