Books to change who you are

In Today’s Blog

  1. A Reading Plan
  2. A year of reading an author named Alma

At, Jon Westenberg offers a one-year reading plan to “transform who you are, what you do & how you do it.” 

It’s an intriguing idea and well worth checking out (link below) and it inspired me to offer my own reading plan.

Month 1: Transcending loss

Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay: I don’t know how this man knows what it means to *lose a country* but he does, he viscerally does, and this book rips my heart out every time I re-read it and I re-read it regularly.

There are many ways to fight against this loss and the entire book is a kind of poetry of courage and endurance and never giving up. And then there is Dianora – the tragic, transcendent Dianora who is one of the most memorable characters ever to grace any novel.

Month 2: Laughter

Three Men in A Boat by Jerome K Jerom: I challenge anyone to read this book without laughing out loud at least once – and for me, at least, it cemented the reasons why I don’t EVER want to go camping (and yes I am laughing again just thinking about it)

Month 3: Rising to your gifts

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

One of those books which came out of nowhere and totally captivated me – a lost tribe of super-runners, and the most engrossing race you’ve never heard about.

Month 4: A bit of history

Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric: For people like me who have roots in in the real-world history in which this novel takes place, it is riveting and heartbreaking. Even if it’s not your personal history, this novel by a Nobel Literature Prize winning author can leave you gasping. It is a tragedy. It is a determination to endure. It is a living thing with a beating heart.

Month 5: Through a glass darkly

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: It is a gift to be able to take something utterly UTTERLY familiar and recast it in a shape that makes it utterly UTTERLY strange. You go along on that journey believing every step of the way, or at the very least wanting to. I think this is the first Gaiman book I ever read, and I have read most everything the man has ever written purely on the strength of it.

Month 6: Art

The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, Kate Elliot: Because I am a fantasy writer, why not pick a fantasy book with art as the central theme? This particular book is a rich reinvention of what it means to give yourself to your art, BODY and soul. And how immensely magical art can be. It’s the kind of thing that can be iffy – a book with three authors, but this WORKS. And you’ll never look at a painting the same way again.

Month 7: Poetry month

Here I am not going to say “go read THIS ONE or THAT ONE.” Start with the ones you might have heard of, the “classics”, like, oh, I don’t know, Sonnets from the Portuguese or something (Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Then go learn a bit about the poet and see if you can fit the poetry to the person. You can find stuff by Emily Bronte which is every bit as wild as her novel; you can go more modern and search recent journals publishing people you may never have heard of. Get adventurous. And if at the end of the month you still don’t like poetry, you’ll really know why.

Month 8: Visual art in story

There’s a new graphic novel of Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak”. Or you could give manga a try. Go outside your comfort zone. Stories are sometimes told with the help of pictures.

Month 9 : Writers from another continent.

Make a point of reading at least one book by a writer who lives on a different continent from you, perhaps even one which you might never have visited. Go and find out about writers from Africa, from Asia (India, China, Japan…), from South America, from Europe from North America (if you aren’t based there!), Specifically try some which come in translation, from a language you do not speak. Learn to think the thoughts of someone who comes from a different world than you. Broaden your horizons, literally and metaphorically.

Month 10: Visit the past

Read a novel or two from a different century. The Twentieth, particularly the early Twentieth, perhaps; or (if you can handle it) even delve into the Nineteenth, or even before. People were very different back then. But if you know where we came from, perhaps it might become easier to start understanding where we might be going.

Month 11: Jump to the future – or the weird.

Pick up books by Charles Stross, China Mieville, Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin.

Month 12: Plan a year of books for a youth

What would you recommend to a young person who is only just beginning their literary journey? Which books were important to YOU, growing up? Why? You might have to re-read them and make sure they hold up? Which books weren’t around when you were young, but you WISH they had been – books which you read as a grown-up but which you know would have changed your life if you had found them younger? Put a list together and then maybe give it as a Christmas present to a reader in your life. Maybe even with a package of the recommended books.

A year of reading an author named Alma

Just in case you might want a monthly reading list on those topics drawn from my own work, on similar topics:

Month 1 : Transcending loss – Letters from the Fire – an epistolary novel told in emails, about war and love and courage and loss of country. It’s fiction, but this one is deeply rooted in a very recent historical past.

