The REAL Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the PraiirieThe TV incarnation of the Ingalls family in The Little House on the Prairie. Photo: Rex Features

Rejected by publishers when it was written in the 30s, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography unveils the experiences that informed her children’s books, Alison Flood writes in The Guardian.

Laura Ingalls WilderPioneer Girl, the story of her childhood, was rejected by editors in 1930. It contains stories omitted from her novels, tales that Wilder herself felt “would not be appropriate” for children, such as her family’s sojourn in the town of Burr Oak, where she once saw a man became so drunk that, when he lit a cigar, the whiskey fumes on his breath ignited and killed him instantly. In another recollection, a shopkeeper drags his wife around by her hair, pours kerosene on the floor of his house, and sets their bedroom on fire.

Read the article

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Village Books’ Dee Robinson to Retire

The co-owner of my favorite bookstore, Village Books in Bellingham WA, is retiring.

Dee Robinson“It’s been a great job for 34 years,” Dee wrote on Facebook. “On to whatever awaits, starting with a pile of books!”

Chuck Robinson, her husband and co-owner, said, Dee “wants to eat bon bons and read all of those books she’s been stacking up.”

The Robinsons founded Village Books in 1980 and built it into one of the country’s great independent bookstores, one that’s been a leader in showing how indies can be creative and thrive.

 

 

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11 Things You Learn Your First Month As A Bookseller

Every new job has a learning curve, Buzzfeed reports, but not every job also expects you to instantly absorb the entire scope of the history of literature along with all the hot new releases and hidden gems — but bookselling does.

Here are 11 things Heather and Mackenzie learned in their first month at PorterSquareBooks.
Bookseller triumphNothing beats the feeling of sheer triumph that comes from locating the correct book based only on the information it has a blue cover and the word everything in the title.

Read the article

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Tiny Humans Lost In The Majesty Of Nature

I cry when i see big trees. I whimper at perfect mountains. I breathe in the rhythm of the waves breaking when i stand with my feet in the surf at the edge fo an ocean.

I love this world of ours. It is beautiful beyond belief. And fragile. So fragile. And we are doing our damndest to wreck it by human hand.

It makes me heartsick because if there is a real God out there… these are the places he loves and lives in. The wilderness. The grandeur. The beauty. There is no human-build cathedral ever made – and I say this having been in some of the loveliest of those – that holds a candle to offering up a prayer in the shadow of a redwood tree.
Mansfield, Victoria, AustraliaMansfield, Victoria, Australia | Image by Alex Wise

Bored Panda has gathered some stunning photographs showing just how small we can seem when eclipsed by the powerful wonder of nature.
IcelandIceland | Image by Max Rive

See the other photos

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25 Brilliant Tiny Homes

At Distractify, Jake Heppner suggests one way we can do what we can try to save some of the majesty of nature by living small.

These micro houses prove that there is a certain beauty in finding a low-impact solution for you and your family. Bigger isn’t always better. Fans of the tiny home movement swear by it: when we simplify our lives and live “smaller” big savings – and improvements to the overall quality of your life – are possible.”
Hobbit HouseHobbit House, Dymitr Malxew
Simon Dale spent $5,000 to turn a plot of land in the woods into a hobbit home. It boasts a number of eco-friendly attributes, which include: scrap wood for flooring, lime plaster (instead of cement) for the walls, bales of straw on dry-stone walling, a compost toilet, solar panels for power, and a supply of water acquired through a nearby spring.

Read the article

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Library without books
Florida Polytechnic UniversityExterior of Florida Polytechnic University’s Innovation, Science and Technology building

A fully digital library is among the futuristic features of Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida, Letitia Stein writes for Reuters.

“It’s a boldly relevant decision to go forward without books,” said Kathryn Miller, director of libraries. Students can access more than 135,000 ebooks on their choice of reader, tablet or laptop.

Read the article

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Quote of the Day

There is only one type of story in the world — your story.” ~ Ray Bradbury

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Alma Alexander
My books

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You rejected WHAT!?!

Evan Hoovler has selected for Blastr examples of a number of unfortunate publishing decisions.

The poster child for misguided rejections is Harry Potter. Author J.K. Rowling received rejection letters for the first book in the series from a dozen publishers before the eight-year-old daughter of the chairman for the relatively small Bloomsbury Press took to the story so much that she begged her father to publish it. The rest is history — the series has sold close to half a billion copies.

But there are a lot of other bad decisions. e.g.

Time Travelers WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife: The 2003 novel about a man with chronological impairment was rejected by 25 publishing companies. Author Audrey Niffenegger finally sent the manuscript, unsolicited, to a small San Francisco publisher. It took off from there, selling millions of copies and inspiring a hit film.

 

Read the article

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British Prison Book Ban

Justice ministers have defended their push to prevent prisoners in England and Wales from having family and friends send them books. They argue that prisoners can earn the right to buy books through the prison’s book selling program, The Guardian reports.

Writers have called the move barbaric.

