“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” – Neil Gaiman
“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” – Neil Gaiman
Telemachus, how did it come about?
For someone who has spent a long career treating Thoroughbred horses – for everything from infertility to racing performance – the transformation to writer has been a long, unlikely and tenuous road. I started dabbling with a pen back in the Seventies, realised it wasn’t a natural talent of mine, but doggedness convinced me to continue. I read a lot of fiction, but always with reservations about copying style or ideas. It was my aim, if I might ever succeed, to have a voice that would be distinctly my own and I didn’t want to steal anyone else’s ideas – even subconsciously. So I muddled on and the efforts weren’t very good; if I was learning and felt there were mild signs of improvement – as well as an innate inability to accept failure.
My two books of short stories, “The Old Turk and Other Tales” and “Through the Mirror”, examine that tricky balance between experience and the spiritual world that anyone—and the author—would encounter or like to encounter. There are realms which take us beyond ourselves—and I like to explore them. Short stories should stimulate thinking—they are always potentially true. So many of them lose themselves in the usual earthbound stories about romance and the twists and turns of people in love, but I tried to go beyond those confines to involve spiritual worlds. The short stories I wrote are phantastic in the sense that they treat the unseen as a vital encounter, but engage with it as a possible extension of the Self.
The stories don’t tell you what to do. They are meetings with vibrant beings, ways of seeing. Some are fun, like the story about hats in the Old Turk collection. I also call to mind the ancient goddesses and what they represent—this in Through the Mirror. You can also say this is about memory and about the sea and the land. I have been to these places—but they are transformed and show themselves in a new way.
I explore Europe and ancient places in Ohio, U.S.A., and what they represent, the unusual, the dialogue with them that can create connections, letting go the mundane, the things you are used to. I hope there is pleasure in these extensions of mind’s adventures.
What I liked most are the stories of transformation in “Through the Mirror”. The metamorphosis does not have to be into human lives, but can be a bird such as in “Jenny Wren”. Or it can have a message as in “The Owls of Scarba”. And then there are some places that simply evoke the moon and thinking in different ways of where you are, such as in an eighteenth century tower in Dessau, Germany, or in a long forgotten village in Austria.
“The Shaman Birches of Argyll” and “The Travelling Moon”, my poetry books, on the other hand, are grounded in living and sailing on the West Coast of Scotland. They are an exploration of nature and lochs and birds, indigenous or the beings that visit. They are my encounters. I think about them and try to find them again in words. I was born in the land-locked—except for the cross European river Danube—city of Vienna.
My books of poetry probe the new countryside in the Highlands indented with water—the mysterious sea, the rising moon, the trees and ferns that grow wild on hillsides. The essence of the poetry is myth and place. Nature has different dimensions and I want to bring them close. Poetry gives feelings and vision in versions that other genres cannot.
I do not believe that even adult books should be without images. So I have given all my books illustrations. I hope you like the way words augment pictures!
My books are all available from Amazon as Kindle or print-on-demand editions under the name Joanna Paterson.
The popularity of e-books has grown over the years. It’s no surprise why e-readers have taken off. You can store thousands of books on a single, easy-to-carry device. Top authors now offer both print and digital versions of their novels. Interestingly, paperback sales have increased by 2.5 percent in 2015. In comparison, e-book sales actually dipped 11.1 percent. With that said, many readers have no qualms reading either format. Still there are a few who strongly prefer one over the other. Perhaps you are a die-hard paperback supporter. Or maybe you prefer the digital format. Whichever you prefer, there are definitely positives and negatives of e-books.
Advantages of E-books
There’s no doubt e-books have changed the way people read, both good and bad. On the plus side, the average e-book reader has read more books in the past year than those who only read print. Readers can place digital books on their smartphones or tablets and read anywhere, whether they’re waiting in line or relaxing on the beach. Thanks to the open environment of Amazon and Barnes and Noble, there are thousands of original e-books users might not otherwise find at their bookstore. Bibliophiles can even get access to books not available in their country by using virtual private network (VPN) software to work around geo-restrictions.
One of the biggest advantages of e-books over traditional ones is the ability to customize font size, style and even darkness. This makes it perfect for people with poor eyesight or reading disorders. A study found dyslexic subjects managed much better with e-books as they were able to format text so they only needed to focus on a single line at a time.
Studies also suggest e-readers boost reading confidence among reluctant young readers as they are more familiar with the technology. Since they cannot see the size of the book, it is visually less daunting to read a 300-page e-book than a physical book of the same size. Since many e-readers come with a built-in dictionary, those with lower reading comprehension or ESL readers can quickly learn the meaning of words in context without having to open a separate dictionary.
