Get Caught Reading Month

This is what I feel like when I read in quarantine!

Bukowski Quotes

Bukowski wrote that, “Sadness is caused by intelligence, the more you understand certain things, the more you wish you didn’t understand them.”

In his honor of Bukowski, here are his best quotes!

1) “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts. While the stupid ones are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukowski

2) “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live.” – Charles Bukowski

Bukowski Quotes for Mind on Fire Books

3)  “Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

4) “I wasn’t much for a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

5) “You’ve to die a few times before you actually live.” – Charles Bukowski

6) “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” 

7) “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.” 

8) “The less I needed, the better I felt.” – Charles Bukowski

9) “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” – Charles Bukowski

We have a funny Hemmingway joke for you!

Bukowski quotes
Bukowski quote for mind on fire books

10) “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” – Charles Bukowski

11) “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. ” 

12) “The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” 

13) “The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you.”  

14) “We must.. We must bring our own light to the darkness” – Charles Bukowski

15) “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” ― Charles Bukowski

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Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature.

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Introverts! This is Our Time to Shine

Don’t let those couch potatoes do all of the world-saving by themselves. Yeah, I know, they can watch for hours on end, but you need to get your ass in gear and keep reading! Introverts, book nerds, socially awkward humans – whatever you want to call yourselves – I think we already knew this, but we we will win this quarantine. And nobody can do it better, not even those TV heads. We have been preparing for this for years. For readers, it’s our time to shine guys.

They first told us to practice social distancing, and we were like, “yasss, finally!”

Then they told us to isolate, we said, “we already are.”

Restaurants aren’t open, so go ahead and do a curbside pick up – you got this! But first, let me see how tall I can stack these Books.

Hmmm, I can’t go to the mall, I guess I’ll just have to order online. *Makes a pot of coffee for the endless clicking, mundane searches and e-buying.

No more sports games in the background, even better!

It’s just you and that stack of books that you have been putting off… or adding to it, so it never really gets lower.

What have you been able to accomplish during this quarantine that you may not have normally been able to accomplish?

If you are enjoying this article, we have more great literary content on The Ritual Blog here.

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How Reading Makes us Better People

Every day more than 1.8 million books are sold in the US. Despite all the other easy distractions available to us today, there’s no doubt that many people still love reading. Books can teach us plenty about the world, of course, as well as improving our vocabularies and writing skills. But can fiction also make us better people?

The claims for fiction are great. It’s been credited with everything from an increase in volunteering and charitable giving to the tendency to vote – and even with the gradual decrease in violence over the centuries.

Characters hook us into stories. Aristotle said that when we watch a tragedy two emotions predominate: pity (for the character) and fear (for yourself). Without necessarily even noticing, we imagine what it’s like to be them and compare their reactions to situations with how we responded in the past, or imagine we might in the future. Be an epic reader!

If You Don’t Use it You Lose it

This exercise in perspective-taking is like a training course in understanding others. The Canadian cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley calls fiction “the mind’s flight simulator”. Just as pilots can practice flying without leaving the ground, people who read fiction may improve their social skills each time they open a novel. In his research, he has found that as we begin to identify with the characters, we start to consider their goals and desires instead of our own. When they are in danger, our hearts start to race. We might even gasp. But we read with luxury of knowing that none of this is happening to us. We don’t wet ourselves with terror or jump out of windows to escape.  

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Having said that, some of the neural mechanisms the brain uses to make sense of narratives in stories do share similarities with those used in real-life situations. Reading the word “kick”, for example, areas of the brain related to physically kicking are activated. If we read that a character pulled a light cord, activity increases in the region of the brain associated with grasping. Even if it’s an eReader versus a paperback book!

If you are enjoying this article, we have more great literary content on The Ritual Blog here.

The Plot Thickens

To follow a plot, we need to know who knows what, how they feel about it and what each character believes others might be thinking. This requires the skill known as “theory of mind”. When people read about a character’s thoughts, areas of the brain associated with theory of mind are activated.

