Tag Archives: reading

Librarian Book Smack: A Culture War Report

The other night my roommate convinced me to join her at our regional library’s “Book Smack” event. At first I was concerned that it would be a tedious affair. After all, why would you want to talk about a book when you could just go ahead and read it? However, the event page promised that the librarians would “let their hair down, take off their glasses and speed review their favourite books” and that it would be “fast, furious and fun” night, so with the image of wild librarians in mind, I decided to go along.

When we arrived at the venue, I wasn’t overly surprised to see that the audience was primarily older women. The featured librarians were also all women, although only two of them sported silver-white hair.

Before the event started the MC set some ground rules. Each librarian would have a certain amount of time to convince the audience to read/watch/listen to a few of their favourite books/movies/audiobooks/CDs. In the first round each librarian was given five minutes, then three, then only one, to review their books. During the intermission audience members would then vote for the librarian who they thought would would win the book smack. Then, for the second round, librarians were only given three minutes, then one minute, then only thirty seconds to defend their choices.

I’m not entirely sure what made this event as fantastic as it was. Maybe it was just the fun of seeing librarians mutter words like “full frontal” and “masturbation warning”. Perhaps it was the appeal of seeing a group of much older women giddy with laugher all around me. Most likely, it was the reminder of just how amazing books are, and how they can bring us together by inviting us into new worlds or allowing us to wrestle with our own struggles. Continue reading

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3 Things I Learned During My 3 Weeks of Internet Deprivation

John and I moved back to Victoria at the beginning of September. I didn’t bother calling about internet set-up until we arrived. I figured it couldn’t be that long of a wait.

I was wrong, so very wrong.

Apparently, when all the students of Victoria are trying to hook up their internet, the wait can actually be quite long. Nearly three weeks long, to be exact. In those three weeks I learned a few things about myself. Since today is our first day with internet in our new place, I thought I would share what I learned with you.

1. It’s Easy to Fall Behind Without Home Internet 

It’s not like the internet was completely gone from my life for the last few weeks. I could still walk to a coffee shop or stay late at school if necessary. Unfortunately, since school started the same week we arrived, I almost only sought out internet when I needed to do some homework. It’s been particularly difficult to keep on top of my readings, since the majority of them have been online so far. I’ve spent several full days camped out at the nearby coffee shop just trying to stay on top of them. Then, this past week, I got sick.

Angrily, I continued to drag myself to the coffee shop in my pyjamas to finish my homework before they closed at 6 pm.

I’m an adult, and I have my own laptop that I can bring with me. As inconvenient as it is, lacking internet doesn’t actually prevent me from doing my homework. However, for a lot of young people without home internet it’s incredibly hard to keep up with their studies without home internet. This problem is sometimes referred to as the digital divide or the homework gap and generally tends to affect low-income households.

These numbers are based on an American study. You can find information about the digital divide in Canada by clicking here.

Continue reading

Not Strictly Literary: 6 Unexpected Subjects You Learn About in English

I’m currently in the last year of my English undergraduate degree. Well, kinda. I will probably have to do an extra semester to finish off my credits completely, but after next semester I will have finally finished all my English requirements.

Like many students, I kind of fell into my major. In my first year of full time studies I was seriously considering a degree in economics, or anthropology. Until I took a class in those subjects and quickly changed my mind. Once I started figuring out what kind of classes I actually liked, I started talking about doing my degree in Sociology, Political Science, or Environmental Ethics. Then, when I transferred to UVic, I decided I would take their writing program. Well I thought I was decided, until I was invited to join the English Honours program. That invitation totally went to my head and I dropped everything in order to pursue that (very structured) program.

Because of the number of required English classes (and because I blew many of my elective classes during first year), I’ve been taking pretty-well only English classes for the last two years. During that time, I began to ask myself if I had made the best choice. After all, English is really just reading books, isn’t it? Couldn’t I do that in my own time?

