Reading Hour – One Lousy Hour!

How pathetic!  We have 24 glorious hours in a day and only one is chosen!  And it’s not even held simultaneously around the country!  Have you read your one hour today?

Australian Reading Hour Bookshop Logo

This year Australian Reading Hour falls on Thursday 20 September 2018 and the nominal time in the evening is 6pm to 7pm.  But individual reading and group reads will be happening all day to avoid important sporting fixtures, special events and venue opening hours, and to accommodate the different time zones in Australia.

Fair enough, however, it’s still one lousy hour!  What is the Australian Reading Hour committee thinking?  There are 8760 hours in one year, so use some more of them.

If more hours aren’t forthcoming next year, why not (1) disrupt your sporting fixtures (2) put the special event on hold (3) pause during venue opening hours (4) delay that visit to the gym and (5) forget a few things to stop and READ for ONE lousy hour!

Meanwhile, find a really quiet, cosy place and settle down alone.  Betcha read for longer than an hour!

Or gather a group together at school, work, bookshops like Avid Reader, the library, the park or get the family together in your own home and read, read, read for one lousy hour.

One hour isn’t going to kill you, the world won’t crumble around you – but you and the adults and children of Australia will visit another place through the pages of a book.  For one lousy hour…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linked to my other post https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/09/16/your-reading-hour-countdown/

Indigenous Literacy Day


Indigenous Literacy Day 2018


You have the month of September to sign up to the new Indigenous Literacy Day fundraising campaign and fill your virtual shelf with books for children in remote communities.  Participate in the launch on Wednesday 5 September and discover how to fill a bookshelf for children in the remote Australian outback.

It’s something new, something a little different, something the Indigenous Literacy Foundation believes you’ll enjoy sharing with your friends and family, and something that gives you the opportunity of ensuring kids in remote communities have access to quality, new books.

Commencing on Indigenous Literacy Day (5 September 2018) the new ‘Fill a Bookshelf’ fundraising campaign aims to raise $300,000 to help ILF gift 30,000 new books to schools and service organisations in remote communities where books are scarce.

How does it work? The idea is simple…

  1. Sign up online to create a fundraising page and receive an empty virtual bookshelf.
  2. Ask family, friends, colleagues to donate a virtual book to your page (in the form of a donation)
  3. Fill your virtual bookshelf!
  4. Change the lives of Indigenous children.

Your donations will help buy new, carefully selected books for children who have none.  To put it quite simply – without your support, in a very real sense – bookshelves in remote Indigenous communities are empty.

All children in Australia deserve the same opportunities – in education, employment, health and wellbeing.  Evidence shows that literacy is the pathway to CHOICE for these opportunities, and BOOKS are the building blocks for literacy.  If you believe this too, sign up today!

I BELIEVE – SIGN ME UP  ‘Fill a Bookshelf’ and celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day!

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation
PO Box 663 Broadway NSW 2007
AustraliaIndigenous Literacy Foundation


Indigenous Literacy Day is a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy.  Indigenous Literacy Day aims to raise awareness of the need to support literacy in remote and isolated Indigenous communities of Australia.


Indigenous Childrens Book Moli Det BigiBigi
‘Moli det bigibigi’ (Molly the Pig) a new children’s picture book written by Karen Manbulloo, from the remote Binjari community near Katherine in the Northern Territory. Written in Kriol and English, ‘Moli det bigibigi’ is a story based on a real-life pet pig of the Binjari community, found in the bush by Karen’s brother.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘Don’t Keep History A Mystery’

Read a story which is thousands of years old.  I’d like to share the email I received from Mr Miller on National Sorry Day and to commemorate National Reconciliation Week––

“My name is Glen Miller, I am a Board Director of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a descendant of the Butchulla people of the Fraser coast (Queensland). Today we acknowledge the 10th anniversary of National Sorry Day, a milestone in Australia’s history. This National Day of Healing is at the heart of our steps towards reconciliation. Tomorrow marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week and we reflect on this year’s theme: ‘LEARN, SHARE, GROW – DON’T KEEP HISTORY A MYSTERY’. Here, we are invited to explore our past as a country; learn, share and acknowledge the rich histories and cultures of the First Australians; and develop a deeper understanding of our national story.

“Today I would like to share a story that is thousands of years old, that has been passed on from one generation to the next, and nearly came to be lost…

ILF Legends of Moonie Jarl Banner

“For many thousands of years the Butchulla people have been travelling between Queensland’s K’Gari (Fraser Island) and the mainland; catching winter mullet in stone fish traps set along Hervey Bay and trading with the mob up around the Bunya mountains. There are three laws that the Butchulla people live by: 1) What’s best for the land comes first, 2) If you have plenty, you must share, and 3) Do not touch or take anything that does not belong to you.

