Indoors

Anyone Would Like a Piece of Chocolate?

I bought a bar of chocolate once and was eating it, when I saw how nice the chocolate looked against the white wrapper. So I took a pic of it with my smartphone.

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This is some dark chocolate from Aldi (a discount supermarket, for those who don’t know). It’s dead cheap and very, very tasty. And it doesn’t look bad on photographs either!

Indoors

I Like My Kindle eBooks

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for months. Initially I contemplated giving it some Buzzfeed-style catchy title (17 Ways My Kindle Makes My Life Worth Living) but in the end I opted for simple, what-it-says-on-the-tin title. So here it is.

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I’ve mentioned books on this blog here and there, mostly either LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Agatha Christie, or, if it’s a Gloomscapes post, a dystopian novel. This post not strictly about books, though, it’s about their format. The reason? Well, eBooks need some love. I’m fed up with the stupid comments about how eBooks will never be as good as “real books” and how you can’t really get immersed in an eBook and real books, nothing beats the smell of real books, realbooks, reAAAAALBOOKS waah waah waah! So, here I want to list my reasons why I LIKE eBooks.

However, this is not a physical books versus eBooks article. It’s not a war and it’s actually possible to like both. It’s an eBook appreciation piece—nothing more, nothing less.

Before I start, Disclaimer 1: I’m going to talk about Kindle eBooks, because that is the format I’m familiar with. Most of the main points should apply to other brands, but some of them may not.

Disclaimer 2: I do not work for Amazon and this post is not endorsed by Amazon.

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  • eReaders are compact – in a device the size of a paperback, you can store 1000s of books and carry them around with you wherever you go.
  • Speed – eBooks take seconds to download. Now this may sound lazy, I can hear those “instant gratification” comments already. But it’s more than that. People who may not have time to go to bookstores due to work and family commitments, people who live in remote locations with no bookstore in a reasonable distance, people who have disabilities that make going to a bookstore a difficult task.
  • RealBooks look better on the shelf!” they say. I’m sure that’s very nice, but… what if you don’t have a bookshelf? We live in hard times. Not everyone can afford to buy big houses with large rooms where you can dedicate multiple walls to bookshelves. A lot of people rent, a lot of people can only buy small abodes with little to no space for bookshelves. And if you’re still far from being settled down and know you’ll have to move several times, moving physical books just adds to your load.
  • In-built dictionary. May not seem that important, but if you’re not a native English speaker, it sure is useful. Highlight a word and a definition appears. Yes, yes, you can look up the word in a physical dictionary but you don’t always have one by hand. Or you’re reading on your lunch break at work, on a train or bus.

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  • Free classics/public domain books. Books that are in public domain are available for free in multiple formats. Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson are just few examples. This is fantastic for lovers and students of classic literature, of course, and it also happens to be my favourite point, because this is how I was able to finally access all the LM Montgomery books after I moved to UK. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any of LM’s books in shops and libraries (I read somewhere that her books, or at least the Anne series, have never been out of print. I’ve never seen them in print!*) I still remember the feeling of absolute joy when I discovered her workon Gutenberg. Through a link on Wikipedia, no less. I downloaded all of them one by one and read them on my laptop, as this was before e-readers became mainstream. I was so, soooo happy to finally read all of LM Montgomery’s books in English! I can’t describe it to you how happy I was. (I soon found out how terribly bad the translations into my language were, but that’s another topic).
  • Highlights and notes – highlight passages and make notes as you want, without damaging the book. Because Goodreads is owned by Amazon, your Kindle notes and highlights will be saved there and you can choose to keep them private or make them public. Here are mine. Also, if you purchase a Kindle book on Amazon, you can highlight and share directly to Twitter or Facebook.
  • No need for bookmarks. The book stays where you left it. Of course, if you love bookmarks because they are art, that’s great. This is more for those people that always lose them and then have to resort to shoelaces, bus tickets, supermarket receipts and the like.
  • Accessibility. Size of font can be changed, perfect for people with visual impairment. On a different level, e-readers are also very light. I remember someone commenting on a Goodreads post that they appreciated Kindle when they broke both their wrists and books became too heavy to hold.
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Largest possible font
  • Prevent loss of books by backing them in a cloud. Books get lost. You move from home, to a different city, or a different country, can’t take your books with you. You settle in the new city/country, go back home to get your books, but those are nowhere to be found, because your family lost them and didn’t tell you and instead let you search desperately everywhere from floor to ceiling for them, not helping you search for them, repeating that they have no idea where those books could be, that they were right there last year. Until you realise that the books are gone forever and they won’t be so easy to obtain again because they are out of print. No such problems with eBooks. Even if some wicked person gets hold of your e-reader and deletes every book you have stored on it. I don’t know about other brands but with Amazon Kindle you keep all your purchases in your cloud; if this is not the case with whichever product you’re using, please make sure you back your eBooks up. This goes for all the digital content.
  • eBooks can’t be lent. “Can I borrow that book you talked about?” “No, it’s an eBook.” May sound mean, but come on, how many books have you lent to people, only for them to never be returned to you? Or returned in a terrible shape? EBooks beautifully eradicate that issue. Get your own copy, you thief.
  • Environment. No paper, no cutting of trees.
  • What about libraries? You love libraries, right? Let me tell you that they are not dying, because many of them offer eBook lending too.
  • Not sure if you want the world to know what you’re reading? No worries, nobody can see the cover, nobody will know.
  • Not books, but since we’re talking Kindle, you can get newspaper and magazine subscriptions in this format. And because they’re digital, they won’t clutter your space—and save the trees.
  • Last but not least, if you’re worried about staring at yet another screen, let me reassure you that eReaders don’t strain your eyes. It’s just like reading paper.

