TV meets Literature

In Flavorwire, Emily Temple tells us that TV tends to refer to refer to literature to make just about anything a little more highbrow, and adds that “nothing’s more fun than seeing books on the boob tube.”

She picks 50 of the greatest and most memorable literary allusions, shout-outs, cameos, and references on television, as well as real-life author appearances and whole episodes, or even whole seasons, based on books.

For example, she cites The Infinite Jest episode of Parks and Recreation, Maurice Sendak on Colbert, Norman Mailer was on Gilmore Girls, John Cheever and John Updike on the Dick Cavett Show, etc.

Mark Twain on StarTrekIn “Time’s Arrow”, Data and other members of the crew of the Enterprise meets Jack London and Mark Twain when slipping through a time portal. Twain travels with them back into the 24th century.

50 Literary Moments on TV HERE

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A very nice 4-star review of Random in Goodreads by Jen that begins:

“AAAARGHHHEEGEH :WKLEJWF”

I was so set to give this a 3-star review and be really glad to expand my reading horizons (Were-anything is not my usual go-to reading fare) and be delighted at Alma Alexander’s way with prose.

BUT NO. She had to go and create these passionate characters in a fascinating universe of differentiated Were clans and structures with adults with possibly shady moments and then THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it. But be aware, there is no way you can’t not track down the second book, whenever that comes out).

[Editor’s note: Book 2 due in the spring]

This wasn’t my favoritest book ever; I think Alexander expects a bit too much of her readers in terms of keeping information. In setting up the Celia story, she left the opening scenes to simmer–and, I think, risked burning them, because I for one had kind of forgotten the finer points when we returned to that time.

Then it felt like the two stories were running parallel for a while; it took me some time to really believe how all the various pieces connected… I

That said, here’s what Alexander is awesome at: the grey outsides.

What I mean by that is the places where you would not have thought there needed to be stories, but there do. I abso-freaking-lutely loved Alexander’s explorations of the Jazz-into-Jesse storyline, playing with sex and gender and all of the ways that male and female trip over each other. I loved her descriptions of Turning and how vivid it was; I loved that she didn’t immediately go for a love interest; I even appreciated the inclusion of the blogging…

Alexander is herself a transplant, and her descriptions of the Marsh family coming to the New World and reinventing themselves were heartbreaking and real, grounded in the confusion of language and mores that absolutely come with being totally out of what you always understood.

I can’t wait to see what Chalky becomes and the backstory of Peregrine. Will definitely be tracking down “Wolf”…even despite myself.

I think she’ll be happy with Chalky in Book 2, and I suspect even happier in Book 3 where he takes center stage. Book 3 is coming by the end of the year.

~~~
Another new review comes from Paul Weimer at SF Signal.

PROS: Interesting exploration of a modern take on shapeshifters; epistolary format an excellently used narrative structure.
CONS: “Wham line” (a line of dialogue that radically alters a scene) ending does encourage continuance of the series at the expense of a complete story; vagueness in external world details didn’t work for me.
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting and fresh take on shapeshifters.

You can read the whole review HERE

~~~

BTW, I will send a free ebook of Random to the next 10 people who pledge to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or ...