“While these were the laws that were taught to the children, they were also told stories that describe the origin of the land: The Legends of Moonie Jarl. These stories tell how the wallaby got its pouch, how the boomerang was invented, and how the little firebird came to have that bright scarlet spot on its back. These stories were told to me as a boy by my uncle Wilfy in the The Legends of Moonie Jarl. The year was 1964 and it was the first Aboriginal children’s book published and authored by Aboriginal people.

“Three years after its publication, Indigenous people were finally recognised as Australian citizens and 50 years on the stories continue to be shared among the Butchulla people. In 2014, our Foundation re-published The Legends of Moonie Jarl so now the stories are available to share with all Australian children.

Indigenous Literacy Foundation“A book isn’t just for reading; it’s more powerful than the information it provides. Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to look at the truths that need to be told and  celebrate our stories. This National Reconciliation Week I invite you to learn and share these rich histories and cultures of Indigenous people, and develop a deeper understanding of our national story. Please support the work of our Foundation by purchasing a copy of The Legends of Moonie Jarl or making a donation.”

Glen Miller
ILF Board Director
May 2018

“It was written by Uncle Wilf Reeves and illustrated by my mother Olga Miller” – Glen Miller.

Indigenous Literacy Foundation
PO Box 663 Broadway NSW 2007
Australia
info@ilf.org.au

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Australian Editors and Publishers Set Bar Too High

I have come to the conclusion that the Australian publishing industry and its associated editors and reviewers have set the bar way too high for Australian writers.  Emerging authors have a pretty slim chance of being published with huge odds against hitting the big time.

Strong-willed literature-controlling gurus rule our domestic market like school teachers from the 1950s.  They seek perfection, the best book of the year, often cerebral stuff ignored by half the population, and they disregard perfectly serviceable down-to-earth Aussie authors.  Also, when did parochialism creep in, e.g. Melbourne is the hub of all things literary?  Let’s focus on inclusive Australian content.  Oh, and stop changing words to suit international readers, they’re cool, they can work it out.

Publishing houses receive thousands of unsolicited manuscripts each year and the selection process is fierce.  Only a handful of authors are chosen, gather a following, write more books and hopefully make money.  The untried crime writer, for example, may not appeal to the literati judges, but, hey, there’s always that coterie of readers who will love them.  The way it is now, their work may never see the light of day.  Dive deep into that slush pile!

Book Publishing 04
Sure, there’s always the internet, WordPress, e-books, self-publishing, writing competitions (see below) and a gazillion non-traditional ways to be seen but nirvana is a publishing deal with a real-deal publishing house.

 

“Relax,” I say to publishers from my seat of ignorance.  “The shock of ebooks has faded, so forget micro-niche and churn out those books, get those names in print.”  What?  Too much of a risk, not financially viable?  Yeah, I guess that’s right.  Nobody wants risk in business.  I say “Lighten up, people, offer a broader spectrum of books to the general public”.  Stop book snobbery because, meanwhile, mediocre books with typos are flooding in from overseas and I’m getting a bit sick of it.

Did I hear our aspiring authors cannot compete with the overseas calibre?  Our readers are not savvy, interested or sincere enough to try a reasonably good newbie?  Come off it!  Peel back those layers.  An Australian author or reader is as good as the next person but needs the exposure, the push, the shove, the necessary connections and circumstances to make it work.

Chips on shoulders, the need to prove we Australians are well-read, has past. Forget the Cultural Cringe, dismiss ‘benchmark’ literary awards and too perfect prose and embrace the mass production of typically Australian-written and illustrated books and be proud of them.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

FURTHER READING:  https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3353/3030  with quote taken from “Non-Traditional Book Publishing” by Jana Bradley, Bruce Fulton,  Marlene Helm, Katherine A Pittner in “First Monday” Journal and, although somewhat passé, it shows foresight.  EVEN FURTHER READING:  https://www.theliftedbrow.com/liftedbrow/2017/11/22/keep-your-eyes-on-the-prize-unpublished-manuscript-competitions-and-you  The Lifted Brow is a not-for-profit literary publishing organisation based in Melbourne, Australia, and Martin Shaw’s article explains an awful lot about the hidden terms and conditions of competition entry.

