Posts Tagged books
My reading pattern lately has included reading fiction and non-fiction book simultaneously. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been a one book at a time reader, but the last ten or twelve books I’ve read have been six non-fiction with six fiction. Oh and an audio book being thrown into the mix for good measure, now I’ve signed up to Audible (more on that in a later post).
To qualify non-fiction for a second. What I’m referring to here is a non-fiction book. Newspapers, journals, editorials, etc. all count but they tend to be pieces of writing with a smaller amount of dedicated reading time.
In the past, I’ve attempted to read multiple fiction books and found it a little distracting and at times even a bit frustrating. Distracting, because I find I’m thinking of one story while trying to read another and at times frustrating because if one story trumps (sorry to use that awful word guys!) another story, then I’ll want only to read the better of the two. I hate leaving a book unread. This is why I read through Birdsong… just wasn’t my cup of tea, sorry (o;
These are the reasons I’ve lived the one book at a time motto. Non-fiction books have been making their way into my book collection and onto my kindle. When I had a look at what I had, I thought I better start reading them, so I cracked one open and began. During this initial break away from fiction, I realised I needed something imaginative to peruse so I grabbed a fiction book from my to be read pile and began that also. What I found was a surprise. I found reading a non-fiction book, something related to facts, knowledge, and learning made me focus, think deeper and enjoy more of my fiction book of choice.
My thinking is that this is feeding the right side of my brain what it needs with non-fiction given that it is the logical, rational and ordered thinking side while the left side of my brain enjoys art, free and random thinking and imagination. It would make sense until I found a report regarding a research study that has started the ball rolling on debunking this theory.
Anyway, I’ve found benefits to reading both simultaneously as opposed to reading multiple fiction books or multiple non-fiction books at the same time.
Let me know what you think or if you have a preference?
Reading is something we learn from a very early age. We begin by reciting out ABC’s then moving onto simple stories before we finally open up our first book. It’s an activity that unfortunately doesn’t last for some. Where many become avid readers, which is great, some fall by the wayside and don’t pick up a book or switch on a reading device for a long time, if at all.
So in this post I’d like to lay bare the benefits to reading some may not automatically think of when they consider sitting down with a good story.
Reading can make you live longer
In a study Health and Retirement study, it was found that adults 50 years and older who read for only 3.5 hours a week were likely to live two years longer than those who didn’t and were 23% less likely to die.
Fiction can improve empathy
Keith Oatley of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto found those who read fiction, especially literary fiction, outscored those in a test of empathy than those who did not read fiction. In his paper ‘Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds‘ Oatley found that engagement in the story, which includes the reader becoming emotionally involved and making inferences regarding the story and meeting complex characters which we may not meet in out day to day lives, people can improve their understanding of others.
Reducing stress through reading
A piece from The Telegraph newspaper reports Dr. David Lewis of the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. After reading for only 6 minutes, subjects of Dr. Lewis’ study lowered their heart rate and eased muscle tension. They found that stress levels were lower than when they started the study. This reduction in stress was shown to be more efficient and quicker than, going for a walk (42% reduction), playing video games (21% reduction), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54% reduction) and listening to music (61% reduction).
Audio books give a boost to gym sessions
Something I’ve found to work on a personal level is bringing a good audio book to the gym. Listening to music as you blast the calories is one thing but an audio book can suck you into its plot and block out everything else. I’ve pushed through more pain and discomfort by focusing on a story than I have with music. No research to provide for this one, apart from my own (o:
Image by Poodar Chu
Writing is going pretty well. Book 2 is running along smoothly and learning so much about social media by working the the 30 day Book Marketing challenge as mentioned in my previous post (Online Book Marketing)
Twitter has become something I really enjoy using now, thanks to the great information gleaned from the challenge. Even decided to give Instagram a go (davidjdelaney1 if anybody wants to connect)
My other goal this week is to read more. I’ve fallen into a non-reading rut and find my imagination is shot without it. So I hit a couple of second hand book stores and grabbed a few books to line up (I love browsing through secondhand books, some great early and unique editions to find). Picked up Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wintersmith’, which I’m reading at the moment, about 25% through. I’m enjoying it a lot. The late, great writer had a wonderful way with words and can bring a smile to your face most of the time. I picked up Hugh Howey’s ‘Sand’ novel. This is such a good find as it shows how far reaching an author, who started as an indie, can reach. Picking up his book in a charity shop in Dublin city center was pretty nice. Lastly, I found a copy of Dean Koontz ‘The City’. I’ve heard good things about it and I’m a Koontz fan so it’s win win.
Short one this week but if there is anything to add I’ll be sure to pop up another post.
What have you been reading and what have you picked up secondhand that’s made you smile?
This is the first time I’ve played host to another author and I couldn’t be happier to host the fantastic author that is R.J. Madigan. R.J. has written the wonderful title ‘The Sword of Air’. This is an Epic Fantasy set in medieval Ireland and if any of you don’t already know that’s my home country (o;
So, be sure to read through the question and answers, watch the beautiful trailer and sneak peak YouTube links (they are really good) and be sure to buy yourself a copy of R.J’s book from your nearest Apple product
A1) As a child I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on. But I wasn’t the kind of kid who told stories or wrote them down. Writing came a lot later for me, several years after I finished university. I joined a creative writing group out of sheer curiosity and went from there.
