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#joyread, the Read Watch Play theme for December 2016

Christmas #1 Kevin Dooloey

 

#joyread

indexThe act of reading is a particularly joyful one for many people, regardless of what is being read, and is the perfect way to achieve or enhance the joyfulness expected at this time of year. Joy may, for you, be watching the Dr Who Christmas special, playing board games with the family, or cooking up a storm using cookbooks released in time for the giving season.

Share your love of reading with children over some beautifully illustrated picture books, discuss the books that bring you the most joy with your book club, or at your office Christmas party, where cheesy eighties’ music plays.

Feel the joy with Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel, and laugh at others’ expense with cat shaming. Continue laughing with P. G. Wodehouse or David Sedaris. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, pull out the pencils and start colouring, or get crafty in any way that takes your fancy.

Get back to nature, out on a bushwalk or watching David Attenborough documentaries, or explore non-fiction books about joy, happiness and motivation.

Don’t feel the need to conform to light and sweet, however, if horror brings you joy, then go for it! That goes for dark humour, too. How are you going to read, watch and play with joy this month?

Twitter logo for RWPchat postsA date for your diary : There will be a twitter discussion on 20th December (no-one will remember on the 27th!)  starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags  #joyread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of  #joyread, so others can join in the conversation too.

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#flightread, the Read Watch Play theme for November 2016

#flightread

Photograph: Simon Dwyer (Flying out over Sydney, 2013)

There are lots of opportunities to read, watch and play – up in the air.

For science fiction fans there are works about flying through space (classics such as Star Wars and 2001) as well as flying through time with Dr Who. For those who prefer their science without the fiction there are many examples that document the history of space as well as the history of the different space programs.

Fantasy has seen many characters airborne from dragons to the rescue, by eagles, of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. Such escapes reflected in real life through flights to safety attempted by asylum seekers and refugees.

2014 witnessed numerous commemorations for the Centenary of the Great War, with 2015 marking the Centenary of ANZAC, prompting many readers to reflect on conflict. As marks of respect for the fallen continue to be offered throughout 2016 there are various #flightread works available for readers, watchers and players. Airborne conflicts were significant components of World War I and World War II as well as subsequent conflicts including Korea Vietnam, Iraq and the ongoing ‘War on Terror’. Another anniversary, in 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl who, famous for a writer of children’s stories, was also a Hurricane fighter pilot during World War I.

There are also histories around the business of moving people through the air, including histories of innovation and invention, histories of travel, histories of great aviators and aviatrix, as well as histories of space and the rise of commercial carriers such as Qantas and Virgin (and the occasional fall Ansett and Pan Am). Sitting alongside these works are stories that tell of flight disasters – fiction and non-fiction.

The natural world presents lots of #flightread examples, think: bats; bees; birds; and insects; and those that almost fly – flying fish, flying lemurs and gliding possums in addition to fantastic creatures such as cherubs, fairies and devils. Flying is also about sport and recreation from balloons to kites, from fly fishing to quidditch.

Flying and flight inspires us from airline captain to superman, from meteorologist to metallurgist there are so many special interest groups in aviation, covering a wide range of applications. The ability to move people and goods great distances quickly fascinates us. Travel to exotic places, movie sets, quiet escapes, or ancestral homelands, once took months by sea, then weeks by early aircraft is now measured in hours. We travel to broaden our horizons and examine other places and cultures, some even travel just for the experience of flight. You can prepare for these adventures through a range of podcasts including: Airplane Geeks; Plane Crazy; and Airline Pilot Guy. Or, you could test your own flying skills with games such as Flight Control or you could try a Flight Simulator.

Most flights now feature some sort of entertainment – be it hundreds of audio visual programs, games or in flight wifi. There are two entertainment options that never need batteries, rebooting, new software or an upgrade: the aircraft window; and a good book.


A date for your diary :
There will be a twitter discussion on 29 November  starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags  #flightread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of  #flightread, so others can join in the conversation too.

Simon Dwyer @ausspin / Rachel Franks @cfwriter

#bookbitesread, the Read Watch Play theme for October 2016

#bookbitesread is the mouth-watering topic for discussion in October.

