edx.org as a means to enhancing your reading experience!

edx-logo-headerEver wanted to “dig deeper” into a piece of literature you really liked? Whether a classic or a modern novel, sometimes a books touch as so much that we want to learn more about it and just reading it once isn’t enough. That’s what book clubs are for, right? But nowadays there are more ways to do that.

One that I have found beautiful, clever and extremely helpful is the platforms for learning, such as Coursera or Edx. For those not  familiar with them, they are designed in such a way that the user can, for free, learn a series of subjects via videos and online reading material. The subjects are designed and run by universities around the world.

Some of the courses available

I jumped at the chance to learn what I can from one of those courses. It is on the edx platform, in collaboration with Berkley University. The book discussed is A study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the first story of Sherlock Holmes. I have just finished week one, and it is quite good. It looks a lot like a virtual book club, where you are given a reading plan ( for example two chapters per week) and then discuss the chapters on the platform’s forums. There are glossaries to help you study deeper into the book, information about the author and their era, the historical and political  situation of the time,  and some quizzes at the end of the week so that you can see if you have grasped the essence of the story so far.

Overall, I would say it is a good experience. You exchange a lot of ideas, which is quite pleasant. The information you gather about the author and the era are also very interesting. It doesn’t require a lot of your time, just a couple of hours per week, so that is a pro. If you are interested in learning more, edx provides courses for a variety of books. Go ahead and take a look, you might find something really interesting.

National Medal of Arts awarded to Stephen King.

On Stephen_King,_ComiconThursday, September 10 the American president Barack Obama honored 21 organizations and individuals on the sector of humanities and arts.Among those who received a medal was writer Stephen King, who received the National Medal of Arts  for combining storytelling with analysis of human nature. According to President Obama, “one of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature .For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world.”


Stephen King, aged 67, began writing while still in school. The first of his stories to be independently published was “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber”. In 1973, King’s first novel Carrie was accepted by publishing house Doubleday, and he has since published 54 novels and  written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections. Along the multitude of awards won through his life are Bram Stoker AwardsWorld Fantasy Awards, the O. Henry Award and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  He has also received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), the Canadian Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007). Movie adaptations of his novels include IT, The Shinning, Misery, The Green Mile, Salem’s Lot and more.

It_coverAlong with being a successful and prolific writer, King  is also involved with charity. He donates approximately $4 million per year “to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment, schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts.”The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, spends over $2.8 million in grants per year, according to The Grantsmanship Center. In November 2011, the  Foundation donated $70,000 in matched funding for families in need Bangor, Maine.


According to Stephen King when asked why he became an author, “ The answer to that is fairly simple-there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do”. How about retiring?  “Not yet. I’m writing but I’m writing at a much slower pace than previously and I think that if I come up with something really, really good, I would be perfectly willing to publish it because that still feels like the final act of the creative process, publishing it so people can read it and you can get feedback and people can talk about it with each Salemslothardcoverother and with you, the writer, but the force of my invention has slowed down a lot over the years and that’s as it should be. I’m not a kid of 25 anymore and I’m not a young middle-aged man of 35 anymore-I have grandchildren and I have a lot of things to do besides writing and that in and of itself is a wonderful thing but writing is still a big, important part of my life and of everyday.”