Books

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4 expert tips: How to store books properly

<p>To keep your books in pristine condition, it is not enough to just put them on a shelf or stack them on your nightstand. Below are some of the best tips from librarians and experts that will help preserve books in good condition and prolong their life for years to come.</p> <p><strong>1. Find the right place</strong></p> <p>When it comes to storing books, humidity and temperature are the keys. To promote book longevity, the storage area should be a stable, cool, dry and well-ventilated environment.</p> <p>A room that is too humid or prone to condensation can lead to mould growth and encourage insects like silverfish and roaches, while hot temperatures can turn the bindings and pages dry and brittle. Because of this, experts generally advise against keeping books in the attics, basements and garages. Places near radiators, vents or water pipes are also not recommended.</p> <p>The British Library recommends keeping your reads in a place that has a relative humidity of 45 to 55 per cent. You can check the humidity level by getting a hygrometer.</p> <p><strong>2. Stay away from sunlight</strong></p> <p>Direct sunlight brings a lot of damage on books. Prolonged sunlight exposure can bleach spines and increase the paper’s acid content, allowing for the release of organic acidic vapours and turning the papers yellow and brittle. The US Library of Congress also suggests keeping books away from other intense lights.</p> <p><strong>3. Keep upright whenever possible</strong></p> <p>According to the National Library of Scotland, only large, heavy books should be placed flat. Other types of books should be kept upright without leaning to the sides of the shelves in order to protect the covers and spines. Organising books by size and using book stands with books of similar size could help them maintain their shape.</p> <p>If you have to stack your books, make sure to keep the largest books at the bottom and lighter, smaller ones on top in a pyramid-adjacent shape to prevent the spines from becoming rolled.</p> <p>Take care not to leave any books open and facing down for any period of time.</p> <p><strong>4. Clean regularly</strong></p> <p>Dust your books regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating, which could foster mould growth and pest infestation. To clean a book, take it from the shelf, keep the book closed and use a soft, chemical-free duster to clean it individually. Don’t forget to clean the bookshelves – while they are clear, you can also use this opportunity to vacuum the floor underneath the shelves.</p> <p>How do you store your books? Share your ideas in the comments.</p>

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How I wrote my first novel at 50

<p>Australian author<span> </span><span>Nigel Bartlett</span> is living proof that life really can start at 50 with the launch of his first novel<span> </span><span><em>King of the Road</em></span><em>.</em></p> <p><strong>Q. How long had you wanted to write a novel?</strong><br />I’d held that dream for 28 years. I first voiced it when I was 22 and was working in a job packing books in a warehouse after finishing university. Then my lost dream started raising its head again in my 30s, but I found it a struggle to do anything about it.</p> <p>I still thought writers only wrote when inspiration struck, or when time suddenly appeared in their lives. When I finally listened to how writers worked, and I discovered from doing a course at the Writers’ Studio in Sydney that you need to make writing a discipline, I was finally able to start putting words on paper in a consistent fashion.</p> <p><strong>Q. How did it feel when your first novel was published on your 50th birthday?</strong><br />It was beyond my wildest dreams when Vintage/Random House said they wanted to publish<span> </span><span><em>King of the Road</em></span>. The fact that the book was released on my 50th birthday seemed very significant and was a very happy coincidence.</p> <p>I’ve always found the 'zero' birthdays have heralded big changes giving me a new lease of life each time. Seeing<span> </span><em>King of the Road</em><span> </span>in print was the culmination of a lifelong dream.</p> <p>I’d once thought I couldn’t write a book until I retired and had the time available, so to do it while working full-time and to celebrate that achievement on this big milestone birthday felt wonderful. I celebrated with a book launch! A huge number of people turned up, and Gleebooks in Glebe, Sydney sold 100 copies of <em>King of the Road</em> that afternoon, which felt fantastic. I didn’t need a birthday party after that.</p> <p><strong>Q. Why did you decide to write a crime thriller?</strong><br />Initially, I didn’t decide to write a crime thriller at all. But the novel took that turn when I was halfway through the first draft of what I’d thought would be just a quiet family drama. The story was boring, so I had to make something happen. In every subsequent draft I rewrote the story with "crime fiction" firmly planted on my mind.</p> <p>I threw out more than 50,000 words of that first draft. When the book came out and people were reading it in a week, or just a couple of days, or in some cases in one night flat, and they were telling me they couldn’t put it down, I thought, "It really is a crime thriller."</p> <p><strong>Q. How hard it was to write your novel?</strong><br />At times it felt incredibly hard. Finding time to write was very difficult, having no idea where the story was going in the early and middle stages, being wracked by self-doubt and really just not knowing if the whole enterprise would ever amount to anything – living with all those frustrations and anxieties can feel like a huge burden. Following a dream or passion is such a strange thing. How do you know how far to pursue it before giving up?</p> <p>I decided to keep plodding away and to let go of the eventual result as much as possible. I tried to gain encouragement from listening to other writers speaking about how they worked. I tried to make writing as 'social' as possible (because it's generally so solitary) by joining a writing group, going to writing events, catching up with writer friends and so on, and I tried to ignore negative voices, either from other people or in my own head.</p> <p>My process was to write the first draft from start to finish, not knowing where the story was going or how it would end. For the second draft, when I knew this was a crime story, I wrote a more detailed plot outline and followed that. For the third and fourth drafts, I scratched out certain sections and added in new ones. For the fifth and sixth drafts I tried to make sure I'd left no stone unturned, in terms of making sure everything tied up, all the connections between different events were clear and that any plot holes had been closed.</p> <p><strong>Q. How has it felt getting such a great response?</strong><br />For several weeks I found it hard to get to sleep and kept waking early – I had so much adrenaline. I kept receiving messages and emails from people who loved the book. I took screen shots of them all so that I’d never forget them.</p> <p><em>King of the Road</em><span> </span>ended up being reviewed by every major newspaper in Australia and lots of magazines, and I’m very grateful for all the wonderful words said about it. I feel as if all that time I spent on the book was worthwhile, and that I can actually do that thing I really wasn’t sure I could do – I can write. In many other ways, though, life is no different.</p> <p><strong>Q. How do you look ahead to your next 50 years?</strong><br />Well, I now know that I’m on the right path with being a writer. I no longer have to worry about whether that’s the 'right' thing for me to do. I just have to make sure I can still do it while also making enough of a living to provide for my future.</p> <p>I still have a day job (as a freelance writer and sub-editor for magazines and websites), but I would love to get to the point where I can earn a decent living just from novel-writing.</p> <p><strong>Q. Writing is a sedentary job. How do you take care of yourself?</strong><br />I go to the gym each morning before work, five days a week, and I go for a gentle bike ride every Saturday. Exercise is vital for me – for my mental and physical health, and for how I feel about myself.</p> <p>I also try to eat healthily Monday to Friday, allowing myself to eat what I want on Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s something I’ve learnt works for me – fruit, veg, protein, good carbs, saving refined sugar and fatty foods for weekend treats.</p> <p>I had bladder cancer when I was 40 and am lucky to be alive (it was caught early), so I know how important health is. I place it ahead of all else.</p> <p><strong>Q. What advice would you have for others who have a dream like yours?</strong><br />You have to be pragmatic. I’m not a believer in giving up everything else to follow my dream. I wanted to be a published author and I needed to earn a living and I wanted to be fit and healthy and I wanted to spend time with family and friends. So that all requires balance.</p> <p>If I’d chucked in my job, or locked myself away without seeing anyone, or stopped exercising and eating healthy foods, I would have been penniless, lonely and probably at death’s door.</p> <p>However, you do have to prioritise. I also wanted to be in a choir that I loved, but I gave it up as it took up too much of my spare time. I didn’t want my mental energy to be taken up by work stress, so I now work at a lower level of seniority than I could do.</p> <p>I knew I needed to carve out time in my life for writing, so I say no to social engagements on Sundays. It’s the only way I can find time to write. Is it worth it? For me, yes. I would be seriously annoyed with myself if, when I was on my deathbed, I hadn’t tried as hard as I could to be a published author.</p> <p><strong>Q. How many hours a week do you write?</strong><br />On Sundays I don’t leave the flat until the evening, I switch off the phone and I use a<span> </span><span>program</span><span> </span>that blocks computer access to the internet and email for however long I tell it to. I don’t try to write a set number of words, because sometimes it can be a question of plotting or editing, but there are days when I think, "If I can get to 2,000 words, I’ll be happy." Sometimes I write more, other times I write less. For me, writing a book is a very slow process.</p> <p>I also jot down ideas constantly in a notebook or on my phone, or I go through spells of writing for half an hour a day, which is all the time I can afford during the week. But Sundays are usually my sacred writing days. I also took time off work for a few weeks occasionally when I was working on<span> </span><em>King of the Road</em><span> </span>at the later stages.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">It doesn't get better than this: a great review in the <a href="https://twitter.com/dailytelegraph?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dailytelegraph</a>. Thank you! <a href="http://t.co/ZHkBMdKYpi">pic.twitter.com/ZHkBMdKYpi</a></p> — Nigel Bartlett (@Nigel__Bartlett) <a href="https://twitter.com/Nigel__Bartlett/status/565308641730125825?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">11 February 2015</a></blockquote> <p><strong>Q. What has the highlight been?</strong><br />Seeing glowing reviews appear in<span> </span><em>Spectrum</em><span> </span>(in the<span> </span><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em><span> </span>and the<span> </span><em>Age)</em><span> </span>and<span> </span><em>The Australian </em>were definitely high points! The biggest kick, though, was seeing the first tweet from a total stranger before the book had even gone on sale – a magazine reviewer had seen an early copy and tweeted that she loved it, describing it as "a ripper of a read".</p> <p>That was the first inkling I had that<span> </span><em>King of the Road</em><span> </span>had done what I’d hoped it would: excite readers.</p> <p>I’m now working on my next novel. At this stage it involves some of the characters from<span> </span><em>King of the Road </em>(David, Matty and one of the police officers, Fahd), which is exciting as I love all three of those guys and want to see where they’ll go to next.</p> <p>Have you always wanted to write a book? Join our conversation in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/entertainment/how-i-wrote-my-first-novel-at-50.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></span>.</em></p>

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Does reading keep the mind young?