The first thing which springs to mind is the vast array of cook books that pervade most bookshelves. Take a look at the non-fiction shelves at your local library around the 641s. The earliest version dates back to the 1st century and written in Latin. These are also matched by a multitude of books about diets and dieting, either for specific health conditions or because of our hunt for the perfect figure.

vegetables

Vegetables by Martin Abegglen

The number of cookery books on the shelves is also matched with our enthusiasm for cookery programmes, from theGreat British Bake-offto a number of travel cookery programmes such as the Rick Steinand the Hairy Bikers.

Knowing where our food come from and sustainability has become an increasingly hot topic with many towns now boasting Farmers markets, promotions such as Good Food Month in Australia and The Food and Farming Award in the UK and many, many other regional food awards promoting where their produce comes from. You can also buy food directly from some farms, and market gardens.

Recently the publishing industry has seen a surge of books about all things that bite – whether you are fans of Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight saga, or prefer the slightly less glamourous Darren Shan vampire books, there are many to choose from, as well as some with werewolves, such as Harry Potter and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. (Or maybe you are a fan of Murnau’s classic Nosferatu film!)

You might also want to discuss real-life biters from very small bugs like mosquitos and fleas, to larger sets of teeth like snakes and sharks, which I suppose, might lead to a discussion about travel fiction such as Paul Theroux’s writings, as well as classics like The Jungle Book and The Life of Pi.

From steamy jungles where the bugs bite to the frozen wastes where the frost bites; there’s may cold adventures to be had from the very real biographical work of Sir Ranulph Fiennes to the fictional but still chilling A Christmas Carol, Call of the Wild, Frankenstein, and Marcus Sedgwick’s Revolver which also features the law being taken into the character’s own hands (so some biting revenge!).

From cold places to comfort eating, there are also many fiction books that delight in describing the food in the story, such as Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti stories to Joanne Harris’ series Chocolat, Blackberry Wine and Five quarters of the Orange, and Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah, where food is definitely used as therapy.

Short stories and Biographies are a good way of getting a quick bite of story or someone’s life. If you’re looking for a quick bite, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were published as a serial in the newspaper as was Helen Fielding’s eponymous heroine Bridget Jones.

For a more literal reference to book bites you can follow the adventures of Tony Chu, a graphic novel series about an America Food and Drug Administration Agent solves crimes by receiving psychic impressions from comestibles, including people.

So there is plenty out there to satisfy everyone’s taste and we’d love to discuss your favourite bites.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #bookbitesread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #bookbitesread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #bookbitesread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.


A date for your diary :
The Twitter discussion takes place on 29 October, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.

#historyread, the Read Watch Play theme for September 2016

#historyread

Fish washing indoors. Reykjavík.

Fish washing indoors. Reykjavík.

September is the month of #historyread, where there’s hundreds of potential themes to be discussed; from fact and fiction books, representations of history in film and a variety of history plays. This month’s theme also ties in with History Week (5th – 13thSeptember), when the History Council of New South Wales member organisations collaborate to showcase the history of the state.

Every country and community has moments of its history which have been represented in some artistic form. Will you be exploring historical crime fiction with CJ Sansom’s Dominion series or perhaps reading into China Mieville’s science fiction worlds? Or do you prefer your historical fiction with a touch of romance, a 19th century steampunk twist, or an alternate history in a world that took a slightly different path? Though it isn’t an alternate history we can see from Tony Horwitz’ Confederates in the Attic that the American Civil War still has a legacy many people may be unaware of.

There’s also local history to explore; this will be different for everyone, so what’s local for you? Perhaps you’ve experience in genealogy and have an interest in family history, all of which can be done using books tracing your family history. Through the development of photographic techniques in the 19th century and later, moving pictures, we can see what life was like in the past, as well as reading about it.

We’ve got the history of everything from food, art and photography to sport and changes in the weather, through which we can all see a wide range of books and documentaries on these topics. We can go down an even narrower subject route with micro histories such as Simon Garfield’s Mauve.

