Originally published: April 6, 2010 Author: David Remnick Page count: 672 Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Nominations: Goodreads Choice Awards Best History & Biography
100 Word Book Review:
The Bridge refers to the police attack on demonstrators at at Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, during the marches of Selma to Montgomery. Some viewed as a bridging of people of different races. Detailing key people (Jack Ryan, Blair Hull) that contribute to the outcome. It describles the course of campaigning, networking, and every challenge that comes along the way. At the end, a reader will get a sense of elation and epiphany of how things come to fruition. Giving birth to a first African American, born outside the contiguous United States, serving as 44th President of the United States.
Drama — Stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action.
Fable — Narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in which animals speak as humans; legendary, supernatural tale.
Fairy Tale — Story about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children.
Fantasy — Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality.
Fiction — Narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.
Fiction in Verse — Full-length novels with plot, subplot(s), theme(s), major and minor characters, in which the narrative is presented in (usually blank) verse form.
Folklore — The songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or “folk” as handed down by word of mouth.
Historical Fiction — Stories with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.
Horror — Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.
Humor — Fiction full of un, fancy, and excitement, meant to entertain; but can be contained in all genres.
Legend — Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material.
Mystery — Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets.
Mythology — Legend or traditional narrative, often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods.
Poetry — Verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates emotional responses.
Realistic Fiction — Story that can actually happen and is true to life.
Science Fiction — Story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets.
Short Story — Fiction of such brevity that it supports no subplots.
Tall Tale — Humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance.
Biography/Autobiography — Narrative of a person’s life, a true story about a real person.
Essay — A short literary composition that reflects the author’s outlook or point.
Narrative Nonfiction — Factual information presented in a format which tells a story.
Nonfiction — Informational text dealing with an actual, real-life subject.
Speech — Public address or discourse.
Action – Usually include high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases, possibly with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.), non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous, often two-dimensional ‘good-guy’ heroes (or recently, heroines) battling ‘bad guys’ – all designed for pure audience escapism.
Adventure – Exciting stories, with new experiences or exotic locales, very similar to or often paired with the action film genre.
Comedy – Light-hearted plots consistently and deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter (with one-liners, jokes, etc.) by exaggerating the situation, the language, action, relationships and characters.
Crime & Gangster – Developed around the sinister actions of criminals or mobsters, particularly bankrobbers, underworld figures, or ruthless hoodlums who operate outside the law, stealing and murdering their way through life.
Drama – Serious, plot-driven presentations, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction. Usually, they are not focused on special-effects, comedy, or action.
Epics/Historical – Take a historical or imagined event, mythic, legendary, or heroic figure, and add an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, high production values, and a sweeping musical score.
Horror – Designed to frighten and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience.
Musicals/Dance – Cinematic forms that emphasize full-scale scores or song and dance routines in a significant way (usually with a musical or dance performance integrated as part of the film narrative), or they are films that are centered on combinations of music, dance, song or choreography.
Science Fiction – Often quasi-scientific, visionary and imaginative – complete with heroes, aliens, distant planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, great dark and shadowy villains, futuristic technology, unknown and unknowable forces, and extraordinary monsters (‘things or creatures from space’), either created by mad scientists or by nuclear havoc.
War – Acknowledge the horror and heartbreak of war, letting the actual combat fighting (against nations or humankind) on land, sea, or in the air provide the primary plot or background for the action of the film.
Westerns – A eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier.
Biopics. . These films depict the life of an important historical personage (or group) from the past or present era. It covers many other genres.
Chick Flicks. Include formulated romantic comedies (with mis-matched lovers or female relationships), tearjerkers and gal-pal films, movies about family crises and emotional carthasis, some traditional ‘weepies’ and fantasy-action adventures, sometimes with foul-mouthed and empowered females, and female bonding situations involving families, mothers, daughters, children, women, and women’s issues. These films are often told from the female P-O-V, and star a female protagonist or heroine.
