Quotations on Thinking

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“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

                                                                     Plutarch

 

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“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

                                                                   Christopher Hitchens

 

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“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

                                                                   Voltaire

 

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“A population that asks questions and analyzes deeply is the mark of an educated and free society; a citizenry that accepts blindly and embraces willful ignorance is the material for a dictatorship.”

                                                                 Charles F. French

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Why Do You Write?

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I have a question for all you out  there who write, and that includes writers of books, poetry, plays, nonfiction, and blogs. If I left out any kind of writing, you are included also.

Why do you write?

I write because I love telling stories, because I see characters and want to know their stories, and because I feel compelled to.

So for everyone else, I am curious: Why do you write?

 

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

Who Are Some Of Your Favorite Speculative Writers?

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I thought it would be interesting to hear who are some of your favorite writers of speculative fiction, which can include fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. Of course, other genres might be included.

For me, I think my favorites are

Stephen King

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Among his novels are The Stand, The Shining, and Hearts In Atlantis.

 

Neil Gaiman

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Some of his books are American Gods, Neverwhere, and Coraline.

and

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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Among his novels are The Shadow Of The Wind, The Prisoner of Heaven, and The Angel’s Game.

So, I ask you: who are some of your favorite speculative writers?

What Is A Sentence From a Book (or two) You Love?

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I was thinking recently of a variety of aspects of books that I love, including plot, theme, and character. As I was considering these elements, I realized that some books have extraordinary sentences. These lines might not encapsulate the entirety of those books, but they are beautiful and powerful.

I will offer two such quotations:

The first is the closing sentence from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most important novels ever written:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known” (307).

The second offering is from A Soldier Of The Great War by Mark Helprin. This novel is, in my not too modest opinion, one of the absolute best novels ever written. With this book, Helprin takes his place among the pantheon of literary giants such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Cervantes, and Tolstoy.

“As a way to arrive at the truth, exactitude and methodology are, in the end, far inferior to vision and apotheosis” (30)

I am sure I will continue this idea as a series, but this little post will serve as a beginning.

So, now I ask everyone who reads this: what are some of the most beautiful and important sentences you have read in books?

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Wordworth Classics. 1993.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier Of The Great War. Perennial. 2001.

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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Mr. Trump, do you have no decency?

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I try not to be political in this blog, but I cannot be silent.

President Trump has a history of attacking service members and their families, which gives the lie to his claim that he supports the military.  He attacked Senator McCain, a gold star family, and now Admiral McRaven, a former Navy Seal and special operations commander, who lead the attack and capture of Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader and one of America’s greatest enemies.

Trump is a man who avoided military service and who places self-interest above all else. Admiral McRaven, conversely, has lead a life of serving the United States of America. I am not concerned with the Admiral’s political views. I respect him no matter if conservative or liberal. He served the country honorably.

To paraphrase Joseph Welch, whose opposition to Senator McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings helped end McCarthy’s cruel, unAmerican, and tyrannical approach to justice, I ask President Trump — Do you have no decency? Finally, Sir, do you have no decency?

President Trump, stop attacking our military.

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.

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