<p class="p1">Reading is a fundamental and important part of everyday life. Though many of us struggle to find the time, the science suggests that reading is a sure-fire way to maintain healthy brain function and increase general wellbeing. Whether it's literary fiction or popular entertainment, reading of any kind is always beneficial!</p> <p class="p1">Studies suggest that there are many positive side effects and outcomes associated with regularly making time to indulge in a great book.</p> <p class="p1"><strong>Reading is amazing for young minds<br /></strong></p> <p class="p1">Several studies indicate that reading as a youth can lead to significant differences in intelligence levels and brain development. A recent study by researchers at the King's College London found that earlier differences in reading patterns between twins played out as the siblings grew older. Not surprisingly, students who get into the habit of reading young are more likely to continue the habit. Those who read a lot will enhance their verbal intelligence. Essentially reading will make them ‘smarter’.</p> <p class="p1"><strong>Reading makes us more empathetic<br /></strong></p> <p class="p1">Want to restore or enhance your understanding of others and the world at large? Read a great book! </p> <p class="p2">A study from the University of Buffalo discovered that undergraduate students' personalities were affected by their exposure to certain fictional texts. After careful consideration, the researchers found that 'being part of something larger than oneself' increases our ability to understand life from other perspectives. </p> <p class="p1">The 'theory of mind tasks' (mental processes) associated with reading literary fiction has been found to result in an increased ability to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires that may differ from one's own beliefs and desires. The upshot? It allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and thoughtfully consider how we approach life differently.</p> <p class="p1">Reading helps the brain by increasing information retention, mental acuity and the ability to learn and comprehend new information. </p> <p class="p1"><strong>Reading has been linked to Alzheimer's prevention<br /></strong></p> <p class="p1">Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that reading was one of the most important ways of maintaining brain function. By exercising the brain with regular reading (and game or puzzle playing), researchers found that subjects were two and a half times less likely to develop the life-changing disease. There is still more research needed however the data shows a clear link between mental exercise and general wellbeing. </p> <p class="p1"><strong>It's one of the ultimate forms of relaxation<br /></strong></p> <p class="p1">According to researchers from the University of Sussex, reading for a mere six minutes could reduce one's stress by more than two thirds. Compared with other forms of relaxation, reading was seen as the best way to wind down, accounting for a whopping 68 percent reduction in stress levels. Interested to learn what else you can do to chill in a healthy way? Listening to music took the second spot (61 percent) followed by having a tea or coffee (54 percent).</p> <p class="p1">Interestingly, neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis also found that reading a physical book or newspaper led to a reduced heart rate and more relaxed muscular disposition. He believes it is an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.</p> <p class="p1">Sounds good to us!</p> <p class="p1">Do you love to read? What do you enjoy most about it? Join our conversation below.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/health/wellbeing/does-reading-keep-the-mind-young.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></span>.</em></p>

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The secret to writing a killer crime novel

<p>Celebrated Aussie crime writer Michael Robotham says the key to making readers care is creating characters that readers feel deeply about and therefore are willing to laugh and cry with. He shares his secret to his success here.</p> <p>Readers are certainly doing this alongside the character Joe O’Laughlin in Robotham’s latest psychological thriller,<span> </span><span><em>Close Your Eyes.</em></span></p> <p>“The seeds for<span> </span><em>Close Your Eyes</em><span> </span>came from a real life case 20 years ago – an unsolved murder in the UK in 1995,” said Robotham.</p> <p>“It opens with the murder of a mother and teenage daughter in a farmhouse in North Somerset and the daughter is left lying like Sleeping Beauty in an upstairs bedroom and the mother suffers the most savage attack imaginable. That’s the initial mystery the police have when they call in Joe O’Laughlin to look at the crime scene. Why does one death look almost reverential and full of love and the other is typified by such anger?”</p> <p>Despite being a high octane and suspenseful crime novel, Robotham revealed<em><span> </span>Close Your Eyes</em><span> </span>is a story fundamentally about family and fatherhood. As a father himself, Robotham admits he often wonders whether he is doing a good job.</p> <p>The novel’s protagonist, clinical psychologist Joe O’Laughlin, is no different. The book also goes to the heart of O’Laughlin’s relationship with his estranged wife, with an ending that critics are dubbing ‘tissue-shredding’.</p> <p>“I must say<span> </span><em>Close Your Eyes</em><span> </span>was a difficult book to write because it had been a couple of years since Joe O’Laughlin had been around. But I think [readers and critics] embraced the fact that he was back and to this date I can’t think of one negative review or comment that I’ve received. It’s been incredibly humbling.”</p> <p><strong>How he became a writer</strong><br />Michael Robotham grew up in a small country town in New South Wales. He always wanted to be a writer, but felt he didn’t have anything to write about. Working as a journalist for many years, he said, was extremely valuable at the most basic level because it allowed him to gather material.</p> <p>“Police rounds at 3am in the morning involved dealing with ... pimps, prostitutes, junkies and dealers and the whole criminal mileau, all of which gave me a rich understanding of the way police investigate crime and I suppose I got a glimpse of the underbelly,” said Robotham.</p> <p>"Society gets the monsters it deserves, they’re created by circumstances."</p> <p>Working with Paul Britton, a forensic psychologist and one of the pioneers of offender profiling in the UK, became a major turning point for Robotham.</p> <p>“What I uncovered is that there is no such thing as black and white, no one is born evil. Society gets the monsters it deserves, they’re created by circumstances. And when you unpack the backgrounds behind most of the perpetrators of the most terrible crimes, you discover lives of outrageous neglect and abuse and all of those things feed in to the sort of books that I write,” he says.</p> <p>Robotham said he has always been fascinated by the psychology of crime. “Rather than the ‘what’, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ of a crime, I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘why’ – exactly what motivates someone to commit a terrible deed. Not just the psychology of the perpetrator but also how it impacts on the victim and the victim’s family and community at large.”</p> <p><strong>Writing style</strong><span> </span><br />Robotham stressed that while plot is important, people really come back to books for the characters. “In writing fiction I try to create characters that are as real to me as any of the real people I’ve ever worked with,” he said.</p> <p>“I love Joe O’Laughlin as a character. He is probably the most autobiographical in the fact that he’s about my age, I have three daughters while he has two, and we likely have a similar outlook on life.</p> <p>“When I reach a point in the writing where it’s incredibly tense, I struggle to sleep. I cling to that same cliff face and wonder whether they’re going to survive or not...</p> <p>“But I liken writing a first person novel to spending a year in a two-man tent with your very best friend. After that year you might still love your friend dearly but you do want some time on your own or with someone new.”</p> <p>To keep his books exciting (for both himself and the reader) and to ensure he doesn’t fall into predictable patterns of writing, Robotham doesn’t plot books in advance.</p> <p>“When I reach a point in the writing where it’s incredibly tense, I struggle to sleep. I cling to that same cliff face and wonder whether they’re going to survive or not ... and I figure if I don’t see the twist coming then the reader won’t see the twist coming.”</p> <p>Robotham said writing crime novels is often similar to the work of a magician.</p> <p>“At times, magicians want you to look at one hand while they’re doing something with the other hand. It’s about planting clues that are in plain sight but you plant them in such a ways that people register them but don’t realise they’re important.”</p> <p>The wordsmith explains part of this writing ability comes from reading and following the rules, but much of it – like riding a bike – comes through practice. “I can’t tell someone what paragraph to put in front of another or what word to put next. It’s just something that you feel inside when you’re writing.”</p> <p>What is your favourite crime novel? Join the conversation.</p> <p><em>Written by Greta Mayr. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/entertainment/author-interview-australian-crime-writer-michael-robotham.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></span>.</em></p>

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Why reading children’s literature is not "embarrassing"

