Books in General

Feminists Shouldn’t Roll Our Eyes at Men-Only Books Clubs

6 May 2016

From Slate:

On Wednesday, the editors of the New York Times’ Style section proved that they are not even trying to write creative headlines anymore. “Men Have Book Clubs, Too” is, on its surface, ambiguous: Do men have book clubs in addition to other things (elevated levels of testosterone, an indelible interest in grilling, control of all three branches of the federal government)? Or do men, in addition to women, have book clubs?

. . . .

Times writer Jennifer Miller profiles a number of men-only book clubs whose members want everyone to know that they’re extremely masculine, thank you very much. The 16-member Man Book Club in Marin County, Calif. abides by a cardinal rule: “No books by women about women.” The International Ultra Manly Book Club of Kansas City, Kan. consumes “manly—like, spicy” food and rates books “on a five-hand-grenade system for ‘manliness.’ ” Members of the Houston Men’s Book Club contend with false assumptions that they’re gay, while the actually gay founder of the NYC Gay Guys’ Book Club protects its grateful constituents from having to read “a 1,000-page book on lesbians who were persecuted in Russia.”

Most of the book club members quoted in the story seem pretty self-aware about the fact that they are men in a stereotypically female arena.

. . . .

The article seems designed to stir up outrage on social media, and lo, that’s exactly what happened.

. . . .

But do men who join men-only book clubs really deserve our scorn? Is it really so terrible for men to have safe spaces where they use literature as a lens through which to discuss society’s narrow expectations around masculinity, just as women have safe spaces to use literature as a lens through which to discuss society’s narrow expectations around femininity?

Most of the men who belong to the book clubs profiled in the Times article seem sensitive to the fact that women’s book clubs are often an opportunity for reflection and bonding over what it means to be a woman. “[Men] worry that, if they do join, they’ll be seen as intruding on a female activity or stigmatized as being the only guy,” says International Ultra Manly Book Club member John Creagar, who is correct that many women would not be happy if men started crashing their all-female book club meetings. We shouldn’t see all-male book clubs as a reactionary backlash against female book clubs, or an attempt to co-opt a traditionally female space, but as a way for men to enjoy the social and intellectual benefits of book clubs without destroying the homosocial camaraderie of all-female book clubs.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

PG is not a member of a book club. He reads a lot and talks with other people about what he reads, but he has never felt a need to do so in the context of a book club.

PG didn’t know there had to be rules, written and unwritten, about gender and book clubs.

After reading this Slate piece, if PG were ever going to join an all-male book club, he would probably require a few rules.

1st Rule: You do not talk about Book Club.
2nd Rule: You DO NOT talk about Book Club.
3rd Rule: If someone from Slate asks you about Book Club, you RUN AWAY away without mentioning Book Club.

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Have novellas become the happy medium between a tweet and tome?

5 May 2016

From The Guardian:

“I love reading but I just don’t have the time any more.” How often do I hear that? Regularly. Too often from people who used to read my novels but who haven’t lately, and feel compelled to run the “it’s not you, it’s me” line. Which, I guess, is at least better than the alternative.

I know where they’re coming from. With the right book in my hand and the time to appreciate it, reading is still one of my favourite things to do. But how often do I do it? Honestly? Not as much as I once did. While most of us still identify as readers of books, the number who actually go to the trouble of reading them is trending down.

. . . .

On 21 December 2012, when Gangnam Style clocked up its billionth view on YouTube, I did the maths. If each play had involved one viewer and that viewer had watched to the end, Psy and his pony dancing had accounted for more than 50 million hours of human activity. Fifty million hours not curing cancer. Fifty million hours not starting wars. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but it is 50 million hours.

What would we have all done if we hadn’t been watching Gangnam Style in 2012? Let’s suppose a fifth of that time might have gone into reading. Ten million hours. That’s the equivalent of about a million novels worth of reading that didn’t happen. Because of one video on YouTube. One video among millions on one platform among many.

. . . .

And, oh, yes, there’s also work, family, study. Those 20th-century components of life didn’t go away when technology barged in.

In the face of all that, novels get picked up and put down and picked up and put down and, weeks later and halfway through, don’t make as much sense as they should. So they don’t get finished and the next one doesn’t get started. Fat novels look impossible and thinner novels start to look unlikely. Months pass and eventually we realise we’ve stopped reading books.