{NB. Gretchen has reviewed books, worked in the library industry and reads extensively.  As an aspiring writer, she may have shot herself in the foot}

Silent Reading and Socio-Cultural Development

Reading Readers 04

Among scholars, says Thu-Huong Ha, there is a surprisingly fierce debate around when European society transitioned from mostly reading aloud to mostly reading silently.  Thu’s latest article for Quartzy shines a light on the evolution of reading silently––

Finding Space
“The beginning of silent reading changed Westerners’ interior life”
By Thu-Huong Ha
Tuesday 19 November 2017

People think of reading as the introvert’s hobby: A quiet activity for a person who likes quiet, save for the voices in their head.  But in the 5,000 or so years humans have been writing, reading as we conceive it, an asocial solo activity with a book, is a relatively new form of leisure.

For centuries, Europeans who could read did so aloud.  The ancient Greeks read their texts aloud.  So did the monks of Europe’s dark ages.  But by the 17th century, reading society in Europe had changed drastically.  Text technologies, like moveable type, and the rise of vernacular writing helped usher in the practice we cherish today: taking in words without saying them aloud, letting them build a world in our heads.

Among scholars, there is a surprisingly fierce debate around when European society transitioned from mostly reading aloud to mostly reading silently—some even say the ancients read silently just as much as they read aloud—but there is one scene in literature they agree is crucial.  In St. Augustine’s Confessions, the titular professor describes the reading habits of Ambrose, the bishop of Milan:

“But when Ambrose used to read, his eyes were drawn through the pages, while his heart searched for its meaning; however, his voice and tongue were quiet. Often when we were present—for anyone could approach him and it was not his habit that visitors be announced to him—we saw him reading in this fashion, silently and never otherwise.”

The fact that this was so remarkable to Augustine, some scholars argue, is because in the 400s, silent reading wasn’t really a thing.

Other researchers say that this passage is meant more to point out Ambrose’s rudeness.  “It’s really that Ambrose would go on reading silently while he was there, like someone going on texting while you’re trying to talk to them,” says D. Vance Smith, a medievalist in the Princeton English department.  “[Augustine is] surprised by his rudeness at not reading out loud to share with him.”

Reading Readers 05

“The default assumption in the classic period, if you were reading around other people, you’d read aloud and share it,” says Smith. “For us, the default is we’ll read silently and keep it to ourselves.”

If silent reading was in fact rare or rude in ancient times, then at some point the expectation of readers in society shifted.  As late as the 1700s, historian Robert Darnton writes, “For the common people in early modern Europe, reading was a social activity.  It took place in workshops, barns, and taverns.  It was almost always oral but not necessarily edifying.”

But by the time Marcel Proust was writing in the late 1800s, his narrator hoping for time to read and think alone in his bed, reading privately had become more of a norm for wealthy, educated people who could afford books and idle bedroom rumination.

This came with the spreading of literacy and diverse kinds of reading material.  Writes Darnton, records from until as late as 1750 showed that people who could read had only a few books: perhaps the Bible, an almanac, and some devotionals, that they read and re-read. But by 1800, he writes, people were reading more voraciously—newspapers and periodicals—and by the late century they had branched out into children’s literature and novels.

Reading Guy 06

As reading shifted away from the social, some researchers believe this helped create what we now call an interior life.

Writes Alberto Manguel in his 1996 book, A History of Reading:

“But with silent reading the reader was at last able to establish an unrestricted relationship with the book and the words.  The words no longer needed to occupy the time required to pronounce them.  They could exist in interior space, rushing on or barely begun, fully deciphered or only half-said, while the reader’s thoughts inspected them at leisure, drawing new notions from them, allowing comparisons from memory or from other books left open for simultaneous perusal.  And the text itself, protected from outsiders by its covers, became the reader’s own possession, the reader’s intimate knowledge, whether in the busy scriptorium, the market-place or the home.”

“Psychologically, silent reading emboldened the reader because it placed the source of his curiosity completely under personal control,” librarian Paul Saenger writes in his 1997 book, Space between Words.  “In the still largely oral world of the ninth century, if one’s intellectual speculations were heretical, they were subject to peer correction and control at every moment, from their formulation and publication to their aural reception by the reader.”  As Saenger writes, asocial reading helped facilitate intellectual rigor, introspection, criticism of the government and religion, even irony and cynicism that would have been awkward to read aloud.

This strange new trend of reading to oneself naturally had its detractors.  Sceptics thought silent reading attracted day-dreamers and the “sin of idleness,” as Manguel writes.  And worse: it let people learn and reflect without religious guidance or censure.  Silent reading by the late 19th century was so popular that people worried that women in particular, reading alone in bed, were prone to sexy, dangerous thoughts.