<p>When the Harry Potter series became a global phenomenon, adult editions were published that replaced the brightly illustrated covers with dignified photographs of inanimate objects on a black background.</p> <p>Publishers presumed there was a need to cater to adults who wanted to read a fantasy series about a boy wizard, but who didn’t want fellow train commuters to judge them as juvenile or unintelligent.</p> <p>A recent <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_children_s_books.html">Slate article</a> suggests that adults should be embarrassed to read books marketed as “<a href="https://theconversation.com/young-adult-fictions-dark-themes-give-the-hope-to-cope-27335">young adult</a>” fiction.</p> <p>Regardless of the problems with the suggestion that any kind of reading should be embarrassing, why should the intended age of a book’s readership determine whether reading it is “shameful”?</p> <p>For one, just how do we distinguish between books for young people and books for adults? Many popular classics for young adult readers, such as J.D. Salinger’s <em>The Catcher in the Rye</em>, were originally written for adult audiences. While canonical works in their own right, including Charlotte Brontë’s <em>Jane Eyre</em> and Charles Dickens’s <em>Oliver Twist</em> and <em>Great Expectations</em>, have attracted young readers since their publication in the Victorian era.</p> <p>Children’s literature evolved to fulfil didactic aims. John Newbery, a pioneering publisher of children’s books in the early 18th century, aimed to provide “instruction with delight” in the books he published. (He’s responsible for <em>Goody Two-Shoes</em>.)</p> <p>Education was seen as integral to reading as a leisure activity for children. The concession to entertainment or “delight” was relatively recent. Much early children’s literature is tedious to the modern reader because of its moral and educative focus.</p> <p>From the “golden age” of children’s literature in the second half of the 19th century, didacticism decreased and the boundary between books for adults and books for children became permeable. Books – and plays, such as J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan – often satisfied a dual audience of children and adults.</p> <p>While <em>Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland</em> was originally presented by Lewis Carroll to 12-year-old Alice Liddell as a gift, on publication it found a lasting audience with both adults and children.</p> <p>Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped were first published in Young Folks magazine and were seen as “boy’s books”. Yet both Henry James and Arthur Conan Doyle published reviews or commentary on both novels, in a way that the dismissal of children’s books would probably preclude today.</p> <p>In 1905, two of Mark Twain’s novels were challenged as inappropriate for child library patrons. In response, Twain claimed that he wrote “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively”. Yet he pointed out that the unexpurgated Bible should also be removed from the children’s room lest it “soil” young minds, mocking the very notion of shielding children from literature that features characters “no better than Solomon, David, Satan”.</p> <p>If a book “for adults exclusively” is a faintly ridiculous concept, then so too is a book “for children exclusively”. Adults are the authors of children’s books and quite often they write to please and entertain adults too. The possibility of a dual audience is readily accepted in successful children’s animated films in which jokes and references that only adult viewers would understand punctuate the storyline.</p> <p>Adults are now buying young adult fiction in such great numbers that the primary readership for these books might not actually be young people. Yet at the same time as adults are reading <em>The Fault in Our Stars</em>, <em>Twilight</em> and <em>The Hunger Games</em>, there remains incredulity at the idea that young people and adults can both be entertained and satisfied by the same book.</p> <p>Instead there is guilt associated with reading children’s literature. This shaming is baseless when literature for young people that is well-written and intellectually challenging, such as the work of Philip Pullman and Sonya Hartnett, is dismissed wholesale. Yet cliched, formulaic and poorly written “adult” fiction does not carry the same weight of embarrassment.</p> <p>Arguments against adults reading children’s or young adult titles often present life as an opportunity to absorb a limited number of books, with time spent on “lesser” literature destroying the chance to read Proust or defiantly finish <em>Ulysses</em>. Yet this claim about time being wasted in reading children’s books is infrequently applied to popular bestsellers such as <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> or<em> The Da Vinci Code</em>.</p> <p>The truth is that a sophisticated reader will want to sample the most compelling, imaginative and lasting books of the past and the present. Some of these will be difficult and full of complex allusions. Others will be pleasurable genre fiction that follow a predictable, but satisfying, formula.</p> <p>But there should always be a place for Alice, Peter, Dorothy, Anne, Holden, Katniss, and the March sisters alongside them. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/28102/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-smith-128">Michelle Smith</a>, Research Fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/reading-childrens-literature-is-not-embarrassing-28102">The Conversation</a></span>.</em></p>

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5 books by women, about women, for everyone

<p>Women’s writing has long been a thorn in the side of the male literary establishment. From fears in the late 18th century that reading novels – particularly written by women – would be emotionally and physically dangerous for women, to the Brontë sisters publishing initially under male pseudonyms, to the dismissal of the genre of romance fiction as beyond the critical pale, there has been a dominant culture which finds the association of women and writing to be dangerous. It has long been something to be controlled, managed and dismissed.</p> <p>One of the ways that publishers, booksellers and critics use to “manage” literature is through the notion of genre: labelling a book as “detective fiction” becomes an easy way to identify particular tropes in a novel. These genre designations are particularly helpful for publishers and booksellers, with the logic running something like this: a reader can walk into any bookstore, anywhere, and go to the detective fiction section and find a book to read, because s/he has read detective fiction before and enjoyed it.</p> <p>What complicates this is who makes the decision of which genres are deemed to be appropriate, and which books are put into which category. Genre is also complicated by the idea of women’s writing. Can we have a genre that is designated solely by the sex of the author? What if we turned this around, and rather than a genre, women’s writing was a term we used to simply celebrate writing about women?</p> <p>Here are five novels by women – and about women – from across the 20th century. These novels all grapple, in very different ways, with women and independence.</p> <p><strong>Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)</strong></p> <p>Anna Beddingfeld, a self-mocking heroine, who is very aware of the conventions of gender and genre, impulsively buys a ticket to South Africa because the boat fare is the exact amount she has left in the world. She ends up taking down an international crime syndicate with aplomb and panache.</p> <p><strong>Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle (1926)</strong></p> <p>Doss is the expendable unmarried older woman in a Victorian novel. But in this story, she walks out on her largely uninterested family to move into a cabin on an island with a man she has met only briefly. A fantasy of the Canadian wilderness, the novel was one of Montgomery’s few novels for adults.</p> <p><strong>Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958)</strong></p> <p>A rewriting of Jane Eyre, the novel contains all the tropes of the Gothic romance – a castle, a family secret, murder – but these are challenged by one of Stewart’s finest protagonists, Linda Martin. Martin is employed as a governess by an aristocratic family, but rejects the trappings of romance to protect her charge, and her own integrity.</p> <p><strong>Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979)</strong></p> <p>Edana Franklin wakes up in hospital with her arm amputated and the police questioning her husband. It is revealed that she has been travelling back to 1815, where she comes into repeated contact and conflict with Rufus, one of her slave-owning ancestors. A novel that raises important questions about masculinity, power and violence.</p> <p><strong>Shirley Jackson, Patchwork Girl (1995)</strong></p> <p>One of the earliest pieces of electronic fiction, this retelling of Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Baum’s The Patchwork Girl (1913) places the narrative in the hands of the reader, who pieces together the story through illustrations of parts of a female body.</p> <p>Often popular novels by women have a narrative arc that is visible from the outset: the protagonists will find a romantic partner in the end. In some of the above books, some of the women do, and some of them don’t, find a romantic partner. For those who do, the romance is secondary to the work they do, and the choices that they make about their own lives.</p> <p>What unites the novels is an exploration of the choices that some women have to make as a result of their sexed and gendered embodiment, whether travelling to South Africa on a whim, being jolted unwillingly back onto a slave plantation, or making an explicit call to the (woman) reader to make choices about how the electronic story develops.</p> <p>Writing about women (and often by women) gives us some examples of how to challenge the status quo, if only for a little while. Each challenge, however, provides another example of how to effect change in a patriarchal culture. Here’s to the writers about women who have done this – from Jane Austen to Shirley Jackson, from Frances Burney to Josephine Tey, and from Angela Carter to Val McDermid.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/92816/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stacy-gillis-191483">Stacy Gillis</a>, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/newcastle-university-906">Newcastle University</a></span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/five-books-by-women-about-women-for-everyone-92816">The Conversation</a></span>. </em><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stacy-gillis-191483"></a></span></p>

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The 4 rules of reading according to Bill Gates

<p>Books aren’t just for the bookish anymore. The computer has proven to be the biggest innovation since the printing press for making the written word accessible to just about anyone. Finding something to read may not be difficult, but making the most of your reading time can be more complicated.</p> <p>Fortunately, advice has arrived, from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The famous humanitarian and entrepreneur sat down for an interview with Quartz and dove into his four hard-and-fast rules when it comes to reading. You’ll want to take note of these—after all, science says that a healthy reading habit can help you live longer. </p> <div id="section"><strong>1. Use the margins for note-taking</strong></div> <div class="view view-article-slider view-id-article_slider view-display-id-article_slider_block view-dom-id-3c4ab7e4e344604233b9fb9112ea57a2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even">“Particularly if it’s a nonfiction book, are you taking in new knowledge and sort of attaching [it] to knowledge you have? For me, taking notes helps make sure that I’m really thinking hard about what’s in there.”</div> <div class="field-item even"></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>2. Finish everything that you start</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even">“<em>Infinite Jest*</em> is quite long and complicated and I don’t want to make an exception. It’s my rule to get to the end.” (*<em>Infinite Jest</em> is 1,069 pages long.) </div> <div class="field-item even"></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>3. Pick a medium that you’re comfortable with</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even">“Over time I will make the switch [to digital]…[print] I’m used to that and it’s ridiculous, I have this whole book bag that goes on trips with me and it’s voluminous and antiquated.”</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"></div> <div class="field-item even"><strong>4. Designate an hour for your reading</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even">“You’d want to be sitting down for an hour at a time because otherwise just getting your mind around [the work, and say] ‘OK, what was I reading?’ It’s not the kind of thing you can do five minutes here, 10 minutes there.”</div> <div class="field-item even"> <p><em>Written by <span>Sam Benson Smith</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><em><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/four-rules-reading-according-bill-gates">Reader’s Digest</a></em></span><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><span><em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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8 bedtime stories to read to children of all ages

