Teen reading habits

"In an effort to better understand the reading habits of teens and the positive impact of reading in a teenager's life,StageofLife.com, a writing community for teens and college students, asked young adults from across the US to participate in its “Books and Teens” survey..."

Teen "statistics from the survey include: 

--34% of teens see their mothers reading more than their fathers, compared to just over 12% of teens who see their dads reading more. Nearly 30% of teens rarely see either of their parents reading 

--29.4% of teens use an eReader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) and 13.5% say they read on their mobile phones 

--The majority of teens (63.5%) buy printed books from big brand brick & mortar stores like Barnes & Noble 

--40.2% of teens have purchased a book online from web retailers like Amazon.com --1 out of 2 teens will buy an average of 2 books spending anywhere from $10 to $20 per month on books 

--3 out of 4 teens had a parent, teacher, church leader or other adult recommend or give an inspirational book to them in the last year. ...

A surprising number of teens admitted that their book choice saved their lives as books acted as guides or crutches for support during particularly harsh moments."

From: http://www.stageoflife.com/StageHighSchool/OtherResources/Statistics_on_High_School_Students_and_Teenagers.aspx

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Christmas Eve Tradition: Reading

"So Icelanders love books. And that love involves most of the population, according to Baldur Bjarnason, a researcher who has written on the Icelandic book industry. ...

In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."

"The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday" ... "Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading."

From: http://www.npr.org/2012/12/25/167537939/literary-iceland-revels-in-its-annual-christmas-book-flood

SpyWriter Jack King


How to understand women?

Quick answer: By reading women's fiction.

"In the Herald recently Dr Byrski wrote that men lose out badly by not reading fiction by women: "… does this account for some of what so many of us women see as emotional ignorance, and men's inability to express their feelings or to attempt to understand ours? … So could men benefit from reading women's fiction? I'd say without a doubt that men's relationships with women would benefit profoundly. ...

But can women's literature help men? Byrski's point is that it influences women over a lifetime of reading, by helping develop an intuitive understanding and providing a shared vocabulary which allows for the expression of emotions.

Perhaps women are more drawn to that kind of writing because they are naturally more emotionally literate, or more receptive to being taught. If men don't read it in the first place then perhaps they are less attuned and less teachable.

But you can turn that on its head. If men are by nature less emotionally intuitive, then maybe they need to make a more conscious effort to learn. Literature is one obvious teacher and has the great advantage of allowing the reader to engage with emotional issues without the storm and stress of direct personal involvement."

From: http://m.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/answer-to-battle-of-the-sexes-may-lie-between-the-lines-20121220-2bpat.html

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Books expand the world

"I have been told that many schools have changed their core reading curriculum to include more modern commercial novels...

I believe there are serious consequences to the exchange of commercial writing to classic literature in curriculum. We are graduating students from American high schools, some on their way to four-year universities, with a limited and vapid literary foundation of vampires, werewolves, and wizards. This ignorance means that they will neither be able to complete a New York Times crossword puzzle or receive mercy from an English professor who's been teaching before Stephenie Meyers was even an idea in her parent's heads. At its worst, this American generation will go forth in a world with a great dearth of general knowledge, undoubtedly inferior to their contemporaries overseas who have had a more meaningful education, that will detract from many aspects of their lives.

Literature is not just an exercise in creative expression, it reveals and resolves, it engenders compassion and understanding, it expands our world far beyond the borders of the written page."

From: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/fantasyland-the-limited-world-of-todays/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Where you live defines how you read

“Statistical modeling shows that the biggest factors at play when it comes to different reading habits are people’s ages, their level of education, and their household income,” Pew wrote in a post about the survey. “The type of community in which people live is not an independent predictor of their reading behavior or their activities at libraries.

Although reading books is a common past time, technology is helping to change how people read books.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, reading is experienced differently depending on whether people are located in urban, suburban or rural communities.

Pew said that 78 percent of Americans age 16 and older said they read a book in the past 12 months. According to the survey, 80 percent of urban and 80 percent of suburban residents are particularly likely to have read at least one book in the past year.

Rural residents, Pew said, are less likely to have read a book in the past year, with 71 percent of the survey participants living in this area admitting to reading a book.

Among the urban community, 22 percent of the population read an e-book in the past 12 months, compared to just 17 percent of the rural community."

More: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112753041/reading-depends-on-community-122112/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Every Executive Manager a Poet

"Poetry can also help users develop a more acute sense of empathy. In the poem "Celestial Music," for example, Louise Glück explores her feelings on heaven and mortality by seeing the issue through the eyes of a friend, and many poets focus intensely on understanding the people around them. In January of 2006, the Poetry Foundation released a landmark study, "Poetry in America," outlining trends in reading poetry and characteristics of poetry readers. The number one thematic benefit poetry users cited was "understanding" — of the world, the self, and others. They were even found to be more sociable than their non-poetry-using counterparts. And bevies of new research show that reading fiction and poetry more broadly develops empathy. Raymond Mar, for example, has conducted studies showing fiction reading is essential to developing empathy in young children and empathy and theory of mind in adults. The program in Medical Humanities & Arts  even included poetry in their curriculum as a way of enhancing empathy and compassion in doctors, and the intense empathy developed by so many poets is a skill essential to those who occupy executive suites and regularly need to understand the feelings and motivations of board members, colleagues, customers, suppliers, community members, and employees."

More: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/11/the_benefits_of_poetry_for_pro.html

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Sick society without literature

Can reading fiction cut selfishness, stop growth of mass-shooting psychopaths? One thing appears certain: reading fiction gives rise to empathy, and empathy leads to a more compassionate society.

"Schools don’t exist as job-training camps. They exist to educate students. To be truly educated, students need to graduate with more imagination, not less. They need to face questions about what it means to be a human being — they need to stop sleepwalking, if they’ve started it already — and they need to start learning how to love strangers. We all know that becoming properly educated is a lifelong endeavor. But Washington gives students a huge disadvantage if it leads them to think that memorizing data and processing facts is 70 percent of living well."

From: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/335520/goodbye-liberal-arts-betsy-woodruff?pg=1

"Based on the results of the post-reading exercises, Johnson concluded that the more immersed the readers were in the story, the more empathy they felt for the characters. In addition, he found that the heightened empathy led to an enhanced ability to perceive subtle emotional expressions such as fear or happiness. Individuals who experienced higher levels of empathy were also nearly twice as likely to engage in pro-social, or helpful, behavior as individuals experiencing low levels of empathy."

From: http://news.blogs.wlu.edu/2012/02/21/washington-and-lee-professor-finds-that-reading-fiction-leads-to-empathy-helpful-behavior/

SpyWriter Jack King: SpyWriter.com | Facebook | Twitter


How writers achieve literary immortality

... "neurobiological forces designed for our survival naturally make interest in art fade. But the forces don't stop artists from trying for timelessness.

what writers can do to block or slow that natural erosion over time? ...

We are evolutionarily designed so that we focus on new objects and ignore familiar ones ... When the mind confronts a new object, our perception is intense and vivid, but it soon dies with familiarity. Every minute, this feeling fades as the mind grasps the object.

Many writers in the Romantic tradition are animated by an impossible ambition to indefinitely extend that intensity. ... the strategies some literary greats have used to slow the brain's familiarity and create a never-fading image.

Where science can learn from literature is that it's not recreating the feeling of the first experience of the drug encounter, but that initial imagery associated with the intensity..."

How to achieve literary immortality? Combine an inkling of familiarity with the unknown. "Literary immortality is achieved by immersing the reader in an extraordinary experience outside the realm of their reality. Vagueness also works to keep the mind active. It isn't about a good or complicated plot in the story."

READ MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213151442.htm
SpyWriter Jack King: www.SpyWriter.com | FaceBook | Twitter


A constant invitation to read


"No greater force for good can be introduced so economically into the life of a growing child or an ambitious young man or woman" than a Globe-Wernicke Sectional Bookcase.

The bookcase "is a constant invitation to read" and the fact that it can expand "has the natural effect of subtly encouraging the reading habit."

"In a hundred ways, Globe-Wernicke exclusive patented features facilitate this habit of reading books."

The above from a bookcase ad.