Reading Girl 57

There isn’t much consensus between historians on why people would have started reading silently.  Saenger hypothesizes that a shift in the way words were laid out a page facilitated the change.  Latin words once ran all together, makingithardtoparsethem. Saenger argues that Irish monks, translating Latin in the seventh century, added spaces between words to help them understand the language better.  This key design change, he argues, facilitated the rise in silent reading.

B. Parkes, in his 1992 book, Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West, argues something similar.  He writes that a “grammar of legibility”—the visual changes made to texts, like punctuation and word spaces—changed the way we read.  This early book technology was premised on the idea that the scribes, the people writing, didn’t know who their readers would be, or how fluent they might be in reading Latin, and so had to find a standardized way of telling them how to read: pause here; these are two separate words; this is a long “a.”

This scholarship applies for the most part to the Latin-based writing and reading of Europe.  In other major reading cultures of the world like Chinese, whose script doesn’t have spaces between words, and whose literature depends heavily on prosody, silent reading may have developed differently.

Mainstream historical accounts would have us think that the end of oral reading in the Middle Ages was part of the Renaissance, a new European preoccupation with the individual.  But it’s possible humans’ desire for privacy, the carving out of a little pocket in which to escape by way of a book, was there all along.  We just needed a little help getting there.

Written by Thu-Huong Ha for Quartzy newsletter, a weekly dispatch about living well in the global economy.  Original webpage The Beginning of Silent Reading was also the Beginning of an Interior Life.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Portraits of Readers Part Two

Initially I was gathering images for a compilation to promote reading but, instead, my gallery became a montage of book-reading men and boys over the last two centuries, photographed and painted, famous or otherwise.  With every viewing, the images reshuffle.  A montage of book-reading women and girls can be found under Part One.

Reading is rightness!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Can Listicles Rot Your Brain?

Listicle List 04

Is a listicle clickbait, fun facts written for readers with short attention spans, or an orderly way to write information?

First of all, the word listicle is comprised of two words, list and article, and features numbered sentences.  The salient content is brief, frequently light on facts, often humorous and has an almost hypnotic quality.  There is a compulsion to read a listicle to the end but this can leave a feeling of dissatisfaction.  Yet, as time and the internet marches on, readers can’t get enough of them.  Accordingly, listicles have transcended dot points and editorial shortcuts to become the layout of choice for everyday writers and bloggers needing a quick and easy-to-read solution.

Listicle List 01

You know what to expect by the heading of a listicle, usually important nonsense, so opinions are divided on their usefulness.  Are they ever meant to be taken seriously?  Many people think so, but that’s probably because they are writing a how-to manual.

Back when a listicle in a magazine was called a Guide or Questionnaire, and had titles like “Ten Ways To Find Out If Your Boyfriend Really Loves You”, the format was short, numbered sentences and had ten boxes to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and ended with your score.  Listicles have morphed into a more sophisticated version of this ‘filler’ yet still pretend to be useful data, advice or handy hints to enhance your lifestyle.

Listicle List 02

So, does this glossary format, this amusing fad with the cute name, continue on or can it be classed as nouveau 21st century literacy?

It doesn’t affect my reading ability (heck, I’ve re-blogged them myself) and I tend to treat a listicle as an expurgation, a beguiling and abridged version of real reading.  Just type in ‘listicle websites’ and have a look at the content.  Hardly literature at its finest even allowing for sentences stripped bare.

There are as many ‘for’ and ‘against’ stories as there are listicles.  Here are 3 of my favourite takes on listicles with apologies for not making it 10––

Listicle List 03

(1)  Excerpt from “What Is A Listicle?”
https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-listicle-1691130
From Richard Nordquist comes this Garrison Keillor slice of the Darker Side Of Listicles, an interview with the writer who popularised listicles (or did he?) and asks him––

Q: Do you have any idea what damage you’ve done, Jim? You’ve made people more stupid. Some of your readers now find it hard to read paragraphs that aren’t numbered.
A: How many? A lot?