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Describing whitesHeben Nigatu of Buzzfeed welcomes us to the mocha-chocolate-coffee-bean-exotic-butterscotch-caramel-cinnamon-cafe-au-lait side of town.

e.g. He traced his fingers along her supple, cauliflower skin.

Beauty, eye of beholder, what. Reminds me of that priceless moment from “The Gods Must Be Crazy” when the Bushman describes the blonde blue-eyed heroine – perfectly earnestly and to him perfectly truthfully – as looking like something you might find if you turned over a rock.

More descriptions of whites

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35 Most Amazing Roads In The World

There are few things more invigorating than exploring a new road alongside a beautiful landscape, Ali Lawrence writes at Lifehack.

To be perfectly honest, some of these roads don’t really have much to recommend them except that THEY SEEM TO GO ON FOREVER – which fact would make it dangerous for me to drive them because it would just put me to sleep.

But some of those roads that look like someone has dropped a tangled ribbon on a mountainside… YOW. *That* would keep you awake all right. Possibly for a week after you’ve left the road behind, as you come down from a life-threatening adrenaline high.
Stelvio Pass, ItalyStelvio Pass, Italy

Be that as it may. That Chapman’s Peak Drive thing? I have been there. Driven on it. A lot of times. It was the site of one of my South African Adventures.
Chapmans-Peak-Drive-South-AfricaChapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa

There’s a gorgeous restaurant which you get to via that road. I once went to a wedding reception with my then-boyfriend. It was a beautiful nigh when we began the drive home,  big full moon, wild ocean on our left full of sparkling moonlight, a totally romantic setting. So when the car sputtered to a stop at some point and we sat there on the narrow shoulder of that spectacular road, you might have thought that the boyfriend was just taking advantage of the moonlight and the romance.

“If you tell me the tank is empty,” I said, “i am not going to believe you.”

He just looked at me, smiled, and gave a small shrug.

“Er. Yeah. The tank is empty.”

The road is amazing. You should go see it. Just bring a full tank of gas for the ride.

Oh, BTW, we eventually flagged down a van full of happy hippy types, and they gave us a lift to the nearest police station… from where I phoned my parents, and we all somehow staggered home. But I still remember that exchange on the roadside in the moonlight.

See the rest of the amazing roads.

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You’re probably using the wrong dictionary

NoahJames Somers steers you to the right one and explains why it’s necessary.

For example, he examines: …the fine differences in meaning between words in the penumbra of “flash”:

 … Flashing differs from exploding or disploding in not being accompanied with a loud report. To glisten, or glister, is to shine with a soft and fitful luster, as eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew.

Did you see that last clause? “To shine with a soft and fitful luster, as eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew.” I’m not sure why you won’t find writing like that in dictionaries these days, but you won’t. Here is the modern equivalent of that sentence in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster: “glisten applies to the soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface <glistening wet sidewalk>.”

Who decided that the American public couldn’t handle “a soft and fitful luster”? I can’t help but think something has been lost. “A soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface” doesn’t just sound worse, it actually describes the phenomenon with less precision. In particular it misses the shimmeriness, the micro movement and action, “the fitful luster,” of, for example, an eye full of tears — which is by the way far more intense and interesting an image than “a wet sidewalk.”

It’s as if someone decided that dictionaries these days had to sound like they were written by a Xerox machine, not a person, certainly not a person with a poet’s ear, a man capable of high and mighty English, who set out to write the secular American equivalent of the King James Bible and pulled it off.

Read the article

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Postcards to Authors

“A little project to say thank you to authors for making good books.” ~ George Dunkley
CaliforniiaEdan Lepucki is the author of California

See the others

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Quote of the Day

I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun at it. Ignore the authors who say ‘Oh my God, what work…’ The hell with that. It is not work. If it’s work, stop it and do something else…..I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me my joy.” ~ Ray Bradbury, 2001.

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Alma Alexander
My books

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In the Whoverse

With the newest Doctor Who in place, it seemed a good time to revisit a piece I did for SFNovelists.com about MY Doctors, including my favorite, David Tennant.

David Tennant

I think that part of the Tenth Doctor’s appeal to me lies in the simple fact that Tennant makes absolutely believable one simple fact – he is not “a tame lion”. This is an elemental being. He can do anything. And if he doesn’t, it’s because he practices severe and brutal self control. He is gentle, he is kind, he is funny, but he is also terrifying, and there is NO APPEAL against his judgement once he reaches a decision. I LOVE that in a Time Lord.
image mirrorco.uk

Who’s there?…

My first Doctor Who – and you never forget your first, your first ANYTHING – was Tom Baker. He of the scarf. When he regenerated, I kind of lost interest in the Whoverse until it petered out. Then Eccleston took it up – I never really glommed onto him, but then, he was only around for a season … and then *HE* came. My Doctor. My REAL TRUE Doctor.

