Why Golden Age Crime Fiction Is A Great Choice For Summer

Despite what you might think, summer is a great time for reading. While you’re relaxing on the beach or making your way to a fun outing in the sun, you’ll need something fun to keep you occupied.

That’s why reading is a great pastime- in the summer, it’s easy to do and doesn’t require you to get sweaty or wear any fancy protective gear. It’s also a cheap and accessible way to spend your time. Whether the weather outside is frightful even in the summer (I live in the UK, so it usually is), or it’s finally giving us a blast of sunlight, you can enjoy a good book.

Buying books for winter is a lot easier than for summer. When reading in the winter, you’re looking for something unique and gripping that will give you thrills. In the summer, however, you’re looking for something comforting and interesting, that will mean that you don’t have to think too much, especially when it’s hot and you don’t want to have to strain your brain.

If you’re looking for books to read in summer, then I’ve found the perfect solution: Golden Age crime fiction is the way to go. It’s the perfect blend of cosy fiction and instantly familiar stories.

As you might have guessed from my recent post about my favourite underrated characters from Agatha Christie novels, I’ve been on a bit of a Golden Age crime fiction binge lately. Primarily I’ve been re-reading old faves, but I’ve also checked out some exciting new books in this genre.

That’s because, as the sun finally starts to come out in the UK (it’s only June after all), I’ve found myself delving back into the arms of my old Golden Age crime favourites. I’ve enjoyed a lot of these books and stories in the past, and now I’m happy to be re-reading them now that the sun’s out.

For me, Golden Age crime fiction is the ultimate in summer reading. When you’re looking for comfort and something to cheer you up, a rip-roaring thriller is the ideal way to bring yourself out of your shell. As long as it’s not too gory, a police procedural or a modern thriller usually fits the bill for cheering me up.

When it comes to sunshine, I need something fun and calm, and I want something that’s set during a sunny period. Many Golden Age crime fiction writers wrote books and short stories set in sunny climates, so I can usually find something sunny and bright.

That’s particularly important when you live somewhere like England: where we get like four hours of sunshine every year, usually in bloody May. Right now, we’ve been very fortunate to have some nice weather, and I want to make the most of it by reading books that transport me to a sunny place, even in the evenings when it goes dark.

Still, I don’t want to read those awful romance books that some of my friends take on holiday with them. I want something that still interests me and is gripping, rather than just some soppy book that’s simply set in sunny climes.

That’s why I love reading Golden Age crime fiction during the summer, particularly when we get rare bouts of sunny weather in the UK, or if I travel to another country with decent weather. Books by classic authors from the period, including my old favourites Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers are great for taking on holiday, or a staycation, or to simply enjoy at home.

There are also Golden Age style novels, written today, that can give you the feel of traditional, quaint cosy crime fiction. One of my favourite modern series that feels like traditional Golden Age crime fiction is the Phryne Fisher novels by the amazing Kerry Greenwood. These amazing books are set in the 1920s, and feature an incredible female protagonist who’s unconventional detective style allows her to uncover the truth about a range of sordid crimes and murders.

If you want to check out something that feels familiar, then you could consider some reimagined version of your favourite Golden Age crime fiction serials. There’s plenty of incredible reimagined crime series out there, including Sophie Hannah’s amazingly authentic Poirot stories and Jill Paton Walsh’s version of the Lord Peter Wimsey books. Whatever you like, you’ll be able to find something that you love that extends your enjoyment of your favourite Golden Age book series this summer.

So, if you’re searching for a new book or a series of novels that will help you to enjoy the summer sunshine, then I think you should check out Golden Age crime fiction. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or you’ve never even read an Agatha Christie novel (how I don’t know, but I’m sure there must be at least one of you out there somewhere), you should try reading Golden Age crime fiction this summer.

My Favourite Underrated Agatha Christie Characters

When you think of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, you probably remember her most notable detective, the Belgium private sleuth Hercule Poirot.

If you’re a bit more of a fan of the undisputed Golden Age crime fiction genius, then you might also love her homely, elderly amateur detective and general busybody, Miss Marple.

While this pair characters are, indisputably, amazing, there’s a lot more to the Queen of Crime than just these two.  Christie was a prolific author, who wrote 66 full-length novels, as well as hundreds of short stories that were published in over a dozen collections and many newspapers and periodicals over the years.

Her work defined the Golden Age of Crime Fiction, and became a source of inspiration for writers and artists from around the world. Her work is popular everywhere, and it’s even been turned into animated series in Asia and major blockbusters in Hollywood.

While Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple novels are renowned around the world, and even the sight of a set of dark moustaches invokes an image of her famed detective, the Queen Of Crime also created many other memorable and intriguing characters.

Many of these characters aren’t given the attention and renown that they deserve. During the pandemic, I’ve been turning to Golden Age Crime Fiction and old favourite authors like Christie to bring me comfort, and I’ve found myself revisiting some of her amazing, yet underrated, characters.

That’s why I’ve put together this brief list of some of my favourite and, in my opinion, under appreciated, Christie characters. It’s not a definitive list, and I’m sure other fans of the author might not agree with all of my choices, but hopefully this list will inspire you to check out some Christie characters that you’ve not investigated before.

Parker Pyne: Parker Pyne is a sort of consultant life coach, who aids private individuals in everything from relationship issues through to suspicious deaths and almost everything in between. He advertises in the newspapers with short, cryptic ads that entice many individuals from all walks of life to reach out to him and embroil him in their mysteries and lives. The character appears in a selection of short stories that are really interesting. He also appears in a short story entitled Death On The Nile, which later became the name of one of Christie’s most famous Poirot novels. The story is an early incantation of the novel, but it’s very different in plot, with only a few small similarities. This progression shows how Christie used short stories as a creative springboard.

Ariadne Oliver: Appearing in several Poirot novels and a couple of standalone short stories, Mrs Ariadne Oliver was Christie’s literary self-portrait. The character is an eccentric author who created a Finnish detective, who she’s sick of- similar to Christie herself, who told many of her friends and fans that she was tired of writing about Hercule Poirot. Ariadne Oliver also adores apples, and is generally just a funny and witty character who’s great fun for readers, as well as being a useful foil for the detective. I love her TV portrayal in the ITV Poirot series and the character is definitely undervalued in the books. She’s wacky and funny, while also being intelligent and she has the ability to command the attention she deserves, rather than getting dismissed as so many similar characters are in books. She’s funny but also droll and makes acute observations about the human condition, which is again a refreshing change.

Luke Fitzwilliam: This ex-policeman character returns from India in the novel Murder Is Easy and meets an elderly lady on a train. She states that she’s going to report a serial killer to the police. Before she gets to Scotland Yard, she dies in mysterious circumstances. Unable to let the matter lie, Luke Fitzwilliam decides to investigate. The character isn’t a reoccurring one, but he does stick with me because he’s deeply compassionate and has an intuitive understanding of human nature. He’s also wrong many times, and is open and honest about his lack of knowledge, which is refreshing as many of Christie’s protagonists are very arrogant and proud of their abilities.

Superintendent Battle: While Inspector Japp, the character inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Inspector Lestrade is perhaps the best known of Christie’s policemen characters; Superintendent Battle is arguably the most interesting. Battle appears in five of Christie’s full-length novels, including standalone tales and Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books. He also appears in several short stories. The character is related to several others who turn out to be instrumental in other Christie mysteries. He’s also a lot more in-depth and insightful than some other police characters, who simply act as an official counterpart to private detectives. Battle is intelligent in his own right, and brings a lot of information and useful ideas to the investigation, even if, ultimately, the protagonist detective is the one who eventually gets the glory of actually solving the case in the end. 

Miss Lemon: Hercule Poirot’s secretary who also appears in a selection of other short stories, including a couple of Parker Pyne tales is also a funny character in her own right. Christie’s description of the character, who is portrayed as having no imagination and being dedicated exclusively to the creation of the perfect filing system, is droll and witty. It’s also an interesting commentary on the way that many detective novels at the time portrayed working women as sexless, dull people who have no lives outside of their work. Miss Lemon has a sister, and the novel Hickory Dickory Dock contains funny passages about how Poriot doesn’t realise that the character would ever have a family and that she was born as a secretary with a desire to improve filing. The character is a funny commentary on the portrayal of women in literature and a useful soundboard for the eccentric Belgium sleuth.

Mr Satterthwaite: In The Mysterious Mr Quin short story collection, and a few other tales, Mr Satterthwaite and Harley Quin muse over a selection of unusual and seemingly unsolvable crimes. While Harley Quin might be the titular character in the series, he’s merely a plot device used to prompt his friend, Mr Satterthwaite, into uncovering the truth. While his name appears in the title of the book of short stories, Quin not a two-dimensional character, whereas the elderly and old-fashioned Mr Satterthwaite is a fully-fledged character with inventive ideas and witty repartee. He’s an avid and astute observer of the human race who uses his insight to help him to find out the truth in even the most unsettling and confusing cases. The character also appears in the Poirot novel Three Act Tragedy and the short story Dead Man’s Chest, which shows how useful a foil and observer he is.

