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review 2019-09-16 15:52
Inspirational Life Notes for the Busy Reader!
Words to Live By: (A Not All Inclusive L... Words to Live By: (A Not All Inclusive Look at Life in Words) - Kenneth J. Kogut, PhD

Words to Live By (a Not All Inclusive Look at Life in Words) gathers inspirational quotes and arranges them by subject for quick browsing, creating a daily reminder of different insights on life, captured in quick snippets of wisdom by a wide range of thinkers.


There are numerous quotation and inspirational books on the market already; but what makes Words to Live By special is its arrangement by thought-provoking (different) subject categories ('On Life', 'On Toasts', 'On Personal Care'), and how the chosen quotes often represent plays on words.


Many are contributions by Dr. Kogut himself ("Life is a piece of cake. It all depends on how you slice it."). Others are nuggets of wisdom by such diverse names as Will Rogers, Groucho Marx, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, and other literary and pop culture figureheads.


This inclusion and emphasis on names from popular culture also sets Words to Live By apart from other inspirational guides that tend to rest almost solely on the names of literary figures and philosophers.


There are also numerous citations from 'Anonymous' that are often just as hard-hitting as those penned by well-known personalities: "Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you."


The last big note on this little collection is that it's not only easy to read and packed with surprises and wisdom, but every saying is linked to approaches to daily life that will leave readers reflecting on their own choices and values.


If a quick, inspirational read is desired, holding more broad appeal and wisdom than most, then Words to Live By is the item of choice, recommended for being a standout in its field, and quite accessible to literary and everyday audiences alike. 

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review 2019-05-28 00:00
Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore
Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore - Lance Parkin Narrow, suspicious, mean, self-reliant, pig-headed, but generally honourable and as good as their word.’ This quote from ‘The Unprivileged’ by Jeremy Seabrook, describes the working class people of Northampton. They might also, according to his biographer, be used to describe Alan Moore.

The writer Alan Moore has a background I recognise. Born 18th November 1953, he grew up in a working-class neighbourhood, lived in a council house and had a happy childhood. They were poor but they didn’t know they were poor because everyone else was, too. A fish does not notice water. When he went to grammar school, he realised there was such a thing as the middle class. Previously, he had assumed that everyone was like him except the Queen. At junior school, little Alan was top of the class but found himself half-way down in the first year at grammar school and sort of gave up because if he couldn’t win, he wasn’t going to play. He wrote and drew his own comics and sold a few to classmates. He became an autodidact and self-educated himself with pulp fiction, such literature as he fancied and, most importantly, comics. He was a big fan of sixties Marvel. Kicked out of school for drug dealing, he felt a missionary impulse to spread the delights of LSD, he went into a number of dead-end jobs but continued to do creative things at the local Arts Lab, the centres of music, poetry and the hippie counter-culture. David Bowie sponsored one in London. Moore has pretty much remained part of the counter-culture with a dislike of big corporations and a general notion that authority figures are out to get him.

His wife became pregnant, so he decided to get serious with the writing. He went on benefits for two years while submitting work here there and everywhere. When the income from the freelance work exceeded the benefits money, he came off them. That’s the ‘generally honourable’ bit of the character. Right-wingers tend to froth at the mouth about ’dole queue scroungers’ but there is arguably some social merit to not letting budding artists starve while they learn their trade. I believe John Lennon never worked a day in his life at a ‘proper’ job while practicing his tunes. Alan Moore did a few years menial labour, has continued to reside in Northampton and has surely paid a lot of taxes on his large income since that time, more than enough to cover two years at £42.50 per week, the benefit money he and his wife received. Although in interviews he gives the impression of a lazy hippie, his wife has said that he works from eight in the morning until eight at night and doesn’t watch much television.

Moore wrote ‘Marvelman’ and ‘V For Vendetta’ in Dez Skinn’s ‘Warrior’ comic, ‘Captain Britain’ for Marvel UK and ‘The Ballad Of Halo Jones’ for ‘2000AD’, as well as other stuff in music magazines and underground comics. He came to the attention of DC Comics in the USA and took over ‘Swamp Thing’, which he made a great success. Just as the Beatles broke open America for other British bands, so Moore paved the way for other British comic talent. Marvel and DC came looking to see what we had on this sceptred isle and ran away with the top writers and artists. Lance Parkin notes that while the American companies imported British talent, they don’t really comprehend British irony and black humour. The writers of ‘Judge Dredd’ meant it as a dark satire on violent policing and many Americans think that’s the way cops ought to be.

Anyway, Moore went on to write ‘Watchmen’ and the rest is history, a history of trouble between little Alan and big corporations. He fell out with Marvel over the rights to ‘Marvelman’. He fell out with DC because he came not to trust them, not over money. Moore gets 4% royalties on Watchmen and it has sold rather well. He does not love the Hollywood studios. Unusually, he doesn’t swoon with gratitude at the notion of his comics being made into films. He doesn’t regard a comic book as something trivial and a film as something super. He writes comics because he loves the medium and thinks it is the best way to tell stories. He is no doubt ‘grim, unreasonable and annoying’ as he says himself on the cover blurb but, oh my God, don’t he write good.