<p>Speaking at the 2018 Hay Festival, His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman said: “To share a bedtime story is one of the greatest experiences of childhood and parenthood.” This couldn’t be more true. Besides helping sleepyheads absorb language through the familiar voices that nurture them, understand the complexities of their world, and the reasons behind their feelings, bedtime stories show how childhood can be the greatest adventure of all.</p> <p><strong>1. Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: two to five years</em></p> <p>Even the youngest child can engage with sound, colour and fun, and this book (illustrated by Nick Sharratt) is filled with bright joy and wonderful onomatopoeia. From the sound of flip-flops to the excitement of slurping a drink at the beach and the music made by different instruments, the sounds, then words, are a wonderful introduction to the intricacies of language.</p> <p><strong>2. Mr Men &amp; Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: three years+</em></p> <p>Hargreaves’ colourful 2D characters behaving to type are a wonderful way to identify with basic emotions by interpreting colour as a feeling. As journalist and author Lucy Mangan puts it in her memoir Bookworm: “Of course uppitiness is purple. Of course happiness is yellow.” These are no fuss, easy to follow collectables – and bitesize too, so you can gobble through second helpings before turning out the light.</p> <p><strong>3. The Lorax by Dr Seuss</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: three to eight years</em></p> <p>No child should grow up without The Lorax. They’ll never be the same when they’ve learned about the Swannee-swans, Humming fish, and Bar-ba-loots bears, their Truffula trees being cut by the mysterious and scruple-free Once-ler. While the environmental message of the book is even more urgent now than it was when The Lorax was first published in 1971, the story is just as entrancing, instructive – without preaching – and, above all, as hopeful as ever. A wonderful wise Lorax speaks for the trees, and for all the world’s children, who want to keep the future green.</p> <p><strong>4. My Big Shouting Day, by Rebecca Patterson</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: two to eight years</em></p> <p>A funny picture book for younger readers that will resonate with many parents for its keen perspective on patience. It positively encourages under-fours to shout along with grumpy Bella who gets up on the wrong side of the bed. It shows the child that it’s ok to feel angry – heck, they’ll be a teenager soon enough – but it also gives them permission to express it, and reminds them that tomorrow is always a new day.</p> <p><strong>5. The Moomin books by Tove Jansson</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: three to eight years</em></p> <p>The Moomins’ home, Moominvalley, is a place of wonder and fun, populated by fairy-like, round creatures that resemble hippopotamuses, but enjoy human hobbies such as writing memoirs (Moomin papa), making jam (Moomin mama), and playing make-believe (Moomintroll and Snork Maiden). Their adventurous side comes out at all opportunities, stirred by friends Little My and Snufkin, or by mysterious intruders.</p> <p>First published between 1945 and 1970, in recent years the stories have been tailored for both younger (soft and flap books) and older children (hardback storybooks). The Moomin books tell dream-like stories while tackling questions about love, friendships, encounters with strangers, and so on. An all-round winner.</p> <p><strong>6. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: four to 11 years</em></p> <p>The first true book written <em>for</em> children <em>about</em> children never fails to bewitch and baffle. Young Alice-like readers can explore the topsy-turvey Wonderland, while the grown-ups reading to them will appreciate the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07ryan.html">metaphorical Mad Hatter</a> and role of the white rabbit as leader in the adventure in a way they wouldn’t have been able to as a child. Carroll’s book is a celebration of a child’s wonder and curiosity, and fears of growing bigger too. It invites you to talk dreams and nightmares, to accept the weird and extraordinary and, best of all, to conjure up your own adventure down the rabbit hole. It’s a rite of passage, ideal for sharing.</p> <p><strong>7. Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki, retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: five to 12 years</em></p> <p>In a world where comic book superheroes and heroines reign supreme, these legends can entrance a young mind forever. This selection of Norse myths brings all the gritty dark stuff about trickster Loki together with tales of hammer-wielding Thor, and the machinations of Asgardean king Odin and goddess of love, battle and death, Freyja. It tickles the imagination of the young and challenges the parent too. Fabulous illustrations by Jeffrey Alan Love accompany Crossley-Holland’s delightful retelling, bringing these ancient stories to life in a way that no other anthology has.</p> <p><strong>8. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl</strong></p> <p><em>Age range: eight to 12 years</em></p> <p>This chocolate wonderland is the perfect read-aloud book, thanks to Dahl’s masterful use of the English language. Amid all the magic and invention is a wagging finger providing moral lessons on the perils of being greedy, or a brat or overly competitive – and that goes for the adult reader too. Thank goodness then for Willy Wonka, the man who really never grew up, and his band of oompa-loompahs who punish the bad, reward the good, then provide reason for it all through song.</p> <p>In truth, there is no right book to share – there are plenty of them available these days – nor should there be any chronological order to how and what we read. These are just some suggestions on ways to make bedtime a little more magical. But never underestimate how marvellous it can be to reread a childhood favourite to the little one you’re now tucking in to bed. It could inspire a passion for reading and spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.</p> <p><em>The age ranges used in this article are mostly based on interest and reading level ratings from <a href="https://www.booktrust.org.uk/">Book Trust</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/97801/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/raluca-radulescu-163408">Raluca Radulescu</a>, Professor of Medieval Literature and English Literature, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-blower-493159">Lisa Blower</a>, Lecturer in Creative Writing, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a>. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/eight-bedtime-stories-to-read-to-children-of-all-ages-97801">The Conversation</a>. </em></span></p>

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10 great Australian beach reads set at the beach

<p>Australians flock to the beach over the summer holidays: Bondi alone had 2.9 million visitors in 2017 – 2018. But while tourism campaigns often portray the beach as an idyllic, isolated haven, many of our beach stories depict it as a darker, more crowded and complex place.</p> <p>Here are ten Australian beach stories (in no particular order) worth reading this summer.</p> <p><strong>Floundering by Romy Ash</strong></p> <p>Romy Ash’s debut novel Floundering, shortlisted for the 2013 Miles Franklin award, is a captivating, sometimes chilling story of two young boys who are taken, without warning, by their mother to a beachside caravan park.</p> <p>Left to their own devices, the boys must make the most of their time by the beach without anything but their school bags and uniforms.</p> <p>The un-named regional beach in this novel is uncomfortable, “a location of risk and danger” as author Robert Drewe once described it, and sometimes reveals the worst ways in which nature and humanity meet. It’s a refuge for people looking to escape from city life, a stark comparison to more urbanised beaches.</p> <p><strong>Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey</strong></p> <p>When I tell people that I research the Australian beach, often their first response is to ask if I’ve watched Puberty Blues. Perhaps Australia’s most iconic beach text, the book (first published in 1979) is the story of two friends growing up in beachside suburbs of Sydney. It was adapted for film by Bruce Beresford in 1981.</p> <p>Both the book and film, with their characteristic colloquialisms and Australian slang, capture a sense of Australian coastal identity while revealing uncomfortable truths about gender, sex, and drugs for the teenagers they depict.</p> <p>Australian stories about the beach are often male-centred and written by men. Puberty Blues is an important contribution to beach literature because of Debbie and Sue, its female protagonists, and their perspectives on a blokey world.</p> <p><strong>Time’s Long Ruin by Stephen Orr</strong></p> <p>In 1966, the three Beaumont children disappeared from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide. They were last seen in the company of a tall, blond man. Despite continued searching, even earlier this year, they have never been found.</p> <p>Time’s Long Ruin (2010) is a fictionalised account of the disappearance of three children as told through the eyes of their young neighbour. Loosely based on the Beaumont story, Orr captures the dread of the aftermath for those left behind who knew and loved the children, the challenge of dealing with false leads and unreliable information, and the growing realisation that they will likely never be found.</p> <p>The case of the Beaumont children had an enormous impact on Australian culture. My mother, who was a young girl when they disappeared, still recalls how her parents would worry about her momentarily being out of sight at the beach at this time.</p> <p><strong>Breath by Tim Winton</strong></p> <p>Breath, published in 2008, earned Tim Winton his fourth Miles Franklin award and was recently adapted into a film, directed by and starring Simon Baker.</p> <p>On the surface, this novel is about surfing. But it asks deep questions about masculinity, and boys’ attitudes towards sex, while capturing the feel of Australian coastal life in the 1970s.</p> <p>Winton’s writings often engage with the ocean, the coast, and the beach – usually in West Australia, where he lives. His memoirs have revealed his love for the coastal landscape. As he writes in Land’s Edge (1993): “There is nowhere else I’d rather be, nothing else I’d rather be doing. I am at the beach looking west with the continent behind me as the sun tracks down to the sea. I have my bearings”.</p> <p><strong>The Empty Beach by Peter Corris</strong></p> <p>Peter Corris died in August, after publishing 102 novels. The Empty Beach (1983) was released early in his career and is the fourth novel featuring the private investigator Cliff Hardy - a homegrown, hard-boiled detective, firmly located in Sydney. It was adapted for film in 1985.</p> <p>In this book, Hardy is investigating the disappearance of John Singer, missing and presumed dead. He begins his probe in the rough, working class Bondi of the early 1980s. Corris captures Bondi Beach through the eyes of his protagonist, depicting it as a seedy extension of the city.</p> <p>Hassled by junkies, threatened by mobsters; Hardy spends much of the novel embroiled in the corrupt underbelly of Sydney’s criminal kingpins, never far from the now infamous shoreline.</p> <p><strong>The True Colour of the Sea, by Robert Drewe</strong></p> <p>Having lived in many coastal spots across the country, including Perth, Sydney, and Byron Bay, Robert Drewe’s stories regularly capture that very familiar, domestic sense of a beachside life.</p> <p>Drewe’s The Bodysurfers (1987), a collection of short stories, became a bestseller.</p> <p>His memoirs and short stories are all infused by the beach landscape, and this latest collection is no different.</p> <p>As the narrator writes in Dr Pacific, the opening story in his new collection: “One thing’s for sure – it’s my love of the ocean that keeps me going. You know what I call the ocean? Dr Pacific. All I need to keep me fit and healthy is my daily consultation with Dr Pacific.”</p> <p><strong>Atomic City by Sally Breen</strong></p> <p>Sally Breen lives and works on the Gold Coast, and that strip of high density development on the beach works its way into much of her writing.</p> <p>With its high rise skyline under a big sky, Surfers Paradise has been called a “pleasure dome” by Frank Moorhouse. But Atomic City (published in 2013), set largely in the lofty apartment buildings and businesses that abut, and look out on, the beach, captures perfectly the grift and graft of this place.</p> <p>Jade arrives on the Gold Coast to make herself over and get rich. Together with shady croupier “The Dealer” this is a beach tale of cons, scams and identity theft.</p> <p><strong>Not Meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss</strong></p> <p>Prominent Australian Indigenous author Anita Heiss straddles both fiction and non-fiction, with her work often grounded in ideas around Indigenous identity. Her series of “chick lit” novels includes Not Meeting Mr Right (first published in 2007).</p> <p>In the novel, Alice lives beachside in Coogee and regularly walks the coastal path between it and Bondi. A proudly single, Indigenous woman, Alice has a change of heart about marriage and decides to get serious about settling down - which means embarking on the rocky road towards finding love. In contrast to the challenges - including racism - she encounters along the way, the beach is a comfortably ordinary presence in this novel. However, Heiss also parodied the white Australian beach experience in an earlier book Sacred Cows (1996).</p> <p><strong>After January by Nick Earls</strong></p> <p>If you grew up in Brisbane when I did, there was a high chance you were reading a Nick Earls novel or seeing one adapted into a play. After January (first published in 1996) is one of Earls’ first works for young adult readers, and is set in the long break after finishing high school.</p> <p>Alex is on holidays at Caloundra in his family’s beach house, a teenage boy uncomfortable in his skin but comfortable in the ocean. Although now more than 20 years old, this story still captures the uncertainty of burgeoning adulthood and the comfort the ocean can bring.</p> <p><strong>Bluebottle by Belinda Castles</strong></p> <p>For many Australians, the beach can be wrapped up in childhood memory. These memories can blend and blur. In my mind, my summers spent at the beach with my grandparents were never-ending, from the moment school finished until the day before I was set to return. In reality, we spent some time there, often weekends, and certainly never the entire school holidays.</p> <p>Belinda Castles’ Bluebottle tells the story of the Bright family, and is filled with that uncomfortable tension that arises when we realise memory is fallible. Siblings Jack and Lou recount key moments from their childhood, starting with the disappearance of a local school girl and their father’s unpredictable purchase of a beachside property in Bilgola, Sydney. However, they learn that growing older can change perspectives on the past and, like the beach, it can be hard to tell what’s under the surface while the waves distort our view.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/108083/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liz-ellison-114513"></a></span></p> <p><span><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liz-ellison-114513">Liz Ellison</a>, Lecturer in Creative Industries, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a>. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/ten-great-australian-beach-reads-set-at-the-beach-108083">The Conversation</a>. </em></span></p>

