Reading: Study or Passion? Bloggers’ Book Suggestions

Books_from_18th_century1I am a big reader. In fact, I love reading so much that I make it my profession. I get to read, translate, summarize and write about texts from different languages and different eras in history.  However, I realize that not everyone is this lucky and I imagine some people would read that last sentence, roll their eyes and mutter “geek”.

I will spare you the usual spiel of “reading is fun” and “everyone needs to read” and give you a real-life example. When I was dating, nothing was a bigger deal-breaker for me than my date’s shrug and admission that “I don’t read”, because for me it’s more than running your eyes through some words in a book – it’s about imagination and finding information. “I don’t read” often translates to “I don’t imagine” which leads to “I don’t care”. ” I don’t read” also translates to “I don’t find out” and always leads to “I don’t care”. The books you read reflect your passion and passion makes you attractive. Passion makes you a leader and, if you want to be, passion makes you an expert.

booksTherefore, I want to change this conversation of “I don’t read” and “we’ve had enough of experts” and try to find practical ways to reintroduce the joy of reading. I am taking a break from my research on goddesses to have a little chat with a few bloggers about reading. Thank you Minuca Elena, Natacho Venegas and KatQ for their time and contribution to this project.

Q. What is your favorite genre of books and why?

A. Minuca Elena (Minuca creates awesome influencer roundups that provide quality content, brings huge traffic, and helps bloggers connect with influencers.)

I love reading a lot. My favorite types of books are:

– detective books (start with Sherlock Holmes and Arsène Lupin series written by Maurice Leblanc)

– science-fiction books (Ender’s Game and all prequels and sequels are amazing. Orson Scott Card did an amazing job with this series)

– self-development books (read anything written by Brian Tracy). I also like reading about how to read body language.

A. Natacho Venegas (Beginner in blogging)

Personally I prefer fantasy books. They make you forget about the routine world around you and bring you to another world, where everything can be possible. Magical worlds, magic around and in you, different creatures and miracles… What can be more appealing for modern “technologized” people? It also expands your imagination and makes you feel a little less bored of the pragmatism in nowadays’ life.

A. KatQ

I love crime novels. I find them really immersive. I actually don’t like watching crime related TV shows. My memory is shocking so I always get confused when watching it on the TV. In a book though I can flick through and remind myself where I am in the story before I keep reading. I also love reading when I’m travelling. It’s a great way to get a bit of escapism on a long journey.

Q. Why do you like to read – specifically, how does reading help you personally?

A. Minuca Elena (Minuca creates awesome influencer roundups that provide quality content, brings huge traffic, and helps bloggers connect with influencers.)

I started reading a lot since I was a kid. You can learn a lot of things from books. You can learn about different cultures (the habits and beliefs from other countries in different historical periods), develop your imagination and improve your vocabulary. If you like reading self-development books, you will feel motivated and inspired to set new goals and fight to achieve them.

A. Natacho Venegas (Beginner in blogging)

I believe that reading makes you more intelligent. Smarter, or more clever,  I believe. Even if you read not scientific books, but some fiction – you still get your vocabulary expanded, as well as some understanding of how the language works. how sentences are built and yes, some new facts. I’m not reading very “smart” books, but still I’m growing personally. Can’t imagine my life without books. And wish for everybody to discover the world of literature.

A. KatQ

My favorite crime author is Karin Slaughter, she’s great at writing really tense stuff. I also love Kathy Reichs. She wrote the book series that inspired ‘Bones’. Kathy Reichs is also a forensic psychiatrist, so her books tend to be really accurate. I find forensics fascinating so I get a good dose of it in her books.

As a writer reading helps me in many ways. It helps improve my grammar and my vocabulary. It gives me ideas about unusual sentence structures. I can see how the authors build suspense in their books and can then replicate that in my own writing. I find there’s nothing like a good book for helping me improve my writing.

Q. If you can recommend a book right now for a person who says “I’m not a big reader” what would it be?

A. Minuca Elena (Minuca creates awesome influencer roundups that provide quality content, brings huge traffic, and helps bloggers connect with influencers.)

It depends very much on the type of person you are. I think that “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement” by Brian Tracy is a great book that most people will find helpful no matter their social status or age.

A. Natacho Venegas (Beginner in blogging)

For the beginners it should be some easy-reading, though interesting, book. I’d say – not too big, with loads of dialogues and action. There is an awesome collection of short stories written by Ted Chiang, named Stories of Your Life and Others. It will make you think of things you couldn’t even imagine.

A. KatQ

I would recommend a short book!

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It’s a story every single person in the world should read. It’s a short book, I read it in one sitting on a trip to Africa a few years ago. The book is life changing. So if someone told me they weren’t a big reader and I had one shot to get them reading this would be the book.

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Me and History (Part 2) – Phil Turner: History is All Around Me

I am very happy to be able to get writers and bloggers, David Leonhardt and Phil Turner‘s, contribution for “Me and History” – They both talk about the light and dark sides of history, both of  referencing things that we see and experience every day which I have never fully appreciated before.

After last week’s discussion on how even weather has its own history, Phil Turner tells me about his own experience with history as a Briton living in Ireland, as well as the historical figures he admires.

Q. If I say the word “History”, what would come immediately to your mind?

A. Phil Turner (The 5 Currencies Guy)

I live in Ireland, where History is all around me in the form of broken down cottages whose owners were forced to emigrate and leave their homes behind. These cottages are now owner-less; nobody can improve them or knock them down.

