November 28

Outdoor Adventures in Literature: Camping Portrayed in a Number of Genres

While it may look from the outside to be a boring topic portrayed in books, setting up a camping tent and sleeping out in the woods is a fun and exciting adventure to be explored. Over the years there have been a number of stories printed centered around the topic of camping that have made millions of readers want to try it out for themselves.

One of the most endearing children’s books about camping is A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee. This is a fun camping tale of the hero, Mr. Magee and his loyal dog Dee. While they are enjoying a they suddenly find themselves’ plunging down a mountain, landing on the edge of a huge waterfall! This is a great story for read a louds around the camp fire.

CampingSpree

A 2013 best seller, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is a great book to read by flashlight while curled up in your sleeping bag. This is the story of a young woman, who after suffering a number of personal losses, decided to hit the Pacific Crest Trail and traverse it all the way to Washington. With nothing but her compass to guide her, the heroine learns a valuable lesson about the strength with all possess inside to overcome hardship and learn to move on in life.

You are also going to find that there are some fantastic books with campground cooking recipes and tips on how to use a camping stove. Look for Camping and Cooking: Everything You Need to Know About Camping and Cooking in One Place.  Food always tastes better when it’s cooked at the campground and this book not only gives you some easy recipes to try, it offers advice on how to make sure that everyone is satisfied. The recipes you will find inside are meant for camping, but so delicious that you will want to try them at home.

Another inspiring book based around camping is From a Wooden Canoe: Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment. The author, Jerry Dennis, writes amazing prose about the ordinary things one uses while out camping. Whether he is extolling the virtues of having a waterproof camping tent, or how cozy his new sleeping bag is, each short blurb makes you want to roll up your own gear, stick it in your backpacking backpack and head out the nearest campsite.

Part of a series of books, the literary classic Swallowdale takes place around Ransome’s Lake in the North. With the protagonists setting up the camping tents in the hills surround the lake, this 1931 book gives a clear look at the differences between camping with today’s conveniences and the real struggle it was almost a 100 years ago. This is a great read for those who lament over the inconveniences of having to sleep in a sleeping bag.

There is a lot to be learned from reading books that revolve around camping. From how to make the best of a bad situation, to cooking tips and how to overcome life’s obstacles. If you are not already an avid camper, reading these books will make you want to be.

Click here to read about more outside adventure books!

Category: Uncategorized
November 8

7 Best Children’s Stories of All Time

When we talk about children’s books, popular titles like Goodnight Moon and The Little Engine That Could always come to mind. These are superior books for young children of course, but we forget about those tales geared for those a little bit older. There is an entire genre of amazing stories designed to entertain pre-teens as well as teach important life lessons.

Charlotte’s Web

Who could forget the story of the little pig and the spider that took care of him. This story set on a farm is of everlasting friendship among those who should not be friends in the first place. Wilbur’s reliance on Charlotte and his taking on her children at the end show children how no matter what happens you have to chin up because life does go on.

Charlotte's Web

Anne of Green Gables

The entire Green Gables series is an epic tale of an epic girl and her trials and tribulations growing up. There is great adventure, school woes and even a little romance to keep the reader interested. Girls especially can learn a lot from Anne about how independence is possible.

Robin Hood

The perfect thief, Robin and his band of merry men are a literary classic. Boys in particular love reading about the kind woodsman with his recurve bow and arrows, helping the poor by stealing from the rich. (Thanks to our friends at www.fastflightarchery.com for giving us some amazing history and information about the types of bows out there!)

Little Women

Not even two different movie adaptations can match the strength of this story when read. The tale of 4 young girls as they grow into women is absolutely timeless. Young girls who read this story learn how to face adversary, over come shame, and become whatever their heart tells them to.

Harry Potter

A new tale in comparison with the above classics, the Harry Potter series is already a must read for any pre-teen and teenager. This is more than a magical mystery tale, this is a series of books that teach children how to be brave and face their biggest fears. Even if you are an adult, you will become immersed in this marvelous storytelling masterpiece.

The Wizard of Oz

Everyone has seen the movie, but a young person needs to read the book to truly understand how important home is. The kindness in Dorothy’s heart shines through the entire story as she befriends those who others would shun. From Dorothy and her friends kids learn to always follow their heart to get what they desire most.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Every teenager should read through Alice at least once, if not for anything but to kick themselves when they get older. The symbolism is lost to them at a young age, and the story is only of a lost girl who possesses great bravery.

