This idea went into cold storage about 3 years ago. Back then, we were focused on book sales, book swaps, sourcing and delivering books. And being a uber small team to run BooksAvenue, we didn’t want to burden ourselves with additional tasks. After all, there are sites like goodreads.com and the local SG review site, singaporereviewofbooks.org.
Now that we have revamped the model to focus on book swaps only, it’s the right time for us to do up an additional section for book reviews. Getting book reviews from international sites gives an assurance and a certain degree of preview and expectation of a particular title. Wouldn’t it be better if there is another local perspective for consideration?
Indisputably, it is not our aim to compete with international major sites as mentioned above. It is, however, our humble efforts to contribute and to give everyone a great reading experience.
And so we started this 100 Words Book Review today. This 100 words Book Review allows everyone to contribute and write a review on any titles that you have finished. Certainly, this is not revenue or sales driven. Our fans can be assured that all the reviews are unbiased and not motivated by publishers or whatsoever. The only condition is it has to be 100 words. Literally.
As usual, we do not ask anything in return. We only want you to have a great and terrific reading experience. Afterall, BooksAvenue is all about bringing people closer to Literature and Art.
Reading is often recommended as a good pastime and a way to widen one’s mind. Sadly, though, today’s world is so filled with other alternative forms of recreation that people rarely have the opportunity to pick up a book and spend a couple of hours devouring its contents.
What we have plenty of, we take for granted. In earlier centuries, reading was confined to a priestly elite, with the rest of the laity deprived of even the skill of recognising letters. This was due in part to the cost of book-making. Early books were made of leather and parchment. They were sewn by hand and the words copied manually by meticulous scribes. Hence, owning a book was beyond the means of all ordinary folks.
In the past, unscrupulous political and religious leaders made use of the ability to read, or the lack of it, as a short leash with which they tyrannised the masses. Those who took up reading were punished, most times with execution, for fear that they might actually start thinking for themselves and expose some shortcoming of the governmental powers.
Latterly, comes about a problem of fake information being disseminated virally, misleading and misinforming the masses. Questions about Facebook’s role in spreading fake news were raised almost as soon as Trump shocked the world with his victory. BuzzFeed and other news sites began publishing reports about how a small town in Macedonia turned fake election news into a cottage industry.
It appears the authors of the fake news reports had no partisan agenda. They were just in it for the money. One creator claimed he could make US$10,000 per week in ad revenue from stories that were shared among Trump supporters.
US$10,000. Think about that!
Not to mention, during the campaigning with all the noises around, it’s not too difficult to get bits and pieces of truth, concocting all into something believable and official.
With no direct censorship or any authorities answerable to, this is very good money. Maximum benefits with minimum effort. Simply send it out, watch the numbers grow and count the advertising revenue increasing at an exponential rate.
BooksAvenue started as a site to garner all book lovers to come together, sharing interesting articles, videos and titles. And in the recent years, we have also started a forum with humble intentions to provide an avenue for the reading community to do book swaps and other related interests.
Although the team behind BooksAvenue are a group of non-US citizens (Singaporeans here), we do follow the recent US elections with great concerns and zest. Whether it fake news got a role in tilting the odds in favour of Trump, it is not important anymore.
What more important are 2 things of greater importance; political stability and economic progress. Not just for US or Singapore, but in terms of the regional and global context. We would be happy to elaborate more, but perhaps in another post in another day.
It is better to choose a small number of good books by good authors and study them intently, than to flit from book to book
When I was younger, I was keen on chess. I took it very seriously and was always looking to improve my game.
Being of a bookish disposition, I surrounded myself with chess books.
Books on openings, books on tactics, books on strategy, books on endgames, books about great players and their games, books on chess psychology.
Soon, I had so many books and spent so much time dipping first into one and then into another, that I ceased to learn anything of any real value from them.
Eventually, I realised that it is better to thoroughly digest the contents of one or two carefully chosen volumes than it is to romp through an entire bookshelf.
I learnt that, as far as books are concerned, more is often less and less is often more.
TOO MANY AUTHORS
In recent weeks, I have been slowly but steadily acquainting myself with the Moral Letters To Lucilius, a collection of letters by the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, ostensibly written to a younger friend.
In his second letter, entitled On Discursiveness In Reading, Seneca warns against reading too many books by too many authors.
He writes: “You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.
