Entertain Your Kids During Lockdown By Giving Them Books To Read

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It’s official: the British public are bellends, and we’re now not allowed to go outside because we can’t be trusted not to congregate and generally behave like twats.

Because of just a small handful of idiots, everyone in the country has to stay indoors. For some, this might seem like a blissful chance to catch up on some rest, and your favourite TV show.

Not for parents. If you’ve got kids under 18 in your house, then chances are you’re stuck trying to teach them shit you’d long forgotten and keep them from driving you mental. For those with younger kids, it’s even worse, because they can’t be left alone and need constant stimulation.

One great way to combine educating them and getting them to stop harassing you for snacks and attention is to give them a book to read. Find a book on a topic they enjoy and it’ll shut them up for hours.

Even the most adventurous of children can be placated with an engaging story. You might have to read it to little ones, but it’ll keep them still and stop them yelling for a bit, which is always a bonus!

When I first started reading, I was obsessed with the Alex Cross stories, and, of course, Harry Potter.

Those books would keep me quite for days, so much so that my parents used to take them away and order me outside because they thought I was sad. Now I’d give anything to be ordered outdoors, but there you fucking go.

The point I’m trying to make is that books are both education and fun for kids, making them a great alternative to plonking them in front of the TV or driving yourself crackers trying to think up engaging activities to entertain them with over the coming weeks.

There’s evidence that kids who are read to at a young age and introduced to books have a significantly higher vocabulary than children who aren’t read to. This increased vocabulary can give your child many advantages in their future education, and you’ve never had an opportunity like this before, nor are you likely to again, to get them into reading.

Reading is also great for boosting imagination and introducing your kid to new ideas, meaning there’s literally no downside. Books are also easy to come by, since so many online retailers sell them and you’ve usually got a stack at home already that they’ve always been too busy to read.

Now’s the perfect time to push them away from the snack cupboard and into the waiting arms of a good book. You won’t regret it.

Fuck Loo Roll: 5 Reasons You Should Be Panic Buying Books

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In a world where everyone and his dog thinks they’re a hard man on Twitter and goes around being abusive to celebrities, a real-life situation has occurred.

As predicted, the trolls have turned out not to be the hard men they claimed to be, and have scarpered back to their caves with half the world’s bog roll and dried pasta.

While everyone else is out there fighting for the last pack of Charmin, I’m over here buying as many books as possible. Here are 5 reasons why you should be too.

5. Local Bookstores Need Your Support Now More Than Ever: Many small business owners face an uncertain future, as do charities providing vital aid in this scary time. That’s why you should be buying more from small, independent retailers and charity shops. One item sold both by a lot of independent retailers and charity shops alike, is books. So, next time you grab three books to add to your huge pile of ones to be read, remember; you’re supporting your local community.

4. You Deserve A Distraction: It’s getting harder and harder to ignore how dire a state the world is in, and how disgusting human beings can be in times such as these. That’s why you need books to cheer yourself up and give you a welcome distraction. You can take yourself off to another world, or another time, from the comfort of your own home.

3. Books Are Great For People Who Are Stuck At Home: As anyone who’s ever had to recover from a major injury will know, being stuck in your own house quickly goes from a welcome change to a pain in the arse. For those who are self-isolating, have Corona Virus or have been ordered to work from home, books can relieve the boredom and be a fun way to make yourself feel like you’re somewhere else, even when you’re not.

2. You Can Spend All The Money You Were Going To Take On Holiday: With travel bans kicking into effect and airline bosses threatening to take their million pound bonuses and fuck off if they don’t get a bailout, it’s likely that you won’t be having a summer holiday this year. Take the money you would spending on your dream trip and spend it on books. You won’t need to feel guilty about wasting money on even more books, because they’re much cheaper than a trip abroad!

1. Who The Fuck Knows When This Will Be Over?: In such uncertain times, it’s unclear when this will all be over and life will return to even a semblance of the way it was before. With that in mind, you should be preparing for the worst by buying as many books as you can bloody well carry. They’ll see you through the dark times and help you to have a little fun during this crazy situation.

Public safety notice: please don’t wipe your arse with the books you’ve stockpiled. Not only is it unsanitary, but disrespectful too. And if I hear that you’ve been doing it, I’ll come round and be very cross at you!

How To Find A Book You’ll Love To Read

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Buying books can be a minefield, particularly if you’re buying new books. They’re expensive; even if you’re using those lovely gift vouchers your clueless relative gave you as a gift for Christmas.

With that in mind, you need to learn how to choose a book that you’ll love, even before you’ve read it. Read on to learn some tricks to help you find a book you’ll love, every time you go bookshop browsing.

Think About The Books You Love

Consider the books you already love and the qualities they have. They might be in a certain genre, or style, so try to find other books that are similar. This will boost your chances of finding a new book, or series, that you love.

Use Bookseller Recommendations

Wherever you’re buying your books, your seller is bound to have some suggestions to help you find another book you’ll enjoy. Online sellers like Amazon offer suggestions based on your browsing and buying history. Even physical sellers usually have suggestions cards, so you can find some recommended reading to follow after you’ve finished your favourite book.