To accept the offer, just send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer

~~~~~
11 Eulogies for Writers Written by Writers

At Mental Floss, Daniel Kolitz reflects on the fact that te literary eulogy is an ancient art form, and he offers a “grab-bag of belletristic mourning in all its forms, from 19th-century poetry to 21st-century magazine writing.”eulogyImage credit: getty images

e.g.

“Life in His Language,” Toni Morrison on James Baldwin
Toni MorrisonJames Baldwin

 

 

 

 

Toni Morrison was close friends with James Baldwin, and when Baldwin died in 1987 she penned this highly moving tribute for the New York Times. Written as a second-person letter to Baldwin, the piece describes the “three gifts” Baldwin gave to Morrison (and, by extension, world literature): Language, courage, and the ability to cut anger with tenderness.

There’s no question Baldwin profoundly influenced Morrison’s work, but what gives the piece its enormous power is that his influence extended not just to her prose style but to the act of writing itself. Morrison, who from Baldwin learned “the courage of one who could go as a stranger in the village and transform the distances between people into intimacy with the whole world.”

Eulogies for Writers HERE

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Inspiring quotes

Sometimes a writer’s own words offer the best eulogy. At Buzzfeed, Daniel Dalton selected 15 notable quotes.

e.g.
Gabriel García MárquezEdgard Garrido / Reuters / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed
Gabriel García Márquez (1927 – 2014)

See the others HERE

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Authors Older Than Sliced Bread

Sliced bread has been around since 1928, Off the Shelf tells us, and it has found some authors who are older than that.

e.g.
betty-whiteHere We Go Again: My Life in Television, by Betty White

Here We Go Again is a behind-the-scenes look at Betty’s career from her start on radio to her first show, Hollywood on Television, to several iterations of The Betty White Show, and much, much more. Packed with wonderful anecdotes about famous personalities and friendships, stories of Betty’s off-screen life, and the comedienne’s trademark humor, this deliciously entertaining book will give readers an entrée into Betty’s fascinating life, confirming yet again why we can’t get enough of this funny lady.

 

See the others HERE

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Quote of the Day

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”  ~  Robert De Niro

~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Encounter with Coyote

In Dawn of Magic, the last book in my Worldweaver series, Coyote comes into full flower. (I’m working the final proofs now.)

When I set out to write the Worldweavers books, I wanted to write a story which was an American YA fantasy, to ground the stories that I would write firmly in the New World. I began by exploring themes in the Native American mythos.

Avatars of the gods and spirits from that mythological sphere became characters in my stories. Grandmother Spider, who plays an important role in the creation of the world in the rich mythology of the American South West, became a mentor for my young protagonist

And since every light has to have a shadow, the Trickster God, Coyote, ambled onto the stage with a hat-tilt and a wicked grin aimed in my direction.

Initially, he was something of a simple stereotype, a literary equivalent of a simple pencil sketch. He was there to fill the hole in the narrative which required a touch of malice, a touch of trickery, a touch of the dark side. But then, the Trickster in my novels slowly Tricked me into becoming…well, a real boy. He developed tics and mannerisms and habits. He always wore cowboy boots which were always dusty, he was given to flippancy.

CoyoteFor reasons initially known only to himself, he appeared to be working in cahoots with the enemy. And yet Grandmother Spider tells my protagonist, “Coyote will always be on your side.” And it is the joy and richness of this character that both of those are true, and true at once, and they don’t necessarily cancel one another out. Coyote is a Schrodinger’s cat of a character, both good and evil inside that box and you don’t know which until you actually open it up and look. (And often even then you are not sure. He is Coyote, after all.)

My version of Coyote became something larger and deeper, something that forced me to color outside the lines and to ask harder questions and to glimpse all sorts of shadows into which my insights threw only the dimmest of lights, just enough light to know that there was more shadow beyond its reach than I would ever be able to understand or really do justice to within the scope of my story.

In Dawn of Magic, Coyote CAME ALIVE. The book is Thea Winthrop’s apotheosis, where she faces her greatest fears and has to stand firm in the face of them; this is the story of the redemption of Nikola Tesla, and his transformation into something that even I had not seen truly coming.

And above all this is the story of Coyote, the Trickster, the creature who cares deeply about everything even while he pretends not to give a fig for anything at all, who trusts instinct and not reason and gives his whole existence up to the power of that truth, whose role in creation is to test the mettle of men and to bring out the best and the brightest in them when times to try their souls are thrust upon them but who does this work with equal measure of playful malice and unplumbed depths of empathy and love.

This is the Coyote I came to know, and my own life is the richer for it.

~~~~~
Are you a bibliophile?
How many 2OK. Sure you love books, but are you a REAL bibliophile? How Well-Rounded Is Your Personal Book Collection? Buzzfeed wants to know.

Theyr’e talking real printed and bound paper pages here. How many of the 81 (yes, 81) following types of books do you own?

