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Doctor Who and the Importance of Reading


Every Doctor Who fan knows that the Doctor believes in the power of books and reading. Us readers appreciate the different references. There is the giant library where the Doctor and Donna meet the shadows – and the Doctor meets River Song for his first time (and her last time). Clara gets trapped inside the Tardis when it is taken for salvage. She spends part of her time in the library, learning about the Doctor’s past.

Doctor WhoTonight, though, I’m rewatching “Angels Take Manhattan”. The Doctor is reading Melody Malone’s book to Amy when they realize it was written by River Song. She is trapped in 1930’s New York with Rory. Amy starts reading ahead to try to find Rory. The Doctor grabs the book away from her because it’s dangerous.

Amy: “It could help us find Rory.”

Doctor: “And if you read ahead and find that Rory dies? This isn’t any old future, Amy, it’s ours. Once we know it’s coming it’s fixed. I’m going to break something because you told me that I’m going to do it. No choice now.”

Amy: “Time can be rewritten.”Book Shelf

Doctor: “Not once you’ve read it. Once we know it’s coming it’s written in stone.”

Ah, the power of reading…

Reading Oddities


Once again I am struck how two completely different books with no real connection can suddenly have one.

I reTouchstone by Laurie R. Kingcently finished Laurie R. King‘s Touchstone. It’s an historical mystery that takes place in England in 1926. A big part of the story is the near riots and impending strike by the union workers. The coal miners are protesting longer hours in the mines with no pay increase – or even a salary decrease. The characters in the book move in and out of the crowds but the plot of the novel rests on that uprising and strike.The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The next book I picked up was The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. This is a fantasy novel that starts in England in 1984. What’s happening in the background of the novel? While not part of the major plot, the union members are preparing for a strike. The coal workers are having troubles and there is a show of solidarity.

These are two books from two genres by two very different authors. I’m sure not too many people would pick up one, then go on to the other. But I did.

It’s 60 years later in The Bone Clocks, but the unions and worker fairness was still (again?) an unresolved issue. If I was trying to match up books, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen Touchstone with The Bone Clocks!

One Trip Sparks Memories of Another – and Another – and Another


Death of a Doxy by Rex StoutOn Wednesday evening I decided to take a reading/relaxation/road trip for the long weekend I had scheduled off from work. Thursday morning I drove off to the Grand Canyon and on into New Mexico. I was alone on this trip so my thoughts were my own. It was weird how many other places this trip took me in my head from past trips.

St. Michele in northwestern France – the shuttle buses at the Grand Canyon
Austin, Texas – the towels at the hotel swimming pool
Skagway, Alaska – the western motif all over the town of Williams, Arizona
Southern Ohio – I love my aunt, but I wasn’t spending over $300 for an Native American painting I knew she’d love
Western Oregon Tillamook cheese factory – the cafeteria at the Grand Canyon
French Riviera – listening to the first chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night
Southwestern South Dakota – the driving approach to the Grand Canyon

The road trip has been a success. The reading trip has been a success as well. I finished four books so far, and will finish at least two more by the time I’m home Sunday afternoon. I learned that I couldn’t listen to Tender is the Night while driving long distances. Its quiet tone in the beginning almost put me to sleep. I changed audio books. The relaxation trip? I don’t miss the massage I had to cancel at all. I’m very relaxed.

It’s too bad I have to return to work on Monday.

Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming


Neil Gaiman lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London.

“I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.”

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

The Guardian’s complete article.

Word Pictures


“…is ten acres of open grounds with about two acres of humiliated grass smeared thinly over it…”The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

From The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

That phrase evokes a vivid picture in my head.


So Little Time…

One of my favorite sayings is “So many books, so little time”. Mt. Bookpile grows each year despite my reading list. I’ve taken 64 books off this year that I picked up in 2011 or earlier. (No, they’re not all listed on the left – only the ones I’ve reviewed at my web site are showing.) Plus there have been another 20 or so I’ve bought this year that I’ve read.

But I know I picked up at least as many as I’ve read. And now the world is supposed to end tomorrow. Since I’m in California, that actually means it should have already ended in Australia, Asia, and Europe. If the world is ending, how am I ever going to catch up? How will Jim Butcher finish the Dresden File series? How will Carole Nelson Douglas finish the Midnight Louis series?

