The #summerreads discussion will take place tonight 8pm AEST.
Use hash tags #summerreads to discuss your reading this summer, or what you are planning on reading.
A monthly twitter reading group
This month we have been discussing lots of hairier writers and characters, but the clean shaven, or slightly stubbled male authors and characters also deserve a mention. Writers like Matthew Reilly, Neal Stephenson, Ian Rankin, Neil Gaiman and Jamie Oliver are well worth exploring. As well as writing books, Neil Gaiman, Jamie Oliver and Ian Rankin are very active on twitter, so you may enjoy following along here as well. Wil Wheaton also active on twitter writes an engaging blog drawing readers in to the story of his life and ideas.
I am not sure where to fit in World of Warcraft to #moreads as some of the male toons are clean shaven, and some are quite hairy, but playing this games (as well as lots of other games) is a comfortable fit with #moreads.
This post is loosely related to the Movember theme, dealing with soldiers who do sport mo’s on occasion. But I also wanted to share the fascinating and confronting integration of reading modern military history and YouTube.
Recently I read House to House by David Bellavia, based on the savage close quarters fighting in the city of Fallujah in November 2004. Bellavia was a US Army platoon sergeant, and he writes about his experiences leading up to the assault on Fallujah and his actions which resulted in being awarded a Silver Star and nominated for the US Medal of Honour. More on this can be read in Wikipedia. The book is a good read, free of the incessant use of army lingo that is prevalent in a lot of military history books, and paints a tough, tiring, dirty, stinky, adrenalin pumping, deadly, scary and hot picture of a soldiers life in Iraq.
But what added another dimension to reading this book was YouTube.
Just after penetrating the city of Fallujah, Bellavia’s unit occupied a roof top where they faced a determined attack by insurgents. What impressed Bellavia were the actions of an Australian journalist (Michael Ware) who continued to film the action during the fight. Bellavia mentions that Ware later used this material for a news report. Then I thought – “I wonder if he uploaded the video to YouTube?”
So I searched YouTube and found this actual footage of that scene in the book, matching what Bellavia wrote. I was amazed.
Since then I’ve done the same with a book called Sniper One by Sgt Dan Mills, and I’m about to read a book on Australian SAS soldiers in Afghanistan.
It’s not a new phenomenon. Soldiers have been uploading their mobile phone and handy-cam footage over the last 10 years. I would imagine that the US and UK military and government are watching this activity carefully and are quick to erase any sensitive footage before being public accessible. But it struck me as an amazing way to read these genre of books which hadn’t occurred to me before (duh!). Amazing, but also a confronting and scary integration of multimedia, providing in 3 minutes and 16 seconds a glimpse of modern warfare.
H.G. Nelson doesn’t have a mo but he is mo friendly if not mo mad. And when his childhood memoir My life in shorts lobbed up on the covering desk, I knew I’d found my Movember moment.
I still have cassette tapes buried at the bottom of cardboard boxes with recordings of This sporting life from Saturday afternoons c.1988. I think I even have a VHS video of Roy & H.G. calling a surf comp out of Newcastle for JJJ with vision supplied by the unsuspecting moguls at Channel 9 or Ten. Their State of Origin broadcasts are now folklore (and sorely missed) while The Dream – “hello boys” – was only pipped by Cathy Freeman in a photo for best thing about the Sydney Olympics.
The Jesuits said ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man’ but you can cut out the middleman with H.G.’s pants-around-the-ankle tell-all tales of ‘thumps, bumps and dumps.’
This months theme is #moreads in honour of Movember. The brainchild of 3 blokes drinking in a Melbourne bar in 2003, the campaign has raised over 175 million dollars for research, treatment and education programs for men’s health. During this month over 500,000 men will put their shavers aside in a sometimes vain and embarrassing attempt to grow a moustache.
Apart from a fortunately brief and minor resurgence in the late 1970’s the Victorian and Edwardian years of the 19th and early 20th Century was the golden age of the moustache for English language authors. Perhaps it’s appropriate that this month we remember some of the authors from that time who are now seldom read.
Mark Twain was a giant of American literature and he had a moustache to match. His travel books were popular throughout his life including A Tramp Abroad and Life on the Mississippi but he made his name with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, much loved by generations of readers. An early science fiction novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court and an historical fiction, Recollections of Joan of Arc stand out as departures from his normal style. Twain was a master at writing in a relaxed and humorous style with memorable characters. He also had a keen ear for natural and realistic language.
Across the Atlantic, HG Wells moustache wasn’t a patch on Twain’s but he was an enormously popular and prolific author in England before the Second World War. He’s remembered mostly for his early science-fiction novels including The Time Machine, War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. Much is made of the number of modern technologies that he anticipated in his writings including the atomic bomb, space travel, genetic engineering and the mobile phone … but we’re still waiting for time travel, invisibility and alien invasion. Wells also wrote some fine social and comic novels of Edwardian middle-class England such as Kipps, Tono-Bungay and The History of Mr Polly. His later works pale in comparison but he is worth visiting again for his richly drawn characters and vibrant imagination.
Closer to home, Henry Lawsons tash is in the same league as Mark Twain. Like Twain Lawson was a great chronicler of rural life, egalitarian in his outlook and a master of natural language. He never wrote a novel and even derided the short story in favour of “sketch stories”, short descriptive pieces with little plot. While the Billy Boils was his most popular prose collection.