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Of course I realise eBooks also have downsides–I’m not an uncritical fanatic. Like, you can’t have a digital book signed by the author, should you ever meet them. And browsing a bookstore is a legitimate way to spend your Saturday. And not all the titles are available in this format, which is unfortunate. I do hope more and more books will be released as eBooks as time goes by. Remember my Isaac Asimov post? Well, his Foundation series, which then was not available in digital form, has since become available in digital form!

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So, what do you think, readers of WordPress and beyond? How do you consume literature? What about Audiobooks–are they your favourite format? Tell me in the comments!

Links:

Gutenberg

Open Culture

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

Books in this post are: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (photoshoot with tulips), Agatha Christie’s Autobiography (dictionary shot), LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (large font), Sally Baumont’s Rebecca’s Tale (coffee shop pic) and finally, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.

*To clarify, I found an old copy Anne of Green Gables in a charity shop. It’s a paperback from 1972 and barely holds together, with help of a lot of sellotape. So the point still stands because it’s an old edition, which you can’t find in shops anymore. I bought it after I already had the digital versions from Gutenberg. I’ve never seen any of the other Anne books, or any other LM Montgomery books, in a physical form.

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Share Your World – February 27, 2017

Some great questions in this week’s Share Your World.

Ever ran out of gas in your vehicle?

I don’t drive.

Which are better: black or green olives?

Black. They’re regulars in my salads.

If you were a great explorer, what would you explore?

There are sooo many great places to explore on this planet! I’d like to see with my own eyes all the nice places that I admired on pictures. To answer something particular, something that could be quite feasible–castles and coffee shops of continental Europe.

Quotes List: At least three of your favorite quotes?

I narrowed my million favourite quotes down to four:

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Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

My willpower for keeping up with eating well and losing a whole kilo from the previous week.

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I’ve got a week off work so I’m looking forward to more reading, watching TV and just chilling.

Indoors

A Good Match

In this week’s photo challenge post, Ben posts a photograph of a donut, a cup of coffee and a glass of sparkling water, but tells us not to limit ourselves to edible stuff–but this is exactly what I’m going to do, even though I don’t normally blog about food or post pictures of food.

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The colours are a good match too

Let me introduce you to my favourite breakfast. Bacon sandwich + a cup of black coffee = heaven. For me bacon sandwich is the second best thing in the world (the first is pizza). But there is more to this shot.

We hear of things typically British and we hear of things typically Continental European. Nothing more essentially British than a bacon sandwich, I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, coffee is continental, whereas the Brits like their tea.

Best of both worlds then. Imagine if referendums never existed, we could have breakfast instead of Brexit. Sigh.

Speaking of which…

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A very Belgian private detective with his very British sidekick.

A Good Match

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Love is Somewhere Around Me

For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).

Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.

The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels

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Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.

The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the  formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.

If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.

~A Storm of Swords

It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.

Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:

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Not Your Typical Couple

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.

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“Better not mess with us.” Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace from the Swedish movies

Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.

It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.  

~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.

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The Couple That Should Have Been

Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.

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Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.

I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.

If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.

Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.

I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.

Forever and Ever and Ever…

Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.

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Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.

Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.

There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.

~Anne of the Island

There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:

The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.

Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!

Boys Love Boys

Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

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I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.

From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another gay couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.

I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.

Girls Love Girls

Look who I just remembered:

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Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.

Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:

Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”

They were.

You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Indoors, Miscellaneous

Share Your World – January 23, 2017

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

Fruit. Apples, mostly.

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Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

Big and yes. Although it’s relative–the natives of New York or Tokyo or London would call it a village but it’s the largest city in the country and the capital.

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If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colours would you use?

All of them.

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Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.

  • weekends
  • warm slippers
  • woolly socks
  • comfy clothes
  • coffee
  • candles
  • cosy blankets
  • books
  • Netflix
  • music
  • walking in the park, with my camera
  • taking photos
  • certain black furry creature with four legs and claws

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I had my end-of-year review at work, which turned out great (though I suppose that means I should be grateful to myself for working hard in 2016). The 3 Million group, who are fighting for the rights of EU nationals in post-Brexit UK. And as ever, my family for being the absolute rocks they are.

So that’s this week. My first time doing Share Your World, I’m hoping to take part in many future ones.

Indoors

Colours for Blue Monday

The term Blue Monday was coined in 2005 and refers to the most depressing day of the year–usually third Monday in January. Well, in the Northern Hemisphere at least.

This idea has been dismissed by scientists and according to charity Mental Health UK, it’s been created to sell summer holidays. Quite likely, since Blue Monday was first mentioned in a press release by a travel company. Nevertheless, many people might be feeling very blue, so I thought I’d do a little colourful photoshoot.

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I know I have published beads and paperclips before, I just like colours, okay?

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One of the factors that supposedly contribute to Blue Monday is failed new year’s resolutions. But, isn’t it too soon to give up on them? The first month isn’t even over yet. There are 11 more months left. And whatever you have resolved to do, nobody says you should start on it on 1st (or 2nd) January. March is as good. Or April. Or June. I remember once reading some article which claimed that people would have more success if they set their resolutions in the beginning of September, as we still think of new academic year as the time to start something new. Certainly makes more sense to me that the middle of deep winter.

So, if you don’t think you’re doing well, please don’t throw in the towel.

{{{{{{warm hugs}}}}}}