Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday (and, errr, Death Day), William Shakespeare!

Today marks the day historians claim as the birth and death day of one of the greatest literary figures of all time--William Shakespeare. Born April 23, 1564 and said to have died on the same day in 1616, Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets, more than 35 plays, and other scribblings in his relatively short life.

I've always been a Shakespeare fan myself, memorizing my favorite sonnets before bed, reading play
aloud with friends (voices and all, it's true), and enjoying a live performance when I could find an affordable one. This past February, I even got the chance to visit Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, just outside of London, when in the UK with my boyfriend.
Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon

While I didn't get the opportunity to truly explore (yet), just being there and seeing the small mentions of Shakespeare throughout the town was an awesome experience. On the agenda for next time: Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried and his wife Anne Hathaway's house, among others sites.

In the meantime, I'll have to settle for what I can get from New Jersey to celebrate his birth/death day today--books, film adaptations, and even a package of Shakespeare-themed mints that I won during a study session for my Shakespeare final in college.

And, of course, these random fun facts I found on No Sweat Shakespeare:
  • ‘William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of ‘I am a weakish speller’.  
  • All Uranus’s satellites are named after Shakespearean characters.  
  • Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and she was pregnant when they married. Their first child was born six months after the wedding. (Ooooh, scandal!)
  • Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language – after the various writers of the Bible.
  • Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them does he spell his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear. 
  • Almost four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death there are 157 million pages referring to him on Google. There are 132 million for God, 2.7 million for Elvis Presley, and coming up on Shakespeare’s heels, George W Bush with 14.7 million. 
  • Two of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, have been translated into Klingon. The Klingon Language Institute plans to translate more! (If you’re into quirky Shakespeare facts check our our  list of 23 things you never knew about Shakespeare)
 See the whole list of Shakespeare facts HERE

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Support a New Way of Reading

Print books. E-books. Audio Books. Books in Braille. Picture Books.

There are so many different kinds of books out there--different ways of reading--for people with strong personal preferences, or even medical or developmental requirements. Sometimes different formats are even combined to help new readers--both young and not-so-young--learn to read more effectively and efficiently...or to read at all.

Learning Ally is one such non-profit organization that focuses on the latter. As "the leading provider of audiobooks – including the world’s largest library of audio textbooks," the organization supports not only the products needed for a person with a reading or learning disability but also "a community of support" for parents, teachers, certifiers, and more Their mission? 
To promote personal achievement when access and reading are barriers to learning by advancing the use of accessible and effective educational solutions. (Learning Ally, About Us, Mission)  
And with recording studios in over ten cities in the US the organization does its best to create as many audio books as possible for distribution around the country. But they can't do it alone. In fact, in addition to their awesome volunteers--including my dear friend Rebecca--they host an annual "Record-A-Thon" to raise funds to continue their work. This year's fundraiser? Happening NOW. 

So, dig into your pocket just a little, if you so desire, and lend a hand to help keep this admirable organization afloat. You can even donate to the NYC studio where Rebecca volunteers tirelessly by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Authors Give a Hand to Young Writers

Writing is not an easy job. I should know--I've been sitting on partially written manuscripts since I was about 12. Editing I can hop to, no problem, but writing? Writing is tougher for me. Putting my own ideas down on paper is a terrifying thought.

I'm not alone in this fear though, and oftentimes writers need a little encouragement from their peers to get over the hump. Yesterday, BuzzFeed gave us a hand, by sharing "27 Pieces Of Advice For Writers From Famous Authors: where "Celebrated authors, editors and illustrators write advice to young writers on their hands for “Shared Worlds,” a two-week creative writing summer camp at Wofford College."

Here are some of my personal favorites:

1. Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman.
Award-winning author of American GodsCoralineStardust and many more.

3. Garth Nix.

Garth Nix.
Award-winning author of the "Old Kingdom," "Seventh Tower" and "Keys to the Kingdom" series.

4. Karen Lord.

Karen Lord.
Author of Redemption in Indigo and The Best of All Possible Worlds.

5. Patrick Rothfuss.

Patrick Rothfuss.
Author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear.

8. Jody Lynn Nye.

Jody Lynn Nye.
Award-winning author of more than forty novels and one hundred short stories.

9. C.S.E. Cooney.

C.S.E. Cooney.
Noted author of science fiction short stories and poetry.

15. Lev Grossman.

Lev Grossman.
Bestselling author of The Magicians and The Magician King.

16. Gregory Norman Bossert.

Gregory Norman Bossert.
Noted short story author and illustrator.

17. Scott Eagle.

Scott Eagle.
Noted author and illustrator.

18. Jeff VanderMeer.

Jeff VanderMeer.
Award-winning editor, publisher and author of City of Saints and Madmen, among others.

26. Karin Tidbeck.

Karin Tidbeck.
Award-winning Swedish author of fantasy and weird fiction.

See them all HERE