Archive for the ‘Thoughtabouts’ Category

Writing children

August 17, 2015

Writing children

Writing children isn’t easy.

Not writing for children, although that isn’t as easy as many people seem to think. ;)

Adults writing child characters often make the same mistakes.

Sometimes, the kids come across as cartoons, in the sense that they are sort of symbolic of a child, rather than trying to accurately display the way children think.

As I’ve said before, I love the Oz books…but Dorothy Gale doesn’t really read to me like an actual child.

There may be some cultural differences there: given when the book was written, and Dorothy’s agrarian enculturation (as you can tell, I might have more in common with the Woggle-Bug), it’s arguable that it would be harder for me to relate directly to Dorothy…but the same goes for all of the children in Oz books for me, from Trot to Button Bright.

Mark Twain is another favorite of mine…but I also don’t find Becky, Tom, and Huck, to be particularly realistic.

Maybe I tend to like books that aren’t exact replicas of my reality. :)

There are also times when people write kids just like they are adults. They aren’t…even though they are diverse, just like adults, they still have a different perspective…and not because they tend to be so much shorter than adults. ;) I’ve always said that there are times when a pre-conversational child is standing there crying just from the realization that, “I’m only two feet tall!” ;)

Still, there are some people I think write children really well…and I still think they write great books.

I’ve just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile*: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and then read

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(you can read my review and analysis ((so SPOILER ALERT)) here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1362361030)

and Harper Lee is definitely one of those people who write children well…and I consider TKaM to be one of the truly great novels.

Stephen King is another one…I’d say particularly in

It (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s not to say that I consider It in to be in the same stratum as TKaM…I don’t (although I think The Stand is way up there). It’s that I think the writing of the children feels realistic to me.

One more, and one who is certainly not as well known as the other two: Derek Swannson, particularly with the first book in the Crash Gordon series.  You can read my

review of Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

and I would suggest you take a look at that before you read the book…it’s not for everybody.

However, I think the writing of the children is as good as any I’ve read. Full disclosure: I did read the draft of the second book and made some suggestions (and was acknowledged in the book), but I don’t have any financial connection to the book and haven’t met Derek Swannson in real life. I was asked for input because of my review of the first book. I’ve given feedback to a few people on their manuscripts, but not as a paid editor. It’s fun for me to do, and I think I’m a reasonably good amateur at it, primarily as a reader, but also as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and a follower of publishing.

What do you think? Are there books you read where you think the author got the child characters right? Was  that in book written to be read by or two children, or to be read by adults? What was it about the writing that worked for you? Do you want your books to seem like real life, or do you prefer them to be a different reality (or perhaps, you like both at different times)? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

August 13, 2015

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

Regular readers know that I don’t identify gender on this blog, generally.

I try to write in a way that doesn’t use gender-specific pronouns. I don’t identify my gender, or the genders of my friends and family (I use “Significant Other”, “sibling”, “now adult kid”, that sort of thing…I also often use somewhat more awkward writing, by using proper nouns rather than pronouns. That means I may use someone’s first or last name several times in a paragraph).

I’ve explained this before, and I know not everybody endorses the idea of it, but I think my readers generally accept it…in some cases, maybe, just as an eccentricity of mine. :)

I do it so that people can feel free to comment on this blog without revealing intrinsic characteristics (I also don’t make explicit other things, like race). If I don’t do it, it’s arguably more convention for other people not to do it.

I would say that’s my favorite thing about the internet: the ability to be judged by what we say, not by who we are.

I also believe (a lot of sentences starting with “I” this time! That’s because I am, so far, talking about me…that will become somewhat different as I continue) that some of my readers think it is important to promote contributions by people who might face a lack of recognition because of who they are.

For example, I’m sure there are people who by default assume authors are male. It used to be much more true, I believe, that women authors would have a tougher time in the mainstream marketplace. Female authors sometimes had pen names designed to disguise their gender…either by using, say, initials instead of a first name, or by choosing a deliberately male name.

In English, many speakers assume the default is male.

We no longer tend to use the term “authoress” and people don’t say “lady doctor” much any more. I don’t use the term “actress”, unless I have to quote something, like the categories in the Oscars. To me, it singles out female actors as different from “regular actors”. There isn’t a term for male actors like there is for female actors. If you say that the play calls for ten “actors”, that means both the female and male roles. If you say it calls for “six actors and four actresses”, the generic term refers to the males, meaning that “male” is seen as “normal”.

I’ve had readers assume that my now adult kid is male…since that’s the default, I think. I haven’t said either way. :)

So, I found this

TNW (The Next Web) post by MIC WRIGHT

interesting.

It’s about Tegan (AKA BellJarred) who asks men (the article specifically says men) who want to connect to name five female authors they’ve read first.

Actually, the article is a bit confusing. The article says “five books written by female authors”, but part of what they show seems to suggest it is “five female authors”.  That makes a big difference. Anybody who has read the Harry Potter series has read five books written by a female author (Jo Rowling…although the books were published with the gender neutral J.K. Rowling, and I understand that was because of a concern that boys would be less likely to want to read books written by a female author. I find that an odd argument: it’s likely to be the parents/legal guardians of a young child who would make the book buying purchase decisions, especially for something that was relatively expensive like the Harry Potter books. They may have been right about the marketing…but certainly, most book buyers knew that Rowling was female after the first book or so, and the sales did not go down).

The only challenge for me on this would be remembering which authors are female.

I don’t make a book buying decision based on that. I don’t make a book reading choice based on that.

