Booking Through Thursday #12 – Reading Fundamentals

What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why? If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.

(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)

This weeks question comes to us courtesy of This Is Not A Book Club. And I must start by saying that I really like this question because I’ve thought about this and I must also say that my answer is rather fluid because it’s been in flux over the past year or so. I’ve been re-examining my definition of reading over the years, expanding what I would have included in reading and what’s been excluded. Some of the reason for that is due to my participation in this book blog (Bblofia) community. I’m also excited about this question because it should bring about some good discussion.

To simply come up with a definition of reading is difficult and is probably best done by looking at the things we read. This is where the second part of the question comes in, “Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them?” The quick answer is yes, they are all types of reading but we should expand the list by including encyclopedias, newspapers, textbooks, newspapers, I’m sure I could go on. Anything that places words into sentences that a person reads that combination of words. Our blogs should also be included in that list of what we read, many websites require some type of reading. For many north Americans websites are the only reading many people do these days.

I used to exclude comics and graphic novels from my definition of reading but since I’ve been reading them I’ve come to realize that there is more to this genre than I originally thought.  I find that the combination of illustrations and words bring the stories alive in a way that a typical novel just cannot do.  It’s almost a cross between film and novel I’m glad that I was introduced to this genre because now I cannot get enough of it.  I actually came across a pop-up graphic novel of Moby Dick at the Festival that I’d really like to get sometime.

I’m interested to see what everyone else has to say on the subject.  What is reading for you?

Bookin’ Around May Review

With it being the end of the month I realized I still didn’t read the book for May yet. There are a number of reasons I could give for taking so long to read the book but the primary reason was that the book was Korean. My last few months in that country were fairly rough and because of it I haven’t been doing as much reading lately. I’m working on getting my reading back to where it was but it’s proving to be a little rough. Anyway, the book were reading this month was I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim.

A quick synopsis of the story is that the unnamed narrator helps people through the process of suicide. Now, he doesn’t actually assist in the act itself he just gives them pointers on how to do it and what the best way may be for each of his clients. This story is about one particular client he had.

I will admit that after reading the back of the book I thought it would a fantastic book. And when I selected this book I was keen to read more Korean literature and this looked like the best way to achieve this goal. Even when I read the introductory chapter “The Death of Marat” I was loving the book. I think it was the whole concept that drew me to the book. But beyond that there was very little I enjoyed about the book.

In-order for the book to seem more realistic the novel was written to “hide the identity” of some of the characters that are still alive. This ended up making the novel confusing at time. There were many aspects of the novel that I just didn’t enjoy. Beyond the beginning of the book there was little to enjoy. The only parts of the novel that I found interesting were when the narrator talked about various places in Seoul and the Republic of Korea. I knew many of the places that he was talking about and so it helped to bring me into the story.

I could also relate to the speed of the taxi drivers. There were many experiences in taxis that were terrifying, and sometimes life threating. One such story invloved being in a taxi going going over 100 in a busy part of Daejeon then he turned to me (I was in the back seat) and started clapping his hands and saying over and over “Taxi race, taxi fast!” I didn’t think I was going to make it to my final destination.

Kim’s book isn’t one that I would recommend to others to read. It was alright but not very memorable or exciting. Only those who have been to Korea would find this story interesting. Only the parts I could relate to did I find interesting. So, not knowing anything about the country would make enjoying the book rather difficult.

Our next, as mentioned my last post will be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I still welcome anyone interested in joining Bookin’ Around to participate in the group here or find Bookin’ Around on Facebook.

Bookin’ Around

Recently I’ve created a page for the book club that I created on Facebook, thus bringing it That’s the Book! I’ve brought it here to encourage readers of That’s the Book! to join Bookin’ Around and get more discussion. I know not everyone here is on Facebook so I wanted to bring a forum on to here so that those of you not on that social networking site to participate.

With that said and done I’m writing this post to let you know that the book for June will be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I know some of you are planning on reading this for challenges so here’s yet another reason to read the book. I hope some of you are keen on participating in Bookin’ Around and will be back (either here or on Facebook) to leave your comments on the book. And remember there will be link to your site if you review the book when I post my review and will be posted for a months time on the Bookin’ Around page.

Until then happy reading.

