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Olivia Newton-John opens up about Hollywood romance with bad-boy legend

<p>Olivia Newton-John has opened up about her life in a tel all memoir called <em>Don’t Stop Believin’</em>, which was released on Tuesday.</p> <p>The 70-year-old, who shot to fame and stardom after her role of Sandy in the 1978 film <em>Grease</em>, has detailed her heartbreaking losses and struggles, romances and everything in between.</p> <p>In what should have been the happiest time in her life instead was filled with heartbreak and sorrow as she suffered her first miscarriage shortly before she was married to Matt Lattanzi in 1982.</p> <p>The singer and actress has detailed her romantic and steamy love affairs throughout her life, and this includes a mysterious Hollywood legend.</p> <p>Although Newton-John refuses to put a name and face to the secretive romance she shared with a “Hollywood bad-boy legend with a long list of girlfriends,” she did drop a few massive hints.</p> <p>She recounts she met the actor in a coffee shop and when asked out, point-blank refused.</p> <p>The reason? He was dating her friend Susan George, an English actress, film producer and Arabian horse breeder.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7824822/untitled-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a6b21981385f40d3ae6215ad32276d9f" /></p> <p>At the time, Olivia was staying with Susan and her sister, Rona, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel when the ‘bad boy’ called up to speak with Susan who was not in the room.</p> <p>Susan had her share of celebrity boyfriends including Andy Gibb, Rod Stewart and Peter Sellers.</p> <p>But when he asked Newton-John out again, she said yes. </p> <p>“He was my first major movie star encounter! His name? I'll never tell,” she wrote in <em>Don’t Stop Believin’</em>.</p> <p>Growing up in Australia after moving from Cambridge, England in the 1950s, the actress loved hiding in the alcove of her childhood home as a little girl and adored watching her parents leave for evening events with glamorous friends.</p> <p>Luckily for her, there were nights she would be allowed to travel downstairs amongst her parents and their socialite friends, writing she would rush to light their cigarettes for them.</p> <p>“I liked the smell of the sulphur of the match and the burning tobacco and paper,” she explained.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7824819/gettyimages-106847776.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ae4fac6888454a689fe59af5a91b2a09" /></p> <p>“I must have associated comfort with smoke, although now I know cigarettes and second-hand smoke are toxic for your health.”</p> <p>When she was just nine years old, a younger Newton-John was offered a whole pack of cigarettes by her mother.</p> <p>“[I] thought this was a splendid idea. I sparked up a cigarette.”</p> <p>Her adverse reaction to the tobacco had left her swearing off it for the rest of her life after taking a deep breath per her mother’s suggestion – only to end up in a violent coughing fit.</p> <p>“I can still remember my father's smoke lingering on the sleeves of my pink cotton PJs. I'd go to sleep smelling him with my nose pressed to my pyjama sleeve,” she wrote.</p> <p>Her father’s death in 1992 from liver cancer should have sent Olivia into a downward spiral –however, she flourished.</p> <p>“Honestly, I had thought that I would retire, that it was the end of my career, but music kept appearing to me in my head and in my heart,” the 70-year-old explained.</p> <p>“I didn't retreat from my career but rather I went through the fire and reinvented it.”</p> <p>The <em>Grease</em> star also recounted her struggles with the first bout of cancer that was devastatingly realised on the weekend her father passed.</p> <p>This was also a time when her first marriage with Lattanzi began to break down and recalls a specific instance where her doctor had asked her an uneasy question regarding troubles with a man due to some people believing “cancer in the right breast corresponds to a male figure".</p> <p><span>Despite the rollercoaster year that overwhelmed her in 1995, the actress found love again in her second husband, John Easterling, who she met while walking the Great Wall of China.</span></p> <p>“True love found me when I wasn't looking,” she wrote.</p> <p>The couple married in 2008.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7824824/onj.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b0fb4feec170469b9120ff08c09da3e7" /><em>Olivia and her husband, John. Image: Instagram @therealonj</em></p> <p>Despite the crazy love life in her younger years that saw rumours swirling around that she was romantically linked to Hollywood giants, including Dustin Hoffman, Roger Moore and John Travolta, Newton-John says she laughs at it all now.</p> <p>Even the “rumours that I was a lesbian, even though I had been married or had a boyfriend through most of my career".</p> <p>Newtown-John and Easterling currently live in a ranch in Southern California.</p> <p>Swipe through the gallery to see Olivia Newton John through the years.</p> <p>Are you interested to read Olivia Newton-John's new tell-all memoir,<span> </span><em>Don't Stop Believin'</em>? Tell us in the comments below.  </p>

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Surprising new detail: Was Princess Diana pregnant when she passed away?

<p>Many conspiracy theories surrounding the night Diana, Princess of Wales, died have swirled around as the world wonders what happened that fateful night.</p> <p>It was on August 31, 1997 when Diana, her companion Dodi Al-Fayed and their driver Henri Paul passed away in a car crash. The bodyguard to the princess Trevor Rees-Jones also suffered from several injuries.</p> <p>However, there is speculation the three victims were not the only ones who died in the tunnel that night.</p> <p>One of the big questions that continues to linger is whether Diana was in fact pregnant.</p> <p>Weeks before the fatal accident, tabloids speculated the Princess might be with child, a notion supported by the fact she had allegedly told friends she was to reveal a “big surprise".</p> <p>In 2003, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/diana-was-pregnant-at-time-of-her-death-says-top-policeman-83549.html"><em>The Independent</em></a> reported there was a covering up of a pregnancy the night Diana died, so as to avoid embarrassment for her family.</p> <p>The insider, a “top French policeman,” stated documents confirming the pregnancy were kept hidden away from the public and the media.</p> <p>The conspiracy theory surrounding the alleged pregnancy is supported by the belief that the fact the future King of England, Prince William, might have a Muslim half-sibling would have been deeply unacceptable to the British establishment, who then went to extreme measures to keep this information from coming to light.</p> <p>This theory is supported by Dodi’s father, billionaire and former owner of Harrods, Mohamad Al-Fayed who believed her “pregnancy” was a key reason behind the sinister circumstances his son, the Princess and their driver faced that night.</p> <p>However, both French and English inquests looking into the Princess of Wales’ death supported the notion that the accident was caused by Henri Paul who was speeding under the influence, while attempting to evade paparazzi that night.</p> <p> A new book by Professor Angela Gallop, who is one of the UK’s leading forensic scientists, has revealed new details about the Princess that night.</p> <p>Gallop reviewed evidence samples taken at the crash site of Diana’s blood. The investigation that took place was part of the 2004 Operation Paget initiated by the Queen’s coroner who asked police to look into a number of concerns regarding the Princess’ death – including whether she was expecting.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="/media/7824539/gettyimages-828915392.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/68266d73b4924f30ac745d144ad7ba7f" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed.</em></p> <p>The book, which was extracted in <em><a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/book-extract-was-diana-pregnant-our-tests-said-no-3cw2zdqcg#Echobox=1550251500">The Times</a>,</em> explained: “The blood transfusions the princess had received after the accident might have complicated the pregnancy test.</p> <p>“So the best sample for testing was some blood that had been recovered from the carpet in the footwell of her seat in the Mercedes.”</p> <p>Gallop’s team confirmed that Diana was not pregnant when she died in 1997 as the blood samples revealed a pregnancy hormone (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin or HCG) was not detected.</p> <p>However, the intriguing tests did reveal fascinating information about Diana at the time of her death.</p> <p>The Princess had been dating Dodi for six weeks at the time and the blood tests reveal she had not been taking the pill when she died.</p> <p>Although there were other options available at the time to prevent pregnancy and STDs, the detail has intrigued the public and the media.</p> <p>Near the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where the fatal accident occurred, is a plaque honouring the life of the Princess and those who died with her in 1997.</p> <p>Since it was first put up in 2002, it has become a shrine for supporters to mourn her life.</p>

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Where to start reading philosophy?