“Everywhere means nowhere.”
That certainly rings true in my experience.
I suppose that if you are reading purely for pleasure, there can be no harm in reading as widely and as superficially as you like.
I realised that it is better to thoroughly digest the contents of one or two carefully chosen volumes than it is to romp through an entire bookshelf. I learnt that, as far as books are concerned, more is often less and less is often more.
But if you are reading because you want to increase your learning or to improve your understanding, then you have to adopt a more disciplined approach.
You have to resist the temptation to flit from book to book, like a butterfly among flowers in the meadows. You have to choose a small number of good books by good authors and study them intently.
Seneca writes: “When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.”
Of course, this is far more demanding – and not nearly so much fun as skipping from one book to another.
But when you have a serious purpose in your reading, there is no alternative but to adopt a serious attitude.
Seneca adds: “But, you reply, I wish to dip first into one book and then into another.
“I tell you that it is the sign of an over-nice appetite to toy with many dishes; for when they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish.”
AN UNCEASING STREAM
Seneca was writing in the first century AD, more than 1,000 years before the invention of the printing press and way before the advent of the Internet.
So if what he said was valid back then, how much more valid is it now?
Today, on our computers and smartphones, we have access to a never-ending stream of words.
Millions and millions of new ones every day, many of them hastily written and ill thought-out.
It is fun and easy to dip into that stream. But if we want to learn anything of real and lasting value, we need to step outside the stream and explore stiller, deeper waters.
•Gary Hayden is a philosophy and science writer. His new book, Walking With Plato, is out at major bookshops here.
Taken from: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/living-books-more-is-often-less-and-less-is-more
Hawks are pretty badass on their own, but if you get Photoshop involved they can turn into your next action movie hero. That’s exactly what happened with a picture of this hawk which got into the right/wrong hands.
The picture was snapped by the animal enthusiast Clint Ralph, 53, who was visiting Giant’s Castle in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, with his son. ‘I loved the attitude and comedy of the shot, I knew it would capture the imagination of the public,‘ Clint told the Metro.
When it appeared online, it took the always watchful army of Photoshop trolls just seconds to lay their hands on it. The results are waiting for your judgement below.
Students were able to make more sense of what they read in print rather than digitally
Do students learn as much when they read digitally as they do in print?
For both parents and teachers, knowing whether computer-based media is improving or compromising education is a question of concern. With the surge in popularity of e-books, online learning and open educational resources, investigators have been trying to determine whether students do as well when reading an assigned text on a digital screen as on paper.
The answer to the question, however, needs far more than a yes-no response.
READING IN PRINT VERSUS DIGITALLY
In my research, I have compared the ways in which we read in print and on-screen. Between 2013 and last year, I gathered data from 429 university students drawn from five countries – the US, Japan, Germany, Slovenia and India.
The students in my study reported that print was aesthetically more enjoyable, saying things such as “I like the smell of paper” or that reading in print was “real reading”.
What was more, print gave them a sense of where they were in the book – they could “see” and “feel” where they were in the text.
Print was also judged to be easier on the eyes and less likely to encourage multitasking. Almost half the participants complained about eye strain from reading digitally (“my eyes burn”), and 67 per cent indicated they were likely to multitask while reading digitally – compared with 41 per cent when reading print.
At the same time, respondents praised digital reading on a number of counts, including the ability to read in the dark, ease of finding material (“plenty of quick information”), saving paper and even the fact that they could multitask while reading.
But the bigger question is whether students are learning as much when they read on-screen.
To become proficient in critical thinking – at least in a literate society – students need to be able to handle text. The text may be long, complex or both. To make sense of it, students cannot skim, rush ahead or continually get distracted. So, does reading in print versus on-screen build critical thinking skills?
A number of researchers have sought to measure learning by asking people to read a passage of text, either in print or on a digital device, and then testing for comprehension. Most studies have found that participants scored about the same when reading in each medium, though a few have indicated that students performed better on tests when they read in print.
The problem, however, with learning-measurement studies is that their notion of “learning” has tended to be simplistic. Reading passages and answering questions afterwards may be a familiar tool in standardised testing, but tells us little about any deeper level of understanding.
Some researchers are beginning to pose more nuanced questions, including one scholar who has considered what happens when people read a story in print or on a digital device and are then asked to reconstruct the plot sequence.
The answer: Print yielded better results.
