Dedicated to CSJ, loves.
Hello Booktique & all book lovers.
A book that I want to loudly share and avow my love to is The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
Much like my reality love, when the book was first introduced to me, I was not fascinated and thought “what kind of title is that?” I decided to give it a read for the sake of reading. After a few chapters of reading, I was reeled, hooked. It was like that moment I noticed how lovely she looked when she put on my fedora with the cutest of smiles. I was mesmerised.
The book got me all fired up on life, to pursue things I’ve always wanted to do. It gave me courage and inspiration to see things from different perspectives, even though I have fears and doubts about myself. Each time I needed spiritual support, I’ve always read some of chapter 6 to get me energised.
For that love, I followed my heart and confessed my feelings for her. Though we didn’t end up together, I know deep in me, I’ll always love her.
“Obstacles don’t stop people. People stop themselves.
Always remember, “I Can.””
John Hamalian is a friend of Booktique.
Watermark image is taken from the website of this illustrator.
If computers were available in the nineteen century, would Dickens or Austen still write in longhand? Perhaps they would do both like some of the early twentieth century authors who typed on typewriter and sometimes wrote on paper. Today, authors prevalently write on computer than on paper. But there are some who still swear by their pens. Neither preference is better; every writer has to find the tool that best suits them.
I had only written creatively on paper once and that was when I was still in primary school. I had seen a typewriter (my aunt had one) but I had neither seen nor heard about computers. I wrote childish stories on a A4 notebook and only with a 2B pencil. I loved how the dark, thick strokes animate every letter in my stories. My only dislike was the dirt from the eraser which I produced quite a lot. Now I write all my magazine articles on the computer because my handwriting looks nothing close to it used to be (thanks to years of typing on computer after leaving school). I don't think writing on computer is better or faster for me. In fact, I'm frustrated with myself at times for fussing over the font to use.
Lately, I've decided to write a novel. But I am undecided whether to write it on paper or on computer. Any writer will agree that staring long hour at the computer is very tiring. Writing on paper will give my eyes a break and I've tried on and off to write with a 2B pencil again. However, my left hand aches easily and makes writing legibly difficult. Anyway, I saw this notebook yesterday and imagined my writing filling up the pages. I bought it. The notebook was too inviting.
What preferences do other writers have and why? I compiled both sides of the argument from comments on articles related to this subject:
"I travel quite a lot, and like the idea that I don't have to worry about some piece of electronic junk that might get stolen or broken, and that you can buy a notebook or pen anywhere."
"Writing on the page stays on the page, with its scribbles and rewrites and long arrows suggesting a sentence or paragraph be moved, and can be looked over and reconsidered. Writing on the screen is far more ephemeral – a sentence deleted can't be reconsidered. Also, you know, the internet."
"Even Socrates said don't write it down or we'll forget it... good job Plato did or we may have forgotten both of them."
"Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novels on notecards before writing the whole thing out in full, which he would then have his secretary typed."
"I find that the action of handwriting not only causes me to consider more, but also leads to more ideas. I also spell significantly better. Whereas when typing I always make several silly mistakes (and have to run the whole thing through spell-check) when handwriting I have one or two misspellings per page. I think the reason for this is mostly muscle memory. Whereas on a computer you are disconnected from the letters that you type in sequence, when handwriting you are very aware of the words and the rhythm of them."
"Paper notebooks are easily transported, permanent, and they do not need a battery or electricity (or repeated recharging) .
"...a big problem with computers is the ability to edit as you type. Sometimes I am writing at a speed of one word per minute because I delete and replace each word 60 times. This is actually a very
inefficient way to write if you think about it."
"As a seventeen year old aspiring novelist, I certainly hope that pen-on-paper writers aren't a dying breed! Being an English, History and Philosophy A-level student, I usually have to write up to three 2,000 word essays per week. Computers, for me, have just become a quick and lazy way of meeting
deadlines. Of course it's easier and faster to type your work, with the aid of the wonderful "spell check" and the internet offering you myriad sources of inspiration, but where's the fun in that?"
"Think of all the long arduous hours spent with your eyes glued to a bright screen, arched over a
keyboard...by the end, your back and neck ache, your eyes are straining and your legs and bum have fallen asleep...where's the pleasure in that? Writing on paper is much better for your health, and for your art."
