Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Moreads from Denmark

November 29, 2011

Reading in Movember doesn´t have to all dark and scary but it could be an opportunity to read a man with a moustache that wrote scary Gothic tales in a way that inspired lot´s of mystery and detective fiction writers after him. The goth-father of scary stuff – Edgar Allan Poe…

I recommend the short story the Tell Tale Heart in which the narrator tells us he is perfectly sane and shares his story… And when you are done.. Read the black cat for more Gothic scariness by Edgar Allan MO (Poe)

Another world class writer with a very tiny moustache that has been mentioned several times as a possible receiver of the Nobel prize in literature is Bob Dylan. Lot´s of his texts can stand alone (but why should they?). His autobiography is amazing too – but I recommend that you read (and listen to) two texts from my favorite Dylan album – Time out of mind.

Standing in the doorway 

Not dark yet

A Movember read from the other side of the planet (If you are reading in Australia) – could be Danish author Jakob Ejersbo great novel Nordkraft. The award winning novel is about life with drugs in one of the bigger cities in Denmark: Aalborg. It is a well written story and you get to know the characters fights to get to the top of the drug environment, work their way to the bottom or follow their fight to escape the spell. Unfortunately Jakob Ejersbo died from Cancer at the age of 40 – so this is a real moread highlighting the importance of focus on men’s health.

Jan Holmquist


Mo Disgusting – Mr Twit for Moreads

November 16, 2011

OK, so what about something for you gents to read to your children during Movember?  What better way to spend some time with them than over a story.

The Twits by Roald Dahl is a perennial favourite in our house. There’s plenty of books I’ve read to my kids over & over again, most of which I would gladly never pick up again. But the Twits is one of the few books I’m happy to keep re-reading to them.

Added to that, it has arguably the finest description of facial hair ever…

We can also, if we are careful, eat our meals without spreading food all over our faces. But not so the hairy man. Watch carefully next time you see a hairy man eating his lunch and you will notice that even if he opens his mouth very wide, it is impossible for him to get a spoonful of beef-stew or ice-cream and chocolate sauce into it without leaving some of it on the hairs.

Mr Twit didn’t even bother to open his mouth wide when he ate. As a result (and because he never washed) there were always hundreds of bits of old breakfasts and lunches and suppers sticking to the hairs around his face. They weren’t big bits, mind you, because he used to wipe those off with the back of his hand or on his sleeve while he was eating. But if you looked closely (not that you’d ever want to) you would see tiny little specks of dried-up scrambled eggs stuck to the hairs, and spinach and tomato ketchup and fish fingers and minced chicken livers and all the other disgusting things Mr Twit liked to eat.

If you looked closer still (hold your noses, ladies and gentlemen), if you peered deep into the moustachy bristles sticking out over his upper lip, you would probably see much larger objects that had escaped the wipe of his hand, things that had been there for months and months, like a piece of maggoty green cheese or a mouldy old cornflake or even the slimy tail of a tinned sardine. Because of all this, Mr Twit never went really hungry. By sticking out his tongue and curling it sideways to explore the hairy jungle around his mouth, he was always able to find a tasty morsel here and there to nibble on.
Roald Dahl, The Twits.

The Twits is one of Dahl’s shorter stories, recounting the disgusting Mr Twit, his old hag of a wife, Mrs Twit and the awful (but cleverly funny) things they do to each other, the local birds and children and poor Mugglewump the Monkey and his family.  Fear not though, for in the end Mr & Mrs Twit reap what they sow in a gloriously ironic demise.

Martin Boyce

(Originally posted at Martin Boyce’s blog Ramblibrarian)

Funny Men writing Funny Books for Funny Kids

November 7, 2011

As a kid, it was the male authors that had me laughing out loud. And when I look through my current favourites, it still seems to be that it is predominately the male authors that make me laugh the most.

I used to devour Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense. It was silly. It was improbable. And it rhymed. I can still chant my favourite poem:

I eat my peas with honey

I’ve done it all my life

It makes the peas taste funny

But it keeps them on my knife

From Lear, we can go to modern day picture book legend Mo Willems, whose Pigeon, Piggie and Elephant, and Knuffle Bunny books are delightfully funny to Tedd Arnold with his Fly Guy funnies and his Parts books with literal angst for kids and the idiosyncrasies of their bodies. And when it comes to funny poetry,  I have to list my son’s favourite Australian poet Steven Herrick.