Another aspect of learning is to see how outcomes differ when students are doing their reading in less prescriptive experimental conditions. One study let students choose how much time to spend when reading on each platform. The researchers found that participants devoted less time to reading the passage on-screen – and performed less well on the subsequent comprehension test.
This finding is hardly surprising, given the tendency so many of us have to skim and search when going online, rather than reading slowly and carefully. In my study, one student commented: “It takes more time to read the same number of pages in print compared to digital.”
Another complained: “It takes me longer because I read more carefully.”
CRITICAL THINKING AND READING
How does the learning question relate to educational goals? There is much buzz today about wanting students to be good at critical thinking. Definitions of that goal are elusive, but it’s pretty clear they involve being able to understand complex ideas, evaluate evidence, weigh alternative perspectives and construct justifiable arguments.
To become proficient in critical thinking – at least in a literate society – students need to be able to handle text. The text may be long, complex or both. To make sense of it, students cannot skim, rush ahead or continually get distracted.
So, does reading in print versus on-screen build critical thinking skills?
The comprehension studies we talked about earlier tell us little about the kind of reading we recognise as necessary for serious contemplation or analysis. An alternative approach, at least for starters, is asking students about their digital and paper-based reading patterns – much as physicians ask for histories to figure out what ails their patients.
While my own study didn’t directly measure learning, it did query students about their reading patterns and preferences. The responses to some of my questions were particularly revealing.
When asked on which medium they felt they concentrated best, 92 per cent replied “print”.
For long academic readings, 86 per cent favoured print. Participants also reported being more likely to re-read academic materials if they were in print.
What is more, a number of students indicated they believed print was a better medium for learning.
One said: “It’s easier to focus.” Others stated that “(I) feel like the content sticks in the head more easily” and “I feel like I understand it more.” By contrast, in talking about digital screens, students noted “danger of distraction” and “no concentration”.
Obviously, student perceptions are not the same thing as measurable learning outcomes. And my research didn’t probe connections between reading platforms and critical thinking.
However, a pattern did emerge: Print stood out as the medium for doing serious work.
DIGITAL IS CONVENIENT AND CHEAPER
At the same time, we cannot ignore other factors impacting students’ decisions about what reading platform to chose for school work.
Convenience is one big consideration: More than 40 per cent of participants in my study mentioned convenience (including easy access to materials) as what they liked most about reading on-screen.
Money is another variable. Students were highly conscious about differential prices for print and digital versions of reading materials, with cost often driving choice. As one student put it: “Cost rules everything around me.”
Many students revealed a mismatch between finances and learning. When queried about which reading platform they would choose if cost were the same, 87 per cent said “print” for academic work.
ADAPTING TO DIGITAL LEARNING
We need to keep in mind the growing trend for universities to adapt their curricula to fit the proverbial “procrustean” bed of a digital world – a world tailor-made for skimming, scanning and using the “find” function rather than reading slowly and thoughtfully.
Professors now toy with ditching long or complex reading assignments in favour of short (or more straightforward) ones, moving closer to digital reading patterns in the non-academic world. This world hypes condensed versions of texts and shorter reading material that is bite-sized to begin with.
The question, then, is how can universities help students read text thoughtfully, reflectively, and without distraction on digital devices?
One key could be adaptation. Research suggests students may be overconfident about what they are understanding when they read digitally. Teaching them to be mindful in their digital reading (for instance, by writing down key words from the reading) may help in learning.
Another form of adaptation is happening in the realm of digital hardware and software.
Modern screens cause less eye strain, and annotation programs continue to improve. Some digital reading devices now come with tools enabling them to digitally approximate physical page flipping and multiple place-marking.
However, in my view, while short-and-to-the-point may be a good fit for digital consumption, it’s not the sort of reading likely to nurture the critical thinking we still talk about as a hallmark of university education.
•The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Teaching, Research and Learning at American University. This article first appeared in The Conversation (http://theconversation.com), a website which carries analyses by academics and researchers.
Taken from : http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/does-e-reading-affect-critical-thinking
This Book Swapping concept is not new, in fact, it is a big thing in other countries. Singapore is still catching up as there is still not a strong reading culture here in Singapore. Thus BooksAvenue is started to assist in cultivating of the habit of reading. That said, our Book Swapping services are to facilitate swappers at absolutely no cost!