I got 70 out of 81. I fell down when it came to manga… :)
How manyTest your bibliophile status HERE

~~~
7 Reasons You Should Never Date Someone Who Doesn’t Read Books
Non-readerAs a person who was basically raised by books, Emma Lord writes, she cannot help but balk at dating non-readers.

I understand the sentiment. When I first started talking to a man online, I sent him one of my favorite books. He claims that I made it clear that if he didn’t like it, there would be no hope of a beautiful friendship. (He passed the test; he loved the book and he’s now my husband.)

Emma Lord, who is still single, says in Bustle, “I’m not sticking my nose up in the air at dating contenders because they haven’t read Proust or written a 17-page paper on some other dead guy…there is a book genre out there for everyone, and people who aren’t reading books are deliberately ignoring them and their brains are suffering for it.”

Read her reasons HERE

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15 YA Writers on Their Favorite Book for Adults

I wasn’t one of the YA authors asked, but I would have offered several books, including the one I sent as a test to my future husband, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by the British writer Louis de Bernières. I’ll tell you about some of my other favorites another time.

Writing for Flavorwire, Elisabeth Donnelly  asked some of our favorite contemporary young adult authors about their favorite books for grown-ups. The results, which feature responses that are both sly and serious, range from coming-of-age stories to science fiction adventures.

For example,

Favorite adultAndrew Smith: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

One of my favorite adult literary novels of all time is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. With rich prose and striking characters, the novel tells an inventive and enchanting story about the search for all things lost. It’s one of the very few novels I will read again and again.

Andrew Smith‘s books include Grasshopper Jungle and The Alex Crow, due in March.

 

 

Read the rest HERE

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Telephones in literature – quiz

It’s 100 years since Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated the US transcontinental telephone service, Greg Clowes writes at The Guardian. And to celebrate the occasion, he examined some memorable calls in literature. Can you get the right numbers for these questions?
TelephoneThe telephone – ‘a supernatural instrument’ according to one French writer. But who?

Take the quiz HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Chilling First Amendment Implications of a journalist’s five-year prison sentence

Read the article HERE
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Scarves growing on trees. To be harvested by those most in need of them. There are moments that people and their wacky and wonderful ideas really make me happy.
scarvesHundreds of hats and scarves have been spotted in cities that are experiencing freezing temps this winter. The message attached to one scarf says: “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold please take this to keep warm!”

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE John Gardner~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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15 Words

15 wordsLovereading.co.uk has created an infographic for language enthusiasts called “15 Words You Never Knew Came from Literature.”

Some of the books featured in this image include The Hobbit, Catch-22, and Gulliver’s Travels.

See the whole infographic HERE

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11 Types of People You Meet In Book Clubs

Not every book club is perfect, Kate Erbland writes in Bustle, and most of them involve a strange coterie of very different personalities with very different tastes, all battling it out to have their literary opinions be heard. She tells us about the 11 types of people who will bring passion to your friendly local book club.

For example:
NononoThe Deep Dissenter
No matter how carefully everyone picks each month’s book selection or how smoothly the discussion is guided, the Deep Dissenter finds something to pick apart that no one else noticed. Perhaps the author of this month’s book has a “better” novel you should have chosen instead or there were simply too many pages in the latest selection, no matter what, she’ll find fault anywhere and everywhere.

Read the rest HERE

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It’s going to be a busy year

I’m racing along so fast this year that my head is spinning madly. This is the state of play…

February:Dawn of MagicThe fourth and final Worldweavers book, “Dawn of Magic,” has been cleared for landing. Before you order a copy, you might want to do some catch-up by re-reading books 1 through 3. (all now available as paperbcks from Sky Warrior Books) – because this fourth one is the finale, and it looks back over its predecessors with affection…

I’ve always had a soft spot for this book and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I think it winds up the Worldweavers series beautifully. It’s nothing short of the story of how the soul of human magic was lost – was STOLEN – and there’s an expedition to take it back, leading straight to the heart of the Alphiri Crystal City where Thea has to face some of her greatest fears and make some tough choices, the Trickster finally finds his true role in the grand scheme of things, and Nikola Tesla rises to meet his destiny.

RandomThere is also a reading for “Random” at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Village Books here in Bellingham. If you are in the area, please come along,

I”ll be glad to see you there!
March:

AbducticonAbduction: my first SF humor.

More about this – oh, MUCH more! – closer to the release date – you’ll see it here first!

In addition to my new book, there is Rainforest Writers Retreat where I have two possible projects I am still dithering about which I want to work on.

Later in March, there will be a book event for “Random” in Seattle at University Book Store. Again, if you’re local and I missed inviting you, please forgive me, and please come!

April: I think I have time to take a breath, but it’s going to be busy because it’s going to be ramping up for the release …

May:

… of “Wolf”, the second of The Were Chronicles book. Exact release date not yet fixed.

June:

Going to Odyssey Writing Workshop as visiting speaker. The annual summer writing workshop is an in-person, six-week workshop held on the campus of St. Anselm College, Manchester, NH. Guest Lecturers for the 2014 Summer.

They did an interview with me, here:

Then I hope to go on a little mini book tour on the east coast. Watch this space.

July: My birthday. I’m taking a bit of time off.

August:

Worldcon, Spokane. Worldcons are always intense and fun. With several new books out… I am going to be BUSY at this one.

Not sure about September and October but there’s Orycon in November.

And then it’s Christmas again.

There goes the year.

I think I’d better stock up on caffeine.

~~~~~
FREE ebook

I will send a free ebook version of Random, Book 1 in my YA series The Were Chronicles, to the next 10 people who pledge to leave a review on Amazon.

To accept the offer, just send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer”
 Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

I hope you love the book, but reviews, of course, need only be honest.