Is It Just Lockdown That’s Driving Children Towards More Challenging Books?

Recent studies have shown that children are reading more challenging and longer books during the lockdown. They’ve been checking out longer texts and novels on more challenging topics than ever before.

While you might think that kids would be less inclined to read with schools closed and so much technology at their disposal, they’re actually reading more books and ones that involve more complex ideas and plot points.

That’s a great thing: reading can help kids with everything from increasing their vocabulary to helping them to learn more about different cultures and experiences. It’s an important part of life and it can be really vital for kid’s development.

Fantasy novels topped the list of books that kids read during the past year, with Rick Reardon’s The House of Hades coming out on top. Other popular titles included Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and The Hate You Give. As you can see, the titles are predominantly fantasy. The Harry Potter title was an obvious one; that series is like comfort reading. However, that particular book marks the point in which the series turns from a cheery children’s saga into a darker, more complicated set of books.

So, it’s clear that children are enjoying more complex books over the past few months. Obviously, this study doesn’t reflect every child in the world, but it does give us a unique insight into how kids are reading and what’s going on in the world of children’s literature.

While I agree with the study that the amount of extra time they had during the lockdown has contributed to their improved reading habits, I also think that there are other issues at play here.

For example, I think that the fact that kids couldn’t go outside and learn by playing made them want to enter into an imaginary world. While TV shows can help, there’s no better way to transport yourself to a fantasy world than reading a good book.

So, I think that the lockdown has definitely impacted on the choice of books that kids read. However, I also think that there are other factors that have pushed kids into the arms of more complex and challenging novels.

For example, I definitely reckon that the recent social situation has pushed kids to read more widely, and to choose books that explore a more diverse range of topics. The Hate You Give, in particular, is about racial inequality. Considering the BLM protests and recent increased media focus on the murders of innocent black individuals at the hands of the police (it’s been happening for decades, but it’s only really since 2020 that they’ve been the focus of public outrage and extensive, critical media coverage), it’s clear that these factors have influenced children’s choices.

Also, another thing to remember is that while kids choose what they want to read, it’s often the parents and other relatives who buy books for them and help to influence their choices. After all, they’re the ones that have the money, particularly when the kids are too young to have their own jobs or earn significant pocket money.

Therefore, I feel like the recent social unrest has also been, at least partially, responsible for the change in children’s reading habits. It’s led their parents to provide them with a wider variety of reading materials on different topics. The increased focus on diversity in today’s society, which is frankly long overdue, is driving parents to purchase a wider range of authors and topics.

That’s how it goes with both younger kids, as their parents and guardians tend to purchase their books. Older children and teenagers tend to be exposed to more TV and have access to their own cash, so they’re even more likely to be influenced by factors such as social change. Therefore, it’s understandable that young adult books such as The Hate You Give are more popular now.

I also reckon that another issue that’s changed the way children read is what I’m terming ‘screen fatigue’. After months of having to do their schooling online and spending hours everyday staring at screens, I think that many kids are probably sick and tired of staring at screens. I don’t have kids myself, but I do know a lot of people who do, and I know that between virtual schooling, playing video games and watching endless TV, they’re a bit tired of screens.

They all want to play outside and spend time in the real world. That’s why I think that books, particularly longer books, are more popular with kids right now. Children want to spend more time doing cool stuff, but between poor weather (it’s the UK) and the quarantine restrictions, they’ve been stuck indoors with limited options. Long books give kids a unique opportunity to dive into a new world and stay there.

With shorter books, you don’t really get the chance to immerse yourself in the novel’s setting and plot before it’s all over again and you have to start a new book. That’s why longer, more complex books and series are ideal when you’re looking to get away from it, which today’s kids definitely are.

Ultimately, I think that the lockdown has definitely had a major impact on children’s reading, and adult’s reading for that matter. It’s changed all of our lives in so many different ways, and I’m sure that it’s affected our reading habits- I know it has changed mine. However, I think that as the world is changing and kids are being exposed to more turmoil and social change from a young age, there are other factors that have impacted on the reading habits of kids in 2021.