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Your guide to using eBooks

<p>You may have heard of eBooks - electronic books that you read on a screen. In this how-to-guide, we’ll explain why they’ve become so popular, different ways of reading them and how to buy your first eBook.</p> <p><strong>Why ebooks?<br /></strong>Some might say that eBooks can’t replace the feel of the real thing, but they sure have some great advantages. One eBook device can hold thousands of books so they’re fantastic if you’re on the move or don’t have a large amount of space at home. EBooks can be read in low-light or even darkness - so you don’t disturb your partner. They remember which page you’re up to, and allow you to increase the font-size for easier reading. Lastly, you can go from ‘browsing’ to ‘reading’ in minutes - you never have to drive to the book shop or wait for overseas shipping.</p> <p><strong>How do I read ebooks?<br /></strong>There are two types of devices used to read eBooks, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Dedicated eBook readers (such as Kindle and Kobo) can only display eBooks - but they do it well. They have a special ‘electronic paper’ screen which is more gentle on your eyes than a tablet or computer screen. They’re easier to read in bright sunlight, and the battery lasts weeks. Another option is a tablet such as an iPad or Galaxy Tab. These devices aren’t limited to reading eBooks - you can watch movies, browse the internet and so on. But their screens are less comfortable for long-term reading and the battery life is measured in hours, not weeks. To read eBooks on a tablet, you need to use an<span> </span>‘app’<span> </span>such as iBooks, Kindle or Kobo.</p> <p><strong>How do I buy ebooks?<br /></strong>If you’re using an eReader such as a Kindle or Kobo, visit the ‘store’ page on that device. Search for the book you’re interested in, click ‘buy’ and it will download. The same instructions apply to most Android tablet eReader apps. Unfortunately, many iPad eReader apps don’t allow in-app purchases - you’ll need to visit the relevant eBook website and purchase eBooks there - then they’ll appear in your app.</p> <p>eBooks open up a whole new world of amazing reads, wherever you are, so why not get started today!</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Gabe McGrath.</span> Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/entertainment/your-guide-to-using-ebooks.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></span>.</em></p>

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9 great fantasy epics every Game of Thrones fan needs to read

<p>George R. R. Martin started writing A Game of Thrones, the first volume in the series, <em>A Song of Ice an Fire, </em>in 1991. When books 6 and 7—<em>The Winds of Winter</em> and <em>A Dream of Spring</em>—will come out is anybody’s guess.<br /><br />But how closely the TV show will match the content of those books is less of a guess, given that they’ve already shown an ability to veer in their own direction.<br /><br />For fans of the books, endlessly waiting for Martin to get on with it, here’s a few suggestions for some other epic books to help pass the time.</p> <ol> <li><strong> Lord of the Rings</strong></li> </ol> <p><em>Lord of the Rings</em> by J. R. R. Tolkien: What is it about fantasy and the initials R. R.?</p> <p>Anyhow, if you haven’t already read the classic trilogy that can be considered to have started the whole thing, now is the time.</p> <p>The good news is that there is a beginning, a middle, and, yes, an end.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong> Wheel of Time</strong></li> </ol> <p>Also famous, and a lot longer, is Robert Jordan’s <em>Wheel of Time</em> series.</p> <p>There’s 14 books plus a prequel. Jordan deliberately intended for the beginning of his story to evoke the Shire of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, but the series goes on into way more complicated ground, and way more pages.</p> <p>Jordan died before concluding the series; Brandon Sanderson, author of the <em>Mistborn</em> books, finished the series.</p> <p>Sanderson is now at work on a ten-book series called <em>The Stormlight Archive</em>. </p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong> The Dresden Files</strong></li> </ol> <p>Jim Butcher is the author of the bestselling series <em>The Dresden Files</em>, about a grownup wizard solving paranormal crimes in Chicago.</p> <p>Less well-known, and well worth reading, is his four-book <em>Codex Alera</em> series. In a world where everyone can control the elements, hero Tavi is unusual in having no such power.</p> <p>Butcher’s take on fantasy is as much fun as his Dresden books.</p> <p>The book, <em>Skin Game</em>, is the 15th in the series.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong> Earthsea</strong></li> </ol> <p>Originally written as a young adult series, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, comprising six books, is nevertheless a satisfying read for adults as well.</p> <p>As a matter of fact, parents a little wary of the hijinks in Thrones might want to direct their young readers here as a safe substitute.</p> <p>The books are set in a world of far-flung islands, providing yet another change of pace from the expected. </p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong> Leviathan</strong></li> </ol> <p>Speaking of young adult series, Scott Westerfield’s steampunk series, Leviathan, is perfect for any age.</p> <p>Its heroes are a young girl masquerading as a male cadet, and an Austro-Hungarian noble teen boy, just as World War I (or this book’s version of it) is breaking out.</p> <p>It’s the Darwinists versus the Clankers, and a lot of fun and adventure for all.</p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong> Commonwealth</strong></li> </ol> <p>When it comes to big BIG books spread out over a long period of time and abundantly filled with incident, it would be hard to beat Peter F. Hamilton’s <em>Commonwealth</em> series.</p> <p>Starting with <em>Pandora’s Star</em>, which is clearly science fiction, and covering a millennia or two, eventually the story encompasses a classic fantasy tale, told from within the novels’ mysterious “void.”</p> <p>As a matter of fact, if you stick with it, <em>The Abyss Beyond Dreams</em>, the 6th book, will strike you as having a decidedly Wild West side (apart from the spaceships).</p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong> Magicians</strong></li> </ol> <p>Another series of fantasy material might be familiar to you from a television version is Lev Grossman’s <em>Magicians</em> series.</p> <p>Yes, there is the whole young wizards at college part, a deliberately adult spin on Hogwarts, but somewhere along the way there is also Fillory, this time a deliberately adult spin on C. S. Lewis’s Narnia.</p> <p>The TV show is fine, but the books are special.</p> <ol start="8"> <li><strong> The Narnia Trilogy</strong></li> </ol> <p>Speaking of Narnia, there is also C. S. Lewis’s classic <em>Ransom trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra</em> and <em>That Hideous Strength</em>.</p> <p>They’re a decidedly old-fashioned blend of fantasy and science fiction, but then again, they were written roughly during the period of the Second World War and were pretty cutting edge for their day.</p> <p>Lewis’s allegories have a lot to say about the times back then—with meaning also applicable to our present-day now—as his hero, Elwin Ransom, explores our neighboring planets.</p> <ol start="9"> <li><strong> The Chronicles of Amber</strong></li> </ol> <p>Finally, if you still have time on your hands and you’re looking for ten novels breaking into two cycles of five, plus a handful of short stories (the best way to track all of these down is through Wikipedia), then you’re ready for Roger Zelazny’s <em>The Chronicles of Amber</em>.</p> <p>It all begins when our hero awakes from a coma, suffering from amnesia.</p> <p>He soon learns that he is part of a magical family that can wander through something called 'shadows.' And the game is afoot.</p> <p><em>Sign of the Unicorn</em>, is the third book in the <em>Chronicles of Amber</em> series. </p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/9-great-fantasy-epics-every-game-thrones-fan-needs-read">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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5 books that will inspire you

