The first 250 words, Part Two

A while ago I did a post about judging a book by its first 250 words (it’s common for writing contests to pick this number for your writing sample). I showed that some famous books have beginnings that don’t really hit on the substance of the book. On the other hand, I showed that some books do manage to jump right into the meat of the book with the first 250 words. In either case, it’s interesting.

Since then, I’ve looked at some other well-known and best-selling books. After the break, another set of examples.

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Magic, Nesbit, Eager, and Lewis

No, not a law firm. It’s like this:

I was looking in my bookstore for a kid’s book under the “E’s” (a whole different story). I didn’t find it, but I did find Edward Eager’s Half Magic. I like to re-read books that were favorites when I was a kid myself, so I picked it up.

While some books in this nostalgia category don’t stand up to the passage of time, I’m happy to say most of them do. Many even deliver entirely new insights and enjoyments to my now (somewhat) adult mind. Half Magic is one of them.

As a bonus, there was a new connection. The children in the book discover a new author at their library, E. Nesbit, and she becomes their favorite (Edward Eager readily acknowledges his debt to this children’s author).

The connection is that I’d just finished C. S. Lewis’s On Stories. In it, Lewis gives many examples of what he considers good writing, and Nesbit is one of them. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never read Nesbit, even as a kid (To be fair, the small libraries I frequented may not have had her work, and until I got to college in the city I don’t think I ever saw books for sale anywhere except at the corner drugstore).

It’s not as odd as the Tolkien-Lewis connection I made today reading The Horse and His Boy (which contains a “prancing pony” named “Bree,”) but it’s a nice one.

Of course, I looked up Kindle versions of Nesbit today. 25 books for $3.95, all in the palm of my hand. Click. Got it. More on Kindle in the next post.