I’m generally not big about an author’s biography…except, perhaps, when it informs nonfiction. If your autobiography is about having been a child soldier, than having been a child soldier is important. :) If it’s a novel, well, for me, it just doesn’t matter.

I experiment with my own mind. :) Years ago, I made an effort not to identify people I met in person by gender. I succeeded. I met someone, and later could not identify their gender to someone else. I know, though, that’s unnatural. It took a form of…self-hypnosis, I suppose, to achieve. I didn’t maintain it, though.

That ability has certainly been useful at times. I don’t like being annoyed (apparently unlike some people on the internet) ;) and I don’t like conflict. If I find something that irritates me, what I usually do is change that irritation into amusement by reframing it. Then, I’ll smile when I encounter what was a former irritant.

I’ll give you an example.

My Significant Other, who I love very much, tends to put things into places I use as workspaces. We are having our kitchen redone right now…we hadn’t had a working stove for many years, and there were a lot of other issues. We refinanced, and we’re having the kitchen done by Ikea (the look of it and the price of the cabinets are both good…the experience with the contractors, to whom we were connected by Ikea, has not been). That means we have no cabinets, no counter space.

I keep a few spaces clear for food prep. For example, a little corner of a table where we have the microwave and a “third burner”, not even a square foot, is where I prep my oatmeal. :) I put a plastic bag on the lid of the garbage can, so I can put some things there. We have a half wall where I set the dog dishes (small dogs, small dishes), as I get the canned dog food out of the refrigerator (which is in our living room). Next to the sink in the bathroom, I have an area where I clean dishes.

My SO has left things in all of these spaces, I think. :)

That’s not done on purpose, consciously, to mess me up. We both need empty spaces…I think these are just convenient.

I used to be irritated to find something in a “clear space” like that.

I reframed it for myself as being like a cat getting in your “warm spot” on a chair when you get up to get something. :)

That charms me…and now, I smile when it happens.

My point on all this is that identifying people by gender is natural…arguably, even a species survival requirement (although perhaps, not in all circumstances).

Making the effort to identify female authors I’ve read, I then found it not difficult at all to come up with five. I would guess I could come up with fifty without much effort. Coming up with more than fifty of anything can be difficult. ;)

That goes back to when I was a child, and straight on to the present.

I’ll just throw a few out here, making the point again that I didn’t read them because they were female.

I’m currently reading

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

having just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

Hm…the name “Harper” isn’t particularly female to me…I wonder if most people who read the first book when it first came out were even aware  of the author’s gender. Sure, TKaM had a female protagonist…but Harry Potter has a male one. Arguably, it’s much more common to find women writing male protagonists than vice versa, though.

I’ve read tons of Agatha Christie. :)

I read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I think I’d better just start listing some:

  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Constance Whyte (nonfiction)
  • Olivia Butler
  • Elaine Morgan (nonfiction)
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson (the second Oz author)
  • Jane Austen
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (and not just Frankenstein)
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Kim Harrison

I could keep going on and on.

On all of these, I’m pretty sure they are female. :)

Looking at what came to mind, there is some diversity of topic/genre there, although clearly, fantasy/science fiction is up there, and there isn’t as much nonfiction. That may be more a reflection of what I’ve read for fiction (rather than what’s written/published), but I read a lot of nonfiction. I suspect that might actually reflect a publishing…tendency, although I haven’t looked for an analysis.

What do you think? Is requiring that people have read a certain type of author before messaging you a reasonable thing to do? Do you think if someone can name five female authors they have read, it’s predictive of how well you will get along with them? Could you quickly name five female authors you’ve read? How about five authors of a given race? National origin? Is it different to ask the latter two questions than the first one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

We interrupt this story to bring you…SEX!

July 22, 2015

We interrupt this story to bring  you…SEX!

I’ll read books with explicit sex scenes…but I do want to expect them. :)

I think it’s quite strange when I’m reading a story I’m enjoying…a science fiction novel, a mystery, with interesting character development and plot, and suddenly, there is an anatomically specific sex scene.

It doesn’t feel like it belongs there:  like it’s an ad for sex. ;)

The old saying is that sex sells, but these sorts of incongruous sex congress interludes have the opposite effect on me.

They often aren’t even sexy…it’s so step by step, it reads like instructions on how to put together a piece of furniture. ;)

Again, my biggest problem with them is that they just don’t belong there. It would be just as bad if you were reading a Western and got three pages of string theory (wait…I think Michael Crichton might have actually done that once…just kidding).

I was recently speaking with an author who had a related story. This author wrote a novel, and the publisher said it needed a sex scene. The author suggested that wasn’t a good idea…and the publisher offered to hire a ghost writer for it!

The book was published without it, and honestly, I think people would have liked the book a lot less with one of these “coitus insertus” bits.

While there are undeniably people who seek out a book to read because it has sex, I just can’t see a lot of people saying, “You know, I loved that novel…but it would have been better with a sex scene in it.”

I don’t know what the answer is to  it. Books don’t have a rating system, like movies or videogames, and I don’t really want them to have one. It’s not even about rating the overall level…I just want to know ahead of time if the author (perhaps under the influence of an editor/publisher) is going to take a “dirty detour”.

I should be clear: editors and publishers often greatly improve a book…the recent example of

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which was reportedly an early draft of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

appears to be the exemplar of editorial improvement.

What do you think? Are you bothered by these sorts of sex scenes? Are there other types of incongruous scenes which bother you? Are they less likely in tradpubs (traditionally published) books than in indies (independently published books)? Would you want to be warned…if so, how and by whom? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

July 17, 2015

Re-read or not re-read…that is the question

I’ve mentioned in this blog several times that I’m not a big re-reader of books.

