a blank slate

a blank slate

Tag: books

How to Find a Book to Read for Your Kid

(It’s way past midnight and a stray thought brought this post on. I’m just going with the flow.)
In my last few years of teaching, I have noticed that
parents often ask me to recommend books for their children. I don’t know if
they realise how difficult it is to recommend a book to someone you know only
on the surface – I do try to get to know my students as well as I can, but it’s
hardly possible to remember their every interest and taste. Let’s face it: the
parents themselves are more likely to have a deep understanding of what their
child likes. So how does the choice go to the English teacher? It’s the
assumption that there is something mechanical about choosing a new book.
One of my favourite linguists, Stephen Krashen, oversaw a
study on what he called a “home run book.” That is, a single book that makes a
reader. In a study titled, “Can one positive reading experience create a reader?”
researchers Debra Von Sprecken and Jiyoung Kim along with Stephen Krashen
present findings from a survey of over two hundred Grade 4 students in L.A. Students
were asked just two questions: 1. Do you like to read? 2. Is there one book or
experience that interested you in reading?
The findings were interesting. Nearly all those who said they liked reading admitted that one book had ‘sparked’
their interest. Furthermore, they could name it. However, the book varied across the students, even for those with
similar backgrounds. This led the researchers to conclude that while there is
such a thing as a home run book, the selection differs for every child. The
recommendation the study ended on was this: to spark an interest in
reading in children, the sure-shot way is to expose them to many, different
kinds of books, hoping to get a home run.
Of course, this answer would not satisfy most demanding
parents. And yet, I won’t simply give arbitrary recommendations. I do rant a
lot about books in class, and I see children note down the names of books that
they think they might like. Children also catch recommendations from peers and
usually, once a book is bought by a kid, it doesn’t rest till it has made the
rounds through the entire class. Reading spreads faster than wildfire – I quite
like that. Apart from word of mouth, though, there are other ways to look for
books.
First: Goodreads
lists
. Goodreads has many faults as a social media platform, but it
does offer reading lists curated by thousands of average readers. This makes
them far more accessible and reliable than say the New York Times Bestseller’s
List. Not to mention, you don’t have to be a Goodreads member to view these
lists. It helps that there are Goodreads lists of recommendation for the most
ridiculous things. To illustrate this, I went to the Listopia page on Goodreads
and searched for the tag, “grass.” Three relevant categories (just to name a
few): 1. Books about Plants 2. Meadows and Fields, Savannahs and Steppes 3.
Young Adult books with grass on the cover. So, even if you have a weird kid
with odd demands on your hands, Goodreads would be your friend.
Second: Movies. This
sounds counter-productive. But there are so many great movies out there today
which have been adapted from books that are better. Wonder, Life of Pi, IT, The
Perks of Being a Wallflower, About  a
Boy, To Kill A Mockingbird, Ready Player One – all of these are suitable, if
not excellent, reads for your teen or preteen. But the problem is, once you’ve
watched the film adaptation; the interest in the book is gone. So if you ever
see your kid begging to watch a movie, check if there’s a book version and make them experience it first as a kind of challenge/reward scheme. I’d also
suggest scouring the internet for adaptation trailers to find book
recommendations.
Third: Bookstores
/ Libraries.
An astounding number of kids in my school have Kindles.
The reading rate should then be predictably high. Am I right? Wrong. Kindles
are great, amazing even, for readers; handy, convenient, sleek and shiny (are
they?)… But, here’s the thing – they probably won’t create great readers. I
couldn’t stress this enough, the best way to introduce your kid to a lifelong
bookworminess would be to take them to a bookstore or even better, a library. Once
a month, at least. These establishments, especially bookstores, go to great
lengths to create an attractive ambience. And whether we like it or not, we do
judge a book by its cover.
Make a picnic out of it, spend some time together, let them
take a stroll through the store and find what they like. Model the behaviour
yourself. Read. Your child sees you nose deep in a book often enough, trust me,
they’ll want to do it themselves. Don’t tell them they should read to improve
their language or expression or writing or thinking. Don’t make a medicine out
of it. Tell them it’s FUN. It’s like a mental adventure park. The benefits are
simply a by-product. They need not read a Charles Dickens, even a comic book
would work, or a picture book! You must always remember: a good book is far
more important than great literature. Expose them to a lot of different books
and hope that they find that one book that hits the right chord. There’s no
stopping them then.