Happy 5th Birthday To The Dorset Book Detective!

It’s insane to think that the Dorset Book Detective, my little blog where I rant and rave and recommend my favourite reads, has turned 5 years old today!

Over those 5 years I’ve had loads of fun reviewing new books, interviewing amazing authors and generally just sharing my thoughts on crime fiction, thrillers, mystery novels, pastoral texts and, once, a cookbook.

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to all of the authors, publishers and book publicists who’ve supported my blog since it began. Also, most importantly, a huge thanks to my readers and followers, who’ve made this blog so fun to write for and manage.

In the future, I’m hoping you’ll get to enjoy even more of the content you love the most. I know the top 5 lists are many people’s favourites, but if you’ve seen something you like and want to see more of on the Dorset Book Detective, or you think there’s something the blog is missing, then feel free to reach out and I’ll consider your ideas.

Thanks again to everyone who’s supported my blog over the past 5 years, and here’s to another 5 more!

Inventive Book Storage Solutions For Your Online Purchases

Buying new books is fun, but it does leave you stuck with the age-old issue: where to put them all.

As book sales have soared throughout the lockdown, many of us now have loads of texts in our homes.

In many cases, we’ve not got enough shelving and storage solutions to put them all on.

You can sell or donate your old books, but if you’ve got a massive To Be Read pile or you just don’t can’t let go yet, then you’ll need to consider book storage options.

Of course, all of this could be alleviated with a Kindle, but frankly, there’s nothing quite like the experience of reading a paper book. Some people I know love their Kindle, but if you need to have physical copy of a book, then you’ll also need a physical place to keep your collection.

If, like me, you’ve been buying loads of books online during the lockdown, you’ll need some storage solutions.

Things will only get worse now that non-essential shops, like bookstores, have reopened, and you might find your home overrun with books!

While a large bookcase might seem like an obvious choice, it’s not always doable. They’re expensive and can be tough for people to assemble and move, particularly if you’re on your own.

The alternative, stacking your books up in piles all over the floor, isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing or good for your precious tomes.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to store your books. If you hate doing DIY and don’t want to be making bookshelves all the time, here are some ideas.

Crates

Crates might seem like an industrial solution for storing your books in a garage or attic, but they’re actually also useful for displaying them too. They give your space a tidy and utilitarian look. My housemate gave me some plastic crates she had spare, and I love storing my books in them. They’re great for large books, like hardbacks. If you get the crates with the slats in the sides then you can read the titles through the sides, making it easier to find your favourites whenever you want to.

Clear Storage Tubs

Another way to view all your books easily without keeping them in piles on the floor is to store them in clear plastic tubs. You know the kind; they’re the best friend of students everywhere. The kind you can buy from Wilko or B&M for really cheap. You can stack them up on top of each other and then cover them with a pretty throw if you’re keeping them somewhere they can be seen. Then, when you want your books, all you have to do is take the throw off and you can see the contents of the box really easily and find the title you want to read. These tubs are a cost-effective and easy way to store your books and you can hide them under throws and even use them as a table for small items on top, so they’re a unique and versatile solution to your book storage issues.

Ladders

It might seem a bit like a dumb Pinterest idea that’d never really work in real life, but ladders actually can hold books if you get the right one and prop it against a wall. I’ve seen a few people do it and it’s pretty cool. Plus, you can customise ladders and make them unique and cool. For example, if you get a wooden ladder then you can paint it in awesome colours or even cover it in wallpaper. I’ve also seen people wrap fairy lights around the sides of ladders to make a really funky style for their unique shelving solution. Using a ladder is also cheaper and easier than assembling a bookcase. It also means you can repurpose your shelving as a ladder if you get tired of it. Although, if you’re going to use it in the long run then it’s probably best if you bolt it in place to keep it secure or put a back onto the ladder, so your books don’t keep falling off it.

Drawers

Sounds weird I know, but hear me out- storing books in drawers is easy and great for if you have a spare chest that you don’t use. After all, people keep CDs and DVDs in drawers in entertainment units, so why not do the same with your books? It’s a great way to display your books, as you can put them all spine up, then find the one you want without having to rummage about too much. Also, it’ll keep your books safe from too much dust, which is good if you like to keep them pristine. If you put too many books in drawers that aren’t suitable for them then they can become heavy and hard to open, so try picking drawers that are on runners. The ones you have to drag out tend to get heavy and unwieldy. It also helps if you pick a pieces of furniture that’s made from good solid wood; a cheap, flimsy piece might break under the weight of your books.