Stratford There’s More Than Shakespeare

I’ve been back in Stratford for a little over two weeks now and I’ve started to fully immerse myself in everything that is Stratford. When people come to Stratford they usually come for the superb theatre that is available here. With four stages and 16 shows to choose from there is something on these stages for everyone. With tonight being the big opening the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is on many minds today. I’ve even attended a preview for Cabaret about a week ago, this is also my first performance here since Richard Monette left the post of Artistic Director. Break a leg the cast and crew of all the shows opening this week at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. But there is so much more to Stratford than the Festival.

Stratford has many bookstores, both new and used, that anyone visiting should stop by before they leave this city. Of these stores two in particular are worthy of your patronage. The unfortunate side to both of these stores is that neither one has a website but that shouldn’t stop you from stopping by and picking up a few books. Last week I visited both these stores and picked up a few books while there.

The Book Vault is a store that deals with new books and has a large selection of comic books and graphic novels. The store also has a wide selection of novels and non-fiction. There are several aspects of this store that make it better than great; they will order any book for you, there is a huge selection sale books to chose from, and best of all they sell their books in Canadian currency at the American prices. The books are well organized making it very easy to find the book you may or, in many of our cases, ones you weren’t necessarily looking for. The staff is very friendly and always willing to help in your search. The Book Vault is the place to go for your search of new books.

When on the hunt for used books you must be sure to go to 351 Ontario St., just past downtown. The house that has been converted into the best used book store in town! Yesterday’s Things and Books is the used book store that made me fall in love with books and where my thrill of finding the perfect book started. The moment you walk in the door your confronted by a large fiction section as well as the largest selection of plays I’ve seen in any bookstore (new or used). They even have an area for books, plays and other theatre paraphernalia relating to the Festival season. The books are also organized by genre and author making it easy to find your books. There is also a room dedicated to books for children and young adults. It’s difficult to leave the store without a book or two in hand. The prices for the books can be found on the inside cover and they are reasonable. If you’re looking for antiques you can find a few at Yesterday’s Things and Books too.

So, be sure to check out those bookstores and some of the other shops available in Stratford. Be sure to head to Family and Company, the worlds best toy store and be sure to have them wrap your purchases. At Family and Company you get some great games and toys you wont be able to find at many traditional toystors.

Once you’ve finished your shopping take your books and get a sandwich (the best sandwiches ever) at York Street Kitchen. Then take your lunch and books to the Avon River find a park bench, if you don’t have a blanket, on Tom Paterson Island and enjoy your books and lunch. That’s what I’ll be doing once the rain stops and we have another beautiful day.

Weekly Geeks #5 – I’ve Got a Story

This week we are to write about a different form of story telling for Weekly Geeks. When I first thought about it I thought this is going to be very difficult but then I remember my favorite form of story telling. Now that I’m back in Canada and more specifically in Stratford I can enjoy this other mode of story telling more than I could in Korea.

Theatre has always been a form of story telling that I love.  This is one mode of telling a tale that can be done using various genres.  Why since being home I’ve already watched my first show at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Cabaret.  The show was fantastic and I would place it in the top three shows of all time.  As with Cabaret you can watch musicals, many of which are now being adopted to the silver screen, but there are also drama, comedy, and mystery.  Not only are these separate genres but they are also sub-genres for the musical and non-musical types.

I could go on and on about theatre and how fantastic it is, I’ve been involved in theatre in many ways and have watched many shows.  But I don’t think I’ll go into all of them.  But I’ll give you a list of some of my all time favorites:

  • Anything by William Shakespeare
  • Cabaret book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander
  • Man of La Mancha book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh
  • Proof by David Auburn
  • Les Belle Soeurs by Michel Tremblay
  • Equus by Peter Shaffer

I’m sure many of you have seen a show or two that you’ve enjoyed.  What are some of your favorites?

Booking Through Thursday #11 – Books and Movies

Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

Superfastreader suggested this one, and I must say really like the question. The short answer is, yes I do look for something different when I’m reading verses when I watch a film (even if the material is the same – book adaptation). And now for the longer answer.

I enjoy movies almost as much, maybe a little more, than I like books but each medium has something different to offer the public. Sadly movies have a larger audience than any book has which is a huge comment on our society. The comment becomes even greater when we realize that many of the largest grossing films, and in fact many of the films in general, are based on previously written material. Look at the three largest series that have made their way to blockbuster fame; Lord of the Rings, Narnia (the new kid on the block), and finally the one that keeps blowing everyone out of the water Harry Potter.

