Benefits of Reading: Revisited

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I believe this topic to be important, so I wish to revisit it again.

I have previously written about the happiness of reading, a pleasure I hope everyone, or at least, most people experience. As I wrote before, I consider reading to be one of the main joys of life.  Reading is one of the most essential and, at the same time, the most sublime of pleasures.  Reading can take us places we have never been, tell us stories we have not known, and let us experience the lives of many other people.

In addition to the pleasures of reading, I also want to consider the benefits of reading. I think the first, and perhaps most obvious, value is that of education. Regardless of where the reading is done, or if it is for class or for self, all reading informs the reader in some way. As a Professor of English Literature, I teach many books in my courses at Lehigh University and the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College–and for me, this is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life, to share books and explore them with students.

While there are a myriad of ways to learn in life, reading still stands out as the primary, and most efficient, way of gaining information. (I am not in any way discounting the importance of learning through experience.) Readers can learn about areas of study that exist far outside of their particular areas of understanding or expertise. For example, I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory. I do not understand these ideas the way a physicist would, but I can still appreciate the ideas from books aimed at intelligent, non-specialist readers. Such reading allows the book lover to explore an almost unlimited range of ideas.

In addition to education, I think there is a second and equally important value to reading. I have read numerous articles recently about studies suggesting that people, who read, especially fiction, develop more empathy than those who do not read (Chiaet). The overall point of the results of this study, as well as others, is that people who read fiction tend to learn to identify with other human beings and their problems. This is what many of our parents taught to us when they said that we needed to learn to walk in the shoes of other people. It is the basic idea of trying to understand how other people think and feel. Even without these scientific studies, I would assert that fiction helps us to develop empathy.

What do you think about this? Do any of you have other suggestions about the benefits of reading? I would enjoy seeing your ideas.

Works Cited

Chiaet, Julianne. “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.” Scientific
American.Com. October 4, 2013. Web.

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What Is Your Favorite Horror Film?

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October is my favorite month of the year. Not only does Fall typically make its full appearance, complete with painted leaves in a wide palate of colors, but October is also the month of my favorite holiday–Halloween!

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The history of Halloween is a subject that I will cover in another post, but I also have a life-long affinity for the Gothic and Horror, including in movies and books. For the purposes of this post, I am interested in hearing from you what your favorite horror film is. I will address the question of favorite horror novels in the near future.

It would, of course, be completely fair to ask me the same question. If I pose such a question to my students in college classes at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA or the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, I always make it clear that they may turn the question on me.

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If I had to choose just one horror film, among the many possibilities, it would be It (2017) based on Stephen King’s brilliant novel. I was prepared to dislike this movie, because I am typically very critical of adaptations of books, but this time I was very pleasantly surprised. The film deals well with the narrative dilemma of two intertwined time periods in the novel by presenting them in two separate movies. The movie not only shows the supernatural horror clearly, and much better than the made for TV version, but also the film shows, in the most powerful manner, the fear and horror that children can experience from bullying.  This is a theme King often incorporates in his writing, and this movie shows this disturbing reality that many children face very well. If you have not yet seen It, then I recommend this movie highly!

Once again, what is your favorite horror film?

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

Favorite Horror Films: The Bride of Frankenstein: Revisited

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In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, I want to reblog this post about the horror film that is, in my opinion, the closest to the original novel.

I also want to mention that I have taught  this novel several times at both Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

It is also interesting that the sequel The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) to Universal Studio’s Frankenstein  (1931) is a far better film and more faithful adaptation to Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel than was the original movie. James Whale directed and Carl Laemmle Jr. produced this film.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The movie opens with a sequence in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley appear, which is a nod to the summer of 1816 in which the three writers shared time together and decided to writer ghost stories.  Mary Shelley’s contribution was a short story about a young doctor who reanimated a corpse, and which she later expanded into the famous and deeply important novel. In this scene, Mary explains  that the story did not end, as shown in the first movie, with the death of the creature in the burning windmill.

Whale imbues this film with both highly religious symbolism, as when the creature is captured and tied to what looks like a crucifix and to references to important sections from the book.  The creature famously finds a friend in the blind man, who is able to befriend the creature because he cannot see his deformities.  This is a clear reference to stereotyping and bigotry.

In the novel, the Creature demands that Frankenstein create a mate for him, so that his loneliness can be alleviated. In this film, Elsa Lancaster, who also plays Mary Shelley in  the opening scene, plays the bride.  But as would be expected, it does not go well when she rejects the Creature’s advances, and he says the powerful line, “We belong dead.”