However, I do know that many other people are.

My Significant Other knew somebody who only ever read the same two books: Helter Skelter and Gone with the Wind. They would finish one of them, start the other one, finish that and go back to the first, and so on.

That doesn’t appeal to me personally. I want books to change me. I want to read lots of books…different kinds of books by different people with different viewpoints.

For me, that’s the magic of books.

I will say that I am re-reading a book currently…fourteen books, actually.

I have an omnibus of  the original (Wizard of Oz) books, and I’ve taken to re-reading them before I go to sleep.

It takes me a long time to go to sleep at night…there’s a real process. Reading before I finally fall asleep is part of it.

I often don’t read much at that  time…quite often, not even a whole chapter.

That doesn’t mean I don’t retain it, though.

I’m re-reading them partially because I am writing some things about Oz, and I want to get the details right.

I’m also getting new insights.

Until we had cellphones,  I wouldn’t have realized that there was one in the Oz books!

The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone

Additionally, I’m at a different  place in my life than the first time I read them…or had them read to me (I was a kid).

So, I’m now open to the idea of re-reading…even though I feel a bit guilty doing it, which I know is silly.

I can see how I’d be more likely to re-read things now, even if I didn’t have a specific purpose. It used to be that I would remember just about everything in a book I read, even years later.

That’s no longer true.

I’ll pretty much remember the general plot, but characters’ names, for example? That doesn’t happen automatically any more.

Thinking about it, it’s also interesting: I have no reluctance at all to re-watch a TV show or a movie. I’ve seen the same episodes of the original Star Trek series many times…even though I could just about write the script from memory.

I’m confident in saying that there are some movies I’ve seen more than a hundred times, and would happily watch again.

Why the difference?

I think part of it is the investment of time. Watching a movie is  a couple of hours…reading a book can be much more than that.

I also don’t expect the visual media to change me the way a book does. The level of engagement is far different…most movies work on my surface emotions…books get deep inside my mind.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Figure we are talking about novels or short story collection/anthologies…not non-fiction, which is a different kettle of words. ;)

This whole post was inspired by a comment one of my regular readers and commenters, jjhitt, made. jjhitt thought it would be interesting for me to ask you, my readers, which books you re-read…and I am interested in that. I’m also interested in why you re-read…or why you don’t. If the poll isn’t enough for you, feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Censorship, free speech, and the (non)selling of symbols

June 25, 2015

Censorship, free speech, and the (non)selling of symbols

Amazon, along with several other retailers, is reportedly no longer going to carry items with the “Confederate flag” on them.

This is one of many articles on it:

CNN article by MJ Lee

This is a more complex issue than it might appear at first, and lands squarely in the middle of a topic we’ve discussed before.

Let’s talk about this in more general terms, rather than in the specific of this issue. That’s an important thing to do, especially for something involving a public entity. What may seem obvious to some people in one case then becomes a precedent for other cases where it may appear to be less clear cut.

First, First Amendment free speech of the publisher/product manufacturer is not involved. The First Amendment to the US Constitution has to do with what the government can do. It doesn’t have to do with what your friends, family…or employer can do.

An employer has the right to tell you that you can’t talk about politics with the customers. The government can’t tell you that you can’t talk politics with your social circle, but that’s entirely different.

Similarly, the government telling you that you couldn’t display a symbol or publish a book on a topic would be an infringement of the First Amendment…a bookstore refusing to carry books that promoted murder )or supported civil rights) can do that.

So, Amazon has the right to not carry books on pretty much any basis.

As a customer, you also have the right not to shop at a store that carries certain items…or refuses to carry them.

Amazon has other items it chooses not to carry…while carrying other controversial ones.

Snopes, which is a wonderful resource for checking out urban legends has even addressed a story that Amazon pulled Confederate flags, but not ISIS flags:

Snopes article by Kim LaCapria

As readers, it’s important to note that books are usually treated quite differently than visual depictions. Pornography prosecutions are going to go after videos or magazines with pictures far more often than text erotica.

I just did a quick search for

Confederate flag in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

Right off the bat, there are visual depictions of the symbol on book cover images…even though Amazon has supposedly removed sales of items with such displays.

Books are, as I would have expected, apparently being treated as a different class.

Even if you wish you would never see that particular flag again, you have to think about how you would like to achieve that goal. Do you want the government to ban it? Do you want stores to choose not to carry it? Do you want people to elect, on an individual basis, not to show it publicly? Privately?

Extend this to other symbols…the swastika might be a choice of some, perhaps necessitating cover changes to books like

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (at AmazonSmile*)

For some of you, that may seem like a slippery slope argument…and I’ll keep sliding for a moment. ;) If banning the symbol makes sense, does banning writing about the symbol make sense? Should you ban pro-Confederate non-fiction? What about fiction? Are books required to condemn the Confederacy if they are going to write about the “War Between the States”, “American Civil War”, or “War of Yankee Aggression”? You’ll see all three terms used in the USA, by the way, in part depending on where you are.

That’s not going to happen…not by the government.

However, industry groups have had “moral codes”.

The Comics Code Authority, for example had some very specific rules:

“3. Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”

“5. Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates the desire for emulation.

6. In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.”

http://www.comicartville.com/comicscode.htm

Imagine if those rules applied to modern television…

Remember that the Comics Code applied to publishing…and while some of it has to do with what is drawn, the above examples and many others have to do with the narrative.

My personal philosophy on this?

Let me give you an analogy.

I would prefer that people never started smoking cigarettes…that the product never existed.

I have a very bad reaction to cigarette smoke, and someone I know with asthma has had to go to the Emergency Department from unexpected exposure.

Would I pass a law banning cigarette smoking?

No.

What I would want is that everyone simply stops smoking or selling cigarettes. I know that won’t happen, at least not for a very long time.

Now, smoking in public is an issue for me, because there are clear public health impacts. I understand laws about that. I’d equate it to you not being able to drive your car on the sidewalk…but its fine with me if you want to drive your own car into the side of your own unoccupied house

Some people are going to equate displaying what they see as a symbol of hate with smoking in public. They think the exposure to the idea is psychologically/morally harmful in the same way that second hand smoke is physically harmful.

To that, I would say, “Show me the science”.

If it can be reasonably shown that exposure to an idea (visually or textually represented) in public is a threat to public safety (the classic example of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre), then it makes sense to me for the government to regulate it. Not destroy it entirely, but removing the public safety threat.

If an error is going to be made due to fuzzy results, I’m going to tend to lean in favor of intellectual freedom.

Could someone argue that reading Gone with the Wind or Tarzan makes someone racist? I suppose, but in order for action to be taken, I’d want there to be very solid evidence of that public impact, and then only take actions against what  I would assume to be a narrow set of circumstances. I’ve read Tarzan, and certainly recognize the racial depiction of Jane’s maid…but I don’t think that made me any less tolerant. I would guess that recognizing it actually may have contributed to me being more tolerant. There are studies that suggest that reading makes you more tolerant, not less.

I realize that this a controversial topic, and debated even writing this piece…but I’m very interested in what you think. Should Amazon be compelled not to carry certain works? Should the e-tailer make that choice, or should they leave it up to market forces? Why are books treated differently from visual depictions? Does consuming media change people’s morals and behavior…and if so, for both good and bad? I do think I have  benefited from modeling my behavior to some extent on fiction (I think I’m a much better person for wanting to follow certain ideas of Doc Savage…although I do think those books have been reasonably challenged for ethnic/racial depictions). Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Want diverse representation? Try books

April 29, 2015

Want diverse representation? Try books

I’m a geek.

A proud geek, by the way. :)

There has been a lot of discussion in the last couple of years about diversity in the geek world.

We’ve seen a real push for and shift towards female superheroes, for example. The latest incarnation of Thor is female (not in the movies, but in the comics)…there is even a female version of the Transformers that has recently appeared in the comics and will be released as toys (yep…robots with breasts).

We’ll be seeing more movies and TV shows with solo superheroes who aren’t white males in the next few years.

Daredevil, of course, on Netflix, represents a Federally protected class…which they define as “disabled”.

Then, there was the huge and ongoing “Gamergate” situation, which involves women and gaming and attitudes and treatment of them.

Catwoman was recently identified as bisexual, and Ice Man, one of the X-Men was “outed” (by a telepathic character) as gay.

Still, it’s not unreasonable to say that movies, TV shows, and games have a ways to go to have their leading characters reflect real world demographics.

I’m not about to argue that books are demographic mirrors. There may particularly be an imbalance in children’s books, and there is a campaign around that:

We Need Diverse Books.org

Still, I have to say…I’d be pretty shocked if you couldn’t find fiction that fits any protected class of which you are a member…and plenty that aren’t protected.

You can probably find a whole sub-genre of romances for any of those groups!

Why is that?

Is it because publishing is more “noble”? I’m not going to argue about that one, it’s awfully subjective.

However, I do think there are some factors.

One is that books are just inherently more complex.

I’ve mentioned the “Bechdel Test” in this blog before. There are a lot of formulations of it (even though we have a specific origin in Alison Bechdel’s comic), but I’ll go with this one. To pass the test a movie (that was the original line) has to have two named female characters in it who have a meaningful conversation about something other than a man.

Yes, that should be a pretty low bar (intentionally), but many movies fail it.

Even with the most generous version of it (“two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man”), a large number of movies and TV shows fail.

http://bechdeltest.com/

However, there just aren’t that many conversation in many movies. When you read a novel, they could have five sub-plots and fifty conversations.

A movie, in maybe two hours and requiring a lot of visual action, has a hard time handling one sub-plot and ten  conversations.

Another issue is that relatively, there aren’t that many movies released in a month.

If you look at wide releases, you are looking at around ten.

The USA Kindle store, on average, adds more than 1,000 books…a day!

Of course, those aren’t all major titles (the vast, vast majority aren’t), but they have an equally wide release (at least within the USA). Just as many people have the option to buy a book from an independent as have the option to buy the latest book from a brand name author. Movie theatres just don’t book that many movies…they can’t. There are times when I might want to see a movie…and the nearest theatre with it is fifty miles away (and I live in a good theatre area). If I want to read a particular book, thanks to the Kindle store, it usually isn’t fifty inches away. ;)

That’s another thing that e-books have made better.

When all you had was the airport bookstore to buy something, you might have had a hundred titles from which to choose.

If you want to most bookstores (I’m a former manager), you might have had tens of thousands, maybe even a 100,000 titles.

Sitting on my couch, though, I have access to millions.

So, I’m not saying that we can’t use more diversity in books, but I am saying that, with a little bit of looking, you can find books that focus on virtually any real world social group.

Is that an issue for you?

I’m trying to figure for myself if it ever has been…if I’ve sought a book because the lead character was “like me”. I’m having a hard time coming up with that.

I have read a book because the characters were interested in something in which I’m interested…that doesn’t seem the same to me, though.

