Category Archives: Studying and education

Step away from the news: reading fiction fuels creativity

Last week, on a plane to Long Beach, California, JetBlue Airways stuck me in a middle seat between two professional-looking gentlemen.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

After takeoff, I pulled out a book and tried to begin reading. But the intensity with which both gentlemen scrutinized their seat-back televisions immediately distracted me.

Leaning forward with nearly unblinking eyes, Tweedledee and Tweedledum  were happily enslaved by the news.

Now, watching these two Type-A shmucks engrossed in re-tellings of rape, murder, dirty money and dirtier politicians inspired something dangerous.

We need fiction.

We need fiction to relax. We need it to escape.

We need fiction to finally castrate our jack-ass boss and bring our favorite television characters together when it would never happen on the show.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

We need things that haven’t happened to explain what’s happening now. Continue reading Step away from the news: reading fiction fuels creativity

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3 great sites for free eBooks and audiobooks

Everyone loves free stuff. If it’s free, it’s for me!

Speaking as a bibliophile and impulsive shopper, these sites have certainly helped me access great literature while staying under budget.

 Librophile

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

This website offers free, or extremely discounted, eBooks and audio books for download. It does not require an account or email address, instead, the files download directly to the computer. Librophile also offers the availability to stream audiobooks from their website.

The website menu offers to view the available free books or those that require payment. Most books under the “Pay” tab are mostly recent publications. Librophile also has an app available for download. They app layout nearly mirrors the website, keeping the interface simple and user friendly.

However, if you’re looking for class books or supplements to your reading list, Librophile is a great site to access and download classic literature.

Continue reading 3 great sites for free eBooks and audiobooks

Whatever you do, don’t do anything

Control freaks, workaholics and all you anal retentives –- listen up!

It’s time to take a break.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

But–rooms need cleaning, laundry has piled up and those emails need answers. There’s just too much to do!

Well, too bad. Today, you’re not doing any of it.

No, do not feel guilty.

The work will be there later.

Chances are, you’ve spent most of your time constantly catching up on a never-finished to-do list.

Stop.

Stop everything until tomorrow.

Continue reading Whatever you do, don’t do anything

Congratulations, you have failed.

Not making the team. Failing a test after you studied for days Saying the wrong thing at the big interview. Memorizing your lines and going blank at your audition.

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all failed.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

But there’s no reason to allow failure to defeat you.

Celebrate your failures. They are lessons to be learned.

In a 2006 psychological study published in the Journal of Personality, researchers wrote that initial failure deters people from trying again. But, when you surrender, when you give in and give up, you concede to failure.

Instead of lamenting, dissect each point of criticism, and decide if you should make changes. Listen to your audience. Don’t let anger overwhelm your senses. Do not let your pride stand in the way of your progress.

Dare yourself to turn mistakes into strengths.  Analyze your errors. Fix them. Move forward.

If there are opportunities for improvement, grasp them. Pursue them. Hunt them down with a vengeance.  Prove to yourself that you can be better.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Criticism and corrections are not attacks; they’re pathways. Thrive as your audience challenges you. Do not defend your past. Attack your future; improve it.

Top all your expectations. You will have to deal with your choices.

Make good ones. Don’t ever give yourself more than you’re able.

Do not weep—unless you must.

Straighten your spine and take a deep breath.

Carry on.

Why everyone should read more: commentary on key points from a radio interview with David Ulin

When was the last time you read a book? Yes, including e-books. Fan-fiction? Sure, who am I to judge. I would even count 50 Shades of Grey.

Photo credit: Creative Commons
Photo credit: Creative Commons

But, why do books matter?

In a 2010 radio interview Michael Kransy KQED forum host, discussed “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time,” an essay-turned-novel by David Ulin, Los Angeles Times book critic.

Ulin addressed a concern that reading cannot provide the same experience to readers in this age of “digital monopoly.” He said that most are so consumed with reading snippets of conversation on Facebook and Twitter, that reading books feels too long and cumbersome.

Photo credit: David Ulin's twitter
Photo credit: Twitter

He argued that reading is essential to developing empathy for foreign experiences and cultures.
“It (reading) made me feel as if a world had opened up in the palm of my hands. It is this, I think, that draws us to books in the first place, their nearly magical power to transport us to other landscapes, other lives,” Ulin says in the original, published essay.

In a 2012 story published by the Harvard Business Review blog, academic research indicated that “fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness.” Meaning, the more we read, the more we understand about people and cultures outside our own.

Continue reading Why everyone should read more: commentary on key points from a radio interview with David Ulin

SparkNotes: Why you shouldn’t give a damn about their bad reputation

“Okay. It’s happening. I’m actually going to do the class reading this time. I’m going to physically read the material and attempt to understand it before class tomorrow.”

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Photo credit: Creative Commons

You flip to the page, and stare at the title.

“It’s only a few words. I understand them all, so that’s a good start.”

You start to read. A few sentences go by. You stop.

“What the hell– was that English? Am I reading the wrong textbook?”

You check the title and page numbers, but everything is as it should be.

You read the same words again, slower this time. You’re confused. You stop.

“The Indiana Jones theme should be playing if I’m translating hieroglyphics,” you mutter.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just don’t understand what you’re reading, and that’s okay. It’s okay to have questions, and it’s okay to seek help.

Continue reading SparkNotes: Why you shouldn’t give a damn about their bad reputation