How to Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book

In honor of March Magics*, I present you with the first in a set of two posts on The Diana Wynne Jones Experience, otherwise entitled: How to Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book and What Your Fantastic Journey Along the Way May Look Like.

*Previously known as Diana Wynne Jones March, March Magics is held each… March (who knew?) by Kristen @ We Be Reading, celebrating the works of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett.


Part The First:

How To Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book


Step 1:

Find a book by Diana Wynne Jones.

This is, naturally, the only required step. And if you haven’t, you should do so at once.

Options include: finding it

  • at a library
  • at a bookshop
  • at a library sale
  • online
  • borrowing one from a friend

You should exercise discernment if you do the last one, for, depending on the friend, they may (a) be thrilled to lend you the book, since “EVERYONE IN THE WORLD MUST READ THIS BOOK OH MY WORD READ IIIIT!” or (b) it may be their Precious, a hard-won copy wrested from a dragon’s lair, and “NO ONE CAN TOUCH THIS BOOK IT IS THE PRECIOUS DON’T YOU DARE” or (c) a mix of both (which is obviously the most dangerous of all).

In the case of b or c, if you do manage to borrow it, you should be extremely grateful** cautious and return it to them promptly upon reading it, utterly undamaged, or your welfare may be threatened. Dragons hath no fury like a bookworm with damaged lent book that they value above all else, especially by this particular author…

Please also note that most fans of this author are FIERCELY LOYAL. I’ll just… you know… leave that note there in case you don’t “get” the books, to suggest caution in your dealings with said fans, especially if they lent you it. It’s basically the equivalent of lending someone your heart, so do be considerate.

If at this point I have left you with a vague and uneasy impression that DWJ fans are like rather cantankerous dragons who might spout fire at you if you look at them (or their books) the wrong way, then let me direct you toward the book “Dark Lord of Derkholm” which contains a strong-willed and rather grouchy but firm dragon known as Scales, and you will see that we have nothing on him, and therefore you are clearly quite safe.

**I won’t force the “grateful” on you, since I’ve read DWJ’s Eight Days of Luke and therefore know better. (The hero of that book was constantly being told by his nasty relatives that he should be grateful for them “looking after” him. Um… yeah, no.)

Step 2: (optional)

Look at the cover.

At this point, you will probably go: “Erm… that’s an… odd… cover… >.>” and be highly tempted to return the book and/or not get it and/or hide it among your stacks of books so no one can see that you have such a dubious-looking book.

Above all else, DO NOT YIELD TO THIS TEMPTATION.

I REPEAT: DO. NOT.

Do not be fooled. Cover artists notoriously have no clue how to illustrate real works of Fantasy Genius, especially when said books are by Diana Wynne Jones.

Press bravely on to what lies between the pages and your fortitude will be rewarded.

Note: This step is not always there. That is, you may look at the cover and be surprised to find it is an okay and/or beautiful one. This, however, is not as common as I would like, and you must count yourself a fortunate soul if it is the case for you.

DWJ tower

Step 3:

Read the book!***

Preferably in a single day.

(You complete this step, naturally, by opening to page one and reading the first sentence, followed by the next, etc., etc.)

Be warned, reader traveler! Once you embark upon this journey, you may not emerge until the final page falls . . . so see to it that you absolutely do NOT start reading it late/after dinner, especially if it’s one of the lengthier specimens, or you may be liable to be up in the wee hours of the night, not caring a smidgen if you have to get up in a few hours, because you simply must finish, at once!

Also, DO NOT STOP READING IN THE MIDDLE IF IT DOESN’T CATCH YOU RIGHT AWAY. These books can at times be a slow-burn type of adventure, which gets going a little slowly through the middle, and you think a lot of it isn’t related, until suddenly in the last third or so, everything starts coming together at once and HAPPENING. So. Press on! Give it a chance even if you feel like it’s not your thing. By the end, it will likely capture you.

***So, I lied; this is the other required step after Step 1.

This third step, the reading, is the most important, and consequently will be the longest step on this journey.