<p>Philosophy can seem a daunting subject in which to dabble. But there are many wonderful books on philosophy that tackle big ideas without requiring a PhD to digest.</p> <p>Here are some top picks for summer reading material from philosophers across Australia.</p> <p><strong><em>Shame and Necessity </em>by Bernard Williams</strong></p> <p>After a year of Brexit, the return of Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump, many of us are wondering about the state of our public culture. Are we undergoing some kind of seismic cultural and moral shift in the way we live?</p> <p>However, the ancient Greeks would have been familiar with these phenomena for all kinds of reasons. They understood how anger, resentment and revenge shape politics. And they had some pretty interesting ways of dealing with outbreaks of populist rage and constitutional crises. Our language is still littered with them: think “ostracism”, “dictatorship” and “oligarchy” (let alone “democracy”).</p> <p>So, this year, amongst all the noise, I found myself driven back to the Greeks, and especially to some of the ideas that pre-date the great philosophical titans of Plato and Aristotle.</p> <p>Bernard Williams was one of our most brilliant philosophers, and <em>Shame and Necessity</em> is one of his best books. Stunningly – just given how good this book is, and how deep it goes into the classical mind – he didn’t consider himself a classicist, but rather a philosopher who happened to have benefited from a very good classical education. As a result, he is a delightful guide across the often rugged philosophical, historical and interpretive terrain of pre-Socratic thought.</p> <p>It might seem daunting at first, but the book is an elegant, searching essay on the ways in which we are now, in so many ways, in a situation more like the ancient Greeks then we realise. But it’s not a plea for a return to some golden age. Far from it. Instead, it challenges some of our most fundamental conceptions of self, responsibility, freedom and community, inviting us to think them afresh.</p> <p>The heroes of his tale are, interestingly enough, not the philosophers, but the tragedians and poets, who remind us of the complexity, contingency and fragility of our ideas of the good. Although almost 10 years old, it’s a book that gets more interesting the more often you return to it. It’s never been more relevant, or more enjoyable, than now.</p> <p><em>Duncan Ivison, University of Sydney</em></p> <p><strong><em>The Philosophy Book </em>by Will Buckingham</strong></p> <p>Remember when the <em>Guinness Book of World Records</em> was the best gift ever for the little (or grown-up) thinker in your family? Well, if you’ve been there, done that for a few Christmases in a row and are in need of an exciting, innovative gift idea, try DK’s big yellow book of intellectual fun: <em>The Philosophy Book</em>.</p> <p>With contributions from a bunch of UK academics, this A4 sized tome is decorated with fun illustrations and great quotes from the world’s best philosophical thinkers.</p> <p>The structure of the book is historical, with between one to four pages allocated to the “big ideas” from ancient times all the way up to contemporary thought. It is accompanied by a neat glossary and directory: a who’s who of thought-makers.</p> <p>The focus is on the traditional Western approach to philosophy, although some Eastern thinkers are included. Each historical section – Ancient (700-250 BCE); Medieval (250-1500); The Renaissance (1500-1750); Revolution (1750-1900); Modern (1900-1950); and Contemporary (1950-present) – is divided into classical philosophical ideas from that time period.</p> <p>There are 107(!) in total, including Socrates’ “The life which is unexamined is not worth living”, Rene Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”, Thomas Hobbes’ “Man is a Machine”, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”, and even Slavoj Žižek’s analysis of Marx, just to name a few.</p> <p>The reader can trace the history and development of philosophical thought throughout the ages, in the context of what else was occurring at that time in the world.</p> <p>This gift would be suitable for ages 12+ as it is written in ordinary, accessible language. But, be warned… after reading this, your Boxing Day is likely to be filled with questions such as, “what is truth?”, “how can we think like a mountain?”, “can knowledge be bought and sold?”, and “how did the universe begin?”</p> <p><em>Laura D’Olimpio, The University of Notre Dame Australia</em></p> <p><strong><em>50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know </em>by Ben Dupré</strong></p> <p>Obviously there are a lot more than <em>50 Philosophical Ideas</em> we really need to know, as this book is a part of a great series of small hardback books that cover most of the great thoughts ever thunk.</p> <p>Dupré has a lot of fun in these 200 pages, with 50 short essays written on a variety of classical philosophical ideas, including the important thought experiments such as brain in a vat, Plato’s cave, the ship of Theseus, the prisoner’s dilemma and many more.</p> <p>The book’s blurb asks:</p> <blockquote> <p>Have you ever lain awake at night fretting over how we can be sure of the reality of the external world? Perhaps we are in fact disembodied brains, floating in vats at the whim of some deranged puppet-master?</p> </blockquote> <p>It is to philosophy that we turn, if not for definite answers to such mysteries, but certainly for multiple responses to these puzzles. The 50 essays in this volume cover things like the problems of knowledge, the philosophy of mind, ethics and animal rights, logic and meaning, science, aesthetics, religion, politics and justice.</p> <p>There is a nifty timeline running along the footer and inspired quotes by which the reader can link the main ideas, their original thinkers, and the time at which they were writing.</p> <p>This book would make a great gift for teachers, students and anyone interested in some of the big eternal questions. I would recommend it for ages 12+ given its clear writing style that illuminates and contextualises some of the most important ideas in philosophy.</p> <p><em>Laura D’Olimpio, The University of Notre Dame Australia</em></p> <p><strong><em>On Bullshit </em>by Harry G Frankfurt</strong></p> <p><span class="caption"></span>When someone asks you “where do I start with philosophy?”, it’s tempting to point them to a book that gives an overview of the history, key figures and problems of the discipline.</p> <p>But what about someone who doesn’t even want to go <em>that</em> far? Not everyone’s prepared to slog their way through Bertrand Russell’s <em>History of Western Philosophy</em> like my optometrist once did; every time I’d go in for new glasses he’d give me an update on where he was up to. And even if they’re prepared to put in the effort, some readers might come away from such a book not really seeing the value in philosophy beyond its historical interest. It’s easy to get lost in a fog of Greek names and -isms until you can’t see the forest for the trees.