Q2) What genres do you enjoy?
A2) I don’t have a favourite genre. I read everything from Fantasy, YA, Children’s Literature Sci-Fi, Gothic literature, Poetry to more literary novels and of course the Classics. I think it is important to read as widely as possible if you want to be a writer and to not be snobbish about books.
Q3) What author famous or not, dead or alive, would you like to meet and why?
A3) I would love to go back in time and meet Daphne du Maurier. I want to thank her for writing Rebecca, one of my favourite gothic novels. I am not one for re reading novels, but Rebecca is one work I have returned to time and time again for inspiration. In my humble opinion it is a gothic masterpiece.
Q4) If you had only one question to ask them, what would it be?
A4) I would ask her why she disliked Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of her short story The Birds so much. I’ve always wondered if it was because he replaced her beloved Cornish coastline where gales sweep across stark hills and isolated farmhouses with a placid northern California setting.
Q5) What tip or trick would you offer another writer to help their writing process?
A5) To write every day. If you sit around waiting for inspiration to hit you then you will never write anything. I would also advise any new writer to read Stephen King’s – On Writing – which is one of the best books ever written on the craft of writing. I still refer to it all the time.
A6) The Sword of Air, is an epic fantasy story set in an altered reality of medieval Ireland. Sixteen-year-old Niamh Kelly’s village is burnt to the ground by the Raven Queen’s Fomor army and her adoptive grandmother is brutally murdered right in front of her. She is forced to flee into the forest of the Nadur with only an old storyteller, her best friend Rauri and his wolfhound Bran for protection. Hunted by the Raven Queen, the brutal ruler of Ireland, and her armies, Niamh desperately searches for the forgotten Fae people to help her. She must find allies and the power within herself if she is to survive against the dark powers of the Raven Queen.
Characters such as the beautiful but merciless Raven Queen, and unforgiving King of the dwarves- Abcan, spring from the page with hundreds of beautiful photographs, that go full screen at the tap of a finger. Sound effects put you inside the action instead of your just being told about it. The cinematic soundtrack adds another layer, telling the story and giving depth to the characters as the book progresses. Short movies built into the story put you inside the characters’ heads, let you see what they see and feel their emotions.
Q7) What first gave you the idea to break the publishing mold and try something so innovative?
A7) Every day authors are publishing new titles and it is getting harder and harder to stand out in such a crowded market place. Apple have given everyone the iBooks author software for free because they have a very forward thinking strategy towards their users. This software enabled me to take my story and illustrate it in a way that is not possible in a normal printed book.
I was inspired by the fiction of Isaac Asimov and Neil Stephenson where books are more than just print. They come alive and talk to you, react and interact with you. The iPad is science fiction made real. No one’s really taken advantage of this new technology. I wanted to use it for my storytelling and the iPad makes this possible.
Q8) How do you put an iBook together?
A8) Good question. First of all I wrote the manuscript for The Sword of Air without any media input. Then I consulted with ‘The Producer,’ (my IT whizz of a friend) to service suitable imagery and music for my story. We wanted to find music that matched the epic tone of the story. It was an iterative process, particularly to create the end chapter movies. I wanted to make sure they reflected the feel of the story at that point. We used iBooks author, iPhoto and iMovie to pull all the underlying constituent parts together into the final iBooks author manuscript.
A9) Firstly the technology is so new and cutting edge that an iBook can only be read on a Mac or iPad. Therefore if you do not own either of theses devices you cannot read ‘The Sword of Air.’ I know a lot of readers have been frustrated because they cannot access my book. So as an interim measure I have started to serialize The Sword of Air on Wattpad, with a new release every week. http://www.wattpad.com/myworks/34571220-the-sword-of-air.
It has also been frustrating as an author because I have lost out on reviews because people willing to do so do not own a Mac or an iPad.
Another barrier is you cannot publish on Amazon or similar platforms. You have to use the iBooks store to publish your work.
However I still think the greatest barrier for authors wanting to publish an iBook is the steep learning curve involved in using iBooks author. This software is not consumer orientated for the casual user like WordPress or word. This is why I teamed up with ‘The Producer,’ in order to produce the book I wanted.
Q10) Where can we find R.J. Madigan and The Sword of Air on the internet?
You can download The Sword of Air from the iBooks store https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-sword-of-air/id954619981?mt=11
You can follow the progress of The Sword of Air on my blog www.swordofair.net.
I was asked to join the awesome C.C. Wall on his podcast ‘Podcast 451’ where he interviewed me about The Vanishing. If you have time and want to check it out click on the link here Podcast 451 episode #60.
Hey, I wanted to recommend a book written by an buddy of mine named Zach Bohannon. He’s released his debut novel called ‘Empty Bodies’. A great Zombie post apocalyptic tale which has a great story and well written characters to follow from start to finish. It’s book one in a series so you’ll have plenty more to sink your teeth into in the future. Follow the link here to grab yourself a copy!