Amazon finally has the print version back in stock.

~~~~~
Pop-Up Books, not just for children anymore

When paper engineers turn their talents to books, the end result is the wonderfully tactile experience of pop-ups, Off the Shelf tells us.

You may think of pop-ups as solely the realm of children, but the books on this list are equally entertaining for adults, too! Each page will pull you into the sophisticated, multi-sensory world of intricately crafted paper scenes from classic literature to abstract art, cultural icons to poetry, wondrous creatures to mind-bending alphabets, and even a book that teaches you how to do-it-yourself.

For example:

M.C.-Escher-Pop-Ups1M.C. Escher Pop-Ups
by Courtney Watson McCarthy

The mesmerizing work of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher has fascinated viewers for more than seventy years. His illustrations constantly play with our perceptions of reality by layering multiple conflicting perspectives. This book presents some of the artist’s most intriguing works in original three-dimensional pop-ups.

 

See more HERE

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Open Letter to the Man offended by Locally Laid

(If these eggs were available to me here in Bellingham, I’d certainly buy them.)
Locally laidResponse

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Thank you for reaching out to let us know your opinion of the Locally Laid Egg Company…

Here’s why we named our company, Locally Laid. We are the first pasture-raised egg company in the Upper Midwest providing you with eggs which are laid locally….The average food product in this country travels some 1,500 -2,000 miles from farmer to processor to distributor to your plate. That’s a lot of diesel burned and C02 pumped in the air. Our cartons travel a fraction of those miles.

We’ve turned down lucrative contracts that would have taken our eggs out of the area because of our environmental stance. Plus, we plant a tree with every delivery we make to offset our minimal carbon footprint.

Read the whole letter HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Google aims to be your universal translator. Its Translate app has the ability to instantly converse with someone speaking in a different language, and the capability to translate street signs into your native language.

That’s a godsend, because not everyone speaks Klingon, you know.

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Oldest Facebook user celebrates 107th birthday — Edythe Kirchmaier, born on January 22, 1908, is the oldest registered user on the popular site.

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Illinois Law Allows School Officials to Demand Students’ Passwords

Read more about the troubling law HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
QUOTE Review~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Cats and books

Cat friendsAhh, friend cats reading about friend humans!

Ever wonder what your cat does while you are away?

At Bustle, Caitlin White explains and illustrates.

No matter how great your book club is, it does not compare to the newest book club, and that’s because it is not entirely composed of cats. Yes, cats have started their own book club. What else did you think they did while you were gone working all day?

Read the rest HERE

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BookstoreDo you always have a book with you, even at the movies? begins the About section of the blog – Books, the Universe and Everything.

In this blog post, Emily Wilson tells reports on her visits to a lot of spectacular libraries and bookshops. I spent last year traveling around the world and the US, and along the way I visited as many beautiful libraries and fantastic independent bookshops as I could fit in. Some of them were planned, places that were on my itinerary from the beginning. Some of them I stumbled upon serendipitously. All of them were treasures.

Read the rest HERE

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aw-poohImage credit: E.H. Shepard [poo]

January 18 marked not only the birthday of celebrated English author A.A. Milne, Kristy Puchko writes at Mental Floss, but also—by no coincidence—Winnie The Pooh Day, a holiday intended to celebrate the eponymous bear and his creator. To pay tribute to both Milne and his lovable bear, she has compiled a collection of incredible facts that even the most dedicated visitor to the Hundred Acre Wood might not know.
Real WinnieWikimedia Commons

1. The silly old bear was based on a real, young one.
During World War I, a Canadian soldier named Harry Colebourn made a pet of a black bear cub he bought from a hunter for $20. Named Winnipeg—or “Winnie” for short—the bear became his troop’s mascot and later a resident of the London Zoological Gardens. There, she was an adored attraction, especially to a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne, son of author A.A. Milne. In fact, the boy loved Winnie so much that he named his own teddy after her.

Read the rest HERE

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8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

Why is it that the things just out of reach are the things we want the most? Off the Shelf  asks.

Here at Off the Shelf, we love a book with a good old fashioned disappearance. Perhaps you’ve heard of a  little book called Gone Girl? Or maybe you saw our reviews last month for Last Night in Montreal and Where’d You Go Bernadette? But we’re not just talking murder mysteries here. Here are 8 more excellent books in which the protagonists just…disappear.

100-year-old manThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson

Technically, this protagonist only disappears for everyone else, but it’s nonetheless a wonderful read. After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, sure that he’s in his final days. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested, so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory. Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them, meeting figures like Chairman Mao and Charles De Gaulle. It’s a great story that will make anyone feel young again.

See the other books HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Robert Stone, 1937-2015: Robert Stone, who won the National Book Award for Dog Soldiers in 1975, died on January 10.

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What age did the greatest authors publish their most famous works? (e.g. Douglas Adams 28, Jack Kerouac 26…)

Explore the careers of some of the world’s most successful authors – by first published book, age at breakthrough book, and number of books published.

See the chart HERE

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TS Eliot 50 years on – quiz

How much do you know?

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Underwater Sculpture Among Coral Gardens
Reef artBali’s underwater sculpture of a mermaid is one among several “Living Sculptures in the Sea” created by local fishing communities in hopes to help restore local coral reefs
(Photo the Marine Foundation)

Read the rest HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
QUOTE Lewis~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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Readers Everywhere

Reinier Gerritsen doesn’t think books will be around much longer, Jordan G. Teicher writes at Slate. That’s why he took a photo every time he saw someone reading on the subway.
Readers everywhereLike a scientist cataloging the last of an endangered species, the Dutch photographer wandered the New York City subway system for weeks, snapping pictures of readers of printed books among an increasingly dominant population of iPhone and Kindle readers.

“This is how it goes. Everything is always changing, but there’s a beautiful phenomenon that’s vanishing. That’s why I wanted to document it,” he said.

See all his photos HERE

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8 Tricks To Help You Read Faster

O.K. This piece by Linda Paull at Lifehack is aimed more at productivity than reading fiction for pleasure, my particular interest.

But everyone needs to read for efficiency at times, whether it’s a student studying for school, a worker reading a long screed from his boss, or a writer doing research for her latest novel.
Read fasterYou probably don’t remember learning to read as a child,” Linda Paull writes at Life Hack. “But the way we were taught to read when we were in our infant years has little relevance to how we should read as an adult. Learning to read faster is one of the best skills to develop as an adult, saving you time as you study, research, and sort through your inbox. Read on for some great tips on how to read faster.”

For example:
1. Learn How to Scan

The most important skill you need to develop if you want to read faster is scanning. Many adults find scanning difficult because it feels counter-intuitive. After all, when we were taught to read, we were taught to pay attention to every word in a sentence. However, much of this is unnecessary, because research shows that our adult minds have an amazing ability to fill in information gaps.

Read the whole article HERE

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FREE ebook

I will send a free ebook version of Random, Book 1 in my YA series The Were Chronicles, to the next 10 people who pledge to leave a review on Amazon.

To accept the offer, just send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer”
 
Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

I hope you love the book, but reviews, of course, need only be honest.

