4 things that I have learned from books

I was away on a business trip these last few days and missed a few posts for the A to Z Challenge that I am taking part in so I have decided to catch up in today’s post and use the letters I have missed to list out the 4 main things I have learned from books.

4 THINGS BOOKS HAVE TAUGHT ME:

1. Kindness.  

Reading creates empathy, sympathy and feelings.  When acts of kindness happen in stories our brains can’t differentiate between what is real and what isn’t – so reading about kindness creates an awareness of kindness – of feelings that are good.   We need more stories that stir up our good feelings.

2. Books are living things.  

Books are alive.  I’ve written a post about this in the past.  You can’t deny an energy of a book – that energy makes it a living, pulsing, breathing thing.

3. Magic is real.  

This is connected to number 2.  Books open up the imagination, create feelings, spark ideas, revolutions, change – books are magic in solid form.  Reading is one of the few bits of magic we learn as children that stay with us as adults (along with dancing and singing).

4. Needed.  

This might be the weakest connection to the letter N (and the A to Z Challenge) but the strongest point I have to make.  Stories, books, reading – they are needed.  To learn how to read is to be empowered as I’ve said previously.  We need knowledge, to learn but more than anything, we need imagination.  We are creators ourselves and reading helps to unleash the creator within.

 

__Books_can_be_dangerous____by_hemingwaycafe

 

This post brought to you by the letters K, L, M and N and the A to Z Challenge.

Judgement – the Book Snob type

When I say book snob, I mean it in the most affectionate way possible.  To me being a book snob is about enjoying the finer things in life – like reading.  Reading is a fine thing.  Being a book snob is not about only reading a certain genre (although I steer way the hell clear of romance).  Being a book snob is preferring a book over other forms of entertainment and sometimes other people (come on readers – admit it).

Books are like wine – you can get wasted on them.  And as a connoisseur of books I can be known to question the book recommendations of others.  I realize this is a form of judgement, I accept that.  I also realize that I need to write a blog post with a topic starting with the letter J and this is the best I could come up with (creative juices went sour today).

I also accept that others may not take my recommendations to heart and I am more than okay with that.

So with judgement and book snobbery in mind – here’s another Thought from the Bookshelf – for the book snob in all of us.

thoughts from bookshelf - book recommendations

 

 

This blog post brought to you by the letter J and the A to Z Challenge.

Infographic – Reading Saves Lives People!

I love infographics.  A fun way to get information in one, quick, easy spot.

I especially love this one.

Reading decreases stress – we readers have known that without really knowing that.  Which is why we love it so much.  It is a way to relax, come down, let go.

Reading literally saves a life:

Created in partnership by the National Reading Campaign (Canada) and CBC

 

(click on the infographic for a larger image)

Created in partnership by the National Reading Campaign (Canada) and CBC.

 

This post brought to you by the letter I and the A to Z Challenge.

Humour – it’s always a lovely thing

What would we do with out humour?  Without laughter?

My favourite people are the poeple who have a great sense of humour about life and about themselves, they don’t take themselves seriously.

I don’t take myself seriously.  I amuse myself frankly.  I’m an earth loving, hippy love spouting, techno-geek, book snob, introverted, quantum activist.  That’s a belly full of laughs.

But I especially like book humour so here’s some fun things to go through.

May your day be filled with humour, may you laugh easily and mostly at yourself.

The 20 Stages of Reading by Lynda Barry (click on the link or picture to be taken to the entire slide):

20 stages reading lynda barry

 

reading humour_n

 

stephen king little reading

 

KaleidoTardissign1

 

large_Reading_Humour_a

 

This post brought to you by the letter H and the A to Z Challenge.

Girl Rising – the Gift of the Word

Girl Rising is a powerful documentary/film highlighting the importance for girls to have access to education.  The film talks about the impacts (all positive) on the economy and the environment when girls are allowed to break free from their chains.  I often take education for granted here in Canada because education has always been so.  But to watch this film and see the desire, the want, the need of education from these girls left a huge impact on me.  girl-rising-640

One thing that stood out in this film?  Reading.

Education comes in many forms, but for this blog post and what Girl Rising showed me was the importance of being able to read.  Education begins with reading.  Empowerment begins with reading.  To read, to view a word and know its meaning is a power unlike any other.