"And writing a novel by hand is a wonderfully romantic notion but really only possible when your handwriting is legible - and mine is certainly not, these days. Also, writing longhand is very demanding of energy, which not everyone has."
"My handwriting is atrocious, and when I write in longhand it doesn't seem like good writing at all - stupid I know, but there is a mental displeasure for me when I see my own handwriting."
"I don't mind the process of transferring work to a computer - I think it's a valuable part of the process, but am careful to use an old computer with no internet on."
"If your notebook is lost or stolen, there goes the only hard copy of your work. Digital copies can be endlessly backed up and synched so that the loss of any particular gizmo is irrelevant."
"If I start in longhand, I soon have to move to a screen because I revise and cross out so much, I can't read it. Also I sometimes get blocked in longhand and find moving to screen frees my ideas."
"Ideas, sentences and snippets all go in to my notebook, but the actual writing is done on a computer. It's easier to play with and edit your writing on a computer."
"I make all my notes on my iPhone now and have found it really liberating, I don't need to remember to pack pens, pencils, paper or index cards which I used to use obsessively. The notes I make can be emailed to myself and copied and inserted into whatever text I happen to be working on...In fact I
find writing with a pen on paper has a constipating effect on me."
"I have long since given up using pen and paper. I have dysgraphia and that makes my hand-writing illegible. Illegible not just to others but to myself."
"I would love to write longhand but it hurts my hand and my handwriting scares children. Both probably connected to the way I hold the pen."
"There is an implicit and intellectual snobbery in the belief that good writing can only be done with a pen and paper. Medieval monastic scribes may have produced beautiful books but most of them were illiterate and simply copying marks made in an earlier book. Before that became popular I guess the stone masons probably argued that good writing could only be done with hammer
and chisel on stone. Earlier, the writers of Linear B would say that good writing could only be achieved with pointed stick and clay tablets. And further back still that only a painting on a cave wall should be considered acceptable."
"I still like writing by hand. Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer. For some reason, I much prefer writing with a black pen than a blue one, and in a perfect world I'd always use "narrow feint" writing paper. But I have been known to write on all sorts of weird things when I didn't have a notepad with me. The names of the Hogwarts Houses were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag. Yes, it was empty."
The above list can go on. One man's meat is another man's poison. What matters is the end and not the means as one comment pointed out: "It certainly is a romantic notion to curl up in a café with a pad and pen, but I don't think that either way is necessarily 'better' or more desirable. It's what comes out of your nib or keyboard that truly matters."
This happened in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Azar Nafisi was an English Literature Professor at the University of Tehran. One of her teaching materials was The Great Gatsby, a novel by F.Scott Fitzgerald with a central theme on the decay and corruption of the American Dream in the 1920s.
One day, a student confronted her about the book. Mr. Nyazi argued that it was a poison to Iranian students. Nafisi wittingly challenged him by suggesting putting Gatsby on trial. Her suggestion was questioned by another student.
"Did he want me to throw the book aside without so much as a word in its defense? This is a good time for trial, is it not?"
The good time she referred to was the period the Iranian Government had shut down some of the prominent foreign- language bookstores and blocked the distribution of foreign books in Iran.
The battle over the fate of Gatsby in the campus took place in the classroom. The "courtroom" was packed with students playing the roles of judge, prosecutor and defense attorney; Nafisi was the defendant.
"Islam is the only religion in the world that has assigned a special sacred role to literature in guiding man to a godly life." Mr Nyazi.
"The one thing good about this book is that it exposes the immorality and decadence of American society, but we have fought to rid ourselves of this trash and it is high time that such books be banned." Mr Nyazi
"Our dear prosecutor has committed the fallacy of getting too close to the amusement park. He can no longer distinguish fiction from reality" The defense attorney.
"...He has demonstrated his own weakness: an inability to read a novel on its own terms. All he knows is judgement, crude and simplistic exaltation of right and wrong." The defense attorney
"You don't read Gatsby to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery, infidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil..."
During a recess, Nafisi observed that her students who were silent in the "courtroom" were in fact supportive of Gatsby; some claimed to love it personally.