Jack Pierce again did the famous makeups, and Boris Karloff starred again as the Creature.

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This movie was successful financially and critically. It is, in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece!

If any of you have interest either in horror or cinema, this is a film that you should see.

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

French On English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays by Charles F. French–Part of the Lehigh University Celebration of Authors

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I was honored to have been included in a lovely event this week:   Harvest of Ideas: A Celebration of Lehigh Authors reception hosted by the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries.

This was an annual recognition of Lehigh University faculty, including adjunct faculty, who have had works published and placed into the library collection. The event itself occurred in Linderman Library’s  Bayer Galleria, which is a room of stunning beauty. In the photograph, I am standing in front of a fireplace that was once a functional heating system. The wood paneling and bookshelves that fill the large space complete the extraordinary atmosphere of the room.

In addition to a wonderful spread of food and drink, the faculty books were put on prominent display on tables along the main wall of the room. I am honored to have my book on writing essays included.

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I was also delighted that a jazz combo of Lehigh undergrad students performed during the event, and they were excellent! These young adults sounded like they had been performing jazz for many years. I closed my eyes, and I imagined an old, smoke filled room with such musicians playing!

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It is always a wonderful feeling to receive recognition such as was given here, so I offer my thanks to the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries, the staff who prepared everything, and the wonderful librarians! Thanks to all!

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

FOE_Cover_French

 

Available on Amazon

 

Libraries and Bookstores of the Lehigh Valley, PA: Linderman Library at Lehigh University

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I mentioned a little over a week ago that I was beginning a new series on libraries and bookstores of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, and I am finally making the first entry in that series. My beginning piece will feature the beautiful Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

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Linderman Library is the humanities library, and it is my favorite place on campus. I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature at Lehigh University, and this extraordinary abode of books is a comforting and inspiring place to work. I have spent many hours doing research and writing in this safe haven for book people.

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Linderman Library has many places to work, including a long reading room, which feels like something out of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books, many nooks with desks, and one of the best features of the library–the rotunda. Several levels of books fill the outside circle, and a winding metal staircase goes from the first to the third floor.

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One of the most beautiful features that is often missed is the dome that caps the rotunda. It is one of striking beauty,  and made of stained glass. If you have the opportunity to visit Lehigh University, you should go to Linderman Library, visit the rotunda, and look up at the dome!

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I am fortunate to live in an area with so many bookstores and libraries, and I was doubly fortunate to attend a University with a humanities library that is not only filled with thousands of volumes of books and journals, but also it is beautiful. The very nature of its architecture encourages students to study in its comfortable environment.

I will continue this series on libraries and bookstores in the Lehigh Valley, PA soon.

 

My Latest Book: French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays by Dr. Charles F. French

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I am very happy to announce that I have been published! I wrote a book aimed at helping students learn how to improve their writing called French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays.

I have been teaching writing in higher education for over 25 years, primarily at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I have written many handouts that I use in my classes. Among the topics covered in these handouts are drafting, editing, revision, confused words, and grammar. Many years ago, one of my students suggested that I put them into a book and call it French On English. The idea germinated inside me for a long time, and I finally decided I should do it.

I finally used those handouts as a basis for the book, and I added to them to create this text on writing essays.

Then I had the good fortune of speaking with a new publisher, who wanted to publish the book! Firebrand Literary Press is a wonderful organization, and I am extremely pleased by their work on this book and their support of me in my efforts! Thank you!

French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays is available now on Amazon.

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Available on Amazon

A Call For Guest Posts for the ULS, The Underground Library Society

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Hello to everyone! I recently had an excellent guest post from Josh Gross, a wonderful blogger.  I am sending out a request to anyone who would like to join the ULS, the Underground Library Society, and who would like to write a guest post about it. This is an organization begun in my First Year Writing class last semester at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. When asked, my students said that they would like to have this organization continue, and I am very pleased by their sentiment. So, I hope to keep it alive in the blogging world.

If you decide to write a guest post, all that is needed is for you to choose a book you would become if we lived in a world in which books were illegal. Then, you would write a post about that book and why you would pick it to memorize. I am not saying you would actually have to memorize the book, but it is what you would do if we lived in a world of total censorship.

The ULS is a small attempt to battle censorship and book banning.

So, would any of you like to do a guest post? Please let me know.

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