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Jan 15

The Fifty Bookish Questions Book Tag

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2016 in Literature, Other

I found the book tag here on My Little Book Blog.

1. What was the last book you read?

A Swedish mystery.

2. Was it a good one?

No, unfortunately not.

3. What made it good?

What I did like about it, was the setting – it’s a very beautiful region where I went to college and it’s fun to ‘revisit’ the area. Also, I like the fact that the characters are relatively nice. In so many books today, the characters are really unpleasant and that makes it impossible for me to care about them and what happens to them in the story.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?

Not this particular book, but others by the same author.

5. How often do you read?

Every day.

6. Do you like to read?

I love it.

7. What was the last bad book you read?

See above.

8. What made you dislike it?

The author didn’t seem to be able to  manage the ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ technique. There were info dumps towards the end, that took out any kind of excitement from the story. Also, I don’t really like the ‘main’ main character – she’s so boring. In fact, I didn’t love any of the characters, but fortunately, I didn’t hate any of them either.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?

Yes, and I already am.

10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

Probably, but I couldn’t say which one. I’d say many different books have.

11. Do you read fan fiction?

Yes, sometimes.

12. Do you write fan fiction?

Yes.

13. What’s your favorite book?

I can’t pick just one.

14. What’s your least favorite book?

Again, it would be hard to pick just one.

15. Do you prefer physical books or read on a device (like a kindle)?

While I love all kinds of books, I do love printed books a little more.

16. When did you learn to read?

When I was about 3 years old.

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

I think I’ll have to say The Great Gatsby. If I could have chosen freely, at the time I wouldn’t have picked that one, but now I really like it.

18. What is your favorite book series?

I can’t pick just one.

19. Who is your favorite author?

See above.

20. What is your favorite genre?

I’m sorry to have to repeat myself, but I can’t pick just one so I’ll say fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historic and non fiction.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?

Again, I can’t pick just one.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Frequently. That’s what I love about reading.

23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?

I can’t say.

24. Which book do you wish DIDNT have a sequel?

See above.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?

Usually not very long.

26. Do you like when books become movies?

If it’s done well, yes.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?

It’s hard to tell.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?

I’m not sure.

29. Do you read newspapers?

I read news online, not actual printed newspapers.

30: Do you read magazines?

No.

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Neither.

32. Do you read while in bed?

Yes.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?

No.

34. Do you read while in the car?

No, I can’t and not on the bus either. I’d get sick.

35. Do you read while in the bath?

No and maybe this is too much info – I don’t take baths, I prefer showers.

36. Are you a fast reader?

Yes.

37. Are you a slow reader?

No, not at all.

38. Where is your favorite place to read?

In bed or a really comfortable armchair.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?

Not if it’s a good book.

40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?

I prefer it, but I can read even if there’s a bit of noise.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?

I suppose my mother and grandmother and indirectly, my book loving father who didn’t exactly love to read to his children, but had a huge collection of books.

42. What book is next on your list to read?

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?

I think I was about 4 years old, judging by when I got the first such books.

44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?

Hm. I’m afraid I can’t say, too many favorites there too.

45. Which author would you most want to interview?

I don’t know.

46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?

I don’t know. It might be difficult, even if you love someone’s books, but then again, maybe it would work out. If so, it would be great.

47.What book have you reread the most?

I think I’ll say LOTR, but I have reread other books and series as well, for instance the Earthsea series, Diana Wynne Jones’ books and Gregory Frost’s books Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet, to name a few.

48. Which books do you consider “classics”?

The ones other people consider classics? Also any good book that’s still popular after twenty or more years.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

Any good book, I suppose.

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?

Books of really low quality. It would be a shame to waste time on them.

Dec 4

An Earthquake?

Posted on Friday, December 4, 2015 in Other

How weird. Today I found out that yesterday there was an earthquake not far from here. It seems this area just about missed it. Also, it was just a 2.0 on the Richter scale. Any less and no one would have felt it, apparently. It seems this region gets some minor earthquakes so it wasn’t anything unusual.