I understand why someone who can’t read might feel the pain of shame or despair - I imagine it is like being blind.  I know this feeling only from looking at the writing of a language I don’t know.  I stare at it, trying to determine a pattern from it but I am left in a state of un-knowing and confusion.  I am in that moment, blind.  This is the only thing I have to compare illiteracy to.

To discover that you can read is to hold within oneself the power of enlightenment – the power of thought – the power of critical thinking.

You can see why then, it is best to keep many girls (and many people) uneducated.  Too much critical thought in this world, and we might just begin to question the world around us.  Question the status quo.  We might just see some amazing changes happening – changes that would not benefit the corporate commercialism that has such a tight grip on our society.

But girls.  If girls could read they might get creative.  Ideas might form.  They might become passionate about something, an injustice perhaps.  They might then do something about it.

We have yet to allow the full power of girls and women to be unleashed in this world.  There always seems to be something in the way – violence, witch hunts, forced marriages, overall oppression by state, church and system.  But see, educate a girl and she might be willing to stand up for herself, she might just be willing to say no – not anymore.  Not like this.

And it is happening – the best examples is Malala Yousafzai.  Malala was shot because she decided no – not anymore.  Not like this.

The best examples are the girls featured in Girl Rising.  The best examples are all around us, we just need to open our eyes.

But one that caught my heart in Girl Rising – Senna.

Senna from the film Girl Rising.

Senna from the film Girl Rising.

Senna – the 14-year-old who lives in a cold, mountain mining town whose heart was inflamed by poetry.  When you meet her in the film she has already discovered poetry.  She doesn’t just speak poetry – she feels it.  You can see the flames within her eyes, her heart as she recites poetry.  She talks about the moment of discovery – how she came alive.  How her poetry is inspired by her father.

Senna’s soul came alive with poetry – and now she writes her own.  On World Poetry Day last year, one of her poem’s was featured on the World Vision blog - “Padre” (“Father”).  It is about her father, someone who insisted on her education, who wanted to give her what he did not have.

But the real treat, the real goosebump moments are to see her recite her poetry.  She is a living poem – the words flow through her like electricity.  How can you not be impacted by her?  Watch her performing her poem on the Girl Rising blog.

This is the power of art, of the written word.  To ignite our souls – to wake us up.  The power to read leads to our unleashing of creativity – creativity leads to ideas, innovation, revolution – change.

All children should have the right to education – but more girls than boys are denied this.  You can read the sad and startling statistics here.

So the greatest give you can give in this world?  Aside from love and kindness?

The gift of reading.

Remember, “one girl with courage is a revolution”.

This post brought to you by the letter G and the A to Z Challenge.

She Chose Not a Side: A Love Story (in fifty words)

Should she be asked why she did not choose a side, she will say she did not because she came to an understanding.

That love is neutral.

Love is the middle.

Love is the centre of all and by nature, cannot be one-sided.

To love is to see the whole.

mandala_estaciones_y_climas_by_lollipopsweet-d4jtubp

 

 

Written in response to today’s Daily Post Writing Challenge.  Tell a story in exactly fifty words.

Mandala created by ChatPetit1 on deviant Art.

Five Rules of Fellowship (the Questing Kind)

We’ve read ‘em, we love ‘em, we want more of ‘em.  Those books where a rag-tag group of people journey with each other towards a destination, a quest, a mission – an adventure.  These are my favourite kind because we are treated to – not only an epic adventure – but a view of relationships, evolution of mind, heart and spirit and sacrifices made when we enter into these types of stories.  I call these Fellowship stories because they always contain a group of three or more people travelling together towards a goal.  We all are familiar with the Lord of the Rings – probably the most well-known Fellowship story of all. As I’ve read these types of books over the years, I’ve come to notice 5 unspoken rules about Fellowship stories.  But before we get into them, what do I mean by fellowship?