Detective/Mystery. Focuses on the unsolved crime (usually the murder or disappearance of one or more of the characters, or a theft), and on the central character – the hard-boiled detective-hero, as he/she meets various adventures and challenges in the cold and methodical pursuit of the criminal or the solution to the crime.
Disaster. Big-budget disaster films provided all-star casts and interlocking, Grand Hotel-type stories, with suspenseful action and impending crises (man-made or natural) in locales such as aboard imperiled airliners, trains, dirigibles, sinking or wrecked ocean-liners, or in towering burning skyscrapers, crowded stadiums or earthquake zones. Often noted for their visual and special effects, but not their acting performances.
Fantasy. Fantasies take the audience to netherworld places (or another dimension) where events are unlikely to occur in real life – they transcend the bounds of human possibility and physical laws. They often have an element of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary.
Film Noir. Strictly speaking, film noir is not a genre, but rather the mood, style or tone of various American film. Noirs are usually black and white films with primary moods of melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt and paranoia.
Guy Films. Composed of macho films that are often packed with sophomoric humor, action, cartoon violence, competition, mean-spirited putdowns and gratuitous nudity and sex.
Melodramas/Weepers. Characterized by a plot to appeal to the emotions of the audience.
Road Films. An episodic journey on the open road (or undiscovered trail), to search for escape or to engage in a quest for some kind of goal — either a distinct destination, or the attainment of love, freedom, mobility, redemption, the finding or rediscovering of onself, or coming-of-age (psychologically or spiritually).
Romance. These are love stories, or affairs of the heart that center on passion, emotion, and the romantic, affectionate involvement of the main characters (usually a leading man and lady), and the journey that their love takes through courtship or marriage. Romance films make the love story the main plot focus.
Sports. Films that have a sports setting (football or baseball stadium, arena, or the Olympics, etc.), event (the ‘big game,’ ‘fight,’ ‘race,’ or ‘competition’), and/or athlete (boxer, racer, surfer, etc.) that are central and predominant in the story.
Supernatural. They have themes including gods or goddesses, ghosts, apparitions, spirits, miracles, and other similar ideas or depictions of extraordinary phenomena. Interestingly however, until recently, supernatural films were usually presented in a comical, whimsical, or a romantic fashion, and were not designed to frighten the audience.
Thriller/Suspense. They are types of films known to promote intense excitement, suspense, a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension.
California Department of Education. “Literary Genres.” – Recommended Literature (K-12) (CA Department of Education). California Department of Education, 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 05 May 2012. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/rl/ll/litrlgenres.asp.
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.
Millennials have grown up with the internet and smartphones in an always-on digital world. The online world – and social media in particular – have given the Millennials a platform to reach the world. Lower employment levels and smaller incomes have left younger Millennials with less money than previous generations. With less to spend, they’re putting off commitments like marriage and home ownerships. Millennials have been putting off significant milestones like marriage and children. It’s not just homes: Millennials have been reluctant to buy items such as cars, music and luxury goods. Instead, they’re turning to a new set of services that provide access to products without the burdens of ownership, giving rise to what’s being called a “sharing economy.” The must-haves for previous generations aren’t as important for Millennials. They’re putting off major purchases—or avoiding them entirely.
Millennials’ affinity for technology is reshaping the retail space. With product information, reviews and price comparisons at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost. When marketing to Millennials, a strong brand isn’t enough to lock in a sale. Millennials are turning to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Quality is still key for Millennials, but the price is a more important factor than it is for other generations.
For Millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods.
If you are a Millennial, take some time to reflect if that is a good description of you, or if you are in close contact with Millennials, you may have some observations of your own!
We have been trying to tackle the problem of creating a usable platform for all our friends and fans to post their Book Swap Requests, selling of second-hand books and all.
With the forum, it will be able to fill the void that the reading community needs. In the past there used to be a website called, secondhandbooks.com.sg. But it seems that it’s gone and no more similar sites after that.
We are still setting up and tying up loose ends. We hope you enjoy this forum as much as we do! 😀
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