Parents have a habit of forgetting about the importance of books, once their kids learn how to read on their own. This is a mistake that can lead to them missing out on some excellent story telling with a whole lot of wisdom about how to grow up.

Click here for more top picks

November 7

The Art of Writing a Descriptive Passage – Examining A Scene on Shaving

There are some books you will read over your lifetime that just stay with you forever. For me, it is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. One thought of Scout or Boo, and I am instantly transported back to the South. What is it about this book that has stayed with me for over 30 years? Sure the story is a great one, but there was something in the way that Ms. Lee set the stage that made you feel like you were there playing next to Scout.

There is this one scene, where the author was describing just how hot an Alabama day could get. We all know hot, but when reading how “ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were life soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum” you suddenly really knew hot. The entire story is laced with descriptive writing like this, where you can actually feel what the author is describing.

Another unforgettable scene in a book that will never leave my mind is from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Forget what you saw in the movie, Ms. Walker magically takes us inside of Celie’s mind as she prepares to slit the throat of Mister using a straight razor. For years after reading that shaving scene, I could not look at my husband’s razor and beard grooming kit without shuddering.

color purple

It takes a lot of skill and imagination to bring a reader to that point. Most of the time it is due to personal experience, Harper Lee did grow up in the south, but sometimes it is pure imagination. (I hope that was the case for Ms. Walker, otherwise she’s a little bit too skilled with the beard trimming devices for my comfort!)

Descriptions are the hardest part of putting your ideas into words. You can tell the story with ease, but finding the right analogies to let the reader know how things look, feel, taste and even smell is something else entirely. What gets so many writers is the presumed boring-ness of being descriptive. How many adjectives can be used to describe a face, or tree or even a person? Millions once you learn how to think beyond adjectives.

Harper Lee does not tell us that Calpurnia is skinny, but she does say that Cal is all angles bringing immediately to mind the image of a thin woman. This is the type of writing that keeps the reader involved in the book and turning the pages. They make the story seem real, like something that just happened to you yesterday.

If you are interested in becoming a descriptive writer start using all of the senses in your writing. Sit back and close your eyes and imagine how what you are describing tastes, smells, and feels. Not just how it looks. Once you have mastered this, your story will start to come alive.

A good writer tells a story that keeps the reader going until the end. A great writer is one who has you still thinking 30 years later. Learn the fine art of description and that is exactly what you will become.

Category: History
October 23

The Use of Symbolism in Literature

Symbolism is a literary tool that uses imagery or objects to portray an idea or feeling. You can find this used throughout famous works going back hundreds of years. While some readers can easily pick out the symbolism immediately, many readers are too caught up with the story to realize that they are being drawn into it with subtle symbolism. Colors and objects and are common tools that are enhancing a story without you even realizing it.

Color

The use of color in literature is one of the easiest forms of symbolism to pick out. A character dressed in white is automatically read as being innocent, or pure of heart, while red will invoke feelings of passion, romance and love. Green is used to symbolize hope and a new life.

Think of the color of Scarlett’s curtain dress. Bright green to symbolize her hope that Rhett would save her from her financial despair. Margaret Mitchell uses color with the character of Melanie as well, who is often dressed in blue or white. Blue is common symbol of calm and peace, the epitome of what Melanie represents throughout the entire book.

lanieWhen the thief is murdered at Tara, Scarlett strips of her of her clothes, symbolizing the one moment in the story where Melanie is not at peace with what is going on around her. This is an excellent example of how color can be used continuously throughout a story to help track a character’s emotions.

Objects as Symbolism

Water is often used in literature to symbolize emotions and themes in the story. A rainstorm is a reflection of a new life, while a free flowing river such as the Mississippi in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn is representative of freedom and adventure.

The quest for freedom is a common thread in many great novels, and has been symbolized in dozens of different ways. The minute you read about a character hopping on a motorcycle for example, you automatically know they are on a quest for freedom. And regardless of who that character is, there is not a reference to men’s or women’s motorcycles helmets in sight.