Floating Bookshelves

If you like the idea of shelving but don’t have the space for a massive freestanding bookshelf, then you could try using floating shelves that attach to walls. They’re usually pretty easy to hang, although they usually need nails which might be a problem if, like me, you’re 1. Bad at DIY and 2. Living in rented accommodation where you can’t just put up shelves if and when you want to. However, if you live in your own home and are handy with a drill then floating shelves on the walls could help you display your favourite titles without taking up room precious floor space.

Buy A Small Bookshelf

Another solution for if you don’t fancy buying and assembling a full size bookshelf is to consider getting a small, freestanding one. Often they come fully assembled, particularly if you buy them second hand. I got a small spinning bookshelf from a charity furniture store a few years ago and it’s now one of my favourite possessions. It’s great for storing my books, and it spins round, so I can see them in all their glory. Spinning it round is also really fun, so that’s an added bonus!

Have A Very Norwegian Easter By Reading A Crime Novel

Happy Easter weekend to all the lovely Dorset Book Detective readers!

If you’re looking for a new tradition for Easter this year, when things are a bit weird, then I’ve got the perfect idea for you: read crime fiction.

Hear me out: I know crime fiction doesn’t sound very Easter-y, but in some countries it actually is a time-honoured tradition to read thrillers at this time of year.  

At Easter here in the UK, traditions include hiding chocolate Easter eggs for kids to find, eating a cake made with marzipan balls meant to symbolise the apostles and cooking an oversized roast dinner.

While the holiday retains some religious symbolism for some Christian households, most of us just enjoy having the time off, seeing our loved ones and stuffing our faces with tasty treats.

One international tradition that I think we should adopt in the UK is the Norwegian habit of Påskekrim, or reading crime novels at Easter.

At Easter, in this beautiful and chilly Scandinavian country, people cuddle up with a gripping thriller or binge watch a Scandi crime film or TV show.

The tradition allegedly started when two Norwegian crime writers took out an advert in the newspapers that convinced readers to read their new novel. The advert was so persuasive that many readers thought the tale was true.

Thanks to the success of the stunt the book was a huge success. As well as literary success, the publicity strategy started a tradition where readers would seek out new thrillers and mystery novels to read at Easter.

As a result, publishers started timing the releases of new crime fiction novels to coincide with the religious holiday. That meant that there were even more awesome thrillers for readers to check out at Easter every year. It also meant that it’s become a time-honoured tradition to read them over Easter.

Personally, I think that reading crime fiction at Easter is the perfect tradition for the UK. It’s a great way to reinvigorate yourself over the long weekend and expand your mind, while being lazy at the same time. Crime fiction is gripping and great for helping you to escape tough times.

It’s safe to say that there haven’t been too many times that have been tougher than these. That’s why crime fiction is particularly useful for this Easter. After all, we’re probably going to all being feeling a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) as we’re not able to meet up with as many people or do the fun Easter activities that we’re used to enjoying. But reading, particularly gripping mysteries and thrillers, is a great way to feel exhilarated even while you’re stuck indoors, or in the garden if the weather stays fine.

Really well written crime fiction novels can take you out of your home, or garden, and transport you to a new time, place and situation. There’s a type of crime fiction for every writer, ranging from quaint cosy crime fiction through to terrifying political thrillers and more. That means that whatever you’re into, there’s a mystery for you to enjoy this Easter.

Also, reading crime fiction is one of the few Easter traditions that doesn’t involve food. Don’t get me wrong: food is really good. Everyone needs food, and most of love eating it (except for people who just eat those weird Huel meal replacement things, and they’re weird). However, Easter is a lot about food for most Brits. From the cake with the marzipan apostles to the classic crème egg, hot cross buns to the all-important roast dinner, there’s just so much traditional Easter food to choose from. So, it’s nice to have a new tradition that’s not edible.

While I know some people who do use this time to read, or re-read, the Bible, as it’s a religious holiday, most of us don’t believe and therefore choose not to read it.

If that’s the case, then Påskekrim could be the perfect solution. By making this a yearly tradition, we can feel comforted by the familiarity and get the chance to read shiny new crime fiction novels. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Going one step further with the tradition and giving crime fiction books at Easter could be the UK’s way of stepping up this tradition, and I for one am all for it! While we give out loads of edible gifts, mostly in chocolate form, we could start giving out a longer lasting reminder of the awesomeness of Easter. Whether you’re religious or not, this is an amazing time of the year. We get time off and the sun is shining. There will soon be cute baby animals for us to fawn over and pretty flowers. The days are getting longer and the weather’s getting better, and this year, we’re also beating a pandemic.

