How To Read a Book: Neopets Style
Reading in Neopia has long been regarded as a hassle. Each night Neopians go to
bed with the same familiar phrases: “Not that book, we read that yesterday!” “Tell
me a [insert exciting adjective or noun] story!” and “Read faster! This is the
good part!” Sooner or later a neopet owner is guaranteed to go out of his or her
mind trying to keep up with the book tastes of all those in the Neohome. Especially
when opinions can be as varied as Chia colors! Reading will and has become something
of a habit, instead of the exciting adventure it should be. Fortunately, there
are ways to help reverse this decline and bring reading in Neopia back into every
The first rule to beginning any reading adventure is to buy the right books.
Don’t just assume that because you have an Eyrie, they’re going to enjoy “Eyrie
Style”; make sure you know who you’re buying for. Go buy books with your pet,
that way you get just what they want. If you can’t go as a group, ask your pet
and see what sort of books they would like to read, instead of just what you
want. Your pet will know best what sort of books they enjoy, from adventure
to mystery, and reading their favorite genres will make the whole home happier.
Also, buy new books instead of reading the same ones over and over again. There’s
nothing more uninspiring than a book you know inside and out (except maybe listening
to a Mortog teach History) And while it may be good for nostalgia, shake things
up with something unexpected and exciting. And you don’t need to spend a whole
lot. Quality over cost will get you far!
Another general rule of thumb I use is to buy books that will be good for the
mood you’re trying to set. Bedtime books and horror books are not equal! If
you want to read before sleeping it’s best to get an interesting yet relaxing
book, such as “A Tale of Three Bruces” or “Confident Kyrii”. If you prefer to
read to your pet in the daytime or afternoon as a recreation, you may want “Curses
from the Deep” or “Gelert Rock and Roll”. And, unless you’re enrolled in Neoschool
or trying to raise a Lenny, you shouldn’t be getting books like “Trigonometry
Hyperbolics” at all!
If you’re absolutely puzzled, try to use books as a way to start new hobbies
and pastimes. Reading to your pet is a great way to teach things or learn crafts.
Through flat text you can begin 3-dimensional adventures. Try buying manuals
to read and see how much more fun daytime activities become. Eylist and Murlu
(my pets) and I bought “Wocky Cookies” and since then we haven’t stopped eating
delicious homemade snacks and desserts.
Buying the right book is like taking the first step on a journey, it’s important
to get things off on a good foot! So talk to your pet, go shopping with them,
and overall make sure you’re buying things the whole Neohome will enjoy.
Alright, now that most of you have gone out and wiped the book store clean,
you’ll come to the point where you actually have to read the book. (Get all
your groans and whining done now) Usually if you start a new book with the mindset
that you’re going to enjoy it then you’re going to have a good time. Make your
pets excited too! Lines like “Hey, let’s read about Pirates, and maybe tomorrow
we’ll go and visit Krawk Island.” are almost guaranteed to get a positive reaction.
Even something as simple as “I hear [book title] is a great book, let’s read
it tonight!” with the right tone and voice will help.
Speaking of tone and voice, let’s go a little deeper. I know we’re all not
actors, but reading as if you were actually in the story keeps the reader interested.
A bland reader is just as boring as a Pet Rock Convention, and at least the
Pet Rocks are quiet! Get into the book when reading and every pet in the home
will begin to enjoy reading too.
The first step to becoming a skilled out-loud book reader is to know how to
speak. For non-fiction books these rules are key, and for fiction you should
use these tips for narrators and everything that’s not a quotation by a character.
These are three basic pointers and I’ll go through them fast:
1. Speak at a moderate speed, clear and loud with good enunciation. If people
are listening to you, they want to know what you’re saying!
2. Emphasize descriptions and important passages by raising and lowering your
voice. (Adjectives pertaining to “tiny Kadoaties” can be spoken with a higher
pitched voice, and “deep, mysterious Maraqua” can be stretched out and deepened)
3. Pay attention to what you’re reading and be interested as well! If you like
what you’re reading it will certainly show in your voice and all your listeners
will be more caught up than an Elephante in a Borovan mug.