Now, I don’t want to rag on these films because these three in particular have helped to bring reading back in style. Because of their success, or in the case of Potter, books are again becoming a popular form of entertainment. So, I think it begs to the question why do we want to see on film the books we have read or vise versa?

For me there are several reasons I like movies. First movies was over me more than a book. When I read a book I am an active participant in the novel, and sometimes feel as thought I’m a character of the novel. The novel absorbs me, it transports me into a new realm and I experience that realm using many of my senses. In the film version of any book I tend to only use sight and I don’t recall the events as well than when I’ve read the book.

I also want to see the vision of a book that others have. Unfortunately, if it’s not the same as my vision of the book they have failed miserably (hahaha). This is where dialogue often comes into a filmed version. Comments like, “That wasn’t in the book” or “that’s not the way I pictured” him become regular fair after watching a movie adaptation of a book.

But this question doesn’t deal specifically with adaptations, rather it’s a question of general book reading and movie viewing. So here is what I look for in a book versus what I look for in a movie. A book must grab me from the very beginning for me to be truly interested. It must involve me, I haven’t encountered this is a long time but I recall reading some books that just didn’t spark dialogue or thought at all and that is a huge turn off when it comes to reading. Books must also involve all my senses, the writer must make me smell the world I’m in and hear the ambient sounds, I want to touch and interact with the world in which I’m reading. A book for me is very interactive and sensual, it is active.

Movies on the other hand are images that fly across the screen and it’s momentary. Too often I watch a movie and don’t recall it like I do a novel I’ve read. Movies are passive, I don’t interact and participate with a movie as much as I book. I like to find movies that spark some kind of dialogue about a social issue but there really aren’t as many of those out there as I’d like. As a result movies become a form of entertainment used to merely pass the time. I don’t need to be drawn in as much as I do a book because once I sit down to watch a film I’m not likely to turn it off unless the story is horrendous or the acting is well below par.

It’s really difficult to pin point what it is I love about books and movies. I think both have a lot to offer and I love both. One just seems to be more active than the other. Both are important for a society, and the only thing that is better than both books and movies is live theatre.

Happy Thursday everyone!

The Canadian Book Challenge – Newfoundland

This will be my last post for this first Canadian Book Challenge, I’m a little disappointed because I didn’t all thirteen books read for the challenge. I know this disappointment is irrational since I started this challenge rather late (January 27th) and this is book number eight that I’ve read for the challenge and I know I’m not going to get any others read for this challenge. I’m glad I got as much done as I did I just wish I could have finished the challenge. I still plan to read these books at some point, I actually think I’ll be moving the Anne of Green Gables book to the Classics Challenge. Some of these unfinished books may make it onto my list for the second round of the Canadian Book Challenge, but we’ll see how I decide to approach the second round of the challenge.

Anyway with that all out of the way I’ll now tell you about the book I read for Newfoundland. Nagerira by Paul Butler was a book that I stumbled upon at What the Book?, I didn’t think I would find a book from this particular province. I was even more surprised that this was a signed copy of the book, I’m a sucker for signed copies. After reading the back of the book I was drawn to the book and looked forward to reading Nigeria.

This book ended up starting out really good, I enjoyed the beginning of the book and I should say that I enjoyed more than the beginning of the book. There was one issue that I had with the book that almost made me put the book down but I pushed through it.

Paul Buttler’s novel is two stories in one, the stories converge in the novel right from the first page. The story is of Sheila, a hag that lives in the woods on the outskirts of a village in the new world. He life is in extreme turmoil again. The other story is of a young Sheila, the struggle she had to overcome after her mother remarried. The stories have an element of mystery and the supernatural. This isn’t the type of story that I typically read but I thought I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did, even thought it’s not a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The part of the story I had troubles enjoying was the part when Sheila was put in prison by her mother and step-father because she had an “imaginary friend” that was a spirit that dwelt in the woods. Now that may not sound like something to be so worked up about but that’s not really what bothered me. What really bothered me was the companion that Sheila had to spend time with in prison. The prisoner wasn’t a hardened criminal or anything like that. Her companion was thrown in prison because of his writing. First issue was that a child was put into a room and locked in there with a grown man. The second point I took issue with was that the man she had to be imprisoned with was a little know man Bill Shakespeare. Now if I was to be thrown in prison I would love to spend my time with someone like Shakespeare but the he never spent time in prison (to my knowledge) and when dealing with a historical figure I think that you shouldn’t alter history just to make a story interesting.