Month 2: Laughter – Spellspam, the second book in the Worldweavers series. If you like puns, you will quite enjoy the spellspams that lead off each chapter This one also leaves you with quite a bit to think about, though, when you’re done laughing.

Month 3: Rising to your gifts – the entire Worldweavers series, really. “Gift fo the Unmage”, “Spellspam”, “Cybermage” and “Dawn of magic” All about the Girl Who Couldn’t, the one of whom much was expected but who apparently failed to rise to those expectations…. right untilthe moment she did, and transcended them all.

Month 4: A bit of history – Empress, a story which is based in the immortal love story of Emperor Justninan of Byzantium and a girl from the Hippodrome named Theodora who became an Empress. This one’s alt-history, or historical fantasy – but it skates quite close to the real tale. Pick it up, read it, and you might be moved to find out about the Real Thing, afterwards…

Month 5: Through a glass darkly – The Were Chronicles (“Random”, “Wolf”, “Shifter”) This is a world that could so easily be our own, with just one major change. There are Were-creatures. And instead of the usual suspects (any people with a darker skin, Jews, lower social castes or classes,) it is the Were kind who are the lowest on the social totem pole. These are books that look at what that means, what it feels like, and how to rise above it…

Month 6: Art – Um. I have to give you a rest this month. i don’t do visual But if you want another medium.. I have a couple of books out as audiobooks (currently “Embers of Heaven” and “Gift fo the Unmage”, with “Empress” coming soon…)

Month 7: Poetry month – I DO have a book a poetry out, which my was instrumental in getting published when I was 18 years old. There aren’t many copies about. But I give you leave to read other poets, instead. Or email me and ask me for a poem. I’ll send you one.

Month 8: Visual art in story – I have a story that won a competition run by the BBC, no less. About a painting. It’s called “The Painting”. You can find it in Weight of Worlds, a collection of my short stories (only in ebook…)

Month 9 : Writers from another continent. Well, I’ve lived on a lot of continents, so wherever you are right now you can make a case of picking ANY of my books and you’d be safe. But I suggest “Midnight at Spanish Gardens” because it is about a real place which I left behind on another continent, a long time ago. And it might bring up some memories of your own.

Month 10: Visit the Past – Try my Jin-shei books – “The Secrets of Jin-shei” and “Embers of Heaven”. They are alt.history/historical fantasy but they are rooted in Imperial China and the Cultural Revolution, respectively. I did a ton of research for these books. They may be fantasy but they are truly “historical” in their own way.

Month 11: Jump to the future, or the weird. Try “AbduciCon”, especially if you are a Science Fiction fan who has ever been to a convention – you will have fun both hunting familiar SF tropes, and recognizing characters who will seem familiar.

Month 12: Visit “my books” at and plan a year of MY books for somebody…? (If you want to plot, you can always let me know and we can get them signed.)

Jon Westenberg at HERE

5 significant books in an author’s life HERE

All my books HERE

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Women defying history

A series of videos featuring some of the most bad-ass women in history is on the horizon, Lily Myers writes at Bust.
Defying History photoThe episodes will feature a Chinese pirate, Japanese novelist, journalist Ida B. Wells, computer programmer Ada Lovelace, and the radical anarchist Emma Goldman,

The spark plug for the crowd-sourced project is Anita Sarkeesian, whose first web series about the sexist roles given women in video games sparked outrage from many male gamers who responded with death and rape threats

Rather than heroes, leaders and innovators, women are often depicted and treated as secondary characters in history, objects of affections, damsels to be rescued, or merely the wives, mothers and assistants to the men who achieved important things,” Sarkeesian says,

The goal of Ordinary Women is to replace these old ideas about women’s limitations with real stories about amazing things ordinary women have achieved.”

Read the whole story at HERE


A bit of history

For the last few days I have been talking about my first Comic-con in Seattle, but before I look at the germ of this extraordinary idea, how it all came about, I want to share one of my favorite moments at ECCC.
Unicorn playing a fiddle photoA unicorn playing a fiddle, Photo by Alma Alexander

The now iconic Comic-con began in March 1970 in San Diego.

Its earliest incarnation was a single-day “mini-con” which had two special guests and about 100 attendees, an event put together to gauge and generate interest in a larger event and find funds for it. It led directly to the creation of the first three-day event then known as the Sand Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, held in August of the same year. Its guests were Ray Bradbudy, Jack Kirby and A E van Vogt – can I go drool now…?)