</p> <p>So there’s one book I recommend to everyone even if they have <em>no</em> interest in philosophy whatsoever: Harry Frankfurt’s classic 1986 essay “<a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7929.html">On Bullshit</a>”, published as a book in 2005. It’s only a few pages long so you can knock it over in a couple of train trips, and it’s a great example of philosophy in action.</p> <p>Frankfurt starts with the arresting claim that:</p> <blockquote> <p>One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted.</p> </blockquote> <p>In the best tradition of the discipline, Frankfurt takes something we don’t even typically notice and brings it into the light so we can see just how pervasive, strange and important it is.</p> <p>Bullshit, Frankfurt argues, is not simply lying. It’s worse than that. In order to lie, you first have to know the truth (or think you do), and you have to care about the truth enough to cover it up. To that extent at least the liar still maintains a relationship to the truth.</p> <p>The bullshitter, by contrast, doesn’t care about the truth at all. They just want you to believe what they say. What they tell you could even be true, for all they care, it doesn’t matter, so long as you buy it.</p> <p>The lying/bullshit distinction is a remarkably useful analytic tool. Be warned, though: once you have it, you’ll be seeing it <em>everywhere</em>.</p> <p><em>Patrick Stokes, Deakin University</em></p> <p><em><strong>The Guardians in Action: Plato the Teacher </strong></em><strong>by William H F Altman</strong></p> <p>Plato’s dialogues were conceived by their author as a consummate, step-by-step training in philosophy, starting with the most basic beginners. Such is the orienting claim of<em> The Guardians in Action</em>, the second of a projected three volumes in American scholar William Altman’s continuing contemporary exploration of Plato as a teacher.</p> <p>Altman, for many years a high school teacher trained in the classical languages and philosophy, has devoted his retirement from the classroom to an extraordinary attempt to reread or <em>reteach</em> the Platonic dialogues as a sequential pedagogical program.</p> <p>The program begins with Socrates walking into the Hades-like den of sophists in the Protagoras. In the middle, the heart and high point of the 36 texts, stands the Republic, the subject of <em>Plato the Teacher: The Crisis of the Republic</em> of 2012 (Volume 1).</p> <p>Here, the education of the philosopher-“guardians” who will rule in the best city, having seen the true Idea of the Good, is timelessly laid out. The true philosopher, as Altman’s Plato conceived him, must “go back down” into the city to educate his fellows, even though he has seen the Transcendent End of his inquiries.</p> <p>The Republic itself begins emblematically, with Socrates “going back down” to the Piraeus to talk with his friends. As Altman sees things, the entire Platonic oeuvre ends with Socrates going back down into Athens, staying there to die in a cavelike prison for the sake of philosophy in the Phaedo.</p> <p>Who then did Plato want for his guardians, on Altman’s reading? <em>We his readers</em> –like the first generation of students in the Academy whom Altman pictures being taught by Plato through the syllabus of the dialogues.</p> <p>This is an extraordinarily learned book, maybe not for the complete beginner. You need to have spent a lifetime with a thinker to write books like this (with the finale, <em>The Guardians on Trial</em> set to come).</p> <p>But it is everywhere lightened by Altman’s style, and the warm affection for Plato and for the business of teaching that radiates from every page. So it is most certainly a book for anyone who loves or has ever wondered about Plato, still the original and arguably the best introduction to philosophy.</p> <p><em>Matt Sharpe, Deakin</em></p> <p><strong><em>Philosophy as a Way of Life </em>by Pierre Hadot</strong></p> <p>This book is a collection of essays by the late French philosopher and philologist Pierre Hadot. After 1970, via his studies of classical literature, Hadot became convinced that the ancients conceived of philosophy very differently than we do today.</p> <p>It was, for them, primarily about educating and forming students, as well as framing arguments and writing books. Its goal was not knowledge alone but wisdom, a knowledge about how to live that translated into transformed ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, mediated by what Hadot calls “spiritual exercises” like the premeditation of evils and death, and the contemplation of natural beauty.</p> <p>The ideal was the sage, someone whose way of living was characterised by inner freedom, tranquillity, moral conscience and a constant sense of his own small place in the larger, ordered world.</p> <p>Hadot spent much of the last decades of his life exploring this idea in studies of ancient philosophy, particularly that of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. He wrote long books in this light on Marcus Aurelius (The Inner Citadel) and the German poet Goethe, both of whom feature prominently in the essays in <em>Philosophy as a Way of Life</em>, Hadot’s most popular introductory book. Hadot’s writing is simple and graceful, and has been beautifully preserved in Michael Chase’s translations for English readers.</p> <p>I’ll let Hadot himself describe his intentions, in a passage which gives a sense of the spirit that breathes through the larger original:</p> <blockquote> <p>Vauvenargues said, “A truly new and truly original book would be one which made people love old truths.” It is my hope that I have been “truly new and truly original” in this sense, since my goal has indeed been to make people love a few old truths […] there are some truths whose meaning will never be exhausted by the generations of man. It is not that they are difficult; on the contrary, they are often extremely simple. Often, they even appear to be banal. Yet for their meaning to be understood, these truths must be lived, and constantly re-experienced. Each generation must take up, from scratch, the task of learning to read and to re-read these “old truths”.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>Matt Sharpe, Deakin</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/51745/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>Patrick Stokes, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Deakin University; Duncan Ivison, Professor of Political Philosophy, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Sydney; Laura D'Olimpio, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Notre Dame Australia, and Matthew Sharpe, Associate Professor in Philosophy, Deakin University</span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/where-to-start-reading-philosophy-51745">The Conversation</a></span>.</em></p>