When David Tennant said “I don’t want to go”, I was screaming right along with him, I didn’t want him to go either. Quite selfishly, I wanted him to keep going, to stay the Doctor, to be the only Doctor, the last Doctor, even.

When #11, Matt Smith, arrived on the heels of this regeneration, I was admittedly predisposed to dislike him. And although he had his moments, like the luminous Van Gogh episode for instance, my misgivings proved prescient. He gave away his status with both hands … (turning) the ‘Doctor Who And Companion’ show into the ‘Companion and Doctor Who’ show….

Read the article, and the comments

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The best novels of all time, in brief

From Tolkien to Proust and Middlemarch, The Telegraph picks the “100 best novels’ — and describes them in a few words each.
Marcel ProustMarcel Proust, art by Wesley Merritt

e.g.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
A drug addict chases a ghostly dog across the midnight moors.

One Thousand and One Nights, Anon
A Persian king’s new bride tells tales to stall post-coital execution.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Boy meets pawnbroker. Boy kills pawnbroker with an axe. Guilt, breakdown, Siberia, redemption.

The other 97

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14 Stunning Book Illustrations Brought To Life

The Smithsonian Libraries have created cheeky GIFs from pages of the books they store, Maddie Crum writes at The Huffington Post.
Flying squirrelsWitnessing a flying squirrel from a 19th century document literally flying across the page, à la images printed in “The Daily Prophet”, certainly makes for an enriched reading experience.

The library says their aim is to “digitize and organize material that’s been practically dead to the world.” In doing so, they’ve breathed new life into images of early fireworks, sketches of Galileo’s astronomical observations and serene Japanese woodblock prints.

See the rest

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World’s Top 11 Coffee Cities Every Coffee Lover Should Visit

I’ve been to at least 5 of these. So there may be something in it, although they can’t spell “Addis Ababa”… But I REALLY don’t know about Iceland…

When you love coffee, you love coffee, Jane Scearce notes at Lifehack. You have distinct opinions on where the best coffee is in your local area. When you travel, you have to know the scoop on where to get some quality brew. But if the entire city had a high chance of providing a tasty cup of Joe…well, it could be your personal heaven.

Scearce lists 11 of the best cities for coffee across the globe – and two of them are in my backyard.
Istanbulsource: tannaz via Flickr

Istanbul, Turkey is known for its rich, dark coffee beans. They have a unique method for it as well. Turkish baristas grind beans into a fine meal, and boil them both with or without sugar in a cezve, a specially made pot for Turkish coffee. They don’t use sifters, so the cups of coffee are given a moment to let the grounds settle to the bottom before being served. If you have a taste for thick, flavorful coffee and a desire for a whole new experience, Istanbul is the way to go.

The other coffee cities

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Quote of the Day

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” ~  Italo Calvino    

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Alma Alexander
My books

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Magical paths

Oh, the stories waiting to be told…

28 magical paths begging to be walked, keeping in mind a quote from J. R. R. Tolkien: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.“

Spring In Hallerbos Forest, Belgium – Image credits: Kilian Schönberger
Hallerbos ForestMount Rainier, Washington, USA – Image credits: Danielle Hughson
Mount RainierSee all the paths at Bored Panda

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The largest public sci-fi library in the world is under threat

If you’re a SF/Fantasy fan, there’s no cooler place than the Eaton Collection library at UC Riverside, touted as the largest collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature in the world. But all that could change soon.
Eaton collectionimage credit Gallivant

Trent Moore writes at Blastr that new library management plans to drastically slash the size of the collection.

Save the library

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10 Great Novels That Will Make You More Passionate About Science

Many of the world’s greatest scientists were inspired to go into their fields by reading science fiction books, Charlie Jane Anders writes ar io9.

it’s easy to see why. A lot of the best science fiction features scientists who solve problems and make breakthroughs. Here are 10 great novels that will inspire you with a new love of science.

The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
The DispossessedThis is one of the all-time great novels about a physicist who discovers a whole new kind of physics, which winds up having a practical application. On one level, The Dispossessed is about a scientist who is caught between two worlds: an anarchist planet and a capitalist planet. But a lot of the most fascinating parts involve the scientist discovering the Simultaneity principle, which in turn leads to the invention of the Ansible, Le Guin’s famous device that allows instantaneous communication across spacetime. There is a lot of heroic physics in this novel, and it’s wonderful.

Read the article

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Haworth, England: The Tiny Town That Inspired Every Bronte Sister Novel

Haworth, England (Photo: Matthew Hartley/Flickr)
HaworthIn summer when it’s light until 11 p.m., it bustles with visitors; in winter, under snow, it’s other-worldly and full of ghosts, Reggie Nadelson reports at Yahoo Travel.

From every point, as I climb the main street, to the Bronte Parsonage that sits at the very top of the village, there are views of the moors, a huge landscape that reaches into infinity, criss-crossed by the gray stone dry walls, put together without mortar that last forever, a scene more rugged, more powerful than pretty. I feel there are ghosts just over the hill.