One of the best things about this very enjoyable book is that in detailing Moore’s life, it also details his works, many long forgotten, so you can seek them out. Moreover, it mentions works that he likes and that have influenced him so you can seek them out, too. I love his greatest hits – ‘Watchmen’, ‘V For Vendetta’, ‘Captain Britain’, ‘The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ – but regret, somewhat, his influence on comics. They became violent and gory for a while and there were far too many rapes. Nicely, he regrets this legacy as well and wishes that everyone would stop copying what he did when he was a young man and go do something else. He did try to get back to fun comics with the 1963 series, a spoof/homage to sixties Marvel. It broke down because of the usual wrangles with publishers. These wrangles are by no means always his fault because the comics business has been a den of unscrupulous practice since its beginnings in 1930s America. Read ‘Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters And The Birth Of The Comic Book’ by Gerard Jones.

As well as the counter-culture ethos, the commercial success, breaking into America and paving the way for others, I think there is one more parallel with John Lennon. I think Moore has a wicked sense of humour. When you get to a certain level of celebrity, especially as an ‘intellectual’, your every statement can be taken very seriously. Lennon said, years after ‘bagism‘, that he and Yoko were cracking up laughing inside those bags. Alan Moore’s madder pronouncements on magic and his snake god Glycon should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt or maybe those magic mushrooms he ingested when he first met the little glove puppet.

The fellow is sixty now and still at work. He publishes idiosyncratic books like ‘The Lost Girls’ in expensive formats with smaller companies and makes them rich. A huge novel, ‘Jerusalem’, is forthcoming one day and he says it is practically unreadable and the last bit probably won’t make much sense to anyone but him. It’s about Northampton. I expect it will be a best-seller. May he live long and prosper and may many thousands of fans buy Lance Parkin’s excellent biography and find out more about what makes Moore tick.

Eamonn Murphy
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/
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text 2016-05-28 23:38
Reading progress update: I've read 67 out of 176 pages.
Power Words: What You Say Can Change Your Life - Joyce Meyer
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text 2016-03-14 15:16
Martin's Big Word: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Doreen Rappaport,Bryan Collier

Note: Martin Luther King, Jr., grew up in a place where people used words that made him feel bad. This beautifully illustrated, award-winning book shows how Martin used words to fight for equal rights for black people.When Martin was growing up, he saw the words "Whites Only" all over town. But he remembered the words of his mother, "You are as good as anyone."Doreen Rappaport has taken the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and woven in her own to create a captivating yet completely accessible book for young readers.This definitive picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America — and the world — forever.2002 Caldecott Honor Book

Source: Rappaport, D., & Collier, B. (2007). Martin’s big words: The life of Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. New York: Jump at the Sun / Hyperion Paperbacks for Children.
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review 2015-11-23 06:01
Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God
Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God - Will Durant

Will Durant was an American writer, historian and philosopher. Over the course of his life, people asked for his personal take on things, and this book is the culmination of those thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; a nice mix of timeless thoughts and ideas best understood in the context of the times.


I don’t usually quote from books I read for pleasure, but I found myself highlighting different parts — some for the lyrical writing or truisms, and others for the (thankfully) dated concepts.


Durant writes that youth, “is learning to read (which is all that one learns in school), and is learning where and how to find what he may later need to know (which is the best of the arts that he acquires in college). Nothing learned from a book is worth anything until it is used and verified in life; only then does it begin to affect behavior and desire. It is Life that educates, and perhaps love more than anything else in life”.


After that, I was a little taken aback by his thoughts on education. “As for the girl, it will avail her nothing to know a foreign language, archeology, and trigonometry, if she cannot manage a home, a husband, and a child; fidelity is nourished through the stomach, and good pies do more for monogamy than all the languages that have ever died. One tongue is enough for any woman, and a good mother is worth a thousand PhDs.” So of course after reading that I have to find out about his wife, and writing partner, Ariel. Here’s the shortform Wiki on her: came to the US from the Ukraine, attended the Ferrer Modern School, where Will taught. No note on whether she graduated, but Will resigned his post to marry her — she was fifteen at the time. They married on Halloween, 1913, and died within two weeks of each other in 1981. So, I’m not sure how someone who shared a Pulitzer with his wife reconciles that kind of thinking, but, to be fair, the part about the pies is totally spot on.


I can’t end on that quote, because then you won’t think I liked this book, and I truly did, despite what that says about my feminist tendencies. Here is a sentence of beauty to mull over, “Civilization is a fragile bungalow precariously poised on a live volcano of barbarism.” Too depressing? How about a suggestion he offers? “No one has a right to bring a child into the community without having passed tests of physical and mental fitness to breed.” Ok, maybe that would be bad; not sure I would have passed, especially given what my doctor liked to call my “advanced maternal age”.


What I really loved about this book is that while it felt at times like poetic musings, it was, for the most part, simple, concise and focused. There are short little essays on each topic, so the book will probably not keep you up late at night on the edge of your seat. But each time you open it, you will be glad to be back in his company again.

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