Nov 20

Poll: Should I translate my Moomin fanfic into English?

Posted on Friday, November 20, 2015 in Other, Writing

Should I translate my Moomin fanfic into English?

View Results

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Until now I’ve held back, because I wanted to stay true to the original, which is very hard. Tove Jansson wrote in a very special way, in (Finlandic) Swedish. I’m far from certain I can manage that in English. Then again, I have read one of those little previews on Amazon and found that the English translator hadn’t done that at all. It was written in good, ordinary English, not in anything that can be compared to Tove Jansson’s original language. That’s probably not even possible. So maybe I should try it anyway. What do you guys think? If you’re interested, please answer the poll above, or just comment on this post.

Nov 6

What were the best things about my dad?

Posted on Friday, November 6, 2015 in My life, Other

Apparently, on Sunday it’s Father’s Day in Sweden. I hadn’t kept up since sadly I lost my dad several years ago. In one of the local papers I found a headline that asked What is/was the best thing/s about your dad? So I thought I’d consider that for a moment.

My first answer is probably that he was quite nice and kind. Many people you meet are sarcastic and rude, but dad was usually very nice. He could tease you a bit, rather like a brother, but other than that I think he was really great.

From my point of view I guess it’s important that we had a lot in common and were quite a lot alike. He loved books and reading, for instance. Like me, he wasn’t very social, but I knew that when I needed help I could count on dad.

He helped me with my maths homework and was the only reason I got the grade I got. Without his help I would have done a lot worse. He drove me pretty much anywhere I needed to go except in later years (or when it wasn’t an outing he considered important). If I was depressed, or worried about something, dad always understood, because he’d been there (in a very similar situation) before and knew what to say to help me feel better.

I have already told my followers about the time I skipped a sports day in high school, because I really didn’t want to spend time playing some kind of ball game with my class mates (who didn’t like me very much and the feeling was mutual). My form mistress (?) who was in charge of that day called to check on why I’d been absent (this was when I was at least 17, so it kind of surprised me). My dad just got back from work and had no idea where I’d spent the day, but I came down the stairs and heard him tell my teacher about my ‘cold’ or ‘headache’ or whatever it was, so obviously he’d needed no prompting at all.

Thanks a lot, dad! There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t miss you terribly.

Whenever something new happens, like when Apple released the iPad or when we found out that we could ‘buy’ land on the moon or when Google started working on those driverless cars etc, I always think, dad would have loved this. The same goes for the fascinating discoveries on Mars and Pluto and so on. He would really have loved all that.

In a way, it feels as if dad hasn’t left at all. Some days I feel him close by and I hope that he’s able to keep up with all these new interesting discoveries. If so, have fun and enjoy it all, dad. :)

Oct 27

Science fiction predicting future technology…

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 in Literature, Other

Hardly anyone can have missed all the articles that check off the hits and misses when it comes to predictions about technology from Back to the Future.

That started me thinking about books I’ve read and how many of those, or rather how few, that have relatively accurately predicted the time we live in today.

Since I grew up with a major sf fan I have inherited as many of dad’s old sf books as I wanted. Many of those are from the 1950’s and on.

Surprisingly many of all these books got most of today’s technology wrong.

A big exception is Arthur C Clarke who apparently has predicted so many things – not necessarily the things we use from day to day, but still, quite a bit.

I can’t say how many books supposedly set in the ‘future’, ie the 21th century, have completely missed the evolution of the personal computer, cell phones and the internet, many of them also television. Also, family structure is still stuck in the 1950’s. I found it quite funny that space ships were run by a big ship’s computer, but there was nothing else remotely ‘computerized’. There was also just one expert aboard the ship who could handle that computer – the astrogator, I think he was called. And of course it was always a ‘he’.

You’d think they would have been able to think of anything related to computers, but apparently not. There are references to ‘the cold sleep’ or ‘the long sleep’ (some kind of stasis or suspended animation), FTL-ships, all kinds of robots, clones, time travel and so on, but not computers, internet or cell phones.

