Thursday, June 23, 2022

REREADING BOOKS - DO YOU DO IT?

IS REREADING BOOKS A WASTE OF TIME?

rereading books is a waste of time

You only go around this world once, so you might want to make the most of it. For me, as a massive book nerd, one way I measure life is by how many books I've read. With only a short amount of time on this earth I want to read as many books as I can. With so many books out there, is it a waste of time to re-read a book?

A lot of people say "yes, it's a waste of time! You've already read that book! You know what is going to happen. Voldemort is defeated by Harry Potter for the umpteenth time! Re-reading a book is not going to change that."

Which book? The hardest question in life.

While somewhat logical - what's the point of reading a story if you already know how it ends - it seems to me that reading is somewhat illogical. Rereading a book is amazing!

It shouldn't make sense, but we humans do not always make sense (like the sentence structure of this sentence).



Reading a book is different every single time. You might linger and absorb more of the details in your second lap. It may have been a decade since you last read the book, and you have that much more life experience behind you. You may be in a different mood, or have a slightly different outlook on life. There are so many variables that shift and change a person, that each re-read is a different experience.

I just reread Another Fine Myth. A book I've reread half a dozen times. And, as I've stated above, every single time is completely different.

Another Fine Myth - Robert Asprin

I remember the first time I read this book, I was in grade seven. I picked up the book because my Dad was reading the series. He said it was funny and made it sound amazing when he told me they travelled through different dimensions. I was still a sci-fi / fantasy newbie, so the idea of dimensions was a big deal and a big idea that I found fascinating. I still remember reading the book at school, during our reading time right after lunch. I didn't really find it all that funny, but I could tell it was supposed to be, but the jokes flew over my head. What I did love was the idea of travelling to different dimensions.

As I aged and reread the book years later in my teens, I finally got the jokes. By this time the idea of different dimensions was old news, and bigger ideas of race, class, and stereotypes related to these dimensions threw some depth on this part of the story, giving me something different to think about.

Last month, thirty years later, I reread the book and again had a completely different experience. I had just come off reading a few hard sci-fi books full of science and serious topics. Reading a light, pun filled, wacky adventure was like a breath of fresh air, refilling my desire to spend time flipping through pages. 

Rereading books a waste of time?

I'd say no, and I'm pretty certain most readers would agree. But then again, there are so many books in this world and so little time.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I personally measure the success of life by how many books I've read. Which is what inspired me to design a Reading Journal to keep track of my reads. 

Click on Picture to buy from Amazon

There are pages to track the books you've read and what you thought about them.

Book tracking page

I also added some fun pages to write down things like your reading habits, fav books, etc. Now that would be fun to re-read in a decade...like I said we change over time.

All about you - reading habits, fav books, etc



Also for the artistic readers (*puts hand up*), there are some pages for drawing.

Fill in bookshelf

I strongly encourage you to purchase one for yourself, or consider it as a gift for the big readers in your life, or your book club members, or your mother-in-law, or your child's bus driver. It would be great for anyone...and I wouldn't mind the $1.45 royalty either.

It is available on Amazon right now - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2TW69CG

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

SYCAMORE ROW - JOHN GRISHAM

SYCAMORE ROW

John Grisham - Sycamore Row

- John Grisham -

Just finished this massive 500 page tome, and loved every page of it. We are back to the meat and potatoes of Grisham, his legal thriller.

This installment has a wealthy man committing suicide and leaving a last minute hand written will...in which he leaves his millions to the black maid. In the small, racist, Mississippi town this does not go over well. Grisham takes us through the ins and outs of the legal topic of the last will and testament. Does a hand written will trump an expensive lawyer written will? This scenario is the main legal battle of the book. However, Grisham adds way more layers into the story; a long lost brother, a racist town, a drunken husband, greedy children, twists and turns galore...what seems like a solid easily winnable case is thrown for a loop by some shady lawyers and misinterpretations. Grisham keeps you guessing right to the end. Which is why I love his books. You are pretty sure it is all going to work out in the end, but you can't be certain. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Fantasy Drawing Prompts

Drawing Ideas For Fantasy Fans

Fantasy Drawing Ideas

Wizards, Dragons, Magic Swords...if those are the things that light your match, sail your boat, or tickle your fancy, then I have a book for you. Being a bit of a fantasy nerd myself (yes, I've spent 1/3 of my waking life reading everything from George RR Martins Game of Thrones to Harry Potter for the fifth time), I get happy thinking about dwarfs and hobbits. Combine that with my habit of doodling and sketching when I'm bored...you've got hours of fun and entertainment. I designed a book exactly for this kind of person - hopefully that is you! Can't have too many of these kind of people in the world, am I right?