Ah, reading for fun/relaxation. Can’t wait until I get to do that again.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of my degree, I’m able to look back and be thankful for (almost) all of the English classes I needed to take. Yes, I still feel like there are a million others I wish I could have taken, but I think I would have felt that way regardless of my major. There are more fantastic courses out there than what you can possibly fit into one undergraduate degree.

Getting close to the end has also allowed me to reflect on the many English courses I have taken and realize just how broad a range of subjects they actually address. I’ve included a few examples below.

Linguistics

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One of the texts we are translating for our final project.

I’m currently finishing off a class on Middle English that I did not want to take. Not at all. I’m required to take a class in early English literature, so I chose this class after a friend recommended the professor. I was then pleasantly surprised to find that it was a fantastic class. It was also not at all what I was expecting.

English has evolved considerably since the 12th century, so it’s hardly surprising that trying to read Middle English texts is like reading an entirely different language.

At the beginning of the class our professor touched on many of the other languages that have influenced the formation of the English language. Then, as the class progressed, a lot of the work we did in class involved translating various works. The translation process required a basic understanding of how to parse language, something I had almost no experience with. Like many English speakers, sentence structure is something I know intuitively, not something I’ve intentionally learned. However, if my experience in Quebec this summer taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to break down language is key to learning a new one. So I’m hopeful that the linguistic skills I’ve been struggling to learn in this class will help me with my future language learning goals. Continue reading

Not A Review Of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The book in question, the eighth by Gabrielle Zevin, an author more known for her YA [young adult] fare, is one that I have altogether too many thoughts about. I’m choosing not to dub this post a review proper, as it’s really a slightly more cohesive version of one of the stream of consciousness responses to books/films/etc. that blogger/writer J. Caleb Mozzocco is so fond of doing.

In order to make this easier for all of you to read, and with no offence whatsoever meant to Mozzocco [whose writing I enjoy quite a bit] I have boiled down this post to the three primary thoughts I was left with once I’d closed the book.

To be upfront with everyone I also want to state, before starting, that I enjoyed reading this novel and while this will definitely make more sense having read it, I hope to have written it in such a way that doesn’t spoil anything and piques your interest enough to pick it up. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Getting Into Reading Comics

EVAN: I wanted to start this off by referring to you readers as “initiated and uninitiated”, but decided that that would be too creepy. The thing is, those words aren’t too far off the mark when it comes to those who are and aren’t in the know when it comes to one of my all-time favourite mediums.

This week Kat [a person who does not regularly read comics] and I [a person who does] will be discussing how to go about doing so, and why a lot of people don’t.

KAT: Oh, I’m glad you added in that last part, because I was just thinking about why I don’t read more comics. Continue reading

Writing Issues

Well readers, I bring the joyous news that you can now, at long last, read the scribblings of yours truly on two internet sites. Primer magazine, which I reviewed in the past, was kind enough to publish an article of mine which I’ll be shamelessly plugging here. In addition, it got me thinking about writing in general, leading to our topic for today.

How can we make writing viable?

See, for the vast majority of would-be authors (myself included), writing simply isn’t a viable career, (excluding TV and movies, which are arguably a very different process). Yes, you’ve got such career novelists like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but these people represent the rare exception to the rule that writing is something you do when you’re not at your real job.

We could probably talk all day about the role of the publisher and the marketing team and everyone else involved in the process of getting the work out there, but today let’s just focus on the consumption of the product. I think there are a few factors that really contribute to the situation as it stands today. Continue reading

What Happened to Reading?

Now I know that there’s a certain degree of irony attached to this post. Just now you read my question on why people don’t read anymore. I’m not really talking about reading in the the sense of skimming the occasional article online, though. Before anyone tries to point it out- yeah, I’m aware that the medium for communication has shifted a lot since video is now accessible to pretty much everyone.

I’m talking about books, people. When did we stop reading books?

I would go bankrupt buying books with gifs for illustrations…

I can’t count how many times I’ve been reading a book in public and people act as if I’ve started cleaning a black-powder musket.

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