Books Of Change

it's all about the stories

What I’m Reading Now: Two Fantasies and Particle Physics

“Two Fantasies and Particle Physics” is not the title of a real book, though it should be. You also shouldn’t listen to me because my titles suck.

I read this two months ago. A Biography of Cancer indeed!

I’ve put down 1600 usable words for ASIM, chapter 11. I’m looking forward to typing another 2000 words of John opening a werewolf treatment center in 221C and running the first international clinical trial for transfusion therapy. I giggle when I imagine John and Robert, both surgeons, grumbling about needing to dust off their oncology textbooks because they need a marker that shows the werewolf curse is gone-gone; something akin to the choriogonadotropin hormone levels (hcg) for choriocarcinoma, a cancer of the placenta.

You just never know what will inspire you when you write. The Emperor of All Maladies, case in point. I borrowed it two months ago and spent all my waking hours reading it for five days. Only now I connected choriocarcinoma with werewolf curses. It’s a beautifully written book, by the way. You shouldn’t let the subject or length stop you from reading it.  Continue reading

A Study In Magic, Chapter 10 Postmortem

Attention, Chapter Ten: Mr. Lestrade’s Most Productive Day of A Study In Magic: The Application is up! Yes, it took two months! I acknowledge the title could be better! I will also submit to any ear-boxing for taking so long!

At the risk of sounding like a creaky wheel, I want to state for the record writing this chapter was bloody agony. I never discarded so many drafts as this one. Last I checked, I had twenty plus drafts — for each scene! The only thing that survived from the first draft was the POV. It was Lestrade or bust. Continue reading

What I’m Reading Now: The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories

I have a thing for short detective stories. The Golden Era of detective fiction is rife with shorts stories. Greats like Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Arsene Lupin, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple … I love them all. Detective fiction these days are full-length novels, and I enjoy them, but at the end of the day, I long for the old shorts. So I was delighted to find detective short stories from a more contemporary author.

an unexpected good find

P.D. James has Canon Doyles’ mastery of short story and vivid description. Her uncanny observation of humanity gripped me. The humor was great, too. Here is a paraphrase from The Twelve Clues of Christmas, starring Adam Dalgleish:

“You would think people regularly commit suicides over holidays.”

“East Anglians are a robust stock. They come close, but they resist somehow.”

The sly meta comments induced chuckles. For example: “The library, that most fatal room in popular British fiction.” Anyone who read Agatha Christie will enjoy that.

The mysteries themselves are simple, but not obvious — like all good mysteries should be. Seasoned mystery readers might find the length too short. The whole book is snack size, but it is delightful entertainment.

I’ve checked out two books by P.D. James since finishing The Mistletoe Murders because I wanted to read more Adam Dalgleish. I’m reading The Lighthouse at the moment. I approve the first chapter. The ones that follow are decent. I’m at the point where the victim is found dead — hanging on the titular lighthouse. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Taking Care of the Mind Through Exercise: Does Strength Training Help?

In a previous post, I said I wanted to test if physical exercise improves my mind, hence writing. My tests are by no means scientific. For starters, the subject is only me. Also, I haven’t settled on what measures indicate “writing improved”. But in the meantime, I figured I could get my body ready for exercise.

The Challenges

Self-experiments like these, you have to do it for at least a year to gather good data. Or better, multiple years. That takes grit. Have I mentioned that I’m physically lazy and yearn to be a disembodied brain? I’m not unhealthy, but I’m no athlete. The only thing I’ve got going is my curiosity and need to test things.

To make things easier for me, I concentrated on two areas: cardio and strength. In plainer English: I ran and lifted barbells. Yes, I ignored flexibility, except to always stretch after a workout. For running, I did a lot of 5ks and 10ks. For strength, I chose the stronglifts  program because,

  1. focuses on increasing max strength
  2. involves only five exercises
  3. I can get away with doing only two workouts a week.

Today I’m going to talk about the strength training results:
Continue reading

What I’m Reading Now: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Notes: published posthumously and translated from the original Swedish

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while. I heard so much buzz about it from the interwebs. So when I noticed a hardcopy of the book at my local library, I snatched it before someone else did.

Continue reading

Degrees of Magicalness – from Dumbledore to Lockhart

I’ve been thinking about degrees of magicalness in the Harry Potter world. It came about while I was fleshing out chapter ten of A Study in Magic: Application. So beware if you’re the type who hates spoilers.

From Great to Average to … Lockhart

This post calls for a Lockhart photo

Lockhart’s magic ability perplexes me. He excelled at memory Charms, but mediocre to bad at everything else. How? How?

Let’s suppose memory Charms are N.E.W.T. level magic. Hermione doesn’t even try to learn it until after book six, so the evidence seems to point to this direction. Based on this, one may think Lockhart had N.E.W.T. level Charms education. Neville Longbottom got an “Exceeds Expectations” for his Charms O.W.L.. Can we further assume Lockhart was at least as good as Neville in his fifth year?
Continue reading

A Study of Magic: The Application Update

burning night oil writing again

It’s done, it’s done, chapter nine is finally up!

Ahem.

A Study of Magic, the Application was updated. Here, Harry has an important epiphany: HE CAN DATE NOW. Sherlock and John raised him too well for him to start eyeing every pretty girl as a potential *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*, but the idea makes him giddy. Unfortunately, very few people know about the dating ban Harry had imposed upon himself, and make all sorts of assumptions.

Now for the postmortem: Continue reading

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