For fiction books there are more secrets of the trade, but one of the main
ones is to talk like the characters when you speak for them. As most books begin
they’ll introduce you to the hero and all the other members of the literary
cast. For a reader, the moment you learn about these new people, you should
pick how to voice their words. A secret for actors is to put themselves in the
shoes of the person they are portraying; a speaker can do this too. Take, for
example, our beloved Doctor Sloth. If a book you are reading out loud describes
him as a “green, wicked, evil ne’er-do-well with a passion for enslaving and
zapping Neopets” you should go into analyze mode.
Step one is to pick your pitch. Generally heroes are deep and full, females
are higher pitched, and wicked characters are mid-tone and breathy. This is
not always the case, but if you’re just starting you can go by these rules.
Now back to dear Dr. Sloth. This book has identified him as the antagonist,
or evil person, so you could go with a low or midrange voice.
Secondly is pick special aspects to add to your voice. Quirks such as stutters,
nasal whines, lisps, and accents are (I think) vital to keeping your listeners
interested. Our boy Sloth is a scientist, one can guess, by the “zapping” part
and the “Doctor” part of his name. Scientists can stereotypically have a nerdy,
nasal sound to their voice. If you feel its right for Sloth then just try adding
it in! You really can’t go wrong, especially when having fun is your main reason
for doing something! As a reader you have almost unlimited ultimate power over
the universe of the book (even more power than a Zoomik on a tricycle!) so the
choice is yours as to what spices you want to add to the stock. Traits can even
change as the book progresses. For example, if Frodin in “Cybunny Down” gets
caught in a rainstorm and must run far to find shelter, his breath will become
rapid and his voice will be hoarse. If you pay attention and add the right touch
when it’s called for, then the book will become more realistic than a Flosset
in your pajamas. (And more fun and comfortable, too)
Finally, out-louders should know when to add sound effects. The voice is an
amazing thing so put that baby to work! This is a pretty straightforward tip
but many people forget it. If the book says “the rasping of the branch on the
window awoke him” then sound like a branch, be the branch! If this sounds far
to complicated for you, or too much work, then just add the simple words “with
a” or “sounding like” before your “swwwshhhh swisshhh” noises so that it makes
more sense. I don’t think the author would mind you adding two words to your
reading when it really can make a world of difference to what it sounds like.
It not only helps your pets feel like they are really in the world of the book,
but it helps you remember what happened in that scene too! (This is called a
mnemonic device, new-mahn-ick)
Now you’re ready to have a fun-filled and interesting time with the books you’ve
bought. There’s one more tip I have to share with you, though, and this is to
know when to end a book. This may sound easy and you may be going “You’re silly
JC! You end a book when it’s over!” but there are more subtle differences that
add just the right touch. If you have a short book that will be over in less
than a day, or a craft book etc., then you shouldn’t have any problem with this
part and can skip to the end. But for those of you ready to embark or currently
working on thick novels, knowing the right spots to pause for the night is just
as important as finding that Asparagus Pie slice from between the cushions of
your couch before you sit. My own secret is to stop at the end of a chapter
(which is a given). But which chapter? I say: one with a cliffhanger. It will
be hard, and everyone will struggle because you want to know what happens next,
but that’s why it’s best to stop there! It leaves you wanting more the next
night, and the next night, and promotes a sustained period of interest. Not
only that, but as you wait for the next session to read your Neopets will be
busy discussing what they think will happen next, which is healthy for that
grey matter called a brain.
So, to summarize (for all of you who skipped right to the end): 1. Pick books
everyone will want to read. 2. Read with enthusiasm and creativity in your voice.
3. End in a spot that will leave you wanting more. And most importantly have
fun! I hope this article as already aroused a want to buy new books that is
stronger than the stench of a Dung Smoothie. So what are you waiting for? Get
Author’s Note: Onlyonejc is an avid reader with a passion for fiction. She
firmly believes in the value of books for people of all ages, races, genders,
and species. While JC does not think you should go out and buy books to read
to your computer screen, she strongly recommends starting to read at home, in
the car, and to others around you. These tips can be translated to the real
world easily and thus make for great reads all around. Onlyonejc also apologizes
for the corny similes, which are more profuse than Volcanic Rocks from the Tombola,
and worse than a Maraquan Lupe at eating Tropical Noodle Surprise.