Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

The world is full of people who enjoy a good story or discovering new information. Many of those people still love owning physical books simply for the pleasure of living among them. Books can be like old friends, but at some point they can start taking over your home. So how do you part with them?

English: A whole lotta books in my personal li...

English: A whole lotta books in my personal library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people give them to charity or sell them. Others are more neighborly and social in their approach to weeding their books. In Manila, Nanie Guanlao set up a free library in front of his house thinking his books would disappear. Turns out his collection grew as people borrowed, returned, and brought their own books to add. His library/ book club has now been in use for twelve years.


neighbourhood-book-exchange The official BookCrossing logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In America (and some other countries) people have taken to building mini-libraries in front of their homes. They rely on the honor system for sharing their good reads. In fact, a non-profit organization entitled Little Free Library has been created to encourage people to add one in their neighborhood. So far they’ve been a big success.

The official BookCrossing logo

The official BookCrossing logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another way to share books and weed your shelves is practicing “bxing” (BookCrossing). Put an official BookCrossing sticker on the book, or put the book in a BookCrossing plastic bag, and leave if for others to find. If you register your book it’s possible to track who finds the book and where it travels to if that person signs on. How fun is that? You can also simply leave a book somewhere for someone to discover and enjoy. I’ve done this and there is great satisfaction in it.

Book released onto a bench at a bus stop in Ma...

Book released onto a bench at a bus stop in Sydney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now matter how you do it, getting books out there in the world is a wonderful way to share the joy of reading.

English: Example of a book "released"...

English: Example of a book “released” by a bookcrosser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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It’s a new day for authors. No longer do they have to wait for the gatekeepers to decide if they will get past “Go.”  They are self-publishing and it’s not just newbies, it’s long time authors as well. Part of the lure is more control over just about everything from the cover to the type of book (digital, hardcover, paperback) it will be. Another aspect is not having the long wait for acceptance or for the book to come out.

Brenda Peterson is the author of many books and is currently in the process of bringing out another which she will self-publish. Partly for the reasons stated above, but also because she teaches and wants to be able to share the newest trends and possibilities with her students. This latest venture is entitled, The Drowning World.

Brenda is also using another new idea, the kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter began as an idea to support the arts and is now also being used in commercial ventures. If you join there are various levels of involvement and rewards. If you’re interested in joining Brenda’s great experiment to get her book self-published and funded by kickstarter check out this site.

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A new book is out entitled Son of Venice, a companion/ sequel to Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Yang Jones. If you like historical fiction, adventure, and strong women, or if you are fascinated by Asia and the Silk Road you need to check out these books.








Dori Jones Yang is well qualified to write about Asia as she spent eight years in China working as a journalist. She’s been to Mongolia and traveled part of the Silk Road. Not to mention she speaks Chinese and has done much research on her topics.

I too am a history buff and have been intrigued by all things Asian. I think it started when I read Imperial Woman by Pearl Buck as a young girl. Pearl Buck was like Dori, a woman who spent time in China and came to love it.

English: Pearl Buck, Pulitzer Prize-winning Am...

Pearl Buck, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of "Imperial Woman (Buck, Pearl S. ...

Cover via Amazon













Asia’s long history and various cultures offer so many opportunities for great stories (not to mention movies). If you too love history and historical fiction, look for a little known event, or an epic one, somewhere in time and conjure up a story there.




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Writers strive to find their own unique writing style. For some authors, that style includes free verse. Not everyone is comfortable using a poetic form, but many authors have used it to good advantage. One of those is Ellen Hopkins who didn’t intend to write in verse, but found that was the best style/voice for her and the subjects she writes about.

Author Ellen Hopkins with TRIANGLES

Author Ellen Hopkins (Photo: Vernon Area Public Library)

Many authors who use verse in their novels write for young people (third grade through high school). I recently read a book entitled Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai.   It is the story of a young Vietnamese girl fleeing Saigon when it fell to the North and eventually coming with her family to Alabama. The story is in verse and it works wonderfully. Young people seem to really enjoy this style.

Newbery Honor Book: "Inside Out & Back Ag...

"Inside Out & Back Again" by Thanhha Lai (Photo: dianecordell)

So read a novel in verse. If it appeals to you, try writing part of a story in that style. You might find it works for you, or for a particular story you’re working on.


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Nord Railway 2-8-0 No.4.193, from series 4.061...

Railway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently finished reading The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. It was recommended to my writing workshop by our teacher. She was so impressed with the writing that she wanted to use the book as a teaching tool. We’ve looked at  Orringer’s use of subtext, studied examples of interior turning points and emotional epiphanies. Talked about her use of tension.

Orringer makes Paris and Hungary in the late 1930’s and 1940’s come alive. Her characters are deep and interesting. The love story is endearing. Much of the story relates to the Holocaust, which is depressing, but her characters are so strong and honorable that we are willing to go with them on this terrible journey.

When I finished the book I was tapped out. I had entered her world so fully that I couldn’t pick up another book for days. I needed to linger there and mourn the end of the story and some of the characters. That is the grip of a great story, written by someone who has mastered their craft.

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Writers need to read. Much of that reading will be in the specific genre they want to write in, so they can glean that particular style. But in the end, excellent writing is what we all aim for. We strive to be at the A-game level with all the literary elements. So, I think it’s important to break away from your comfort zone and read top-notch novels across the spectrum.

At ALA Midwinter 2009 Youth Media Awards Annou...

ALA Youth Media Awards (Photo credit: americanlibraries)

For example, reading a book that wins the Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature, or any of YALSA’s Best of the Best. Of course, there’s the Newbery Award for children’s literature and the Caldecott Medal for best illustrations in a picture book. There is also the Sibert Medal for best informational (non-fiction) children’s book and the Coretta Scott King Award for African-American authors and illustrators.

There are also all the big awards given in adult literature each year: The Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, Edgar Award, Hugo Awards, Stonewall Book Awards, and more. I would also suggest reading something from an ethnic group other than your own, such as: The Asian American Literary Awards, Literary Awards for Latino Authors, Arab American Book Award, or The National Jewish Book Award.

I believe writers need to keep their minds open. We need to keep learning and observing all the time in order to bring the best out in our own writing. So, even if you just read one title from a few of these categories once every few years, it might surprise and inspire you in your own work.

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Aikido (Photo credit: astridmav)

Bullies are a big topic of discussion today. They’ve always been around, but thankfully more attention is being focused on this issue recently. A new children’s picture book is being released in May dealing with this issue in a positive light. It’s entitled Gus Learns to Fly: Self-Defense Is Self-Discovery.

The author is Kimberly Richardson Sensei who owns Two Cranes Aikido in Seattle. This non-fiction book is based on the experience of one of her students. It’s the story of a boy who takes the peaceful martial art of Aikido.  He gains the confidence and skills to stand up to his bully, while not injuring anyone.

The book design and pictures are beautiful. The story is heart-warming and positive. School libraries, public libraries, and families should welcome this book.

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