Traffic Thursdays

Hey everyone! Have you all made it through the week with me? (I get through my Thursdays on the simple realization that they are wonderful preludes to Fridays.)

traffic thursdaysThis week has me running around like a chicken without a head, but desperately searching for it! School has started and has left precious little time for anything besides attending classes, studying, eating and sleeping. Once again, my personal reading has taken a backseat to the realities of my life as a student. After this next month I do plan to be a little more relaxed, as that’s when I will finish two of my courses.

As far as my pleasure reading goes, I’ve done a little better than I give myself credit for, but still haven’t hit my stride. I knocked off a short story or two, made significant progress with a book or two, and even made time several nights to listen to my beloved Book Riot podcasts. (I love listening to them before falling asleep, by the way). Most of my readage these next few weeks will revolve around course-related material, but I have a nice long weekend coming up so maybe that will be my much-needed catalyst for knocking off some more pages.

  • The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, 336 pages, Genre(s): mystery/thriller, Interest Level: 8/10, now that it’s finally coming together and getting a little more interesting, Hope to Finish: tonight or tomorrow morning, Notes: it’s speeding right along now that I’m getting to the conclusion, and I’m glad I’m almost done. (By the way, I don’t like saying that when it comes to books!)
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks, 342 pages, Genre(s): action/adventure, horror, thriller, Interest Level: 7-8/10, it’s my Long Distance Book Buddy Read at the moment so the fiance and I are reading it together; it’s an old favorite of his but my first time; I enjoy the grisly descriptions in spite of myself, Hope to Finish: in fictionthe next week or two, depending on the fiance’s progress, Notes: I think this book is going to lead me into zombie territory in the future, and yes it’s hard to believe I’m actually saying that!
  • I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb, 897 pages, Genre(s): drama, Interest Level: 7/10, it opened with a bang, so there’s that; I like to savor Wally Lamb’s fiction so it might take a while to make a dent in this large tome! Hope to Finish: It’s been on my shelves forever, which is unforgivable since I adore Wally Lamb’s writing! However, your guess is as good as mine as to when I’ll be done with it! At my rate, let’s hope for 2017! (jk jk)
  • Read short story “Dad Thing” by Jonathan Durbin (via Electric Literature) on 5/4recent readage
  • Read short story “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman (via the Internet and my fiance’s recommendation) on 5/4
  • Read short story “Signs and Symbols” by Vladimir Nabokov (via the Internet)
    • No short stories in-progress at the moment but I really do enjoy them! They’re perfect when I can’t commit as much time as a novel demands, and sometimes a bite is all I need.

tbr

library loot

Ok lovelies, I have to run. See you tomorrow for a new Frilly-Female Fridays!

Kisses and books,

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Twitter Tuesdays

Another Tuesday, guys! And go…

Whew, the humidity has hit the UNBEARABLE mark here in Auburn and I’m sweating buckets. Even better news, the AC decided to conk out at the worst time ever! (Oh well, May is preferable to July for AC failures! Been there, done that a few times. Let’s not go there…)

So…second day of summer semester packed away and I’m home trying not to melt. Here’s a task to take my mind off my awful heat-problem…literary Twitter ramblings for this Tuesday! Woo hoo! I’m over-compensating, I know :-).

1) 3 minutes ago

I’m A Pornography of Grief by Philip Huang

2) 25 minutes ago

. on why she loves bookish Reese Witherspoon:

3) 27 minutes ago

I am in this awesome reading mood but I just want to read everything at the same time.

twitter tuesdays4) 2 hours ago

Calling all librarians! Come talk about digital media in the library at Digipalooza. Retweet for a chance to win free registration!

5) 3 hours ago

How To Conquer The Shame Of Being A Writer – An essay I wrote for .

6) 3 hours ago

Get Ep. 2 of All the Books!, a weekly podcast about new releases:

7) 3 hours ago

NIMONA starts goofy & accessible, deepens into “a morally and emotionally complicated fantasy,” says

8) 4 hours ago

I would have access to every book and the time to read, but my reading glasses would break like in The Twilight Zone.

