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Sequels in Novels

It started with television series. A show that holds your attention by continuing a story from one season to the next, often with a “cliff hanger” at the end of each season.

This has become commonplace in fictional books as well. I’ve accepted this phenomena for digital streaming/network television content, but it just doesn’t suit me in books. Sure there is that rare book that so captures my attention that I can’t wait for the follow-up book, but so often the sequel doesn’t match up to the first that it becomes frustrating.

Personally I think the reason for the book series concept is largely greed or laziness. The book publishers like the idea because they feel they have a committed and surefire following. The book authors like the simplicity of not having to invent a whole new set of characters and story line.

Throughout history there have been books with one, maybe 2, follow-up books that seem to work just fine, like Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang. Even there, most consider these books to be companion books. At any rate, I prefer a single story that you can savor and contemplate as you finish the last page and close the book. For me it’s “one and done”!

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Using Kindle as a Tool for Learning Another Language

 

I have struggled with learning Spanish, mostly on my own, for a number of years. I know there is no substitute for immersion for really learning to speak another language fluently, but lacking the time and money to do so, I have tried a number of things.

I started with a set of cassettes from a Diplomatic course that wasn’t particularly helpful except for learning pronunciation by mimicry. Then I tried a wonderful course by BilingualAmerica.com. The in-house and personal lessons by phone were too expensive, though, so I purchased the first 3 levels of the Spanish Power self-study CDs and lesson books. Their system of learning is excellent for attaining a basic vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, and verb conjugation. I quickly learned that I needed to work on my verbal skills, so I signed up for some reasonably priced night classes at a local language academy. It was a big help and a lot of fun, but unfortunately the academy went out of business. So now I am back on my own, although I occasionally find a Spanish Meetup group that is helpful in practicing conversional skills.

Self-study of Spanish grammar and other learning books got very boring and not very motivating. I bought a few dual language books where you have Spanish on one side of a page and English on the other. Such books are hard to find and are usually geared toward grade school learners. I bought a few young adult books in Spanish as well, however, looking up unknown vocabulary was time consuming and tedious.

Then I purchased a Kindle, mainly because of its ability to do on-the-spot word translations. This has kept me interested for sure. I can now find books in Spanish that I enjoy and are at the adult reading level. My latest Kindle is the Paperwhite which goes a step further. You can translate a word or a phrase. Often you will find that a single translated word does not seem to fit the context of the sentence. In such cases, you can highlight and translate the whole sentence surrounding the word and get a better understanding. With the help of people who are multilingual that contribute to the Google Translate engine, the translations are getting better and better. Reading Spanish books on the Kindle has definitely proved invaluable in increasing and fermenting my vocabulary.

I still hope one day that I can travel to a country where I can immerse myself and speak Spanish every day, but until then, reading in Spanish every day on my Kindle is enough for me.

UPDATE: Language translations also work beautifully on the Kindle Fire tablet

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Book Sculptures

Recently I came across a web site with wonderful book art; very original. Jodi Harvey-Brown definitely has a talent for bringing a story to life, literally out of the pages of a book. To quote Jodi from her web site (https://www.jodiharveyart.com/):

I have always loved art, and I have always loved to read.  Books pull you into a new world, while art lets you see it.  It made sense to me that these two mediums should come together.  The books that we love to read should be made to come to life.  Characters, that we care so much for, should come out of the pages to show us their stories.  What we see in our imaginations as we read should be there for the world to see.  My book sculptures are my way of making stories come alive.

Check out her gallery of book sculptures.  Here are some of my favorites – of course the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn creation tops my list:

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

 

Little Red Riding Hood

 

Pandora’s Box
Treasure Island

Jodi sells her creations on Etsy.  She will create a drawing or sculpture from your personal experience of a book as well. The best of luck to you Jodi.