Look, 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)
21 Women Writers From Before 1500 That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Al-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.”
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.
Erika 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
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.”
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