9) 4 hours ago

On-boarding new contributors for Book Riot this week, and so happy to have and joining us!

10) 4 hours ago

Looking for a great zombie read? recommends 21 unique tales of the undead:

*I think I’m taking this list down a notch or two…10 is a better number than 12!

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‘Till next time! Kisses and books,

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Missive Mondays and Update

Hey guys!

I don’t know what to say other than last week kinda sucked. Although it was my last week of vacation until today, I didn’t feel well most of the week and just wasn’t very productive. I missed blogging so much and felt like I would never get through the week, but alas, I did and here I am…

missive mondaysSo…I’m back to the books! (Textbooks, that is!) I can’t believe the summer semester is already upon me but at the same time I’m very glad for the opportunity to continue my education. By the way, I’m taking four courses this time around, and two are seriously condensed courses that will be over in about a month, plus two are distance learning (i.e. online). It’s going to be interesting! Please bear with me, as I’m juggling quite a few plates for the next several weeks (maybe months?) and I’m going to try my absolute best to continue with the blog on a daily basis. I might end up skipping a few days and I apologize ahead of time for this!

The last week didn’t see me knocking off much reading or making any kind of dent in my TBR; however, I did have the guts to reduce my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge to a more manageable and realistic (for me) 35 books. I always start the New Year off with the hope and excitement to read as much as possible, and then, you know, life intervenes. 50 was just too much for me right now. I aim to keep the expectations low and the motivation high. I hope my current reading dry spell doesn’t last too much longer, and I hope to actually FINISH a book in the next day or two. (I’d like to finally get “The Girl on the Train” off my hands, because I can’t seem to quit it until it’s done).

I found something today for Missive Mondays that I think is pretty interesting. What do you think?

Digital age poses a new challenge to Iran’s relentless book censors

Writers and translators turn to internet to publish their work – and to avoid the anonymous scrutineers who remove words such as ‘kiss’ and ‘wine’

It is an unlikely setting for an international book fair. But around this time of year, the spacious prayer halls of Tehran’s gigantic Mosalla Grand Mosque are transformed into a labyrinth of stalls occupied by publishers exhibiting their latest titles. Offering generous discounts, some sell more books in 10 days than in the rest of the year. The fair attracts nearly 5 million visitors, dwarfing international counterparts such as Frankfurt.

All the books on display have been vetted before publication and some heavily censored, as is routine for every book printed in Iran. Visiting the fair this week the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, received a copy of Henry Kissinger’s On China in Farsi as a gift. Also on display is the Farsi translation of Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices.

In parallel, however, is an unofficial Iranian book fair. It is online and free from the shackles of censorship that dominate the traditional publishing in Iran.

Iran is among the top 10 most censored countries, next to Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and China. However, the digital age is creating a new challenge to Iran’s censorship apparatus. An increasing number of writers and translators are turning to the internet to publish their work, instead of going through the tormenting line-by-line scrutiny required for print publication. A rise in paper prices has concomitantly driven more readers to buy ebooks. State TV has started labelling digital books as a new threat that should be taken seriously.

The ministry of culture and Islamic guidance is in charge of checking books. Anonymous censors, whose job is given the polite Persian word momayezi (evaluating), work round-the-clock to examine texts for anything that could be considered obscene, inappropriate or politically unacceptable. They are masters of finding a needle in a haystack yet no one knows who they are.

Some censors are notorious for their “Ctrl+F” approach, the computer function that allows them to search for and delete blacklisted words such as kiss, dance, pork and wine. Others read books in full, not allowing anything to slip through. But now there are digital alternatives to the old ways. Nogaam, an online Iranian publishing house, helps writers publish their work as ebooks that can be downloaded from Google Books or the publisher’s website.

