Author: lidijahilje

What Hooks the Reader — A Case Study

Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

Every avid reader out there is convinced it’s the stunning use of words that makes a great writer. And every struggling writer out there believes it is the beautiful prose that hooks the reader.

Think back to essay writing in your English (or in my case, Croatian) classes back in elementary school. You might still hear your teacher raving about the lush, beautiful sentences, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the story itself was either a giant clump of consecutive things that happened (with not much causality between them), or all together — nonexistent.

Bestselling books, the classics . . . they’re all beautifully written (or most of them, anyway). So, intuitively we conclude — aided by our creative writing teachers — that it is stunning prose that makes a story worth reading.

When in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

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Book Review: Normal People

Marianne is a high school misfit, but that’s okay–she couldn’t care less about what people think.

Connel is one of the popular kids, and that’s fortunate because he does care about what everyone thinks. But being popular comes at a price; Connel has less liberty to act as he pleases—to see whom he chooses—than a social outcast like Marianne.

Frequently thrown together when he picks his mom up from Marianne’s mansion, (where his mom works as a cleaner), these two awkward teenagers find that they connect on a deeper level, both intellectually and emotionally.

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Writing Fiction as a Way of Practicing Mindfulness

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It’s no news that writing can be used in healing purposes. There are dozens of studies that support that conclusion. One of the leading scientists in the field, a social psychologist Dr. James W. Pennebaker has conducted controlled clinical research on the mind-body connection and found that expressive writing can help with both physical health and work performance. More information can be found in his book Opening up: the healing power of expressing emotion.

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Book review: Check-point

Five French humanitarians set out to Central Bosnia to bring aid to women and children trapped in an occupied town of Kakanj.

You would think the most dangerous thing on their journey would be passing the various checkpoints manned by paramilitaries and professional armies. Think again.

Each of the five people in the two-truck convoy has their own hidden agenda. They paint an unexpected picture of humanitarianism. Most of them are not the benevolent good-doers with honest intentions we imagine all humanitarians to be.

Lionel is in love with Maud, the only girl in the convoy. Alex wants to help his fiancé, one of the women trapped inside the occupied territory. Marc, an ex-UN peace corp member, wants to put an end to the fighting, whatever the cost. Vaulthier’s goal is to stop Marc.

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Book review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a story about a young ornithologist named Jo, who rents a house in rural Illinois to study nesting birds. Her solitary routine is interrupted when a girl approaches her from the woods. She calls herself Ursa and claims to be an alien who came to Earth to study humanity. Supposedly, she’ll go back to her homeworld once she’s witnessed five miracles here on Earth.
Jo suspects her to be a runaway child whose return to an abusive home might put her in further danger. With help from a reclusive neighbor, Gabe, Jo tries to find out more about Ursa’s past in order to help her.

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Book review: The Kiss Quotient

Stella Lane is great at math, but her autism makes her not-so-great with people. Kissing reminds her of a shark getting his mouth cleaned by a pilot fish, and making love is all about letting a man take pleasure in her body, without expecting the experience to be even remotely as pleasant to her.

Studious as she is, Stella concludes that if she practiced with a professional, she would eventually be able to enjoy sex more—or at least not freeze while someone is making love to her.

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My Literary Trip Across England

Chatsworth House (aka Pemberly)

I am a huge fan of two Janes; Jane Austen and Jane Eyre. These two women hold a very special place in my heart ever since I found out about them decades ago. And both of them have been an inspiration in two ways— in life and in literature.

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