From: http://blog.seattlepi.com/bookpatrol/2012/12/13/a-bookcase-that-encourages-reading/

Image by Book Patrol

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


When did reading become uncool?

"Since when was reading so uncool? I hear more kids exclaim that they hate reading and would rather die than work their way through “Huckleberry Finn” or “Where the Red Fern Grows.” For me, reading provided hours of vivid entertainment that extended beyond the length of a movie or the battery life of a handheld video game. It showed me more than my small, Midwestern hometown of Hays, Kan., would ever have to offer.

Reading isn’t just the interpretation of letters on a page — it stimulates creativity. It’s a lifestyle, a learned skill."

More: http://politicalfiber.com/articles/12/13/essay-learning-life-lessons-through-a-love-of-literature/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

Writers of popular literature should graduate to serious writing

"Writers of popular literature, who are close to people, have great responsibility in moulding society’s thinking.

...common man related better with the popular literature that included short stories and novels. Apart from presenting a dreamy world, such literature had been an ideal foil for a reader during his good and bad times. This placed great responsibility on such writers to encourage healthy thinking among people. ... writers should be keen observers and be up-to-date of the happenings around them."

Even "minimal words could be used to express ideas and thoughts. This is the way popular literature writers’ should graduate to serious writing".

From: http://m.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/encourage-healthy-thinking-among-people-writers-urged/article4195271.ece/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

How technology shapes espionage

“So, we’re constantly looking and trying to figure out who are the intelligence officers and who are they meeting with? So, covert communications is the way that a spy passes information secretly to the handler, or the handler passes requests and other information back to the spy.  ...

The way information is stored now makes it not only easier to use, but makes it far more vulnerable. If we can penetrate a network, we have everything. We own the kingdom.

So now, where throughout history spies stole the information and technology was used to convey it, it’s now just flipped around. The spy is now often the person that is simply the conveyor of the gadget that penetrates the network, because we now select spies, not by access to the secrets that they personally can get, but the access to the networks. So the person that maintains the network or the person that hypothetically buys the office equipment, such as the printers, could embed a chip into the printer and the printer, when they plug it into the network, now infects the entire network and now you’ve got a virus in the entire network. Now the human is the carrier of technology, as opposed to the technology being the carrier of small bits of information. How information is stores determines how vulnerable it is.”“The digital world has changed everything we know about espionage."

From: http://m.technobuffalo.com/2012/11/26/interview-spy-historian-h-k-melton-explains-how-tech-changed-spying-forever/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Climbing the social ladder starts with a book

"IF kids can learn to love books when they are young, it can set them up for life.
... books continue to form the cornerstone of childhood education and development ...

Nothing can fire up a child’s vivid imagination more than reading a book, or having one read to them, because it is their imagination that is creating the images from the words they’re reading...

The academic and social benefits that come with enjoying reading have also been well documented. But for kids it is the absolute joy they can find in reading that is so important. ...

Reading aloud and talking about what we’re reading sharpens children’s brains. It helps develop their ability to concentrate at length, to solve problems logically, and to express themselves more easily and clearly.

The benefits of reading have been shown over and over again in research. A German review of 146 international studies and 10,000 students found that children who read a lot end up higher on the social ladder."

From: http://mobile.news.com.au/news/nurturing-a-love-of-reading/story-fnelnuip-1226534903794

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

The Final Revolution

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

Aldous Huxley, Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961.

The final revolution will take place when you stop reading books. Pick one up now. Read. Free your mind. Free yourself.

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Books to the mind what exercise is to the body

"Students took part in a procession, holding school banners and placards with slogans such as ‘Reading books cleanses the mind’, ‘Books are our silent friends’ and ‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’.

Following this, there was a half hour session of reading and other fun activities to celebrate reading.

Books are our life-long companions and they help you visualise things the way you want to. No two persons have the same imagination."

From: http://m.thehindu.com/life-and-style/kids/relax-read-a-book/article4184074.ece/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

The best Christmas gift

"Middle-class America has been duped. For decades we have been told that the notion of higher education is suspect and bad. Why? Because an uneducated citizenry will believe anything their leaders say, lies and all. Politicians and industrialists rely on the ignorance of the populace to fund and fight their wars, and to run their factories. As philanthropist John D. Rockefeller is reputed to have once said, “I want a nation of workers, not a nation of thinkers.” ...

Materialism has become part of the problem. Money is our new God. There is little joy in reading books and learning."

From: http://www.times-standard.com/guest_opinion/ci_22156902/how-dumb-have-we-become

Declining readership is as troubling as lack of education. Education, however, does not necessarily make one a better person. An uneducated person may follow every demagogue, but one who does not read books is on the path to becoming a sociopath: Studies show reading books builds empathy, and empathy leads to compassionate society. So, dear friends, you can do plenty good by gifting a book this holiday season...

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Literature is Freedom

“Even when a country is not free, its writers are free.” It is, therefore, important for a writer to “speak the truth and keep the conscience. ...

“The rulers of the country are not worth the literature the country is producing ... literature stands for “freedom of the mind in the past, present and the future”.

When the political atmosphere in a country does not allow for unbridled free speech, metaphors have always served as the “hiding place” for writers. Many have managed to speak between lines through metaphors during the reign of the most draconian rulers."

From: http://m.thehindu.com/news/states/karnataka/literature-equals-freedom-of-the-mind/article4177593.ece/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Fiction vs Non-Fiction

"The major problem with the new Common Core State Standards is that they further diminish something that is greatly undermined from the moment we enter school: our creativity.

School essentially limits innovation. The best way to succeed in school is to repeat exactly what the teacher says. But the most effective way to express one’s creativity in school has always been through the reading of fiction.

Through fiction, we are able to let our imaginations run wild, assign meaning to complex passages and have a chance to attack certain situations and moral dilemmas without living them. Reading fiction is an active, involved process."

From: http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2012/12/05/ac2f6df2-3e2e-11e2-8a5c-473797be602c_story.html

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Novels are second lives

"Novels are second lives. Like the dreams that the French poet Gerard de Nerval speaks of, novels reveal the colors and complexities of our lives and are full of people, faces, and objects we feel we recognize. Just as in dreams, when we read novels we are sometimes so powerfully struck by the extraordinary nature of the things we encounter that we forget where we are and envision ourselves in the midst of the imaginary events and people we are witnessing. At such times, we feel that the fictional world we encounter and enjoy is more real than the real world itself. That these second lives can appear more real to us than reality often means that we substitute novels for reality, or at least that we confuse them with real life. But we never complain of this illusion, this naïveté. On the contrary, just as in some dreams, we want the novel we are reading to continue and hope that this second life will keep evoking in us a consistent sense of reality and authenticity. In spite of what we know about fiction, we are annoyed and bothered if a novel fails to sustain the illusion that it is actually real life."

From the opening paragraph in The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist, by Orhan Pamuk

Immerse yourself in another life, read my Novels: www.SpyWriter.com


Reading is crucial to success

"The hard fact is that either directly or indirectly parents are role models to their children. ... As regards reading, parents need to become readers first since its even easy for children to copy what parents do than hear what parents tell them to do. Therefore, set the example. ...

Reading is very important. It is through reading that we learn to think and write. ...

Even at pre-school age, children that are read to tend to perform better than those that are not read to, because they are exposed to books and new vocabularies which helps their language development.

Latest research studies link reading proficiency with better grades in all subjects. For example at 8 months, when comparing two babies of the same age, it was indicated that a child that was read to had receptive vocabularies (number of words they understand) increase by 40 per cent since baby hood, while the child that was not read to had an increase of only 16 per cent.

Even at pre-school age, children that are read to tend to perform better than those that are not read to because they are exposed to books and new vocabularies which helps their language development.

Children that are read to develop longer attention span which is an important skill for children in order for them to be able to concentrate and it builds listening skills and imagination. Henceforth, reading books is one of the most important activities that make children obtain better grades in their academic endeavors."

More: http://m.allafrica.com/stories/201212040095.html/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


Reading fiction affects perception

"Can people change their minds by reading fiction?

There's not a lot of systematic research on how reading fiction changes people's opinions or behavior, but one study found that a majority of serious readers reported that one or more books had in some way helped them or made a big difference in their lives. Another study found that people's ratings of their own personalities changed more after reading a Chekhov story than after reading the same information presented as if it were a real court transcript. The fictional version also generated a greater emotional response, even though it wasn't judged any more interesting than the non-fiction version. ...

But what about the content of what you read in literature? The arguments? Can they change your mind about something important?

Not that much is known ... especially about what you might consider to be 'something important.' But we do know that people partially compartmentalize what they read in fiction, keeping it separate from what they believe is true of the real world. But at the same time we know that there can be some leakage. For example, if you read a story in which a character mentions, in passing, that most mental illness has been shown to be contagious, you'll have a harder time rejecting the idea later on, at least for the few minutes after reading the story. You can also pick up 'misinformation' without later realizing that it comes from the story."

More: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/12/03/166362989/learning-facts-through-fiction-an-imagined-encounter

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com


The Internet no substitute for Books

"The world is changing fast and we are fed with opinion that internet does more bad than good and that the addictive nature of the internet has drawn people away from the habit of reading. ...

It’s time to spread the message to the world that though teens feel it’s cool to drop books and newspapers and chose the internet as an alternative, media moguls whose businesses thrive on the internet allow books and newspapers to complement the internet. Reading is an activity that one can cherish which also allows a peep into the diverse cultures of the world and a way into the hearts of creative individuals. Some might argue that videos on the internet do the same. Books do it in a way that make memories last longer."

More: http://www.nation.lk/edition/undo/item/12572-why-books-shouldn%E2%80%99t-die.html

For more interesting articles on books and reading around the world visit me on Facebook and Twitter

Reading Books as Important as Healthy Food

"Books contain an endless source of knowledge and pleasure for children. If we teach our children to make reading a habit, we are handing down a special kind of magic to them. There are many ways to help our children become voracious, lifelong readers. We will discover some unexpected bonuses too. Our children will do better in school, improve as a reader and enjoy a richer and fuller life and be able to keep themselves from negative things. We as parents take our job seriously by making sure that our children eat healthy food and take proper rest. But what about their minds? Are we feeding that endless curiosity that causes children’s minds to grow in a healthy way? That’s where books are imperative."

More: http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=TOPICS%3ABooks+as+source+of+inspiration&NewsID=355772

For more interesting articles on books and reading around the world visit me on Facebook and Twitter

The Building Block for Literacy

"Reading aloud is one of the most important -- and enjoyable -- parenting and grandparenting activities we can share with our children. Science tells us it's the first building block for literacy. Babies love the soothing sounds of a familiar voice reading. Even when they prefer "eating" their books, they are beginning to make the mental connection we want. They're associating reading with comfort, security and enjoyment. That link is a great foundation for raising readers. ... it also creates emotional memories that last a lifetime."

More: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/181275901.html

For more interesting articles on books and reading around the world visit me on Facebook and Twitter


Unethical books corrupting the young

I would chuckle if it wasn't written by a jealous impotent snitch:

"At stage where advancement in technology has enchanted modern youth towards book reading, the booksellers, however are cashing in this phenomenon by selling unethical, obscene and immoral literature.

During visits of different places in twin cities it has been told that the students are more interested in unethical books rather than knowledgeable books and they like to read vulgar literature, not only students but people from different professions read such kind of immoral books.

The students of different colleges and school come these bus stops, search for vulgar literature on these stalls, instead of purchasing informative books. It was learnt that the conductors, beggars and labors seen on bus stops also search for vulgar pictorial books or novels."

From: http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/islamabad/01-Dec-2012/sale-of-unethical-books-on-the-rise-in-twin-cities

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

The battle for your thoughts

"We have this position where as we know knowledge is power, and there’s a mass transfer as a result of literally billions of interceptions per day going from everyone, the average person, into the data vaults of state spying agencies for the big countries, and their cronies – the corporations that help build them that infrastructure. ...

The people who control the interception of the internet and, to some degree also, physically control the big data warehouses and the international fiber-optic lines. We all think of the internet as some kind of Platonic Realm where we can throw out ideas and communications and web pages and books and they exist somewhere out there. Actually, they exist on web servers in New York or Nairobi or Beijing, and information comes to us through satellite connections or through fiber-optic cables. 

So whoever physically controls this controls the realm of our ideas and communications. And whoever is able to sit on those communications channels, can intercept entire nations, and that’s the new game in town, as far as state spying is concerned – intercepting entire nations, not individuals."

More: http://rt.com/news/assange-internet-control-totalitarian-943/

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of thrillers on the horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

Reading changes lives

"Many authors write from their personal experiences. When an author can personally connect with young adults with depression, self-harm or any issue for that matter, it sets an example that the reader is not alone and many people go through what he/she feels (including your favorite author!). Authors can be an example that life gets better.

In a world where many adults think teens don’t read anymore, hundreds of thousands of adolescents every day are glued to reading fiction. Some are “reading for school” or “reading for pleasure.” Many are reading for an experience. No matter what age, everyone can say they were forever changed by a book.

Though the book itself can’t physically change a person, the story can plant new ideas and views in someone’s life. Characters with similar problems or scenarios may relate to the reader. The way they handle a situation may spark an idea in the mind of the reader."

More: http://my.hsj.org/DesktopModules/ASNE/ASNE.Newspapers/Mobile.aspx?newspaperid=818&editionid=0&categoryid=0&articleid=558564&userid=0


Literary vs. Genre

"Many critics, art aficionados and artists try to convince their audiences of the difference between the great works of literary import and the dismissible works of genre — to which they would be loathe to even call art. But for all their attempts to sever one from the other, I have never seen an adequate definition of literariness.

I can discern only a few qualities from the muck of their attempted definitions. First, that literary works of art should never fall into any genre, regardless of shape or form (it may be romantic, but never a romance). Second, that literary works should have the proper pretensions toward winning the Pulitzer (or Oscar, Tony, etc.).

As far as divisions of art go, this artificial definition seems horribly useless. It speaks less to the content of the art than to the ego of its creators and distributors. ...

Genre can be very, very low art indeed with a tendency to become too much of an in-joke. ...

Literary works can suffer the same ills, though. They too have their fanboys for pseudo-intellectual rambling."

More: http://www.dailyillini.com/opinion/columns/article_9084bbca-377b-11e2-9e85-001a4bcf6878.html

SpyWriter Jack King "A new King of Thrillers on the Horizon" www.SpyWriter.com

The sick teen sick-lit

"As the popularity of fiction aimed at young adults, such as the Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, continues to grow, it is important for readers and parents to note the ethical subtexts of the books. ...

Elman found little to empower the ill in the nearly 100 "teen sick-lit" books she reviewed. Instead, the authors' framing of their ill characters tended to set them apart as abnormal. The will to live for the sick protagonist was often equated to the desire to have a traditional heterosexual relationship, often with healthy counterparts. Characters that did not adhere to traditional gender roles tended to be ostracized or encouraged to conform. ... Elman believes the emphasis placed on the effects of illness on the girls' bodies related to the importance placed on women's sexual attractiveness by society.

'Teen sick-lit,' which mostly arose in the '80s', stands in contrast to the progressive young adult literature of the 70s, which often dealt with issues of racism, homophobia and other injustices," Elman said. "'Teen sick-lit' reinforces the idea that an individual must adjust themselves to society in order to succeed, regardless of preexisting cultural barriers, as opposed to taking action to create a more just society."

More: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-parents-readers-beware-stereotypes-young.html

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com


The Victims

Two giant publishing conglomerates want to merge. What it means to readers, writers, and other insiders?

"One single publishing house usually contains multiple imprints with distinct identities and tastes. Agents typically pitch one book to one imprint at one house, although the exact rules differ from publisher to publisher. The rule at Penguin is that agents cannot pitch to multiple imprints within the group; imprints cannot bid against each other for the same manuscript. At Random House, imprints can bid against each other as long as they are not in the same immediate group. After the Penguin Random House merger, agents could see pitching options abruptly diminished if Penguin's rules are retained in the new conglomerate."

This, as the publishing mergers of the 1990's, means a narrowing gate into publication. See what it takes to publish a book: www.spywriter.com/dta/

More: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/27/the-victims-of-the-penguin-random-house-merger-literary-agents.html


Becoming a better person starts with a children's book

"Often, people discover reading at a young age. Beginning with colorful children's books, readers learn to appreciate stories and eventually, create their own. But beyond inspiring readers to become writers, books can actually help children to become better people." ...

"reading fiction improves relationship competency, as reading can create self-understanding. "Any novel adds to the reader's store of experience of how people feel, think, behave and react. Such experience is the currency of human interaction and understanding of self. Fiction offers a way into that world," ...

"reading and exposure to stories in all their forms helps children develop a wider understanding of the world, as well as decision-making skills." ...

"when children read, they are exposed to a pattern of conflict resolution." ...

"We need to remind ourselves that when writers and storytellers make up stories, they become exemplars of problem-solving using the imagination. The more stories the children absorb, the more they absorb the model,"...

"reading teaches children to experience more richly aspects of their own world. Reading ... is not just about literacy. "It's about people literacy. Through stories children develop a greater capacity for empathy. Through stories they develop a capacity to read and know others in their own lives,"" 


Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com


Reading makes you crazy enough to become a writer

In The Silent House, a novel by Orhan Pamuk, there is a character who “read so many books that he went crazy. This is an autobiographical nod. He is the boy who read so many books that he went crazy. Not one particular book, but Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann, Borges, Calvino… these writers and their novels made me. Reading novels changed my life. I’ve said that I mysteriously moved from painting to novels but at that time I was reading so much that it’s really no mystery. Discovering these writers, as Borges once said about reading Dostoevsky for the first time, is like the experience of seeing the sea for the first time in your life. Discovering these writers, all of them, was like seeing the sea for the first time. You’re stuck there. You want to be something like that. You want to belong to that.”

An Interview with Orhan Pamuk: http://thequietus.com/articles/10733-orhan-pamuk-silent-house-interview

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com

Spying, it's a women's world


"On a moonlit night in June 1943, Noor, fresh from spy school at Beaulieu, was the first female radio operator ever to be dropped into Nazi-occupied France. As part of a network of agents responsible for sending intelligence back to England, “Madeleine” was equipped with a transmitter/receiver device, weighing about 30 pounds and fitting into an ordinary suitcase. With German wireless direction-finding vehicles — typically disguised as laundry and baker’s vans — regularly circling round, she had to be constantly vigilant, always finding surreptitious new locations and never staying on air for long. It was also crucial that she gave the unwavering impression of being completely French, never uttering a word or displaying a gesture that might give her away. For emergencies, she had four pills: Benzedrine, in case she needed to stay awake for a long spell; a sleeping pill, to drop in an enemy’s drink in a tight spot; a drug to induce stomach disturbance; and of course cyanide, to be bitten if she chose to die rather than endure torture or interrogation."

More: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/08/the_spy_game_no_men_need_apply/?mobile.html

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com


Espionage and Surveillance State in the Elizabethan Age

"We think of the surveillance state as a modern development, something conjured up by novels such as Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent or George Orwell's 1984, or by real-life stories of Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany. But spying is one of the world's oldest professions, as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Bible attest. Well before the 20th century, many states were doing all they could to monitor their citizens' activities as closely and comprehensively as possible.

England in particular has a long history of spying on its own people. It is no accident that in Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays the Danish government specializing in espionage and double-dealing. In Act 2, scene 1, the court councilor Polonius teaches a henchman how to spy on Polonius' own son, Laertes, in Paris, instructing him "by indirections find directions out." Moving as he did in court circles, Shakespeare was evidently familiar with intelligence operations in Elizabethan England, some of which involved several of his famous contemporaries—certainly Francis Bacon and possibly Christopher Marlowe. Under such spymasters as Lord Burghley and Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's court pioneered many of the techniques and practices we associate with international espionage to this day, including code-breaking and the use of double and even triple agents."

More: http://reason.com/archives/2012/11/24/the-elizabethan-cia

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com


Paint-by-number writing stifles creativity

"The well-worn formula beginning/middle/end is the default mode for pretty much all of the commercial and "literary" novels that currently jostle for ascendancy on our bookshelves. We like our entertainment to make immediate sense, or if it doesn't at first, it should explain all at the end. Repeat ad infinitum. I would argue there is something crucial lacking in this formula: the power of ambiguity. Closure belittles the complexities of meaning: our meaning, our being here. So what does this desire for closure say about us as readers? Why are we so fearful of ambiguity? Why do we desire novels that, to paraphrase Alain Robbe-Grillet, do the "reading" for us?

Life isn't like the narratives that make up the majority of novels in circulation today, or like the well-rehearsed scenes we enjoy at the theatre, or in the movies. It's more complicated than that: steeped in confusion, dead ends, blank spaces and broken fragments. It's baffling at times, annoying and perpetually open-ended. We have no real way of predicting our future. So why do our novels have to tie all this stuff together, into a neatly packaged bundle of ready-made answers?"

Perhaps it is the paint-by-numbers approach of the publishing industry where adopting uniformity is the goal? The endless pursuit of more books in the vein of this-or-that title stifles creativity. This drive to deliver books created according to the above formula is particularly prevalent in the anglo-american publishing world. Check out Cortazar's Hopscotch, for an example of a book with neither beginning, middle, or end. Read it from any point.

Read More: http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/nov/23/novels-neat-conclusions?cat=books&type=article

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com

Read Classics to be a Better Investor

Russia's Greatest Novelists and their masterpieces may be used to guide investors:

"War and Peace, Tolstoy
Just like in Leo Tolstoy’s work, in which the war caused great economic and social destruction but eventually Russia prevailed, the investment backdrop for next year is seen as a “very volatile first half” followed by “a more peaceful second half.”

The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov
the novel’s heroine, is tempted by the promise of an eternal good life just as much as Russia was tempted by “seemingly never-ending oil revenue growth” before 2009.

Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky
the preference is to avoid taking any action that may be politically or socially unpalatable,” said Weafer, adding that “eventually they must be confronted,” but this will not necessarily happen next year.

The Queen of Spades, Pushkin,
“The warning is that without reforms, growth may not last,” he added.

Dead Souls, Gogol
the “dead souls” metaphor is “close enough” to the Russian state’s ownership of strategic industries, particularly in oil and gas.

The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov
“Change is inevitable – it is how you handle it that matters,”

A Hero of Our Time, Lermontov
“It will be tough to satisfy the state’s wish to control strategic industries and also to bring in investors,”

Home of the Gentry, Turgenev
there a chance of a return to “a less optimistic and less happy existence full of regret and longing for what might have been?”"

MORE: http://www.emergingmarkets.org/Article/3120819/War-and-Peace-Russian-literature-and-investing.html

SpyWriter Jack King: www.SpyWriter.com | www.FaceBook.com/SpyWriter2


Classic novels zombiefied to stay relevant

"For all their benefits, classic books also have their limitations. These problems aren’t major, but they can make reading a classic novel less enjoyable than if they did not exist.

Overall, there are really only two main shortcomings to classic books. First, books cannot change, but the world around us is changing every day. Books’ unchangeable nature is just a fact of the written word, but it makes the creation of a prolific novel much more difficult. Inevitably something will happen to make most classics irrelevant in today’s world"...

Something will happen and make a classic (timeless) novel irrelevant? Really? Is this why classics are being re-written to include zombies? Because that really makes them relevant today.

More: http://m.dailynebraskan.com/mobile/arts_and_entertainment/article_30fff248-31fc-11e2-b8bf-001a4bcf6878.html

Jack King "A new King of thrillers": www.SpyWriter.com


Getting published is an aggregate of chance

''even lousy literature is written by outsiders'' or ''to linger round the bookstore alcove dedicated to how-to-write books is to grow acquainted with the many species of human expectation''.

As those two introductions suggest, Bissell remains enthralled with the job of writing. That preoccupation is not focused on the common delusions that something about writing might really be learnt by knowing which type of pen authors use, what hours they keep or whether they listen to music.

Bissell concentrates on the task of actually getting published. His first essay challenges the notion that ''the sweetest cream eventually rises to the top'', suggesting that literary success might be partly attributed to an ''accumulation of non-literary accidents'' or, indeed, ''the yield of an inert aggregate of chance''.