This idea of playing with historical figures in writing has probably been debated time and time again and I don’t want to get into it too much. I enjoy historical fiction, my favorite book of all time is Ragtime and I’m sure everything in there didn’t actually happen but there was something about that book that I really loved. I think the big difference between the two books is that the historical figures are present from the beginning of the book in Ragtime but shows up close to the end in Nageira. It’s a matter of sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.

I’m glad that I participated in this challenge and read some books that I wouldn’t have normally read. It’s got me really excited to participate in the second challenge. I’ll have more time so that I can read all the books for the challenge again. I adore Canadian literature and I look forward to reading more for The Canadian Book Challenge 2.

Weekly Geeks #4 – Blogging with a Purpose

I’m here complaining again that I’m in a reading slump and so have very little to blog about. I do have some books I haven’t blogged about yet so I guess that’s something I really need to work on. But now it’s time for Weekly Geeks, and I must say that I love theme for this week.

I am finding it difficult to select what cause to write about for Weekly Geeks . There are so many causes that are worthy of discussion and many that I feel are very important. I just needed to select the one that would be right for this week. While trying to think of which topic to write about I kept coming to issues that are prominent on the continent that should maybe called the forgotten continent because there are many issues there that just aren’t being dealt with, or if they are being addressed it’s not enough. I’m talking about Africa, and it makes me very sad that people are continually fighting for these people but all too often our governments do nothing or too little.

Before I came to wordpress I wrote about Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis. Lewis is a Canadian that has been fighting for assistance for people in Africa living with HIV/AIDS. He did this as the UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa which he is no longer head of, but I hope he continues to be a voice for those people, all to often they are children. If you’re interested in reading that previous post you can read that here. There is so much that I’d like to say about Lewis but will let the older post do that for me now.

I will admit that I haven’t read many books dealing with the subject matter, it’s actually only Race Against Time that I’ve read. But I see that Chapters.ca has many other books that I will be looking into and hope that you would be interested in checking out too.

28 Stories of Aids in Africa is the first book that jumped out to me while doing some research on which books would be great for this project. Stephanie Nolen has written a book that explores the lives of people that have been effected by this horrible disease. 28 may seem like an unusual number but the number is very significant in that 28 is the number of millions of people that are living with Aids in Africa. That’s a staggering number and it’s a number that doesn’t need to be that high.

Helen Epstein writes about her experience with people living with HIV/Aids in her book The Invisible Cure. In her book Epstein explores the various hurtles that need to be overcome in order for this epidemic to be defeated. Through her time in Uganda Epstein has come up with a possible solution to the problems, her solution requires a village to work on the problem. This is one book that I’d love to read as it seems to have some practical solutions that don’t require the cash and governments that have continued to fail these people.

Sizwe’s Test: A Young Man’s Journey Through Africa’s AIDS Epidemic is an individuals experience living in a place war is prevalent in his daily life, and the war is the war with AIDS. This is a war that I believe is worse than any other war that is happening in the world right now. It’s a war that is leaving a generation that has to grow up with the disease and they have to do it on their own. Too often families are being raised by 12 year old or children even younger. Sizwe’s story looks like a story that shows that there is hope in Africa, a story that appears to present a side Africa that we don’t hear. That side is there is a possible way to bring a better to life to people living with Aids. Johnny Steinberg is the author of Sizwe’s Test.

This is what Chapters has to say about the next book:

Never Give Up puts the AIDS pandemic into cultural context, raising questions about international health issues, cross-cultural experiences, racism, and homophobia. In his role as executive director of Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that provides meals and related services to people with HIV/AIDS, Kevin Winge shares his firsthand knowledge of the realities and challenges facing people living with the disease. While earning his master”s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Winge traveled to the townships outside of Cape Town, South Africa, where he lived and worked with AIDS workers for six months. He chronicled his daily activities by telling stories about the people he came in contact with, accounts that are included here. Emotional and highly personal, the lives and conditions depicted in Never Give Up are a strong call to action for all of us to respond to this devastating disease with compassion and determination.

There are so many other books that I could talk about, but I think I need to stop. I hope that these titles give you some ideas and bring the dilemma to fore. I get too worked up talking about this subject and need to leave it at that right now. I’ll be sure to get some of these titles because I need to be more informed on the subject.