<p><span>Books provoke the full gamut of human emotions. Here are five that will leave you inspired and motivated. </span></p> <p><span><strong>A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle</strong><br />Eckhart Tolle's follow-up to his 1997 best-seller, The Power of Now gained international popularity in 2008 when it was included in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. In it, Eckhart explains how the ego contributes to our anger, dysfunction and unhappiness. A New Earth teaches us how to become aware of ego-based attitudes and situations and how letting go of these can awaken us to our life's true purpose. <br /><br /><strong>You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay</strong><br />Louise Hay is the Queen of Affirmations. The 88-year-old metaphysical teacher and motivational speaker wrote You Can Heal Your Life in the early 80s after beating cancer with daily affirmations, visualisations, internal cleansing and psychotherapy. Louise believes that our beliefs and thoughts create our world. This book will inspire you to love and accept yourself and make necessary changes that will lead to good health and happiness. <br /><br /><strong>A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson</strong><br />Marianne shares her views and insights she gained while studying A Course in Miracles, a book she credits with transforming her life. A Return to Love reminds us to have faith, sway towards the light, love is a powerful force and miracles do happen. After reading this profound spiritual guide, it's easy to put the belief system of 'Ask, Believe, Receive' into action. <br /><br /><strong>I Can See Clearly Now by Dr Wayne Dyer</strong><br />“There are no wrong roads. Every experience we have in our life is there to teach us something.” These are the words spoken by Dr Dyer in a public television special to promote his newest book. I Can See Clearly Now is a memoir but it's more than that. It's a teaching of the five key principles that Dr Dyer has used throughout his life to overcome the same challenges that many of us face. <br /><br /><strong>The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav</strong><br />Harvard graduate Gary Zukav's The Seat of the Soul, is about soul values and sharing perceptions that will help others. Covering topics like evolution, karma, reverence, heart, addiction, choice and psychology, The Seat of the Soul is a deep, meaningful teaching that will invoke thought and reflection. Like all the books listed above the Seat of the Soul is a must read.<br /></span></p> <p><span>Do you have any inspirational books? Let us know in the comments!</span></p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Jennifer Morton. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/entertainment/5-books-that-will-inspire-you.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></em></p>

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Book corner: Discover the best books from around the world

<p>In 2012 British author Ann Morgan spent a year of her life reading a book from <span>197 territories </span>- every UN-recognised nation plus Taiwan and one extra territory chosen by her blog visitors. The result was the fascinating book called <em>Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer</em>.</p> <p>Indeed, this may be the ultimate way to travel – within our mind as we link to another’s mind. Keen travellers may wish to use Ann’s research to delve deeper into the mindset of favourite countries. It’s certainly a list that is fun to browse.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong><strong>Why did you decide to write Reading the World?</strong></p> <p>My project was about accessing voices and perspectives rather than building up a picture of nations through reading books. Although literature can give us extraordinary and illuminating insights into other places and cultures, I don't think one book on its own can give a full and rounded picture of a society. This was more about exploring to see what I could discover (and what people would suggest) rather than looking for definitive or 'authentic' representations.</p> <p>Although many of the books I read were set in the countries in question, some weren't. For me, this was about discovering mindsets and the different ways that writers around the planet (past and present) look at life.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong><strong>Why is it important to read local authors from different locations?</strong></p> <p>I have enjoyed reading classic books by English-language greats about travels to different parts of the world. I recently found myself gripped by Graham Greene’s book <em>Journey Without Maps</em>, an account of his travels in Liberia. These books can be illuminating and very engrossing, but what they show us first and foremost is the world as seen through a very particular set of eyes. Like all the books I read from each nation in 2012, they are not the complete picture on their own. In order to get a richer, more rounded impression it's very rewarding to balance these readings with work by local authors, people for whom Britain and its empire, and more recently the English-speaking world, weren't necessarily at the centre of the universe.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong><strong>What was your goal in writing this book?</strong></p> <p>It brings in some of the personal histories of the people I met on my quest, as well as my own reading experiences throughout my life, a whole lot more research and many other books. Ultimately, it explores how reading can change and shape us, and reveals the extraordinary power that stories have to connect us across cultural, geographical, political and religious divides.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong><strong>What is your favourite book you read during this project?</strong></p> <p>I read so many excellent things during the project that it’s very hard to pick one out. Some of the books were wonderful simply because of the stories they told and the way they were written. Others were special because of the lengths people went to get them to me.</p> <p>However, I have drawn up a list of my ten favourite commercially-available reads. Unlike some of the other books you should be able to buy copies of these:</p> <p><strong>My 10 favourite international books:</strong></p> <ol> <li>From Albania – Ismail Kadare <em>Broken April</em></li> <li>From Canada – Nicole Brossard <em>Mauve Desert</em></li> <li>From Czech Republic – Bohumil Hrabal <em>Too Loud a Solitude </em></li> <li>From Mongolia – Galsan Tschinag <em>The Blue Sky</em></li> <li>From Myanmar – Nu Nu Yi, <em>Smile as they Bow</em></li> <li>From Pakistan – Jamie Ahmad <em>The Wandering Falcon</em></li> <li>From Serbia – Srdjan Valjarevic, <em>Lake Como (limited availability)</em></li> <li>From Sierra Leone – Ismael Beah <em>A Long Way Gone</em></li> <li>From Tajikistan – <span>Andrei Volos, <em>Hurramabad</em></span></li> <li>From Togo – Tete-Michel Kpomassie <em>An African in Greenland</em></li> </ol> <p><strong>My Australian top 7:</strong></p> <ol> <li><span><em>Cloudstreet</em> </span>by Tim Winton</li> <li><em>The Children’s Bach</em> by Helen Garner <br /><span></span></li> <li><em>The Book Thief</em> by Markus Zusak <br /><span></span></li> <li><em>The Boat</em> by Nam Le</li> <li><em>The White Earth </em>by Andrew McGahan <br /><span></span></li> <li><em>Lovesong</em> by Alex Miller <br /><span></span></li> <li><em>The Road from Coorain</em> by Jill Ker Conway</li> </ol> <p><em>Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer</em> is not a review of 197 books. That, she says, is covered in her blog so you can <span>read the posts</span> chronologically for free. This book dives deeper into issues such as how translation, censorship, cultural identity and technology affect the way we share and understand stories.</p> <p><strong>What are your favourite foreign books? Join the conversation below.</strong></p> <p><em>Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/entertainment/book-corner-discover-the-best-books-from-around-the-world.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>.</em></p>

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The moment 17 people were murdered in front of Andy Murray when he was 8 years old

<p>Tennis champ Andy Murray has released his autobiography,<span> </span><em>Hitting Back</em>, which provides in-depth details about his childhood and how he skyrocketed into the world of tennis.</p> <p>But what many people don’t know about Andy is that when he was just 8 years old, he was part of the deadliest mass shooting in Britain’s history. The shooter was also someone Andy and his family knew well enough to get lifts home from time to time.</p> <p>43-year-old former scout leader, Thomas Hamilton, had gone into Andy's primary school in Stirlingshire, Scotland, with 743 cartridges of ammunition. The former scout leader ran a youth group, which 8-year-old Andy attended at the time of the shooting.</p> <p>Over the next three to four minutes, Hamilton became responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in Britain.</p> <p>Hamilton opened fire in the gymnasium, where P.E classes were being run. He opened fire within the room, injuring students and teachers.</p> <p>Some children he shot at blank range.</p> <p>Whilst this was going on, Andy and his older brother, Jamie, were hiding under desks in a classroom and trying to distract themselves with songs.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7822739/andy-murray.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/9e77d07bde0f453a9361b9b9887143f6" /></p> <p>After Hamilton had finished with the gymnasium, he decided to walk towards the library and shoot at random. He, again, injured many teachers and students.</p> <p>The trauma ended once Hamilton re-entered the gymnasium and put the barrel of the gun to his own mouth.</p> <p>With 32 people treated for gunshot wounds and one child dying on the way to the hospital, this was a traumatic experience for those involved.</p> <p>Judy Murray, Andy's mother and tennis coach, spoke about the event in an interview with ESPN in 2008:</p> <p>"Absolutely horrendous. The worst. The worst thing you could ever imagine having to go through in your life.</p> <p>"Sitting, waiting and not knowing if your child is alive or dead – you can't imagine what that was like. It was quite horrific."</p> <p>Andy has used this experience to advocate for gun control in the United States, saying that "something needs to change".</p> <p>Did you know Andy Murray had been through such a traumatic experience? Let us know in the comments.</p>

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The “cruel” letter Camilla sent Prince Charles that broke his heart