Disadvantages of E-books
All of these might seem like e-books improve our reading capabilities. It certainly has made reading a popular pastime again. However, it comes with its own set of drawbacks. One of the biggest is in recollection. A 2014 study found e-book readers recalled order of events worse than those who read a print version of the same story. The same study found readers were not as emotionally invested in stories when reading digital versus paperback. While it’s unclear why this might be, researchers suggest it might be due to the lack of tactile feedback. With a physical book, readers must physically turn a page and can see their progress as the pages increase on the left side and decrease on the right.
Other researchers suggest a more straightforward reason: shorter reading time. This is especially true when not reading on a dedicated e-reader. There are so many distractions that direct people’s attention away from the book, whether it’s getting a notification about an email or simply browsing the web. People are so used to multitasking with their smartphones and tablets, this habit carries over when reading.
Even when reading without distractions, the amount of time people spend reading a book has decreased. Before e-readers, many people set aside a few hours to read a book. It provided a relaxing experience or routine to help break up a hectic day. Now, many people read books on the go. Instead of hours, they often read books in fifteen to 30-minute bursts in order to fill time. Unfortunately, this leads to poorer reading comprehension and information retention, both of which require long, undisturbed chunks of time.
In addition, many e-book readers tend to skim and hunt for important words or phrases in an F pattern, a habit carried over from reading webpages. While this might provide the basic idea of the action on page, it leaves out a lot of detail. Interestingly, while skimming certainly occurs with physical books, it’s more common with digital. This might be due to the fact that reading on-screen takes 20 to 30 percent longer than reading on paper. Digital readers could be making up for lost time when reading on-screen.
One reason many people approach digital reading habits more casually than regular books is the concept of ownership. When readers buy a physical book they own it. Once exchanged for money, publishers or authors cannot force readers to give up their copy. On the other hand, readers do not own digital books. Instead, they purchase a license for the text. This means the provider—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.—controls the book and can otherwise revoke access or simply remove it from devices. If providers can pull books off a device at will, it might not make much sense to many readers to get too invested.
The question of whether e-books are good or bad for our reading habits has supporters on both sides. At the end of the day, it depends on the reader. Some may find their reading habits improve while others might find their comprehension decrease due to distractions. One thing is clear: digital books won’t replace physical books anytime soon. The world will continue to offer paper and pixels for book lovers around the world.
About the Author: Cassie is a technology and entertainment writer. An avid reader, she’s intrigued by how technological advances have made reading more accessible for many while also creating several disadvantages.
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Sometimes I feel like an alien by Mannah Pierce
There is this fast moving, transient, internet-based world that I do not understand and where I do not belong: Twitter; Facebook; blogs; forums; apps. Even that short list labels me as out-of-date and left-behind. I made it to email and websites but there I stopped. Despite sporadic efforts, that is where I remain.
I used to sit at the side of the internet highway and watch the traffic flash by. There had to be a way of getting up to speed. In Robert A. Heinlein’s ‘The Roads Must Roll’ (1940) there is a mass transit system of huge conveyor belts, called ‘roadtowns’, each of which moves at a steady speed. To make it onto the 100 miles per hour road, travellers would jump repeatedly from a slightly slower road to a slightly faster one. I looked for a series of stepping-stones, my journey from one road to the next; bent on joining those travelling quickest.
Now I have accepted that I will never make it. I no longer even know the destination; by the time I have identified a waypoint those ahead of me have moved on.
Does it matter? Perhaps not. Continue reading “GUEST POST- Sometimes I feel like an Alien by Mannah Pierce”
Welcome to the City of Joy by Nilesh Rathod
India is a republic of laughable samples. With that I mean, people, and in that I mean government. They can construe scrupulous ways to invent obstacles, in places you cannot even imagine they can exist.
Armed with a liberal dose of faith in a resurgent India, I took a flight to the famed city of Kolkata, the erstwhile head quarter of British East India Company. And trust me when I say this, but it still looks like one, and without the necessity to board any kind of time travel capsule. It would have taken less effort to modernize the city, than the energy spent on preserving it to be the museum of historic relics that it is. And even after all this, they still accomplish to drive away anyone who came to the city to relish the chronicles of its history.