With all this practice in empathizing with other people through reading, you think it would be possible to demonstrate that those who read fiction have better social skills than those who read mostly non-fiction or don’t read at all.

The difficulty with conducting this kind of research is that many of us have a tendency to exaggerate the number of books we’ve read. To get around this, Oatley and colleagues gave students a list of fiction and non-fiction writers and asked them to indicate which writers they had heard of. They warned them that a few fake names had been thrown in to check they weren’t lying. The number of writers people have heard of turns out to be a good proxy for how much they actually read.

We have some fiction horror as well as non-fiction being available as an eBook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and Kobo.

The Neuroscience Behind Reading

Next, Oatley’s team gives people the “Mind in the Eyes” test, where you are given a series of photographs of pairs of eyes. From the eyes and surrounding skin alone, your task is to divine which emotion a person is feeling. You are given a short list of options like shy, guilty, daydreaming or worried. The expressions are subtle and at first glance might appear neutral, so it’s harder than it sounds. But those deemed to have read more fiction than non-fiction scored higher on this test – as well as on a scale measuring interpersonal sensitivity.

At the Princeton Social Neuroscience Lab, psychologist Diana Tamir has demonstrated that people who often read fiction have better social cognition. In other words, they’re more skilled at working out what other people are thinking and feeling. Using brain scans, she has found that while reading fiction, there is more activity in parts of the default mode network of the brain that are involved in simulating what other people are thinking.

If you are enjoying this article, we have more great literary content on The Ritual Blog here.

So the research shows that perhaps reading fiction does make people behave better. Certainly some institutions consider the effects of reading to be so significant that they now include modules on literature. At the University of California Irvine, for example, Johanna Shapiro from the Department of Family Medicine firmly believes that reading fiction results in better doctors and has led the establishment of a humanities programme to train medical students.

It sounds as though it’s time to lose the stereotype of the shy bookworm whose nose is always in a book because they find it difficult to deal with real people. In fact, these bookworms might be better than everyone else at understanding human beings.

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Happy Birthday to Me and These Famous Birthdays

Happy Birthday to me and my shared famous birthdays with Robert Penn Warren and Anthony Trollop – Two Monster writers!. I first read Robert Penn Warren in a community college class and fell in love with his drama, charm, and lively Southern characters. Anthony Trollop is simply a wordsmith. He used to wake up and write for two hours each morning before working at the post office. Maybe that’s the ritual that I need to develop to be able to punch out more dark fiction. He’s not for everyone (me included) but we share a birthday so he’s cool with me 🙌.

Happy Birthday to all you lovely Taurus people born on this day!

Pandemic Reading List

The following Pandemic Reading list of books are our literary picks addressing race, love, dominant governments, and the effects of a plague.

Sure, you’ve read article after article and watched countless you tube videos about COVID and the Spanish Flu of 1917 – we’re all experts by now. But have you actually read anything of sustenance, with brilliant characters, exceptional prose and in-depth analysis of why we live and die, and how communities navigate through such perils? 

The following list of books are our literary picks, addressing questions of race, love, death and dominant governments, and the effect on national borders after a plague hits. Authors include Mary Shelley, Albert Camus, Daniel Defoe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yuri Hererra, Michael Crichton, and more.

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years,’ by Sonia Shah

“Sonia Shah’s tour-de-force history of malaria will convince you that the real soundtrack to our collective fate … is the syncopated whine-slap, whine-slap of man and mosquito duking it out over the eons,” Abigail Zuger wrote in The Times.

A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe (1722)

From 1665 to 1666, bubonic plague returned to Britain and devastated the city of London — killing roughly one quarter of its population in the span of 18 months. “[I]t was generally in such houses that we heard the most dismal shrieks and outcries of the poor people, terrified and even frighted to death by the sight of the condition of their dearest relations, and by the terror of being imprisoned as they were.”

Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter (1939)

Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider is set around the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and focuses on a young woman falling in love with a soldier, as both influenza and World War I loom ominously. As novelist Alice McDermott makes clear in her commentary on the novel, it’s a book that hasn’t lost its contemporary resonance.

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The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)

As befits a novel with the archetypal title The Plague, there are multiple ways one can interpret Camus’s 1947 work. Writing in the Guardian in 2015, journalist and war correspondent Ed Vulliamy contends it can be read in two ways: first, as a metaphor for the horrors of fascism; and second, as an allusion to a cholera epidemic in Algeria in 1849.

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (1969)

A group of scientists deal with an epidemic caused by an extraterrestrial microorganism — one that’s constantly evolving and has no precedent in human history.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1985)

“Plagues are like imponderable dangers that surprise people,” Gabriel García Márquez told the New York Times in 1988. “They seem to have a quality of destiny.” In the same interview, he spoke of his fondness for Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, and how it was one of the inspirations for this decades-spanning tale of star-crossed lovers, where death is never far from the reader’s mind.

Journal of the Plague Years by Norman Spinrad (1988)

The novel uses a widespread outbreak of a constantly mutating virus to critique conservative responses to HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. “For twenty years, sex and death were inexorably intertwined,” writes an fictional editor at the beginning of Spinrad’s book — what follows are an arrangement of voices, each struggling with literal questions of life and death.

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Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin (1994)

“Over time I have realized that the disease comes in spurts,” writes the narrator of Bellatin’s short novel Beauty Salon. It’s set in a world devastated by a pandemic affecting only men, leading to their rapid deaths in the face of governmental inaction. The novel’s narrator runs a beauty salon, which becomes a hospice for those afflicted.

The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian (2006)

Adrian’s fiction blends his own career in medicine alongside the mythological and fantastical. In his second novel, The Children’s Hospital, a plague called the Botch emerges after a series of events, some apocalyptic, some miraculous. Adrian “wants to know why people die, what meaning can be divined from their lives and their ends, and whether anything lies beyond. ”

The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (2013)

Herrera’s fiction is often set near the border between the United States and Mexico. The Transmigration of Bodies follows a familiar noir scenario — two crime families at war in a single town, during the aftereffects of a deadly plague.

They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

To eight-year old Bunny Morison, his mother is an angelic comforter in whose absence nothing is real or alive. To his older brother, Robert, his mother is someone he must protect, especially since the deadly, influenza epidemic of 1918 is ravaging their small Midwestern town. To James Morison, his wife, Elizabeth, is the center of a life that would disintegrate all too suddenly were she to disappear

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World,’ by Steven Johnson

In August 1854, many poor Londoners “suddenly took sick and began dying. Their symptoms included upset stomach, vomiting, gut cramps, diarrhea and racking thirst. Whatever the cause, it was fast — fast to kill (sometimes within 12 hours of onset) and fast in spreading to new victims,” David Quammen wrote in his review of this fascinating and detailed account of the city’s worst cholera epidemic. “Seventy fatalities occurred in a 24-hour period, most within five square blocks, and hundreds more people were in danger.”

The Last Man by Mary Shelley

Set at the end of the twenty-first century, The Last Man is a moving and fantastical account of the apocalypse. Faced with a populace clamoring for more democratic rule, the last king of England relinquishes his throne. Suddenly a mysterious plague sweeps the globe, drawing ever nearer to England. As war, disease, and death ravage humanity, ideals of fairness and love are quickly supplanted by the imperative of survival.

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Happy Birthday Haruki Murakami

Happy 71st Birthday to one helluva creative writer, Haruki Murakami. Haruki is a Japanese writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside of Japan.


“Today when I awoke from a nap the faceless man was there with me. He was seated on the chair across from the sofa I’d been sleeping on, staring straight at me with a pair of imaginary eyes in a face that wasn’t.” – Excerpt from his latest #novel, ‘Killing Commendatore”
A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art. Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.


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