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Why Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is a cult classic

<p>Nothing about the reception of Emily Brontë’s first and only published novel, <em>Wuthering Heights</em>, in 1847 suggested that it would grow to achieve its now-cult status. While contemporary critics often admitted its power, even unwillingly responding to the clarity of its psychological realism, the overwhelming response was one of disgust at its brutish and brooding Byronic hero, Heathcliff, and his beloved Catherine, whose rebellion against the norms of Victorian femininity neutered her of any claim to womanly attraction.</p> <p>The characters speak in tongues heavily inflected with expletives, hurling words like weapons of affliction, and indulging throughout in a gleeful schadenfreude as they attempt to exact revenge on each other. It is all rather like a relentless chess game in hell. One of its early reviewers wrote that the novel “strongly shows the brutalising influence of unchecked passion”.</p> <p>Moral philosopher Martha Nussbaum claims, however, that “we must ourselves confront the shocking in <em>Wuthering Heights</em>, or we will have no chance of understanding what Emily Brontë is setting out to do”. The reader must give herself over to the horror of Brontë’s inverted world.</p> <p>She must jump, as it were, without looking to see if there is water below. It is a Paradise Lost of a novel: its poetry Miltonic, its style hyperbolic, and its cruelty relentless. It has left readers and scholars alike stumbling to locate its seemingly Delphic meaning, as we try to make sense of the Hobbesian world it portrays.</p> <p>The author remains as elusive as her enigmatic masterpiece. As new critical appraisals emerge in this, Emily Brontë’s bicentenary year, the scant traces she left of her personal life beyond her poetry and several extant diary papers, are re-fashioned accordingly.</p> <p>Described as the “sphinx of the moors”, her obstinate mystery has lured countless pilgrims to the <a href="http://www.bronte.org.uk/the-brontes-and-haworth/haworth">Haworth home</a> in which she passed almost all of her life, and the surrounding moorlands that were the landscape of her daily walks and the inspiration for her writing. Brontë relinquished her jealous hold of the manuscript only after considerable pressure from her sister Charlotte, who insisted that it be published.</p> <p><em>Wuthering Heights</em> was released pseudonymously under the name Ellis Bell, published in an edition that included her sister Anne’s lesser known work, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/298230.Agnes_Grey?from_search=true">Agnes Grey</a>. Emily was to die just 12 months later, in December 1848.</p> <p>As Brontë biographer Juliet Barker writes, the writer stubbornly maintained the pretence of health even in the final stages of consumption, insisting on getting out of bed to take care of her much loved dog, Keeper. She resisted death with remarkable self-discipline but, “her unbending spirit finally broken”, she acquiesced to a doctor’s attendance. It was by then too late; she was just 30.</p> <p>After her sister’s death, Charlotte Brontë wrote two biographical prefaces to accompany a new edition of <em>Wuthering Heights</em>, instantiating the mythology both of her sister – “stronger than a man, simpler than a child” – and her infamous novel: “It is rustic all through. It is moorish, and wild, and knotty as the root of heath.”</p> <p><strong>A feminist icon</strong></p> <p>It is that property of wildness that has compelled artists from Sylvia Plath to Kate Bush, whose 1978 hit single,<em> Wuthering Heights</em>, was representative of the magnetic pull of Brontë’s fierce heroine, Catherine. The novel has maintained its relevance in popular culture, and its author has risen to a feminist icon.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Fk-4lXLM34g?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Wuthering Heights</span><em><span class="caption"> has maintained currency in pop culture, most famously in Kate Bush’s haunting 1978 hit of the same name.</span></em></p> <p>The elusiveness of the woman and the book that now seems an extension of her subjectivity, gives both a malleability that has seen <em>Wuthering Heights</em> transformed into various mediums: several Hollywood films, theatre, a ballet and, perhaps most incongruously, a detective novel. Brontë’s name is used to sell everything from food to dry-cleaning products.</p> <p>Film versions have tended to indulge in a surfeit of romanticism, offering up visions of the lovers swooning atop windswept hills, most famously in the 1939 movie, with Laurence Olivier as a dashing Heathcliff, a heavily sanitised re-telling of what the promotional material billed as “the greatest love story of our time - or any time!” Andrea Arnold’s gritty, pared-back <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1181614/">2011 film</a> is the notable exception; bleak and darkly violent, the actors speak in an at times unintelligible dialect, scrambling across a blasted wilderness as though they are animals.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kUWOCd894-Q?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Contrary to Charlotte Brontë’s revisioning, however, <em>Wuthering Heights</em> was not purely the product of a terrible divine inspiration, emerging partially formed from the granite rock of the Yorkshire landscape, to be hewn from Emily’s simple materials.</p> <p>Instead, it is the work of a writer looking back to past Romantic forms, specifically the German incarnation of that aesthetic, infused with folkloric taboos and primal longings. Her tale of domestic gothic is housed in an intricately complex narrative architecture that works by repetition and doubling, at the fulcrum of which stands Catherine, the supremely defiant object of Heathcliff’s obsession.</p> <p>At the novel’s core is the corrosiveness of love, with the titanic power of Shakespearean tragedy and the dialogic form of a Greek morality play. Two families, locked in internecine war and bound together by patrilineal inheritance, stage their abject conflict across the small geographical space that separates their respective households: the luxury and insipidity of the Grange, versus the shabby gentility, decay, and violence of the Heights.</p> <p><strong>A claustrophobic novel</strong></p> <p>It is a distinctly claustrophobic novel: although we read with a vague sense of the vastness of the moors that is its setting, the action unfolds, with few exceptions, in domestic interiors. Despite countless readings, I can conjure no distinct image of the Grange. But the outline of the Heights, with each room unfolding into yet another set of rooms, labyrinthine and imprisoning, has settled into my mind. The deeper you enter into the space of the Heights - the space of the text - the more bewildering the effect.</p> <p>The love between Heathcliff and Catherine exists now as a myth operative outside any substantial relationship to the novel from which the lovers spring. It is shorthand in popular culture for doomed passion. Much of this hyper-romance gathers around Catherine’s declaration of Platonic unity with her would-be lover: “I am Heathcliff – he’s always, always in my mind.” Yet their relationship is never less than brutal.</p> <p>What is it about their unearthly union, with its overtones of necrophilia and incestuous desire, that so captivates us, and why does Emily Brontë privilege this form of explicitly masochistic, irrevocable and unattainable love?</p> <p> </p> <p>Brontë’s great theme was transcendence, and I would suggest that it is the metaphysical affinity that solders these two lovers that so beguiles us. The greediness of their feeling for each other resembles nothing in reality. It is hyperreal, as Catherine and Heathcliff do not aspire so much as to be together, as to be each other. Twinned in that shared commitment and to the natural world that was the hunting-ground of their childhood play, they try, with increasing desperation, to get at each other’s souls.</p> <p>This is not a physically erotic coupling: the body is immaterial to their love. It is a very different notion of desire to that of Jane Eyre and Rochester, for instance, in Charlotte Brontë’s <em>Jane Eyre</em>, which is very fleshy indeed. Both Catherine and Heathcliff want to get under each other’s skin, quite literally, to join and become that singular body of their childhood fantasies. It is a dream, then, of total union, of an impossible return to origins. It is not heavenly in its transcendence, but decidedly earthly. “I cannot express it”, Catherine tells her nurse Nelly Dean, who is our homely, yet not so benign, narrator:</p> <blockquote> <p>But surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries … my great thought in living is himself. I all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be.</p> </blockquote> <p>This notion of the self eclipsing its selfish form seems impossible for us to conceive in an age where one’s individuality is sacred. It is, however, the essence of Catherine’s tragedy: her search for her self’s home among the men who circle her is futile. Nevertheless, Emily Brontë’s radical statement of a shared ontology grounds the eroticism between the pair so that we cannot look away; and neither it seems, can the other characters in the novel.</p> <p>The book’s structure is famously complex, with multiple narrators and a fluid style that results in one focalising voice shading into another. The story proper begins with Lockwood, a stranger to the rugged moorlands, a gentleman accustomed to urban life and its polite civilisations.</p> <p>The terrifying nightmare he endures on his first night under Heathcliff’s roof, and the gruesomely violent outcome of his fear sets in motion the central love story that pulls all else irresistibly to it. Heathcliff’s thrice-repeated invocation of Catherine’s name, which Lockwood finds written in the margins of a book and mistakenly believes to be “nothing but a name”, works as an incantation, summoning the ghost of the woman who haunts this book.</p> <p>Emily Brontë speaks of dreams, dreams that pass through the mind “like wine through water, and alter the colour” of thoughts. If the experience of reading <em>Wuthering Heights</em> feels like a suspension in a state of waking nightmare, what a richly-hued vision of the fantastical it is.<!-- 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/100748/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>Sophie Alexandra Frazer, Doctoral candidate in English, University of Sydney</span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-emily-brontes-wuthering-heights-is-a-cult-classic-100748">The Conversation</a></span>.</em></p>

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Why we need to change the way we think about ageing

