Blog 8 – Library Review

My local library is not even fifteen minutes away yet I hadn’t been for near enough ten years. I remember being enthralled by the maze of shelves that seemed to go on forever. Sitting in the children’s corner whilst my mum looked around the rest of the library, I would always be scared to go and find her as the rest of the library seemed so vast in comparison to the relative safety of the beanbags and bright colours of the children’s corner. Yarm Library had always been a source of great confusion for me as the whole library seemed to sprout from a central spiral staircase (thinking about it now… it was just a large staircase- no spiral) with the main reception desk at the bottom.

I only went up the mysterious staircase once when I was younger, I was desperate for the toilet so they let me use the staff one. Truly a thrilling story. But, I distinctly remember the upstairs being even more old-fashioned than the downstairs and that’s saying something. The building had been renovated towards the end of the twentieth-century so it had your classic green tiled carpet, off-cream coloured walls, dark wooden benches and countless fluorescent tubes in the ceiling rather than your average bulb.

Returning to the library after another refurbishment in 2017 I was in for a shock. “Yarm Library in association with Darlington Building Society” the sign read above the door. Clearly this meant they’d been granted some money to modernise, which was well-needed. From the outside you could tell the charm of the library had gone, the dark wooden window frames had been replaced with bright white plastic panelling – clearly needed for insulation and security, but aesthetically unnecessary.

The character assassination continued onthe inside; gone were the green tiles and fluorescent tubes, instead was a blue carpet and the brightest lights I’ve ever seen outside of a football stadium lighting the room. The slaughter didn’t stop there, where the reception desk had been at the bottom of the stairs was now a bright white box with lime green decal loomed over the room. This piece of absurdist art was in fact the new way to return books, by entering your surname and date of birth on the screen the machine would allow you to place all of your books on it’s shelf at once and through the means of “technology” it can identify all of the books together – even if the barcode and cover of the book were covered or hidden.

All together, I don’t think this twenty-first century library really felt necessary anymore. From what I gathered of the people there, it was either older generations visiting the library they’ve visited for years on end or it was younger people using the computers for the sake of the printing facility. I’ll stick to buying my books.

Blog 7 – Synopsis of a Publisher

Penguin Random House is a name any avid reader will recognise, however I would bet they haven’t seen the name in it’s entirety half as much as they’ve seen just ‘Penguin’ or ‘Random House’. This is because in July 2013 the two publishers merged for a staggering £2.4 billion. Originally Bertelsmann, the parent company of Random House held a 53% stake in the company whilst Penguin’s parent company Pearson held 47% but in July 2017 Pearson sold 22% of the stake to Bertelsmann. Without the merger in 2013 Random House is ninety-one years old and Penguin is eighty-three.

The two companies have published some of the most notable novels of the past century, Penguin has two of the most distinctive imprints in the world. Almost anybody could recognise a Penguin Classic novel with their famous covers containing a related piece of art above a black box containing the name of the novel and the author, separated by a distinct white line. The Penguin Classic imprint began as Penguin Illustrated Classics which was a financial failure thar ceased to exist as soon as it began in 1938. The Classic imprint returned a decade later in the current format, printing a translation of Homer’s Odyssey that went on to sell 3 million copies.

Penguin also publish the Pelican Books that have a more minimalist cover with a distinguishing light blue colour separated by a white box containing the title and author. Founder of Penguin Books, Sir Allen Lane, believed “in the existence in this country of a vast reading public” which is what lead to the creation of the non-fiction imprint, Pelican Books. The famous Three Bands cover with two bands of bright blue and a middle white band has become a collector’s dream since the imprint was discontinued in 1984, however the Three Bands cover made a return when the imprint was relaunched in 2014.

Random House’s beginnings were similar to the Penguin Classics imprint as founders Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer acquired the Modern Library imprint from its former publisher Horace Liveright which also reprinted classic works. It wasn’t until 1998 when German conglomerate Bertelsmann bought Random House that the publisher went global.

Blog 6 – Are Video Game Literature?

The question of “Are video games literature?” has to be broken down and pulled apart before it can be put together in the form of an answer. Firstly, we have to establish that not all video games are going to stand anywhere near to the story-telling ingenuity of great pieces of literature by Shakespeare, Du Maurier or McEwan or to the sublime artistic skill of Nash, Hambling or Da Vinci. These are the Forza, NBA and FIFA’s of the video game world – they look photorealistic and look the untrained eye exactly like a live-action F1 race, basketball game or football match but they don’t carry the same narrative power of an Assassin’s Creed or a Journey. To specify that video games are an art form, I think, would be an accurate description of the hours of blood, sweat and tears that have been put into them by their, sometimes hundreds of, creators.

These sports simulator games such as FIFA and PES can be played thousands of times over and over with numerous people at once in the same room or around the world which in itself is an impressive feat. Although something like an Assassin’s Creed or the first three Call of Duty games are more story driven and can be played repeatedly with the player hitting the same narrative beats at the same time every time – much like re-reading a book or watching a film on Netflix countless times.