Meanwhile, on the peripheries of the publishing industry lurks what might be the form for the age: the novella. It’s not a short story and it’s not a novel. In size it’s somewhere in between, but there’s more to it than that. It goes deep without going long. It’s not a moment, but it’s not a month of interrupted reading either. It’s movie-length and it satisfies like a novel, but it gets you to the end the same evening.

And the very thought of it makes publishers break out in a rash. The word “novella” arrived in English in 1902, but publishers have been ducking and weaving ever since. Because it costs just about as much to make a smallish book as it does a medium-sized one, and there’s a fear that bookbuyers buy books by the kilo.

Do they? I don’t know. But pick any book you’ve loved. How often have you said, “I loved that book because it was so heavy”? Or so thick, or so long. How about never? We love the books that grab us and hold on to us and mean something. A great novella can do just that, at least as well as a novel, and yet it can be compact enough to fit into a pocket or a bag, and even a relatively hectic life.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Joe for the tip.

More than words

5 May 2016

From Aeon:

Human communication is a glorious chaos. And images, from art to emojis, sometimes say it so much better than language can.

. . . .

If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.’ These words are attributed to the realist painter Edward Hopper. Few can paint like Hopper could, but all of us can relate to the feeling that words are sometimes not enough. Having said that, what makes images any better?

Words are, after all, incredibly versatile things. Even one as supposedly simple and unambiguous as, say, ‘rain’ can be used to suggest a multitude of meanings, an infinity of implications. As part of a conversation about my mood, the exclamation ‘Rain!’ can mean something like: ‘Even the weather is bringing me down.’ If, on the other hand, I am making plans for the day, the statement ‘Rain!’ could instead suggest that I should take an umbrella with me. And then there’s metaphor and simile and irony.

Ordinary communication is replete with figurative, non-literal word use. Juliet is the Sun. Time is money. Cognitively minded linguists have documented in detail how metaphor, among other types of figurative expression, is so pervasive in everyday language that we usually don’t even notice it. Societies are not biological organisms, but you wouldn’t know it from our everyday language. We talk of social afflictions, of a plague on society, of the body politic, and of how we should give our nation a shot in the arm. The examples are endless, and this expressive flexibility is powerful. How is painting, or any art form, going to do anything that language can’t?

. . . .

Some people have the intuition that we bridge this gap between what is said and what is meant by first interpreting signals as literally as possible, and then, only if that doesn’t make sense, we might consider more supposedly elaborate interpretations. However, this doesn’t fit with the data. Reaction-time experiments, for example, show that people are no slower to comprehend figurative than non-figurative expressions. Non-literal means of expression are not some sort of bonus add-on, requiring more advanced cognitive and linguistic skills to those employed in supposedly more quotidian cases. They are part of the very fabric of human communication.

The big picture is this: human communication is a family of different means of expression, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. A train timetable, an anecdote, a metaphor, a point, a raised eyebrow – and even painting, too: looking at these examples, it is easy to see contrast, but for a more sophisticated reading we should recognise the familial resemblance. Some means of expression are less common than others, but they are all part of the same family unit.

. . . .

The most common means of human communication is language, and for good reason. Languages are sets of conventions, and conventions are convenient. It’s convention that, in English, feline animals are referred to with the word ‘cat’ (instead of, say, ‘chat’ or ‘tac’ or ‘dog’). It’s also convention that we add an ‘s’ to the end of third-person verbs in the present tense (I think, you think, she thinks). We can do a lot with grunts and points, but we can do so much more when we add conventions to the mix. I can point with my arm to any of the objects in this room, but with conventions I can refer to any object in the world, and even to objects with no material existence, such as unicorns and free lunches. Linguistic conventions are how we expand, on a huge scale, both the precision and range of human communication.

Still, all means of expression have their weaknesses as well as their strengths, and words are no exception. They have two major downsides. First, while certainly convenient, conventions are also second-hand. They are not the thing itself: they are a placeholder for it. A representation. This indirectness is the very point of them, but it also makes conventions less immediate than other, less mediated means of expression. If, for instance, I want you to know just how cute cats are, I could say: ‘Cats are cute.’ But it would be better, would it not, if I just showed you an actual cat? As a way to trigger in you an appreciation of their cuteness, visual experience of cats is much more effective than words could ever be. This is why YouTube is full of kittens, but the annals of literature are not.

Link to the rest at Aeon and thanks to Julia for the tip.