I haven’t cared about reading a book because the character was the same gender, the same religion, the same national origin, the same race, the same sexual preference…hm. I don’t even care if characters have the same philosophies I do…I’ve really enjoyed characters who do things I would never do (for moral reasons), for example.

I will admit to being intrigued by an app that has, as a background,  a stylized version of a city in a country that is part of my heritage…not sure that’s the same. I didn’t know much about the city, so it was kind of fun to see.

Now I’m really taking a tour inside my own head. Would it bother me if every book I read had characters which were demographically identical…if they were intellectually and emotionally different?

Hmm…

The first question for me is, would I notice right away? Maybe not…I often don’t identify people by their inherent characteristics. That includes in “the real world”, by the way, not just online.

Let’s say I’m trying to remember who in a meeting said something. I’ve had people ask me if the person was a particular race…and I didn’t know. Clearly, the person asking me identified that person by that characteristic…I might something like, “They were tall.” That’s an inherent characteristic, but I do notice that one.

I might also identify them by where they were sitting in the room, which seems odd to people. I’ll say, “They were in the back row, third seat in from the door.” That often doesn’t help them.

Let me imagine this a different way. Would it bother me if, when I read books, it wasn’t just that the characters were all the same demographic…it was that they were the same demographic, and I wasn’t that one? For example, let’s say that every single book I could buy had people of a different ethnic origin as me.

I honestly think it wouldn’t bother me.

I suspect some of you are guessing at this point that it is because, you assume, I’m part of the majority or dominant group.

That’s not the case for all of the protected classes.

Here’s a simple one: I walk with a cane.

While I haven’t ever gotten legal disabled status, I think I could…I have a diagnosed condition which qualifies.

So, I’m not in the majority or the “privileged group” based on “disability status”.

That one may not be the same for you as, say, race or religion.

You might assume that people with a shared protected class tend to think the same way, but figure that’s not the case for people with disabilities.

Well, I’m very big on reading a diversity of thought.

I would be very disappointed if every book I read had characters with the same opinions!

That’s a place I do care about diversity!

No conclusions on this one…I’m just thinking in pixels.

I will stick with my original assertion: books have more diverse representation than movies, TV, or games.

What do you think? Is character diversity an issue for you? Do you think it negatively impacts children if none of the books they read have characters which “look like them”? Empathy is easier when there is similarity…but is it too difficult when there isn’t? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Why Power/Rangers matters to readers

February 27, 2015

Why Power/Rangers matters to readers

I like parodies.

I even have a category for parodies I write on this blog.

I’ve done Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes (I think that may have come out the best), Star Trek, Leave it to Beaver, and more.

There is a significant difference between the first two above and the last two.

The first two are public domain works (well, most of the original Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes, for sure…that’s a bit complicated), and the latter two are still under copyright protection in the USA.

The United States Copyright Office specifically lists a parody as something which has been found to fall under “Fair Use”, meaning that authorization from the rightsholder need not be obtained.

FL-102

Essentially, Fair Use is recognized as a kind of criticism…you point out the flaws in something by exaggeration, commonly.

That’s not protected in all countries.

In the past, I think one reason we saw a lot of Canadian comedians working in the USA was a difference in parody protection.

Recently, a “grim” version of the Power Rangers was made in what is commonly called a “fan film”…a parallel to “fan fiction” (often shortened to “fanfic”).

It criticized the idea of teenagers being chosen as warriors…and what might happen to them afterwards.

I watched it on YouTube.

Our now adult kid was into Power Rangers (the version being parodied here…the first popular US incarnation, not any of the myriad Japanese ones), so I was pretty familiar with the canon.

I thought it was well done.

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) star.

Now, it’s important to note, that this is not a funny version…a parody need not be funny to be protected, or to be a parody. It needs to be, as I understand it, an imitation which would not be confused with the original, but comments on it (typically through some sort of warping of the original).

Fan films and fanfic are often characterized by people as not being for commercial purposes. It is possible to have protection even for something done for commercial purposes…look, for example, at parodies on Saturday Night Live or Mad Magazine, both of which are commercial enterprises.

So, why does all of this matter for readers?

First, Vimeo took the video down…then quite a bit later, YouTube did (despite it being in their most popular videos for days, which is quite a feat).

Producer Adi Shankar said in part that having the video was protected by “free speech”, and parody.

That’s something I hear from time to time…that when Amazon chooses not to carry a book, it’s a violation of free speech.

It’s not part of the constitutional of free speech.

Legal “free speech” has to do with what the government does, not what private companies do.

It means that the government can’t shut down your parody, based on current case law, as I understand it (I’m not a lawyer). A private company can decide not to carry something…pretty much for whatever reason they want.

As I looked into this more, it looks like YouTube may have taken it down because of the use of the music, which is not the original version.

That’s different…it’s quite a bit harder to argue that the use of a melody is a parody of that melody.

Weird Al Yankovic gets the rights to the music, from what I know (although, and I don’t know this, that might not have always been the case).

Vimeo and YouTube have no legal obligation to keep any video available.

My interpretation would be that Power/Rangers was legal…but there are tons of legal videos that YouTube doesn’t carry.

Moving this to books…

You can write a parody of something.

You can publish that parody.

Nobody has to sell it to the public for you or distribute it to the public for you.

You can write fan fiction.

If it criticizes a work, you can distribute it…the government is not going to arrest you for it.

That doesn’t mean a bookstore (brick and mortar, like I used to manage, or internet, like Amazon) has to make it available.