"Then why didn't they say so? Everyone else was so certain and emphatic in their position, and they couldn't really say why they liked it - they just did." Nafisi
Did Gatsby win the case like all the other famous trials on Madame Bovary, Ulysses, Lady Chatterley's Lover and Lolita?
The trial on Gatsby was not fictional; It truly happened during Nafisi's teaching days at the University of Tehran. She recorded this incident in her 2003 memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran. As the title suggests, this book is not solely on The Great Gatsby; Pride and Prejudice and Lolita are the other two books that she discussed in details. (This book contains spoilers to The Great Gatsby).
Booktique Price: $20
Paperback / 347 pages / additional 30 pages about the author including "A Conversation with Azar Nafisi", "Life at a Glance". " A Writing Life" and "Azar Nafisi's Suggested Reading."
More novels mentioned in Reading Lolita in Tehran
Baghdad Diaries by Nuha al-Radi
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Emma and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
The Dean's December and More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
Shamela and Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
The Ambassadors, Daisy Miller and Washington Square by Henry James
In the Penal Colony and The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville
Invitation to a Beheading and Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett
My Uncle Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad
The Language Police by Diane Ravitch
The Net of Dreams by Julie Salamon
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
A Thousand and One Nights by Scheherazade
The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Skvorecky
Loitering with Intent and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo
Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor
A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Back When We Were Grownups and St. Maybe by Anne Tyler
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Great Gatsby first edition, published by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925 is available for purchase at Peter Harrington, London.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing.
Nobody knows William Shakespeare's writing habits as they were not documented. But there are speculations that he wrote them in the taverns to save on candles and firewood or even at the theatre.
Yann Martel on his writing desk: "...it’s a table with a computer, that’s it. I have little pieces of paper next to me that are my little notes, and that’s it. Otherwise, I could be an accountant for, you know, as far as my desk, you couldn’t tell that I’m a writer."
Glad's Hill Place where Charles Dickens wrote obsessively to his death at age 58. This is where he penned many of his notable works including Great Expectations.
Neil Gaiman writes on a desk that is being described as "scarcely bigger than a TV tray".
"If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” Hilary Mantel
Before Agatha Christie settled down on her desk to write, she needed to find her notebook (scribbled with ideas) and not necessarily the same notebook that she'd referred to the day before.
Henry Miller probably didn't spend much time writing on his desk as he believed that most writing was done "in the quiet, silent moments" and not on the desk with a typewriter.
The writing desk of Jonathan Franzen is devoid of distraction. His laptop has no connection to the Internet.
Roald Dahl's chair has a hole to relieve the pressure on his back as a result of an injury during his flying days in the Second World War.
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." ~ Ernest Hemingway.
This is my writing desk. How does yours look like? Share with us on Booktique Facebook.
Tomorrow is William Shakespeare's 449th birthday. I'm going to say something nice about him and it took me nearly an hour to find one. And that seems to be the one and only "positive" thing associated with him.
According to history.com, Shakespeare had inspired an American fan to introduce every bird mentioned in his works to his country. Out of the 600 and more references on birds, Eugene Schiffelin, who belonged to the American Acclimatization Society in New York, only imported those absent in America. The society was founded in 1871 to introduce plants and animals from Europe to North America.
Schiffelin imported 60 starlings (debuted in "Henry IV, Part 1") from England and released them in New York's Central Park in 1890. His goodwill, however, had caused problem today. The starlings had multiplied to more than 200 million in the United States. They not only dominate the skies and become a public nuisance but also threaten the lives of native birds.
I was flipping through the book "Some Writers Deserve to Starve! 31 Brutal Truths about the Publishing Industry"
when a chapter caught my attention - Truth 12: Writers Rarely Help other Writers.
When I just started writing freelance full time in 2007, I had
never thought about helping other writers. In the first place, I had no experience and no contact to share with other writers. But If I had them, I'd gladly offer to any writers who wanted them. In her aforesaid book, Elaura Niles noted that beginning writers are more willing to share information and "help each other up the ladder of success" than established writers. Her logic is this: "The lesser you have, the lesser you feel you have to lose". Realistically speaking, she is right.