Fellowship is defined as:

1. the state of sharing mutual interests, experiences, activities, etc

So in the case of these stories, the mutual interest is a focused goal, usually to save the world, destroy the one ring, defeat evil, fight zombies, find a cure,  and so on.  The mutual experiences and activities are the challenges the group faces on their journey.  I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t love the Fellowship type stories, whether they be a movie or a book.  It is compelling to witness how a group stays strong or dissolves due to circumstances outside of their control.  We see the true nature of character in group dynamics; who is lacking courage, who has malice in their heart, who is loyal, loving and brave.  I am drawn to these types of stories (as I am sure we all are) because let’s face it, we are drawn to each other – we humans need each other.  As an introvert I revel in solitude – but only for so long.  Eventually I will seek human companionship.  We create fellowships for ourselves without our even knowing it – our group of friends/family who we spend the most time with.  We recognize ourselves in these stories, relating to one or two characters within.  Who we cheer for, who we mistrust, who we miss when they are gone from the story can reveal something of our inner selves.

Let’s dive in to the five rules shall we?

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The Five Rules of Fellowship:

  1. There must always be a group of three or more people
    • It can start out as one or two but eventually, a group of three or more is formed along the way
  2. There must be a journey with a mission involved 
    • the journey has to be a physical one towards a destination (with the added bonus of an emotional and spiritual journey developing along the way)
    • the mission usually involves saving the world, kingdom, city, country, another being or soul
  3. The group gets separated along the way 
    • either by choice or by force
    • it can be the entire group splitting or it might just be one or two people who leave the group
  4. Someone in the group eventually (*usually) betrays another 
    • betrays the whole group or an individual
    • this betrayal might be forced (blackmailed or seduced by power)
    • betrayal might also by by choice (they put themselves before the group to save their own ass)
    • * I say usually because not every Fellowship story has a betrayal – though most do
  5. Someone in the group will eventually sacrifice themselves for the group
    • it could be the betrayer who redeems themselves in the end with an unselfish act
    • the sacrifice is usually made so the rest of the group can be saved to finish their journey

The-Design-Work-Antique-Maps-4

These are the 5 rules I’ve observed that are standard throughout each story.  Is there a rule you have observed that I haven’t listed?  If so, I would love to know.  Write it down in the comment section below.

To end this post I want to list the books of an author who writes a lot of Fellowship stories.  Stephen King.  He loves them and I love him for loving them.  His Fellowship stories are:

  • IT
  • The Cell
  • The Stand
  • Stand by Me
  • The Mist

Other Fellowship stories I’ve read that follow the above rules?

  • The Passage Trilogy - Justin Cronin
  • Dies the Fire – S.M. Stirling
  • Swan Song – Robert McCammon
  • The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  • The Walking Dead (graphic novels) – Robert Kirkman
  • The Braided Path – Chris Wooding
  • A Song of Ice and Fire series – George R.R. Martin
  • Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
  • Fire of Heaven Trilogy – Russell Kirkpatrick

I know I’ve read many throughout the years and can’t remember them all – but these are the ones that stick out in my head. What Fellowship stories have you read?  I would love to know so I can add them to my To Read list.

 

This post brought to you by the letter F and the A to Z Challenge.

What Are They Reading? Frodo Edition

When I enter someone’s home and I see a shelf of books, like a moth to a flame, I am drawn towards it.  I must know what people have read – what their tastes are.  It is a constant curiosity I have when it comes to a book.  Just like a cat is unable to stop itself from pouncing on a mouse or chittering at a bird, I am unable to not peruse the titles of someone’s personal library.

In fact I’ve gone to great lengths to see what people are reading – you can read about it at an older post: On Being a Book Ninja

So it wouldn’t surprise you to know that once in awhile, I imagine what books a fictional character might read (this is after I’ve thought about cats and ways to save the world – my life isn’t just about books you know).

I started a new feature on this blog called What Are they Reading and began it with Gandalf.

But now I want to know what Frodo is reading.

frodobaggins reading

As a reader, you don’t go on a long quest without a good book or two or five.  We know Frodo carried at least one book with him on his mission (I’m going off the movie – not the book on this one) so what kinds of books would he be carrying on him?

*On a funny note – look up Mordor on Wikitravel

alice-in-wonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I can clearly picture this book in Frodo’s bag. He himself is so much like Alice – down a rabbit hole, faced with challenge, obstacles, darkness – heading towards a destination (following the rabbit). Meeting new friends, going on a grand adventure. I imagine this is one of Frodo’s favourites.

