Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘fiction

Books can be heavy, notes get lost and eyes get tired. On all these issues, ebooks can help. Reading a book on a screen may not have the same satisfaction as holding a physical copy.  Yet there are benefits to having access to books stored in the “cloud“.

Differences between ebooks and reading apps

What makes a reading app an app rather than an ebook? There aren’t many differences between reading apps and ebooks. For those who are curious about such things, one distinction is that ebooks tend to be downloadable and have copies exist in physical form, whereas reading apps are more likely to be ‘born digital’, that is, having no physical manifestation (at least to begin with). Reading apps and ebooks these days might mix text with interaction and features of other media such as video, audio and games.

Benefits of ebooks and reading apps

  • not needing to carry a book around,
  • having a choice of things to read between,
  • being able to read without hands with the help of a screenreader such as the freebie Natural Reader or VoiceOver on Macs,
  • have your device record how much you’ve read.

We have two ebook platforms available through the catalogue for subjects including maths, social sciences and English.

If you are after fiction you may want other apps on your smartphone for easy access.

3 Free Reading apps

There are a number of reading apps to add to your phone for free, much of the content is free too. It depends on how you like your reading experience but it’s always good to have a book available on your smartphone if you’ve got one.

Perhaps try The Pigeonhole which releases ebooks in installments so it’s more digestible for on-the-go reading.

There is also the Kindle reading app so you can get all the out-of-copyright ebooks downloaded on your phone or tablet or desktop.

I’ve also heard of the app Hooked which present stories as a chat conversation.

Like, you know, super spooky.

Don’t forget your public library will have ebooks available to borrow.

Let us know what reading apps you’ve heard of or would like to try out. What combo of apps vs print works for you?

 

 

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We have jusAsian mostly new fictiont had a huge delivery of new fiction books so we thought we would give you a flavour of what you have to look forward to (as it will take us a while to process them!)

The girl who fell to earth by Al-Maria Sophia. This is the memoir of a girl who grows up between two cultures – America and the Middle East. It is considered to be part family history and part personal quest. The book is written in Arabic.

Mind your head by Juno Dawson. This light-hearted read covers many mental health issues with a view to making society better versed with the topic and not afraid to talk about mental health.

Love across a broken map has 10 short stories from South Asia written by authors from a British Asian background. There are gritty, memorable characters in stories with universal rather than cultural themes.

Five degrees has 14 short stories from Asia. They were shortlisted for the 2012 Asian Writer Short Story Prize. Deepa Anappara, writer of the fourth story in this book went on to win the prize.

Lost and Found. This is an anthology of 22 short, original and diverse stories on the theme of home by Leicestershire writers.

Happy Birthday to Me. The theme of this book is celebration. Part One has short stories and poetry written in a contemporary Asian style. Part Two has interviews with prominent South Asian authors like Mohsin Hamid who wrote The Reluctant Fundementalist, also available on our shelves.

 

sweet-dreams-by-brillianthues-2013

Sweet dreams by Brillianthues (2013) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Happy New Year!

The theme of this blog post is short and sweet: getting the most out of reading and learning in bite-sized chunks.

Short stories

We’ve been building our collection of books from around the world in Hillcroft LRC because we want to give a taste of reading to suit everyone and to resonate with all kinds of readers. There’s a new literary prize set up to illuminate the works of black and minority ethnic (BAME) authors. It’s really exciting to hear about more diversity in publishing. There are so many more stories that we can hear.

Have a look at the short stories on The Asian Writer website for quick hits of new perspectives and universal feelings.

Apps

On a list of the best apps to keep you on track with new year’s resolutions are two notables. One is Pocket Cast to organise and find podcasts, a great way to learn on the go and when your eyes are tired. The second app that I am keen to try out is Lrn, which promises to teach the basics of code with fun quizzes and short lessons.

First News

In the LRC we’ve subscribed to a new newspaper called FirstNews. This is the news in short, with lots of engaging pictures and graphs. If you don’t have time to read a whole article take a moment and grab First News. You can learn something on a single page.

Chrome Web Store

The Chrome Web Store has lots of add-ons (extensions) to customise internet use. All of the browsers will have similar online stores. There are lots of free ways to make research more fun such as adding a kitten picture to every new tab. There’s a goal setting, note taking, procrastination busting homepage from Limitless. More health benefits also include extensions to remind you to take a break or drink water. Check out the web store and reinvent your internet experience.

book-clip-artThere’s been a campaign running across BBC television and radio to highlight the joys of reading for children and adults.

The dedicated #LovetoRead website is an inspirational goldmine! For example, here’s an article on the life of Sue Townsend, an author who kept her writing secret for years. An obvious parallel is JK Rowling. The author of the Harry Potter books struggled through temporary jobs and unemployment before her books took off.