I’m haunted by the feeling that I know this place in my gut, even before I get to the Parsonage. You come here because this is Bronte land. In Howath at this pretty two-story parsonage with a modest garden, Charlotte and Emily Bronte lived and wrote Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, two of the greatest novels of any time, stories of powerful emotions, and women with complex emotional ambition and desires.

Read the article

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Never leave your room at these Hotels for Book Lovers

There are some hotels around the world not on the beach that are just made for book lovers, Jane Reynolds reports at Yahoo Travel.

Whether it’s where a famous novel was set, an author awaited arrest, or a gorgeous library can be found, these eight hotels are a bookworm’s delight.

Cadogan Hotel, Londonphotos courtesy Oyster.com
Cadogan Hotel, LondonThe Cadogan is an unpretentious boutique hotel with a prestigious Knightsbridge address. This 64-room hotel occupies a historic Edwardian townhouse on Sloane Street, in close proximity to local shopping. The property has a rich history, including the room where Oscar Wilde awaited his arrest in 1895 (pictured above) and another where King Edward VII met with his mistress, the British actress Lillie Langtry.

Read the article

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Shared bikes, the safest way to travel
Safe bikesCity bike share programs are a lot of things: Convenient, green, good exercise and … safe. In 23 million rides, there have been NO fatalities in 36 city programs since the first program was launched in 2007 in Tulsa, Okla.

The programs are found in Washington, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Tampa and many other urban spots.

Read the article

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Humans Need Not Apply

A video to make you think…

or despair!
No humansSee the video (15 minutes)

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Quote of the Day

There’s no such thing as a wrong note, as long as you’re singing.” -Pete Seeger

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Alma Alexander
My books

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Between the sheets

Fantasy Superpact The cover for “Fantasy Superpack #1″ is out and I’m beyond giddy at my story being sandwiched between Frederik Pohl and Philip K Dick.

Another writer friend, Brenda Clough, noted gleefully that she was “…between Robert E Howard and James Blish. OMG!!!”

Hhmmm,” someone added, “women all excited to be between the sheets with a couple of guys...”

DEAD ones!“, Brenda retorted.

Most of the stories are from the Golden Age of SFF, by names that are instantly recognizable, held in respect and in awe, revered, beloved of generations. The collection includes a scattering of us “new folk”, and we can’t believe we’re at the same party. We are standing next to writers who were giants in our chosen field, astonished that our stories are rubbing shoulders with theirs, will be read by the same eyeballs which land on theirs.

Of course they’re all GUYS, these writers from the Golden Age, few ladies got to step center stage back then.

I’ve been in anthologies before. This one is just… AMAZINGLY different. I feel as though I’ve just had a stamp put on my arm, and was admitted to, and welcomed at, a very very special party.

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Gift of the Unmage

 

You smell angry,” Aunt Zoe said as she walked through the door, sniffing in Thea’s direction like a hound dog scenting prey.  ~ Gift of the Unmage, Worldweavers #1

 

 

Spellspam

 

The first hint of trouble came, as trouble always does, unlooked for, stealthily, catching everyone by surprise. It was the day when LaTasha Jackson suddenly turned into an anatomy teacher’s aid. ~ Spellspam, Worldweavers #2

 

Those were the first lines of my first two Worldweavers young adult books. (The fourth in the series is coming soon.) They come to mind because author Jon Walter offered his top 10 children and YA opening lines in an article for The Guardian.

While my Worldweavers lines didn’t make his list, I’m rather pleased with them myself, the Spellspam line in particular. After all. it’s not everyday that a girl’s skin turns transparent because she innocently opened a malicious piece of spam that carried a magic spell.

The first of Walter’s selections:
Book love heartSometimes the opening line of a book can tell you whether you are going to love it straight away. Photograph: Alamy

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

A great book that’s all about the voice and he nails it in the first line. Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown and it’s not only his dog that speaks. Everyone can hear each other’s thoughts and their heads are always full of noise – until Todd meets a girl who shouldn’t exist and the silence that surrounds her.

Read the article

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We are the Borg. You will be assimilated

Embeddable implants are already here, Keiron Monks of CNN says.
Bio chipsSubdermal RFID chips have been on the market for a while. Now, they can hold a lot more data than ever before, and could replace your smartphone and tablet passwords.

Smartphone mapping features are great for getting directions, until you lose signal. But you could avoid getting lost in the woods with a guiding system embedded in your body.

Electronic engineer and biohacker Brian McEvoy has designed the first internal compass, and will be the first test subject. The ‘Southpaw’ — inspired by the North Paw bracelet – works by sealing a miniature compass inside a silicon coat, within a rounded Titanium shell, to be implanted under the skin. An ultra-thin whisker juts out, which is activated when the user faces north, to lightly brush an alert on the underside of the skin.

Read the article

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22 Animals Having The Best Moments of their lives

OK. That’s a bit of anthromorphising, But these photos, selected by Chelsea DeBaise at Dose, are irresistible.
HappinessSee the rest

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A book is better

Reading a print book is better for comprehension than reading on a computer, according to a new report out of Norway.