<p>Amal Awad’s world was turned upside down when her father was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013. His schedule began to be filled with doctor appointments instead of retirement luxuries, and his daily activities – including driving and going out – soon grew more and more untenable for him to carry out on his own.</p> <p>From then on, Awad embarked on a mission to help her father and support her mother, dedicating every Friday to them. The more time Awad spent caregiving, the more she realised that her experience of navigating a new, disrupted reality with ageing parents was far more common than she thought.</p> <p>This became the base of her fifth book, <em>Fridays With My Folks</em>, where she interweaved her personal journey with wider explorations around how Australians are ageing, and the way sickness and mortality affect the afflicted and those around them. She talked with fellow carers, doctors, nurses, specialists, politicians and residents in retirement villages to delve into their insights, unveil ongoing issues and discuss solutions. The book was released in February and is available in stores now.</p> <p>In an interview with <em>Over60</em>, Awad discusses the country’s discomfort with ageing and death, her thoughts on being a caregiver and the changing children-parent dynamic that entails.</p> <p>This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.</p> <p><strong>In this book you brought attention to the many ways in which we could improve the way we look after ageing loved ones. What do you think is the most important matter to address in Australia to make a difference?</strong></p> <p>There are things that we can do at a government level that are really important in terms of improving aged care facilities and how services are made available to people.</p> <p>But I feel like what is really important is a societal shift in how we perceive aging. We’re afraid of it, we don’t want to talk about it, a lot of older people talk about feeling like they’re invisible … the community psyche, how we perceive getting old. Something we’re all terrified of, really.</p> <p>I went to a bookstore to have a look and see what books are available on ageing. Most of them are about staying young, preserving your youth, and making sure you still look great and feel great. It’s like there’s no real sense of reverence or respect for the process of ageing, that you have come to this point in your life and that there’s wisdom that you can share, that you still have value as a person. Why aren’t we helping older people to continue in the workforce if that’s what they want, to keep using their mind, being active and engaged with the community at large, rather than feeling like someone we just have to take care of or look down on?</p> <p>And these are basic – but if you can imagine, it took 20 years for people to understand that drink driving is not just a crime, but extremely dangerous, and now you see people have designated drivers. So, imagine if you had two decades of people talking about ageing in a different tone, in a different way.</p> <p>I feel like it’s a slow-moving shift, I don’t think that there’s any quick fix, but I think we need to address how we think about it.</p> <p><strong>You also discussed about how getting to know your parents as they’re ageing is a “gift”. Could you elaborate on that?</strong></p> <p>I feel like most of us, and I’ve heard this from other people, still feel like children in front of their parents. When we get into our adulthood, we’re thinking freedom, detachment from our past – we want to just live our own life, and yet the minute we’re in the presence of our parents, whatever your relationship with them, you revert to be a child.</p> <p>I had a very cultural upbringing, I was brought up in a very conservative family, and so my parents just always struck me as very strict people, a bit uncompromising … But [after caring for my parents] what they became to me was human. That sounds really silly to say that, but I really thought of them in a certain way and I’ve gotten to see how human they were, that they had this emotional spectrum I got to give them credit for, that my dad’s dreams and goals were very wrapped up in desires to also make his own father proud. I didn’t know that about him. I didn’t see the way my dad could become emotional about things.</p> <p>There was more than one moment where I’ll just go, “Wow, this is extraordinary”, because it’s so powerfully simple and yet it’s beautiful to see this side of my parents. I really felt like it was a gift, because some people go through their whole life and not find that. They might even look after their parents or give care of some kind, but not feel a kinship with their parents, not feel the need to connect to them.</p> <p>So, I think it’s just getting to know each other. There’s no real rule around how that looks, what it feels like. One person in the book said, “Meet them where they’re at.” And it was like a reformation of the relationship, it was like renewing things. And it just felt very much like a gift to me, because it means that I could sort of move into a new energy with my parents and understand them better.</p> <p><img style="width: 397px; height: 300px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7824294/aawad-harbor.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/714249570c7f4c78bd85aae351290ca8" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Amal Awad's parents at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, circa 1970</em></p> <p><strong>What about people who don’t necessarily have the best relationships with their parents – is there also that kind of accepting and understanding?</strong></p> <p>A lot of the people that I spoke to don’t have good relationships with their parents – I would say the majority of people don’t think they have a good relationship with their parents. There is a lot of angst, resentment from the past, and what happens when parents get older and possibly sick and suddenly need your help? All that comes rushing to the surface. So, this person has to figure out, “How do I do this in a way where I’m not being resentful, but I can help my parents?” And there are examples in the book on that, where one woman was very vocal in saying, “I don’t think this is fair. I didn’t have a good childhood, I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents, and I don’t want to look after them.”</p> <p>For me, the opportunities for growth [are] in another way. It’s not that you have to suddenly fall in love with your parents or they have to fall in love with you. It’s about acceptance, where you don’t need them to change in order to do what’s right … What this is about is an unfurling, an unfolding of your life in a very, very deep way, and it’s a pathway to understanding and forgiveness if possible, but also just acceptance. It’s saying, “I don’t need you to be the perfect mom or dad, I don’t need you to be everything amazing, you just need to be you and I would try to meet you at that point.”</p> <p>But if I don’t have a good sense of myself and love or care for myself, I’m not going to be able to show up and not feel that resentment.</p> <p>It’s about truly embracing the potential for growth and expansion in these relationships. If that’s not possible, then find the solution where you are not going to go crazy because you just can’t bear being with your parents. There are going to be situations where maybe things can’t be fixed at all, and maybe you’re not the right person to care for them. So maybe you just make sure they get the right care, that’s possibly a solution for some people.</p> <p><img style="width: 400px; height: 300px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7824295/aawad-today.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/383bfdd9cf3f4b38b640a0909a195e34" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Amal Awad's parents, 2018</em></p> <p><strong>To close this off – how is your father, and how are you doing as his carer?</strong></p> <p>I really struggle with that term “carer”, because I spend two days [per week] with them – originally it was just Friday, and now it’s a couple of days a week – I don’t feel like I am one, but I’ve been told what I technically do is caring.</p> <p>My dad’s alright … he’s still very quiet. Kidney failure is a really terrible thing to go through, it’s quite tiring on the body, but my father is an active person, he’s very vital in a sense that he doesn’t just want to sit at home, he wants to be out in the world and he still maintains that aspect of his personality which I really love. And as I said, I just try to meet him where he’s at, I try to provide support and care for my father and my mother. It’s really about just offering support and making sure I’m not expecting anything of my father in terms of his own trajectory, his own journey.</p> <p>I was quite depressed when I first started writing the book and then by the end of it, I had come to find a bit more peace. But you know, there are days where it feels very unfair, and it still feels a bit like “I don’t know how to do this better” or “how to fix this”, and then I have to remind myself that it’s not my job to fix it, it’s just I need to be there and support and care where I can.</p> <p><em>Fridays with My Folks</em>, <em>RRP $40, Vintage Australia</em></p>