I've designed a book with 50 drawing ideas with a fantasy twist to them. Wizards, Dragons, and Magic Swords are all included, plus many many many many more.

Wizard casting a spell

If this looks like something for you, or you know a fantasy freak who would love this then please check it out - it is on Amazon right now.

Click on the cover below:

...or a direct link:
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0B2V2D16L

HAPPY DRAWING

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Text to Speech as an editing aid

Hearing the words out loud helps in the editing process

I've found an awesome way to edit my writing. Listen to it! Not only is it amazing to hear, actually hear out loud, the words you've written (boy, is that really something I've written! It sound legit), but when you listen to the words you catch small grammatical errors. Something will just sound off and it's easier to catch with the ear than the eye. Also if you have a small typo, forget to pluralize something or you double type a word, you hear it quickly. 

You can use the READ ALOUD button if you are working in Microsoft word (It is under the REVIEW tabs). It works good, it's handy, and I personally use it way too much!

Read Aloud option in Microsoft Word

You can also use a Text to Speech website. There are a bunch out there. They will typically allow you to paste a little text and then allow you to hear it...the best part is that you usually have the options of different accents. I love a good British accent. Here is some of my writing, read by a Britain!




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

WINGS OF FIRE

WINGS OF FIRE

Wings of Fire - the first book

- Tui Sutherland -

This book had taken our little guy's bookshelf by storm. He has become obsessed with the series and has read through all, um 15 books I think, in a month or two. I catch him sneaking a light in the middle of the night just to read another chapter.  So cute.

A budding reader

It is so cool to see a budding reading, and my own kid to boot. It's like a parenting dream come true. Some want the Quarterback, some want the Einstein, and I want the bookworm! Just kidding, I love all my kids, no matter what they like to do...even not read.

Bookshelf weighted down with Wings of Fire books

I thought I'd take a cruise through The Wings of Fire book to see what the hype was all about. 

The story is a mix of a prophecy, with a group of baby dragons all being put together in a cave and growing up together, and a world building, where the land is covered in dragons of all different kinds. The characters are lovable and simple, typically they have one main trait like they are strong (but dumb), smart (but weak), etc. And you just know they are all going to end up working together and saving the world in the end. But, it's the journey that is so fun.

Wings of Fire books everywhere!

The group breaks out of their prison and travel the world finding out about themselves and their dragon relatives along the way. There is a lot more fighting that I would have thought appropriate for a young reader's book, mostly that it is gory, vicious, and detailed fighting (burns and guts!). But, maybe that is what makes it so exciting for the readers?

I know this book is flying off the shelves at our local bookstore. Everytime we went in to get the next instalment the shelf holding the Wings of Fire series had bare spots, and often when we were there buying a book, some other kid would come by and pick one up too. 

Drawing of a Wings of Fire dragon attached to budding reader's wall

Apparently a few kids at school have been playing Wings of Fire at recess. You know it's big when that happens.

So, if you have little ones do not be surprised if you see a Wings of Fire book come into your house - or 15 of them!


Sunday, May 15, 2022

MAD MAGAZINES

FOUND A PILE OF VINTAGE MAD MAGAZINES

Mad Magazines
It's not surprising that I was looking through the used books at the thrift store, but I've never seen Mad magazines there before. What a find! At only a quarter each I picked up the entire pile...all five. They were a mixed bag of issues from as early as 1977, to as late as 1981. I was drawn to them, not because I read them back in the day...no I was more of the spin off CRACKED magazine kind of guy...but I have been known to read a Mad every once in awhile (usually at the pharmacy while waiting for a prescription or something...I'd never actually buy the magazine, it's ridiculously priced, and why buy the cow when you can read it for free at the store?!)

I can tell you that Mad was just as pointed back in the late 70s. 

