Inspiring female authors of the classics

Being an author is a great accomplishment in itself. Becoming an author two hundred years ago was a greater one, considering how hard it was to become one, what with the small number of publishing books and far smaller reading target groups. However, what I consider an even grander accomplishment is becoming a female author , which is why I admire some of the classics so much. So here are some intelligent, inspiring women who were not afraid to express themselves in difficult times, and to achieve what only few women in the world could in their era.

 

800px-SenseAndSensibilityTitlePageJane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817). One of the most widely read writers in English literature, her works include Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Little is known of her personal life, it is ,however, known that she received a proper amount of education and was one of the “lucky” women of her era, as she is said to have been given free access to her father’s library, having therefore an access to literature that most women did not have. Her works were published anonymously, and therefore brought her little acknowledgement through her life. Her novels, however, quickly became fashionable among opinion-makers.

 

 

 

 

 

CharlotteBronte
Charlotte Bronte (wikipedia.org)

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855). Bronte’s life was not an easy one. Having lost her mother at an early age, she acted as a motherly figure for her younger sisters.Her first novel, the famous Jane Eyre, was rejected and had to be re-edited before it was accepted under a male pseudonym. . In May 1846 Charlotte and her sisters,  Emily and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poems under their assumed names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The purpose of the pseudonym was to hide their gender. Charlotte’s pseudonym was Currer Bell, and she continued using it throughout her writing career.  Although she died at the very early age of 38, Charlotte Bronte managed to leave behind wonderful novels, such as The Professor, Emma, and Jayne Eyre.

Emily Jane Brontë (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) . The younger sister of Charlotte Bronte was a poet and a writer,  best known for her only novel (and my all time favorite classic), Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell in order to conceal her gender.Emily died of tuberculosis when she was only 30 years old, and all she had managed to leave literature with are some poems and her novel, Wuthering Heights, but it is such a wonderful classic piece of literature, that is now considered one of the masterpieces of literature.

 

Louisa_May_Alcott_headshotLouisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet. She is best known as the author of the novel Little Women. Her family suffered severe financial difficulties and she had to  work in order  to help support the family from an early age. She worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper and  was a strong supporter for women’s suffrage , becoming the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts in a school board election. When the American Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse . She was a prolific author, writing throughout her entire life. Her works include Little Women, Litlle Men and Jo’s Boys.

 

 

 

FrankensteinDraft
Shelley’s handwritten notes of Frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ( 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) is best known for her gothic novel Frankenstein. Daughter of a political philosopher and a feminist, Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husbands, Percy Shelley, works and for her novel Frankenstein.  Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her novels, which include Valperga and The Last Man and Falkner.

Harry Potter fun facts you may have missed

HarryPotter5posterAny Harry Potter fans out there reading this? I hope so… I am a huge fan myself, and I was surprised to learn that J.K. Rowling loves hiding so-called Easter Eggs in her books. To anyone not familiar with the term, an Easter Egg is a small “hint” of the plot, something so well hidden that only few will get to spot. So here are the Easter Eggs I have found out about so far

Professor Trelawney Was Right…

We all thought Professor Trelawney was somewhat nuts, right? Actually, her prophecies were quite good. In The Prisoner Of Azkaban, Trelawney refused to sit at the table where she would be the thirteenth person sitting as she believed that the first person to stand up from that table would be cursed and die. What she failed to count was that Peter Pettigrew was sitting on that table in the form of a rat, so it was already thirteen people at that table. The first to rise from it, Dumbledore, was later killed. In The Order Of The Phoenix, after sitting at a table of thirteen people, Sirius was the first one to stand, and we all know what happened to him.

Dementors Were Created From Depression

J.K.Rowling was suffered from depression while writing the books. The Dementor’s Kiss is supposed to represent how mental illness can make you feel.

October 31st

Halloween Eve, October 31st, is a very significant date in the books. It is also the date his parents were killed by Voldemort, the mountain troll was let into the school, Sirius Black broke into Hogwarts and slashed the Fat Lady’s portrait and it is also on Halloween that Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet Of Fire.

200811131411282LRon had revealed Myrtle’s murder

Not knowingly, of course. In the Chamber of secrets, Ron, talking about Tom Riddle, jokingly says that he might have been rewarded because he “ saved some teacher from a giant squid. Or maybe he murdered Myrtle…”. Little did he know he was actually right!

Snape’s Heartbreak

In the first Book , Snape’s question to Harry is:

Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?

Now, if you look up the meanings of these plants, asphodel is a lilly and wormwood  symbolizes absence and sorrow. Snape is saying ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death.’

Then secret behind the Longbottom name

The Longbottom surname’s origin  is in J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Longbottom is a region of the Shire renowned for growing plants . Considering Neville’s flair for herbalism and magical gardening, this is certainly not a coincidence.

Alan Rickman knew all along the reasons Snape hates Harry.

In the films, Snape’s emotions towards Harry are exactly how J.K.Rowling expected him to act. How was he so good at it? Rowling had confided in Rickman about the reasons of Snape’s bitterness. Rickman kept his secret for the entire filming process, with him and the author being the only people who knew about this.

The best books for people who love animals

Today is a special day. We celebrate our little friends, our trusted pets, the best companions humans could ever wish for. In honor of this day, I gathered some of the wonderful books that exist out there about our lovely pets (wild animals as well):

Black-Beauty-Anna-SewellBlack Beauty

Anyone remember reading this as a child? This is one of the first book that depicted animal feelings so well. A story that teaches us that animals also deserve love, care and respect.

Marley & Me

A story to make you cry. Seriously, you will love Marley the Labrador, and yes, you will definitely cry. But you will als laugh through this book and you will certainly enjoy it.

 

 

 

Bunnicula

A hilarious story that is mostly about children, but who says adults can’t enjoy it? A story with not one, not two, but three domestic animals. A cat, a dog and a bunny, that try to solve mysteries. Absolutely adorable!

 

fantastic-fox-book113Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Roald Dahl. Need I say more? You need to read this to your children, people. You won’t regret it!

 

The call of the wild

And now about a not-so-domestic animal… The majestic wolf and the bond with a human.

 

 

 

Charlotte’s web

Another adorable story for children, where the little spider Charlotte saves the life of a wonderful pig.

Howl’s Moving Castle: There’s no fairytale like this fairytale

Howl-s-Moving-Castle-howls-moving-castle-4919316-853-480Sophie Hatter, living in magical Victorian era,  is the eldest of three daughters, and a girl resigned in the fate of doing a job she doesn’t love . When an evil witch curses her to look like an eighty year old woman, she decides to leave her town forever and becomes the maid of notorious wizard Howl in his magical, constant- moving castle. However, she soon finds out that Howl’s bad reputation might not me justified.

A lovely story that entertains and at the same time teaches really well the concept of stereotypes and how wrong they can be. If I had to summarize the book in two phrases, those would be “things are not always what they seem to be” and “believe in yourself”. The story certainly boosts your confidence, an inner voice in you saying you are worth much more than you think you do. It also  reminds you that sometimes you need to give people more time to reveal themselves to you, and that you might need to value less others’ opinions of people and more your own.

imagesHowl’s moving castle, written by  Diana Wynne Jones, was first published in 1986 and is the first of a series of books about the wizard Howl. In 2004 an animated adaptation of the story was released, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by the famous  Studio Ghibli. Although the film broke box office records in Japan, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, I highly recommend you read the book before watching the film. There are many aspects of the story, especially about the character of Howl, that were not fully depicted in the film, therefore making it more difficult for the viewers to understand the story in depth.

So should you read this? Well, do you like books about magic? If so, definitely! Do you like stories with deeper meanings? Absolutely. This is a book you will not regret reading. Trust a fellow reader’s opinion!

Banned Books Week: A great way to celebrate freedom of literature

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www.bannedbooksweek.org

Throughout the centuries, ever since the first books were published, there has, sadly, been censorship in many instances. A lot of explanations, or excuses if you will, have been presented for banning books all over the world; from  violent scenes to political views, and from religious affiliations to “Encouragement of “Damaging” Lifestyles”, a lot of excuses can be made. The sad truth is censorship still exists in the 21st century, banning books in one country that are considered perfectly normal and safe in another.

 

What is Banned Books Week?

If you ask me, it is something all countries should have, but few actually do. Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read and  draws attention to banned  books, and highlights persecuted individuals. It is a United States campaign that was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug and  has been held during the last week of September since 1982.

According to its official site, http://www.bannedbooksweek.org, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported. Amnesty International also celebrates Banned Books Week by directing attention to individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.” According to Butler university, the most common excuses for banning books are Racial Issues,Encouragement of “Damaging” Lifestyles,Blasphemous Dialog , Sexual Situations or Dialog ,Violence or Negativity ,Presence of Witchcraft ,Religious Affiliations (unpopular religions) , Political Bias or Age Inappropriate.

It is important, however, to remember that some of these books were banned on dictatorships, in the Middle Ages, or are simply misjudged, so it is important for the reader to form their own opinion about them.

If you want to celebrate banned books week, I believe the best way to do it is to read a book that is or has , in the past, been banned by a country.  You can find a wide list of books banned by various governments on a global level on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments) and on http://www.bannedbooksweek.org, or you can do your own research. Good luck, and Happy Banned Books Week!

The quotes we love from the books we adore.

pizap.com14422301282511There are thousands of wonderful books out there, some of which stay with you for the rest of your life. But do you remember your favourite quotes from them? Here are some of mine, I’d love to here some of yours, too!

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman

“We are all monsters and bastards, and we are all beautiful”

― Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Η σημασία του βιβλίου στην ανάπτυξη του παιδιού

pizap.com14435196247741Όλοι οι βιβλιόφιλοι μπορούμε να καταλάβουμε πόσο σημαντικά είναι τα βιβλία για εμάς, είτε πρόκειται για την απλή ευχαρίστηση που μας δίνει η ανάγνωση μίας ιστορίας, είτε για τις γνώσεις που αποκτούμε, το λεξιλόγιο που αναπτύσσουμε, την έμπνευση που μας παρέχει. Οι περισσότεροι από εμάς ανακαλύψαμε τον μαγικό κόσμο των βιβλίων στην παιδική ηλικία. Πόσοι από εμάς είχαν μια τεράστια παιδική βιβλιοθήκη; Φαντάζομαι οι περισσότεροι.

Θεωρητικά έχουν ειπωθεί πολλά για το πώς επηρεάζει η ανάγνωση βιβλίων τα παιδιά. Πρακτικά οι έρευνες που έχουν γίνει για να εξαχθούν μετρήσιμα αποτελέσματα είναι ελάχιστες. Ο βασικός λόγος είναι ότι δύσκολα μπορούν να εξαχθούν μετρήσιμα αποτελέσματα, καθώς η επιρροή του βιβλίου, τουλάχιστον στον ψυχισμό ενός παιδιού, εξαρτάται κατά ένα σημαντικό βαθμό με υποκειμενικούς, μη μετρήσιμους παράγοντες, όπως οι προτιμήσεις, ο βαθμός επιρροής της οικογένειας κλπ.

Παρ’ όλα αυτά, υπάρχουν κάποιες λίγες έρευνες με σημαντικά ευρήματα. Σύμφωνα με αυτά, τα παιδιά αποκομίζουν πολλά από την ανάγνωση των βιβλίων, και πολλές φορές υπάρχει ταυτόχρονο όφελος για το παιδί και τον γονιό.

Εξάλειψη στερεοτύπων

Έρευνες που διεξήχθησαν στην Αμερική έχουν δείξει ότι η ανάγνωση βιβλίων με θετικά μηνύματα για κοινωνικές μειονότητες βοηθούν στην εξάλειψη των στερεοτύπων. Τις τελευταίες δεκαετίες έχουν εκδοθεί πολλά παιδικά βιβλία με πρωταρχική προσπάθεια των συγγραφέων οι βασικοί χαρακτήρες να προέρχονται από διάφορες περιοχές του κόσμου, ούτως ώστε τα παιδιά να εξοικειώνονται μέσω των βιβλίων με τις διάφορες εθνικότητες. Δεν αφορά όμως μόνο το θέμα της εθνικότητας. Παρατηρείστε πόσα βιβλία υπάρχουν (επιτέλους!) με ηρωίδες. Μέχρι τη δεκαετία του 1970, ήρωες στα παιδικά βιβλία ήταν μόνο αντρικές φιγούρες, πρίγκιπες, υπεράνθρωποι με κάπες, άνδρες επιστήμονες. Τα πρότυπα πλέον αλλάζουν, οι ιστορίες ανάμεσα στα δύο φύλα εξισορροπούνται, και το παιδί σας μπορεί να μάθει ότι υπάρχουν παντού δυνατοί  άντρες, αλλά και δυνατές γυναίκες.

Βελτίωση επικοινωνίας ανάμεσα στο παιδί και τον γονέα

Όταν ο πατέρας ή η μητέρα διαβάζουν μαζί με το παιδί, αναπτύσσεται η επικοινωνία μεταξύ τους. Πώς δικαιολογείται αυτό; Τα παιδιά έως τριών ετών, όταν ασχολούνται με παιχνίδια ή την τηλεόραση, τα οποία προσφέρουν ενδιαφέρον για μικρό διάστημα λόγω ήχων ή χρωμάτων, δεν δείχνουν κάποιο πραγματικό ενδιαφέρον σε συγκεκριμένο θέμα ή μία πιθανή κλίση του. Μέσα από τα βιβλία ο γονιός μπορεί να εντοπίσει κάποια ενδιαφέροντα του παιδιού. Κάποια παιδιά δείχνου προτίμηση στις ιστορίες για τους αστροναύτες ή το διάστημα, και με τον καιρό αναπτύσσουν όλο και μεγαλύτερο ενδιαφέρον για το αντικείμενο, κάποια παιδιά αγαπούν τα βιβλία με  συγκεκριμένα ζώα κλπ.  Όταν εντοπίσεις αυτό το ενδιαφέρον, μπορείς να το αναπτύξεις πιο εύκολα.  Επιπλέον, ο γονιός συζητά το βιβλίο με το παιδί, καταλαβαίνει τα συναισθήματά του, τους φόβους και τις επιθυμίες του.

Το διάβασμα βοηθά στην ανάπτυξη της γλωσσικής ικανότητας

Έρευνες έχουν δείξει ότι η ανάγνωση βιβλίων μαζί με το παιδί, ήδη από την ηλικία των 8 μηνών, συμβάλλει στην ανάπτυξη της γλωσσικής ικανότητας. Από τη μία, λέξεις  που έχουν ήδη μάθει εντυπώνονται καλύτερα στο παιδί όταν τις ακούει μέσα σε διαφορετικές προτάσεις, και  από την άλλη, όσο περίεργο και αν μας ακούγεται, μαθαίνουν περισσότερες λέξεις. Έχει αποδειχθεί ότι ο γραπτός λόγος περιέχει πολύ πιο πλούσιο λεξιλόγιο από τον προφορικό. Οπότε, γονείς, όσο και αν προσπαθείτε, το βιβλίο θα συνεισφέρει ακόμη περισσότερο στην προσπάθειά σας!

Τα βιβλία βοηθούν τα παιδιά να ξεπεράσουν τις φοβίες τους

Υπάρχουν πολλά βιβλία εκεί έξω που ασχολούνται με τους πιο συχνούς φόβους των παιδιών: σκοτάδι, τέρατα κάτω από το κρεβάτι, οδοντίατροι (ναι, οδοντίατροι, από τους πιο συχνούς φόβους των παιδιών) κλπ. Οι ιστορίες αυτές βοηθούν στην εξοικείωση, και αργότερα στην εξάλειψη αυτών των φόβων. Εξάλλου, όσο περισσότερες πληροφορίες έχουμε για κάτι που μας φοβίζει, τόσο μικρότερη επιρροή έχει πάνω μας.

Learn Greek in 25 years

Greek 1No, this is not an actual teach-yourself book. Sure, it has a lot of phrases for you to learn. But most importantly, through tones of humor and sarcasm the author helps you get familiar with some of the biggest aspects of everyday life in Greece. Some of the existing stereotypes are true, some completely wrong, but altogether it is absolutely hilarious reading about his point of view as a British living in Greek.

This is a lot of fun for Greeks as well. It gives you the opportunity to have a good laugh but also think more seriously about our “darkest side”, such as politics, traffic, and sometimes our temper. Do not take this book too seriously , whether a Greek or a foreigner. Its purpose is to make you laugh. And it does that. A lot. As I imagine, it is most hilarious for bilinguals, who can understand both being a Greek and a foreigner.

So think of it as a couple (because you won’t need more than that to finish the book) of fun hours spent reading a hilarious, good- humored book. After all, the title of the first chapter says it al “Welcome to Greek! You haven’t a chance” !!

 

Η σημασία του να δανείζεις ( ή να χαρίζεις) τα βιβλία σου

Ανήκω σε οικογένεια βιβλιόφιλων. Συνήθως όταν ένας από εμάς διαβάσει ένα βιβλίο, το βιβλίο αυτό αλλάζει χέρια, πηγαίνοντας από τον ένα στον άλλο. Δεν έχει πάντα το ίδιο αντίκτυπο σε όλους, και ούτε φυσικά είναι αυτός ο σκοπός. Αυτό που έχει σημασία είναι το βιβλίο να περάσει από όσο το δυνατόν περισσότερα χέρια γίνεται, να διαβαστεί όσο περισσότερες φορές γίνεται. Αυτός δεν είναι άλλωστε ο σκοπός του;

Κάποια στιγμή μιλούσα με μία καλή μου φίλη, στην οποία είχα δώσει ένα βιβλίο που αγαπούσα πολύ. Με πήρε λοιπόν τηλέφωνο για να μου το επιστρέψει. Ξαφνιάστηκε όταν της είπα να το κρατήσει. «Δεν το θέλεις πίσω; Νόμιζα ότι το αγαπάς», μου είπε ξαφνιασμένη. Το αγαπούσα, και για αυτό ακριβώς της ζήτησα αντί να μου το δώσει πίσω, να το δώσει σε κάποιον άλλο που θα ήθελε να το διαβάσει. Τα βιβλία τείνουν να αλλάζουν χέρια στο περιβάλλον μου. Τα διαβάζουμε, τα δίνουμε κάπου αλλού, δεν τα ζητάμε πίσω. Καταλαβαίνω απόλυτα ότι πολλοί είναι τόσο δεμένοι με τα βιβλία τους, που μπορεί να τα δανείζουν αλλά τα θέλουν πίσω. Κατανοητό και θεμιτό, αρκεί πράγματι να τα δανείζουν, να δίνουν λίγη από αυτήν τη χαρά της ανάγνωσης και σε κάποιον άλλο.

Για να μην παρεξηγηθώ, φυσικά και πρέπει να αγοράζουμε βιβλία. Οι συγγραφείς έχουν βάλει σε αυτά τον κόπο, το χρόνο τους, την προσπάθεια και τον ψυχισμό τους και αξίζουν να ανταμειφθούν για αυτό. Δεν είναι όμως κακό που και που να δανείζουμε ή να χαρίζουμε βιβλία, ειδικά σκεπτόμενοι ότι αυτή την εποχή είναι πού δύσκολο να αγοράζουμε διαρκώς μεγάλο αριθμό βιβλίων. Ο σκοπός της κάθε ιστορίας είναι να διαβαστεί, να προκαλέσει, να δημιουργήσει απόψεις, να προβληματίσει. Δώσε ένα βιβλίο σου. Δάνεισέ το. Χάρισέ το. Ξέρω ανθρώπους που έχουν «ξεσκονίσει» τη δημοτική βιβλιοθήκη της περιοχής τους και διψούν ακόμη για διάβασμα, έχω συναντήσει ανθρώπους που θέλουν να διαβάσουν και δεν έχουν την οικονομική δυνατότητα, και φυσικά υπάρχουν άνθρωποι που μπορούν και θέλουν να διαβάσουν πολύ περισσότερα βιβλία από αυτά που έχουν τα οικονομικά μέσα να αγοράσουν. Αν αγαπάς το διάβασμα, καταλαβαίνεις αυτήν την ανάγκη. Κάνε λίγο πιο χαρούμενο κάποιον. Δάνεισε ή χάρισε ένα βιβλίο σου.

The weirdest titles of published books

Browsing through bookstores or sites, you might have met some pretty strange book titles. Some of them are just weird, but some of them are downright hilarious. Here are some of the book titles I have come up against, and I assure you, those books do exist even if it is difficult to believe so!

…Because if you’re not practical, you can’t be a pyromaniac!

practical-pyromaniac-gurstelle

How to load your child with guilt.

worst-book-covers-titles-48

Um…why buy one when you can make one yourself?

weird-book-titles-169

Always Proudly!

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I have actually read this one, and it is amazing!

weird_things

You know, in case you forget your smartphone when you go to the toilet.

Toilet-Paper-Origami

I’m confused. Is it the joy of having chickens, eating them, or the joy of being a chicken?

The-joy-of-chickens-book-GQ-27feb15_b_540x810

When your dog is too smart…

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I am so reading this one!

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Aren’t all cats trying to kill their owners?

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A good way to start a new, profitable career:

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Thanks, God….

Bad-Childrens-Book-God-Loves

Wait…what?

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Handy, I guess

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The perfect excuse to skip gym!

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