Ask Your Friends And Fellow Fans

Fellow fans of your favourite series and friends who know about your love for a specific author, will be able to give you advice on the next books to read. They’ll have been through the same dilemma themselves, so they can give you great recommendations you’ll enjoy.

Read The Blurb

It might sound obvious, but you should read the blurb of every book you’re planning on buying. So many people neglect to properly read the blurb, but it gives an accurate description of the book, meaning you can make an informed decision on whether it’s right for you or not. You should also read the quotes that are written on the jacket, but don’t take these too seriously, as they only pick the positive quotes for the outside of the book.

Never Mind Death In Paradise, What Keeps Drawing Us Back To Morse?

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Recently I’ve noticed a lot of online commentators talking about why Death In Paradise, the locked-room mystery show set on a fictional Caribbean island, is still going.

The show hasn’t been very good in years, and it’s plots are getting increasingly boring and formulaic. After all, there’s only so many times you can create a closed murder scene with a set number of suspects before the stories simply become absurd.

Like Midsomer Murders, the show is unlikely to die any time soon. It’s a twee, repetitive show that features comically bumbling detectives and a reassuring formula. It appeals to those who don’t like change and want to watch something they know they’ll enjoy and won’t have to think too hard about.

By contrast, another longstanding show, part of an even longer standing series, is also back: Endeavour, the Inspector Morse prequel. Unlike Death In Paradise, Endeavour is actually a great show. It’s intelligent, well-written, beautifully scripted and masterfully acted by some of the UK’s best small screen actors.

The question is, why does Colin Dexter’s protagonist keep coming back? After all, we already had a sequel, the less well received Lewis, which focused on the work of Morse’s former Sergeant, turned Inspector and was set in the present day.

By contrast, Endeavour is set in the 1960s and start of 1970 and tells the story of how the taciturn, ingenious Inspector got to where he was when we first saw him on our screens in his original series.

The series isn’t based on the books, and whilst author Colin Dexter supervised the filming of the early shows, his ill health and eventual death means that the show is now entirely removed from the series of books on which it is based.

So, what is the enduring appeal behind Morse and why do so many people keep tuning in to find out more about him?

Part of it, I believe, is that the character is so entirely relatable. The inspiration for many other, similar characters, his Swedish counterpart, Inspector Wallander, Morse is a grumpy, belligerent investigator who acts as a blueprint for almost every other grumpy, belligerent investigator.

So much so, in fact, that many share the same traits as Morse. Dexter’s popular protagonist is the reason why so many detectives love opera, crossword puzzles and drinking heavily. His red Jaguar became his symbol, much like the cars of later detectives such as Wallander’s Peugeots, Starsky and Hutch’s Ford Gran Torino and Gene Hunt’s Audi Quattro. 

It’s little wonder, then, that crime fiction fans are keen to find out more about the adventures of the original detective that sparked or, in some cases, cemented so many of these renowned genre tropes.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, Morse has a strange relationship with TV. Dexter reimagined some of the episodes of the show into his books, and some of the episodes were written completely for the series and never turned into books.

The show also differs drastically from the books. In the books, Morse is significantly younger than his Welsh Sergeant, a former boxer who tolerates his young boss at first but grows to enjoy spending time with him. On TV, Sergeant Lewis is a young Geordie who works with a curmudgeonly older Inspector.

Despite this, viewers took to the show, which displayed enough of the formula to be attractive to them but bent it enough to be unique and inventive.

It’s this combination of tradition and originality which, I think, is the reason behind the enduring success of the Inspector Morse TV franchise. Lewis had a long run, managing 9 series before it was eventually shelved, and Endeavour is now on its 7th series, and whilst it is indicated that it will soon have to end, as we’re almost reaching the point in time when the original Inspector Morse series began, it’s unclear how many more series there will be.

In all then, it’s the unique way that Dexter and the TV writers managed to combine traditional crime fiction tropes with original thinking that has made Morse such a longstanding TV favourite. With few avenues left to go on now that a prequel and a sequel have been done, I can only hope that rather than a remake, in the future TV bosses commission new shows that have the same winning combination.

New Insight Proves Book Research Every Bit As Relevant As Any Other Form Of Research

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New knowledge that many serial killers are the Taurus star sign has recently been uncovered by British crime fiction writer David Jester.

This insight proves that the research authors do for books is every bit as valuable as any other kind of research, including the academic kind.

Over the years I’ve noticed that the research authors undertake for books is being disregarded, often as unimportant or not worth it.

For example, in recent years there has been a surge in the reduction and demand for return of authors’ advances, which were designed to help them to afford to dedicate their time to the planning and researching of their book, and then to be recouped from the profit it eventually made.

This, combined with the fact that almost every bloody article I read about researching fiction books these days seems to basically just tell people to Google it, then clear their browser history, shows that not enough is understood or known about the importance of researching a book thoroughly.

I was once told by an incredible poet that ‘you can’t write about what you don’t know’, and that’s always stuck with me. If I didn’t know about something, I couldn’t write about it properly, even with a cursory search online.

