If you’re a fan of all things writing, then Fourth Genre’s new podcast series “Off the Page” is for you. Each episode highlights a different author published in Fourth Genre, discussing their work and covering various issues in the realm of nonfiction as well as their writing process, the editing process, and, of course, what animal they would most like to be.
So far, “Off the Page” focuses on authors the Fourth Genre editorial staff met at the annual Associated Writers and Writing Program conference when they traveled to Boston earlier this year. In the first episode, Eric Walters talks with Daisy Hernandez, the author of “Before Love, Memory” which received a Notable Mention in Best American Essays 2013. In the second episode, Brenda Miller is interviewed about her various published pieces, especially the most recent of her Fourth Genre pieces, “How to Get Ready for Bed”. With only two episodes so far, catching up is simple! Don’t miss any more episodes; check out “Off the Page” here.
As the literary world moves closer and closer to a wholly digital reading experience, new reading devices seem to crop up every day. As delightful and convenient as ebooks can be, it’s frustrating when you can’t find the right format for a book that you want to read. Bookbub can help with that. By signing up with your email, you can receive daily offers on free or discounted ebooks. The website supports numerous digital platforms including, but not limited to: Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Google Play Books. They provide links to download the book of your choice for your preferred ereader. Learn more about Bookbub at Lifehacker. Happy Reading!
A big vocabulary is like a full toolbox; you might not need every tool for every job, but every tool has a time and place. The way we pick up new vocabulary is a fascinating and complicated field, but measuring our vocabulary can be equally complicated. Researchers trying to learn more about this field have created testyourvocab.com. The test has you go through and choose the words you can define and then estimates your vocabulary at the end. A typical score for a native English speaker is between 20,000-35,000 words. Keep in mind, there is most probably a sample bias at work here, since the people most likely to test their vocabulary are the same people who would value a large one. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting experiment. You might be surprised by how much you know.
At first glance, this statistic stuns. 1 in 10 almost seems like a typo, or a miscalculation. But Iceland has such a strong culture of writing and storytelling that they even have a saying for this phenomenon – “ad ganga med bok I maganum”. Everyone gives birth to a book.
They are not just a country of writers, but as a natural extension, they are voracious readers. Book catalogs get passed out to every house, and public benches even have barcodes that will read audiobooks to you as you sit. They have more books read per capita than any other country in the world.
The country’s natural landscape has been cited as an inspiration even to non-native authors such as JRR Tolkien (who studied Icelandic in college) and has served as a dramatic backdrop for storytelling in other media as well. The HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones has shot in Iceland for season 4, and the upcoming Thor movie shot Icelandic landscapes as well.
If you’re curious to find out more about this unique cultural situation, check out the article from BBC that inspired this post.
Are you sitting in front of a desk with a stack of books? Did you wait last minute and now your asking yourself, how could I possibly read through six chapters in one night? Have no fear, I’m here to help. Take a deep breath and grab a snack because there’s a faster way to read. It’s simple, as Lifehacker suggests, “Read faster by looking at the words in the middle of sentences.”
Terribleminds.com is one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers of 2011 as dubbed by Writer’s Digest. The website is run by Chuck Wendig, an eccentric novelist and blogger with a penchant for extended metaphors that go on for days and you’re left scanning the pages wondering when it will ever end and yet, understanding what he means completely and thoroughly enjoying his unusual diction to help get you there. However, he’s not just a master wordsmith. I first stumbled upon him whilst looking for writing advice. He’s written a plethora of tips and advice books for writers and he even admits to not following his own advice sometimes (he doesn’t take himself too seriously). His published books include 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, 500 Ways to Tell A Better Story, 500 Ways to Be A Better Writer and then the sequel: 500 More Ways to Be A Better Writer.
Among these and many of his blog posts, he reminds us that in order to be a writer, you must actually write. Brilliant stuff. But seriously, this man cuts the crap and let’s you have it. He’s been around the writer’s block enough times to know the mistakes you shouldn’t make again and the mistakes that you will make again. He keeps his advice real brutal, leaving a slight copper taste in your mouth, but it’s definitely entertaining if you don’t take it too personally. Lest I forget, he also has free stories on his website for your reading pleasure. I think that’s reason enough to go check him out at terribleminds.com.
An illustration in the 1959 version of The Elements of Style, illustrated by Maira Kalman.
The list of books written about writing or reading is exhaustive and too numerous to even count. Brain Pickings main blogger, Maria Popova chose nine of her favorite books on writing and reading and explained why everyone should read them. A couple that are more well-known are Stephen King’s, On Writing, which Popova describes as “part master-blueprint, part memoir, part meditation on the writer’s life,” and The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk.
Some not so well-known, but still highly recommended books, are How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler, hailed as a “living classic” because “it deals with the fundamental and unchanging mesmerism of the written word.” Another is How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish. Popova says this isn’t just another guide on how to craft your writing, “it’s also a rich and layered exploration of language as an evolving cultural organism.” Perhaps these books aren’t going to be high on your summer reading list, but they are worth the read if you aspire to write and improve in that area.
Cory Doctorow is co-founder of Boing Boing, a well-known blogger, and a science fiction writer. I found Cory’s work through his science fiction, particularly Little Brother, a novel about four savvy teenagers fighting Homeland Security in a post-terrorist attack San Francisco. I find Cory’s writing to be accessible and real-world relevant, the things I look for in science fiction. Which leads me to your free goodie: Eastern Standard Tribe, another of Cory’s novels which he provides a free download to on his website, craphound.com.
Each of Cory’s print books is simultaneously published on the internet with a Creative Commons license to “encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work” (Bio). Eastern Standard Tribe, originally published in 2004, is the only book he provides on his website, I’m sure if you dig around you can find links to more of Cory’s works.