The Shocking Tale of the Penny Dreadful

2 May 2016

From The BBC:

In a television schedule pulsating with supernatural mystery and melodrama, Penny Dreadful, the transatlantic production now entering its third season, has managed to carve out a niche as a smart, exuberantly ghoulish guilty pleasure. Unfurling against a pitchy Victorian backdrop, its blood-spattered plot has so far taken in vampires, werewolves, she-demons, Egyptology, prostitutes, an explorer, body snatchers and a sharpshooter from the American Wild West.

. . . .

Classic literary allusions abound, with roles for Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray, but the show’s title derives from an altogether more ephemeral branch of literature: the cheap and sensational serials that were variously dubbed penny awfuls, penny horribles and penny bloods. Penny dreadful is the term that’s stuck, describing a 19th-Century British publishing phenomenon whose very disposability (the booklets’ bargain cover price meant they were printed on exceptionally flimsy paper) has made surviving examples a rarity, despite their immense popularity at the time. What endures is a louche frisson that the show exploits to atmospheric effect, but as for those forgotten original penny dreadfuls – were they really all that scandalous?

. . . .

The penny dreadful emerged in the 1830s, catering to an increasingly literate working class population and made possible by technological advances in printing and distribution. Its heyday came in the 1860s and 1870s, when these booklets papered the nation’s newsstands. At a penny apiece, they cost as little as a twelfth of the price of an instalment of a Charles Dickens novel, and historians estimate that there were as many as 100 publishers in the business, paying authors by the line to crank out tales with titles such as Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood and The Black Band; or, The Mysteries of Midnight. Some writers juggled multiple works simultaneously, each one unfolding over the course of months or years and packing in a telenovela’s worth of kidnappings, poisonings, larceny, bigamy, revolution and all manner of gruesome revelations.

. . . .

According to George A Sala, a successful journalist and sometime protégé of Dickens, the penny dreadfuls offered access to “a world of dormant peerages, of murderous baronets, and ladies of title addicted to the study of toxicology, of gipsies and brigand-chiefs, men with masks and women with daggers, of stolen children, withered hags, heartless gamesters, nefarious roués, foreign princesses, Jesuit fathers, gravediggers, resurrection-men, lunatics and ghosts”.

. . . .

The most popular works could shift 30,000 copies a week, but they weren’t popular in all quarters, especially when they started to target younger readers. While initially read by men and women of all ages, penny dreadfuls later began to be aimed specifically at children. This made commercial sense – already in the 1820s nearly half of the UK’s population was under 20 – but it also fanned the flames of moral panic. Commentator Francis Hitchman wasn’t alone when he declared that penny dreadfuls were “the literature of rascaldom”, responsible for peopling Britain’s prisons and penal colonies.

. . . .

Eventually, the debate evolved to question the extent to which literature can shape character. When 13-year-old Robert Coombes, the subject of Kate Summerscale’s new book, The Wicked Boy, was arrested for murdering his mother in London in 1895, the prosecution naturally sought to scapegoat penny dreadfuls. But this time most of the media agreed that they played little part in his matricidal actions. As the Pall Mall Gazette noted: “The truth is that in respect to the effect of reading in boys of the poorer class the world has got into one of those queer illogical stupidities that so easily beset it. In every other age and class man is held responsible for his reading, and not reading responsible for man. The books a man or woman reads are less the making of character than the expression of it”.

Link to the rest at The BBC and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Karl Ove Knausgaard Became a Literary Sensation by Exposing His Every Secret

2 May 2016

From The New Republic:

Before he quit doing public events in his home country, the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard took the stage one night at the House of Literature in Oslo, a stately five-story building across from the Royal Palace. It was December 2009, a few months after his six-book autobiographical series, My Struggle, began publication. Across its 3,600 pages, Knausgaard recounts the banalities and humiliations of his life, the private moments of pleasure, and those dark thoughts that most people can’t bear to articulate even to themselves. The books were an immediate sensation. The line for the event curled around the corner, and Knausgaard’s appearance in the main auditorium had to be simulcast to other rooms to handle the overflow crowd. For nearly two hours, he was interviewed live by another author, Tore Renberg, a friend of his since their days doing student radio together in the early ’90s. The two talked about the books and what it took to write them.

Afterward, almost no one wanted to go home. A huge group packed into the building’s restaurant. The space is chilly and over-lit, with the feel of a museum café, but people stayed for two or five or six beers, talking about how much they identified with Knausgaard and telling intimate stories from their own pasts. Cathrine Sandnes, the 42-year-old editor of the prestigious Oslo journal Samtiden, thought to herself, “What is happening?”