As a corporate copywriter, I’ve therefore dedicated myself to learning everything there is to know about the markets, industries and companies I write about. Before I even start typing, I’ve put in many hours of research, even if it wasn’t necessarily done with this particular piece in mind.

The same goes for authors, particularly those in niches like crime fiction, who have to understand topics across a variety of sectors such as forensics, the police force, modern technology and more. They need to do thorough research and really understand their subject matter before they write about it if the resulting book is to be worth reading.

Then, there’s the fact that some of this research could have an impact on the world and its understanding in general, as evidenced by this new insight into the star signs of serial killers.

This research could have a bearing on the way we view and even investigate crimes, and it’s all thanks to a writer.

In all, it’s these two main factors, the brilliance of well researched literature and the potential benefit that any research can have on the world as a whole, that are the key reasons why publishers, readers and the literary community as a whole should respect the time and energy writers put in to researching their books.

 

 

 

Cutting Books In Half: It’s Not OK

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Following on from the revelation that an actual author, no less, slices thick books in half to ‘make them more portable’, many people were, rightly, outraged.

Then some news outlets started to defend this madness and state that it was fine to rip books in half if you want to.

Spoiler alert: it’s fucking not.

Books might just be objects to some people, but for the majority of the population they are important learning tools that contain valuable information. The authors, publishers, illustrators and the rest of those involved in book production all worked very hard to create those books. It’s disrespectful to them for people to be chopping them in two, be it for portability or any other reason.

Also, it’s important that we set a good example to children and anyone else who needs to be encouraged to read more. You need to show others, particularly the young, that books and knowledge are something to be cherished and treasured.

After all, books are a symbol of learning and knowledge, so it’s important that we treat them as revered products that will enhance our view of the world. We can’t treat books like disposable trash, but instead we should treat them as important tools that are designed to give us a better view of the world.

Throughout history, book burning has been a traditional way of ridding cultures of works deemed ‘undesirable’ to the reigning regime for hundreds of years, and cutting books in two shows them as much disrespect as chucking them onto a roaring fire. It makes the knowledge in them appear worthless and gives others the idea that treating books poorly is the way we can regard the information contained within their pages.

That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. If you’re a fan of folding down your pages to mark your place then that’s all good. You don’t have to keep your books pristine and in a little plastic overcoat like they do at libraries. Wear and tear is a vital part of the lifecycle of any book. You can keep them however you like, just don’t utterly disrespect them by cutting them in half.

This process disrespects the books, shows that you have no regard for anyone involved in creating them and ruins your enjoyment of the books themselves. It’s hard to really get your teeth into a book when it’s been sawed clean in two.

In summary, I would strongly urge anyone who is considering cutting books into pieces, be it for the sake of portability, being funny or simply going viral, to stop and take a long hard look at themselves. They might soon realise that what’s looking back at them is not the genius they thought they were, but in fact an ignorant human being who shouldn’t be behaving in such an uncouth way.

Stop mutilating books, be it for the sake of expediency or, as I suspect is the case here, for likes on social media. Such popularity is fleeting, but the knowledge, insight and sheer joy that books impart can last a lifetime.

Made A Reading Resolution? How To Make Sure You Keep It

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It’s part way through January, and we all know what that means: most of you are already off the wagon.

Whether your resolution was to drink less or lose weight, doubtless you’re already part way into failing. It’s bloody difficult to keep a resolution, particularly when you going back to work and dealing with all the stresses that brings.

Personally, I can’t help with much, but if your resolution involved reading more books in 2020 than ever before, then I’m your gal!

One of the best ways to read more is to simply find books about topic you’re passionate about. There are books out there about everything, from the President of the United States to crime fiction that doesn’t involve murder and everything in between, meaning that you can find something that’ll drive you to read more.

Another option is listening to audiobooks. There’s a lot of debate around at the moment on whether or not audiobooks are really reading. Me, I think that any reading is good reading, and whilst audiobooks are in no way the same as physical books, they’re a great way to learn more on the go.

After all, we’re all busy people, and it’s that lack of time that often kills off New Year’s resolutions before the end of January. Audiobooks are a great way to keep your passion alive and inspire you to want to read more physical books, as well as introducing you to new authors and genres. They can be listened to almost anywhere, meaning that you’ve got no excuse.

If you’re keen to include more physical books on your 2020 reading list, then try keeping a diary of all the books you’ve read this year. That’ll make you more aware of how far you’ve come and everything you’ve read.

You could also invest in some fancy books, like rare or illustrated editions of classics or old favourites that you haven’t read in a while. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you put your money where your mouth is and invest in something to help you with your resolution, then you’re much more likely to keep it than if you don’t. That’s why loads of people take out pricey gym memberships at this time of the year.

At the end of the day, there’s no hard and fast way to make yourself read more, but if you keep at it then the results will be worth the effort. You’ll have an increased vocabulary and gained knowledge you’d never have if you didn’t read widely and frequently. I hope these tips help and if you think of any of your own that work for you then I’d love to hear about them. Best of luck and happy reading!