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<p>The scene: a field in southwest England. The sun is shining for a quintessentially British event, the Great Dorset Steam Fair. A six-and-a-half tonne steamroller takes centre stage. This, the Lord Jericho, goes head-to-head with a computer hard drive, and in a battle of old and new technologies, rolls over it several times. Then, just to be on the safe side, the hard drive is placed in a steam-powered stone crusher.</p> <p>A scene from a fantasy novel? No. The hard drive was from the late author Sir Terry Pratchett’s <a href="https://discworld.com/terry-pratchetts-hard-drive-crushed-according-wishes/">computer</a>, and it contained the files of, it is thought, 10 unfinished novels.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">There goes the browsing history... Many thanks to <a href="https://twitter.com/steamfair?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@steamfair</a>. Soon to be on display at <a href="https://twitter.com/SalisburyMuseum?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SalisburyMuseum</a> in September <a href="https://t.co/Di8tvTO4Hi">https://t.co/Di8tvTO4Hi</a> <a href="https://t.co/onGGWLDYL4">pic.twitter.com/onGGWLDYL4</a></p> — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) <a href="https://twitter.com/terryandrob/status/901037198665019392?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">25 August 2017</a></blockquote> <p>Pratchett, author of the much-loved <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-beginners-guide-to-terry-pratchetts-discworld-55220"><em>Discworld</em> series</a>, wrote more than 60 books in his lifetime. But it was his wish that any unfinished works remained unpublished, and so he instructed that the hard drive containing his remaining works be crushed by a steamroller.</p> <p><strong>Raising Steam</strong></p> <p>Commenting on BBC Radio Four’s <em>Today</em> programme, authors Patrick Ness and Samantha Norman asserted Pratchett’s absolute right to determine the future of his unfinished work. In recent years, though, both authors have completed unfinished novels by other writers. In Norman’s case, it was <em>The Siege Winter</em>, a book by her late mother, Ariana Franklin. For Ness, it was Siobhan Dowd’s <em>A Monster Calls</em>, now adapted into a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Xbo-irtBA">hit film</a>.</p> <p>Unfinished work abounds in literary history, from Jane Austen’s <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/13/reading-jane-austens-final-unfinished-novel"><em>Sanditon</em></a> and Charles Dickens’ <em><a href="http://www.charlesdickensinfo.com/novels/mystery-edwin-drood/">The Mystery of Edwin Drood</a></em> to F Scott Fitzgerald’s <em><a href="https://electricliterature.com/unfinished-business-f-scott-fitzgerald-and-the-love-of-the-last-tycoon-efa4862e40e1">The Love of the Last Tycoon</a></em>.</p> <p>For each of these canonical authors, their unfinished texts add to our accumulated knowledge of their writing, their rich imagination, and the development of their thinking. After completing Dorothy L Sayers’ last novel, Jill Paton Walsh went on to create warmly regarded <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/newly-elected-dorothy-l-sayers-president-continues-wimsey-series-317478">new novels</a> featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. J R R Tolkien’s son Christopher likewise has worked painstakingly on <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-harpercollins-flogging-a-dead-horse-with-latest-tolkien-publication-46968">unfinished works by his father</a>, including <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/apr/28/jrrtolkien.fiction">The Children of Hurin</a></em>.</p> <p>Unlike Pratchett, the strict instructions left by some authors about their legacy have been ignored, sometimes to the reader’s benefit. Max Brod’s decision to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/magazine/26kafka-t.html?mcubz=0">counter</a> Franz Kafka’s wish for destruction is to literary history’s benefit, as it led to the publication of <em><a href="http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/trial/summary.html">The Trial</a></em>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/dec/22/franz-kafka-winter-reads"><em>The Castle</em></a>, and <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/16/man-disappeared-franz-kafka-review">Amerika</a></em>. Emily Dickinson left no instructions on what to do with the approximately 1,800 unpublished poems she wrote before her death in 1886. Fortunately, her sister Lavinia took it on <a href="https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/posthumous_publication">as her mission</a> to see them made public.</p> <p>When Swedish crime novelist Stieg Larsson died suddenly, unmarried and with no will, his estate came under the control of his father and brother. They commissioned ghostwriter David Largenrcrantz to create <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/feud-over-stieg-larsson-sequel/">new works</a> using Larsson’s characters, with the latest, <em><a href="http://ew.com/books/2017/04/11/lisbeth-salander-millennium-series-cover-title/">The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye</a> </em>due in September 2017. Larsson’s bereaved long-term partner is in possession of the author’s laptop which is believed to hold Larsson’s last unfinished novel, but she has <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/feud-over-stieg-larsson-sequel/">refused to turn it over</a> to his family.</p> <p><strong>Reaper Man</strong></p> <p>The biographical figure of the author has, despite Roland Barthes’ critical articulation of “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2010/jan/13/death-of-the-author">The death of the Author</a>” in 1967, <a href="https://www.stir.ac.uk/research/hub/publication/13293">never been more present</a>. Now, readers have unprecedented access to the names on the spines of their books, thanks to festivals, talks and social media.</p> <p>While some authors may not want to show the struggle of their early drafts to the world, there is both an industry (famous author’ manuscripts can sell for high figures) and scholarship attached to them. <a href="http://www.senatehouselibrary.ac.uk/our-collections/special-collections/printed-special-collections/colin-smythe-terry-pratchett-archive">Formal archives</a> of Pratchett’s work exist in Senate House in London, for example – including some tantalising glimpses replete with coffee stains and notes to the publisher. Salman Rushdie has even <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/digital-life-salman-rushdie">given a desktop computer and several laptops</a> to Emory University in the US.</p> <p>There is no doubt that Pratchett was within his rights to deprive readers of these last rough-hewn gems, though understandably fans may be disappointed with his choice. However, the rumours swirling around <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-suspicious-should-we-be-about-the-new-harper-lee-novel-37182">the appearance of <em>Go Set a Watchman</em></a> – the original version of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird – suggest that elderly and infirm authors can potentially be preyed upon. Pratchett’s wish to control his literary legacy was consonant with his <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/feb/02/terry-pratchett-assisted-suicide-tribunal">advocacy for assisted dying</a>. He, more than anyone else, understood the power of letting things come to an end.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">The End.</p> — Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) <a href="https://twitter.com/terryandrob/status/576036888190038016?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">12 March 2015</a></blockquote> <p>As an author who had “Death” as one of his major recurring characters, Pratchett had thoroughly tested its presence in human life. But now, even knowing that Pratchett’s crushed hard drive will soon feature in <a href="http://www.pratchetthisworld.com/">an exhibition</a>, we can’t but regret the loss of these early, unfinished drafts, which contained the very last doorway into the Discworld.<!-- 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/83407/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>Claire Squires, Professor in Publishing Studies, University of Stirling</span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/should-authors-unfinished-works-be-completed-83407">The Conversation</a></span>.</em></p>

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How fairy tales have stood the test of time

<p>The Brothers Grimm have been dead more than 150 years, but they <a href="https://blog.calm.com/relax/lost-grimm-fairy-tale-is-first-ai-bedtime-story">recently released a new story</a> with a little help from artificial intelligence.</p> <p><em>The Princess and the Fox</em> was created after a group of writers, artists and developers used a program inspired by predictive text on phones to scan the collected stories of the Brothers Grimm to suggest words and similar phrases. Human writers then took over, to help shape the AI’s algorithmic suggestions into the latest Grimm fairy tale.</p> <p>The new tale tells the story of a talking fox who helps a lowly miller’s son rescue a beautiful princess from the fate of having to marry a horrible prince she does not love.</p> <p>But here’s the thing, the Brothers Grimm didn’t actually write their fairy tales in the first place. They collected them – from friends, servants, workers and family members. Fairy tales, of course, have always been retold. They come alive in the telling – whether that’s a child listening to an audio book in the car, watching Snow White and the Huntsman on DVD or singing along to Shrek The Musical in the theatre.</p> <p>The Grimms’ fairy stories were first published in 1812 and have never gone out of print. The Grimm Brothers were involved in the struggle for German independence. As part of the case for nationhood, they wanted to prove that Germans, as a distinct people, had their own folklore. They were political campaigners too, and among the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6ttingen_Seven">Göttingen Seven</a> who refused to take an oath of loyalty to the new King of Hanover when he rejected a more liberal constitution. They lost their jobs as a result and Jakob Grimm – like many characters in the fairy tales – had to go into exile.</p> <p>Since then Grimms’ Fairy Tales have been translated into a hundred languages and retold again and again. They have inspired thousands of other works, from Angela Carter’s <em>The Bloody Chamber</em> to The Simpsons’ <em>Treehouse of Horror</em>.</p> <p>Jakob Grimm wasn’t just a collector of folk tales either. He was also a philologist (someone who studies language) and lexicographer whose work is still influential today. As well as being a master storyteller, the ideas he developed are still being researched in universities. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimm%27s_law">Grimm’s Law</a>, named after Jakob Grimm, looks at how sounds change as they pass from one language to another – “P” tends to become “F”, while “G” becomes “W” and so on.</p> <p><strong>Happily ever after</strong></p> <p>The Grimms’ fairy stories are still passed down through generations. And even though the cast of princesses and swineherds seem a very long way away from the world most of us inhabit, the stories are still a crucial part of our cultural heritage. The stories the brothers found in Northern Germany at the beginning of the 19th-century now belong to everyone.</p> <p>As a child growing up in Oxford <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ganz">my father</a> – a refugee from Germany and, like Jakob, a philologist – used to tell me the Grimm’s story of <em>The Frog Prince</em> on our Sunday walks in the grounds of Blenheim Palace.</p> <p>In my father’s version of the tale, the princess first met the frog by the lake – in reality built by Capability Brown for the first Duke of Marlborough – when she dropped her favourite plaything, a golden ball, into the water. When they lived happily ever after, the couple commemorated their meeting by putting golden balls on the top of Blenheim Palace. Now when I think of the story I think of Blenheim Palace, and I hear the splash of the frog in the lake, just as I thought I heard it long ago as a child.</p> <p>This is exactly what stories can do, they fold all of their tellers and places together – and therein lies their mystery and their magic – once a story exists, it changes how we experience the world. And that will be the only test of “the new Grimm’s tale”, <em>The Princess and the Fox</em> – whether it will be retold and come to life in the telling.<!-- 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/97042/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>Adam Ganz, Reader Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway</span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-fairy-tales-have-stood-the-test-of-time-97042">The Conversation</a></span>.</em></p>