Which brings us to the second part of this two-post series, namely Part the Second: What Your Fantastic Journey Along the Way May Look Like. (Or, as I’m going to call it, The Diana Wynne Jones Experience, because title length, you know. *nods*)

I’ll be posting that next Monday, so stay tuned!

Feel free to wait on the edge of your seat if you like.

I was going to have it all one post, but I couldn’t help myself running away with this delightfully fun topic — surprise! — so I chopped it in half to spare you readers. πŸ˜‰

(It’s going to be great fun, believe me. >:D)

Part 2: The Diana Wynne Jones Experience

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25 thoughts on “How to Read a Diana Wynne Jones Book

  1. This is fabulous. πŸ˜€ Utterly fabulous. Also, very true about the cover bit. A lot of the newer editions seem to have decent covers, but the older ones are just weird.
    Can’t wait for the rest of the series!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh GRACIOUS was I happy to see this post pop up in my blogger feed! ALL THE DWJ ❀ ❀ ❀ (also, did I ever tell you about the time I went out to read House Of Many Ways on the 4th of July and almost got hit by a firework? IT HAPPENED xD It wasn't a huge firework, but it came soaring over the roof of the house and exploded too close to me for comfort. My ears wouldn't stop ringing and my hair smelled like smoke. 'Twas most interesting. At least I'll never forget it xD)

    *can't stop staring at all your books* Seriously, you have SO MANY. I, uh … don't even own one yet *hides*. THIS WILL BE FIXED. I intend to buy Howl's Moving Castle soon πŸ˜€ . I can't wait for the next part of this!

    *scampers off to the library to get more DWJ books* xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! And wow, that’s a terrifying and also great story about the firework! XD Fireworks are scary. πŸ˜› One time I got a spark from one in my eye — that was fun. XD At least it was a memorable House of Many ways experience, haha!

      Aww, thanks! I’ve… been collecting them for like 5 years, so… yeah. They’re just kind of hard to find over here, it seems! But yessss, HMC is well worth owning so we can reread it 9485740 times. ^_^ Thanks, Savannah! ❀

      Like

  3. I love Dianna Wynn Jones. I have only read Howl’s Moving Castle (I very much need to read Dark Lord of Dernholm; these are the only ones my library has) but her writing style is so strange, so beautiful, that it makes me hungry for more. Her world for Howl is so well done. I want to visit his castle and live there forever. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Her books are just the best, aren’t they? πŸ˜€ HMC is so good. I hope you enjoy Derkholm if you get to read it! πŸ˜€ I love her writing style and world too! And if you do go visit Howl’s castle and live there… I’m coming with you!! XD Thanks so much for stopping by! Always delighted to talk with fellow HMC fans! ^_^ ❀

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  4. Haha, this is wonderful!! πŸ˜€ Now I know exactly what I’m to do whenever I FINALLY get around to reading a DWJ book… XD And, I’m ashamed to admit, the covers *have* always kinda been a turn off for me…But I promise I’ll be better!! XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Madeline! And… yeah, I don’t blame you at all. πŸ˜› To be honest, when I found Howl’s Moving Castle at a library sale I ALMOST didn’t get it because of the weird cover… but I made myself get it because it had been so highly recommended by someone whose book taste I trusted so much. But then I kind of sort of let it hide in a stack of other books for months because the cover was too weiiiird. Now I don’t mind it because I’m used to it and I love the story inside so much. But yeah. I used to be the same way, so I understand! But rest assured that the stories inside definitely are worth it! I hope you get to try some someday, because I think you’d really like them. πŸ™‚ Some of the covers have gotten better over the years, too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay. This is officially one of my top, TOP favorite Celti posts. THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. And CELTI. Your DWJ collection. O___O I didn’t realize you had so many. IT IS MAGNIFICENT.

    I totally fall in the “c” category of lending my books. At first I’m all HAVE IT EVERYONE MUST READ IT. But then I’m like…but, wait, MY PRECIOUSSSS. So, yes. #BookWormProbs
    “It’s basically the equivalent of lending someone your heart…” <— *cackles madly at inside joke* (But it's also true.)