Booking Through Thursday #10 – Manual Labour Redux

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of the week again.  I’m beginning to feel bad that I’m not getting all the reading done these days that I want to so my blog is filling up with memes and other type things.  I’ll get back into it once I’m fully settled in the new surroundings.  I’ve been working a couple of books for quite sometime and I would just like to get them done.  That’s not to say I’m not enjoying them because I am it’s just that it feels like it’s taking forever to finish.  Part of that is because both Oil! and The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear are both over the 500 page mark.  I hope to finish at least one by this time next week.  And I have one review in the works.  It’ll get posted today or tomorrow so be sure to keep your eye open for that.

And now for something completely different…

Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?

Do you ever read manuals?

How-to books?

Self-help guides?

Anything at all?

When it comes to manuals and the such I don’t take much time looking at them.  I have a tendency to play with my new gadgets to learn how they work.  Only if I’m frustrated, and that will often take a number of days, will I see what the manual has to say.  I do this because I know I’m more likely to remember how each feature works by find it out myself, if I consult the manual I find I must do this for quite a number of times before I remember how to do it with the aid of the manual.

When it comes to how-to guides I never even look at them.  I tend to associate how-to guides with doing repairs and other “mechanical type” endeavours.  I know that’s not the only kind of how-to there are but that’s what often comes to mind when I hear those words.  Given that I’m not a handy guy, if you want something in need of more repairs than when I started.  I just don’t have the skills to do repairs.  So, I tend to leave those books on the shelves.

I did go through a big self-help phase.  But I’m not sure you’d classify what I was reading as self help though, but I would consider them self-help.  I live with depression daily and there was a time in my life when it got really bad and I needed to be medicated for the problem.  At this time in my life I went out and got all the books I could on the issue in hopes to find different ways to deal with the problem.  I’m not a huge fan of being medicated but I realized at the time it was needed.  I still have a few of these books that I haven’t read but would like to.  And I probably should read them before I’m in that place again.  Aside from this time I really haven’t had much to do with self-help.

I’m interested to see what others have had to say about this.  So, off I go to read you have had to say on the topic at hand.

I’ve Been Tagged Again! – Blogging Tips Meme

Melody from Melody’s Reading Corner has tagged me to do the Blogging Tips Meme.  I don’t typically talk about anything non-book related on here but I thought this might be of some interest to anyone that comes here as most visitors have their own blog.  The more information we can get about blogs and blogging can be helpful.  On the flip side of this I really don’t know much about blogging or points of interest for anyone that does blogging or is looking for some pointers.  I’ll try as best as I can to give a few points about blogging, and I’ll use this as a platform to discuss what I’ve learned since I started blogging.

  1. Selecting a Host: This is one mistake that I made when I started this blogging exercise.  I was really excited to get into the whole blog thing that I didn’t do my research before starting.  There are so many different blog hosts out there on the internet that it can be very overwhelming when it comes down to selecting the host that works best for you.  I started at one site but it just wasn’t able to do all that I wanted it to so I switched to wordpress.  I’m so glad that I did because I can do so much more here than I was able to do at my old site.
  2. Respond to Comments: There are few things that irritate me more than leaving a comment on a persons blog and not getting a response.  It doesn’t matter how you respond to you a comment, and in fact there are a few ways you can, just please respond.  You can respond via email or leave a comment within the comment section.  Whichever you chose to do be consistent with what you do and let your readers know how you will respond to comments (probably in your about section).  When I leave a comment I always go back to the post to see if there has been a response and if they don’t it tends to take a longer than usual time before I’ll leave a comment again.  I used to not comment on my blog and I felt that I was losing contact with my readers.  It doesn’t take long to post a response and it’s just courteous to reply to those people that take the time to respond to your post.
  3. Why Post like That?: I don’t understand why some people take the time to post that they are behind on their blogging rather than post one of the many blog ideas you have stored in your memory bank.  It doesn’t make sense to me to do that when you have other things, that are probably of greater interest than telling us you are behind.
  4. Keep it Personal: I find the most interesting posts are the ones that the writer reveals something about themselves.  It’s important to keep the blog specific but if you relate something personal within the post I find it a better read.

I’m not going to tag anyone, rather I’ll leave it up to anyone that reads this to post their own tips if they feel so inclined.  It doesn’t hurt to know more about how you can go about improving your blog.  I’ll thank everyone in advance for posting their tips.  And if you do posts some tips please leave your link in the comments section.