Listicle List 08

(2)  Excerpt from Mark O’Connell “Ten Paragraphs About Lists You Need in Your Life Right Now” The New Yorker, August 29, 2013
https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/10-paragraphs-about-lists-you-need-in-your-life-right-now
“The rise of the listicle obviously connects with the internet’s much-discussed effect on our ability (or desire) to sit still and concentrate on one thing for longer than ninety seconds. Contemporary media culture prioritises the smart take, the sound bite, the takeaway––and the list is the takeaway in its most convenient form. But even when the list, or the listicle, has nothing really to do with useful information, it still exerts an occult force on our attention––or on my attention, at any rate. (’34 Things That Will Make ’90s Girls Feel Old.’ ’19 Facts Only a Greek in the U.K. Can Understand.’ ’21 Kinds of Offal, Ranked By How Gross They Look.’) Like many of you, I am more inclined to click on links to articles that don’t reflect my interests if they happen to be in the form of countdowns. And I suspect my sheep-like behaviour has something to do with the passive construction of that last sentence. The list is an oddly submissive reading experience. You are, initially, sucked in by the promise of a neatly quantified serving of information or diversion….Once you’ve begun reading, a strange magnetism of the pointless asserts itself.”
Note how Mark O’Connell has numbered all his paragraphs.

Listicle 06

(3)  On the flip side, here is an excerpt from pro-listicle website “Five Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay and Why That’s OK”
https://www.wired.com/2014/01/defense-listicle-list-article/
Rachel Edidin talks about ‘active progression’ and ‘lane-markers’ and her opening comment launches straight into battle “Lists are everywhere. They’re the bread and butter of sites like Cracked and BuzzFeed, and regular content or sporadic filler at dozens more. (Yes, even WIRED). From the multimedia gallery to the humble Top 10, list-format articles – listicles – are rapidly becoming the lingua franca of new-media journalism…” and later says “… listicles are just another tool in the box.”

Listicle

Listicle List 06

Listicle List 07

If you are a listicle fan, you won’t be reading this blog post.
For those who have struggled this far, here is a bonus extra:

On a scrap of paper, I’ve just written my higgledy piggledy shopping list––or is it?

1.     Bread, flour.
2.     Milk, butter, cheese.
3.     Coffee, green tea.
4.     Apples, oranges, pears.
5.     Potatoes, carrots.
6.     Basil, thyme, rosemary.
7.     Eggs, chicken.
8.     Gnocchi, penne, ravioli.
9.     Tuna, salmon.
10.   Basmati, paella.

Did you read to the end?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Portraits of Readers Part One

Initially I was gathering images for a compilation to promote reading but, instead, my gallery became a montage of book-reading women and girls over the last two centuries, photographed, painted, and one carved in marble.  With every viewing, the images reshuffle.  A montage of book-reading men and boys can be found under Part Two.

Reading is rightness!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

One Book at a Time?

I read three books at a time …

Books A-Z
Book Slide

My books are almost in every room.  All genres and categories, all shapes and sizes, new and old, popular and obscure, loved, liked and even loathed.  I will refer to them, quote them, yet perhaps not always re-read them.  I prefer the next book, the next Great Read, something new to me but not necessarily a blockbusting bestseller.

As mentioned, I read about three books at a time, not to show off, but to suit my mood during the day.  The books can be in any format, paper, ebook, large print, audio as long as it holds my attention, sparks my imagination, gets me interested or teaches me something new.  I’ve been through my non-fiction period, my classics epoch, my intellectual stage, my steampunk phase, my romance jaunt and different levels of humour, while dabbling in between with things like sci-fi fantasy and horror, but I keep coming back to perennial crime fiction.

For me, the ‘must have’ is a good strong lead character, someone I want to know about, someone I want to tag along with throughout the day, or night.  On the weekend I read in the garden under the palms with a cool drink but mainly I read at night.  A good crime novel can be detrimental to my sleep!  Apart from a nicely twisted plot, the characters are who I care about the most.  Currently my favourite murder mysteries are written by Australian and British authors.

While I enjoy writing reviews, my ego is under no illusions that anyone would find my reviews earth-shattering or even interesting.  It’s a hobby for me and my suggestion to you, dear reader, is that you should make up your own mind on any book.  Blurb can be misleading!  It would be nice to see more conflicting, controversial reviews and posts by readers who are not looking over their shoulders at freebies/writers/publishers/fans or the next thumbs up.

I recommend books I’ve liked and occasionally pan those I’ve disliked.  My thoughts may differ from yours so if you have never written a review, why not give it a go?  Write a couple of paragraphs and see if it deepens your appreciation of the book.  My thoughts lead me to writing down the key words and hey-presto.  Get along to book launches and author signings for insider information.  And grab a copy of “Francis Plug: How to Be a Public Author” by Paul Ewen.  Kooky, hilarious and factual, it delves into the fan/author relationship with real consequences.

Francis Plug How To Be A Public Author

NOTE:  Reading three books simultaneously for maximum brain gymnastics means, for example, one on public transport, another in a lunch break, and a third at bedtime.  Happy reading!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward