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Archive for the tag “literature”

The 10 greatest fantasy series of all time

I woke up quite early this morning, and after deleting my spam, and seeing that no one was saying anything interesting or useful on Usenet, Facebook or Twitter (in that order), I turned to StumbleUpon in the hope that it might show me something interesting, and it showed me this article on The 10 greatest fantasy series of all time. I didn’t like it, and gave it the thumbs down.

It was the second such list that StumbleUpon had shown me, and I didn’t like the other one either.


AliceBecause I just don’t trust the judgement of  of anyone who compiles such a list without including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Homer’s Odyssey probably deserves a mention too.

Perhaps a little more humility would be in order. Perhaps something like “Ten fantasy series that I happen to like” or “The best fantasy series that I happen to have read” would come across better.

But all time?

Past, present and future?

Hype destroys credibility.

The Times Literary Supplement’s 100 Most Influential Books Since the War

Someone posted a link on Facebook to a list of the most influential books since the Second World War.

The Times Literary Supplement’s 100 Most Influential Books Since the War

I found it interesting to see how few I had read, yet I have probably seen the thought of many of them retailed by other writers. It doesn’t say whether the influence was good or bad — that’s probably a “readerly” decision, as the postmodernists might say.

The ones I have read are:

  • Albert Camus: The Outsider
  • Arthur Koestler: Darkness at Noon
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm
  • George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four
  • Norman Cohn: The Pursuit of the Millennium
  • Boris Pasternak: Doctor Zhivago

That’s not much out of a list of 100, only 6%, but I suppose “influential” means that the thought of those books has also permeated other books. I have, for example, read many books that cite Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, though I haven’t read Kuhn’s book myself.

I also don’t know how the list was compiled, or who compiled it, though perhaps it says that elsewhere on the site.

Introducing: The Classics Club

Here’s an idea for people who love reading.

The Classics Club is for bloggers who blog about books they have read, to make a list of 50 classic works they plan to read over the next five years, and to blog about them as they read them.

I like to blog about books I have read, and usually do that by noting them here Goodreads | Stephen Hayes’s bookshelf: currently-reading (showing 1-12 of 12) (sorted by: date added). Good Reads also makes provision for a list of books to read, and I suppose one could add the 50 classics one intends to read to that Goodreads | Stephen Hayes’s bookshelf: to-read (showing 1-29 of 29) (sorted by: date added). Not all of those on the list at the moment are “classics”, so I’d probably have to add a few more to the list to have it include 50 “classics”.

But it seems like an interesting idea — hat-tip to Classics Club | Clarissa’s Blog.

If you’re interested in taking part, you can find the info at Introducing: The Classics Club | A Room of One’s Own:

At your own blog, list 50, 100, or 200 (or more, if you’re so inclined) classics that most interest/scare/excite you, alongside your goal date for finishing this list. You can either make a straight list of titles (what I’ll be doing), or explain next to each title why you’ve chosen it. You could also explain a few of your chosen titles, but leave the others explanation-free. It’s up to you.

The goal? To read every classic on your list at your blog, and write about each one at your blog. Each time you write about a classic from your list, hyperlink the discussion post at the main classics list on your blog (The one you will link here to join.)

I write like WHO?

I think I’ve tried this before, but the previous time I tried it with text from my journal. This time I thought I would try it with some text from a novel.

I write like
George Orwell

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

That was with fairly straightforward text.

With more action oriented text, it said I wrote like Harry Harrison (who’s he?) or James Joyce.

Well, let’s try with another sample, also action oriented. Again it says that I wrote like James Joyce. Well, I suppose it’s at least consistent.

Third time lucky. A bit more pedestrian this time, the opening paragraphs, setting the scene. So what does it say?

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

OK, scratch George Orwell and Harry Harrison, james Joyce it is. Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sustainer!

That, in case anyone didn’t recognize it, is a quote from Finnegan’s wake

Still, I’m not sure it’s a compliment. I ploughed my way through Ulysses a couple of years ago, and one of my English profs told an honours student not to read it, as it would blunt his critical faculties. But the English department thought that English literature began and ended with D.H. Lawrence, with just one exception, one of their own number, Cake Manson, who was indubitably the greatest playwright since Shakespeare. Even Harry Harrison was easier to find with a Google search than Cake Manson.

Perhaps I should send my unpublished novel to Joyce’s publishers, and see if they are impressed.

Beware artists, authors, photographers — Americans want to steal your work

It seems that American lawmakers are planning a new copyright scam, which will allow people who steal your work to sue you for using it without their permission.

clipped from

I find nothing funny about the new Orphan Works legislation that is before Congress.

An Orphaned Work is any creative work of art where the artist or copyright owner has released their copyright, whether on purpose, by passage of time, or by lack of proper registration. In the same way that an orphaned child loses the protection of his or her parents, your creative work can become an orphan for others to use without your permission.

Currently, you don’t have to register your artwork to own the copyright. You own a copyright as soon as you create something. International law also supports this. Right now, registration allows you to sue for damages, in addition to fair value.

The only people who benefit from this are those who want to make use of our creative works without paying for them and large companies who will run the new private copyright registries.

These registries are companies that you would be forced to pay in order to register every single image, photo, sketch or creative work

blog it

And if you live outside America, any American will be able to register your work and claim it as their own — remember the scammers who tried to copyright rooibos tea?