Being reminded of all that with a shiny new mystery novel would be ace. I for one have already treated myself to a few new thrillers over the past couple of weeks, and I’ll be reading them over the long weekend to celebrate Easter. I think in the future, getting one wrapped in egg covered wrapping paper would make me a very happy reader!

In all, I hope the weather does stay fine for us all this Easter weekend, and that everyone gets the opportunity to read an engaging thriller. It’s even better if you can eat some yummy chocolatey treats while you’re reading too! It’s been a tough year of lockdown, and while it’s getting easier, life is far from back to normal. So, please, be kind to yourself this Easter and consider adopting a new tradition: self-case and reading your favourite crime fiction.

Tech Might Sometimes Inhibit Learning But It Is Encouraging Reading

For many years people have been lamenting the advance of technology. Particularly, technology that is used by children is regularly under fire, and now, it seems like critics might have a point.

Studies have recently shown that e-Books have a negative effect on children who are learning to read, particularly younger kids.

That’s because the use of the technology, and extra bells and whistles such as games, distract them from reading itself. So, children who use this tech get bored by the reading part and want to get stuck straight into playing the games and enjoying the delights of cartoons or whatever else it is they usually do with their tablet.

Personally, I think that technology has its pros and its cons. As the article itself states, in some cases virtual books can help with learning. Therefore, I don’t believe that tech is always a bad guy when children are trying to learn to read.

For example, if virtual books have built-in dictionaries, then they can help children with their comprehension. Someone recently mentioned that this function was one of the main reasons they missed their Kindle, after giving it up to return to the allure of traditional paper books.

With a built-in dictionary, you can swipe your finger over a word and easily learn its meaning. Using this tech is particularly useful for those reading work from a bygone era. When I was at university, I read some medieval text, which I had to read alongside a primer, a separate book. Using the primer made the text understandable, but it was also an incredibly tedious and laborious task. If I’d have had access to an eBook with an inbuilt dictionary, I would’ve found the task much easier and, probably, much more enjoyable.

So, I don’t think that we can completely ditch it when we’re trying to educate children, especially in today’s technology-driven world. Tech is a key part of the world of work, so kids need to be taught to use it and interact with it from an early age.

For those who lament the onslaught of technology, remember that without progress we’d all still be beating our clothes on rocks and living in caves. We have to progress to get better, so we need to incorporate tech into every aspect of our lives and use it to enrich them.

In this day and age, where we are stuck at home and many kids have been remote learning for months, technology is bridging the schooling gap and helping children to learn in a safe space.

Embracing technology in reading, and particularly learning to read, means using a variety of different solutions. While eBooks with games on the end of them might inhibit children’s learning, but other literacy tech solutions, can benefit children and make learning to read both easier and more fun.

One example of this phenomenon is audiobooks. Although there’s a lot of snobbery around them, audiobooks can really help children to learn to read and make them more enthusiastic about stories. In this case, this solution could be ideal for kids, particularly those with learning issues such as dyslexia, who find reading challenging. With audiobooks, particularly if they’re used alongside actual books, kids can learn to read and enjoy books, giving them good habits for the rest of their lives.

Another example of using technology to improve children’s literacy is the recent push to encourage children to watch TV with subtitles, even when it’s in their first language. Personally, I think that this is a good idea, as it will do something very important; it will make children enjoy reading and make it fun, not a chore.

Many adults I speak to who don’t like reading as a hobby say that they got sick of it after school, college or university. After being made to read a lot of texts that they didn’t particularly enjoy, they’re now happy to avoid reading and spend their time watching TV, something we’re not very often made to do analytically.

Even if students are made to watch TV shows or films they don’t particularly like, it often feels less like a chore because it’s communal, whereas outside reading is often done in their own time. All of this can make people find reading boring and make it feel like work.

As a result, they find reading a boring chore, and they don’t do it as a hobby. If they feel like that as a kid, then they’ll give it up as soon as they become old enough. That’s a real shame; I personally know a lot of adults who don’t enjoy reading, and that sucks, when you consider the many benefits of reading for your mental wellbeing and vocabulary. In times of stress reading can be incredibly soothing and it can also help readers to broaden their minds.