That con wasn’t much bigger than the mini-me that started the whole thing, with some 300 attendees as warm bodies on site, but that was… the beginning. That con had all the basics. The dealer’s room. The programming and the panels. Film screenings. It was the bedrock on which every subsequent con was built.

They dropped the “Golden State” and became simply the San Diego Comic-Con (or SDCC) in 1973, and by 1995 it had morphed into Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI). Today, attendance tops 130,000, and the event isn’t – can no longer be – held in a single location but rather an entire campus of satellite venues necessary to house its vast programming requirements and the public intent on enjoying them.

The interests of this behemoth have expanded from the world of the comic book in all its incarnations into giant media cons complete with serried ranks of glittering stars from the spheres of publishing, books, TV, movies, and everything to do with all of those things.

These days, you can trek from packed panels revealing the next development in a popular TV franchise to a loving retrospective of a yesteryear series, from brand new trailers to movies yet unseen to showings of vintage films to which the fans know the entire script by heart, hopping skipping and jumping from books to movies to TV to Internet and social media and blogs and podcasts and anything and EVERYTHING in between. And while you’re doing all THAT, there’s a “show floor” which is like every dealer’s room from every convention you’ve ever been to in your entire life put together, and then multiplied by ten.

And holding all of this together is the glue of the eager fans, with very high quality cosplay now an accepted part of the experience, where you walk the corridors rubbing shoulders with various incarnations of every popular character of page and screen and people vying to outdo one another in how magnificently these characters could be depicted.

From SDCC, the Comic-Con beast has spawned many descendants, across the world. There are Comic-Cons in Australia (since 2012), Russia, (since 2014), various locations in Europe (Romania, at least five locations in the UK), across the Middle East and Asia (Dubai, India), and the Americas, both South (Brazil, since 2014) and North – several separate ones in Canada… and, by now, dozens in the USA, the length and breadth of the country of greater or lesser longevity and provenance.

Emerald City Comicon, in Seattle, has been an annual fixture since 2003. Originally housed at the Century Link (QWEST) Field (first the West Field Plaza and the Event Center), it moved to its current home at the massive Washington State Convention and Trade Center in 2008 – and in 2013 it grew big enough to swallow the entire center for three days. It overflowed into the adjacent Sheraton Hotel in 2014.

The original ECCC boasted some 2,500 attendees. That grew at a dizzying rate. By 2007, the number stood at 7,000 (that was the first year they featured “media” guest celebrities) Two years later the number of attendees had almost doubled to 13,000 people and included media guests like Jewel Staite and Wil Wheaton.

In 2010 they had Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee, and 20,000 eager fans. 2011 brought in even more stars (William Shatner, Bruce Boxleitner, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes) and 12,000 more con-goers. 2013 brought in the likes of Patrick Stewart and Billy Dee Williams, and a horde of 64,000+ attendees. A stellar 2014 featured John DeLancie, Michael Dorn, Nichelle Nicholls, Ron Perlman and Dwight Shultz (among others) and an attendance number of 70,000+. They spoke of 80,000 people in 2015, and more stars of stage and screen.

They also mentioned a magic number of 80,000+ this year, in 2016, the year I first walked those streets full of people dressed as Spiderman and Rey from the new Star Wars and Alice in Wonderland and Thor of the Hammer and Doctor Horrible and every possible incarnation of Doctor Who.

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The horror that never ends

In The Guardian, celebrated correspondent Janine di Giovanni has selected

The top 10 books of war reportage

One of his choices (whole list and link below) includes ‘Hiroshima’, John Hersey’s incredibly powerful 1946 report on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb ever used on people.

Hiroshima may be a footnote in ancient history to most of the world, but not to the people of Japan where the memory of the appalling destruction and carnage is still vivid and alive.

I was at a science fiction convention in Yokohama when a a Japanese translator felt compelled to interrupt a discussion by lily-white, mostly American and almost completely oblivious panelists obliquely talking about the war before an increasingly antsy Japanese audience. After his cautioning remarks, the subdued panelists continued with a bit more sensitivity.

And if, after Giovanni’s list, you’re still looking for reading material… there’s this novel called “Letters from the Fire‘, covering a different war, a “smaller” war (if there is such a thing), a war which didn’t end with a mushroom cloud… but which – as EVERY war is – was still full of loss and pain and confusion and devastation.