I found this Huffington Post interview with producer Adi Shankar important and interesting (and, incidentally, NSFW…Not Safe For Work, having profanity):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/26/adi-shankar-power-rangers-bootleg-film_n_6764594.html

One thing Shankar says:

“I moved to America when I was 16 because this country was f*cking awesome, because of the First Amendment, because of freedom of speech…”

Absolutely.

However, we do have to be clear about what that means.

We can’t claim that free speech forces a commercial enterprise to sell something or give it away…the First Amendment constricts the government, not companies.

I’ve also seen this referred to as a “bootleg” (it’s in the page name at the HuffPo).

It’s not that, either.

A bootleg is an unauthorized recording done in a covert manner…someone records a movie in a movie theatre, for example, and then distributes that version.

Bootleg used to refer to hiding illegal liquor in your bootleg, as I recall it.

There was nothing in this fan film (according to the producer) that was original material, so nothing was bootlegged.

The term “cover” has also come up.

In a “cover”, one band/singer plays the music of another band/singer.

I haven’t completely verified this, but I always understood that those were done because the original musicians were a minority who were subject to commercial discrimination (stores wouldn’t carry records by certain races, for example…or perhaps, if they did, they would put them in what was literally called a “race music” section, where they wouldn’t sell to the mainstream). You need an “acceptable” face to put on the cover of the album…so someone else would record what was often a pretty faithful version of the original.

That also extended to radio stations not playing music.

“Covers” have later lost that sense of “covering up” the original artist.

Power/Rangers is also not a cover. In the original use of “covers”, the original songs were licensed…even though those contracts might arguably have been exploitative, they still existed. They were done with some sort of legally defensible authorization.

Power/Rangers does not duplicate a Power Rangers episode shot for shot, which a cover would do (or would nearly do).

It’s a brand new story line.

It is a parody.

I understand YouTube taking down the video, and I believe they have a legal right to do so.

The chilling effect does concern me a bit, though. Some companies (studios, publishers) and some authors go after parodies, and can influence distributors into not carrying them, and artists into not creating them.

I want people to feel free to criticize politicians and popular culture works through the use of parody…free, at least, from legal prosecution.

I don’t mind if they have to fight for distribution…just as creators of non-parodies do.

Interestingly, Adi Shankar is not “just a fan”. Shankar is a legitimate commercial producer, including such projects as Lone Survivor with Mark Wahlberg, Dredd with Karl Urban, and The Grey with Liam Neeson.

Shankar could fight this, and might have the power to do so.

I don’t see a path where the Supreme Court would rule that a store/distribution platform would have to carry a specific parody.

I can see something that might make companies less willing to go after fanfic and fan films, if this becomes a headache and a public relations black eye.

That’s probably unlikely, though.

All of this could strengthen Amazon’s own

Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

program.

The works there are authorized by the rightsholders.

No author will get a cease and desist from a publisher because of a Kindle Worlds title.

Yes, the rightsholders get to set up rules for the world if they want, and if a work doesn’t fit it, well, you’d have to go a different route.

Still, there’s a lot in the Power/Rangers story that could impact us readers.

What do you think?

What’s your favorite literary parody (at AmazonSmile*)? Bored of the Rings, perhaps? What should Amazon do if a rightsholder challenges a book on copyright grounds? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

What makes a book not a movie?

February 18, 2015

What makes a book not a movie?

“…it is our expression that there are no positive differences: that all things are like a mouse and a bug in the heart of a cheese. Mouse and a bug: no two things could seem more unlike. They’re there a week, or they stay there a month: both are then only transmutations of cheese. I think we’re all bugs and mice, and are only different expressions of an all-inclusive cheese.

Or that red is not positively different from yellow: is only another degree of whatever vibrancy yellow is a degree of: that red and yellow are continuous, or that they merge in orange.

So then that, if, upon the basis of yellowness and redness, Science should attempt to classify all phenomena, including all red things as veritable, and excluding all yellow things as false or illusory, the demarcation would have to be false and arbitrary, because things colored orange, constituting continuity, would belong on both sides of the attempted borderline.

As we go along, we shall be impressed with this:

That no basis for classification, or inclusion and exclusion, more reasonable than that of redness and yellowness has ever been conceived of.

Science has, by appeal to various bases, included a multitude of data. Had it not done so, there would be nothing with which to seem to be. Science has, by appeal to various bases, excluded a multitude of data. Then, if redness is continuous with yellowness: if every basis of admission is continuous with every basis of exclusion, Science must have excluded some things that are continuous with the accepted. In redness and yellowness, which merge in orangeness, we typify all tests, all standards, all means of forming an opinion—

Or that any positive opinion upon any subject is illusion built upon the fallacy that there are positive differences to judge by—

That the quest of all intellection has been for something—a fact, a basis, a generalization, law, formula, a major premise that is positive: that the best that has ever been done has been to say that some things are self-evident—whereas, by evidence we mean the support of something else—

That this is the quest; but that it has never been attained; but that Science has acted, ruled, pronounced, and condemned as if it had been attained.”
–Charles Fort
writing in The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I am asked for my philosophy of life, I sometimes respond that I am a Fortean.

What is a Fortean?

A follower of Charles Fort, who I have quoted above.

Saying you are a Fortean, though, is always a bit of a joke.

You see, according to Fort, you can’t really “be” anything to the exclusion of anything else.

Everything is simply a different degree of everything else…there are no hard and fast “things” in Fort’s writings.

Start with a Fortean, and eventually, you’ll find an element that takes you to “another” philosophy, and from that one to another, and then another, and another, and eventually, you end up back with your Fortean.