Bissell's organising idea is that ''the publishing industry as a whole does literature few favours'', and he deploys an impressive accumulation of evidence of chance and accidents to attest that thesis."

More: http://m.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/a-read-about-writing-20121116-29fdj.html

How to Publish a book: www.SPYWRITER.com/dta/

Inside a Secret Society

"The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.

The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. “Read,” the master commands. The candidate squints, but it’s an impossible task. The page is blank.

The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate’s eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.

The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate’s eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are “symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning,” the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master’s amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see."

The breaking of the copiale cipher:

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Writers for Change

"present critical situation has pushed the society in a state of uncertainty ... in such a situation, the writers could play a key-role to encourage the society through their pen."

"Writers should endeavour to change the society and resist the temptation to be sucked into the melee of literary mediocrity."

"literature is the mirror of society. It reflects the ever changing society. Consequently, literature evolves in tandem with the dynamics of society. ... Therefore, if society has sunk into the abyss of mediocrity, literature will just capture that."





Books of Change by Jack King: www.SpyWriter.com

Wordless Literary Critics

"Literary criticism has to be borne out of genuine efforts of having reading a work and understanding it...

However, most criticism of literary works is the handiwork of "cut and paste critics", who pick up a few passages from the work and depend on hearsay and opinions of those who have not read the work fully and understood its implications...

...the chances of literature flourishing to its fullest is bleak until such time that criticism is true and unbiased. "It is imperative that there is creative criticism that points to the follies and foibles of an author and not criticism for the sake of it..."

More: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangalore/Criticism-should-not-be-a-cut-copy-paste-work-Moily/articleshow/17187929.cms

Jack King Novels: www.SpyWriter.com


The end of espionage thriller?

Can't find a decent espionage thriller these days? Don't blame it on Perestroika. Blame it on not reading SpyWriter Jack King:

"The end of the Cold War created a problem  for espionage thriller writers and moviemakers. They faced loss of a built-in backstory needing no explanation, a whole set of strong but realistic motivations for extreme behavior, a pre-fab cast of bad guys, and weighty, global stakes underlying all the action. Perestroika left a generation of writers searching for new conflicts and settings and plot devices.

Today I think the growth of surveillance technology will increasingly create a similar problem for fiction writers. It’s a staple of thrillers and science fiction to have the hero on the run—hounded by the government, evading the police—either because the hero is mistaken as someone bad or because the government is evil. And the government baddies use every technology at their disposal to locate and track their target, while the hero uses tricks and hacks to escape detection.

But the whole cat and mouse game is starting to look kind of problematic, because it’s getting harder to sustain a plausible “man on the run” scenario in the face of surveillance technology.

I like a good airport thriller or science fiction read, and for several years I’ve noticed this problem cropping up: it’s the near future (or later), the hero or heroine is on the run, and I find myself thinking, oh please, if they really had all the advanced technologies featured in this story, they’d certainly have more impressive surveillance capability! We may have more than that ourselves in couple years the way things are going."

From: http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-national-security/will-increasing-surveillance-change-fiction

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Be a better man by reading women

"If men read so little fiction, and so little of what they do read is written by women, does this account for some of what so many of us women see as emotional ignorance, and men's inability to express their feelings or to attempt to understand ours?

The men whom I most appreciate have high levels of emotional intelligence and sensibility, they listen, contribute and empathise, they embrace difference and are prepared for their own vulnerability. And they all read fiction written by and about women.

It's well known that in old age women fare better than men, and single women fare very much better than men who, either by choice or bereavement, live alone. Men suffer higher rates of depression, are more socially isolated, less able to ask for and accept help. Henry David Thoreau's observation that ''most men live lives of quiet desperation'' is never more true than in relation to ageing men.

As we age our individual circumstances affect the quality of our lives: health, wealth or the lack of it, housing, mobility and family background all play a part. But, as the recently released Australian study of ageing so clearly demonstrates, attitude is everything and so often men's social and emotional lives are paralysed in age while women's flourish.

So, could men benefit from reading women's fiction? I'd say without a doubt that men's relationships with women would benefit profoundly. And would they live more sociable, contented and emotionally rewarding lives in old age? I don't know the answer to that but I think it's a fascinating question."

More: http://m.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/what-men-want-is-available--if-they-read-more-womens-fiction-20121108-290me.html

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


A writing workshop in every neighborhood

"Cubans enjoy one of the richest and most deeply embedded literary cultures in the world, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham.

According to the researchers, the richness  of Cuba’s tradition is typified by the Havana Book Fair held each year in the capital and then across the country.

“It shows how literature and culture are deeply embedded into Cuban culture:  within every neighbourhood there’s a writing workshop and a ‘Casa de Cultura’.

... “the Cuban model is something we should be emulating in the West"

FROM: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=8987

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Reading lies deep withing us

"Books allow readers to escape to foreign lands, go on death-defying adventures and experience unusual lives. This Saturday is National Book Lover’s Day in honor of these books and the people who enjoy them."

“Reading exposes us to things. It allows us to attempt to understand things and expand our perception of the world. It allows us to see things in different ways, through the eyes of different people,” said Cameron Leader-Picone, assistant professor of English. “It also taps into something deep within us: our desire to understand and learn more about ourselves.”

FROM: http://www.kstatecollegian.com/2012/11/02/national-book-lovers-day-celebrates-literature-joy-of-reading/


Meet Dr. Shakespeare

"Students may begin their medical school careers riding on a cloud of altruism and goodwill, but it’s not long before the grueling schedule, avalanche of new vocabulary and stubborn patients can take a toll.

To return the student brain to a state of balance, David Watts, MD, UCSF professor of clinical medicine, argues that a healthy dose of literature — poems and stories, specifically — be a core part of the student experience.

It may seem counter-intuitive: Adding more work to an already-loaded academic schedule seems like a recipe for disaster. But in an article titled “Cure for the Common Cold” published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, Watts says that poems and stories — even just a few a week — can show students the richness of human relationships. In other words, imaginative literature can reignite the compassionate spark that spurred students toward the healing arts in the first place, according to Watts."

From: http://www.healthcanal.com/mental-health-behavior/33454-Treat-Emotional-Toll-Medical-School-Physician-Prescribes-Shakespeare.html

Jack King on Facebook and www.SpyWriter.com


Love of books is like any kind of love

“Love of books is like any other kind of love,” Fadiman said. “It takes different forms.” There are “courtly lovers” of books, who treat books as sacred objects, and “carnal lovers” — those who engage with their books as physical objects, and who are more than willing to profane them in all manner of ways.

Examples of the latter camp abound. Wordsworth once cut open the pages of a new book (a necessity due to the bookbinding techniques of his time) with a butter-greased knife, according to Fadiman. William Empson was reprimanded by a librarian for returning a copy of “Dr. Faustus” smeared with jam from his morning toast. A Columbia University librarian reported a returned book with a fried egg in its pages. And as per the tale that provided the lecture’s title, New Yorker legend A.J. Liebling was said to have used a strip of bacon for a bookmark.

Harvard librarians, Fadiman reported, have found in the pages of books a sewing needle, feathers, playing cards, yarn, a parking ticket, an arrest warrant, “a piece of fuzzy pink cake that was presumed to be a former Hostess Sno Ball,” and even a used condom.

“At least those things are removable,” she conceded. “The one thing that is least removable is your own words.”
And they stay on the pages for the life of the book, so make your annotations wisely (or preferably not at all).

More: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/04/love-beyond-words/

WikiJustice - "Wikileaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd." A novel of suspense. Free Paperback Giveaway http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/36304 Limited Time!

The subtle difference between a "spy" and an "intelligence agent"

Q: "What exactly were you doing in the U.S.? What is it called? Spying?"

A: "It’s the same thing the American special services are doing in Russia. The English word “spy” may refer to what the Russians call “spy” or “intelligence agent.” It depends on how you look at it. It’s no accident that, in the Soviet Union, the good guys were called “intelligence agents” and the enemies were called “spies.” ...

"intelligence does not work against specific people. It’s not permanent and assignments can change. As a secret agent, you work for the good of your country. Crimes may be committed against specific people, but intelligence is a patriotic business."