Language has also changed over time, with new words always being introduced into the English Language including Melvyn Bragg’s The Adventure of English. Languages have travelled across continents over the centuries, sometimes as a result of colonialism, but what was the impact on the Indigenous languages of those continents, and what is the resulting legacy for those languages?

What about the studies of archaeology, anthropology and geology, which all give us further insights into the history of the world and how earth was formed.

A Little History of the World or Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everythingshould get you started in everything you need to know about the world, or there’s plenty of other ways to explore the history of science and developments in technology and industry.

For online and digitised resources take a look at the National Library of Australia’s Trove site or Europeana.

Who provides us with a history of events though? We need to be mindful of apologist histories defending controversial activities.

Going back even further in time is the study of palaeontology- what child doesn’t love a book on dinosaurs!? Jurassic Park fits into this, and whilst not a true story (!), it brings to life this magnificent creature of history. Kids also love learning through the Horrible Histories book, which can also now be seen represented on our TV screens. Historical fiction is represented in children’s fiction including Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.

Who can forget books on time travel such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, books by Connie Willis, and everyone’s favourite time traveller, Doctor Who. Biographies and memoirs explore the history of individual famous figures, some of which have been brought to life through film such as Nelson Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom.

How many books can you name with the word ‘history’ in the title? The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a clear frontrunner, but there must be many more to be discussed.

And who doesn’t love to play at historical re-enactment? Dressing up in costume and recreating famous battles is a long forgotten pastime of many.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #historyread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #historyread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #historyread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

Twitter logo for RWPchat postsA date for your diary : The Twitter discussion takes place on 27 September, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.

#geekread, the Read Watch Play theme for August 2016

#geekread

“You know, “nerd culture” is mainstream now. So, when you use the word “nerd” derogatorily, it means you’re the one that’s out of the zeitgeist.” Ben Wyatt.

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.” Simon Pegg

“Nowadays, people own their nerd-dom.” Neil Gaiman

“Being a geek is cool.” – Me (In the vain hopes I’m cool now)

#geekread can be anything from the latest Brian Cox bestseller about the universe, to the world of Minecraft and everything in-between. It’s wanting to captain your own star ship but also wanting to travel Middle earth and fight a Balrog or becoming over excited when New Horizons flew past Pluto. Being a geek is difficult to define but what is universal across all geekdoms is passion.

Being a geek is so much more than the stereotyped kid with NHS glasses being socially inept. We geeks are inheriting the earth and showing the world that it’s ok to go crazy about that thing you love. Want to write fan fiction based in your favourite universe, or upload YouTube clips ofWorld of Warcraft or collect every issue of X-Men? In the words of the ‘great’ Shia LaBeouf‘DO it!’

Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt that she made, Pie Town, New Mexico. A community settled by about 200 migrant Texas and Oklahoma farmers who filed homestead claims ... Mrs. Stagg helps her husband in the field with plowing planting, weeding corn and harv

Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt that she made, Pie Town, New Mexico. Library of Congress on Flickr Commons

Being a geek is a state of mind. If you think you’re a geek, then you are one. You don’t need to be an expert in your fandom but you do need to have a devotion to it. (Don’t let anyone bully you because they tell you you’re not a real Star Wars nerd because you don’t know the name of the droid you saw for 5 seconds at the back of scene that one time).

‘Nerdy’ or ‘Geeky’ behaviour is way more common than most people like to think. You can be a gaming nerd, a book geek, a music fanatic, a keen quilter, knitter, maker of scalemail, garden geek,  and RPG (Role Playing Game) freak and much much more.

It’s not just reading Lord of the Rings, it’s absorbing the world Tolkien has built by reading the 12 volume history of middle earth. It’s not just about who was the best Doctor (Tennant of course) but its understanding the biology of a time lord and exploring countless time streams and worlds with them. It’s the kind of person that sits in all day with the next sci-fi blockbuster by Iain M Banks. It’s the girl who wants to level up their Warlock Drow in Dungeons and Dragonsso she can fight that last Boss Battle. And it’s the guy who likes to figure out if the science in Star Trek and Star Wars could actually work.