During the pandemic, reading has become more popular than ever, with book sales booming. It’s a great way to escape from everyday life and go to other worlds in your imagination without leaving the comfort of your home. So, children who don’t enjoy reading and keep it on as a hobby in adulthood

Fundamentally, reading is an essential skill that everyone needs to learn. However, while schools teach kids to read, they don’t teach them to enjoy reading as a hobby. Reading recreationally has loads of benefits, including broadening your horizons and expanding your vocabulary. So, anything that helps children to enjoy stories and reading gets a thumbs up from me.

Dr Seuss Isn’t Being Cancelled: This Is How Book Publishing Works

You gotta love the internet. Not long after Dr Seuss Enterprises, which published books by the renowned children’s author and preserves his legacy, announced it was pulling six books due to their portrayals of people, outrage ensued.

People started raving that the writer was being ‘cancelled’ –spoiler alert: he’s fucking not. They started bulk buying his books and hoarding them, or selling on old copies at silly prices, in a sad attempt to cash in on this ludicrous display of impotent, pointless outrage.

Frankly, the whole debacle and public outcry is ridiculous. For one, the idiots who are upset at the idea of Dr Seuss being ‘cancelled’ probably have never heard of half the books he wrote.

Aside from The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs And Ham, they’ve probably not heard of anything the author put together, never mind the books that aren’t being published anymore. One of them is the first book he ever published, and most of the others are obscure parts of his back catalogue that already aren’t that popular because of their racist depictions and the poor values that they might teach to children.

Also, if the internet trolls are this upset that an author’s novels are being pulled by a publisher decades after they were written, then they should hear about all of the actually outrageous stuff that goes on in publishing, like the sexual harassment many women encounter, the lack of support for BAME writers, nepotism and more. That’s what they should actually get angry about, not the fact that a well-known writer, who is long dead and whose works still make millions for his estate, isn’t going to get 6 books published anymore.

The issue with these books is that they portray some pretty offensive depictions, which, in 2021, just aren’t acceptable. I mean, they’ve never been acceptable, but society has only just started to accept that racism isn’t OK.

For many years, other, less renowned authors have gone out of fashion and their books have been put out of print. The Bulldog Drummond series by Sapper were one series that has been out of the public eye, and out of print in many cases, because of its highly offensive depiction of Jewish people.

However, these books haven’t garnered as much attention for being out of print for being offensive, simply because when they went out of print, people didn’t automatically leap to this idea that it’s ‘cancellation’ or a freedom of speech issue to stop printing a book that’s deemed offensive. Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from the consequences of that speech; in other words, you’re more than welcome to write offensive books, but don’t expect publishers to keep printing them when readers start speaking out about the issues.

After all, readers are the backbone of any publishing house’s success. They protest with their purchases, and so publishers have to make sure that they’re printing works that reflect the values they want to portray.

That isn’t to say the Dr Seuss was necessarily an active racist; he was probably just ignorant and reflecting common prejudices from his time. However, today’s readers don’t want to see that sort of racist imagery, particularly not in children’s books, and rightly so. Racism is never acceptable, and the world needs to move on from outdated ways of thinking and embrace new literature.

It’s understandable that Dr Seuss’s publishers, particularly an organization dedicated to his work, and therefore unable to expand with new authors, should want to refresh its catalogue and remove writing that’s not in keeping with its values.

Many classic children’s authors, including the amazing Roald Dahl, created problematic portrayals of some races and types of people, and their books are constantly under scrutiny from publishers and agencies alike. If they’re found wanting and the publishers feel that they are too offensive to remain in print, then they will go out of it and new work will come onto the market.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t take away the good messages we take from these works; it just means that we’re acknowledging that, in 2021, people of different races and creeds shouldn’t be faced with humiliating and offensive portrayals of themselves in children’s literature or anywhere else.

One thing I would say about the ‘Dr Seuss is being cancelled’ argument is that it’s definitely disproportionate and that, honestly, this is what happens in book publishing. Work goes out of vogue, or it simply doesn’t sell very well, so it goes out of print. You can still buy second-hand copies, but they won’t make any more of them, for now anyway.

There are bigger fish to fry in 2021, with a global pandemic still raging and Donald Trump still roaming free despite trying to end democracy in the US and causing untold harm to millions of families through his family separation, poor treatment of refugees, and much more. There’s a lot going on in the world, and the fact that the Dr Seuss estate isn’t going to publish half a dozen long forgotten novels doesn’t really matter all that much.