Why? The researchers concluded that reading print texts helps the brain form mental maps. The brain has an easier task when you can touch as well as see. A mental map is particularly important if the text is long. Lengthy texts call for quicker navigation. You need to be able to leaf back and forth through different parts of the text to see, review and comprehend relationships and contexts.

Read the article

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Quote of the Day

There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights
the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people.
When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to
become the people.” ~ Bill Adama, Battlestar Galactica

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Alma Alexander

My books

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Before you die…

25 must-read books

One of Powell’s Books customers asked for a list of 10 books that “everyone absolutely must read in his or her lifetime.

The question intrigued us and we immediately launched into a heated debate. Should the Bible be on the list? No text has influenced Western culture more, but might it be equally important to read the Koran or the Torah for a more enlightened worldview? Shakespeare seemed like a given, but how to choose between Hamlet and the sonnets, between A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear? And what of lesser-known works — things like The Rings of Saturn or Bluets or No-No Boy or The Book of Disquiet? How could we whittle down our list to just 10 books?

As it turns out, we couldn’t. We posed the question to our fellow book-savvy colleagues and, after receiving some 1,400 nominations (!) and putting it to a vote, we ultimately settled on 25 titles. Instead of worrying so much about what had to be included, we opted to present books that have the ability to change the way you think and feel and reflects our diverse interests here at Powell’s.

Personally, I’m glad to see some genre works included here. Lists like this are too often high-falutin LITRACHUR. I have read about half of the books in this list myself – I won’t tell you which half — and will have to live for a very long time until I get around to the rest.

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Before Things Fall Apart was published in 1958, few novels existed in English that depicted African life from the African perspective. And while the book has paved the way for countless authors since, Chinua Achebe’s illuminating work remains a classic of modern African literature. Drawing on the history and customs passed down to him, Achebe tells the tale Okonkwo, a strong-willed member of a late-19th-century Nigerian village. As we follow Okonkwo’s story, we get a glimpse of the intricacies of village life and the complex social structures that come into play. We then see the devastating effects of European colonization on the region and on Okonkwo himself, whose rise and fall become intertwined with the changing power dynamics. Things Fall Apart is essential reading for anyone who wants a more nuanced understanding of other ways of life, of culture clashes, of what being civilized really entails. – Renee

Read the article

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QUIZ: Before They Were Famous

Before they make it big, writers have to pay the bills somehow. Can you guess what these famous authors were doing before they became household names? Mental Floss asks.

My husband got ZERO! I won’t tell you how I did.

Take the quiz

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The 10 Best Vampire Novels No One Has Read

Just because a novel is on a national bestseller list—or sells hundreds of thousands of copies—doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, Paul Goat Allen writes at Barnes and Noble. The reverse is also true, especially of genre fiction, fringy fiction—a lot of the good stuff comes and goes virtually unnoticed. Take vampire fiction, for example.

Here are some of the most under-appreciated vampire novels of all time.

Fat White Vampire BluesFat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox

This and its sequel, Bride of the Fat White Vampire, are simply hilarious reads. Featuring a 500-pound, bloodsucking taxi driver named Jules Duchon, this story—set in New Orleans—is as entertaining as it is audacious. The tagline for Fat White Vampire Blues says it all:

“He’s undead, overweight, and can’t get a date.”

You will never read anything quite like these novels…

 

Read the article

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Swapping books

I have mixed feelings about these three sites that I found in a list of 20 places where you can swap things. On one hand, I approve of anything that facilitates the reach of books. and encourage s reading. But… As a writer, I would much rather people buy their own books, particularly, my books, of course. But if you are strapped for cash …
Book MoochBook Mooch is both national and international book swap site. The site is free to join, the only cost is shipping of books.

What’s On My Bookshelf is another barter site for books of all kinds.

PaperBack Swap. Members build up their library in order to swap with other members.

Barter sites

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15 Best Online Bookstores for New and Used Books

There are a number of reasons why you might be looking to buy books from an online site that’s not Amazon.

I always urge readers to buy from their local bookstore, but if you don’t have one, or if you need a specific title (like a textbook), the web might be your best bet. Lifehack found 15 of the best online bookstores (including the three mentioned above) where you can find deals on new books, used books, textbooks, and more.
BiblioBiblio

Niche topics, rare books: Biblio.com styles itself as one-stop shopping for true bibliophiles, with carefully curated collections from independent booksellers. Many are dealers who focus on specific niche interests, antiquarian books, and rare books, and in addition to searching for titles and authors, you can also browse by seller.

Bonus: Your purchase helps do good! All shipping is offset with carbon credits. The company also has a nonprofit arm, BiblioWorks, which uses the site’s profits to build libraries in rural communities in South America.

Read the article

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5 science-backed ways reading makes you healthier
Reading is healthyPhoto courtesy of Shutterstock

Books aren’t just exciting to get into, Stephanie Castillo says at Raw Story, they boast some health benefits, too.