Just look at this passage from Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley: “I was panting, and he was cursing. It was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. If he would have asked met to, I would have jumped on the back of his bike and ridden to the ends of the Earth with him.” The image of the bike, and the riders without any motorcycle helmets, instantly evokes feelings of a dangerous and thrilling lifestyle, free of any type of social constraint.

If you wish to be a successful writer you will want to learn how to incorporate the fine art of symbolism into your works. Once you get started you will be amazed at how much you already know about symbolic reference and how to use it to tell your own story.

This is a fine art to incorporate into your work that makes your written word compelling, leaving the reader anxious to turn each page. Use it to build a strong characterization or to set a running theme in your tale. Either way, the words will hold more meaning and your book will pack more punch.

Click here if you are curious about how the above mentioned masterpieces made it into print.

Category: History
June 10

Family Recipe Book

I can still remember the smell. Those aromas combining to form something irresistible to my nostrils. That subtle smokiness infused with a herby musk, all brought together by the delectable scent of sizzling salmon.

As a kid, my uncle Vinny’s smoked salmon sizzlers were the best thing since sliced bread (or toasted sourdough, to put it more accurately). And long and hard have I tried to replicate that delight since I’ve been old enough to be able to. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations of herbs. I even researched how to Find Top Rated Electric Smokers†and bought the best one to try and replicate that exact tang of smokiness.

But I just can’t get it right. Not exactly, anyway. And sadly, since uncle Vinny passed a few years ago, that secret ingredient may be lost forever.

Luckily, I’ve got plenty else I can eat. Our family has a great history of home cooking. It’s just a shame uncle Vinny’s recipe slipped out the net (sorry). But all families have their own recipes, some passed down from the generations. And this got me thinking: instead of losing this knowledge and family tradition to time, why not record it all in a family cook book? So that’s what I did.

Collecting the recipes

I started out by sending letters to my relatives. Sure, my mum’s secrets could easily be gleamed by a quick phone call. But oldest cousin Billy and gran Dorothy weren’t quite as easy to reach. So I sent a letter asking everyone to send back at least one of their special recipes ñ the older the better.

What’s more, to preserve the legacy, I asked my family to also include a little story about the dishes ñ who cooked it best or family memories of eating it. I figured instead of having just a scrapbook full of text, why not add a little character and color too?

Making a recipe format

To save myself from being inundated with a load of vague guidelines on how to cook these family dishes, I included in my letter a format guide on how to write the recipes. I obviously requested an exact ingredient list and timing detail, but also more subtle instructions that can be the difference between a perfect replica and something else entirely.

Putting it all together

I was relieved that after a month or so I had received several family specialities written out clearly as step-by-step guides to culinary heaven. Sure, I needed more clarification on one or two recipes, but that is where it’s great to get the family together to help. Even my dad, as bad a cook as he confesses to be himself, knew exactly much milk to add to gran’s savoury pancake recipe. Apparently, this is the same dish he used to cook me and my sister every Sunday. He just forgot to add the eggs (to see the importance of adding eggs to pancakes, watch the video below)!

My dad’s pancake revelation aside, this process brought so many great memories back – not just for me, but for the rest of my family. It felt like our families legacy was being passed down the generations through cooking.

I’ve even created my own dish, inspired by SmokyGoodnessBBQ.com – Pulled Pork Baby. Uncle Vinny, after all, taught me you can’t beat a good smoked piece of meat.

Why not try this with your own family. Who knows what family specialities you might uncover.

 

Check out more great reads on our site here!

 

May 27

The Top Surf Books

SurfingIf you’re a surf enthusiast you’re in for a treat. These books range from discussing the sport of surfing, talking about the best surf spots and destinations and of course a few follow some of the surf legends.

Surf Is Where You Find It

Gerry Lopez was a legend in Hawaii. He rode tubes unlike anyone else during his time and was consistently pushing the limit. He wrote a book which featured 41 surfers all who were influential in the sport, one of whom is his idols Paul Straunch. There are some guys who just look good while doing a certain sport Gerry was one of them. In his encore he writes an excellent book. The underlying theme is about how to make the most of life, something Gerry seems to understand on a philosophical level.

The History of Surfing

As the book title suggests, this one is all about the History of Surfing. It takes us back to the origins on the island of Hawaii where surfing was first born. It weaves it’s way through history discussing how the sport has evolved as the athletes have become fiercer and the boards have advanced. It takes us all the way to present day where it discusses modern day surfing including tube riding, big wave riding and stand up paddle surf boards and their implication on the sport as a whole. The best part of this book might just be the photography. Matt Warshaw is truly a surf historian and his book “the history of surfing” displays his vast knowledge on the sport. It’s written with humor and a casual voice that you’d expect from one of surfing’s better journalist.

Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing

This might be at the top of my list. It isn’t the best written book on surfing. However, it held me unlike any other surf book on the planet. It’s not a book about places or people but rather the equipment. It provides a unique perspective on the Surf Board. The author’s go through great detail to describe how the surf board has evolved by giving us a look at over 100 surf boards. It’s a great read for anyone who has an interest in board shaping or making. It’s also great for surf history buffs as you’ll probably get an inside look at boards that you didn’t even now existed. Some of them are hilarious and were destined for failure, others were strokes of genius that changed the course of surf history.

If Surf board style and shaping is your thing you should also check our Surfboard Art * Style * Stoke. It’s not as good as Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing but it’s a good read none the less. Although the two are similar they never overlap aggressively.

Category: Top Genres
May 2

Top 5 Books About Hunting

hunting, knife, sharpeningEven though there are people who condemn the very act and say that it is too barbaric for modern mankind, it cannot be denied that hunting was and is still an important aspect of human civilization.

Despite it being less of a necessity for survival and more of a form of leisure these days, it is still apparent that mankind still has loves to hunt. With all that said, when you hunt you should at least do it right.

hunting ducks, shotgunsIt may seem easy, but there is really more to it and if done without prior training or research, the only thing you will get in your hunting trip would be disappointment. In the spirit of learning how to do it right, here the top 5 books about hunting that may prove useful and teach you a thing or two about hunting.

  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting- As some sort of anti-thesis to Beyond Fair Chase,  this book written by Frank Miniter, shows why it is sometimes good to load your hunting rifle, put on your hunting boots, pack your best knife and your best knife sharpener, and go hunting.  If you are having second thoughts about shooting an unarmed animal, this book will sort of help you get back you confidence in hunting as it presents the truths about how hunting is effective for animal population control as well as some hunting policies that restrained hunters and adding only to human death and injury due to having wild animals running into campers and ordinary people in places they do not usually inhabit. With this book you can pull your trigger with more confidence you are not doing anything wrong.
  • The Art of Big Game Hunting in North America- Written by popular hunter Jack O’Connor, this book about hunting is quite the ultimate go-to book when planning on hunting. Though there are other books and sources of hunting information out there, this book gives more as it provides just about every bit of information you will need for your hunting.
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food- The author, Jackson Landers, helps the hunting beginner with just about everything that ranges from the prescribed ammunition to the cooking of deer. With such a book, you can be sure to enjoy both your hunt and the meal that follows it.
  • Green Hills of Africa- The fact that this book is written by Ernest Hemingway should say a lot about it, like it’s less of a hunting guidebook and more of a great piece of literature that expresses the beauty and art of hunting especially since this book was based on Hemingway’s own hunting trip in Africa.
  • Beyond Fair Chase- Though this book, authored by Jim Posewitz, is a book on hunting, it takes a different angle on hunting and explores some points that you should ponder before you go on and pick up a gun. These points that you could read on in his book could give you a better look at the art of hunting. You may want to reconsider hunting only for sport and maybe even hunting altogether. If not, it gives you an idea of how to do it right or correctly enough that you do not do much damage towards the ecosystem and to the species of the animal you are going after.

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Category: Top Genres
April 29

Classic Books on Dogs

Individuals who love dogs should check out books written about these pets. There is a wide array of grown up books about this, and they are considered to be the classic ones. It does not matter whether one is too young or old for such kind of books, it would always be interesting to read a book told in somebody else’s perspective, or a book concerning dogs alone. If you love your dog enough to let him roam free and not be shackled by a fence or leash or anything (you know who you are ;) – you probably found an alternative here www.k9fencereviews.com), you should make sure to fill your mind and soul with the expert words of these wordsmiths outlined below.

The Memorable Dogs in Literature

Sounder

This book written by William H. Armstrong is a Newberry Award winner. The story is about the family of African American sharecropper who owns a dog named Sounder. His master is charged of a crime for he stole a hog to give to his family for food. Sounder was suddenly shot and then, vanished. In order to support the family, the oldest son took a job by force. That fact was not changed when Sounder returns to the family. This book is for 9-12 years old kids who want to learn the value of hope and resilience.