~~~~~
10 signs you’re a bibliophile

So what if you like books more than people? Lara Rutherford-Morrison ask at Bustle, but offers warning signs in case you’re worried.10
BibliophilePeter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Bibliophile warning signs HERE

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Extreme adventures: the top 10 stories of real-life peril

From Wilfred Thesiger journeying through the Arabian desert to Joe Simpson nearly losing his life in the Andes, these are some of the finest accounts of life on the edge, Emma Barrett and Paul Martin write in The Guardian.

For example:
Chris HadfieldHadfield with floating tomatoes on the International Space Station in 2013. NASA/REX

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield does a fine job of applying the lessons of space to everyday life on earth. Work hard, value learning, remember that the journey is worthwhile even if the destination seems unattainable, and keep things in proportion. And try to be nice. As Hadfield points out, “no one wants to go into space with a jerk”. Sound advice, indeed.

Read the whole article HERE

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Mystery book sculptor answers questions

An anonymous artist has been leaving delicate paper sculptures made from old books at locations in Edinburgh and around Scotland for more than three years.
Book artA sculpture for Book Week Scotland inspired by Alasdair Gray’s Lanark

The identity of the woman has remained secret despite the international attention that the book sculptures have received. BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent Pauline McLean conducted an interview with her – via email to maintain her anonymity.

Read the whole article HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

What sounds don’t we hear any more?

J. L. Tympanum writes:
“While discussing music with my 24-year old son, the Typewriter Song (Leroy Anderson) came up. Within 10 seconds he had it playing on his laptop, but he didn’t really get the joke because he had never seen a typewriter, nor heard the characteristics sounds — the clack of the keys, the end-of-line bell, the zip of the carriage return — that the typewriter makes.”

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
A book dies

~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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NASA Travel Posters

NASA travelWith two suns, Kepler-16b is a real-life version of Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine in the Star Wars films. All photos: Nasa

The US space agency has created a series of striking travel posters inviting tourists to visit recently discovered “exoplanets”, including Kepler-16b, which orbits two stars, Will Coldwell reports in Bustle.

See all the posters HERE

~~~~~

FREE ebook

I will send a free ebook version of Random, Book 1 in my YA series The Were Chronicles, to the next 10 people who pledge to leave a review on Amazon.

To accept the offer, just send an email to me HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer”

Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

I hope you love the book, but reviews, of course, need only be honest.

~~~~~
10 Weirdest Science Fiction Novels That You’ve Never Read

At io9, Charlie Jane Anders takes a look some of most most mind-bending science fiction and fantasy ever published.

She’s right, I haven’t read any of these books. Would I really want to? But if you have, I’d be interested in what you thought of them.
Butterfly kidFor example
1. The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967)
As the book’s blurb says: “The Hippies had a New Kick: From Outer Space!” Here’s how we summarized this book a few years ago: Anderson’s semi-autobiographical novel has a main character named after himself, and a supporting character named after his roommate at the time. Aliens are supplying a new kind of drug, known as “Reality Pills,” which cause your LSD hallucinations to become physically real. One character takes the Reality Pills and is able to make butterflies appear spontaneously, all colors and sizes. Chester faces the vicious Blue Lobster aliens, who hook him up to a machine that forces him to experience horrifying visions that he would have paid to see otherwise. He writes: “I was the rabbit in the moon. I was as corny as Kansas in orbit. I wasn’t thinking very well at all!”

See all the weird books HERE

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The lonely roads

What does it feel like when you think you’re the only one in the world, that nobody wants you, likes you, knows you exist?

Probably like one of these roads.

The world is empty. The horizon is in the far distance. Welcome, lonely soul.

Start walking.

The lonely roadThroughout his travels, Andy Lee has taken a lot of pictures of beautiful and forlorn roads around the world, Bored Panda tells us. Now, this creative director, filmmaker, painter, doodler and photographer has collected these photos in an amazing series called “Roads” that will fill you with wanderlust.