For example:

Self-help books are recommended as an intervention for severely depressed patients, a BMJ study found. Similarly, a small study from the University of Cincinatti found bibliotherapy, or the idea of using books as an intervention, benefitted children who struggled socially as a result of a disability, including autism and Downs Syndrome.

Read the article

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McMoon’s

A bunch of people get a broken TV and a pile of antiquated equpment and started chatting to a miraculously revived satelite Up Yonder In THe Blue. How *AWESOME* is this?
ISEE-3 NASA satelliteThe ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft ever to be placed at L1, where it stayed in an elliptical halo orbit for four years. At this point it could read the solar winds one hour before they reached Earth.” (Photo via Google)

An independent crew is taking control of a NASA satellite, ISEE-3, and running a crowdfunded mission, Jack Smith IV writes at Betabeat. They’re doing it all from a makeshift mission control center in an abandoned McDonald’s in Mountain View, CA.

The ISEE-3 used to measure space weather like solar wind and radiation, but went out of commission decades ago. Now, a small team has taken control of the satellite with NASA’s silent blessing.

Their new control center, dubbed “McMoon’s,” fit all of the criteria they needed: the doors locked, and it was free. For their console, they pulled a broken flatscreen TV from a government dumpster and fixed the power supply. The other pieces are from eBay, including a Mac laptop and some radio parts.

With just those bare-bones pieces, they were able to MacGyver a computer-radio hybrid that made contact with the ISEE-3.