Book Summary:
We all know what adventure Alice goes on and if you don’t – are you even from this planet?

 

 

 

Short – Walking Tall When You’re Not Tall At Allshort walking tall by john schwartz

Okay, so maybe not that many Hobbits care about their height but they certainly face more obstacles in Middle-earth than any other species because of it.  Frodo had some confidence issues to work on in the beginning of his journey so it’s no surprise that a book based on how size doesn’t matter would have helped him out some.

Book summary:
When veteran journalist John Schwartz took a close look at famous height studies, he made a surprising discovery: being short doesn’t have to be a disadvantage! Part advice book, part memoir, and part science primer, this fascinating book explores the marketing, psychology, and mythology behind our obsession with height and delivers a reassuring message to kids of all types that they can walk tall—whatever it is that makes them different.
 
 

WildernessSurvival-Davenport.2Wilderness Survival: 2nd Edition

This speaks for itself.  Frodo and Sam are going out into the unknown – you think Frodo is going unprepared?  He’s been in the Shire his whole life – you don’t just go out into the wilderness on an adventure without some survival tips.

Book Summary:
A comprehensive, well-organized, and user-friendly guide to staying alive in the back country.  With concise explanations and detailed illustrations, survival expert Gregory Davenport covers the five basic elements of survival–personal protection, signaling, finding food and water, travel, and health–providing the reader with complete information on how to stay calm and alive until rescue arrives.

 

 

The Real Middle Earth – Magic and Mystery in the Dark Agesthe real middle earth brian bates

One thing that seemed clear about Frodo, was his open mind. He has a healthy curiosity and a longing to know more than just the Shire.  So I think Frodo would want to know the origins of Middle-earth – from a more modern human perspective.

Book Summary:
Tolkien readily admitted that the concept of Middle-earth was not his own invention. An Old English term for the Dark Age world, it was always assumed that the importance of magic in this world existed only in Tolkien`s works; now Professor Brian Bates reveals the vivid truth about this historical culture. Behind the stories we know of Dark Age king and queens, warriors and battles, lies the hidden history of Middle-earth, a world of magic, mystery and destiny. Fiery dragons were seen to fly across the sky, monsters haunted the marshes, and elves fired poisoned arrows. Wizards cast healing spells, wise trees gave blessings, and omens foretold the deaths of kings.  Repressed by a millennium of Christianity, this belief system all but disappeared, leaving only faint traces in folk memory and fairy tales. In this remarkable book Professor Brian Bates has drawn on the latest archaeological findings to reconstruct the imaginative world of our past, revealing a culture with insights that may yet help us understand our own place in the world.
 

Edible Books – Reading never tasted so good

Did you know this existed?

The Edible Book Festival is food combined with books mixed with fun and creativity - people/libraries/groups all over the world hold this competition and the results are delicious (though some look very unappetizing).

Google edible books and you get a multitude of book eating creations.  Here are just a few libraries who participated in this festival (there are so many more):

UCLA Library

Duke University Library

University of Illinois Library

Combining the love of books with cake?  Two yummy, brachydactyly thumbs up!

 

This blog post brought to you by the letter E for the A to Z Challenge

Day of the Book

There are many days.  Days for reflection, for action, for pain, for joy.

There are days that help us tell time (though often I wish there was no such thing and that we all just lived in the now – not worrying about a Wednesday or a Sunday or how much we hate Mondays).

There are days for working hard and days for relaxing.  Days for friends and days for family.  There are birth-days, holly (jolly)-days, vacation days, work days – days upon days.

There is a day dedicated to everything we humans have created.  Why do we commit something to a day?  To feel order?  Control?  To remember?  Whatever the reasons, we have days that honour things, people, events and time.

We also have days that honour books.

And isn’t that what this blog is all about?

The days for celebrating the written word are many.  Many to each country, each province or state, each city.  I could not possibly record them all here but I will record the few that I am aware of and that I follow.

And honourable mentions to:

  • Canada Reads – an annual book competition
  • Freedom to Read – promotes freedom of speech in literature and monitors censorship across Canada

What days dedicated to books or the written word are you familiar with that have not been mentioned here?

istock world book

 

This post brought to you by the letter D and the A to Z Challenge.

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