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Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

This past year, I’ve reviewed only three books. There are a couple of reasons for that.

The primary reason is that I’ve been reading a lot more news these days. Current events (and my often visceral reaction to them) have been consuming a great deal of my available attention. A secondary reason is that another main chunk of my reading time has been devoted to research—online and offline—for my work-in-progress, and while some of these research works are very good, they’re not titles that most (or any) of you would find interesting.

Through this, however, I felt the lack of fiction, not only as a needed escape from the real world, but also as part of my education and development as a writer.

With this in mind, last month I decided to devote time to fiction (the first of which resulted in this), and I’ve been continuing that trend by reading Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep.

But this isn’t about that; this is about reading. (more…)

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Stack of BooksAutumn arrived in Seattle a few days ahead of schedule. This weekend, a low-pressure system cruised in with gusts that rattled the windows and whistled through the trees. Standing at the window, watching the maples dance, I thought to myself, “It’s a blustery day.”

Blustery.

The word brought back a memory of the first time I encountered it. I was a child, reading a Winnie-the-Pooh book — The House at Pooh Corner — when I came across the word describing a very fine “Winds-day.” It was the perfect word, filled with plosives and sibilants, and from that moment on, Milne’s word was my word, too.

Now, fifty years later, standing at my window, I remembered that word, that book, and that moment, and it all got me wondering: Decades of reading has increased my vocabulary, no doubt about it, but are there other words I got from specific books?

I pondered it for a few days and found other words I got from specific books. (more…)

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Stack of Books

You know I like books. I mean books, real books, those things made of paper and ink. A well-made book is a treasure, not to mention a marvel of low-level technology and, while I have an e-reader, read the occasional novel on my e-reader, and while I was one of the earliest adopters of the technology (I owned a first-generation REB1000, back in the ’90s), I do not like them.

I like books.

I like the heft, the feel, the fixity of the thing. I cannot turn it off. I cannot download it. I cannot erase it.

A book is a quiet, confident thing. It does not shout or wheedle. It rests, waits, and says, “Read me, or read me not; your choice.” It simply is.

I like reading from a physical book more than reading off my Kindle. When I read from a book I get more involved, I experience a greater immersion in the words and the story.

And I am not alone. Science, it turns out, is right there with me.

(more…)

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Lippincott Editions of Furness’ Variorum

Claire Bloom once told me that if I was serious about Shakespeare and acting, I must read the Shakespearean variorum. Through the variorum, she said, I could delve into the language and gain better understanding of its history and deeper meaning.

I took this advice to heart, despite the fact that I’m not an actor.

And the fact that I didn’t know what a variorum was.

And the fact that she wasn’t actually talking to me, specifically.

Yes, on rare occasions I take things celebrities say rather more personally than they were intended, such as when Sir John Gielgud gave me advice on friendship. To put your mind at ease, when I do this, I do it in a completely non-“I see you when you’re not looking,” non-“unbalanced creepy stalker” type way.

Honest.

Trust me.

Anyway… Once Ms Bloom told me this, I immediately went in search of a “variorum,” whatever it was. (more…)

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It’s happened to us all. That moment when a word–a perfectly innocuous, everyday word–suddenly looks weird.

It happened to me the other day. The word was “dirt.” I wrote it down and suddenly it looked misspelled. I stared at it. I tried “durt,” but that was even worse. Dirt. Dirt.

Dirt.

Oddly, when I wrote “dirty,” that looked okay, but “dirt” still looked…wrong. Truncated. Too tall. Too narrow.

Last year, I had a similar episode with the word “schedule.” We haven’t gotten along, since.

Thankfully, these episodes are transitory. Eventually, usually within an hour, the word loses its alien quality and becomes once more a regular, banal word from my daily lexicon.

Except, that is, for the “odd ducks.” (more…)

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