By now the response in that room has become widespread. Speak to Knausgaard’s devotees and you will hear a persistent theme: that by writing about himself, Knausgaard has really written about them, that reading My Struggle is like opening someone else’s diary and finding your own secrets. In Norway, where the hardcover editions cost more than $50 each, nearly a half-million copies of the books have sold, or one for every nine adults in the country. Grown men and women, Sandnes says, have the same kind of relationship with My Struggle that they had with Nirvana when they were teenagers: “You know, when you live it and you breathe it?” The series is available or forthcoming in 22 languages and counting. Ladbrokes began tracking Knausgaard’s odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012—when he was only 43 years old. In the United States, where the third book will appear in May, he counts Jeffrey Eugenides, Zadie Smith, and Jonathan Lethem among his many admirers. “Knausgaard pushed himself to do something that hadn’t quite been done before,” Eugenides told me. “He broke the sound barrier of the autobiographical novel.”

Sparing nothing, however, has brought consequences. Although originally categorized as fiction, the series is an unflinching self-portrait that has Knausgaard as its protagonist and his relatives and loved ones as the supporting cast. Almost all of them are identified by their real names, and the vast influence of his work has changed their lives, too. People close to him have leveled bitter and public accusations that he has trespassed on their privacy and damaged their reputations.

. . . .

Today Knausgaard and his family live on a rutted lane in a tiny village near the southern tip of Sweden, where they moved in 2011. The wind blows hard over the surrounding farmland. Flocks of geese break the morning silence. “Nobody cares about literature around here,” he told me when I visited in February. That suits him well. He is trying to protect his wife and four young children from the ongoing storm of attention.

It is too late to shield himself. For all the success of My Struggle, Knausgaard speaks of its impact with more regret than pride. Sitting in his rustic studio across the yard from his modest house, he looked down and said, “It fills me with sadness every time I talk about it.”

His best friend, the author Geir Angell Øygarden, says, “Karl Ove, he can’t cope” with the idea “that he has done something wrong—or more correctly that somebodythinks he has done something wrong. He can’t. He can’t cope with it.”

. . . .

That vivid intimacy is also what made My Struggle controversial. Knausgaard fell for his wife, the Swedish author Linda Boström Knausgaard, at a writers’ conference he attended while still married to a journalist named Tonje Aursland, though Linda rejected his advances at the time. In Book Two, he describes Linda’s outfit on the day he met her, how she twisted a blade of grass in her fingers, the way he drunkenly cut his own face when she turned him down. Aursland found out about all this when she read the passage along with the rest of Norway. She was enormously wounded, as she recounted in an emotionally raw radio documentary she collaborated on called “Tonje’s Version.” Knausgaard agreed to participate in the production (how could he say no?) and Aursland confronted him on air. He did not acquit himself particularly well.

. . . .

When Knausgaard finally gets together with Linda, his wild elation—he faints during their first kiss—is not tempered by retrospect; we are right alongside him in the throes of bliss. And we are right there with him when the two are married and grappling with strollers in roadside exhaust and carping at each other. “I would have left her,” he writes, “because she was always moaning, she always wanted something else, never did anything to improve things, just moaned, moaned, moaned.” That is a merciless remark about Linda, but Knausgaard comes off even worse. What kind of person would publish such a thing about his wife?

. . . .

As he began what would become My Struggle, Knausgaard wrote in a combination of naïveté and willful denial about how the people close to him might respond. “I was kind of autistic,” he has said. “I didn’t think of the consequences.” He never imagined that all of Scandinavia would be talking about what he was typing. But as he wrote the passage about his grandmother, describing her grease-stained dress and ruined mind, he felt the risk: “ ‘Can I write this?’ I thought. There I knew.”

Link to the rest at The New Republic

William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, Is Dead at 52

30 April 2016

From The New York Times:

“To be or not to be,” said Hamlet, prince of Denmark, “that is the question.” Yesterday, Hamlet’s creator was; today, he is not. Of that there is no question.

Poet, playwright, actor and theatrical-company shareholder, William Shakespeare (sometimes spelled Shakspeare, or Shagspere, or Shaxpere, or Shaxberd,1 or any number of blessed ways) died today, April 23, 1616, at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was, more or less, 52. His passing was confirmed by his daughter Judith.

Over the course of three decades, Mr. Shakespeare rose from working-class obscurity in Warwickshire to become one of England’s foremost playwrights and poets3 — acclaimed for his penetrating insights into the human character, his eloquent, flexible and infinitely expressive verse; and his readiness to burst the bounds of the English language (drawing on a vocabulary of more than 25,000 words).