Other significant writers with moustaches from the era include Jerome K Jerome, James Joyce, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Furphy. The moustache is still popular in many non-English language cultures where we can find examples of modern authors with moustaches such as Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Derek Walcott and Carlos Fuentes. I believe David Malouf is the only significant current Australian novelist to regularly sport a moustache.
We hope you will join us in our #moreads, and share your own reading during Movember.
There will be a twitter discussion 8.00pm (AEST) 29 November to discuss #moreads. See you online then.
Reading and food… is there a more delicious combination?
Even before Little Red Riding Hood (and her picnic basket) was sent into the woods, it seems we have been tempted by food. The old adage “eat to live, not live to eat” is difficult to achieve when faced with recipes from every country. “What’s for dinner?” was enough to make my mum wilt like the proverbial salad , but my home is overflowing with recipe books, travel and recipe books, stories with recipes included, children’s books. One of the first pictures my grand daughter recognised was “apple”… now she’s moved on to “cake”.
Are you a food history buff? Do you enjoy a mystery and murder with a good dessert on the side? Is food to keep you healthy a priority? Want to cook treats for your animals? Or do you just love to read and drop off in a soporific stupor dreaming of delicious delights? While Adam and Eve may have eaten the apple, we have many more choices… here is a tiny selection:
Green eggs and ham, Charlie and the chocolate factory, If you give a mouse a cookie, Stone soup, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs, Bread and Jam for Frances, Jasper McFlea will not eat his tea, The very hungry caterpillar and our old favourite, Pooh Bear and his hunny pot.
Jamie’s 30 minute cookbook, Blood sugar, Two greedy Italians, any of the Australian Women’s weekly series, the CWA cookbooks, Food for thought: essays on eating and culture, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Vogue Entertaining, ABC delicious, Feast.
Food features heavily in fiction writing too. Kerry Greenwood’s baker Corinna Chapman is always baking something delicious while solving her mysteries. Who can resist Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Lula as they eat their way through disaster. Then there’s The Cupcake Bakery mystery series, The Coffee House mystery, Bruno Chief of Police and his truffle delicacies and, of course, Chocolat. We also love Friendship bread, Agnes and the hitman, Pomegranate soup and Comfort food.
Delicious! Delicious! Delicious!
There’s a lot to savour this month, so start reading early! Please tweet about your food related reading using #bookbites.
We’d love you to join in the Readit2011 Twitter discussion on 27th September 2011, at 8pm AEST. It’s going to be full of tasty treats.
Were you looking for ways to celebrate your participation in #readit2011? Do you want to boast to others about your reading? Do you want to put your inner geek on display?
You can buy a t-shirt – actually you can buy one of four t-shirt designs in a wide range of colours and sizes. Have a look at David Lee King proudly wearing his #readit2011 t-shirt.
The options for t-shirts are the complete tag list, a different design of the complete tag list, readit2011, and a different design of #readit2011. You can decide if the tags are on the front, or the back of the t-shirt, the style of the t-shirt and the colour of the t-shirt. You can even choose a hoodie (note hoodies have fewer colour choices).
This is a way of wearing your #geekreads.
Please take a photograph of yourself wearing your t-shirt and add it as a comment to this post.
We’re having #geekreads in honour of Science Week and we all relate geekiness with technology but I tend to think that most of us have areas of interest where our enthusiasm, possibly seen as over enthusiasm by others, renders us geeks. I’m probably a bit geeky in several areas but I think the main one would be classic British novels and the BBC versions made of them. I like nothing better than pointing out which actors, in what I am currently watching, were in which adaptations of Jane Austen or Brontë sisters’ books. Imagine my joy when I watched a version of Jane Eyre where Mr Rochester played Captain Wentworth in an early Persuasion and St John played Captain Wentworth in a later version! You’re not thrilled by that? No, it’s just me and my area of geekiness.
Science and technology may not be areas where I spend a lot of down time but, luckily for this month’s theme, I do occasionally get excited about books which happen to be science fiction. My book club recently read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Knowing him to be the author of The Remains of the Day, I wasn’t expecting dystopian science fiction but was delighted to find it.
A rather more obviously science fiction read is CS Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy. I would read CS Lewis’ shopping list, such is my love for him, but only very recently came to read his science fiction and what a joy it was! Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength took me to Mars, Venus and Cambridge and the hero is a middle aged philiologist….. sigh.
National Science Week will be on 14 to 22 August. In honour of that August reading for #readit2011 is geekreads.
When you think of geekreads think science both fact and fiction, books, books, blogs, tweets and magazines. Great places to start with online reading for these areas are New Scientist, Scientific American and Boing boing.
Technology is also a great topic for #geekreads.
Reading about games is included in #geekreads. You might want to explore writing by people such as Tom Chatfield, Scott Nicholson and Wil Wheaton. Don’t forget that playing some games involves lots of reading and so would be a fun way of exploring this topic (try Nordic LARP, role playing games, and massively multiple online games).
Include any reading which strikes you as a geeky read.
If you explore at the fiction end of the spectrum be inspired by Tor.com, SF signal or Hugo Award nominees for this year (and past winners and nominees) and by the amazing ideas at the British Library, Out of this world exhibition (and blog). Don’t forget steampunk too. You may even want to explore the whole Trove of possibilities.
So come join us and tweet about what you are reading this August using the twitter hashtag #geekreads. You can also use this tag on other social media sites such as flickr or when you post about your reading on your blog.
We hope you will join us in our geeky reading, and share your own reading during #geekreads.
There will be a twitter discussion 8.00pm (AEST) 30 August to discuss #geekreads. See you online then.