Writing and reading fiction like these two women’s books is at least an escape from reality for thousands and millions of people. Yet the stories behind their stories speak of the power of positive change, dedication and creativity. Who doesn’t love rags to riches stories? Often ‘riches’ doesn’t just mean money but self-development, success or enlightenment. We have many uplifting life stories in the LRC on the biography shelves. We’ll be back in the main LRC in a week so please come and find out about reading a feel-good book.

If you are a social media keen bee you can use the hashtag #LovetoRead to easily find and connect with other readers around the UK and the world! If you are interested in hashtags, children are using them in stories now!

Mavis Cheek in the literature section

Mavis Cheek in the literature section.

We’ve currently merged popular fiction with our literary fiction. It has always been difficult to maintain a distinction between the two for a long time. Popular fiction is usually easier to read and newer books whereas literary fiction are more demanding to read and could be considered classics. The writer KW Taylor suggests that it comes down to what the reader thinks.

We moved the books and weeded out the tatty and unborrowed ones (they have gone to a good home through Better World Books). Because literary fiction is classified using the Dewey Decimal system it makes it easier to browse on the shelf as it distinguishes between languages and countries where it has been written. For example, our biggest section of the literary shelf is now 823, which is shorthand for ‘English fiction’.  It makes it more obvious which fiction we need more of, such as our world literature (other than North American) which is a quite small collection at the moment. We aim to grow it to better suit our international focus and interests as a college overall.

We’ve also come across some gems again. We have more than 10 books by author Mavis Cheek who came to Hillcroft College in the 1970s. If you are in need of a good book to read or to be inspired by her creativity and humour then you could try reading her books.

Last week we posted about novellas. We asked which of the prize-winning short books written by women would you like to read whilst at Hillcroft:

Being a college for women means that we try to make women feature prominently in our book collections where suitable. Not just female authors, but female characters too. Yet would we want to read books by women about women? According to the article ‘Books about women less likely to win prizes, study finds‘ – apparently not. Women seem to prefer books about male lead characters and supports the argument for “women’s perspectives being considered uninteresting or unworthy” (Flood 2015).

Uninteresting? Unworthy?….Really?

Do the above novellas feature women as main characters? After reading the short summaries below, do those with main female characters sound as interesting as the other stories?

Three Blind Mice is a murder mystery with a bunch of characters stuck in a house together knowing one of the group is a killer.

The Photograph centers around a female character, Kath… who is dead.

The Grandmothers is about two women who fall in love with each other’s sons.

The Awakening is about a woman who has an unhappy marriage (controversial when it was written in 1899!)

The Artist of Disappearance is about a man called Ravi who lives in solitude on a mountain in India.

The Pre-War House & other stories features families often in dark situations.

Black Water centres on a woman who is attracted to a very powerful, older man at a party.

Heartstones is a Gothic thriller about two sisters living with their widowed father. One of the sisters is obsessed with taking her mother’s place.

Brokeback Mountain is about love between two cowboys.

Mathilda is told by a woman on her deathbed about her sad life without a mother and a disastrous relationship with her father. Published 150 years after it was written because it was so controversial.

Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is centred around the sinister influence that a charismatic female teacher has on girls in school.

Black Sheep is an especially bleak tale about a family in a small mining village.

So there we have it, lots of family drama and controversial relationships. There are strong and strange female characters aplenty. Yet all the stories are based in Western cultures apart from The Artist of Disappearance – but addressing that issue would be another whole blog post.

Working in the LRC means that the team enjoys books and encourages wide reading in all formats and genres –  illustrated and plain text; digital and print; long and short. Yet even I must admit I put down the grand epic ‘War and Peace‘ because it was just too long. According to this literature infographic, it would take you somewhere upwards of 32 hours to read that novel.

If you are up for a challenging read but don’t have much time, many of the most famous authors also wrote novellas. Novellas are short fiction which are often realistic or satirical (See the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry). They are much like short stories and influenced that concise genre of writing. They would probably only take one or two hours to read. Quick wins! It’s not about how fast you read something or whether you finish a book. Novellas may also lead you onto authors whose style you enjoy and can read their longer works.

In libraries novellas and short stories are included with fiction and modern literature shelves. We have stickers on the spines to show you they are short stories. You could try reading Alice Munro’s work for instance. We have Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage in the LRC.

Novellas and short stories could have a shelf for themselves with appropriate signage. Like our Quick Reads shelf. The advantage would be speed. It would be much quicker to locate. Also you would be able to browse a whole shelf of novellas and short stories in a short time to find something you would like to read. What do you think? Do you have time to read a short story or novella?

Which of these prize-winning novellas would you like to read?