London’s Book Shaped Benches – Why am I not there?!?

The title says it all. I don’t think I’ve ever wished harder I lived in London. Books About Town is a project launched by the National Literacy Trust where 50 literary themed benches illustrated by local artists have been strewn across the city for summer, to be auctioned later in the autumn. These are my favourites:
The Librarian bench (Discworld by Terry Pratchett)

Earnest bench (The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde)

Peter Pan bench (Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe bench (The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis)

The Jeeves and Wooster Bench (the Jeeves series by P.G. Wodehouse)
Aren’t they delightful? I borrowed these pictures from the official Books about Town website, where you’ll find the pictures of all the benches. Of course, there are these pictures submitted by people who stumbled across the benches throughout the city, which are way more fun as long as you can keep yourself from turning green. 
It gets more fun: Guardian lets you vote for the book to feature on the next bench, the 51st. The choices range from the 101 Dalmatians to Adrian Mole, and Harry Potter, who needless to say is in the lead – you can change that with your vote, though I will have you know, I didn’t! Anyway, are you thinking what I’m thinking? I know, this has brought me whole new ideas about bookish furniture. 

Guest Post: Paulette Mahurin (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)

I have had a chance to interact with some really great people in the blogging world and author Paulette Mahurin is one of those.

Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in
women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two
rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs,
including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse
practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in
college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is set in a small Nevada town which has just received the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is the story of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating
consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

All profits go Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center,
Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura
County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a
life.

Paulette has agreed to feature here her wonderful article on tolerance.
Go ahead and read it!
_______________________________________________________________

First let me give a big heartfelt thank you to Priya, for
asking me back to your great blog site. I’m thrilled to be here with you, my
friend, thousands of miles away in geography but close at heart. When I mention
this heart connection I think of all the distance that exists between neighbors
living next door to each other, or perhaps even in the same home, when they
don’t possess this openness of spirit. So Priya, I dedicate this to you, in
India, and all our good friends who might stop by to comment, or share, in the
name of tolerance, in the name of our hearts opening, that we may know a more
harmony in this world.

