Writers write about reading, writing, research

Not everyone who reads is doing research. Not everyone who does research in the broadest sense (looking up useful information) writes about it. But everyone who publishes research must read first. Indeed, anyone writes anything must read first. A friend of mine wrote an autobiography, and compiled as much documentation as he could find in order to refresh his memory and insure accuracy. Novelists must not only read other literature voraciously, but if they want respect for their novels, must conduct research to make sure that they describe places, customs, etc. accurately. Whatever else they write about, writers often write … Continue reading

Evolution of words

Our word “blue” comes from an old “Common Romance” word blavus. So? Blavus seems to come from the Latin flavus, which means yellow. Over the years, neither the spelling, nor the pronunciation, nor the meaning of words stays put. “Baroque” comes from a word that refers to a misshaped pearl. Music and art critics of the early and middle 18th century used it to refer to the style of earlier generations that they considered unnatural, overly ornate. In other words, these critics intended “baroque” as a derogatory term. It referred to music, architecture, paintings, etc. that violated “modern” notions of … Continue reading

How the Web changed reading, and how writers must adjust

Reading online is a different experience from reading print. In part because hypertext has made it easy to jump from one place to the other, people’s attention spans have gotten shorter. It almost seems a stretch to call most people’s online behavior “reading” at all. They wander throughout the Internet searching for something in particular. They stop to read only when they find it. Perhaps they want simple facts. Beyond just facts, people look for explanations of unfamiliar topics. They look for reviews of products or movies or books. They look for controversy. [ad name=”Google Adsense links 468×15″] Foraging Whatever … Continue reading

Assorted bookworms

When I googled “bookworm,” almost the entire first page of hits concerned an online word game. The lone exception was for a long-running radio program about books. I suppose a fair amount of book clubs, book stores, book review newspaper columns, etc. have the name bookworm or bookworms. I even came across Bookworm Socks! And why not? Bookworm is a long establish idiom for someone who spends a lot of time reading or studying. I take it the term is not entirely complimentary, as in this illustration: ” The girl who would rather stay inside and read than go out … Continue reading

Libraries, ebooks, and the freedom to read

Libraries have long championed its patrons’ right to privacy. The American Library Association first adopted a document known as the Library Bill of Rights in 1939. Basically, it states that whatever anyone chooses to read is no one else’s business, and there is no good reason for the government or any other entity to interfere. Much more recently, librarians eagerly pursued means of lending ebooks to their patrons, only to find unexpected incompatibilities between doing so and freedom to read. Libraries and privacy Every once in a while, some spectacular criminal act will have people suggesting that maybe the police … Continue reading