Read the article

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Quote of the Day

Realism: the siren song of mediocrity, written by the elite to make you settle for less than you deserve.” ~ Ted Rall,

~~~~~
Alma Alexander

Check out my books

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Men’s Lib in Austen

The comic Manfeels Park takes comments from men on the internet and puts them into scenes from Jane Austen’s stories, Jenna Guillaume of BuzzFeed reports. The comic is the brainchild of Mo and Erin, who were inspired after discussing the “man-feels” on an internet comment thread and realising it was the perfect pun for Mansfield Park.
Men's lib in Jane AustenRead the Article

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Hilarious archive of librarians’ harsh children’s book reviews

One hundred years before post-millennial parents were deeming Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs inappropriate for young vegans, Jenni Avins writes at Quartz, the children’s librarians of the New York Public Library kept a card catalog of hand-typed kids’ book reviews.

“There’s about a billion card catalogs in the library,” says librarian Lynn Lobash. “But these are special in that they were used as a tool for collection development, for the staff to evaluate the children’s collection.”
Kid's book reviewRead the Article

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27 Reasons Literary Nerds Will Love Tumblr

Book lovers and Tumblr were basically made for each other, Heben Nigatu tells us at BuzzFeed, and offers examples from

PUNS
Tumblr punsto an examination of “the underlying anxieties of your favorite genres.”
TumblrRead all the reasons

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Speaking of puns…

Isaac Fitzgerald of BuzzFeed offers puntastic book titles “that will make you laugh out loud.”

Here's Looking at EuclidSee them all

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Chillingly Evil Corporations in Literature

In Flavorwire, Jason Diamond looks at novels that no longer seem so farfetched. There is Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, of course, any corporation in any William Gibson book, CHOAM from Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Or take Rachel Cantor’s debut novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario, for example:
Rachel CantorCan you imagine a world where Burger King really is the king, where Papa John is Big Brother, or where Colonel Sanders was worshiped as a deity? It might seem farfetched, but in a real world where some corporations earn more than some entire countries, and employ armies of workers, the idea might be more plausible than you think.

In A Highly Unlikely Scenario, the book’s protagonist works for Neetsa Pizza, a new bizarre corporation with memorably insane businesses ideas.

Read the Article

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This Cat is the Stationmaster in Her Own Train Station
Trainmaster catMeet Tama, the highly praised “Stationmaster” at a train station in Japan. She has her own office, greets all of the passengers, and is paid in cat food. Never before has there been a stationmaster so adored by those who ride through her platform. And check out her Tama-themed train.

Read the article

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Quote of the Day

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams

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Alma Alexander
Check out my books
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Comments welcome. What do you think?

Best SF comedies?

The best SF comedies

At io9, Alasdair Wilkins and Charlie Jane Anders picked “The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time.”

They left out one of my faves, Paul, which is unforgivable.

PaulAnd they named a few … er, peculiar ones, but any list that includes Galaxy Quest meets with my approval.
Galaxy QuestGalaxy Quest is a rare trifecta: it’s a great science fiction comedy, it’s a brilliant comedy about science fiction, and it actually works as a pretty decent science fiction film in its own right. The film never loses sight of its parody of Star Trek’s most cliched tropes or its affectionate skewering of the various neuroses of the has-been actors, and it’s a tribute to Galaxy Quest’s comic dexterity that it perfectly balances both threads.

Read the Article

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The mystery of Creativity

Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen is among the most exhilarating creative spirits of the past century, Maria Popova writes at Brain Pickings. She draws on a 1992 Paul Zollo interview which begins with Cohen considering the purpose of music in human life:

There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There’s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That’s what dignifies the song. Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.
Leonard CohenCohen’s most moving insights on songwriting transcend the specificity of the craft and extend to the universals of life.

“f I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery.

Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.

Read the Article

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If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers

Strangers seem very willing to offer advice — ‘self-publishing is where the money is!’ — to writers, Lincoln Michel notes at Electric Lit. What it would be like if people talked about other professions in this way.?
Professions“Ah, a middle school teacher? Have I met any of the students you’ve ever taught?”

“An accountant? Wow, I haven’t even looked at a number since high school.”

“News anchor? Okay here’s a news story I’ve been thinking about for years: the vice president slips into a vat of grape jelly. People would love that story, right? It’s yours! I’ll never have time to get away from work and break the story to a national audience myself.”

“Software programmer? Like, for actual computers sold in stores or just as a hobby?”

Read the Article

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13 Dysfunctional Literary Couples Who Should Have Broken Up

Literature is littered with plenty of couples who were meant to be, Tori Telfer muses in a light-hearted piece at Bustle.

…sometimes it seems like everyone in books is experiencing adorable meet-cutes … But for every pair of literary lovers who finish each other’s sentences, there’s a duo that does nothing but drag each other into the darkness… Can you imagine how differently things would have turned out if these losers had just broken up with each other like 50 pages earlier?

For example:
Raymond CarverALL  of Raymond Carver’s married couples

Recipe for a Raymond Carver marriage: a lot of drinking, a lot of smoking, and a healthy dash of constantly thinking about how you’d like to leave your spouse. Mix well with weakness of character. Never change a thing.

Read the Article

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45 random acts of kindness

Okay, sometimes you just need to be reminded, in the face of everything dark in the world today, that there are a few lights flickering out there somewhere. In spite of it all. Maybe even because of it. Do a kind deed for someone to day – or say a kind word – just because you can. Be a human being.

Check out these random acts of kindness celebrated at Passit Down.
BagelsAfter work, this man takes uneaten bagels and hands them out to the needy on the street.
Brian O’DriscolRugby player Brian O’Driscoll visited his biggest fan in the hospital.

See the pictures

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Quote of the Day

Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one
else can see.“~ Arthur Schopenhauer

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Alma Alexander
Check out my books
Email me 
Comments welcome. What do you think?

Spamology et al

DEARLY BELOVED, SAVE HUMANITY!” says the subject line on one the messages in my spam box.

I am tempted to send an autoreply.

“You have reached the Messiah Hotline. We value your call. Due to the heavier than usual call volume, you may have to wait a little longer than usual for a response. Your expected wait time is approximately 2000 years. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you momentarily.”

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Sea of Voices, or, A Question of Character

“How many people are in this room?” I asked the audience at a recent Cascade Writers Conference. They began turning around to count heads.

“No,” I interrupted, “not how many warm bodies. How many people?”

I paused as they puzzled over this, then went on.

“Let me introduce you to the ones that are currently up here at the front of the room with me.”