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Phone etiquette: Why we need to stop expecting instant text message replies

<p>Your phone chimes, it’s a message from your partner. You reply instantly because that’s what you always do.</p> <p>Then you decide to add another message: “By the way, I love you ☺”</p> <p>You see the “read” status appear under the message, and you wait for her reply. An hour later you are still waiting, still checking.</p> <p><strong>Has this ever happened to you?</strong></p> <p>For most of us, there is an unwritten social contract that underlies our online messaging interactions. The clearest part of that contract is that certain types of messages demand a timely response.</p> <p>In our world of instant communications, it seems we have come to expect that the general immediacy and access to information afforded to us by our technology, should be reflected in our online social communication, just as it would be when face-to-face.</p> <p>But norms that exist in the real world don’t necessarily transfer easily to the digital realm. Is it time we developed a new social contract for online communications?</p> <p><strong>Stoking the fires of social anxiety</strong></p> <p>When the social contract is broken or even bent a little, it can introduce a hierarchy of discomfort into the communication process, often including anxiety and introspective rumination over the reasons for the non-reply.</p> <p>These types of emotions may be felt much more powerfully when we believe the person on the other end has actually read our message but has chosen to ignore us.</p> <p>In these cases, our discomfort may rise with the passing of time. The rising anxiety may escalate to the point where we bombard the non-replier with yet more messages to try to elicit a response.</p> <p>Of course, responses such as these can vary from person to person, and culture to culture. It has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2013.12.024">suggested</a> some people who are highly emotionally reactive and use text messaging excessively may actually feel rejected, isolated and suffer deep anxiety when replies to their messages are not immediate.</p> <p><strong>Read receipts make things worse</strong></p> <p>It’s worth considering that the technology platform we use to conduct our messaging activities, may contribute to our expectations of an immediate reply.</p> <p>Virtually every online messaging platform has a way of informing us when our message has been delivered to, and read by, the recipient.</p> <p>WhatsApp has two blue ticks, one for successful delivery and one for when the message has been read. Facebook messenger shows the recipient’s profile picture beside the message, and so on.</p> <p>If we know the person well, we may even know they have message receipt notifications set to appear on their device. These notifications do not specifically trigger the read-receipt for our message, but we know it’s likely the recipient has at least seen our message.</p> <p>Combine all this with the ability to see when someone was last active online, and you have the perfect reply-status nightmare, if you are someone who cares.</p> <p><strong>The fear of being ghosted</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to understand how read-receipt anxiety has evolved. Just imagine the offline equivalent – you say something to someone, you know they have heard you, but they deliberately ignore you.</p> <p>When face to face, we would almost always make further enquiries to get our response and we’d be confused, or angry if it was not forthcoming.</p> <p>It’s really not very surprising, given the very high volume of online messaging we now engage in, that people expect the same communication etiquette when using messaging platforms.</p> <p>When non-reply behaviour is taken to an extreme, it may be analogous to a phenomenon known as <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much">ghosting</a>. Ghosting involves indulging in behaviours such as not returning text messages, emails, phone calls or any related electronic communications.</p> <p>It can occur within any type of close relationship but is more often associated with intimate ones. People often use ghosting as way of breaking off a relationship without any apparent justification.</p> <p>Most of us would agree that a non-reply to an online message of love to an intimate other elicits a very strong emotional response, one that has very little to do with the length of the relationship in question.</p> <p><strong>Evolving norms for new technologies</strong></p> <p>In any intimate relationship, a non-reply may make us feel humiliated, rejected isolated and embarrassed. Over time our anxiety will increase until we hear that return chime – hopefully they love us too, along with an apology for the delay, and all emotions can return quickly to normal levels.</p> <p>Some people may actually use non-reply behaviour to manage their relationship dynamics, and torture their friends and loved ones. Of course no one reading this would ever have engaged in such Machiavellian behaviour!</p> <p>Perhaps we need a new type of online communication social contract, and let’s set these expectations at the beginning of a relationship, or any friendship.</p> <p>For example, on Tinder, profiles should perhaps have a box to tick to specify whether immediate replies are optional. Thanks to read-receipts and their associated emotional impact, relationship communication really has never been more complex and perplexing.<!-- 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/101110/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>David Cowan, Lecturer, The University of Queensland</span>. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/message-sent-received-but-no-instant-reply-how-does-that-make-you-feel-101110">The Conversation</a></span>. </em></p>

Books

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Books: Why the Internet hasn't killed them off