. . . .

Among the deeply flawed characters who have strutted and fretted their hour on Mr. Shakespeare’s stage, perhaps the foremost is Hamlet, who must decide whether or not to kill the uncle who murdered his father and married his mother. It takes him as much as five hours to decide, depending on the performance, and by then, a good portion of Denmark is dead.
Had Hamlet never existed, playgoers would still speak of Macbeth, an upwardly mobile and downwardly moral Scottish thane who, with the steady prodding of his wife, who may be mad, lets nothing stand between him and the throne and is defeated only by a combination of a C-section baby4 and traveling trees.

Other immortal creations: Julius Caesar, a great Roman leader who gets a whole play named after him but dies in Act III; Romeo and Juliet, two young Veronians from warring families who fall in love the only way teenagers can — for keeps; King Lear, a senescent king who disinherits the one daughter who actually likes him; Othello, a brave Moorish soldier who becomes, after a few well-timed prods and a suspicious handkerchief,5 the kind of fellow who requires a restraining order.

. . . .

William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd-ish, 1564. His mother was Mary Arden. His father was John Shakespeare, an aspirational sort who worked his way up the social ladder from glovering and whittawering to constabling, burgessing, chamberlaining and, finally, high bailiffing. (Mayoring, if you like.) Sadly, Shakespeare père was prosecuted four times for wool trading and usury, which may explain why he retired from public life when Will was just 12.

Of William Shakespeare’s four sisters, only one survived to adulthood. Of his three brothers, Mr. Shakespeare was the only one who married. In an age that puts little store in records, this is practically all we know about his brothers and sisters.

. . . .

For most of his career, he wrote for a theater company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, founded in 1594. As a shareholder, Mr. Shakespeare benefited both from the troupe’s financial successes and from its ability to survive the winds of Elizabethan political change. (The company’s association with the Earl of Essex became briefly problematic when Essex mounted the world’s most ineffectual revolt against the queen.) With the accession of James I, the players changed their name to the King’s Men and performed before His Majesty on 187 occasions, more than all rival companies put together. The king loved his men.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

The Human Brain as a Word Cloud

28 April 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

The human brain is a living word cloud, turning spoken language into intricate neural patterns of meaning that we all appear to share, new research suggests.

In research reported Wednesday in Nature, neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley created a comprehensive atlas of these patterns, showing how shades of meaning in natural speech stir the brain.

To make it, the researchers employed an imaging method known as functional MRI to identify places throughout the brain stirred by the meaning of words in stories told aloud. In the pulsed patterns of neural blood flow monitored by the imaging device, they found a tapestry of responses with narrative threads reaching into more than 100 areas in the cerebral cortex.

. . . .

“These are maps of the meaning in language, not the words themselves,” said UC Berkeley neuroscientist Jack Gallant, a senior researcher in the study. “The brain somehow represents the concepts in this smooth gradient distributed across the brain.”

. . . .

In the new study, volunteers were brain-scanned as they listened to seven stories between 10 minutes and 15 minutes long, originally recorded on the Moth Radio Hour produced by Atlantic Public Media.

These autobiographical narratives ranged from a story of a man who recovers repressed childhood memories to a tale told by a woman who briefly became an exotic dancer.

All told, the anthology comprised more than 10,000 words of narrative speech. The researchers grouped the words into 200 clusters of meaning, such as family, violence, music or touch. Then, as the seven volunteers listened inside the scanner, the researchers calculated the relative strength or weakness of the brain’s response to these concepts at thousands of points in the cortex.

. . . .

The new map revealed a much more extensive landscape of meaning that encompassed both sides of the brain, with a pattern that listeners shared.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

America’s obsession with adult coloring is a cry for help

28 April 2016

From Quartz:

In January, Samantha Wuu quit her job in Boston to move home to New Jersey and support her mother through two family illnesses. To take her mind off her worries, she also took up coloring. She very quickly found it hard to stop.

“I was really, really stressed when this was going on,” says the 27-year-old, a teacher and childhood friend. Coloring became a useful distraction, and then a preoccupation: “I would be doing other things, and I’d be like, ‘I can’t wait until I get to do that again.” For a month, she colored every day, at times twice a day.

In a very short time, coloring has proven surprisingly addictive for America’s stressed, anxious, and overworked. Therapeutic without being therapy, meditative without being meditation, creative without being creation, artsy without being art, the supposedly soothing activity has also become a big business—in 2015 alone, US sales of coloring books shot up from 1 to 12 million units.