At the end of the day, I think that some books need to make way for new ideas and that it’s not important when some older novels go out of print, for whatever reason. Books that are offensive to some groups deserve to be put out of print, but they’re hardly ‘cancelled’. There will always be somewhere to get them second-hand, and in the age of eBooks they’ll be an everlasting memento of almost every work of fiction. The only reason Dr Seuss’s work is getting so much notice is because some of his works have been made into popular movies. But racist imagery isn’t acceptable, and so we should remember the books we love by Dr Seuss, and accept that not all of them are worth preserving.

Writer’s Block In The Age Of Coronavirus

It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused challenges for almost everyone. From money worries to anxiety and even just plain boredom, even the luckiest among us have dealt with some form of issue.

For writers, the pandemic might seem like a perfect time. After all, most of us are easily able to work from home, and writing in some form or another is always in demand, particularly now everyone has more time on their hands to spend reading.

However, writing is a creative art, and as such, things aren’t always as easy as they might seem.  In a recent article, many authors discussed how the pandemic lockdowns have caused them to endure the dreaded writer’s block.

The condition comes about when writers struggle to think of new ideas, and it can be a real challenge when writing is both your favourite hobby and your livelihood.

As a content writer and team leader, I’ve seen first-hand that the pandemic has given rise to more writer’s block. Some of my team at my day job have experienced it, as have many of my friends who write creatively for a living or blog in their spare time.

All of us have, during the lockdowns, have experienced some form of writer’s block. In some cases it’s a severe lack of imagination, where we know that we have to write about a certain topic, but we can’t think of anything. Some people I know have also experienced a milder issue, where they just suddenly come towards the end of a sentence, paragraph or chapter, and can’t think of the next few words to tie everything together with.

In my case, the most common form of writer’s block that I experience often is when I simply don’t have any motivation to put my fingers on the keypad and start typing. It’s a horrible feeling, and it makes me just want to stare into space and do nothing.

Many individuals, whether they’re writers or not, have experienced a serious downturn in their mental wellbeing thank to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the fear of catching the virus and harming others. For writers, this can cause of compound writer’s block and make writing tough.

Also, when you can’t go out regularly and experience new things and meet new people, it’s hard to get new ideas. You might think that having a lot of time to think would push writers to get more ideas. However, imagination relies on inspiration, and being unable to go out and get it means that it can hard to think of shiny new ideas, especially if you’re writing for a living and need a regular supply of them.

Writing isn’t easy at the best of times, but during a global pandemic it’s even harder. Writer’s block is often made even worse by panicking and thinking about it; the worse your anxiety around it, the harder it is to write. In today’s uncertain age, where almost everyone has anxiety, writing’s a real challenge. As such, writer’s block can be really difficult to deal with.

Every writer is different, so it can be a challenge to find a technique that will help you to overcome your writer’s block. There are loads of different ways to get over writer’s block; many people I speak to often recommend getting up and walking away from your computer, and doing something completely unrelated to writing, like getting yourself a drink or a snack. When they go back to their computer, they often find that they can write again and feel that their minds are refreshed.

Personally, I have a couple of tried and tested tricks that help me. One of them is talking aloud to myself about the topic I need to write about, and then try to get them down on paper. Another is to read extensively for five or ten minutes, then try to get inspiration from that.

I also like to go for a walk; even if I can’t go to a new place, like a pub or bar, right now, and meet new people, a walk sometimes helps. Walking around, even areas that I already know well, can bring me some inspiration, or just wash the fluff out of my brain.

If none of that works then it’s easy to get frustrated, especially as I’m a professional writer, and without my skills I wouldn’t have a roof over my head and snacks in my tummy. I’m very fortunate, in that I’m usually able to overcome my writer’s block with a bit of perseverance, but there’s always a nagging doubt at the back of my mind that one day things won’t come back to me.

One thing that I think I, and all other writers who are struggling to produce new ideas at a rate of knots, need to remember that this is an incredibly tough time for everyone, and what we’re all doing is amazing. The writing community, both creative and corporate, is coming up with new ideas and crafting new art while the world is literally crashing and burning around us. Not everyone can write and create amazing content, but everyone needs it.

Art and writing have been the cornerstones of the pandemic and have held us all up during these trying times. That’s why book sales rose so much during the lockdowns. Everyone needed an escape from the drudgery of everyday life, and books were there for us. Remember that the next time you’re giving yourself a hard time for struggling.