Fort said, “One measures a circle, beginning anywhere.” That’s the source of the name of one of my other blogs, “The Measured Circle”. Unlike this one, which does have some artificial constraints on subject matter, I write about whatever I want there. :)

This is a joke I wrote years ago: “Question: why did the Fortean cross the road? Answer: there aren’t two sides.”

Let’s say there was a North side and a South side. If you stand exactly in the middle where are you…North or South? If neither, how do you define that middle? Can’t you keep widening it, until both sides are considered as one?

That’s a whole lot of philosophy to get to the point of this post. ;)

Right now, most people have unbreachable, rigid concepts which separate, say, a book and a movie.

In the future, though, will that continue to be true?

If I asked you to define a movie, you would probably come up with something about a moving visual image.

Some books have that now…from animated covers to enhanced editions which may actually include movie clips and other videos.

Let’s say there is an enhanced edition of a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., which includes video of the I Have a Dream speech.

Is that not a book?

Even if 80% of the book is the written word?

You would probably define a book as something about, well, written words.

When you are reading subtitles in a foreign language movie, is that a book?

Most people would immediately say no.

It’s a movie…with subtitles.

That enhanced e-book? It’s a book…with video.

What is an audiobook?

I tend to think of an audiobook as just as much a book as a p-book (paperbook).

It’s still the author’s words…you are just consuming them differently.

If someone is print disabled and listens to the great works of classical literature, do you not consider them well-read?

As technology expands, I think the lines will blur.

We may come to expect the ability to see video in books.

We may also find it natural to pause a movie of Alice in Wonderland and bring up the text of the corresponding chapter to the scene which we are watching.

We might pick up again after the scene we read, or continue where we left off.

Part of it might be an opera.

Now, I have to admit, this really appeals to me, but I like lots of things happening at once…I like to say that I love chaos. :)

Most people don’t.

I would guess most of you would not want your books, especially your fiction books, to have video, audio, and more.

However…

You are fine with italics and bold, which are visual effects.

You may be okay with a map being in a book, or a “family tree” for a complex multiple generation work.

Do you like footnotes, endnotes, and/or cross references?

What if instead of having things like, “Said Pat”, there was a little picture of the speaker at the beginning of each paragraph of dialogue?

What if the picture moved?

What about a separate font color for each of ten characters? That would be expensive to do in the old days, but not so expensive for an e-book on a tablet.

I’m really just ruminating on this, but I think books will become much more dynamic than they are now, with more interactivity and more media.

Not every book, and not for every person. There is a certain…calmness in just reading the printed word.

I just don’t know how long that’s going to be the popular mainstream, though…

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Books as a vaccine against hate

February 8, 2015

Books as a vaccine against hate

There has been a lot of discussion recently about people who choose not to vaccinate their children.

That doesn’t seem like a particularly complicated issue to me.

I should say first, I’m not a clinician, although I have worked with them for more than a decade.

This is the way that vaccines generally work, as I understand it.

You are exposed to a version of a disease. That version might be dead, or it might be greatly weakened.

Your body develops antibodies against that disease.

It needs to know that the threat is, analyze it, and blueprint something to go against it…that’s why the vaccine exposes the person to it, but in a generally harmless version.

There is a great deal of evidence that the concept works.

There are people who are unusually at risk from the vaccine…just as there are people who are unusually at risk going into a school or a mall.

For example, a child might have a tremendously compromised immune system. Most kids do fine going to school with other children around them. They get exposed to diseases, but are able to cope with that.

An immunocompromised child might be unable to fight off those same diseases, so going to school is an unusual risk.

In extreme cases, those children might become “bubble children”, and live at home in a specially designed protective facility. Fortunately, nowadays, they may be able to “attend” school through the use of a telepresence robot. The child stays at home in the “clean” environment, and steers a robot from classroom to classroom. The robot has a screen and sensors, so the child can both see and be seen.

A child with a medical condition like might have a very strong contraindication for the same vaccine which would be beneficial for the majority of children.

Some people choose not to vaccinate their children for other reasons…religious reasons, for example.

If you think that the government should make decisions based on your religion, you may then think that the guardians of the child have the right not to vaccinate.

If that’s the case, it also seems reasonable to say that the unvaccinated child should not be in a position to expose other children.

That unvaccinated child could be a carrier of a disease (they might have the disease and be able to spread it without showing symptoms or being noticeably affected themselves). It’s possible that there is an immunocompromised child in the classroom who has not yet been diagnosed. Even a disease which would generally be survivable might be fatal to that child.

If someone is unvaccinated, it’s a risk to have them around other people, depending in part on the contagious nature of the disease. I would feel differently if the vaccine mitigated the risk of a noncontagious condition than if it did the same for a contagious one.

I understand the controversy and the emotional desire to protect your children evidenced by both sides.

I see a parallel to reading books.

Many people want to protect their children from ideas which they consider dangerous.

We talk every year about “banned books”: books which have been challenged by individuals or groups, to get them removed from school and public libraries.

There are typically reasons given. I created a pie chart of those when I wrote about Banned Books week for 2013:

Should any books be banned? Banned Books Week 2013

In my case, I want my child (who is now an adult) and other people to read ideas with which I disagree.

I think it’s much better that someone gets exposed to the ideas in the form of a book, where it is a more controlled situation than in a personal interaction. It’s much easier to set a book aside and think about it and look at contradicting ideas than it is to do that during a face to face conversation.

I’d never thought of it this way before, but it is like getting a vaccination.