Its editor, Azadeh Iravani, said it had published 25 titles since 2013, mostly by authors who are living in Iran and know they have no chance of making it into print due to censorship. It is not clear what, if any, penalties writers could face for online publishing deemed unacceptable.

“If you’re in Iran and your book is rejected or censored to the bone then you had to either bin it or put it in a shelf to gather dust. So online publishers like Nogaam are giving people a new choice,” she said.

Among Nogaam’s books is a poetry collection by Payam Feili, who is openly gay. Titles are crowdfunded. Once the author is compensated, the book is available free for download. They are also available in ePub format, readable on many book apps. A book by the satirist Ebrahim Nabavi has been downloaded at least 10,000 times. “It gives you a good experience of reading, it’s not like the old-fashioned scanned books that people could not read,” Iravani said.

James Marchant, the lead researcher behind a forthcoming report by the London-based Small Media on book publishing in Iran, called Writer’s Block, said with internet and smartphone penetration rates growing rapidly in Iran there was enormous potential for e-publishing to revolutionise the Iranian book market.

“E-publishing in Iran is still in its infancy, and there remains a fair amount of scepticism among writers and publishers as to its potential benefits. Despite this uncertainty, diaspora organisations and self-publishing authors inside the country are starting to find some success marketing ebooks,” he said.

“There have been reports of self-published authors selling more than 10,000 copies of their books online, while diaspora publishers such as Nogaam are helping to share banned books with Iranian readers via e-pub formats.” In the words of Ali Asghar Ramezanpour, a former cultural ministry official, online publishing is “growing, and underground publishers are very active”.

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Iran’s most celebrated living writer, said restrictions had eased since Hassan Rouhani came to power but censorship still existed. However, he said the priority of Iran’s intellectual community was to help Rouhani bring Iran out of its international isolation. “The situation has got much better but I still have many books that are banned.” Among them is The Colonel, which has been published in English by Haus Publishing.

Reza Shokrollahi from Khabgard, a famous Iranian literary blog, said censors were spending less time scrutinising books, but this did not imply they had become less meticulous. “It appears that censors receive their orders from people outside the ministry because even the minister and the president are critical of their approach.”

In his speech at the opening ceremony of Tehran’s international book fair, Rouhani said censors acted so arbitrarily that a book might get permission for publication for its first run but the second edition of the same book could be listed as banned. Rouhani’s culture minister, Ali Jannati, said in 2013 that if the “Qu’ran was not sent from God, Iranian censors would have rejected it”. In a recent speech, he admitted that Iran’s policy of filtering the internet or blocking satellite channels had proved futile. “It’s like blocking the entire highway for the violation of a few cars,” he said. “The best way to control public opinion is to go with it not to fight it.”

H&S Media is another firm that specialises in digital distribution and on-demand publishing. Its director, Hossein Setareh, said it had published some 460 Iranian books since 2011, available on Google Books. At least half are also available on Kindle. “One of the big problems we face is that Amazon and its Kindle reader don’t support Farsi language,” he said. “Also because of international sanctions people in Iran cannot buy our ebooks from Amazon or similar foreign-based sites.”

Setareh’s firm instead has come up with a creative solution: users in Iran can donate a book’s price to a charity of their choice and send its receipt. They will then be allowed to download the book. Every month, at least 300 books are sold to readers in Iran using this method.

Seyedmostafa Raziei, a young writer and translator, is published in print in Iran but has released nine titles as ebooks, four of which are translations of Charles Bukowski’s poetry that could not get permission from the ministry. “Censorship is futile and we are not in the 20th century any more: people have access to the internet and it has no boundaries.”

Fidibo is Iran’s biggest digital library but it features ebooks that have already received permission for publication. Its director, Majid Ghasemi, said it had published nearly 3,500 books online and has more than 150,000 users. Last year alone, books had been downloaded from Fidibo more than 200,000 times. It has its own app available on App Store and Google Play. “It has been a hugely successful experience,” he said. “We didn’t expect it to become this popular. Last year we estimated to have saved 2,000 trees.”