On top of that please REMEMBER, you can choose to SWAP BACK for your titles that you have sent out previously. Please indicate your intentions clearly to avoid miscommunications. For more details, please read over at our page on Book Swap details
In conjunction with National Reading Movement, and given the changes in demographics of clients and technological landscape, we decided that subsequent book swaps from now on will be done on the Facebook page.
The National Reading Movement is a 5-year campaign by the National Library Board (NLB) to encourage all to Read More, Read Widely and Read Together. NLB will be running programmes to engage more adults to read, promote reading in mother tongue languages and collaborate with the community to build a vibrant reading culture in Singapore. Everyone can also look forward to the inaugural National Reading Day on 30 July with exciting reading activities island-wide.
So feel free to post book swaps over our Facebook page to look for other books to read!
In other news, the team of BooksAvenue is very much alive still! There are some life events coming up in the year of 2016. The founders of BooksAvenue are getting married, preparing for wedding dinner, house renovation and going on a holiday soon.
Likewise on an ending note, we have also included some of the book swap links available in Singapore. This is taken from here, of which we are featured in the post.
Cheers guys! Thank you for your support! We BooksAvenue is very happy to be part of the reading community! 😀
This is a travelling book swap like no other. The exchange takes place at different venues each time for around three hours and readers can bring up to 10 used books. And yes, you can grab a beer and mingle with others at the event while you browse for your next find.
Their next event is on July 23 in conjunction with the National Library Board’s Read! Fest 2016. More info here.
Head over to Isetan Orchard, Wisma Atria from now until June 30 for a pop-up market that includes something special for bookworms. The Togetherly Book Exchange is a social movement that has gained a following in the country since it started. All you have to do is bring a book, wrap it up, leave a note for the next reader, and exchange it for another book. Find out more here.
Do you have a book you REALLY love and are not willing to trade it just yet but you are definitely looking for new reads? BooksAvenue gives you the option to swap books and get them back (a “swap back”, as they put it) after you’re done reading. Find out how it works here.
Mandarin readers will love this book exchange. Instead of just leaving your pre-loved books and picking up new ones, you are encouraged to share your reading experience and meet new friends at this event on July 2. Register your interest to join the discussion here.
If you live in the northern part of Singapore, you don’t have to travel far for your next book fix. Nee-Soon Town Council has a convenient book exchange corner at Block 290 Yishun Street 22 where you can donate your books and spread the joy of reading. The cheery little “Share a Book” shelf is right outside the office, so you won’t miss it.
If you’re feeling generous and want to give your books away for free with no strings attached, they might find new home at the Singapore Really Really Free Market. Just bring them to the monthly event and remember to check if they are still there by the end of the day. (You’ll need to collect them if no one takes them home.)
In partnership with the National Library Board, this exchange aims to promote reusing of books and reading. As a whole initiative, Project EARTH hopes Singapore will move towards becoming a zero waste nation. What better what than to start with books! Look out for their events here.
Nobody loves to spend more money on something that is overvalued, or worse, inflated value. Having read through the ‘Are Ebooks Really Cheaper?‘, it begs another question, why should we still read expensive ebooks?
Here are the top 5 points:
Ebooks can be printable: and thereby give a reader most or all of the advantages of a paper-based book. If a bigger printed font size is preferred, buy the ebook and print it out. By spending more, one has the option to choose the font size.
Not all Ebooks are expensive, in fact, there are free Ebooks. The magnificent work of Project Gutenberg, and other online public libraries allow readers to read the classics at no cost.
Ebooks may allow the option for the addition of multimedia: still images, moving images, and sound. Why not pay a bit more for a richer content to enjoy it better?
Ebooks defeat attempts at censorship. All these works were banned: Analects by Confucius. Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Ars Amorata by Ovid. Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio by John Milton. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne. Wonder Stories by H.C. Andersen. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Ulysses by James Joyce. … Many of these books were confiscated, burned, or denied availability in libraries, bookstores and schools. Ebooks guarantee that readers maintain their right to read.
Of course, no trees are required to manufacture paper for the pages of ebooks. Not to mention, ebooks will not crumble and wrinkled like paper. Why not pay a bit more to ensure the substitutability of this reading habit?
With the above points, BooksAvenue hopes to give you some perspectives and ideas why we should go for ebooks rather than printed books even when it is slightly more expensive.