I write so much about tolerance, the theme of my book, The
Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, but when I look at it, I don’t even know that I
fully understand what it is. Do I really understand the mechanism of bullying
another, putting another down because of their nature, the color of their skin,
their sexual preference, their religious beliefs, how they dress, you name it,
so many possibilities, so many differences that one could pick apart in the
other? Am I above all of it because I can talk about tolerance, write about it,
or am I just like Jose, the evil antagonist in my story, who finds fault with
everything Mildred Dunlap does? I think there’s a little, maybe even a lot, of
Josie in all of us. Reminds me of a quote from Jesus, he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone… (John
8:7, New American Standard Bible).
Carl Jung wrote about our dark side, he called it our
shadow. Rumi, the poet, wrote that when
the totality that I am and my humanness meld, and then I am whole
. Sri
Nisargadatta Maharaj wrote in his epic spiritual prose on non-dualistic existence
I Am That, and I paraphrase, “I am the space in which my mind and body
live.”
Then there’s Krishnamurti who wrote, the thought is not the thing, which is reminiscent of Descartes, I think therefore I am. One of the most
fundamental spiritual questions, when in a deep introspective meditation is, who am I?  Masters through the ages have pondered these
questions. Joseph Campbell in his famous talks on religion with Bill Moyer,
brings up a fundamental fact that what all religions have in common is their
mysticism, what Einstein called that point when reality becomes philosophy, the
point where nothing can be known.
From the perspective of these brilliant thinkers, past
leaders of all religious faiths, people of Letters, of education, and the
common man or woman who ponders life and the mysteries that abound; when I look
at anything from this perspective I can say for sure that the only truth I can
claim for certain is change, that nothing else seems certain but change. What
does all this have to do with hatred, intolerance?
If the greatest thinkers, who ever lived, are still alive,
and who have yet to be born, can’t answer any of these questions, then how the
hell can say we understand a thing about our very nature? If everything is a
mystery, from the mystery of the source that creates it all, than how can one
thing be bad and another good? How can something different be anything other
than simply different? Why is the fact that Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian a bad
thing, in the eyes of a homophobic? How come she isn’t just someone different
than the person judging? When do we stop seeing differences and see judgments?
And, why do we human beings robotically buy into what our parents said, what
their parents said, and not learn to use our minds to think things through,
instead of our minds dictating irrationality, based on belief, programmed
learning, conditioning?
I’m not knocking conditioning; it’s another human facet,
trait, but then why can’t I just see it for what it is? Underneath all my
thoughts, my thinking, my monkey crazy 
mind that goes on automatic habitual thinking, my belief systems, under
all this, in that quiet God space where life finds harmony, what is? There’s
that quiet ,and yet all the other. Both existing together, both interweaving,
erupting, without provocation or cause, just doing its thing.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m human. We all are and we all
do this. We judge yet come out with ridiculous statements like, I don’t judge, I’m not judgmental, then
we spew out, okay I spew out, things that are so judgmental and when I’m called
on it, I defend why I’m not doing it. In writing this book, I saw a lot of this
in myself, especially while writing about Josie, the hate filled rumor
mongering bitch, who can’t keep her mouth shut, and what comes out of it is
ignorant babble. I also see myself in Gus, the voice of tolerance and wisdom, I
see how I want to open more, be more accepting, love more, and I also see how
that is selfish because in opening I feel better, more alive.
When I started researching my book, the inspiration for the
driving force of the story line, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, was always near at
heart. He was my reminder, my metaphor, of the injustice of intolerance, all
housed in beliefs, in laws, in narrow mindedness, all with roots of hatred for
what is, another’s nature, that can no more change than a dog can not wag its
tail. If we are to believe that God created all under the heavens and sun, then
how could it be that there are creations that just aren’t right, not okay, less
than human? Seems to me, this has to stem from some culturally based false
belief, that gets passed down lifetimes after lifetimes, so by the time I’m
into that belief, it feels real to me. Reality is created by thoughts, beliefs,
and world viewpoints. If I think that guy likes me and fantasize over how I
know he wants me, a reality is created inside of me. The brain doesn’t really
know the difference between a thought and what’s actually happening, it
secretes its chemicals, creating emotions, and man that is real. I believe I’m being
rejected and it feels bad. That’s real and I’m feeling it.
If I believed Oscar Wilde was evil, or wrong, or acting
illegally because he was a Gay man, then my mind is going to work it out to
make it seems so. But what about what is accurate? Who among us would
want to be prevented from loving? From intimacy, from the one we love? No one.
It’s one of the most basic human needs from time and memorial, right along with
our need to eat, drink, breathe, and if we had a switch or choice why would we
chose devastation, humiliation, labeling that puts us in
jail and kills? This has been the debate over sexual preference for decades, is
it nature or nurture? The abundant view is nature. And, with this I agree. I
agree and feel that Oscar Wilde did what came naturally, and in doing so,
acting through what he could no more prevent than can a leaf from taking in
carbon dioxide to survive, an ice cube melting in the sun, a fire’s warmth, all
things of nature, and so what’s left is my fundamental question, can I tolerate
it? Can I accept what is, see my insides resisting and wanting to change it,
and breathe in a new possibility, that it is different, and I’m okay with
different, because different is not bad, it’s just different. After all, aren’t
we all different? 



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Does the beginning matter?

This is something that has been on my mind, ever since that Writer’s Workshop. We discussed some of the best book beginnings and how important it is to start off the book on the right note. According to me, though, you don’t always have to shock or surprise or jolt the reader in the very first paragraph. Sometimes, slow beginnings do work as well. A beginning, for me, is just as important as any other part of the book (the ending may even be slightly more important!) Going through my makeshift bookshelf, I can say with certainty, that the books I really love have both good and bad, not to mention, only okay beginnings.