Mad Magazine salutes the coffee break - what a cover!
Reading through these old magazines I came to the conclusion that Mad was a bit like a historical textbook - they took on some pretty big topics of the day.
Hoarding this issue of MAD!
Everything from the oil crisis...
To the CB Radio.
Mad magazine used to be 60 cents!
Mostly the magazine poked fun at the pop culture of the day.
Movies and TV were main fodder for the jokes.
Mad makes fun of Popeye
Advertising, and their sneaky ways of manipulating people, also seemed to be a huge topic. Mad points out how dumb people are when it comes to being manipulated by slick words and flashy TV ads.
They also play on the idiotic ways of some people.
Anyone have the MAD magazine board game - like monopoly but you wanted to lose money!

Super special MAD issue
I thought that MAD had gone out of business or something since I haven't seen a new issue at my pharmacy in the past few years...however, after I bought these books I saw one! An issue mocking Star Wars. I picked it up, but quickly put it down when I saw the price $14.99. For a magazine. What are they MAD?!


Monday, April 25, 2022

The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov

 The Foundation Trilogy

Asimov's Foundation Trilogy

Isaac Asimov

I mentioned in an earlier book haul post that I found these three books, all at one time, and they were only 50 cents each! You would have snatch them up if you had seen them, right?

So, I finished reading these books and was struck by two big things. 

ONE - The overall idea of the Foundation is still believable, and seems even more obtainable now ,than it was when the book was first written in the 1950s.

TWO - Even though there is absolutely no action (as in space ship shootouts, or laser beam murders), and the book is mostly dialogue and big-thinking ideas...I was still enraptured by the storyline and couldn't put the books down.

Foundation

Let's take a look a my two finding shall we?

A) The big idea in the Foundation books was that a brilliant man, Hari Seldon, uses math and probability to predict the future of the entire galaxy. Back in the 50's they barely had calculators, so it was a futuristic idea that humans would ever be able to crunch 'big data' and use it to tell the future. Now 'big data' is a term everyone knows about. The more data we have, the more accurate we can predict things...well, Foundation is built on that concept. The idea that we colonize space and our population balloons in the the ca-billions, and as humans we all act very similar, there is a logical conclusion that we can predict the future.

Foundation and Empire

B) Nothing called 'action' or 'adventure' happens in these books. Add that with the whole premise of math being the idea behind foundation and you've got yourself a very boring sounding book. But, somehow Asimov makes it interesting. I can't put my finger on why the actionless story kept my attention and consumed my reading hours. It wasn't flowery writing, or anything like that. If I had to take a stab at it, I'd say it was the set up and twist routine that Asimov uses over and over. The stories usually started in the middle of some sort of crisis. Be it political, theoretical, economical, militaristic. They all had what looked like a straight forward ending or answer (usually involving the Foundation being destroyed), but right at the end there would be a twist and all would end up well. Sounds simple, but I'm doing a terrible job at describing it.

Second Foundation

If you haven't read these books you need to. Especially if you call yourself a sci-fi reader. Check out the link below to get your copy today!



Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Used Bookstore - That random book

USED BOOKSTORE TRIP

THE DRAGON ON THE BORDER by Gordon R. Dickson is a book I picked up today. It cost me $3.50, which is more than I like to spend on a used book, but it was for a good reason. 

I've been neglecting our local used bookstore!

Going to the bookstore - used bookstore!

Sorry Bookland. I've gotten out of the habit of browsing your shelves of fine new and used books. I'm taking the easy route and blaming COVID. Over the past 2 years I've only noticed the Closed sign in your door. I'm not often in the strip mall where you are located, only the rare evening when I'm picking up a greek salad from the take out place a few units down.

But, we are back.

I made an intentional visit to the store today for two reasons. First, was that Oscar is reading the WINGS OF FIRE series and is onto book twelve. It would be nice to find used copies of the book, possibly save a few bucks. Second, was that I wanted to throw some business Bookland's way and keep it open. Second hand bookshops are important to me.

We had some good luck.

Browsing the used books

The store stocks the Wings of Fire series - so I bought 2 more books for Oscar (since it only takes him a day or two to finish a book). They were new, BUT, we were headed to Chapters to buy new books anyway and the price was the same. So, best to buy local.

I was hunting for a few specific titles, to finish off series' I'd been working on. You know, 90s David Eddings fantasy epics and such. This store is usually the place to find something like that. But, no luck. 