Second book is a dark fantasy called ‘The Black Fang Betrayal’. This is an awesome collaboration with 10 authors, each taking a piece of the story and infusing their own flavor into it. Author J. Thorn brought it all together, manning the helm and the result it something special. The story grabs you from the start and is a riveting read throughout. Great story plenty of spills and thrills the way through. Follow the link here to get yourself a copy.
It’s less than two months on Christmas but before Santa drops down the chimney and we all eat far too much, we have Halloween to enjoy. Seeing as I’ve written some pretty creepy stories this year, I’m feeling more Halloweeny this time round so thought I’d share some of my favorite horror across multiple formats.
Here’s a little insight into what makes me jump with fright. A few books, games and movies that will creep you out, scare the socks off you and give you that feeling that somebody is always lurking over your shoulder.
Alright, maybe not that that scary but you’ll hopefully enjoy.
Being a writer, the best way to scare yourself silly is with a good ole, written down horror story. If you read my blog regularly you’ll know how much I love the Granddaddy of horror himself ‘Stephen King’.
I first picked up a King book my local library in Dublin when I was 12. Pet Sematery was the book and it scared the hell out of me. I remember it being creepy and frightening to read but compelling all the same. At 12 there were many concept in the book I didn’t get but I really wanted to read a King novel. Something to tell my friends. I could be the grown up kid. I’ve recently pulled out Pet Sematary again and plan to read it as Jay and Richard from the Horror Writers podcast will be discussing the book in a few weeks on a show special.
Another book of King’s that I remember reading was ‘IT’. Now, I’d seen the pretty awful TV adaption years before I read the book but it didn’t ruin the intensity of one of King’s all time greats. The story involving best friends taking on a creature as vile as… well as ‘IT’ was a great read. One to terrify you in the middle of the night.
Not exactly horror but Val McDermid writes some pretty gruesome books. In particular I loved reading the ‘Dr Tony Hill’ novels. The TV series ‘Wire in the Blood’ staring Robson Green was based on these novels. They were great dark thrillers about a clinical psychologist (Dr. Hill) who helps Detective Inspector Carole Jordon track down and bring the killers to justice. Not only are these really good stories but the characters are vibrant and believable. The TV show was really good as well. I’d recommend checking out both.
OK, for the gamers out there. It all starts with Resident Evil on the first iteration of the Playstation. This game changed how I experienced horror forever. I couldn’t believe that, not only could I watch something horrific play out on screen but I could participate in it too. Taking control of Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine was such a terrifying experience as a kid. Zombie and monster killing galore. I was so obsessed with this game that I read all of the novels too.
Next came the first Silent Hill series. This was a different take on the, then new ‘Survival Horror’ genre. You weren’t a kick ass, gun totting hero in the town of Silent Hill but a normal guy looking for his daughter. The games atmosphere was truly terrifying whether you were running through fog laden streets of hellish industrial looking fair grounds. I’ve played this game again as an adult and loved it as much as when I was a kid, still jumping from my seat.
The last game that I loved for it’s fear inducing ability was the first Dead Space game. A few years old now but still better than the majority of horror titles released today. The feeling of isolation and terror was palpable as you battled the dead reanimated and mutated. The fact that it was all set on a space station was even more awesome. It threw into the mix the terror of the first Alien movie as well as a good old zombie kill-a-thon. Such wonderfully scarred memories.
Movies I’ve always felt could never feel as dark and visceral as a book or a video game. You were a spectator of the screen as opposed to being absorbed within the world of a book as you concentrated on every word and where it would lead. A horror game immersed you into it’s world as your character would die pretty quick without some care and thought going into the experience. I’m not bad mouthing movies but for me and true terror, it’s books and games all the way. That’s not to say I haven’t had some blood curdling experiences with the movie world.
When I went to see ‘The Blair Witch Project’ as a 13 year old kid I was truly freaked out. People nowadays see it as a joke and not scary at all but back then most homes didn’t have the internet, so verifying if it was all truth or fiction was harder. Some people actually believed it was all true. As a 13 year old kid, I thought the bizarre story of missing film makers to be true. I have watched it again and didn’t get that same foreboding as I did when I was a kid but I still enjoyed it.
Next would have to be any Japanese original of which Hollywood tried (terribly) to remake. The Ring (Ringu – it’s original title) and The Grudge (Ju-On – it’s original title) would be my top two to watch and scare yourself to tears. The Japanese versions are so superior to the Hollywood remakes, it’s like they are different movies altogether (actually think of them as different movies, it’s better for everyone that way). For whatever reason the original movies are far scarier and far more terrifying, even though I don’t know a word of Japanese. They have that something that causes fright and fear in the audience.
For something more lighthearted during the Halloween season, take a look at Bruce Campbell in ‘The Army of Darkness’. Awesome movie.
Well that’s my idea of terror in three formats, what’s yours?
And have a Great Halloween (o;