All the lonely roads HERE

~~~~~
Does handwriting matter any more?

Psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past, Maria Konnikovaj reports in thge New York Times. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.
handwritingMichael Mabry

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

Read the rest HERE

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7 Books Which Debuted 100 Years Ago, Give or Take…

Ah, the passage of time. Every author hopes his works will stand the test thereof. Well, the start of 20th century is over 100 years behind us. And in the year 1915, the world saw several major works debut, so Off the Shelf thought they’d look at some of the biggest hits.

Actually, one of these books was written around 1915 but wasn’t actually published until 1971. Another wasn’t even written until 1923…but maybe the author THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING that book in 1915. Yes. That’s it. It could happen. I mean, it’s Bambi. You love Bambi! Then again, you probably haven’t read it, either. That’s OK! Go get a copy and some coffee, and see the other books still standing after one hundred years.”

Of Human BondageOf Human Bondage
by W. Somerset Maugham

The story of Philip Carey, a sensitive orphan born with a club foot who is eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and masochistic affair. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom.

See the others HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

What If Doctor Seuss Drew All 13 Doctor Who Incarnations?
drfaustusau-whoA better look HERE

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Beer Gets Macabre

Everyone’s favorite anglophile cosmic horror author will finally be immortalized in the one way guaranteed to echo through the ages: A series of beers. H.P. Lovecraft, the celebrated author of numerous short, influential horror stories in the 1920s-1930s, will be the subject of a line of brews from New England brewers Narragansett.

Read the article HERE

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE Great book~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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Magical worlds

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIANarnia – a scene from the Disney film: Photo by c.W. Disney / Rex Features.

Have you ever wanted to escape to a magical world of fun and mayhem? Lindsay Taylor and Suzanne Smith, the authors of the Hattie B, Magical Vet series want to know, then offer their personal favorite fantasy realms, from Narnia and Neverland to Wonderland and Willy Wonka’s factory…

Someday, I’d like to think that the worlds of my Worldweavers series and The Were Chronicles will be at the top of readers list of their favorite magical places.

Taylor and Smith’s favorite of their top 10 list? Narnia, of course.

Narnia: C.S. Lewis managed to conjure such vivid imagery of a faraway mythical land, a place where the animals can talk, where the White Witch rules and the formidable Aslan guards the land and leads battles that it is impossible to have anything less than a fantastic vision of Narnia in your mind. If we could choose to travel to any magical world we would choose Narnia every time.

See their other choices HERE

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A friendly bite

I had a delightful time at Bitten by Books, answering some unusual interview questions about everything from whether I can fake an accent to my favorite vacation (easy, the first time I swam with dophins, in Tahiti).

That, of course, was followed by questions about the writing of Ransom, and the Were World in general, and then an interaction with the readers who frequent the book review site – an interaction which was still going on two days later.

This has been quite a ride, and some of the readers’ comments have been SO much fun to answer. I’ve been peppered with everything from which of my characters I most identify with to my favorite Muppet and everything in between. Swing by and take a gander at the interview there, but then do go on and scan the comment section. It’s well worth it.

Bitten by Books Q&A HERE

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The Future of Women on Earth May Be Darker Than You Thought

It’s easy to get caught up in the internet gender war trainwreck,” Annalee Newitz writes at io9, “where we’re still arguing over whether women belong in tech or rape victims are liars. But let’s set that shit aside and take the long view: Do we have any evidence that the future will bring greater freedom to women, or should we expect more dystopia?”

She notes that “One of the most important mathematicians in classical antiquity, Hypatia, was a woman. Every other ancient mathematician we study today? Male. Hundreds of dangerous pirate captains sailed the high seas in the 16th century. But hey! One of them was a woman!”
pirateIllustration by Steven Belledin

I could…look back in numb terror, counting how few generations separate me from women who had the same voting rights that my cats do right now. How easy it would be to take my rights away, turning the last century into a weird tangent in a history that has mostly featured women as what Zora Neale Hurston once called ‘the mules of the world.’

Read the whole essay HERE

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If you would like to take a step to aid women, Care 2 is urging the U.S. Congress to: “Pass the International Violence Against Women Act”

You can add your name HERE

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Good times at Village Books

My own local book store, Village Books in Bellingham, reports sales were up 9% over last year’s holiday season. Unfortunately, books were up only 2% while non-book sales were up 18%.

As an author, I say “unfortunately”, but co-owner Chuck Robinson has a different POV, of course: sheer delight.

About 49% of the month of December was in non-book products”, Robinson commented at Shelf Awareness. “Village Books’ wearables category, which includes scarves, jewelry, socks and even bras, did so well this holiday season that if it was separated from the rest of the operation, it would constitute a “sizable women’s accessory store” on its own.

Over the past few holiday seasons, Robinson said, the non-book side of his business has continued to grow rapidly. Robinson also reported a calmer, happier atmosphere in the store this season, with fewer staff members mentioning encounters with grumpy shoppers.

“Nearly every staff member commented on how pleasant customers were,” he said. “In spite of seeming less rushed, we did notice folks shopping later on Christmas Eve.”

Village Books RedVillage Books tries to help. Photo by Alma Alexander

Robinson reported that Village Books sold a “boatload” of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was the store’s Whatcom Literacy Council pick of the year.

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Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Lord Of The Rings’

Lord Of The RingsFor example: Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. and editor of his posthumous works, hated the Peter Jackson movies.