However, there’s a big exception that I found really interesting. My dad had two sf books by a Russian-Swedish author named Vladimir Semitjov. He came to Sweden in 1923, so either his books were quite old when dad got his hands on them or he wrote them quite late in life – or maybe both. Anyway, they contain references to ‘video phones’ that people carry in their pockets and that is about the only time I’ve ever read anything like it in the sf classics.

I can’t say for sure if anyone has got the PC and the internet right – not out of all those older books, I think. Books written from the 1980’s and on do better, but of course that’s not all that surprising.

Oct 23

No one notices your brand new sweater…

Posted on Friday, October 23, 2015 in Other

I haven’t really heard this song completely, but it’s been on a couple of tv shows over the past five years or so, that I’ve been forced to passively watch/listen to, so I’m a bit familiar with it. It’s actually a really sad song which tells you the harsh, realistic truth about life – how no one will grieve when you die, no one wants to know what you’re doing and no one wants to know where you bought your brand new sweater. Which is kind of the way life is, isn’t it? If it isn’t a whole lot worse than that. I think so anyway…

However, a great antidote to life’s depressing aspects is – writing!

So I’d add a line to the song – ‘No one notices your brand new sweater – but that’s ok, if you write something good, cool or fun.’

If you don’t write, let’s say the same except ‘but that’s ok because you can always read a good book.’ :)

Oct 23

Irrelevant flights of fancy

Posted on Friday, October 23, 2015 in Other

I just read an article in which the author says: Don’t Kill Hitler!

He lists a number of valid reasons. They started me thinking about the same thing.

My list would be shorter. It can be summed up like this: You can’t change the timeline.

The way I understand it, it’s like this: even if we could travel back in time (and I believe Einstein once said that it’s impossible), we couldn’t change our own timeline. We could leave it and travel to another one (that is, naturally, if it were possible) and end up being stuck in that timeline/event horizon, but even if you could return to your own timeline, that wouldn’t have changed. You will have created a new ‘dimension’ where Hitler died (when? as a child? early in his career?), but that’s all.

Also, if you want to believe the Doctor, certain things are fixed points in time and can’t be changed without dire consequences. Others – you can just keep your fingers crossed that your little ‘change’ is ‘unimportant’ enough to pass ‘the laws of time’ or whatever. Fortunately, I think my little life is insignificant enough to fall under the latter heading. So, if the Doctor existed and was right, maybe I could change a few things. If he would be willing to bring me in the Tardis and stand aside to let me change time. That is if I understand ‘the timey-wimey stuff’ correctly.

Oct 6

About tv and channels

Posted on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in My life, Other, Whining

I hate so called ‘reality series’ (what we in Sweden call ‘docu soaps’), talk shows and game shows. If it was up to me I wouldn’t pay for any ‘tv package’ because it wouldn’t be worth my while. I read the news online and I also watch the few tv series and movies online as well, legally of course. It’s my mom who insists on having a couple of channels – news mostly. Unfortunately, she also watches every single ‘event’, i e charity galas etc. Even more unfortunate is that since we live in the same house it’s impossible for me to escape the noise coming from the tv. Whenever possible, I try to go for a walk so I won’t have to ‘passively’ watch and listen to her shows.

Since I no longer feel it’s worth the money to have tv packages, it’s not such a problem for me personally, but a few years ago, I would have been really happy if the people selling these tv channels to consumers would have let us ‘cherry-pick’ the few channels we wanted, for a higher price, naturally. But no, they force you to pay for ten, twenty or more other channels, that I, for one, would never start. Never even use the settings to save on a certain channel number. So how can they make money from their commercials that I don’t watch, ever? It’s something I’ve never understood.

If I could have my wish, I’d like to see a special ‘channel’ that only had ‘real’ tv, like cop series, science fiction and movies. Not just the so called movie channels that mainly air movies that I’ve never heard of or that are extremely old, but not classics – like from the 1990’s and earlier, and still, it’s not the movies I might like to watch but stuff I’ve never heard of and quite rightly so, because they are probably the ones that both critics and viewers shunned when they first appeared. Whenever I have evaluated a ‘movie channel’ I’ve never heard of the movies included so where do they find this stuff?

