Thursday, 18 September, 2014
Not only will you be treated to a gripping yarn when you read the “Harry Potter” books, you may also emerge a better person, says a study that found readers of the saga tended to become more empathic by the time they had read through the series:
For decades it’s been known that an effective means of improving negative attitudes and prejudices between differing groups of people is through intergroup contact – particularly through contact between “in-groups,” or a social group to which someone identifies, and “out-groups,” or a group they don’t identify with or perceive as threatening. Even reading short stories about friendship between in- and out-group characters is enough to improve attitudes toward stigmatized groups in children.
books, fiction, Harry-Potter, psychology
Friday, 1 August, 2014
Even though authors today are earning less than they did in the past, the length of books – in terms of number of pages – has increased. Books published last year, for instance, were, on average, more than twice the size of those written in 1904.
So what accounts for this trend? One thought is that ebooks do not impose the same cost restraints on writers, and accordingly there isn’t a great deal of difference in a book that is one hundred pages long, compared to one that is one thousand pages.
Obviously part of this experiment meant finding average book lengths for a cross-section of time long enough to mean anything. So I went 110 years back to 1904, and did some research for every 10 years. So I Googled “Best Books of… 1904… 1914… 1924… etc.” and Google’s wizardry helped me out quite a bit, because the search results display an immediate gallery of books. It ends up being a combination of prize winners, best sellers, and attention garners. Perfect.
books, trends, writing
Monday, 21 July, 2014
The median income of British authors last year was £11,000. That’s about $20,000 in Australian currency. The two main points. One, and this is no surprise, that’s not enough to live, and two, the figure is down by almost a third since a similar survey of writers was conducted in 2005.
As shown by a survey last week of almost 2,500 professional writers, there are no cushy careers in fiction now. Figures from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society show the median income of a working author last year was only £11,000, lower than the amount needed to live on, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and down 29% since the last survey in 2005. It is more telling still that in literary quarters the surprise was that the figure was so high. Many writers privately admit they earn half that in a year, although this discrepancy could be because the survey offers a typical income rather than a mean average.
books, income, writing
Thursday, 10 July, 2014
I read “Catcher in the Rye” at high school, but don’t recall being all that focused for some reason. Perhaps it is time for a re-read, something US economist Tyler Cowen did recently, an exercise that brought forth some new insights into both the story itself, and its writer, J. D. Salinger.
Salinger took part in the D-Day invasion with part of the manuscript in his backpack. Salinger also fought in some of the toughest battles of WWII and later in his life sought extreme withdrawal. It all supports the notion of WWII as the major event in his life and one which he never got over. It is no accident that the deceased younger brother is named Allie.
books, history, writing
Tuesday, 8 July, 2014
Brazilian film director Walter Salles’ 2012 adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On The Road” didn’t exactly collect the most glowing of accolades.
I suspect US illustrator Paul Rogers, who is producing a drawing based on each page of Kerouac’s book, will however be accorded a warmer reception.
books, illustration, movies
Tuesday, 27 May, 2014
Movies and video games feature warnings that alert us to the possibly forceful nature of its content and language, so should books do likewise? I can see how such a system would have its applications, but I’m really not sure it’s that great an idea.
Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism – like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” – have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?
books, movies, trends
Thursday, 8 May, 2014
Classic CD album covers re-imagined as Pelican books… I did mention this collection about five years ago, but since a reader emailed the link last week, I thought it worth another airing.
art, books, design, music
Friday, 11 April, 2014
Tired of people offering up unwelcome spoilers for films and TV shows? If said persons are book readers there may be a way to get a little of your own back though, by way of this reasonably extensive list of book spoilers.
Published on 1 April I know, but I believe the… summaries are accurate. For the most part anyway.
books, reading, spoilers
Monday, 10 March, 2014
By applying a differing interpretation to the prophecy that either Harry Potter, or his nemesis Voldemort, must kill the other in order to survive, could mean that the only one way either can actually die, is to be killed by the other.
As we know one did in fact kill the other (I’ll refrain from giving away the ending away on the off chance you still don’t know what happened…), meaning the survivor is now immortal. Well, that’s one take on the wording of prophecy in any event.
books, fiction, Harry-Potter
Monday, 10 March, 2014
A book, known as the Voynich manuscript, thought to have been published in the fifteenth century, has thus far baffled those trying to make sense of it. Cryptographers, and even codebreakers working during World Wars I and II, remain stumped.
Since the manuscript was brought to the public’s attention in 1912 – when antique book collector Wilfrid Voynich bought it in Italy – experts from a range of fields have tried their hardest to make sense of it. Cryptographers have tried to crack its code; linguists have tried to decipher its base language. Botanists have identified the plants sketched within its aged pages and attempted to cross-reference their ancient and modern names.
It may not be as mysterious as is believed though… some experts are of the opinion that the writings could in fact be gibberish.
books, cryptography, history