More: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/10/19/russian_spy_reveals_his_secrets_18485.html

Miniature spying insects

A miniature spying insect:

"Next time a pesky insect lands on you take a close look at it before you swat it away because you could be in for a nasty surprise.

What might appear to be a mosquito or something similar could, in fact, be a miniature spy drone which is snooping on you and being controlled by someone thousands of kilometres away."

More: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/beware-intelligent-insects-they-are-spying-you-weekend-review-rv-131241


Politicians who don't read fiction are dangerous to society

We read fewer novels.

"It's not that the quality of fiction has gone downhill. It hasn't ...

Our attitude towards entertainment has changed, as has what we expect from a book. That's too bad, because we're missing something when we don't read fiction. To have politicians who don't read novels is particularly serious.

A good book is a window into how we as humans act and think. It makes us consider our own lives and those of people around us. Good writers introduce us to characters who, if they existed, would be unknowable by their local politicians. It's an indirect way of learning about our world.

A non-fiction book can educate us about the newest science on climate change or homelessness or psychology. But if you pick up a (non-fiction) book by a psychologist named Daniel Kahneman, you'll read that humans learn about abstract concepts and statistics better when they're told a story, rather than handed a stack of facts and figures."

More: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/touch/story.html?id=7431241

Politicians! Get to know and understand the peoples of the world before you decide to bomb them. Read!

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Before the Word there were letters

"I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure, just as heretofore, when letters [literature] have declined and lain prostrate, theology too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate; nay, I see that there has never been a great revelation of the Word of God unless he has first prepared the way by the rise and prosperity of languages and letters, as though they were John the Baptists.

. . .

Certainly it is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies, as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily."

Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Werke, Weimar edition, Luthers Briefwechsel, III, 50.

Via: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joecarter/2012/10/does-theology-need-literature/

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Writers, the collective

Is it possible that waning interest in literary fiction is the result of the army of Borg writers driven by a single collective thought, producing clones of the same book?

"Here come the writers: hundreds of them, liberated from their garrets and suddenly overrunning the country, going from invisible to omnipresent...

The answer is that they come from creative-writing programs, which have emerged in the new century as the indispensable nurseries of literary fiction in North America. Half of all published authors in Canada have studied creative writing, according to a 2010 survey, and enrolment in postsecondary creative-writing courses is booming even as interest in traditional literary studies declines. ...

One now-traditional criticism of such processes is that they produce homogenous results, often identified as “workshop stories” or “Iowa novels” by skeptics. Most teachers deny it, naturally, pointing out that creative-writing courses have broadened access to the art and are in part responsible for the new diversity of Canadian literature. But the taint remains.

Fictions that carry it tend to be “highly competent but dull,” according to Hollingshead. “The rule is the telling detail,” he says, “so you get all this surface information, but to no effect. You have a kind of aesthetic sheen on the prose but you’re not getting enough ideas and you’re not getting enough dramatic energy.” He is confident in the prospect of literary renewal, but doubts such a thing will emerge from the creative-writing academy."

More: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/writers-graduating-by-the-bushel-but-can-they-find-readers/article4625110/?service=mobile

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Writers driving a wedge into society

"In 2004, philosopher and literary critic Kojin Karatani declared, in his essay "The End of Modern Literature," that Japanese literature had lost its privileged position within national consciousness while embracing minor subcultures ... thus becoming a mere commodity. As a consequence, literature had lost its power to affect social or political change."

However a writer "Tomoyuki Hoshino indirectly expressed his disagreement with Kiratani's bleak vision. According to him, "we cannot expect literature to directly effect change in a clearly observable form. At best, it is a tiny wedge the writer can drive through the social and cultural status quo. Still, it is exactly literature's ability to allow readers and writers to inhabit minor (...) worlds that allows literature to affect society as a whole, one story, one reader at a time. ...

In the end, by refusing to passively accept conventional truths regarding sexual, cultural and national identity, and inciting in both his characters and readers this revolutionary desire to change, Hoshino's work becomes more political than any open social criticism or ideologically charged novel."

More: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fb20121021a1.html

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


The Shop

"The CIA is not in the habit of discussing its clandestine operations, but the agency’s purpose is clear enough. As then-chief James Woolsey said in a 1994 speech to former intelligence operatives: “What we really exist for is stealing secrets.” [...]

That is why by 1955, and probably earlier, the CIA created a special unit to perform what the agency calls “surreptitious entries.” This unit was so secret that few people inside CIA headquarters knew it existed; it wasn’t even listed in the CIA's classified telephone book. Officially it was named the Special Operations Division, but the handful of agency officers selected for it called it the Shop.

[...] in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Shop occupied a nondescript one-story building just south of a shopping mall in the Washington suburb of Springfield, Virginia. The building was part of a government complex surrounded by a chain-link fence; the pebbled glass in the windows let in light but allowed no view in or out. The men and women of the Shop made up a team of specialists: lock pickers, safecrackers, photographers, electronics wizards and code experts. One team member was a master at disabling alarm systems, another at flaps and seals. Their mission, put simply, was to travel the world and break into other countries’ embassies to steal codes"

More: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-CIA-Burglar-Who-Went-Rogue-169800816.html?c=y&page=2

Jack King's new novel: The Black Vault

Why we read

"Literature has always been a catalyst through which humans can find humor, adventure, or an escape from their everyday. However, I would argue that entertainment is not the most important role of literature, either. These two functions can be found in other forms of media as well. Literature holds no advantage over film or art in this case, except perhaps to contain a greater amount of information in one place.

What, then, is the purpose in reading? What advantage does it give us, if not to entertain, educate, or explore? What abilities does the act of reading print words in a paper novel grant us above any other medium?

Reading gives us a window into another’s mind, in a way that cannot be duplicated in another medium. Whether it is greater than other mediums, such as art or film, is perhaps a matter of opinion. However, it’s clear that literature offers an experience of empathy matchless in its sincerity."

More: http://www.theracquet.net/mobile/features/why-read-1.2930145

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


The rise of the academic novel

"The academic novel is usually considered a quaint genre, depicting the insular world of academe and directed toward a coterie audience. But it has become a major genre in contemporary American fiction and glimpses an important dimension of American life.

...there are simply an overwhelming number of academic novels. Drawing data from the standard bibliography, there were 70 published between 1990 and 2000, and 238 from 1950 to 2000. That doesn’t include mysteries, of which there are about 500 in the same period. It also specifies novels that center on faculty or staff rather than students (the latter I would distinguish as “the campus novel,” since they usually turn on student life on campus)."

The rise of the academic novel:


More: http://blog.oup.com/2012/10/rise-of-academic-novel-genre-american-literary-history/

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Distrusting Literary Prizes

"why are prizes so mistrusted these days? There are many possible answers, but two make, out of this many, more sense.

Prizes have become banal. There is a prize, an award, for almost every thing. And every writer that wants to sell enough books to make a living out of it, must, at least, have been laureled once or twice. The excess of awards makes them less valuable, thus also taking value from the awardee, person and book. ...

Still, awards play an immensely important part in today’s literary panorama. They tell people what to read. ... They might teach what, but not why.

In addition, creative writing courses seem to be contributing to this overall lack of literary sensibility. By slowly replacing literature graduations – that focus, essentially, on reading – creative writing courses are manufacturing more writers than readers, and therefore unbalancing the scale dangerously. This leads to the necessity of more awards to inform people of what to read. And publishers, of course, say thank you very much. By trying to perpetrate one artistic form, creative writing courses are slowly slaughtering it."

More; http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/our-voices/battle-of-ideas/forget-the-booker-the-prize-every-author-really-wants-is-academic-validation-8213065.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com


Read aloud to better understand literature of the past

"When we read a text, we hear a voice talking to us. Yet the voice changes over time.

When we read a novel written today, we hear a voice
 that speaks pretty much the same language we speak, and that addresses people and things in a way we are used to. But much happens as a text ages – a certain type of alienation emerges. The reader may still hear a voice, but will not understand it fully and therefore risks missing important aspects...

... people often read texts aloud until the late 1700s, even when they were alone. So the recommendation to read older literature aloud in order to understand it better is given for good reason.