From these picture book funnies, my mind leaps to laughing with Roald Dahl who still amuses children with his quirky, twisted characters, to Andrew Daddo who ranges from gentle humour in his picture books to school boy antics in his chapter books (just using the jargon the kids throw at me). Andy “pulling a bandaid off story makes for the biggest laughs” Griffiths can get the most reluctant readers searching for his books as does Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I enjoy reading out aloud Eoin Colfer, John Larkin, Philip Ardagh and Dave Hackett (of cartoon Dave fame – his books snuck up on me with their unexpected guffaws) for often, they will have my whole family laughing together.

My favourite male author/illustrators to this day  are the wonderful bunch of idiots over at Mad Magazine. For Dave Berg, Duck Edwing, Spy vs Spy, Don Martin and Sergio Aragones amused me constantly. I also have to give a hats off to fabulous Terry Deary who, by using toilet humour, has given us history we can laugh at and want to search out for more and more books to read.

I love discovering funny men writing funny books for funny kids. And their comedic twists seem to cross all genre interest as humour proves to be the biggest draw card for all children from voracious readers to the reluctant readers.

Do you have any favourites?


#bookbites for September

September 2, 2011

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.


For the love of Maths and Reading

August 30, 2011

I am an improbable maths junkie. I say improbable because, despite topping maths in my first 2 high school years, loving algebra, arithmetic and geometry, as soon as trigonometry entered the classroom I quickly took a slippery slide down to the bottom of the year. But my curiosity and love for maths has never left me. It is a definite in an emotional world of second guessing.  It provides a structure to people’s lives, like religion or poetry yet based on an exact science.

For when I think of it, most children’s first reading experience is a maths book. Starting from a My First Numbers book to Sandra Boynton’s irreverant Doggies: A counting and barking book.

Math Formulas by Flickr user trindade.joao

I do get geeky in my search for a good fiction book that has mathematical elements woven throughout the story, whether it is escaping into the age of Romanticism in Tom Petsinis’ The French Mathematician, exploring maths and motherhood in Sue Woolfe’s Leaning Towards Infinity or grappling with obsessive-compulsive disorder and love in Toni Jordan’s Addition.

I have, through browsing the 510’s of the non-fiction shelves at the library, discovered how Florence Nightingale transformed health care, not by wiping the fevered brows of soldiers, but through her understanding of numbers and statistics in Bernard Cohen’s The Triumph of Numbers. I have read about the world’s first computer programmer, Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace, I have read  Lewis Carroll in Numberland and John Nash’s Beautiful Mind. I have marvelled at Symmetry in Chaos, wondered about probability with Why do buses come in threes and tried to understand the randomness of The Joy of Pi.

All for my love of maths and reading.


#geekreads in August

August 1, 2011


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.

A spiral galaxy about 25 million light years from Earth.

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, 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.

You might also want to add tags for each month’s reading to Trove, Library Thing, and your library catalogue (if that is possible) – so that other people can see what you are reading.

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.

#whodoneit in July

July 1, 2011

'Putting 2 and 2 together' by flickr user tim_ellis

The theme for July is #whodoneit, and this month we will be reading crime and mystery books, both fiction and non fiction.

With fiction sub genres like detective (men or women in charge), legal, historical, psychological, forensic, cosy corner, comic capers, spy and suspense there is a never ending supply of reading material. Who really “done it”? Does the ultimate punishment fit the crime? Are the perpetrators even caught?

There’s no shortage of true crime to read either.  Seedy, cruel, heartbreaking, lawbreaking, fascinating, and often all at once.

And if you’re not usually a fan of the Crime genre, you might be surprised where else crime and mystery can turn up!  From Truman Capote’s chilling cultural analysis of mid 20thC America in In Cold Blood, Historical Fiction like Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, to the Science Fiction short stories of Philip K. Dick, and old children’s favourites like Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy or Enid Blighton, it seems that crime and mystery are everywhere.

So come join us and tweet about what you are reading this July using the twitter hashtag #whodoneit.  You can also use this tag on other social media sites such as flickr or when you post about your reading on your blog.

You might also want to add tags for each month’s reading to Trove, Library Thing, and your library catalogue (if that is possible) – so that other people can see what you are reading.

We hope you will join us in our suspenseful reading, and share your own crime and mystery reads during #whoedoneit.

Armchair Romance Makes the World Go Round

June 30, 2011

I started reading category romances in the early 80s. Mills and Boon, Harlequins, Loveswepts, Candlelight Ecstacy Supremes (yup – thanks for that line Dell!) and Silhouettes. I devoured them. I love reading romances with their optimism, affirmative relationships and their happily ever afters. But something that sneaked up on me, something that I was only vaguely aware of, was my enjoyment of reading category romances set around the world and, in particular, in different states of America.