Oct 5

About bullying

Posted on Monday, October 5, 2015 in My life, Other

About bullying

At the moment, here in Sweden, there’s a lot of attention focused on bullying in schools. Personally, I was more excluded and ignored than actually bullied, most of the time while I was still in school. The bullying came later. I’m not going to go into that now, because it’s far too painful, but as for my earlier experiences, I have a couple of ideas. Since I have been bullied later in life and was sort of ‘passively bullied’ in school I can easily imagine myself being ‘actively bullied’ as well.

First and easiest:

What I’m wondering is why these kids don’t delete their accounts on social media and get new ones under different names. When I’ve felt stalked and the target of uncomfortable attention online, I have been forced to delete my homepage, delete any accounts in social media etc and started over. How hard can it be? Naturally, I told my real friends where they could find me.

The second idea is this: I know that I’m different and of course that’s one reason why people dislike me so much, but there’s actually an upside to it. If someone had actively bullied me in school it wouldn’t have bothered me in the least having to move to another school and start over. Being who I am, which is also a pessimist, I wouldn’t really believe that would help, but I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to go. Far better to leave the bullies behind and be allowed to finish my schooling in peace.

Finally, and this is the most difficult aspect and the most expensive, but fortunately, most people won’t have to go through it. If the entire family is the target of harassment and bullying, somehow get the parents to agree to move to another town/city.

Yes, I completely agree that it’s a shame that the victim/s should be relocated, but staying stubbornly and suffering is very much like insisting on one’s right to drive first onto a bigger road, even when you’re heading straight for a truck with the breaks out of order. Sure, according to the traffic rules, you were right, but you’d still be dead and crushed if the truck runs into you.

Sep 23

Machines as artists, writers etc

Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Other

Recently, I have read a number of articles about AI and about how robots/androids etc might one day take over our jobs.

Since I’m a writer and/or proofreader/editor, I was reassured by a rather interesting list I found on the BBC news site. Creative jobs don’t seem to be immediately threatened.

However, that led me to consider what an AI/robot/android might be able to achieve.

I have heard that these days the news reporting isn’t just being oursourced to India or other third world countries, but is actually done by AI:s. Fair enough. I suppose collecting a few snippets coming from a news agency might be easy enough for anyone or anything to manage, though it is a bit unfair on people who want to get in on entry-level jobs.

However, would an AI be able to write a real story? What could be referred to as literature?

In Sweden, some writers of popular music have already let their computers do the writing, for fun, for a special effect (A real bloody schlager). Of course it can be done, if you, as a human, edit out the ins, ats, ons, buts etc and pick the most common words that actually make sentences.

I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to say: No! Not yet. Who knows about the future? When (or if) Google’s Singularity is here, then I guess all bets are off, but today, no way.

The same probably goes for works of art. Sure, I would like to say that elephants and primates (like chimps, gorillas and orangutans) can be artists just like children can be. Why not? They’re real living creatures with a lot more personal idiosyncracies than most people believe. And that goes for other ‘lower’ animals too. It’s just not my opinion, I base this on news articles reporting the latest science results. But a machine? Not yet anyway.

That reminds me of a very funny story written by science fiction author Arthur C Clarke. For a while, he was very fascinated by the idea of genetically enhanced primates (in this case chimps) and he wrote more than one story on this theme. This one was about a woman who fancied herself an artist and was severly annoyed by a neighbor who also fancied herself an artist/art critic etc. So she set out to make a fool of the neighbor, by teaching her own ‘simp’ (I think that’s the word – gm chimp) housekeeper (I’ll ignore my own reservations about exploiting and enslaving other living creatures for the duration of this blog post) to paint works of art.

The joke sort of backfired when it turned out the simp was far more talented than her art school educated employer.

So machines can be a lot of fun, but they won’t replace our creativity any time soon, that’s my best guess.

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