By being exposed to the ideas, you can develop a defense against them (if that’s the way you go). That defense can be used when encountering it in an active situation.

I’m sure many of my readers have done that. “Actually, I’ve read such and such, and that’s not what it says.” Alternatively, “I’ve read about that: how do you answer this question?”

That seems like a similar mechanism to getting a vaccine.

Arguably, there might be people who shouldn’t be exposed to a particular idea because of an unusual  susceptibility…like the immunocompromised children above.

It might not make sense for someone to read a book with a glorified suicide (MINOR SPOILER ALERT, I’M NOT SAYING WHO OR IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES: Romeo and Juliet comes to mind END SPOILER ALERT) if they are actively diagnosed with suicidal tendencies and being treated for it.

Let’s take this analogy one step further.

If books are a vaccine against hate, is there a “herd immunity”? If more people read something hateful and develop a mental/emotional defense against it, would that tend to protect the community?

My guess is that it would.

If, say, 95% of the people in a town have already read and rejected an idea, and a person espousing that idea comes to town, I think the idea would be less likely to be able to “infect” the town successfully.

Does that mean that “protecting” your child against ideas with which you disagree is potentially putting the community at risk?

I think that’s a possibility.

For children, the guardians are part of building the “idealogical immune system”. Being open to discussing a book with your child is a great way for them to develop a response to something.

My inclination is always towards openness in terms of reading choices. If my child chose to read a book by a hate group, I would hope (and expect) that we would discuss it. That discussion would help a child build that “blueprint” of an antibody, which could then be used later in the event of a full-blown confrontation.

One last thing.

As I’m writing this, one of my challenges is thinking of what would be these dangerous ideas. I think that’s individual, and difficult to determine…so I would let a child read as many different ideas as possible: especially ones which contradict my own.

Note: there are books which are produced through harming people. For me, that’s a different thing. It is the production of the book which is the problem, and you may not choose to support that methodology. I completely understand that, and find it a reasonable position.

What do you think?

We are talking about ideas here…is preventing exposure to an idea a good thing? Under what circumstances? Do you seek out books to read which contradict your own beliefs? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Do you have a reading plan?

January 27, 2015

Do you have a reading plan?

I will die without having read all the books I want to read, or even all the books I should have read.

That’s simply the probability.

It’s possible they’ll extend life significantly…perhaps if what makes me me can be digitized and still be self aware, I might have a very much longer time than would now appear reasonable.

That seems unlikely.

Even more unlikely is that I stop wanting to read books. ;)

Given that, I now shy away from having a “reading plan”.

What’s a reading plan?

It’s when you have a set goal:

  • “I will read every Hugo best novel”
  • “I will read every book in the Great Books of the Western World series”
  • “I will read a book written by an author from each country in the United Nations”

I used to do that sort of thing, and I think that may be more common when you have a longer life expectancy in front of you.

Certainly, I completed some things like that.

I read all 181 of the original Doc Savage adventures.

I read an unabridged dictionary cover to cover…not quite the same thing, but that was a plan.

Now, I’m more aware that my time is limited…no reason to think that’s a near future thing, in case you are concerned (and thank you if you are), but it can happen at any time.

If I was following a plan like that, and there were twenty books in that group and I died having read nineteen…well, I can’t face that idea. ;)

So, I tend to bounce around.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten value out of every book I’ve read. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted reading a book.

I think it’s good for me to shake up my thinking…to try things I might not otherwise have tried.

That may be one of the best things books can do for you.

That means I’ll read books where I really don’t know how good they’ll be ahead of time, perhaps because I have no relevant experience with which to judge them.

That might be as simple as reading an author of which I’ve never heard.

It could be an entire genre I’ve never explored…although that’s not super likely. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I suggested to my employees that they read a book from each section in the store, to be able to better help customers. I suggested they ask a regular for a suggestion.

I did that myself, and discovered some interesting things that way!

That’s when I first read

Jude Deveraux (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and

Jerry Ahern (at AmazonSmile*)

two authors I enjoyed.

On reflection, I did read them because of a plan…to read a book from each section in the store. That was a plan that promoted eclecticism, but it was a definite plan. I would have been disappointed if I had almost completed that task, and then became incapacitated. I wouldn’t want to be aware of the goal, and know I wasn’t going to reach it.

I’m sure for a lot of you that’s silly. Not embarking on a quest because you might fail may seem…I’ll go with timorous, although some might use a stronger word like cowardly.

I think one of the differences for me is that I don’t need a linear goal to stay focused. I’m not a linear thinker, really…I love chaos.

I also love organization (like alphabetizing shelves), but I think that may be because it isn’t natural for me. I’m fascinated by timelines, although I don’t have a good sequentially chronological memory.

I’ve lost about forty pounds (over the course of maybe a couple of years…it’s been a good, safe pace) using the MyFitnessPal app (which I reviewed in this blog).

For me, though, it’s important not to have a “goal weight”. I just want to do it because it is good for me (and by extension, for others…my family, my co-workers, my readers, who benefit in some way from me being here and well functioning).

If I set a goal, I’d get more frustrated with my progress…and what would happen when I reached it? What if I’d underestimated the weight loss which would be healthy? What if I got in great shape, but I actually started gaining weight at some point because of muscle mass increase?

No, I don’t think that’s the best approach for most people, but for me, not having a goal makes me more likely to stick to something.

What about you? Do you have a reading plan? Do you mind sharing it? I’m sure some of my other readers might appreciate it…even be inspired by it. What reading plans have you accomplished in the past? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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