Oronce Finé 1534 World Map - Cordiform Projection

The first time I recall choosing to read a romance because of  its setting was after I had read Janet Dailey’s Tidewater Lover (set in Virginia) and Mistletoe and Holly (set in Vermont). I then borrowed from my local library A Lyon’s Share (Illinois) and realised that this was no coincidence. After a little bit of research I discovered that Janet Dailey had decided to write a category romance for every state of America. How fabulous! I had hit the mother lode! I continued borrowing and buying Dailey’s books purely for this reason. I don’t think I read all 50 in her Americana series but it certainly put in the hook for reading romances set in specific states or countries.

I am a huge fan of Anne McAllister‘s Montana Cowboys, ooh! and her Boston Savas’s. I loved Cindy Gerard‘s Wyoming based Outlaws trilogy and oh! those hot hot hot Westmorelands by Brenda Jackson live all over America. They’re in Montana, Colorado and Texas just to list a few states.

Of course, settings in category romances go beyond America and are set all over the world with the reader getting a wonderful sense of place from many stand out authors. Sarah Mayberry has a wonderful balance of character and place in her books which are mostly set in South-Eastern Australia, Karina Bliss‘ sense of New Zealand and those wonderful English villages juxtoposed with exotic Spanish, Greek, Argentinian and Italian villas in Lynne Graham‘s angsty gems.

For the reality is, wherever in the world you are, whatever country you are traversing, whichever place you are discovering, it is inevitable, that somewhere and sometime, someone has had a romantic moment there. And as a romance reader and armchair traveller, I want to read those stories.


Eighty Years of Tintin and Still Travelling

June 22, 2011

For eighty years, Herge’s Tintin books have been a formative reading experience for most kids. And for many children, it is Tintin that first introduces them to the life of reporters, travelling the world and solving mysteries along the way. His adventures saw him visit the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and even the Moon. But for Tintin, it was not about the journey. It was the story he had to write. The setting was incidental and understanding the culture and terrain went along with solving and reporting his mystery.  And for many avid fans following Tintin’s travels becomes a planning guide for their own journeys.

Vol 714 Pour Sydney

Tintin never reached Australia. He had all intentions to get to Sydney but somehow, in the investigative Tintin way, after he took off from Jakarta his plane made an unscheduled stop on a Dutch East Indies island instead. Thankfully, Tintin, in the form of books, did get to Australia. And whether you owned his books, borrowed them from a friend or discovered them at the library, the foreign correspondent resplendent in plus fours, a long beige coat and his wire fox terrier remains one of literature’s instantly recognisable characters.


Have eReader – Will Travel

June 18, 2011

or how my holiday luggage was liberated

Back in 1993, I travelled across Mexico for 3 weeks with my sister and a friend. I left Australia with 7 kgs in my backpack. I travel light. I had 2 books with me. My Lonely Planet Mexico and a novel (I am sure – yet I cannot recall the title). When I was boarding the plane to fly home my backpack was in excess of 20kg. Apart from 1 rug, 1 hammock & 1 dress, all the extra kilos were books that I had accumulated, and read, during my 3 week holiday. I had scoured bookshops, bought travel brochures from different archaeological museums and I picked up a number of discarded novels at youth hostels and resorts, as is the habit with many travellers.

Subsequent travels through Europe were no different. I would leave home with minimal luggage and I would return laden with books. On one particular trip I had so many that I mailed them, cargo style, on a 3 month ship journey as I couldn’t afford the excess luggage cost. I love reading but, en masse, it is a heavy, space consuming habit.

Last year, however, I bought an eReader while I was overseas. I loaded it up with over 80 books. Some were freebies and others were loans through my local library’s ebook lending scheme. And though I still went into a few bookshops, specialist shops, second hand shops and market stalls, I no longer needed to buy books to keep me going through a holiday. I still bought museum guides or special editions such as a collection of poetry from Wordsworth’s home in the Lakes District in England.  But for my fiction reading, I stuck to my eReader and the liberty of less weight in my luggage.

Did I read all 80 books? No. But I did read quite a few and some of those books were so enjoyable I went out and bought myself a print keeper copy.  And though, now that I am at home I rarely use my eReader due to preferring the tactile pleasure of printed books, when a weekend away is coming up or I am planning a holiday, I load up the eReader and take out the smaller suitcase.