That being said, I decided to list down some random “good” book beginnings: to make this post longer than one tiny paragraph. (Also, you know how I love making lists.)

1. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy
in its own way.”
– Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. “To the murder of Professor Grimaud, and later the equally
incredible crime in Cagliostro Street, many fantastic terms could be applied –
with reason. Those of Dr Fell’s friends who like impossible situations will not
find in his case-book any puzzle more baffling or more terrifying. Thus: two
murders were committed, in such fashion that the murderer must have been not
only invisible, but lighter than air.”
– The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

3.  “No live organism can
continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even
larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood
by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for
eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright,
bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay
steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there,
walked alone.”
– The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

4. “YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the
name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was
made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which
he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”
– The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain 
5. “Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists
disagree.
But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with
the start of things. They wonder aloud how the snowplough driver gets to work,
or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of the words. Yet there
is the constant desire to find some point in the twisting, knotting, ravelling
nets of space-time on which a metaphorical finger can be put to indicate that
here, here, is the point where it all began…”
– Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (Discworld series)

And another beginning I like is that of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (about how the narrator visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books!) I can think of two other authors, who, in their own very different ways, start their books with a bang and they are John Le Carre and well, H. P. Lovecraft. 
What do you think? Does it matter to you how a book kicks off? Do you have any favourite books with slow beginnings? And what are your favourite book beginnings?

Do you lend your books?


I am unnaturally possessive about all the things I own as it is, and more so about my growing book collection. Which is why I am increasingly reluctant to lend my books to other people.

My mom used to tell me that sharing my books with other people ought to make me happier than keeping them forever enclosed in a bookcase. Reading is what books are meant for, after all. Which is true, but you can imagine my reaction, when a brand new book that I really love is returned to me with dog-eared pages; or fingerprints and coffee stains on the cover; or a very battered spine. It’s just very irritating, how carelessly people handle books. I am finally beginning to understand, why my sister never let me anywhere near her books, back when I was a very clumsy kid. Not to mention, there are those people who just simply forget to return your books.

The only thing stopping me from making this huge bookshelf in our living room, which I have wanted for years, is the fact that everyone who comes over will ask for books they could borrow. I am hesitant when it comes to lending books, but you really can’t say “no” if a person asks, can you! I have always wondered, how rude it would sound if I told the person to not dog-ear or write in it and not use anything but a bookmark as the bookmark; never tried it, though.
Do you lend your books without any of these concerns? And… do you borrow books from other people?

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

The title of the novel The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett made me want to read it. When I started reading the novel, I hadn’t read any reviews or synopses and had no idea what to expect.

It is the story of a notorious book thief and a clever rare-book dealer who tracks him down. It provides a glimpse into the quite magical world of rare book collectors.

There is not much to say about the writing style. I found it a bit pompous, too literary; but it’s one of the things you learn to overlook when only the plot/ideas get you so involved in the book.
The author’s opinion about the fact that many collectors don’t actually read the books they collect was first surprising, then convincing. It is the love for the physical beauty of books that drives people to collect them. The yellowed pages, the delicate spine and that old smell, I’d be lying if I said never I loved books for all of that.
“Much of the fondness avid readers, and certainly collectors, have for their books is related to the books’ physical bodies. As much as they are vessels for stories (and poetry, reference information, etc.), books are historical artifacts and repositories for memories—we like to recall who gave books to us, where we were when we read them, how old we were, and so on.”
Don’t you completely agree? There are so many books that I do judge by their covers. So many books I don’t like but can’t manage to give away, because they have that special meaning, beauty attached to them. I have fond memories to associate with every book I owned as a kid; serious discussions along with bookish games and crazy fan-girl obsessions.
I still remember reading the first few pages of The Diary of a Young Girl in my school library. It was the first hardcover novel I read, and that edition carried pictures of the girl and her family and a map of the place she lived in; along with a few copies of the original diary entries scribbled in her own handwriting. The fact that I didn’t like the book as much as I thought, doesn’t remove the memory. The excitement it caused me to think that the book was actually someone’s life, gave me sort of a new perspective on reading. Like the author says, even physical artifacts (like books or paintings) carry memory and meaning.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves reading or loves to hold a book in their hands or loves, much like the author, to spend time in libraries, surrounded by books. It is one of the best books about books.
“Sitting in any library, surrounded by high shelves of books, I sense the profoundly rich history of scholarship as something real, and it’s both humbling and inspiring. This manifestation of reality is true of other artifacts as well. We can read about the Holocaust or where Emily Dickinson wrote her “letter to the world” or where Jim Morrison is buried. We can view online photos of all these places. Still, each year, thousands of people visit Auschwitz, The Homestead, and Père Lachaise. I suppose our desire to be near books rises from a similar impulse; they root us in something larger than ourselves, something real.”