The Chet and Bernie Series

This dog book is written by Spencer Quinn. It was told by the perspective of this sleuthing dog named Ched. This story has been considered as a New York Times bestseller for myriad reasons. First involves the heartwarming relation of Chet, and its human partner Bernie Little. This person is fond of striking a chord on the dog. Chet misunderstands words and situations, where humor lies. It comes with intrigue, action, and adventure. All of these are perfect stuff for mystery.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Do not be deceived by the title. The novel is about a dog named Enzo, which from the start, feels like his way different from dogs around. He is no ordinary dog for he is a philosopher by heart. He is close to having a human soul. This takes place for the reason that he educated himself with television shows. He pays keen attention to the words of Denny Swift – his master. His master turns out to be a race car driver. The gist is that even though Enzo got to have an idea of how life is really like, he believes that it is not like car racing that has to be fastened up. He died and recalls all the things the family has gone through. This story is ideal for individuals who want to have a good time and laugh.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

This story, written by Mark Haddon is about Christopher John Francis Boone. He is well-versed of all the countries there is in the world. The same goes with the capitals and every prime number which reaches 7,057 and he can relate well to animals. However, he cannot do the same with human emotions. He does not want to be touched. He does not like the color yellow. Since he is gifted with a logical brain, this 15-year old could not comprehend the meaning of life. He comes with diagram, rules and patterns. When the dog Wellington is killed, his world was suddenly threatened. This is a funny story that gives deeper meaning to life.

 

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Category: Top Genres
February 26

Ever heard of Blurb?

 

Blurb is an exciting website that allows you to create books just the way you see them, including digitally. They’re a great way to get that online edge over your competitors. We have various solutions for you for small to medium sized, very personal runs, but you should certainly think about supplementing this with blurb.blurb

March 5

Cool Facts About The Printing Press

We know that you’re eager to jump right in and create your own work of art, something new for the world to enjoy. But before we lay down the ink to your destiny, it’s important to understand where the printing press first began. Why, you ask? By using our quality service, you’re joining the history of the printing press and entering into a passionate community that has existed for centuries. Looking back, it was a fun journey that’s brought us to where we are today.

Let’s jump right in to the exciting history of the printing press.

Johannes Gutenberg

1440 – A printing revolution! Gutenberg created a wooden machine that, using movable metal type, could print multiple copies of a text on paper. Before this, block printing was the only option available to a printer. They would have to make each copy by hand, carving new blocks for each individual work. Without Gutenberg, printing a book quickly and multiple times wouldn’t be possible as it is today.

The first book that he produced with his wonderful machine was a sure sell, The Bible. The supply could finally meet the overwhelming demand, getting the holy book into every Christian home. The next time you stay at a hotel, check the night table’s draw and thank Gutenberg. He needs all the thanks we can give him – as late as the 1450s, Gutenberg was still borrowing money to make his dream come true, proving that revolution doesn’t come cheap. There are also consequences to the invention that are far reaching.

The Aftermath

1499 – Print-houses (like us!) had been established in more than twenty five hundred cities in Europe. At this point in history, somewhere in the range of eight to twenty four million books had been made and distributed out to the world. The explosion of books into Europe made them much more obtainable for the average worker. This, in turn, created an equal eruption of awareness, as debates and news began to circulate among the masses. Logically, more books equals more readers. Literacy started to become a common skill, closing the gap between the elites of society and the lower classes.

The Industrial Revolution

1800 – Hundreds of years after the initial invention of the printing press, and the only major change to the machine was to make the entire apparatus cast iron. Well, we shouldn’t downplay this accomplishment, as it doubled the size of the printing area. At 480 pages per hour, a remarkable amount of books were being produced and distributed.

A decade later and Friedrich Koenig patented the first ever steam powered printing press. This automated most of the process, further increasing the amount produced, and eventually leading to the existence of the Newspaper industry! The trend of increased production didn’t stop here, continuing to improve throughout the years.

So Here We Are

With all this history behind us, looking ahead has never been so exhilarating. Every book that we print keeps us relevant in the history of our business, an artform that truly began with Gutenberg’s Printing Press.

Category: History