OK, since the rest of the world is still here, I guess I can relax. I’ll go back to reading one of the books I recently bought, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

And yes, the cover really does glow in the dark…

Reading Oddities

Every once in a while I find myself reading books with connections that I doubt someone else sees just because of what I pick up when. This is one of those times.

For my RL book club we are reading Helen Simonson’s general fiction novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. It’s about an older, retired Engglish gentleman who knows what’s honorable, proper, and right. He knows what should or shouldn’t be done – within the culture he has always known. Then he finds he is attracted to Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani English widow who owns the local store. Although she was born and raised in England, she is still foreign to the neighbors because she’s different. The Major learns a lot about himself and his neighbors in this gentle novel as he turns from what he “always knew” to what he knows is right. I finished it last week.

In contrast, I am now reading a tween to young adult futuristic dystopic science fiction novel called The Boy From Ilysies by Pearl North. It is one I received for review after I had enjoyed the first book in the series, Libyrinth. Po, the main character, is the only man in the Libyrinth from a matriarchal country. He now lives among people who consider all of themselves equal Other men around him come from a patriarchal society. Po keeps making cultural mistakes. He doesn’t understand the others’ cultural mores, nor is it easy for him to believe he is equal to a woman. He keeps deferring to them even when they don’t want that. Po has to learn a whole new way of living – a new culture. (Of course, since this is a young adult adventure book as well, he has to end up on a quest to save the Libyrinth.)

The odds of anyone reading and mentioning these two books in the same breath are slim to none. Yet here I am, struck by their similarities. When life around us changes, we must adapt or break. Both Major Pettigrew and Po must change their thinking and adapt to improve their own lives. They are both products of their culture, breeding, and upbringing.

I hope there’s not a lesson there I’m about to have to learn…

Rube Goldberg Reading Device


I think I saw this in a Tweet from LeVar Burton. No matter, I know I saw this on Twitter and had to share. This is a hoot. But I wonder what turns the burner off again…

Yes, I laughed out loud in my office and immediately emailed it to my daughters when I saw it.



If you were at ComiCon last weekend or are a Star Trek fan or keep up with pop culture science fiction trends, you know about John Scalzi’s newest book, Redshirts. I finally got my signed copy (my store was getting them signed while Scalzi was at ComiCon last weekend) and started reading it yesterday.

I was laughing out loud by page 50 because Scalzi nailed so much of the dramatic genre so well. I especially keep laughing at the lieutenant who “almost dies” every time he goes on an away mission, then is miraculously cured within a week or two so he can go on another away mission and have it happen all over again. Over the years I have made lots of jokes about the healing properties of television serial heroes.

I’m flying out of town tonight and hope to finish the book by the end of the plane ride. It’s a hoot.

What Is Your Reading Speed?


Recently I’ve been following Lynn Viehl’s blog, The Paperback Writer.

Today she posted this test from Staples:

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

I’m above average in reading speed, which is no surprise since I read so much. I took the test twice – and the test gave me a different selection the second time. I did better the second time, reading 562 wpm. The first time it was 451. I didn’t recognize the first text so read a bit slower. The second time it was a selection from Alice in Wonderland and I read it more quickly. The reader is also given three multiple choice questions after reading to test comprehension as well. It’s an interesting exercise.

Check it out.

LazyGal, I’m especially interested in your speed. Anyone who reads as much as you do… Viehl did a screen shot of hers – 1,001 per minute! Whew!

5 Awesome Things About Books


Check out this essay by Neil Pasricha.

5 Awesome Things About Books

Thanks, LazyGal.

Early Twentieth Century Architecture


What does early twentieth century architecture have to do with reading, you ask?

I am nearing the end of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. The fair has closed, the murderer is in jail, and the madman has struck. The murderer still has to be tried, we still have people’s lives to finish, and a few more things to tie up.

I’m reading about the architecture of the Chicago World’s Fair and how its influence spread into the 20th century with its gothic columns and Romanesque feel. Another Chicago architect (Sullivan) blasted the fair’s architect (Burnham) because the style lasted over long.

About two months ago I read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. She used the world of architecture as her background. The battle was over architects keeping to the traditional intricate styles against the architect whose innovations shook the field to its core. I can’t help but wonder if Sullivan’s attack of Burnham was part of Rand’s influence for her epic novel.