    It's soooo true about the covers. I don't know why these books particular have the weirdest covers! I mean…her books are weird, but not a creepy, messed up weird like the covers suggest. They're a FUN weird. BUT. That copy of House of Many Ways and Castle in the Air you have are my faaaave! I have those, and the Howl's Moving Castle one to match it, and they're honestly some of my favorite covers ever. They PERFECTLY capture the enchanting, delightfulness of DWJ books. All green and whimsical and fun. If only her other books had covers like those…

    "These books can at times be a slow-burn type of adventure, which gets going a little slowly through the middle, and you think a lot of it isn’t related, until suddenly in the last third or so, everything starts coming together at once and HAPPENING." <—SO TRUUUUE. The first time I read HMC I was thinking, "Does this even have a plot???" But then THE ENDING. Although, I didn't even MIND it not having a plot because it was the most delightful thing I had ever read, and I could happily read about Sophie and Howl and Calcifer and Michael doing absolutely nothing til the end of time. But still. Her plots are so confusing and so brilliant and so DIFFERENT from your standard book, and IT'S GREAT.

    Oh my goodness, this was all just the best! I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL NEXT MONDAY. Like…I'm literally counting down the days. This post was just as delightful as a DWJ book itself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aaahhh thank you so much, Lauri! *beams* This makes me so happy that you liked it so much! πŸ˜€ And yes… I’ve… been collecting. *cough* Thank you! πŸ™‚

      Yep, yep, I’m definitely a “c” as well. XD Everyone must read the thiiings but but but… (Aha, yes, the inside joke. >:D)

      I totally agree! They’re weird but not in a bad way. I think it’s just that her books were coming out at a time when covers for fantasy just… weren’t very good. I mean, I’m thinking of some other fantasy covers of books from that era and… they’re all pretty weird and creepy. O_O I think cover artists just didn’t know what to do and possibly didn’t read the books or take them seriously, I don’t know. XD But yes, they’re definitely a fun weird! πŸ˜€ Yes, the Howl trilogy has some pretty good covers. πŸ˜€ I don’t care as much for the HMC one you mentioned because I don’t think of the castle that way, but otherwise they’re cool. πŸ˜€ And there are definitely some other fun covers! I should share some of my favorites sometime… I just wish they all were.

      Yep, I don’t actually care if there’s seemingly “no plot” for some of the book, because it’s just so fun to read and brilliant and different and yep, everything you said! πŸ˜€

      Eep, thank you ever so much!! (I… guess I should finish the second post, then. XD) As… as… delightful as a DWJ book? O_O My goodness, what high praise!! Thank you! ^_^

      Like

  6. I loved this. It’s all true. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait for part two!
    And I’m the type that won’t lend my DWJ books to anyone. I’m more than happy to track down copies to buy for anyone that needs them though! Every time I go to the used bookstore, I look for the rarest ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kristen! ❀ And I don't think I've dared lend a DWJ book myself either (unless it was to somebody who lives in my house so I can keep an eye on it. XD). Oh, yes, I love finding extra copies too! That's awesome. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  7. What good advice! I should have let my friend read it before she borrowed Howl’s Moving Castle from me. I waited with baited breath for her to 1) read and enjoy the book so that we could talk about it together and 2) return it to me with nary a mark on its beautiful pages. I can let you know that she exceeded both wishes πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post! The thing about recommending DWJ is that (1) they’re hard to describe without sounding silly sometimes, even though they aren’t, and (2) THE COVERS. If I ever become rich I would do whatever it takes to get special editions of all her books published with new covers and illustrations! (There are so many great DWJ fan art on tumblr and pinterest, I wish these artists could’ve worked on the books…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And yes, they DO sound silly, but they’re NOT, so you’re right, that’s tough… Goodness, I absolutely love that idea! There have been some slightly better covers over time, but YES, that would be amazing to get new covers and illustrations too! Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

      Like

    • Haha, sorry. XD The new post is up now though. πŸ˜‰ And aww, thank you so much! Oh, yes, I remember that post from last year… Some seriously awful ones. πŸ˜› At least there are a few recenter nice ones; but really… no wonder DWJ isn’t as popular as she should be! o.o Thanks for reading and for your sweet comment! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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