Unlike most books on the list, it’s a novel not war reportage – but it is based on absolute fact, so much so in fact that when it was first published I caught a young and earnest bookstore clerk filing it in the ‘Non Fiction’ section of the shop. When I pointed out it was fiction, he looked genuinely baffled and asked, “Are you *sure*?”

“Reasonably,” I said, “I wrote it.”

But he might have had half a point, actually. It’s fiction… but this is as real as it gets.

I don’t know what it is about war, about its brutality and its callousness and its vainglory and its bitter, bitter triumphs and tragedies which are one and the same thing because what is a triumph for one side is invariably the other side’s tragedy and it’s a matter of luck as to which side you land on. I don’t know what it is. But even while we continue to fight them – usually for no reason that anyone can really remember after the whole thing is done – some of the most incandescent writing and some of the most incredibly poignant human understanding possible has also been born in the flames of war. Perhaps it’s worth reading about the ones past – and if you read enough maybe you’re going to reach the point of enlightenment where another becomes unthinkable.

I’ll drink to THAT, at least.

From the list:Hiroshima destruction photo The devastated city of Hiroshima. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Hiroshima by John Hersey
And here is where compassion lies. All the brutality and horror of war down to the most base level, told by six survivors.

Read the whole story HERE

The Suicide Note as Literary Genre

William Turner painting

William Turner painting

Feature image: “Bedford and the River Great Ouse,” J.M.W. Turner, c. 1829

Everything has gone for me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.

“So ends Virginia Woolf’s poignant suicide note, addressed to her husband,” Dustin Illingworth writes at Literary Hub. “It is a throbbing document, hauntingly beautiful, in which a decision is made to part with a rote anguish.

“This, then, is the morbid fascination of the literary suicide note: that it is, perforce, the final written work of the author in question. If we believe that writers possess a special relationship with language—one in which the incommunicable is somehow voiced—we might be forgiven our curiosity for what these moments of literary extremity are able to reveal of the inviolate mystery of death.”

Read the whole story HERE

Adult dolls. Not for children – and NSFW

Cinderella 14 260x150

The Enchanted Doll is the brand of the Russian jeweler artist and designer Marina Bychkova who makes absolutely incredible porcelain and polyurethane dolls for adults.

She creates unimaginable dolls which are valued by connoisseurs all across the planet. Marina’s dolls are not smiling; they are pensive, mysterious, and sad. Each of them has their own soul, their own destiny.

See all the dolls at Design You Trust HERE


Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car

Ant Size Robot photoMicrorobots Video by bdmlstanford

Taking inspiration from ants, researchers at Stanford are designing tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces.

Read the whole story HERE

Quote of the Day

David Bowie Quote poster

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A love story retold

Most Western readers have a peculiar blind spot in the historical tapestry of European history.

The Empire of Byzantium.

There’s the Glory Of Rome, and then there’s the Middle Ages. Byzantium is a missing link, something that existed over there beyond Greece, almost Asian, almost Middle Eastern, something that fascinated but did not find deep roots in the Western European psyche.

But in Eastern Europe we all know about Byzantium. It was much closer to home, looming much larger on the horizon. When I was growing up, stories of Byzantium were simply part of my education, part of my cultural milieu.

One story in particular.

As the saying goes, well behaved women never make history, or as one of my great-aunts was wont to say, the pursuit of purity and virtue never helped a woman rise in her world. A good woman cooked meals, cleaned house and raised children. Those who did not do these things were by definition not good women. And not-good women…got up to all sorts of things that were then whispered about behind closed doors.

In the story of the Byzantium Empire, one of these women stands like a colossus: Theodora of the Hippodrome, daughter of a bear-keeper, arena dancer, a woman they have called a whore, someone who clawed her way from the gutter into the circles of the aristocracy. Beyond that – into the purple, crowned with an imperial diadem, ruling an empire at the height of its powers at the side of the besotted Emperor Justinian.
Justinian And Theodora mosaicThe magnificent mosaic of Justinian and Theodora in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

It is one of the greatest love stories in world history.

By most contemporary accounts, Theodora had more than enough heart and spirit and courage to have achieved all this. But because she did so, and did so while female, the rumors started swirling and history has never stayed neutral or even silent on this.