We who are more accustomed to silent reading are not as sensitive to the tone of voice as people were in the past. We simply cannot hear the voice very well. But the voice of a text is always important, just think of all the smileys we have started using to add clarity to texts"

More: http://m.phys.org/news/2012-10-voices-older-literature-differently-today.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

Too fat to fight

"At the intersection of fat-shaming and war-mongering comes a bizarre public health campaign: an effort by retired generals and admirals to ban sugary sodas and snacks from public schools. The kids today, say the former brass, are too fat to fight for their country.
Welcome to the sum of all libertarian fears: a Nanny State that packs an M4 rifle.

Those officers, part of a group called “Mission: Readiness,” argue in a new report called “Still Too Fat to Fight” that unhealthy snacks, particularly in schools, endanger national security. “No other major country’s military forces face the challenges of weight gain confronting America’s armed forces ,” they fret.

“It’s clear to us that our military readiness could be put in jeopardy given the fact that nearly 75 percent of young Americans are unable to serve in uniform,” write two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff..."

More: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/too-fat-for-war/

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Benefits of Early Reading

"Children whose homes are filled with books don’t just have the fun of being read to. They also enjoy the benefits years later.

A study has found that if just ten children’s books are to hand when a child is four, a part of their brain involved in language and thought matures more quickly by the age of 18 or 19.

However, if introduced at the age of eight, these books ... seem to have little impact on the brain, suggesting the age of four is a critical time in its development.

The research has excited scientists because it the first to show how small differences in a normal upbringing affect the brain."

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217722/Reading-How-books-age-helps-boost-brain-Reading-young-age-helps-organ-mature-quicker-later-life.html

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A Literary Conspiracy

Some of today's op-eds speculate about an alleged conspiracy against American writers who, year after year, are omitted by the Nobel committee.

Generally I don't give a time of day to reports of literary awards - treating literature as thought it was a competitive sport, or a similar corrupt body, is abhorrent. But these "conspiracy" allegations caught my attention, you know - with me being a conspiracy thriller writer. And I can't help but wonder who perpetrates the conspiracy?

The words of a certain prominent New York literary agent come to mind:

"Jack, American readers don't want to think. They only want to be entertained."

Literary agents, for those of you who are not involved in the publishing world, are the gatekeepers, often influencing what does or does not get published.

There's your conspiracy.

DITCH THE AGENT: http://www.spywriter.com/dta/index.html


IFOs - Identified Flying Objects

UFOs become IFOs. Those flying saucers you thought you saw did exist, after all. Schematics declassified:


More: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/10/the-airforce/

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Inherited Creativity

So you want to write a novel? You must be born with it:

"Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers. ...

"This work is unique in its objective to investigate the familiality and heritability of the trait of creative writing," the researchers write, "while controlling for general cognitive ability and for the general level of family functioning. Despite the lack of systematic research on the aetiology of writing in general and creative writing in particular, it is rather difficult not to acknowledge the familiality of creativity in writing, given the families of writers who have entertained and educated us over the years. These findings constitute the tip of an interesting iceberg, indicating that there may be some components of creative writing that are familial and heritable.

"It may be worth further studies to confirm that creative writers are indeed born, as well as made. When writers capitalise on these inborn propensities and expose these propensities to rich experiences, we, as readers, can enjoy books that not only form the foundation of cultural life but also impact the biology of the human brain."

More: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/want-to-be-a-writer-have-a-literary-parent-8200777.html

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How To Beat a Lie Detector

You don't have be employed in the security sector to be subjected to a polygraph test. Sooner or later, on a variety of reasons, you may face one. It doesn't have to be a stressful experience, it won't be if you take the time to prepare. It may even turn out to be quite fun. Purchase a set (available directly from China) that plugs into your laptop, invite some friends, and play a round of truth or lies...

"First, Tice says, a person can trick the tester on "probable-lie" questions. During a polygraph's pre-test interview, the tester usually asks a person to answer questions they are likely to lie about.

These include questions like: 'Have you ever stolen money?,' 'Have you ever lied to your parents?,' or 'Have you ever cheated on a test?'.

Most people have done these at least once, but lie about it. So the tester uses a person's response to a likely lie as a way to establish how a person physically reacts while lying.

Tice says to trick the tester, a person should lie in response to these questions like most other people would, but also bite their tongue hard while doing so, which will set off other physiological reactions in the body.

The tester's "needles will fly everywhere," says Tice, "and he will think, 'This guy is a nervous nelly. He has a strong physical reaction when he's lying.'"

"And you're skewing the test," he says. Tice says it's also easy to beat a polygraph while telling a real lie by daydreaming to calm the nerves."

More: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/09/25/nsa-whistleblower-reveals-how-to-beat-a-polygraph-test

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Books as Social Catalyst

"the role of books as a catalyst to effect social transformation...

...books can be tools of reconciliation in times of conflict and help build permanent peace and mutual understanding. The spread of a literary culture ... can extend the message of humanism among the masses and also promote positive thoughts.

...organizing book fairs at the block level and village level, particularly in areas where reading habit was non-existent. Such a move would help bring about much needed positive developments to the underprivileged sections.

... literary pursuits ... the need to have a balance between freedom of expression and social responsibility ... literature should not undermine amity and understanding among people."

From: http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=oct0312/at09

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Western writers becoming irrelevant

"I have a sense of people thinking it (literature) is less important," he told Reuters on Friday in a wide-ranging interview at Waterstone's book store in central London.  
"If you look at America, for instance, there is a generation older than mine in which writers like Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal would have a significant public voice on issues of the day. Now there's virtually no writers.  

"Instead you have movie stars, so if you are George Clooney or Angelina Jolie then you do have the ability to speak about public issues ... and people will listen in a way they would once listen to Mailer and Sontag. That's a change."  

He added that in authoritarian countries the situation was different, and literature had held on to some of its power.  

"In those places literature continues to be important as you can see by the steps taken against writers," he said, counting China among them."

More: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276085/lifestyle/literature/rushdie-says-writers-are-losing-their-influence-in-the-west

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Suffering and Literature

"Whatever the circumstances, Russians have never lost their deep love for literature. In fact, the worst of times, the best of books as its great 19th century literature stands testimony to: Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekov and a galaxy of several others. And the same tradition continued after the Revolution under the excesses of collectivisation and the Great purges of the 30s with writers like Gorky, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Isaac Babel, Marina Tsvetava and Boris Pasternak, whose persecutions were both “brutal and exquisite”.

In Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey into Russian History, which is history-cum-travelogue, Rachel Polonsky, a Cambridge academician, asks whether “there is a set of secret maps to be found among a person’s books, a way through the fortifications of the self” that would explain why a person’s deep love and apparent appreciation of literature (and culture in the larger sense) can be responsible for the execution of so many writers during the purges. Is this because, as the Russian scholar Dmitri Likhachev said, “the Russian people perish from an excess of space” that makes its literature “the most significant, the most tragic, the most philosophical”? These are the underlying questions, often asked about the relationship between suffering and literature, that Polonsky pursues in her book as she travels around the former Soviet empire to revisit the ghosts of great Russian writers of the past."


WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com

Dissolvable espionage

Imagine spy devices that dissolve completely into nothingness...

"The technology, which will be announced in a paper this week in Science, is called transient electronics or resorbable electronics. These systems work until they are no longer needed, at which point they dissolve completely away—the dissolution triggered by ordinary water in their operating environment. ...

It's not hard to imagine the uses of small electronic devices that vanish without a trace when exposed to water. Disappearing sensors and other spy gear could be air-dropped or strategically embedded in hostile environments with no one the wiser. ...

The work is being funded in part by DARPA, the Defense Department's mad science arm, which sees a range of applications. To no one's surprise, though, those uses are classified."I can't get into those details," he tells PM." Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/breakthroughs/transient-electronics-could-dissolve-inside-your-body-13098637?click=pm_latest

The spies can't tell you what their plans are, but this thriller writer can - a spy device based on the above concept is used by characters in my latest novel THE BLACK VAULThttp://www.spywriter.com/tbv/index.html



Why Literacy Matters

"Books are an irresistible retreat from the chilly and damp; they carry us to lands of whimsy and wisdom. They provoke thought and passion and often entertain our wildest notions. Books provide more than escape. I argue that they force us to observe some aspect of reality, be it through the lens of fiction. ...