. . . .

It’s hard to overstate the trend: Coloring books are one of the big reasons print had such a strong showing last year in the US. Bookstores and craft stores alike are bursting at the seams with coloring books geared toward the 20 and up, and there are YouTube channels that let people watch other people color and critique coloring books. Coloring is so big, it’s spun off its own bizarre subcultures, like coloring book parties, coloring books that are just swear words, and adult coloring apps. Even colored pencil production is feeling the effects of the craze.

. . . .

A sizable number of the best-selling titles have one promise: “relax,” “stress relief,” and “good vibes.” Anecdotally at least, coloring seems to make people feel calmer. But unlike with drugs or exercise, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how.

“People with a lot of anxiety respond really well to coloring books,” says New York-based art therapist Nadia Jenefsky. “There are some choices involved—in terms of choosing what colors you’re going to use and how you’re blending your colors—but there’s also a lot of structure.”

. . . .

In a statement, the American Art Therapy Association draws a fine line:

“The American Art Therapy Association supports the use of coloring books for pleasure and self-care, however these uses should not be confused with the delivery of professional art therapy services, during which a client engages with a credentialed art therapist.”

Gloria Webb, a stay-at-home mother in New York City, says she colors because it helps her sleep. She and seven other women, mostly seniors, meet every week in an “adult coloring book club” in Manhattan’s Kips Bay public library.

. . . .

Sheerly Avni, a TV writer based in Mexico City, says she’s the perfect audience for a trend like adult coloring: “I haven’t relaxed since 1973,” she jokes. “I was born to be the market demographic for anything new that makes people calm down with them not actually having to work for it.”

. . . .

We color to feel like children again, and to flex creative muscles, but as Jenefsky says, the truth is that children are actually so creative that coloring books slow them down. “For children a lot of times coloring books can inhibit their creativity,” she says. Their natural creativity, she says, lends itself better to creating art from scratch.

Burned out adults, on the other hand, can be overwhelmed by a blank page. For them, selecting colors to fill in the lines may be all the creativity they can muster. And that makes sense.

It’s precisely coloring’s noncommittal not-quite-therapy, not-quite-art qualities that make it compelling. The activity takes less energy than jogging or yoga, is easier than picking up knitting, and is more productive than watching House of Cards (or can be done alongside it). Easier than yoga or meditation, it offers low-stake quick-hit escapism wrapped in the faddish trappings of self-medication.

Link to the rest at Quartz

55 Boxing Idioms

24 April 2016

From Daily Writing Tips:

Despite the waning popularity of pugilism, or the sweet science, as boxing is also called, the sport has contributed a number of colorful words, phrases, and expressions out of proportion to its current stature among athletic endeavors. Here is a list of idioms that originated in boxing and were subsequently extended to the world outside the square ring.

1. bare-knuckle: fierce or determined (from boxing done without gloves)
2. beat (someone) to the punch: accomplish something before someone else does
3. blow-by-blow: a detailed account (referring to commentary during a boxing match)

. . . .

11. down and out: destitute (an analogy to a boxer who has been knocked down and remains motionless)

. . . .

20. heavy hitter: an influential person or other entity (from the term for a boxer who lands particularly hard punches)

. . . .

45. square off: prepare for conflict (from the tradition of boxers standing facing each other at the beginning of a match)

. . . .

51–53. put/throw/toss (one’s) hat into the ring: issue a challenge or indicate one’s interest in participating (from the custom of a challenger throwing his hat into a boxing ring when a boxer takes on random opponents)
54. throw in the towel: give up (from the custom of a member of a boxer’s support team tossing a towel into the ring to indicate that the boxer concedes defeat)

Link to the rest at Daily Writing Tips

The 35 Best Lines from Jane Eyre

24 April 2016

From BookRiot:

Jane Eyre is my favorite classic novel of all time. It’s hauntingly beautiful, eloquently written, daringly progressive, and a terrific love story to boot. Eyre was one of the first literary heroines to command recognition of feminine fortitude, wit, and desire. Like her creator, she was a heroine ahead of her time, and her story is peppered with nuggets of wisdom that are just as relevant today as they were 169 years ago when the book was first published.

. . . .

On the Value and Autonomy of the Individual

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”

“Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian, you ought not to consider poverty a crime.”

On Women’s Equality

“Do you think I am an automaton?–a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!–I have as much soul as you,–and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;–it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal,–as we are!”

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

“I do not think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”

Link to the rest at BookRiot

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