It is the 100th anniversary of the failed 1916 Easter Rising this year, and you would think it had succeeded with all the hullabaloo about it.

The Irish tricolour brings back the history of the foundation of the Irish Republic – No blue or red of the British flag, orange and green to represent Protestants and Catholics united under one flag.

The political parties here in Ireland date back to the civil war of the 1920s when one party wanted to compromise with the British and the other wanted to hold out for a total victory. Sinn Fein is a recent addition to the political scene and has its power roots in Northern Ireland. The political agenda in Ireland has changed in the last 20 years and few people now want unification with Northern Ireland.

The drive for unification comes from some of the Northern Ireland political parties, but I suspect they are out of touch with their voters because I doubt if any sane voter in Northern Ireland would give up free health care and education for the mess that the Republic’s health and education systems are today.

Q. What is your favorite era to learn/read/find out more about in history? Can you tell my why that is?

A. Phil Turner (The 5 Currencies Guy)

My favourite era of history is the early 20th Century. There was a lot happening worldwide and in Britain and Ireland at that time.

As a Briton living in England, I was not taught anything of the British atrocities in Ireland. This part of history has been removed from the school curriculum until students specialise after age 16. Perhaps it is guilt that has made politicians of all parties adopt this policy of maintaining ignorance in the British population of the monstrosities that were carried out on their behalf. The ignorance even extends to the name of the Irish Republic, with many Britons calling it Southern Ireland, which existed in the late 1920s, but not since.

This period also includes the horrors of World War 1, where entire generations of men and boys from various towns were wiped out by the stupidity and bloody-mindedness of generals and politicians.  Thankfully even Hollywood has been unable to glorify the slaughter of 1914- 1918.

Irish men were encouraged to sign up for the British army and most never returned. A cynic would say they were encouraged in order to remove men of fighting-age from the Irish population, so the rest of the people would be more easily kept under the British thumb.

Q. Who is your favorite person from history? Can you tell me why?

A. Phil Turner (The 5 Currencies Guy)

Martin Luther King Junior is my favourite person from history.

He was one of the bravest people who ever lived and he began the changes in inter-racial attitudes that are still so poor in America.

I find his speeches to be some of the most powerful in terms of the message he was putting across as well as the motions he stirred. His body language while speaking is still a marvelous example of how one man can get his message across to a crowd of thousands. Check out his hand gestures and the crowd-dominating thumbs up gesture is there and plain to see.

It is amazing that his speeches are still quoted today, so many years later and that even foreigners like myself would recognise him in the street.

MLK ranks with Gandhi in my mind as someone who preached peaceful resistance to unreasonable laws. I have little respect for most politicians and leaders, but Martin Luther King Junior was an amazing man, a man out of his time and one whose message has outlived him.

That Martin Luthor King Junior was assassinated by a white man with a rifle reminds us that America’s gun laws have always been crazy.

Martini

 

 

 

 

 

Me and History (Part 1) – David Leonhardt: Only Storytellers Should Teach History

Some time ago,  I conducted a group interview on how to make history interesting to learn . The interview was  very well received, and I personally learned a great deal. I therefore decided to expand my questions and give these creative, thoughtful experts a room to do what they do best: think, consider and write.

The first expert is David Leonhardt, an author and blogger, sharing with me his thoughts of history, especially how it impacts his work.

Q. If I say the word “history”, what would come immediately to your mind?

A. David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)

When I hear the word “history” I think of storytelling.  In fact, that’s what the word means.  Go back a couple centuries, and nobody was using the modern truncated “story” form of the word.

I am a storyteller.  When I blog, I am almost always recounting some story, rather than just listing the steps to follow to get some task done.  So I am a big fan of history.

I recently ghostwrote a non-fiction novel.  It’s not history in the sense that most people would think of it, but it was a series of events that happened, and that is history.  I blogged about the research tools I used to bring the story to life. One of those tools is Weather Underground’s weather hindcast tool. It is aptly named “Historical Weather”.

Weather has its own history, and it has played an immensely powerful role in human history.  It has been the decisive factor in many battles.  It has been the cause of the rise and fall of agriculture-based empires.  It has served as a portent to many decision-makers.

In the book I wrote, I used weather history to set the mood.

When the weather was dim and overcast, it set a sombre tone to the story.

When clouds kept the stars out of site, it helped confirm the hopelessness the protagonist felt.

When things were looking bleak, the sunny day was…not mentioned.  No, a good storyteller doesn’t tell the whole story.  I used historical weather only when it confirmed the emotions and the mood of the human history.  I left it out when it would have spoiled the mood. Weather as a metaphor for mood.

In that same novel, I included well-known historical events as points of reference for the readers. For example, including Hurricane Katrina and the attack on the Twin Towers gave readers a sense that this story is real, that it fits into history as they know it.  There are plenty of dates in the novel, but people remember the stories better than the dates.

What people seem to dislike most about history is remembering dates. Dates are only numerical markers of a timeline of events.  They are important for comparing multiple events, what happened first, what happened last.  But all those numbers spoil a good story.

Imagine Lord of the Rings full of dates.

Imagine The Firm full of dates.

Imagine 1984 full of dates.  OK, bad example.

History teachers are too often guilty of bogging down the story with dates.  Only storytellers should teach history.  The dates should be used only as a teaching aid, not as something to memorize.

NEXT WEEK: Me and History (Part 2) – Phil Turner: I Live in Ireland, where History is All Around Me

Martini