“I am saying, then, that literacy, the mastery of language and the knowledge of books, is not an ornament, but a necessity. It is impractical only by the standards of quick profit and easy power. Longer perspective will show that it alone can preserve in us the possibility of an accurate judgment of ourselves, and the possibilities of correction and renewal. Without it, we are adrift in the present, in the wreckage of yesterday, in the nightmare of tomorrow.” 

More often than not, books are the wonders that save me from the banality of everyday life. It is fortunate that books provide a luxury to everyone. The danger is in the easiness to forget the preciousness of literacy. We cannot neglect our minds and give in to the laziness which favors television over novels."

From: http://elm.washcoll.edu/index.php/2012/09/defending-literature-back-to-the-books/

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com

The Power of Literature

"Really, what I love about literature is that it is constantly challenging us and provoking us and questioning us.

The power of that is that it then forces us to ask how our world is made, and if our world is made in ways that are unequal, it challenges us to imagine more equal ways of inhabiting our world.

That, to me, is power of literature.

It’s defamiliarizing. It’s estranging. It’s provoking. It’s disturbing. It teaches us to be just a little bit restless and a little bit uncertain about the world that we inhabit. There’s none of this, we’re going to be in harmony with the world around us. It’s a traumatic encounter. I think there’s value in that.

Its power and its powerlessness resides in its refusal to give us any guarantees about our world. In other words, we have to turn to literature in times of crisis, and yes, sometimes literature is used as a form of domination and not delusion.

But whatever literature offers us is always without any guarantee. It’s unverifiable. It is not going to give us a doctrine for how we should live our life because then it would be propaganda and we’d really be in trouble there."

From: http://oldgoldandblack.com/?p=21955

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


6 minutes a day

"Getting stuck into a good novel appears to be beneficial to our mental health. As the old saying goes: ‘You’re never alone with a book.’

Reading not only staves off feelings of loneliness, it helps us to wind down, destress and forget our own problems for a while.

In 2009, researchers at the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds, more than listening to music or going out for a walk. It is thought that the concentration required to read distracts the mind, easing muscle tension and slowing the heart rate.

Reading may be good for physical health too, preventing brain ageing and disease.

A study, just published in the Archives of Neurology, from the University of California, Berkeley, found that engaging in brain-stimulating pursuits including reading on a daily basis – from a young age – could help prevent Alzheimer’s by inhibiting the formation of the amyloid (protein) plaques which are found in the brains of those with the disease.

Scientists scanned the brains of healthy adults aged 60 and over (average age was 76) with no signs of dementia and found those who had been doing daily brain-stimulating activities, such as reading, playing chess, and writing letters since they were six years old showed very low levels of amyloid plaques. But those who did not enjoy these activities had lots of plaques."

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html?ito%3Dfeeds-newsxml

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Complexities of reading

"Neurobiological experts, radiologists, and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention, and distraction—by reading Jane Austen.

Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for “executive function,” areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, says Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.

During a series of ongoing experiments, functional magnetic resonance images track blood flow in the brains of subjects as they read excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. Experiment participants are first asked to skim a passage leisurely as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam.

Phillips says the global increase in blood flow during close reading suggests that “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” Blood flow also increased during pleasure reading, but in different areas of the brain. Phillips suggests that each style of reading may create distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.”

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Literary movie adaptations no replacement for novels

A student "says he prefers watching films to reading novels.

He argues that watching a movie is more interesting than reading a novel.

“Reading is boring and sometimes when my teacher is reading a novel, I do not follow well,” Mponye says.

He also says it saves time to follow a story condensed in a movie, other than reading 500 pages of a novel.

Many young people today prefer watching television and using computer to reading. Educationists argue that parents and teachers should serve as models by reading and value reading culture.

[...] a literature teacher [...] says he always reads the novels together with his students. But after reading, he ensures that they watch the movie.

“Students pay more attention to movies than during reading sessions in class. It also breaks monotony of appearing before them in class,” Kigongo explains.

“However, movies should not be allowed to replace novels or books [...]

It is believed that access to more books leads to language and literacy development. These reading materials should arouse the children’s passion for reading.

They should have interesting topics, simple grammar and exciting diction to instill a love for reading.

This love cannot be forced upon any one; instead, it can be nurtured. ...

The American Association of Pediatrics advises parents to read to their children right from a tender age.

When a child reads a book, for instance, it stimulates the brain, the muscles, eyes and sense of smell and touch through turning pages.

In addition, their cognitive, social and emotional abilities are improved."

From: newvision.co.ug

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Reading Books vs Watching TV

"‘When we “get lost” in a good book, we’re doing more than simply following a story. Imagining what’s happening is as good at activating the brain as “doing” it.’

New MRI scanning techniques now enable science to prove this. In 2009, an American brain-imaging study showed that when we read and imagine the landscapes, sounds, smells and tastes described on the page, the various areas of the brain that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways.

In other words, our brains simulate real experiences, just as if we were living them ourselves.

This doesn’t happen when we’re watching TV or playing a computer game."

More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html

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Literature's place in society

"Literature should reach out to people and it should not limit itself within the confines of literacy. It should make an impact on society, should transform history, and demolish hurdles that hinder the growth of society."
From: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/article1480695.ece

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com

Espionage Monopoly

"In WWII, agents of the British secret service unit MI9 oversaw the development and distribution of special-edition versions of the board game Monopoly to British POWS held in German camps. These boxes were secretly packed with maps, compasses and other tools that would be helpful to a solider who wanted to escape. The games were one of the items that were permitted by the Germans from humanitarian groups like the Red Cross. Each of the special-edition games concealed silk maps of the areas around known German POW camps, compasses, and real bank notes mixed in with the game money. British pilots were told to look for the games in the event of their capture, and some estimate that the games' secret tools were used by thousands of POWs over the course of the war. Sadly, all the special edition sets known to exist were destroyed after the war."

More: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/stories/4-unbelievable-spy-gadgets

It's the year of election The Coup


Judging Literature

Rumors circulate about the likely recipient of this year's literary nobel prize. But is judging literary work possible and apropriate?

"To any reasonable man or woman, the Nobel Prize in Literature seems rather innocuous.  But the Nobel Prize in Literature is not the truth.  The Nobel Prize in Literature is not fair to all concerned.  The Nobel Prize in Literature will not build goodwill nor better friendships.  The Nobel Prize in Literature is not beneficial to all concerned.  And therefore, the Nobel Prize in Literature fails the Four Way Test and cannot be considered an ethical institution.

Let me explain in more detail.  First and foremost, the Nobel Prize in Literature is not the truth.  When the Swedish Academy chooses an author to be a Nobel Laureate, they are effectively saying that this author has attained literary greatness. They are attempting to objectively rank a subjective art.  Unlike other literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Man-Booker Prize, or the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded for a body of work rather than a specific book.  Thus, it represents the world's most important instrument in codifying literary greatness.

This is why it is not the truth.  It is impossible to objectively rank literature, and any institution that purports to do so is, to an extent, lying."

From: http://westport.patch.com

WikiJustice: WikiLeaks meets Jack London's The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. www.SPYWRITER.com


Literature for social woes

"A writer has two personas, one social and one personal. In his personal life he has his own particular tastes and preferences. When an educated, cultured person reads fiction, poetry or literature, he derives an aesthetic pleasure out of it, and finds inspiration to create a work of similar nature. After this the issue becomes external. What does he write and why does he write? If he is writing for his personal pleasure or for money, then his contributions remain superficial. If, however, he writes for a greater purpose of social change, then this brings harmony into his personal and social literary personas, and the two are essentially conflated.

Life is complicated, and literature is a reflection of life, and true literature therefore captures that complexity. And if you treat literature only as an instrument for entertainment and amusement, it will lose its authenticity, and will be alienated from its nature. If you make literature a guide to life, then it is inevitable that you will have to take up social issues as well. If an artist is incapable of doing so, then I believe that there is something deficient in his skill."

More: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20120817&page=23

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