If you’re a dedicated fan and essentially consider Middle Earth a second home, Todd Van Luling writes in the Huffington Post, you probably have your own extensive knowledge of trivia surrounding J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. Since The Hobbit was released in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings 17 years later in 1954, Tolkien has garnered an extensive following, and has sold hundreds of millions of books. It’d be a decent bet to guess you own at least one of those copies.

Read the whole article HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

More Hilarious Questions Posed to the NYPL Pre-Interneta questionSee other questions HERE

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Quote of the Day

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”  ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Literary Winters

Winter

Ice on trees and snow on the ground, beauty mixed with danger. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

In The Guardian, Richard Hirst gives us ghost stories by the fireside and perilous journeys in the snow: from Emily Dickinson to Raymond Briggs, great writing that gets to the heart of the coldest season.

And the first tale is: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, anonymous (14th century)

This, one feels, is an early example of a tale to be told by firelight. At the court of King Arthur, the winter festivities are disrupted by the arrival of a spectral green knight. There is a duel, in which the knight is beheaded by Arthur’s nephew, Sir Gawain; he then picks his head up, holds it aloft and promises that the two of them shall meet again. It’s a hell of an opening. The poem only came to light during the Victorian era which, as any Christmasologist will tell you, is the yuletide’s golden age. So much here prefigures the tropes found in modern winter literature: family and friends gather for warmth and jollity, feasting is the order of the day, good cheer is lubricated by heroic quantities of booze … and then the stranger arrives.

Read the rest HERE

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Talk to me

Join me at Bitten by Books today to chat about the World of Weres, my new book, and everything.

I’m HERE (today only)

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Book Dedications that Basically Say “Screw You”
Dedications
Image credit: ThinkStock

Not all authors’ dedications are nice. Some—like these—are just plain mean, Arika Okrent says at Mental Floss.

e.g.
This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff (1989)
My first stepfather used to say that what I didn’t know would fill a book. Well, here it is.”

The acknowledgements section of Wolff’s memoir of a difficult adolescence with abusive stepfathers ends on a finely honed knifepoint.

Read the others HERE

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Five Destructive Myths Perpetuated by Roleplaying Games

Actually a set of ideas which aren’t only applicable to games, Oren Ashkenazi writes at Mythcreants. “This works for writers, too, in terms of world creation and building up realistic milieux and protagonists with anchors and not just adrift at the whim of the plot.”

For example:

The Explorer Fallacy

Sacagawea.jpgBronze statue of Sacagawea, without whom Lewis and Clark would have been hopelessly lost.

Western culture has a bit of a fetish for explorers. We idolize them, from Marco Polo to Lewis and Clark…The vast majority of people we think of today as explorers were traveling through places where people already lived. They weren’t conquering untamed wilderness; they were asking for directions and buying supplies from the locals….When natives are mentioned at all, they are documented more as part of the terrain than as actual residents. This is dehumanizing, and it justifies claiming a land’s resources for ourselves. After all, no one was really living there.

Read the whole article HERE

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Take The Reading Challenge!
Reading chartBook-lovers, start your reading engines, Tara Block writes at PopSugar. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more books in 2015, get started now with our ultimate reading challenge. From a book your mom loves to a book with a love triangle, we’re giving you a wide range of reads, spanning eras and genres, instead of specific books. You don’t have to read all 50 books (technically 52, since one is a trilogy), but it’s a fun incentive to diversify your reading — you may be surprised by what you find you enjoy!

See the whole chart HERE

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21 Hilariously Misspelled Signs

Spelling is hard. But there’s no exuse to make misteaks like this!
porn and beansSee the other signs HERE

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Gentlemen, I’m here to mansplain Dickens … okay?

“Occasionally, I write a column and brace myself for angry e-mail”, Tabatha Southey writes at The Globe, “but I didn’t when I wrote about Ebenezer Scrooge giving Bob Cratchit’s family a turkey at Christmas…protesting e-mail pinged in… I respectfully add Charles Dickens to the List of Things Canadians Are Vehement About.”

“I mostly dearly appreciate reader feedback, as about seven out of 10 times it seems to indicate “reader,” and some were very genial about their criticism. But the number of people willing to die on this Dickensian Goose Hill – and the bodies really did pile up – was striking.”

Read the rest HERE

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Quote of the Day

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” ~ Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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The only gift?

Or just the best gift?

The Bookbar, which bills itself as “A book shop for wine lovers, A wine bar for book lovers”, offers us The Top 15 Reasons why books make the best gifts.

Christmas gift-giving may be over, but books aren’t seasonal. Hmmm, that make it 16 Reasons.
Look smarter4) They make you look smarter

See all the reasons HERE

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The top 10 neo-Victorian novels

Charles Palliser chooses his favorite modern fiction that revisits the Victorian era for a 21st-century audience, from Fingersmith to Cold Mountain.
FingersmithSally Hawkins and Stephen Wight in a TV adaptation of Fingersmith. Photo: BBC/Sally Head Productions

8 Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Forget about the movie. This is a masterpiece and could only work as a novel. It’s the Homeric story of a soldier trying to return to his wife and home after fighting in a war – here the American Civil War. And it’s also a moving love story which ends heartbreakingly. Like The Odyssey, it’s a series of episodes that would normally fragment a novel’s unity but each one is so powerful and mysterious and so much in tune with the dominant theme that it succeeds completely. A book that will resonate in the memory.

His other choices HERE

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Email me that wrench
FuturisticAt io9, George Dvorsky reports on the most Futuristic Predictions that came true in 2014, including telepathy, suspended animation, and mind-controlled artificial arms.

For example, in what’s being seen as a precursor to a Star Trek-like replicator, astronauts aboard the ISS used their 3D printer to manufacture a socket wrench. Remarkably, the 20-part wrench was designed on Earth and emailed to astronaut Barry Wilmore who ran it through the printer. It’s a prime example of how 3D printing is poised to change space travel, allowing astronauts to produce equipment on demand and in emergency situations.