I hope this is just an April fool’s joke that’s past its sell-by date, as it’s not from an official source, but the rooibos tea incident shows that it’s just the kind of thing the Americans would do.

Books to read before you die

British librarians have compiled as list of 30 books to read before you die. I find I have read 19 of them, but I don’t agree with some of their choices.

according to Britain’s librarians, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird is the book that everyone should read.

The Pulitzer prize-winning classic has topped a World Book Day poll conducted by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in which librarians around the country were asked the question, “Which book should every adult read before they die?”

To Kill a Mocking Bird heads an odd triumvirate at the top of the librarians’ list: it is followed by the Bible and, in third place, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

blog it

The ones I’ve read are:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Started but did not finish:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Haven’t read:

All Quite [sic] on the Western Front by E M Remarque
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Tess of the D’urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I also disagree with some of the librarians’ choices – here’s a quick off-the top of my head fiction list, without thinking about all the books I’ve read:

The place of the lion Williams, Charles.
The weirdstone of Brisingamen Garner, Alan.
The greater trumps Williams, Charles.
The moon of Gomrath Garner, Alan.
Lord of the Rings Tolkien, J.R.R.
War in heaven Williams, Charles.
The Dharma bums Kerouac, Jack.
The time traveler’s wife Niffenegger, Audrey.
Asta’s book Vine, Barbara.
Gulliver’s travels Swift, Jonathan.
The hobbit Tolkien, J.R.R.
Piece of my heart Robinson, Peter.
Cat’s cradle Vonnegut, Kurt.
Corn dolls Lennon, Patrick.
Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone Rowling, J.K.
Descent into Hell Williams, Charles.
The Eyre affair fforde, Jasper.
The echo Walters, Minette.
Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets Rowling, J.K.
Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban Rowling, J.K.
Harry Potter and the half-blood prince Rowling, J.K.
All Hallows’ Eve Williams, Charles.
Northanger Abbey Austen, Jane.
A high wind in Jamaica Hughes, Richard.
The nine tailors Sayers, Dorothy L.
Brideshead revisited Waugh, Evelyn.
Heartsease Dickinson, Peter.
Lost in a good book fforde, Jasper.
The talisman King, Stephen & Straub, Peter.

Those are just books I like, and not necessarily ones I think everyone should read before they die (the Harry Piotter ones, for example), and there are others I like that are not on the list.

Among children’s books, for example, I think Alan Garner is far, far better than His dark materials, and would add his Elidor to the list as well.

The master and Margarita, The poisonwood Bible, and The curious incident of the dog in the night time are ones I’ve read and enjoyed, but I wouldn’t say everyone should read them before they die.

I’d put the Alice books by Lewis Carroll above The master and Margarita. I’d certainly recommend that missiologists should read The poisonwood Bible, but there are other much better books for general readers.

Hat-tip to Iambic Admonit for the link. And you will find some more suggestions there, including another list, of which I’ve read 29.

BUMPzee social blogrolling

A few weeks ago I read a review of some social blogrolling sites — MyBlogLog, BUMPzee and Blog Catalog. All three have a widget that displays recent readers on your blog, so you can see who has been reading your blog and pay them a return visit.

But apart from that, they work slightly differently. MyBlogLog is a true social blogroll site, where each blog has a “community” that regular readers can join, and if you want to pay a return visit to a blog without the hassle of adding it to your regular blogroll, you can join its community so you can find it again quite easily.

BUMPzee also has communities, but instead of being linked to particular blogs, they are linked to particular interests. This is a bit more focused. I joined and created a Missiology community, since there wasn’t one. But as other blogs with missiological interests join, it should become a useful blogroll of missiology-related blogs, and aggregates their posts.

Now you might blog about lots of things, and not every post will be about missiology, so when you add your blog to the community, you can specify keywords, so that only, for example, posts tagged “missiology” or “missional” will be shown in the aggregator.

That seems to have the potential of being a very useful feature.

BUMPzee started as a site for affiliate marketing, and so at present most of the communities are on related topics, but it is now open to everyone (rather as Facebook started as a “students only” social networking site). So don’t be put off by the fact that the top communities listed deal with affiliate marketing. Communities can now be on any subject you like, and I think I’ll be creating a few more.

Apart from the missiology one, I’ve started one for the Inklings — C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams & Co. I know there are several other blogs that have posts on those authors and related topics, such as theology and literature, and it will be useful to be able to look for updates in one place (if they join, and put the widget on their blogs, of course).

The Scrivener: The Elephant in the Ivory Tower

The Scrivener: The Elephant in the Ivory Tower blogs about literary criticism, postmodernity, Mikhail Bakhtin, Christianity and literature, and a few other things.

It would be superfluous of me to try to add anything — if you are interested in any of those things, just read it. I wonder if the Graham Pechey he refers to was the one who was at university with me.

escapist entryway: Interesting facts by association

It’s nice to see that someone else likes The Dharma bums, though I must say that the bobblehead doll looks more like Thunderbirds than Jack Kerouac.

escapist entryway: Interesting facts by association — sorry, link broken

But I found it interesting that I too read The Dharma bums through in one sitting, almost, in the Durban public library. Not quite one sitting — I was about three-quarters of the way through when the library closed, and they kicked me out. I didn’t live in Durban then, so I couldn’t borrow the book. And soon after that it was banned, and so I couldn’t buy my own copy, or get it in any library.

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