Procopius, a Byzantine historian, depicted Theodora as a wanton temptress who used her body and her sexuality to get what she wanted out of the powerful men in her world. Procopius had his biases and much of what he wrote was exaggerated or even invented. But he helped paint Theodora as what she ended up being in the pages of history books. Sultry, sexual, full of subtle poisonous malice, selfish, given to indulging her own pet people, ideas, or obsessions.

She may have been some of these things. But she was also something that was looked on askance in her world – a strong-minded woman who knew what she wanted and did what she could, what she was permitted by her gender and her society to do, in order to get it. It is quite probable that she was no saint. But she was equally probably not the wicked witch of the east, the image in which she was cast.

I grew up with Theodora and her story dangling before me like some rich Byzantine jewel. When I was younger I had no real means of judging; I read books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the time that she lived in and that was all I had to go on. She was mad bad and impossible but she was fascinating.

And in the end I suppose it was inevitable that she should take root in my storytelling mind and demand that her story – the story of the woman, not the icon, not the two-dimensional harridan, not the evil power who seduced a weak-minded scholar (which some would have Justinian be in some versions of the tale) into breaking all the rules, marrying her, raising her into the aristocratic circles of her time and making them accept her, and finally crowning her as his empress.

So I wrote a historical fantasy, Empress, which was based on her story – and in doing so I have written another book in MY world, the world in which the Syai of “Secrets of Jin Shei” and “Embers of Heaven” also exist in the same way as Greece and China co-exist in our reality.

The Secrets of Jin-shei coverEmbers of Heaven coverEmpress cover

I am writing books which are the building blocks of a much larger world, a world which exists INSIDE MY OWN STORY MILIEU as a huge and ongoing backdrop and in which my individual stories are set, in their own place and time, like jewels, like tiny detailed works of art set into a huge larger-than-life map of a world big enough to contains them all.

“Empress” is the first new fat historical fantasy I have produced since “Embers of Heaven” was published some years ago. It is the story of a not-quite Byzantium and a woman who is not-quite Theodora. But I drew inspiration from both, and created my own version for my own world. This is the kind of story that I so love writing – the sort of tale that unfolds like a rich tapestry, and the closer you look the more glorious detail comes out, until you’re lost in it and can’t quite tell where it ends and that (by comparison) sad pale thing we call reality begins.

You can find a fuller version of this essay at the Book View Café HERE

You can buy Empress HERE

Quote of the DayQuote: Saying It Wrong posterJust as I did.

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What color is ‘C’?

She sees music, in color, and then she paints it.

Until artist Melissa S. McCracken was 15, she thought everyone constantly saw colors like she did – in books, math formulas, at concerts. But when she finally asked her brother which color the letter C was, she realized “my mind wasn’t quite as normal as I had thought.”

“Basically, my brain is cross-wired. I experience the ‘wrong’ sensation to certain stimuli. Each letter and number is colored (‘C’ is canary yellow, by the way) and the days of the year circle around my body as if they had a set point in space.”

But the most wonderful ‘brain malfunction’ of all, she says, is seeing the music she hears. “It flows in a mixture of hues, textures, and movements, shifting as if it were a vital and intentional element of each song.”

Here is an example of what a famous song looks like in color.All The Love In The World“All The Love In The World”

“Having synesthesia isn’t distracting or disorienting. It adds a unique vibrance to the world I experience.”

See more of her paintings HERE

fREADom22 Ways To Celebrate Banned Books Week

At Bustle, Alex Heimbach says that there are tons of great ideas on Twitter and Instagram.

“I’ve collected 22 of them. If you haven’t read these books, you should. There may come a day when you no longer can.”

Read all the suggestions HERE

Why BannedThis amazing library display features a line-up of literary characters from books that have been banned at one point in time. Created by Rachel Moani of the Lacey Timberland Library in Washington state for Banned Book Week, it highlights a few of the reasons the books have been banned by either a school or community library:

Such as “The Wizard of Oz” for depicting women in strong leadership roles, and “The Diary of Anne Frank” for being too depressing.

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign sponsored by the American Library Association and others in the book community every September to celebrate the freedom to read and expose the dangers of restricting access to books.

Read a tribute to Judy Blume, an outspoken advocate against censorship, at  A Mighty Girl.

‘Protecting ‘The Books That Will Never Be Written” HERE

Book Review

‘Rad American Women A-Z’
Rad Women

Attention, parents and teachers: This is an alphabet book with a difference. A is for Angela Davis, Z is for Zora Neale Hurston. In between are scientists, poets, pilots and others, half of whom are women of color, who have long been left out of children’s history books.

Read the whole review HERE

Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioactive 100+ Years Later

When researching a famous historical figure, access to their work and materials usually proves to be one of the biggest obstacles, Open Culture notes. But things are much more difficult for those writing about the life of Marie Curie, the scientist who, along her with husband Pierre, discovered polonium and radium and birthed the idea of particle physics. Her notebooks, her clothing, her furniture, pretty much everything surviving from her Parisian suburban house, is radioactive, and will be for 1,500 years or more.

Read the whole story HERE

The woman who saved American children
Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey

Pharmaceutical representatives came to Washington in droves to drive Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey back from her stand at the FDA over a drug being pushed by a muscular company and the men who ran it, William Rivers Pitt reports at The Smirking Chimp.

She said the drug was dangerous, and had the data to prove it. She was, in the parlance of the times, “a woman in a man’s job” despite her bedrock-strong credentials as a doctor and researcher, and she stood her ground when those men tried to brush her aside.”

The drug was thalidomide, a substance that came to be one of the most dangerous drugs ever unleashed on the human population and thanks to Dr. Kelsey, American babies didn’t get born without arms and legs.

Read the whole story HERE


Last Library Catalog Card
Last Library CardSince information seekers now use computer catalogs and online search engines to access library collections around the world, OCLC has printed its last card.

Read the whole story HERE

The Guardian’s Mars in literature – quiz

Quote of the Day
LudditeIt’s so annoying to be called a Luddite for liking print books ~ Bustle

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‘The world neeeeds books!’

MadisonThere is absolutely no way in hell you appreciate books as much as this third grader does. Nope. No way. Madison loves books. And she tells you exactly why in this video from the grand opening of one of five Little Free Libraries in Cleveland.

See the video HERE

Women Who Changed History

They were strong, brave, and human, regardless of society’s expectations for them, Mark Pygas writes at Distractify.
Sufferage activistA woman suffrage activist protesting after “The Night of Terror.” [1917]

See all 52 women

10 brilliant books that gave women excellent roles

From Meryl Streep’s tortured Sophie to Nicole Kidman’s right-on-the-nose portrayal of Virgina Woolf, every actress in this list captured their character so well you only see see their performance now when you read the book.

The Reader


“The Reader” by Bernard Schlink: When he falls ill on his way home from school, 15-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder. An Oprah Book Club selection.


Read the article

Jodi Picoult says the F-word about Lit World Sexism

After nearly two decades as a highly successful author, Jodi Picoult is out on yet another book tour and not holding back on kickass soundbites about how shitty the lit world tends to be for women writers.

Read the article

Amazingly awful books that you might find at your local library

Take a stroll through your local library’s aisles, and you’re sure to find a few hidden literary treasures, Happy Pace says.

Think I’m kidding about awful? Try this one, for example:
Ask a manDid you know that the best way for you to harness your inner womanliness is to defer all judgement to the penis-havers in your life? Seems counter-intuitive, but that’s what you’ll learn if you check out Always Ask a Man: The Key to Femininity by Arlene Dahl.

A couple of other gems


China bans puns

Digg reports that China’s media regulators have placed a blanket ban on the use of wordplay in advertisements and broadcasts, which have been deemed “contradictory in spirit to the promotion and continuance of excellent, traditional Chinese culture.”

Homes made out of Old Trains
Caboose(via Big Sky Fishing and Skiing)
The 1949 caboose of Samuel and Barbara Davidson on Mercer Island, Washington

Other train buildings

Hieronymus Bosch painted sheet music on a man’s butt and now you can …

Hear it here

Five Music Lessons for Writers

The great thing about being a writer is that no experience is wasted, Louise Marley once wrote.

“I’ve spent most of my life (thus far) as a classical concert and opera singer and as a teacher of classical singers. When I began writing, I discovered to my great relief that I had already learned a number of valuable lessons–music lessons–that set the stage for my life as a writer…I had learned the discipline of artistic life.

Fourth lesson: Sing with your own voice

Read the article

Quote of the Day
QUOTE book lives~~~~~
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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.

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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.



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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Quote of the Day

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

Alma Alexander
My books

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