A geek is not interested in reality, we want an escape to a far off fascinating world. Being a Geek is cool. Have a look at some of the amazing #geekread stories at @iartlibraries

Twitter logo for RWPchat postsA date for your diary : There will be a twitter discussion on 30 August starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST (UK).  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Please use the tags  #geekread and #rwpchat as you discuss your reading, watching, and playing that is your experience of  #geekread, so that others can join in the conversation too.

#artread, the Read Watch Play theme for July 2016

#artread

This month the theme is #artread. Artists, who are they & what do they do all day?

Try a biography John Piper, Myfanwy Piper : lives in art linking art, theatre and music. I, Leonardo : Ralph Steadman one artist portraying the life of another. The artist revealed by his studio 7 Reece Mews : Francis Bacon’s studio.

Reflect by Sue Apple

Who would you choose to paint your portrait? A S Byatt choose Patrick Heron but Lady Churchill hated Graham Sutherland’s portrait of Sir Winston.

Catalogues of art collections A way of life : Jim Ede at Kettle’s Yard. A home and gallery featuring many works byAlfred Wallis who epitomises the St Ives artists . You couldcollect art antiquesyourself.

Artists real or fake? In Nat Tate : an American artist, 1928-1960 libraries had trouble deciding which. The artist’s character as subject for fiction The portrait: Iain Pears,Permanent violet: Ronald Frame, Sheer blue bliss: Lesley Glaister , Notes from an exhibition: Patrick Gale, The bird artist: Howard A Norman.

You may have visited places steeped in art, Charleston : a Bloomsbury house and gardenor read of places becoming art after 100 years Still life : inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton. Modern Architects became as famous as their buildings : Norman Foster orLe Corbusier.

Its interior design can have an impact on how we view a building too, just as graphic designhas an impact on how we view other objects as well.

Art escapes into the wild, Andy Goldsworthy : a collaboration with nature, Anthony Gormley’s figures in the landscape. From Bodies in the landscape move to Body art, as in Tattoos. Or bodies shaped into art in ballet and modern dance. Other performing arts take to the stage in theatre or the cinema screen, including art house films.

Art from the wild, found objects, the artist recycling an object into art. Be inspired by Derek Jarman’s garden .

In the landscape photographer James Ravillious :an English eye is the son of artist Eric Ravillious. Different generation, medium, all art.

In the film Blow Up a fashion photographer thinks he has filmed a murder. In the 1960s photographers David Bailey & Norman Parkinson were famous enough to be know just by their surnames.

Taxidermy has had a modern revival but knitted taxidermy may have more practitioners. See fashion as art – Zandra Rhodes : textile revolution . Cornelia Parker’s collaborative Magna Carta embroidery.

Books as art objects – have a look on Pinterest for book covers as art and book spines as poetry. Make your own poems and appreciate your existing books in a new way. Buy an old book and make it into art by illustrating and rearranging the text – one artist spent 40 years working on one book. Artist’s books are the ultimate in hand crafted texts.

Art therapy and creating all types of art are great for your well being. Some libraries run book folding sessions with their unsalable stock as an aid to mindfulness.

You could learn how to make art with conventional techniques and materials. Become a painter, sculptor or photographer.

Graphic artists like Alan Fletcher: Beware wet paint and turn fonts into art. Graphic novelists like Frank Quietly create in a comic or graphic format. Others reboot existing fiction for a new younger audience. Banksy brought graffiti from wall to gallery.

Illustrations convey the narrative in Shackleton’s journey: William GrillKate Greenaway award winner 2015. Children’s books illustrations can be a revelation. Other Art prizes include the Turner Prize often keeping art in the news with controversy and theArchibald.

Art and crime meet in the theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book and film. Author Patricia Cornwall may have cut a piece from a Sickert painting in Portrait of a killer : Jack the Ripper– case closed. Ancient art and archaeology feature in the Jack West Jr novels of Matthew Reilly.

What is ART? Let’s try and find out in #artread.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #artread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #artread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #artread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

Twitter logo for RWPchat postsA date for your diary : The Twitter discussion takes place on 26 July, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.

 

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