Tag Archives: Books

Practical tip no. 1: The Writer’s Scrapbook

Alongside philosophical musings, self-motivation, and first forays into practising a ‘writer’s voice’, this blog shall also serve as a dumping ground to collect useful tips and practical info that I pick up along the way. I’d like to be able to use it as an online reference too (actually, a wiki might be better suited to that purpose – one to think about when the time comes).

One tip I came across last weekend is that of starting a writer’s scrapbook – somewhere to keep, in an unstructured manner, my creative ad-hoc thoughts, inspirations, and cut-outs. These could be ideas for stories, observations, pictures, sentences written elsewhere that I liked, and others. I have various cut-outs already – mostly snippets from The Guardian and comments typed into my phone.

I just need a place to keep it all, rather visually, to look at and go through, and to use when the time comes.

lenina’s Current Cultural Intake

This week-end I started putting some culture into my head. Visually, I started playing Legend of Zelda – The Twilight Princess this afternoon, and I have to say I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I hadn’t touched my PS3 in months (Oblivion, after initially very good, turned a bit directionless which I HATE! in life as well as in videogames).

Good job I still had The Twilight Princess which I bought for the Gamecube (I don’t have a Wii) and it’s very sweet. Just what I need right now! A cute linear narrative, easy to play and a joy on the eye 🙂

I also started reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. I thought I’d been running out of suitable books to read (I’ve had enough of historical romantic novels e.g. Philippa Gregory just now); however when looking through my bookshelves I found this gem! So far much better than the book I read last week (Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. He is good at times but his use of language too flowery and heavy, bordering on pathos).

And don’t tell me that video games aren’t culture – they can be much more stimulating that films or TV (unless you watch, say, The Return).

Kindle, Free Books Online, Culture, and Vivian Westwood

An article in today’s The Guardian talks about Amazon Kindle, the electronic book reader launched in November last year. I didn’t blog about it at the time, as I do like the materiality of books and can’t imagine reading real books on an electronic screen. Plus, I don’t want to buy electronic books on Amazon for download – in the same way that I don’t really purchase mp3s (if I shell out money, I want the real, physical product).

However, the Kindle turns into a more attractive proposition once you start considering the amount of free books available for download on the net. Not via Amazon, but sites such as Gutenberg (over 20,000 free books) and ManyBooks (19,805 free books). Since books lose their copyright 75 years after their author’s death, nothing stops sites entering and scanning such books, so you can download them and get culture for free!

On a related note, The Guardian also talked about Vivian Westwood’s Active Resistance – site, where she’s published a manifesto and its core idea is that culture will change your life. I saw her interviewed on the Jonathan Ross – show a couple of weeks ago and I have to say I was impressed. She said that she doesn’t watch TV and overall came across as quite detached from media culture, which is great. I really want to devote some more time to culture once I’m back in Edinburgh as my brain has become pretty vacant.

Finally, in a pilot scheme in 10 areas across England, children are to have at least 5 hours of ‘cultural activity’ each week. This is great news and I hope it will be successful. Culture is a way out for children. I’m still to this day traumatised by the fact that, when I was growing up, we only had a couple of books at home – one Konsalik, and one health/medicine book (that we consulted to figure out that I had appendicitis, for example).

What’s Up With Kindle

All my favourite blogs just keep posting about Kindle, the ebook reader launched by amazon this week. I am a great lover of books and my opinion thus far is as follows:

1. the Kindle (stupid fucking name BTW) will never replace books*

2. It doesn’t have the smell and physicality of the printed word on the printed page

3. I *may* buy one or a similar device once it gets cheaper, if only to read more than one book on the go, without having to carry all of them around (I tend to always read 3-4 books simultaneously at any given time)

*actually I don’t really think that’s the idea behind it (to ‘replace’ books). If you think about it, it is quite useful to have some kind of device that can store your books electronically, so you can read ‘on the go’ without having to carry heavy books around. London – A Social History, which I’m currently reading, is a case in point. Though I’m one of the people who can’t in fact read that well on the go – I tend to get motion-sick too quickly. Another plus is that you won’t see what people are reading, so you get spared the sight of stupid ***** reading Harry fucking Potter and that other popular book (Dan Brown something or other – the big one featuring Rosslyn Chapel). I.e. it’ll help keep your nerves calm and stop you from wanting to punch people who read shit publicly.

Human Species May Split in Half

This was on the BBC News RSS feed and I only saw it yesterday. Seeing that my name was inspired by Lenina Crowne, the female protagonist in Huxley’s Brave New World, I thought I post this fantastic imagination:

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge…

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

I guess we’ll have the Alphas and the Epsilons out of Brave New World left, and nothing in between. Lenina Crowne, of course, was a Beta – though I am not 😛