Why I like to read Horror Fiction


Don’t roll your eyes, answer, “…because people like to be scared… it excites us… blah blah.” and convince yourself that this is one of those articles. Believe me, I don’t like to be scared. In fact, I never dared to read the horror genre until very recently, when I read my first Stephen King book. That too, only because some idiot told me it’s not as scary on paper as it is on screen..
For someone who got scared even by the obviously fake white faced, black eyed ghosts in most run-of-the-mill horror movies; and whose only experience with horror fiction involved pathetic childhood encounters with R. L. Stine, King’s book was something else. I am, what you call, a classic “scaredy-cat.” And this post is about why I love to read horror fiction.
“At last he crept back into bed and pulled the blankets up and watched the shadows thrown by the alien streetlight turn into a sinuous jungle filled with flesheating plants that wanted only to slip around him, squeeze the life out of him, and drag him down into a blackness where one sinister word flashed in red: REDRUM.” – Stephen King (The Shining)
It’s not like I’ve ever actually come across the word “Redrum” splattered somewhere in blood, like Danny here. But at night, when I read this, I’ll pull the blankets up to my chin and focus my eyes completely on the book, trying to ignore the shadowy trees outside my window. And I’ll be just as terrified as Danny is. And you know what I’ll tell myself… Such things don’t exist? Not really. Something like… “Calm down. It’s not like it’s happening over here!”
Horror fiction, according to me, anyway, is not about how gory you can be; but, how convincing. The story can star vampires or zombies, spirits and ghouls or just plain crazy people – a horror novel works when the reader believes in it, if only for a second. I mean, I can never be completely sure that there isn’t a ghost standing in the next room as I type, wondering what is making the tapping noise. And it’s this paranoia that a horror writer gets to play with.

Movies are too definite. When you watch a horror movie, you are watching someone else’s nightmare. But yours is always the worst. For instance, spiders or snakes or dark jungle scenes only creep me out – but add a white faced ghost to the equation and bam! I’m scared. In a movie, you’ll only see what you’re shown. In a book, though, the writer just lays the groundwork; the imagery is up to you. It is up to you to fill in the blanks, and like I said, nothing is scarier than your worst nightmare.

I still maintain, though, that I don’t like the fear. But the fear is intriguing. I find it fascinating, that a bunch of words can completely convince me that there is someone standing behind me, watching me read. How they can make me quickly glance back and make sure there isn’t. It’s horrible, that I can’t sleep well for days after I read a particularly scary novel. It’s wonderful, that a writer can so effectively do his job.

My bookish story



Do you remember that one book that really turned you into a bookworm? I can’t say that I do. But one book always stands out in my memory – it was one of the few good novels in my school library. It was a book by Robert Ludlum and I loved it. It might have been the book that turned me from the ‘likes-to-read girl’ to the ‘never-stops-reading girl’! But the story neither starts nor ends there!