I didn't want to leave with nothing since I'd made a trip here (all 1.5 km from my house) and wanted to show my support. So I went with the timeless trick of judging a book by its cover. I picked a book that was near the cash register that had an interesting (at least to me) cover.

The Dragon on the Border.

The Dragon on the Border

I've read Dickson before. Not a lot, but I think I recall liking his books. Oh well, I feel great about my purchase. All $3.50 worth.

Gordon Dickson book

What is your latest used book purchase?

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A MAP - Another Fantasy Tale

 World Building means making a map

Rough Map for AFT

It wasn't long into plotting out the basic story, and writing the first few pages, that I realized I needed to make a map. Not just for readers, but for me!

Creating a new world is fun, but it takes a lot of mental energy to both create it and then keep it straight (where was that mountain range again?)
I had made a general plan on where the story was going and I had three or four different locations where key events would happen - I had them going through a mountain, pulling a jail break at a rogue Castle, meeting the Council of Wizards...all of these things happened in different locations as they travelled across the land. Easy enough to keep track of, I thought. 

We start at the Wizard's manor. We end far south in the hellish land where the evil resides. The Halflings come from the North. The Council is just south of the Manor. The Mountain caves are nearby. Then the Castle and The Capital are near the evil lands. I had a rough vision in my mind...but again, it was like doing mental reps envisioning this made-up land over and over. It would be much easier to sketch out a rough draft as an external reference (save the brain for writing).
Doing this was kind of fun. I've always like maps and making up my own maps, so it wasn't a chore to me. Even though it is very basic it does a great job of showcasing the big picture. Like plotting out the big events in the story. The rough map was like, well, like a real- life map showing me the way from point A to point B. Using it helped me feel a bit more confident that I could get my vision across.
Putting the world on paper was a much needed step that helped me build the world, in all it's nitty-gritty. For instance the Halfling land is fairly close to the Manor, but I had the idea that it would be uncommon for Halflings to be near the Manor. The Manor should be out of the way. To show up there meant the Halflings would have had to overcome a tough journey through mountains or forests...which is why I threw in a mountain range and a forest blocking a direct route to the Manor. I also redirected the main road to angle away from the Manor. These were small details that I had to actually see on paper, before I made a blunder on the page.

Writers, get the ideas down on paper!

The map also pointed out that I hadn't actually named most of my locations. I knew what these places looked like, how the characters were going to get there, what would happen...but I needed some names. The visual of the map might help with writer's block. The name of the Mountain Cave could be a reference to its location - the Neck, or the Squeeze? That's if I can't think of anything else. Again, this map is giving me options. It's helping me move forward.

Do you Draw things out when you write?

PREVIOUS AFT BLOG POSTS

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

AGATHA CHRISTIE - The Queen of Psychology

Agatha Christie 

Boy did she know human nature. And, funny thing, is even after 50 or 75 years, her books still resonate because they are relatable. The characters act like modern day folk. They are motivated by the same kinds of things. It may be slightly less technical, but it's still people being people.

MURDER IS ANNOUNCED

Murder is Announced

I read this book late last year and commented that Agatha knows human nature. In this story an advert is taken out in a local newspaper (one with little content except local gossip). The ad says there will be a murder at a neighbours house at 6:30 on a Friday. Well, all the characters read the paper and of course are so curious (and nosey) that they just happen to show up at this neighbour's house on the said Friday at exactly 6:30. They have a variety of reasons from that once a year evening stroll to the letting the dog get loose and having to chase it down.

I could see that happening today. The ad might not be in a newspaper, but it would be on some social media platform. If I put a big old post of Facebook saying there will be a murder at my house on Friday I bet some people will come out of the cracks and happen to be walking by. People I haven't seen in person for years, no doubt. 

BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMB

By the Pricking of my Thumb

I just finished this eerie book and again the beginning scenes ring true. In this case the main characters have a cantankerous old Aunt in a nursing home. They feel guilty for her and plan the once a year visit. They let this old hag get away with being rude to the wife. Heck, they even applaud her for it - shows she still has life and spirit. Can't you picture yourself in the exact same position? The nursing home might be more medical, full of doctors and nurses instead of ill trained maids, but the same idea.

Her books may be old, vintage, antique almost...but the writing, the stories, the situations, the characters, even the murder methods, all still have a relatable feel to them. Christie's books are timeless.