<p>After dating Camilla Shand for six months, 24-year-old Prince Charles was forced to put his relationship “on hold” as he went on tour as part of the Royal Navy.</p> <p>In March 1973, the heir to the throne was in the West Indies when he learned the devastating news that Camilla was going to marry another man.</p> <p>Royal spectators have previously revealed that the royal family put pressure on Camilla and Charles to end their relationship as they didn’t think the daughter of a British Army major was a suitable match for the future king.</p> <p>However, Charles was said to be devastated when 25-year-old Camilla wrote him a letter to let him know that she said yes to tying the knot with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Andrew Parker Bowles.</p> <p>Royal author Penny Junor described Charles’ heartache in her biography of Camilla, <em>The Duchess: The Untold Story</em>.</p> <p>“She wrote to Charles herself to tell him. It broke his heart," she wrote.</p> <p>Charles, who is described as a “prolific letter-writer”, responded to the devastating news by sending letters to his family and friends.</p> <p>"He fired off anguished letters to his nearest and dearest," Juror wrote.</p> <p>"'It seemed to him particularly cruel', he wrote in one letter, that after 'such a blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship' fate had decreed that it should only last a mere six months."</p> <p>Charles was upset that he had “no one” to go home to when he returned to England.</p> <p>"I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually," Charles wrote.</p> <p>Charles then went on to date Amanda Knatchbull, who later rejected his proposal in 1979.</p> <p>The now 70-year-old then started courting Lady Diana Spencer in early 1980.</p> <p>When Charles and Diana married in July 1981, Camilla had already been married to Andrew for eight years and had two children, Tom and Laura.</p> <p>However, both marriages eventually ended in divorce, with Camilla splitting from her husband in 1995.</p> <p>One year later in 1996, Charles and Diana’s marriage officially ended.</p> <p>In 2005, Charles and Camilla finally married in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. </p>

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Newspaper's awkward Julia Roberts typo goes viral

<p>A local newspaper has had its chance in the spotlight after making an unfortunate typo in the headline of a Julia Roberts story.</p> <p>The <em>Post-Journal</em> of Jamestown, New York, paid tribute to the Hollywood actress and her phenomenal career spanning over 30 years, but while their intentions were pure, the headline was what caught people’s attention the most.</p> <p>It read: “Julia Roberts Finds Life And Her Holes Get Better With Age.”</p> <p>While it meant to say her “Roles Get Better W<span>ith Age”, it was too late to retract the mistake, as the article on the 51-year-old had been published and soon, was in the hands of readers around the city.</span></p> <p>It didn’t take long for the blunder to make its way around the world as users took to Twitter to share photos of the printing error.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Headline of the day <br /><br />Julia Roberts Finds Life And Her Holes Get Better With Age <a href="https://t.co/85oU83ijgi">pic.twitter.com/85oU83ijgi</a></p> — raf taylor (@truthis24fps) <a href="https://twitter.com/truthis24fps/status/1072126786253791232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">10 December 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">I feel this title about Julia Roberts and Holes perhaps needs a little finessing <a href="https://t.co/z2o7EmJKbk">pic.twitter.com/z2o7EmJKbk</a></p> — Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) <a href="https://twitter.com/DrJenGunter/status/1072268067181289472?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">10 December 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheEllenShow</a> can’t believe this headline in our local paper... Julia Roberts will be glad to know her holes are getting better with age😂😂 <a href="https://t.co/gvZkOsBjyN">pic.twitter.com/gvZkOsBjyN</a></p> — elizabeth (@eadavisus) <a href="https://twitter.com/eadavisus/status/1071797333497647104?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">9 December 2018</a></blockquote> <p>In the story, the Oscar winner spoke about her age and how her life experiences reflect the roles she chooses to play.</p> <p>“You know, I’m happy and I have fun at home, so it would take a lot for someone to say: ‘Look, you can play this part where you’re happy and have fun.’ Well, I just do that at home,” she said.</p> <p>Despite starring in mega hit rom-coms in the past, back in October, Julia said she was done playing the damsel in distress as she cannot convince the audience that she’s a naïve character.</p> <p>“There came a point in my career where people thought I had turned on romantic comedies, which I love them, I love to be in them, I love to watch them,” she told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.etonline.com/" target="_blank"><em>Entertainment Tonight</em></a>.</p> <p>“But sometimes, they just don’t work at a certain point of life experience.”</p>

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The impact of “Little Women” 150 years on

<p><strong><em>Ryna Ordynat is a PhD candidate in History at Monash University. </em></strong></p> <p>It’s 150 years since <em>Little Women</em> by Louisa May Alcott was published and, in the time since, the book has never been out of print. The story of the March sisters struck a chord with readers – especially young girls – early on, and continues to resonate today.</p> <p>The book’s continuing popularity is evident in the many film, theatre and TV adaptations. In 2018 alone, it was adapted into <span><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6495094/">a film set in our modern-times</a></span> and a heavily stylised <span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/little-women-review-pbs-bbc/560144/">TV mini-series</a></span>, starring Emily Watson and Maya Thurman-Hawke. It is scheduled for yet <span><a href="https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/a22002071/little-women-adaptation-greta-gerwig-saoirse-ronan-timothee-chalamet/">another major Hollywood adaptation in 2019</a></span>, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Meryl Streep, Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan.</p> <p><em>Little Women</em> follows the lives of the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – as they endure hardships, learn life lessons and build enduring bonds on their passage from childhood to womanhood. The first part of the book depicts the girls’ childhoods – their struggles with poverty and their own personalities and faults, and how they overcome these obstacles. The second part is about them entering womanhood, marrying and becoming good wives, mothers and women.</p> <p>The genteel poverty the March family endures is based on the real poverty the Alcott family experienced. The difference is that the poverty of the Alcott family was mostly imposed on them by Louisa’s father, <span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amos_Bronson_Alcott">Amos Bronson Alcott</a></span>, a famous Transcendentalist educational reformer in his day.</p> <p>In stark contrast to the book, and at a time when social conventions actively discouraged and frowned upon women undertaking paid employment, Bronson Alcott’s noble willingness to, as he put it, <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9A7W4RKHLXYC&amp;dq=louisa+may+alcott&amp;lr=&amp;source=gbs_navlinks_s">“starve or freeze before he will sacrifice principle to comfort” </a></span>resulted in him not supporting his family financially. This forced his wife and daughters to provide for the family, and in Louisa’s case to write for money.</p> <p>Bronson was wholly supported and encouraged by his wife, Abigail (Marmee in <em>Little Women</em>), to the complete bafflement and increasing frustration of Louisa. One of Alcott’s biographers suggests that the familiar sentimental tone in <em>Little Women</em> of poverty being dictated by circumstance, and something we should learn to bear, comes from her trying to cope with, and somehow justify her father’s outrageous lack of concern for the <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Louisa_May_Alcott.html?id=9OB_2sFqYtsC&amp;source=kp_book_description&amp;redir_esc=y">family’s financial wellbeing</a></span>.</p> <p>Louisa Alcott was devoted to and dominated by her parents, especially her father. His worldview was based on the romanticised and spiritual idea of inherent goodness and perfection of human beings. For many years, Bronson Alcott insisted to his daughter on the need for simple stories for boys and girls about how to overcome selfishness and anger, faults which he constantly pointed out in Louisa. Eventually, Bronson’s ideas made their way into <em>Little Women</em>, where the March sisters strive to achieve their perfect “womanliness”.</p> <p>Louisa was a problem and a disappointment to her father – she was impatient and energetic, always “subject of her instinct” and showing what Bronson called <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9A7W4RKHLXYC&amp;dq=louisa+may+alcott&amp;lr=&amp;source=gbs_navlinks_s">early signs of “impending evil”</a></span>. Alcott made the choice to remain unmarried, yet – against her wishes, but mainly due to the demands of her publisher and her growing fan base – she did make Jo marry in the end.</p> <p>Alcott may never have written <em>Little Women</em> at all had she been more financially successful in the types of gothic fiction she excelled at and enjoyed writing. But she dreaded debts <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9OB_2sFqYtsC&amp;dq=editions:yjioZcBIkHEC&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjKpoSAgZfdAhXCM94KHRMtAjoQ6AEIKTAA">“more than the devil”</a></span>. And her publisher pressured her with continuous requests for a book for girls – and a promise to publish her father’s book, <span><em><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=HGnopNYgga4C&amp;pg=PA115&amp;source=gbs_toc_r&amp;cad=4#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Tablets, if she wrote one</a></em></span>.</p> <p>The death of Jo’s younger sister Beth is a memorable and tragic event in <em>Little Women</em>. Beth is the shyest of the sisters and lives a very secluded life. Her death is portrayed by Alcott as a sort of “self-sacrifice” as she gives up her life knowing that it has had only private, domestic meaning.</p> <p>Alcott’s sister Elizabeth or “Lizzie”, did in fact die due to complications of scarlet fever. Beth’s death in the book is written to resemble a <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9ebLwkriWEC&amp;dq=children+victorian+literature&amp;source=gbs_navlinks_s">typical trope of Victorian literature</a></span> – the sentimental, suffering, pathetic yet angelic “ideal” child. But Lizzie died in 1858, aged 22: in pain, angry and frightened, resenting the invisible, stifling life that was imposed on her <span><a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9OB_2sFqYtsC&amp;dq=editions:yjioZcBIkHEC&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjKpoSAgZfdAhXCM94KHRMtAjoQ6AEIKTAA">largely by her parents</a></span>. She may also have suffered from anorexia. Alcott witnessed the death of her sister in horror.</p> <p>Ultimately, <em>Little Women’s</em> themes of love, grief and sisterly bonds still appeal to us. As <span><a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-little-women-meryl-streep-greta-gerwig-20180703-story.html">Robin Swicord, who will produce the upcoming 2019 film adaptation</a>,</span> says: “It’s really taking a look at what it is for a young woman to enter the adult world.” (She adds that, “given the material, it’s always going to be romantic”.)</p> <p>Yet many of the themes and morals of this book are sentimentalised and outdated today. They were inserted for reasons of convention, in order to provide moral instruction, or to appeal to the requests of a publisher.</p> <p>Alcott wrote <em>Little Women</em> because her father wanted her to, and he dictated its terms, morals and lessons. It was an instant and enduring success, even though she did not want to write it, and it forced her to relive some of the most difficult years of her life. For readers (and viewers) today, understanding these circumstances enables a much more authentic, multi-layered and complex interpretation.</p> <p>Do you remember how old you were when you first read <em>Little Women</em>? Tell us in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Written by Ryna Ordynat. Republished with permission of <span><strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/little-women-at-150-and-the-patriarch-who-shaped-the-books-tone-102565">The Conversation.</a></strong></span> </em></p> <p><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/102565/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-advanced" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p>