And then I spoke, in character, as character, as four of the characters from my own stories.

There was Coyote, for example, from my Worldweavers books:

CybermageShe called me Corey, in the books. She had to call me something. But you might know me better as Coyote…

I am a spirit; I am a god; I am an avatar. I am chaos. I am a rock in a stream; I do not block the water flow but I act as a dam and I make the water find a way around me if it wants to move forward in its bed. I am a lesson to be learned….

We all carry it within us, all the writers, we all swim in this sea of voices which whisper nto our ears as we work, as we eat, as we sleep, as we dream. We contain multitudes, That person sitting in the back of the bus having a passionate conversation with thin air? He’s probably a writer arguing with a recalcitrant character who will not do what is needful because they know better (the worst thing is that they usually DO…)

I talk about this in detail at Storytellers Unplugged.

Read the Article

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Okay, then. Okay.

I was procrastinating like crazy, trawling the Net, when I found something on the blog, Writing Advice: by Chuck Palahniuk.

“For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every ‘thought’ verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.” (If you want to read his whole column, you can find it here.)

UNPACK, he says. And then he gives challenge sentences. Here’s my answers to the challenge (his sentence first, my (long -winded) responses following straight after):

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Ripples spread out in circles silver-edged by moonlight, spilling on the surface of the dark water, as though something had been thrown into the river, or something had jumped out – for terror, for joy, perhaps for both. It might have been Marty’s own heart, beating too fast against his ribs as he struggled to catch his breath.”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“It all came flooding back as soon as the wine spilled into her mouth, and she could all but taste the wintry sunshine outside the half-empty cafe where she had last sipped of this particular vintage, watching the door close slowly just as Joe had walked out, leaving her alone with the half-consumed bottle of wine and the dregs in his own glass, unfinished, still stitting there on the table across from her, mocking her dreams.”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

“There was a metallic taste in Larry’s mouth as he crouched behind the packing cases. He could be certain of at least three of them, out there in the warehouse, too far spread out for him to do anything about; for all he knew there were a dozen more. But it didn’t matter, either way. They were between him and the exit, and there were only two bullets left in the gun. ‘Well,’ he muttered under his breath, out loud just so that he could hear his own voice one more time,  closing his eyes briefly and holding the cold metal of the gun’s barrel flat against his forehead in a gesture that was almost a salute, ‘I guess the only thing left is to make it count. I won’t go without taking at least two of those bastards with me.”

Of course, “unpacking” means MORE WORDS. But eh. I can live with that.

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A hilarious video for all lovers of language
LanguageMatthew Rogers used the words of Stephen Fry in creating this kinetic typography animation. It’s wonderful. Watch it.

Watch the video

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35 of the Internet’s Most Influential Writers

Some are young authors, others are firmly established, Jason Diamond writes at Flavorwire. Some of them are publishing industry veterans or new media superstars who want to use their clout to talk up writers they love, while others command small armies via their Tumblrs. Some start hashtag trends, while others have scored book deals with their clever tweets.

Whatever it is they do on the Internet, these 35 people do it better than anybody else in the book world, and that’s why they help steer literary conversations and tastes.
Melissa BroderMelissa Broder: We’ve already explored this poet’s uncanny ability to tweet magic, but it bears repeating. If you haven’t followed her yet, what are you waiting for?

Read the Article

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Quote of the Day
hemingway quote~~~~~
Alma Alexander
Check out my books
Email me 
Comments welcome. What do you think?

Bedroom Quirks

The Bedroom Quirks of 10 Great Authors
Bedroom quirksYou know that Shakespeare, James Joyce and Lord Byron were geniuses when it came to their ways with words, but as anyone who knows a writer can tell you, scribes frequently come with some serious quirks, Stacy Conradt writes at Mental Floss. I’m reading Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg, and the secrets definitely come out. So, without further ado, I give you 10 intimate quirks of some of the finest writers ever.
 
Read the Article

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Teenage rebels in fiction – quiz

To celebrate the 66th birthday of SE Hinton, The Guardian wants to test your knowledge of the great tales of teen trouble-makers and asks: You got a problem with that?

I love the second choice in Question #4.

Take the Quiz

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The 10 best bookstores … make that 11

The rumors of the death of indie bookstores have been greatly exaggerated, Leif Pettersen says in USA TODAY, then hedges:

Well, moderately exaggerated. The harsh fact is that these institutions are facing unprecedented competition from a website named for a river, and many struggle just to stay open. Still, a determined few are thriving.

He misses one of the great ones, Village Books in Bellingham WA, but lists most of the usual suspects. I’ve covered the best bookstores before but I like this one for all the great photos.
Skylight-BooksSkylight Books, Los Angeles – One of the most respected independent bookstores in the country. The hipster-ometer is buried in the red here (in a good way), from the eclectic customers, to the well-read staff, to Franny the store cat, to the arts annex two doors down.

Read the Article

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Women’s Rights News says:
Women Didn’t Just Join Geek Culture, They Invented It
GeeksRead the Article

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Mary Poppins Stumps for Minimum Wage Increase

Mary Poppins

A hilarious video. You will never hear “supercallifagilisticexpialliBULLSHIT”  the same way again.

 

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Read the Article

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Retirement Community’s Awesome Calendar Of Famous Movies

The Contilia Retirement Group in Germany released a calendar that featured  scenes from their favorite movies, Ashley Burns writes at Filmdrunk.

The folks at the Senior Living Communities in the US thought it was a spectacular idea and decided to give it a whirl. The result is an 18-month calendar that takes on classic movies from A Christmas Story to Cleopatra, as well some other great moments in pop culture history that your own great grand-grandparents might call the bee’s knees.
ghostbustersVia Senior Living Communities

Read the Article

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28 Beautiful Quotes About Libraries

The libraries of the world are under threat. At Buzzfeed, Daniel Dalton offers some reasons to care.
EinsteinRead the Article

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Are you a book hoarder? There’s a word for that

How many books is too many books, Hector Tobar asks in the LA Times? What makes you a book hoarder? In Japanese, tsundoku is a noun that describes a person who buys books and doesn’t read them, and then lets them pile up on the floor, on shelves, and assorted pieces of furniture.

Just looking around our house – the books left to breed and multiply on the coffee table, the books stacked sideways on nearby shelves, the double-stacked books on at least three bookshelves in two different rooms – and then there’s the library…
Our libraryWe not only MEET the rather low-ball criterion they offer up in the article, we are POSTER CHILDREN for the Compulsive Book Hoarder Group. Still, there are worse things to be addicted to than books.

Read the Article

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Quote of the Day

Someone asked Pablo Casals when he was 90 why he still practiced every day.  “Because I think I am making some progress,” he answered.

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Alma Alexander
Check out my books
Email me 
Comments welcome. What do you think?