Now in my fifth year of writing, I have amassed a lot of contacts and experiences and according to Niles, I'll have more to lose if I were to share them with other writers. However, Niles has also cautioned against the pitfall of negativity. "It distracts you from the true goal, writing. Which,
in turn, will make you even more negative. It's the classic vicious circle."
Last year, I recommended my writer friend A to my editor for an assignment that I didn't have the time to do. Shortly after that, I came to know that A took over my other assignment with that publication. I didn't become bitter about it; bitterness is a deadly negativity and I don't want it in my life.
When I made that recommendation, I knew A was struggling financially as a beginning freelance writer. The thing about helping fellow writers is you have to know why you're helping them. If they are your close friends, helping one another is part of friendship. It wasn't A's fault that my editor "dropped" me; it could be that A's writing and rate are better than mine. Nevertheless, I moved on with my writing. Few months later, the same editor contacted me and gave me back my assignment.
"A bee goes to the flowers for the nectar. He doesn't know he is serving the greater good by pollinating. The good of an action is often not seen by the person perpetuating it. Try anyway. Trust your instincts. Expect nothing in return. Be surprised if fruit shows up later." Elaura Niles
Helping other writers needs not necessarily be the sharing of contacts and experiences. When I'm not writing I help out at an independent bookstore. The owner counts on me to display the shop's window. Last month, I took the opportunity to showcase the books of local authors as the media was debating about literature and local authors. One of the books that I had picked was a children book by a lawyer-turned writer, Patricia Chew whom I befriended at a book fair. Patricia has written two books on animals; her first book was self-published. Because of that she has to promote it on her own. She stood for hours cajoling people to buy her books while struggling to keep her bag stuffed with promotional materials in place on her lean shoulder. My heart went out to her.
The writing community in Singapore is small and writers are struggling to make a living out of their passion. It is important that local writers help, encourage and inspire one another. I don't believe that you should force yourself to buy books that you won't read in the name of support. But you can always share them on your social networking sites when you come across new local titles. My best friend is an aspiring novelist and now helps me with Booktique. We email each other writing opportunities and inspiring quotes on writing.
"Pass along the good deed. Even if you have limited contacts, share. If you help someone, let those who helped you know that you were inspired by them (it's the bee thing)." Elaura Niles
When writers are approached by other writers for help , we often think of the negative consequences of our kindness. But helping other writers can be helping yourself too. Earlier this year, I accepted a big project with an incredibly tight deadline. I hired several freelance writers (including my best friend) to help me. Without them, I couldn't have completed it on time.
Next time that you are in a dilemma over helping other writers, listen to Niles: "Always keep your mind and eyes open. Just as the bee doesn't know his effect on the world, often we don't either, but if you pay attention, sometimes you may catch a glimpse of the big picture."
The Logos Hope is the world's largest floating bookstore with over 5,000 titles including Christian books. Run by a German charity organization, the onboard book fair is part of its mission to bring books to countries where books are less accessible.
Books are processed in a warehouse in Florence, USA before they are delivered to the Logos Hope and are sold at below recommended retail prices.
The staff and crew on board the Logos Hope are all volunteers from over 45 countries and are unpaid during their one or two-years' onboard service. Though they are all volunteers, they meet the standard required by the international maritime regulations.
Even the Captain is unpaid.
So how does the Logos Hope remain sustainable?
Half of the funding needed comes from the sponsorship of personnel on board given by friends, family and other supporters. Hence, applicants have to secure their own financial sponsorship before joining the Logos Hope. Another quarter of the funding comes from the sale of books and non-book items (such as souvenirs) in the onboard book fair. The last quarter comes from gifts and donations given by individuals, trusts, foundations and community groups.
Whenever the Logos Hope sails to a country, it also helps to set up libraries in local schools, children’s homes, and other community organizations. Since 2004, it has distributed more than 3
million books and had more than 2.5 million visitors onboard.
Based on their schedule, the Logos Hope is now in Dry Dock, Hong Kong till 13th May, 2013. Thereafter, it will set sail to other parts of Asia. Sadly, it is not sailing to Singapore; the closest is to Malaysia, Kuching.
Photo source: GBA ships