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In case Sally’s description and Lesley’s review posted in Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore below don’t convince you to buy this book, here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2471099115
A timely reminder of the importance of libraries and reading. Timely because of the ever present threat of cuts. I have to say I have mixed feelings about plans here in Ireland to operate some libraries and/or some opening hours, ‘staffless’. It is potentially a good thing if it increases the accessibility of the library to readers. Not so good if it means staff cuts so that the help that can only be provided by a passionate librarian is no longer available.
Why read? English author Neil Gaiman (born 1960) gave good reasons in a lecture he delivered at the Reading Agency, a UK charity, in 2013. It is available in print in his collection of selected non-fiction The View from the Cheap Seats that was released earlier this year.
In the talk titled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”, Gaiman mentions two big uses of fiction. First is drive – which gives us a sense of purpose, second empathy – which helps build groups. Gaiman explains:
Firstly, it’s [fiction] a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end…that’s a very real drive. And it forces…
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Just in case you thought that writing a novel – or any kind of book really – is the road to riches. And why even good books don’t always make the best sellers lists.
As we careen toward the New Year, many emerging writers have a goal to finally publish that novel and I hope you do! But the arts are kind of strange. We often get fixated on the creative side, without really understanding the business side of our business.
The publishing world is still in massive upheaval and it is a Digital Wild West. Old rules are falling away and new ones are emerging, but still? Knowledge is power.
In my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I go into a LOT more detail and I highly recommend you get a copy if you don’t have one. I spend the first chapters of the book explaining how the various forms of publishing work so you can make an educated decision as you are building your brand.
All types of publishing have corresponding strengths and weaknesses and this is…
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And also for Dunce
First identified in the late 19th century, it took a long time for policy makers to accept the existence of the condition we now recognise as Dyslexia. I recall 30 years ago, when I was a member of a local education authority in England, that the education establishment still regarded it as an excuse for laziness or lack of intelligence.
Members were lobbied by parent groups who believed their children exhibited the symptoms of the condition and wanted our service to recognise it, and to make available appropriate supports in our schools and colleges. I joined with colleagues in raising the issue and proposing a change of policy. We were opposed by an older generation of politicians from both sides. They were supported by professional educationalists who adhered to traditional thinking, and teachers who feared the imposition of additional work in identifying, and then responding to, pupils exhibiting the condition.
It seems to me that general acceptance of the existence of dyslexia began to take hold only after a number of celebrities confessed to being dyslexic. One of the first I recall is the actress Susan Hampshire. Looking at the list of dyslexic celebrities reveals some surprising entries. It also demonstrates that dyslexia need not be a hindrance to a successful career in the arts (Picasso), science (Einstein) or business (Richard Branson).
Nowadays there are recognised tests that enable teachers and parents to establish whether or not a child has the condition, and to what degree. These tests, or assessments, are administered by an educational psychologist. In Ireland this could be via the free National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. The latter is a registered charity and makes a charge for its services. According to the Association, there is a continuum from mild to severe affecting up to 10% of the population. The continuing existence of such an organisation suggests that it still is not easy for a parent to gain acceptance by the educational establishment that their child has the condition and needs appropriate support.
An interesting aspect of the condition, for me, lies in the knowledge that reading and writing are associated with different parts of the brain. I recently came across the remarkable case* of a writer who, following a stroke, suffered a condition similar to dyslexia (alexia). It did not prevent him continuing to write, although reading back what he had written was just as difficult as reading anything else.
Are you dyslexic? Do you know someone who is? How hard was it for you/them to get people in authority to recognise the condition? How has it influenced your experience as a writer?
*In a BBC programme, in the ‘Imagine’ series, about a neuroscientist. I have been unable to track down and link to this article. I viewed it in October 2015 but that could have been a repeat of an earlier transmission.