I was always sort of a bookworm; but I was never too eager to get out of my comfort zone. I always read the same genres and even the same old authors. So, when I randomly borrowed this book from the school library, I didn’t read even a single page for two entire weeks. On the last night, for God knows what reason, I started reading the book. I read late into the night and woke up with the book next to me. I read throughout the morning, thoroughly enjoying the experience. I never finished it, though. And I had to return it the same day.
Here comes the crazy part. All I could somehow remember about that book was that it was written by Robert Ludlum. How I could have forgotten the book title, I don’t know! Or the plot, for that matter. I read many Robert Ludlum books after that, bought and borrowed, and I liked them. But I never did find that one. That is, until now.

You know that feeling, when you are trying hard to remember something and it constantly keeps nudging the insides of your brain making sure you are unable to concentrate on anything else? The battered old book has been doing that to me for the past… about six years. No kidding. When I somehow ended up on Robert Ludlum’s Wikipedia page today, it got me wondering how long it would take to skim through the summaries of Ludlum’s 23 thriller novels and find out that mystery book, once and for all. Well, it takes two hours and a bout of scolding from your mother for staying up too late.

As it turns out, it is a spy-thriller novel called The Scorpio Illusion (the name sounds strangely familiar now; you know, as if I had known it all along.) I can’t wait to buy it and read the whole book and you know, re-discover why I fell in love with reading in the first place! So, do you have a bookish story of your own?

And then there were seven…

September has been an incredibly bookish month. I started reading the classics, that I’d planned to read in August; I am done reading more than half of the 2011 Booker prize shortlist; I participated in some fun challenges and memes; I received books to review; I read many essays, short stories, and even poems (but more on that later!)


With my birthday right on the third day of the month, I got many wonderful books, without having to spend a single penny on them. And they just kept coming. Until today – and now there are seven. A huge thanks to all the generous gift-givers! Now I own seven books that I am desperate to read. I will have to wait till October to finally get to read all od them, though, considering that I’m supposed to study for my exams as we speak (not that we are speaking right now; but I’d rather write it and explain this than not write it at all.) These are seven of the most awesome gifts I have received in my nineteen years of existence.

One might say I am exaggerating the awesomeness. In which case, I would suggest one to look carefully at the photograph. Yes, that’s right; it says The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Followed by the red and green books, that are Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. Which would mean I am actually understating the awesomeness, for I fear I might start acting like one of those crazy, squeaky fan-girls if I don’t. Enjoying J. K. Rowling all over again; now that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to. October is surely going to be a hell of a month!

A Week in Review

The past week has been terrifyingly eventful (book- and otherwise). So much that it made my usual quiet weekend seem quite boring.


I have been following the Man Booker Prize selection this year for the first time ever. I’ve read only two Booker books before – one I loved and one I didn’t love so much. I didn’t dare to commit to reading the whole long list but since the short list is only six books, I sort of ‘challenged’ myself to read it before the prize is announced. Of course, I am already regretting this surge of ambition. I have read these this by now:

1. A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – The book was a wonderful read. My only problem was, I thought it lacked a bit in the plot, in that it didn’t really have one. I loved reading the narrator’s long monologues about memory and time and morality; so much that I wished it was a non-fiction book. I loved the main character’s sense of humour and his writing; but it seemed as though an idea was stretched and dragged into a book, to show off a few genius characters and their beliefs. I would call it a great one-time read, albeit with a spectacularly disappointing ending!
I also read Orwell’s Politics and the English Language essay (you can read it here) the other day, which I am in no way qualified to review. An excerpt:

Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent examples were ‘explore every avenue‘ and ‘leave no stone unturned‘, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence*, to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable.

*One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.

Apart from that, my sister wrote another of her awesome blog posts which, when compared to my own blog, make me hang my head in shame. Also. I baked cookies. I can’t cook; anyone who knows me knows that! But I did, anyway. That’s what being bored, sick and alone at home does to people. Anyway, a few burned, but the rest turned out quite alright. I was so happy, and I repeat, so alone, that I ate them up all by myself, except for one that I managed to save for later. That night I proudly presented it to my mom. Knowing my luck, I should have guessed it would turn out to be one of the slightly charred ones. I have to say, I did not deserve the ‘Oh, I bet the rest tasted perfectly fine’ remark that goes with that pitying smile.