I took a flight though; glad there was an operational airport. It wasn’t there in the East India Company days. Unfortunately, that is where the marvels of modernisation ended for me. Nonetheless, I disembarked with optimism. I required going to a place called Salt Lake City. The names of various places in this city amaze you so much; you cannot stop thinking adoring how picturesque they must be. If they can needlessly change Calcutta to Kolkata, did they leave these fancy names to construct pointless trickeries on poor me? Continue reading “GUEST POST- Welcome to the City of Joy by Nilesh Rathod”
From Lawyer to Author in Lots of Forward, Backward and Side-Steps
by Sheila Agnew
I count myself very lucky to have grown up in Ireland where books are as much a part of the national heritage as pints of Guinness and Niall Horan of One Direction. I can see yet the classroom poster of the poet, William Butler Yeats, forever framed as an earnest, lovesick, young man squinting at us through round Harry Potter type glasses. Like all born writers, books were as much a part of me as my eyes and my limbs; reading and writing as necessary for life as breathing. But when it came time to go to college, I shoved my dream of being a writer deep down in a drawer and locked it away. I though that I had to join the grown-up world of reality. I thought that dreams were reserved for children, and childhood was over.
I became an international lawyer in London where I enjoyed having the opportunity to travel and work in such far-flung cities as Cairo and Accra and Mumbai. Back in London, I partied it up with friends and boyfriends in my flat in Notting Hill. (It’s not as glamorous as it might sound—my flat was over the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Notting Hill Gate). But I had a great life, a privileged, secure, interesting life. There was only one teeny problem—it never felt like my life. It never felt real. I felt like a shadow or an avatar in my own life. So, while still in my twenties, I quit my job to travel around Asia and Australia and write my first novel, a book about the struggles of a group of female political prisoners on hunger strike. My novel wasn’t published. But I learned so much. I still think that the best way to learn how to write a book is to write a book. Continue reading “GUEST POST: From Lawyer to Author by Sheila Agnew”
Time flies, doesn’t it. Well, this the 12th and the last guest post of the Guest Post program I started earlier this year. Next year, I won’t be conducting this ones a month activity. But if anyone is interested in writing as a Guest for Confessions of a Readaholic, drop an email.
by Richard Rensberry
The recent developments on the gun control front have me scratching my head. Those who will be violent will be violent whether that have a gun or not. Gun control is the wrong target when it comes to lessening acts of violence, it only serves to create its counterpart; unchallenged and unrestrained violence. Just look at the unrestrained violence that happened recently in Paris as proof of the illegitimacy of gun control.
The byproduct of gun control is arms only being in the hands of the violent offensive front, be it criminals, terrorists, drug cartels, governments, you name it. This end product is the complete opposite of what should be stressed. What should be stressed is the ownership and skilled use of guns by responsible citizens who would then have the capability to curtail the the irresponsible governmental and criminal elements. The bad guys will always retain or manufacture weapons no matter if all guns were labeled illegal and taken away from the general citizenry. Continue reading “GUEST POST- Gun Control by Richard Rensberry”
Feed Your Brain
by Janita Lawrence
I want to stick a fork in my eye when people tell me they ‘love reading’ but just don’t have the time. Life is so bloody exciting with all this sitting at my desk and looking at the Facebook and the Twitter. I get it. Who has time for anything anymore?
I want to take you (firmly, but not unkindly) aside. Your brain is starving, I want to say.Your brain is like the carnivorous plant in the Little Shop of Horrors.
I know all that! I can hear you yelling from behind your smarty-pants handheld devices. I know it’s good for me but where do I find the TIME? Well, here are some lifestyle hacks that will up your reading consumption, which will in turn help me to keep my eyeballs intact.
A Little about Me
I was asked to contribute an article to a fellow author’s blog. At first I panicked. I didn’t know what to write about. I’m a listener. I listen to other people’s stories. I’m a good listener. I don’t like speaking about myself. Therefore, I don’t like to write about myself. But now that I’m a writer, I have to move into the spotlight.
I’ve done a few interviews on fellow authors’ blogs. Their questions helped to serve as guidelines. Now I have a blank page to deal with. Should I write about why I had decided to become a writer? I don’t think so. It has been done to death by writers. I believe I will write about what had inspired me to pursue my career in Finance. It wasn’t a ‘what’ but a ‘who;’ the person who I had looked up to and then had lost too early in life. This was my brother, Neil Leist.
Neil was the type of person who lit up a room when he entered it. He was 6’2”, but it wasn’t his height that drew others’ eyes. It was his dynamic personality and his intelligence. Those grey eyes mirrored his great intellect and capacity for greatness. He acted as my father when my father wasn’t home but working long days and nights driving a taxi. He took care of my blind mother until I was old enough to help out. He sheltered me as much as he could from life and responsibilities. He shouldered these burdens himself. Continue reading “GUEST POST- A Little About Me by Susanne Leist”
Silently, the grass grows.
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