Read the article HERE

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A writer dreams

Last night I dreamed that I had gone into the building that houses Tor offices in NYC and it was… surreal.

There were elevators which kind of shifted at random so that a door which opened into an elevator one moment might open the next and reveal a startled occupant in a messy office wondering what the flaming heck I wanted.

And then there was a room on the ground floor which had shelves upon shelves which showed off newly published books, and one of them was about a lost street kitten, and you could take the elevator up to an upper floor (if you could FIND the damned elevator, that is) and adopt that kitten, right there and then (not sure what happened if several people wanted to do this – maybe they had a 3D printer up there churning out copies of that kitten…) I don’t know.

You probably don’t ever want to think about what is hiding in the cracks and crevices of my writer brain…

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This tree produces 40 different types of fruit
40-fruits treeImage: Sam Van Aken

Sam Van Aken’s “Tree of 40 Fruit” looks like a normal tree for most of the year, but in spring it reveals a stunning patchwork of pink, white, red and purple blossoms, which turn into an array of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries and almonds during the summer months, all of which are rare and unique varieties.

It took about five years and several grafted branches before the first “Tree of 40 Fruit” was complete.

The remarkable tree is helping to preserve the diversity of the world’s fruit varieties.

Read the Science Alert article HERE

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Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?

A website challenges you to post a picture a day for 100 days of something that makes you happy.

I am reasonably happy at least any given part of any given day, but the finding of one hundred apropos photos will take up some little time, and my next three months are going to be fairly busy.

The site wryly notes that attitude, reporting that “71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.These people simply did not have time to be happy.”

OK, I’m one of the 71 percent, but I did post pictures of several things that that make me happy  HERE. (You may have to be logged in to Facebook to see the pictures, though…)

Now, how about you? If you want to give a try, submit a picture every day of what made you happy.

100 happy days HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Cakes in fiction from Dickens to George R.R. Martin were recently featured by the Guardian, which noted that “baking in fiction has been used to symbolize everything from death to sex to female identity.”

Cakes in fiction HERE

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE bookshops are~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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And now, the REAL book!

Welcome Were WorldLook, I fully understand that the world is a-changing. And in order to deal with that change, I am fully committed to the fact that my books, my stories, are out there in electronic form as ebooks read on tablets and e-readers and smartphones – on a bloodless, scentless, weigtless screen.

I just finished reading a book I got for Christmas – a big, fat hardcover, more than 600 pages in length. It’s awkward to read, it’s hard to hold and to maneuver, it’s difficult to position and then turn the pages, when you’re right at the beginning or close to the end and one end of the book is disproportionately heavy and unwieldy you wrists feel as though they’re about to shatter into a bowlful of small bones that you could use as gaming dice.

But I savored every moment of holding that book, that substantial book, that glorious story between two covers, lines of print marching up and down the pages, knowing that I can linger over a particularly powerful phrase or something that made me smile or tear up, or turn back to a favorite passage and caress it as I read it again and it goes silkily into my spirit through my eyes and my fingers and my nose alike as I inhale the words and the new-book smell.

Shoot me, I’m a book Luddite. To me, holding that book in my hands is part of the act of reading..

This is why I am so very very happy to tell you that – after being available in electronic format only for some time – my latest, ‘Random’, is today finally available as a proper book.

It’s paperback to be sure and not the weighty hefty hardcover but still – words, on paper, held in your hands while your fingers turn the pages. A book which, if you loved it, you can put back on your shelf and take solace in knowing it’s there – a book you can go back to, knowing exactly where in its pages a passage you particularly enjoyed resides, and which will eventually fall open at those favorite passages of its own accord, as though it is reading your mind.

Welcome to the world, dear ‘Random’.

(You may buy a copy here)


options




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21 Women Writers From Before 1500 That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Al-KhansaAl-Khansa (575 – 645) was an Arabic poet and contemporary of Muhammad, whom she met in 629 and converted to Islam, Entropy Magazine reports. She gained respect as a female poet by writing elegies for the dead and performing them for the tribe in public competitions.

An anecdote says that contemporaneous Arabic poet Al-Nabigha told Al-Khansa, “If Abu Basir had not already recited to me, I would have said that you are the greatest poet of the Arabs. Go, for you are the greatest poet among those with breasts.”

Al-Khansa replied, “I’m the greatest poet among those with testicles, too.”

Read the article HERE

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Forgotten fairytales slay the Cinderella stereotype

Stories lost in Bavarian archive for 150 years and newly translated into English offer surprisingly modern characters, Philip Oltermann writes in The Guardian.

Once upon a time … the fairytales you thought you knew had endings you wouldn’t recognise. A new collection of German folk stories has Hansel and Gretel getting married after an erotic encounter with a dwarf, an enchanted frog being kissed not by a damsel in distress but by a young man, and Cinderella using her golden slippers to recover her lover from beyond the moon.
eichenseer in fairytale trailErika Eichenseer, a retired teacher who has dedicated herself to exploring Franz Xaver von Schonwerth’s work since the 1990s, on fairytale trail in woodland outside Regensburg, in Bavaria Photograph: Philip Oltermann for the Guardian

Read the article HERE

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Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood'”

In Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades, Jordan G. Teicher writes at NPR. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. A majority of books are sold from late September to early November. It’s a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”

The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

Read the article HERE

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Quote of the Day
Good adviice~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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