Article courtesy of The Guardian

Wordsmith Wednesdays

“A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”

Stephen King, Skeleton Crew

wordsmith wednesdays

Happy Wednesday and I’ll see you guys tomorrow! Such a beautiful day outside, need to get out and enjoy it! Today I’m going to try to start working on something for the blog about Long-Distance Book Buddies. I hope it amounts to something cool!

forever between pages

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Twitter Tuesdays

Hey guys. Time for another great (albeit late) post of my favorite Tweets for this Tuesday. (I don’t like to do this Twitter feature too early in the day, because I want a good selection throughout the day). These features are really helping the weeks speed by! So glad it’s May; isn’t that a great thing?twitter tuesdays

1) 1 minute ago

Long-lost early writings from Mark Twain have been recovered

2) 1 hour ago

I hope someone can find the perfect gif for when real life gets in the way of your reading.

3) 2 hours ago

Well at the rate I’m going with Netflix, I’m never going to get any reading, listening to audiobook, and filming videos done. Booktube

4) 3 hours ago

Mindy Kaling announced a release date for her second book, and we seriously can’t. wait.

5) 4 hours ago

Just got a Macbook, and it makes little chirps and dings at me that I don’t understand. I just pat it on the head like it’s R2-D2

6) 6 hours ago

A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert- Carnegie

7)  retweeted

“I love these characters, and their world.” answers your questions on Goodreads:

8) 7 hours ago

Total pages read during the 101 Books project to date: 32,965.

9)  retweeted

Headscarves and Hymens among ‘s must-read titles for your May book club!

10) 13 hours ago

These improbably libraries are beautiful

11)  retweeted

To be clear: diversity in literature isn’t a trend or a fad, it’s a turning point.

12)  May 3

Books or gtfo.

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How’s that? See you guys tomorrow!

Missive Mondays

missive mondaysObama to announce eBook initiative for low-income students

President Obama will announce two initiatives involving the private sector that aim to expand access to digital content to low-income students, according to the White House. The Obama administration marshaled major book publishers to provide more than $250 million in free e-books to low-income students and is seeking commitments from local governments and schools across the country to ensure that every student has a library card.

Mr. Obama will roll out the programs during an appearance at the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C. Thursday.

Several major U.S. publishers have agreed to participate, including Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Random House-Penguin and HarperCollins. Also, nonprofits and libraries will be teaming up to produce an app that will be able deliver the digital books. The New York Public library is working with book donation nonprofit Firstbook to develop the e-reader app for these books – many of which are already in the public domain.

This is part of a broader effort by the White House, the two-year-old ConnectEDprogram that aims to improve education through digital connectivity. The president has set a goal for ConnectED to provide 99 percent of all U.S. students to high-speed broadband in their schools and in their libraries by 2018. Thursday’s announcement is estimated to draw on $2 billion from the private sector, $2 billion from FCC funding for Wi-Fi connectivity in schools and libraries and an additional $1.5 billion in annual funding.

The offer of e-books comes as low-income households still lag far behind others in computer ownership, but White House officials said libraries and schools in poor communities are increasing access to the Internet.

At the same time, Obama will appeal to library directors, local governments and school officials to work together to provide universal access to library cards. The White House already has commitments from 30 cities and counties, ranging from Baltimore to San Francisco and points in between.

The announcement comes just two days after Obama called on Americans to do “some soul searching” in the wake of recurrent black deaths at the hands of police and riots that have shaken minority communities, most recently in Baltimore.

Jeff Zients, the director of the White House National Economic Council, said of the program, “If we’re serious about living up to what our country is about, then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they’re on the front page, but every day.”

A U.S. Census Bureau study of computer and Internet use issued in November found that in 2013 nearly 84 percent of households reported owning a computer. Among households with incomes under $25,000, however, only 62 percent said they owned a computer.

“They may not be on the grid at home,” said Cecilia Munoz, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council. But they certainly have Internet access at school, she said.