To break down the opening question even further we have to look into the definition of ‘literature’ which describes ‘literature’ as “written works, especially those considered of superior or of lasting artistic merit.” Now, we have instantly encountered a problem. “Written works”. This definition perfectly encapsulates the large gap between those who believe literature is purely what is written in a book or magazine and begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop and those, most likely writers, artists and thinkers who were raised in the last twenty five to thirty years. These younger creators have been raised in the middle of a cultural goldmine with the developments made in regards to technology and video games. It’s these people who played Snake, Pac-Man and Space Invaders and read the first of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels on release in 1983, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho who are now crafting the narrative journeys of today’s equivalent to those games and those books. They may not have known it at the time but the children of that generation were surrounded by story-telling geniuses and hugely impacted by these new video games and those two inspirations are what has formed the video game designers, producers, directors, writers and artists of today.

Just like reading a novel or going to the theatre the player walks away from a game having experienced a wealth of emotions. A video game that can’t produce excitement, fear, infuriation or laughter may as well not exist.

 

Blog 2 – Books vs Ebooks

Blog 2 – Books vs Ebook

I read the article by ‘Margaret Drabble’ and the ‘Confessions of a Booklover’ in the Guardian with intrigue!

This is a question I have not thought of before?

Books vs Ebook?

Which do I prefer?

In all honesty, I have never owned an Ebook!

Admittedly I do read a lot of content on line, and I did read ‘I Murdered my Library’ by Linda Grant on my mobile, much to the distress of my poor old eyes!  That’s until I discovered you could enlarge the font DOH!

I suffer from ‘Old Fart’s Syndrome’ LOL!  Some technology baffles me!

Anyway, it made me think!  What do I prefer?

Personally, I love Books… Books, Books, Books, I could just buy them every time I go out and I have to physically stop myself and think when will I get around to reading that!

I don’t care I just want it, is my motto!  But I have now stopped being so silly as I have Uni books that take priority!

I was such an avid reader from being a young child, at the age of 8 I remember getting a copy of ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame, I adored this book and still have it!

By 10 I’d gone onto ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ series I was engrossed in, which then lead me to Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’.

I also had for us oldies LP’s (Long Playing Vinyls) in book form, which I used to listen to ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G Wells and made into a musical by Jeff Wayne.

It sounds horrendous but it was absolutely amazing, so atmospheric and the music and songs were ‘Out of this World’!  Spot the pun?

So, my affiliation with books is quite a nostalgic one, this task has made me think about Books vs Ebooks and something I have never taken into consideration before.

Margaret Drabbles take on the debate was much like mine.

I love books and could just sit in a library all day, I’m sooo sad!  But!  After reading the article I am seriously considering getting an E-reader.

My analogy why I have left it so long to get one is that… How would I find what page I was at?  I’d have to sift through hundreds of pages to find my place?

DOH again!  There’s a way to highlight paragraphs, mark sections you’ve read!

This is why I’m a Technophobe or Stupid or probably both!

And I totally agree, my backpack and Uni bag would weigh sooooo much less with an E-reader instead of dragging my books with me every day.

But… I have to confess, I prefer my books for Unis so I can write my own comments in the margins and personalise my book, for my usage.

On the other hand, reading for pleasure and convenience of a lightweight piece of equipment to hold my library, I think is a great tool and one I purchase very soon.

Teenagers resistant to E-reader…

Having a teenage daughter myself, I totally agree!

I have bought my daughter soooooo many books from her being a baby!

When she was first born I introduce her to ‘Baby Einstein’ by Julie Aigner-Clark, wonderful collection of CD’s, Books, Flash Cards she loved as a toddler.

She loved me reading her Fairytales to her every night but has this made her an avid reader NO!

I’m saddened to say my daughter has never read a book from cover to back, I find this very sad!

And it’s not from the lack of encouragement, but she just doesn’t have any interest in books.

The article was pretty spot on in my own experience of a teenager, the age of technology has made teenagers in particular read everything off-line.

In a reluctant way I am pleased, as at least she is reading some things and luckily she has an avid interest in Science and History so she does at least read some interesting articles.

Is it a Generational thing, books?

Personally, I don’t think they will ever go out of Vogue for a very long time to come, for at the moment there is a medium to suit everybody’s tastes and preference’s to read.

Long live the BOOK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog 1 – Linda Grant Boigraphy

Linda Grant Biography

Linda Grant was born February 15th in Liverpool to Polish-Jewish/Russian parents.  Benny Ginsberg and Rose Haft were both immigrants and adopted the surname Grant in the early 1950’s.

Linda is an English Journalist and Novelist, she was educated at The Belvedere School in Liverpool and went onto to read English at the University of York from (1972 to 1975).

She then studied for an M.A in English at McMaster University in Canada and completed post-graduate studies at Simon Fraser University, also in Canada.

In 1985 Linda returned to the UK and became a journalist for The Guardian, where for over a year she had her own column.

Having had a successful career in Journalism, Linda then took up writing and penned her first novel.  Published in 1993 she wrote a non-fiction work, Sexing the Millennium: A Political History of the Sexual Revolution.

Since penning her first Novel Linda has gone on to have auspicious career as an Author.

Not only has her career been hugely successful, she has also many accolades to her name!

Linda has been nominated for many Literary Awards, amongst being shortlisted for the prestigious Manbooker Prize in 2008 with The Clothes on Their Backs, and went onto win the South Bank Show Award for the same Novel.

Her latest Noel ‘The Dark Circle’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction.

Linda Grant was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2014.

From humble beginnings to a great journalist and then a phenomenal Literary Talent, what more can a girl ask for?

 

 

 

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