<p>We stand amazed by the vitality of printed books, a more than 500-year-old technique, both on and offline. We have observed over the years all of the dialogue which books have created around themselves, through 150 interviews with readers, bookshops, publishers, bloggers, library assistants, 25 participant observations, 750 responses to an online questionnaire and 5,000 mapped sites in France and the francophone world. An impressive collective activity.</p> <p>So, yes, your book carries on living just by staying on your shelf because you talk about it, remember it, and refer to it in conversation. Even better still, you might have lent it to a friend so that she can read it, perhaps you have spent time with people who have spoken about it before buying it, or after having read it. You will have encountered official reviews, of course, and also blogs about it. The conversation goes on even when the book is no longer in circulation.</p> <p><strong>Paper books circulate better than their digital versions</strong></p> <p>What first struck us was the very active circulation of books in print, compared with digital versions which do not spread so well. Once a book has been sold either in a bookshop or through an online platform, it has multiple lives. It can be loaned, given as a present, but also sold on second-hand, online or in specialist shops. And it can go full circle and be resold, such journeys made in a book’s life are rarely taken into account by the overall evaluation of the publication.</p> <p>The application <a href="https://www.bookcrossing.com/">Bookcrossing</a> allows you to follow books that we "abandon" or "set free" by chance in public places so that strangers take possession of and, then, you hope, get in touch to keep track of the book’s journey. Elsewhere, the book will be left in an open-access "book box" which have popped up across France and other countries. Some websites have become experts in selling second-hand books like <a href="https://www.recyclivre.com/">Recyclivre</a>, which uses Amazon to gain visibility.</p> <p>Yard sales, antiques fairs, book markets give a new lease of life to countless books which remained forgotten because they were a quick one-time read. The book as a material object, regardless of its age, retains an unequalled sensorial pleasure, and brings with it special memories, bygone times, a sacred piece of craftsmanship with its fragile bindings, or, the nostalgia offered by children’s books or fairy tales.</p> <p>Whole professions are dedicated to the web, and increasingly so, since it first came into existence. This has turned the second life of books and the recycling of them into a money-making machine for online retailers, and as a result books are kept alive. Some people have become eBay sellers, experts only thanks to the books they sell on this platform. Sometimes even, these books' lives are extended by charity shops, such as Oxfam. At some stage however, there is only the paper left to give a book its value, once it has been battered and recycled.</p> <p>One would have thought that faced with the weight, volume, and physical space occupied by books in print, that the digital book ought to have wiped the floor with its print counterpart. This has been the case with online music, for example, which practically handed a death sentence to the CD, or for films on demand which have greatly shrunk the DVD market.</p> <p>However, for books, this simply has not happened. In the United States like in France, the market for online books never surpasses the 20% mark of the sales revenues of books in print. And that is without including the sales revenue of the second-hand book market as we previously mentioned. The digital book seldom goes anywhere once purchased, due to controls imposed on the files by digital-rights management (DRM) and the incompatibility of their formats on other digital devices (Kindle and others).</p> <p><strong>Paper pleasures</strong></p> <p>Our interviews revealed the pleasure of giving books as presents, but also of lending them. The exchange of the physical item with its cover, size and unique smell bring much more satisfaction than if a well-meaning friend offers you digital book files on a USB stick containing… a thousand files already downloaded! Indeed, the latter will seldom ever be considered a present but rather a simple file transfer, equivalent to what we do several times a day at work. This also gives rights holders reasons to thus decry "not paying is theft", in this case the gift of files would also become theft.</p> <p>Bloggers who exchange books as presents (bookswapping) show that goodwill prevails and puts stress on the backburner. This is done on the condition that the book is personalised in some way: a poignant quote, a meaningful object associated in some way with the book (cakes for example!), and the surprise of receiving a completely random gesture of kindness.</p> <p><strong>A dense and thriving network reliant on the Internet</strong></p> <p>What travels even better than books are conversations, opinions, critiques, recommendations. Some discussions are created within or around reading groups or in dedicated forums online such as the <a href="http://www.bibliotheque-orange.org/">Orange Network Library</a>, for example. There are recommended reading lists, readers’ ratings, and book signings with authors are organised. These networks are digital, but they existed well before the Internet, and they remain dynamic today.</p> <p>However, the rise of blogs at the start of the 2000s led to an increase in the number of reviews by ordinary people. This provided visibility, even a reputation for some bloggers. Of course, institutional and newsworthy reviews continue to play their role in guiding the masses, and they are influential prescribers protected by publishers. But websites like <a href="https://www.babelio.com/">Babelio</a>, combine a popular expertise, shared and distributed among many bloggers who are sometimes very specialised themselves. The website was created in 2007 and has over 690,000 reader members.</p> <p>The proliferation of content and publications can easily disorientate us; the role of these passionate bloggers, who are often experts in given literary fields, becomes important because they are “natural” influencers one might say, as they are the closest to the public. However, some publishers have understood the benefits of working with these bloggers, especially in so far as concerns specialist genres like manga, comics, crime novels or youth fiction. Sometimes a blogger, YouTuber and web writer is published like <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/LesLecturesdeNiNe">Nine Gorman</a>.</p> <p>Some bookshops contribute even more directly in coordinating these bookworms, they “mould” their audience, or at least they support the books both online and in their shops with face-to-face meetings. Conversation is a unifying force for fans who are undoubtedly the best broadcasters across a broad sphere.</p> <p>Platforms encourage readers to expand their domain, in the guise of fanfictions, which are published online by the author or his readers. The relationship with authors is closer than ever and is much more direct, the same can be said of the music industry. On particular platforms like <a href="https://www.wattpad.com/">Wattpad</a>, texts which are made available are linked with collective commentary.</p> <p>But above all, the dialogue about reading has often been transformed into writing itself. It might be published on a blog and may be likened to authorial work but at the other end of the spectrum, it might be something modest like the annotations one leaves in their own book. These annotations, more common in non-fiction texts, can form a sort of trade. For example if you lend or sell on a book, which is also stocked and shared with the online systems of <a href="https://web.hypothes.is/">Hypothes.is</a>, it allows any article found on the web to be annotated, and the comments saved independent to the display format of the article. This makes it easier to organise readers into groups.</p> <p>Printed books have in fact become digital through the use of digital platforms which allow them to be circulated as an object or as conversations about the book. The collective attention paid creates a permanent and collaborative piece of work, very different to frenetic posts on social media. Readers take their time to read, a different type of engagement altogether to social media’s high frequency, rapid exchanges. The combination of these differently paced interactions can, though, encourage one just to read through alerts from social media posts then followed by a longer form of reading.</p> <p>Networks formed by books constitute as well a major resource for attracting attention. This is still not a substitute for the effects of “prize season” which guides the mass readership, but which deserves to be considered more critically, given the fact that publishers increasingly take advantage of these active communities.</p> <p>It would thus be possible to think of the digital book as part of the related book ecosystem, rather than treating it as just a clone. To call it homothetic, is to say that it is an exact recreation of the format and properties of the book in print in a digital format. Let’s imagine multimedia books connected to, and permanently engaged with, the dialogue surrounding the book – this would be something else entirely, affording added value which would justify the current retail price for simple files. This would therefore be an "access book" and which would perhaps attract a brand new audience and above all it would widen this collective creativity already present around books in print.</p> <p><em>Written by Dominique Boullier, Mariannig Le Béchec and Maxime Crépel. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/books-why-the-internet-hasnt-killed-them-off-110320">The Conversation</a></span>. </em></p>

Books

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5 self-improvement books you should read

<p>Starting the journey to self-improvement and personal development can be as simple as turning a page. Here are our recommendations for books that will take your career and personal life to the next level.</p> <p><strong><em>Man's Search for Meaning</em> by Viktor Frankl</strong></p> <p>For those looking to find existential relief, many have championed this book as a must-read for anyone looking to find meaning and purpose in life. In the 1946 book, Frankl shared his experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp during the second World War.</p> <p>Reflecting on his observations, Frankl argues that while suffering is unavoidable, individuals have the power to cope, find meaning in the struggle and move forward with a renewed purpose.</p> <p>“I'm 77 and every time I re-read the book, I find new relevant meaning," a reviewer <span><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/questions/314981-do-you-think-or-feel-this-book-still">wrote</a></span>.</p> <p><strong><em>The Organized Mind</em> by Daniel Levitin</strong></p> <p>In the digital age, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the plethora of information and choices out there. Levitin, cognitive psychologist and musician, does not churn easily doled-out maxims to deal with this heavy flow of information – instead, he delves deep into neuroscience behind how the brain works, showing how readers can work with instead of against their mind in dealing with the challenges of daily life.</p> <p><strong><em>Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness </em>by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler</strong></p> <p>We make decisions everyday – what to eat, where to go, what to do, how to spend our money and more. But if you feel like you keep making more poor choices than the good ones, <em>Nudge</em>’s theory of "choice architecture" can help turn that around.</p> <p><em>Nudge'</em>s main idea is that we are constantly influenced by bias and status quo (or the default option), which leads us to make terrible choices even when the better ones are within sight. By understanding how our brain works when we're making decisions, we can start overcoming ineffectual tendencies and "nudge" ourselves towards choices that benefit us and the world most.</p> <p><strong><em>How to Win Friends and Influence People</em> by Dale Carnegie</strong></p> <p>Making friends and building new relationships can get more difficult as we grow older, but <em>How to Win Friends </em>offers time-tested wisdoms that can help you get back on your feet.</p> <p>This all-time classic has become a global bestseller and a staple across the world. First published in 1936, the principles taught in this book have withstood the test of time and helped readers across generations such as billionaire Warren Buffett in building social skills and changing their mindset. Reviews have praised the book’s revealing insights into relationships as well as assumptions we make and blind spots we have when interacting with other people.</p> <p><strong><em>59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot</em> by Richard Wiseman</strong></p> <p>As one of Britain’s best-selling authors, Wiseman has written many books on psychology, luck and paranormality. In <em>59 Seconds</em>, Wiseman brings together diverse scientific studies and experiments into actionable nuggets of advice that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Some of the practical tips include, "Next time you attend an important meeting, obtain a quick and easy psychological advantage by sitting in the middle of the group" and "The best way of getting someone to like you is not to do them a favour, but rather to get them to do you a small favour."</p> <p>"It's like a Swiss Army knife for life and all the tips and hacks are condensed in a one minute principle," one reader <span><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3INPS89K6PESK/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B002W8QXHW">wrote</a></span>.</p> <p>Have you read any of these books? Tell us about your favourite self-help book in the comments.</p>

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>

Books

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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. 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>

Books

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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, Australia. 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.</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.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></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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