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13 books we bet you never knew were banned

<p><strong>The Dictionary</strong></p> <p>Wait … what? Some students working on their spelling might have been out of luck when the teacher asked them to “look it up”. In 1987, the Anchorage School Board in Alaska <span><a href="https://theweek.com/articles/459795/17-americas-most-surprising-banned-books">banned</a></span> the American Heritage Dictionary because it had “objectionable” entries, like the slang definitions for “balls,” “knocker” and “bed.” A California elementary school <span><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/29/the-11-most-surprising-ba_n_515381.html?slideshow=true#gallery/5635/0">banned</a></span> Merriam Webster from its shelves because the definition of oral sex was “not age appropriate”.</p> <p><strong>The Lorax</strong></p> <p>Dr. Seuss may have endeared the hearts of millions, but <em>The Lorax</em>, about the perils of deforestation, didn’t sit well with California loggers. One community <span><a href="https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/09/24/banned-books-week-green-eggs-and-ham">banned</a></span> the book for its negative portrayal of the industry. (By the way, you've been saying "Dr. Seuss" wrong.) </p> <p><strong>Yertle the Turtle</strong></p> <p>Anti-deforestation wasn’t Dr. Seuss’s only political message to make schools squirm. One Canadian school announced <em>Yertle the Turtle</em> one of its <span><a href="https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/09/24/banned-books-week-green-eggs-and-ham">banned books</a></span> in 2012 because of this line: "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we too should have rights." Apparently, that line was too partisan for a school that had banned political messages.</p> <p><strong>James and the Giant Peach</strong></p> <p>No matter how you feel about human-sized bugs, Roald Dahl’s <em>James and the Giant Peach</em> seems innocent enough at first glance. Some schools have challenged it for language, and tobacco and alcohol references. But perhaps the oddest? In 1999, one small Wisconsin town officially made it one of its banned books after <span><a href="http://orgs.utulsa.edu/spcol/?p=3246">claiming</a></span> a scene when the spider licks her lips could be “taken in two ways, including sexual”. Can’t say that would have been our first thought.</p> <p><strong>Where the Wild Things Are</strong></p> <p>It was tough enough for author Maurice Sendak to get his borderline dark and scary children’s book published. When it finally did hit the shelves, it got in even more trouble. <em>Where the Wild Things Are</em> is now a fun classic, but it was initially <span><a href="https://theweek.com/articles/459795/17-americas-most-surprising-banned-books">banned</a></span> because little Max’s punishment was starvation– well, lack of supper – and the story had supernatural themes.</p> <p><strong>Where the Sidewalk Ends</strong></p> <p>You might want to reread Shel Silverstein’s collection of poems, <em>Where the Sidewalk Ends</em> – you may have missed something in its quirky, funny and touching verses. <span><a href="https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/giving-tree-50-sadder-remembered">According to some schools</a></span>, the book actually promotes everything from drug use and suicide to ignoring parents and telling lies. Yikes.</p> <p><strong>Harriet the Spy</strong></p> <p>Who knew a child misfit could create such a stir? Sure, kids loved Harriet for her strong will and rebelliousness, but critics <span><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87779452">argued</a></span> the “spy” was less of a good-girl Nancy Drew and more of a mean-spirited gossip. Some schools banned Louise Fitzhugh’s <em>Harriet the Spy</em> to keep students from the bad influence.</p> <p><strong>The Giving Tree</strong></p> <p>To some, this was Shel Silverstein’s sweet story about unconditional love. But to one bitter Colorado librarian who <span><a href="http://articles.latimes.com/1989-09-26/entertainment/ca-340_1_fullerton-college">took it off the shelves</a></span>, <em>The Giving Tree</em> was just plain “sexist”.</p> <p><strong>Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?</strong></p> <p>Might as well stop trying to wrack your brain for what in the world could have been grounds to take <em>Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?</em> out of schools. It was all an awkward mistake. Eric Carle might be a famous children’s illustrator, but the Texas State Board of Education <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/richard-adams-blog/2010/jan/28/brown-bear-banned-texas">wouldn’t approve</a></span> the storybook after recognising writer Bill Martin Jr.’s name from another book: <em>Ethical Marxism</em>. There was just one problem – the political Bill Martin was not the same Bill Martin Jr. as had written the children’s book. Next time, maybe the school board should do its homework.</p> <p><strong>The Diary of a Young Girl</strong></p> <p>No, Anne Frank’s diary hasn’t been removed from libraries because of the terror of hiding from Nazis. Schools have <span><a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/09/27/351811082/banned-books-remind-us-of-the-power-of-the-written-word">deemed</a></span> some of the 14-year-old’s descriptions of her anatomy as “pornographic”. More cringe-worthy? One Alabama textbook committee asked for it to be <span><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/28/AR2010012804001.html">banned</a></span> because it was “a real downer”. </p> <p><strong>Charlotte’s Web</strong></p> <p>The unlikely friendship between a pig and spider sparked a much bigger controversy among Kansas parents in 1952. They had Charlotte's Web <span><a href="https://theweek.com/articles/459795/17-americas-most-surprising-banned-books">banned</a></span> because talking animals went against their religious beliefs, arguing humans are "the only creatures that can communicate vocally. Showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God”. We wonder what they’d think about the <em>Cat in the Hat</em> and Mickey Mouse and the three little bears and ...</p> <p><strong>The Grapes of Wrath</strong></p> <p>John Steinbeck’s work of fiction was based on the reality of the Dust Bowl that left migrants homeless and in search of work. In Kern County, California, where the protagonists land, the real-life county board of supervisors didn’t appreciate the author’s portrayal of how locals didn’t help migrants. A 1939 vote <span><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95190615">removed</a></span> <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em> from the area’s schools and libraries.</p> <p><strong>To Kill a Mockingbird</strong></p> <p>Despite being so beloved, Harper Lee’s novel is still the <span><a href="http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics">fourth most-challenged or banned</a></span> classic book. Advocates of banning it argue its issues with racism and sexuality aren’t suitable for young readers.</p> <p><em>Written by Marissa Laliberte. This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/13-books-we-bet-you-never-knew-were-banned?items_per_page=All">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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The "naughty" birthday card Princess Diana sent to her accountant

<p>An inside look into Princess Diana’s sense of humour has been revealed after a birthday card she sent to her accountant has been put up for auction.</p> <p>Assumed to be from the '90s, the cheeky card, which includes a handwritten note from the late royal is featured on LA-based celebrity auction site Julien’s Auctions after its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to part ways with the valuable item.</p> <p>The seller believes that the card was sent by Diana – who passed away in 1997 after a tragic car crash in Paris – to her accountant and close friend Anthony Burrage.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821813/4_thp_chp_031118slug_1786jpg.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f84db9a247cb42f39817134c4293706c" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Photo: Julien's Auctions</em></p> <p>The card shows an illustrated Sleeping Beauty and includes a witty anecdote that says: “A little prick in the hand sent Sleeping Beauty to sleep”.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7821812/2_thp_chp_031118slug_1787jpg.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fcf845e11fcd4c0080af0a8dd29cbcdd" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Photo: Julien's Auctions</em></p> <p>And while it may seem innocuous, as on first glance it seems to be referring to the classic fairytale where Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, the cheeky humour is revealed once the card is opened. Inside the card the punchline reads: “Only the big ones are worth staying awake for!”</p> <p>The message written by the Princess says: “A belated Happy Birthday for the 5th! From Diana.”</p> <p>Bidding for the card is currently standing at $250 but the price is expected to increase each day and go up to $800-$1200.</p> <p>The bidding site has described the card as: “A humorous birthday card with ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on the cover, handwritten in black felt pen by HRH Princess Diana: ‘Tony, A belated Happy Birthday for the 5th, from, Diana.’ Tony refers to Anthony Burrage, accountant and trusted employee of HRH Princess Diana.”</p> <p>The owner of the prized possession recently spoke to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/princess-diana-sent-friend-cheeky-13527095" target="_blank">The Mirror</a> </em>and said: “I know that Diana liked to send humorous cards, but I haven’t seen any quite this naughty, so for me it really shows that she was a fun human being that could share some dirty jokes with her closest friends."</p> <p>They added, “This is a secret card that has been kept hidden for many years. A true gem for anyone that is a fan of this special human being.”</p>

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