Blog Archives

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.

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.

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?

3021-1-1323355360

 

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.

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.

Cats and books (because is there anything better?)

I love books.  You know that.  This blog makes it clear.

I love cats.  You might not know that, I don’t talk about it too much.  I have three cats.  I love them.  They are pretty cool cats.

So this blog post is dedicated to one of my favourite books about cats.

how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you

It’s filled with hilarity because let’s face it, cats are hilarious and possess secret powers that we can’t even fathom so it’s best we just bow down to them now.

how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you

Dedicated to my three kitties – two of which I know don’t have any plans on killing me but one who I think might, only because she is very possessive over my husband.

conspiracy keanu cats

this blog post brought to you by the letter C (and cats, because cats are awesome – all hail the cats) and the A to Z Challenge

The Book is Better (most of the time)

The book was better – a statement that book lovers and avid readers the world over have been proclaiming since our beloved stories began to be adapted to the movie and television screen.  It is a statement that we avid readers know can be spoken with complete and utter confidence.  That no amount of special effects, amazing script writing or solid acting chops can compete with a reader’s imagination.  We avid readers have been disappointed time and again with the promise of our favourite story heading to the big screen, hoping that perhaps this time, they will get it right.  And sometimes they do get it right and we high-five each other with huge smiles on our faces and tears of joy streaming down our cheeks.  And sometimes – most of the time – they get it wrong.  So wrong.  And when that happens, we book lovers get on our pedestal and cry out; “THE BOOK WAS BETTER!”the_book_was_better_button-r53470cd820f2402b8c2fc7b7c3492a84_x7j3i_8byvr_324

“The Book Was Better” is our war cry, our tag line, our chance to annoy the few or to enlighten the many.  It is our constant, our altar of book supremacy – that books will ALWAYS be better!

Most of the time.

It is a rare, sad moment when a book lover reluctantly admits – the movie was better.

SACRILEGE!

BLASPHEMY!

HERESY!

To admit that a movie is better than the book?  Who would do such a thing?!  Is it not the secret convenance of book lovers everywhere that no matter what, no matter how, the book is always better?

Nope, not in this case.

I watched How I Live Now last night.  A movie based on the Young Adult novel written by Meg Rosoff.

Without getting too much into it, the story is about a troubled American teen who goes to live with her cousins in England for the summer.  The world is on the verge of World War 3 when she goes and as she settles into her new life, war officially erupts.  It is about how she survives with her cousins – a Red Dawn meets Lord of the Flies meets The Incredible Journey type of concept.  Which sounds great hey?!  Gotta love those depressing dystopian novels that seem to be ever prevalent in the YA section.  And the movie was pretty great – kept me engaged, good tension and the child actors were all very charismatic, especially the one who played the youngest cousin Piper.

You know what wasn’t so great?

The book.

It pains me to even say that people.  It hurts my tummy and gives me a frowney face and we all know that it takes way more muscles to frown than it does to smile so I am actually expending more energy frowning than smiling which leaves my body depleted and more vulnerable should there ever be a zombie apocalypse.  So while I would prefer to smile – I can’t say the book was better in all my usual book-loving righteousness.  I can’t.  I won’t.  The book was painful for me to read.

Do you want to know how long it took me to read the book?  30 minutes.  I sped through it just to get through it.  So what made it hard for me to read?  It wasn’t that it was YA – I’ve read a few YA novels and been quite pleased; though there is a fine line for me.  Too clichéd and I get turned right off.  Too immature sounding and I get bored.  Too focused on the worth of a girl being dependent on the love of a boy and I am ready to burn something.  What made it hard to read was how immature the story felt (I could say the author did a great job of sounding like a young teen but I don’t know for sure – it’s all perspective).  What I do know is the voice of Daisy (or Elizabeth) turned me off.  It moved so fast and breathless (but not a good breathless), that it felt like the story was filled with run on sentences.  Like the one I am about to launch into.

So the story seemed to move way too fast and you don’t get a strong sense of where Daisy is in the story and more than anything you get annoyed because it is just moving way to fast like I said and what about all the horror and pain of being separated from her family and there just was so much more that could have been savoured.  It was like the character was talking without breathing and that she had a lot to say and that we are supposed to get that it is essentially like her diary but then when you get to the parts about the war and surviving it kinda moves at a really unbelievable speedy pace where suddenly she’s taken and then just as suddenly she’s on the move and then she’s back home just like that.

Did that above paragraph annoy you?  It annoyed me writing it.  That is what I got from the novel though.  The story itself, the story of survival and love and family was glossed over.  It didn’t have enough impact for me and I ended up not caring.  I know this type of YA style of writing is not right for me and I am sure this novel brought joy to many others, but I can’t read this type of YA novel ever again.  I got this book as a Christmas present which is how it ended up in my hands.  If I had picked it up and read the first page myself in the book store, I would never have brought it home.

But the movie – the movie had impact.  It brought the story to life, the tension and the pain to life.  I felt in the movie what the book was trying to exude.  So in this case?  Movie for the win.

But don’t get used to me saying that.

So fellow “the book was better” warriors – any examples you can share with me where the movie was better than the book? I would love to know so I don’t feel so alone.

condescending wonka book

 

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

Aversion to challenge – this blog post brought to you by the letter A

Ok, I am pretty good at commitment.  I am still married, I try not to cancel plans and I alway arrive precisely when I am meant to.  But I avoid certain commitments – like the one I am about to partake in.  A blogging challenge.

Frack, why did I even sign up for it?   Just saying it in my head gives me the aches.  I like being my own boss, writing a blog post when I want.  I don’t like to be told what to do.

But I like this one which is why I signed up for it.  The A to Z Challenge.  For the month of April write a blog post each day beginning with the letter A on April 1st and so on until you get to the end.  Seems easy enough but the rebellious side of me is already thinking of all the reasons NOT to do this challenge.

So with a positive thought in mind and a page full of ideas to sustain me throughout April – happy challenge to me!

And with that, I end this blog post – the first in my April challenge.  Short and sweet.

BAM! (oh wait, I have to save the letter B until tomorrow.)

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

%d bloggers like this: