Rising our reading bar

Our brains can outstretch more than we can ever imagine. From memories in the past to future plans, our brains can process them all. Within a few seconds, the brain can go from this topic to that issue. Remembering people’ faces, places’ names and vocabulary are few additional things the brains can work.

The brains can either do many things or very few items depending our treatment on them. Much like muscles, the brains require exercises. Gradual workouts will not only enhance the brains working capacity but also help us dealing with memory as we age.

Reading has long been known as a powerful way to train the brains. To keep the brains well working, daily reading is recommended. As information stream has been flowing swifter than ever, readers may get trapped with what type of reading that brings optimum benefit for the brains.

At this point, rising our reading bar is necessary. Whichever kind of materials that you love to read, enhancing our reading preference with good intention can help us so much to keep the brains remain in proper exercise.

First of all, you can stay on the track of reading themes that you really love but now with various sub themes. For instance, you like reading about fashion. While for the past few years, all you read is about latest fashion trend, why don’t you now try gaining insight on history of each fashion item? Don’t you think reading that sub topic will encourage you linking what the fashion item has to do with certain cultural value of specific region or country?

Secondly, you can try reading books about topics that don’t really excite you but they are important. Let us say, you dislike politic but whether you like it or not, politic is vital for each nation building. This may take extra effort to complete reading books about politic but once you try, you give yourself room to open parts of your brains expanding for gathering new knowledge.

The third part can be reading books about controversial issues that stir up conspiracy theories from those interested on them. Find out past cases that bring up discussions among people in the world. Like history about Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Bermuda Triangle and world’s famous leaders that spark your curiosity. Read as many as you can and draw your own conclusion. Doing this will increase your level not only as a reader but as a researcher for the benefits of your brain.

With those recommendations I hope you and I will never get bored in reading. Stay up high in gaining information everyone because our brains need to stay refreshed and smart!

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Reading with intention

Most of us agree that reading is a beneficial activity. It enriches our insight, trains our brains and engages us in positive activity. If so, why should we bother ourselves select which materials to be read? For once in a while, we need to put down our books, Kindles or smartphones for pondering over the question.

As technology is getting more advanced, obtaining information nowadays is very easy. Within a few clicks away, the world becomes very near to our very eyes. Words, pictures, and videos of our dream cities, for instance, become so simple to enjoy. Similarly, information stream from even world leaders themselves is accessible. Live stream events through social media becomes ordinary that oftentimes we forget how exclusive it was to get in touch with current events back in 1980s or 1990s.

With quick internet connection provides us room to get to know news and express ourselves through social media, one devastating impact occurs and this has been happening in Indonesia. The negative effect is called hoaxes.

As we can’t control what other people say or write in their blogs or social media accounts, we can do so much to prevent hoaxes having more spaces to tear our society apart. Reading with intention is an alternative way to not only dismiss more hoax potentials emerging in our circle but also upgrade our knowledge level.

So, where and how we start this?

First and foremost, recognize that reading requires our time and surely, we don’t want to spend precious hours reading materials that we know won’t add something to our brain. Filter news, information or books that mostly benefit to our knowledge. We can simply start by reading things on themes that we love the most.

Secondly, get to know elements that make articles carry unchecked, unverified, fabricated facts. Usually, these types of articles provide bombastic titles, use words that will likely excite readers’ attention. Beware when reading these types of articles. Don’t quickly accept what they tell us. Train to check and recheck contents of the articles by comparing them with those from other media.

The third one is enhancing our own reading level. It is definitely fine when we read stories on latest news on entertainment, which movies that get most attention from moviegoers, and such thing. But reading too many articles on artists’ gossips can cost our valuable time and worse, can cause us addiction. At a glance we may feel okay with this because we affirm ourselves that reading is after all a good activity. What some don’t recognize is that reading trashy materials is unhealthy one.

As we practice selecting and filtering which information we read, we will hesitate to share articles that we doubt their facts in our social media network. We will be encouraged to dig deeper which information that is true. We will look for trustworthy media sources that report on the same issues. Only then hoaxes will find smaller and smaller space. Let us get smart in reading. Let us fighting against hoaxes!

 

An Ode to Long, Very Long Reading

In social media era that easily reduces our concentration span, dedicating myself reading long, even very long material is an accomplishment nowadays. As shorter my focus is, my patience runs thinner that makes me realizing uninterrupted long reading experience is now a test of perseverance.

I feel it a bit thankful for myself after completing The Gold Bug, the first short story in short story collection by Edgar Allan Poe this morning. Though the fiction is quite difficult for me to digest, completing reading it is such a relief for me.

I should have finished reading it days ago but I instead spent useless minutes checking Instagram or Facebook. I have managed not to post my daily activity or status as frequently as I do in the past but still, I feel like my fingers are addicted to click the social media outlets.

Even so, I get used to reading non-sense articles with low journalism ethic (believe me, I am a journalist) via LINE or Twitter. What makes me sadder is the tendency how people lately love reading sensational news for the sake of huge number of clicks. For instance, gossip news or those that sell good-looking people get more and more attention.

As much as I love reading high literature works, like from Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy, current popular reading captures my attention, sooner or later. I know it’s unfair to entirely blame on smartphone but I can’t deny accessibility and affordability play some roles. It’s like why most Jakartans prefer spending weekends in shopping malls or cafés to going to beaches.

Therefore, each time I finish reading fiction and find myself deeply engaged to the book completely gladdens me. I now regard being capable of doing that means I pass patience test. Putting my whole self in adventure with certain authors in the books also mean I still retain the pleasure of being purely entertained with something intellectual. As I grow older, maintaining my focus and remembrance start challenging me. And reading high quality books is one of the effective ways of keeping my brain functions at its best. Add to that enduring patience while enjoying what the authors have in store for me. That is as I called as the ultimate pleasure that doesn’t only entertain my brain but also shakes my heart as a human being.

I have written this type of theme in the blog before to remind myself on the joy of long reading. I think I will write another post on the theme to let myself know that I can still taste it with a little bit challenge.

‘The Moonstone’ Madness: the Disturbing Miss Clack

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A sense of horror struck me when I was reading the last sentences of the narration of Miss Drusilla Clack. The character that I firstly think as honest, modest and innocent starts becoming so aggressive when she was trying to persuade Rachel Verrinder staying with her after the teen’s mother passed away.
The scene was Rachel decided to go with her lawyer, Mr. Bruff, after she cancelled a planned wedding with Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. Prior to the moment when she was about to leave with the lawyer, the father of Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite confronted her. He was absolutely disappointed with Rachel’s decision then recalled memories concerning him and Rachel’s aunt.
As the confrontation was becoming weary, Miss Clack was trying to calm the situation down by citing religious verses from the Bible. Instead of cooling this down, Mr. Abblewhite got angrier. I had felt something strange about Miss Clack and my assumption was affirmed when she was attempting to force Rachel staying with her. Miss Clack wished she could make Rachel ‘a Christian’. But her way of making Rachel closer to God was a little bit forceful and improper.
Her narration ended when Miss Clack was saying she forgave Rachel for insulting her while as a matter of fact it was actually Rachel who was afraid of Miss Clack’s method of approaching her.
Days before that, Miss Clack had actually been acting a bit too much in relation to Lady Verrinder. When the Lady was severely ill, Miss Clack, again, wished she could ‘escort’ her relative resting in peace. As such, she was attempting to put some amounts of religious books to her. I think her effort aimed at making Lady Verrinder closer to God and be purified from her sins.
Miss Clack put books in several spots in the Lady’s house in hope that she would find then read them but until the day she was dead the books remained unread. They were returned to Miss Clack instead.
Throughout The Moonstone, this particular person completely confuses me. First, it is quite strange that Wilkie Collins selects her as one of the narratives in the book since she wasn’t present in the birthday dinner of the Rachel Verrinder which later saw the Moonstone went missing.
Miss Clack is, by the way, the niece of Sir John Verrinder, Rachel’s father. Her narration becomes sort of ‘entrapment’ for me after I resume reading the book. I can feel her strong admiration to Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. She was spying his conversation with Rachel Verrinder on the day he proposed her. Following Miss Clack’s narration of the tale makes me despise Rachel even more (since she is a stubborn girl since the beginning of the book) and put sympathy to Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. I think the reason why Collins places Miss Clack is to ‘deceive’ readers, at least that happens to me, LOL. You know that I get my guess completely wrong for Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite is the villain of them all because of his huge debts.
Thank God Miss Clack emerges briefly in the book if not, I can’t imagine how ambiguous the novel would be.

The Moonstone Madness: Collins’ sophisticated way of storytelling

Something new happens as I turn every leaf of The Moonstone. For 430 pages+ my mind has to be in a full concentration reading the book because the mystery surrounding the missing jewel presents me with new twists, evidences, opinions and ideas from characters in the book I mustn’t miss unless I don’t savor the core joy of the masterpiece.
I find it so fascinating that the book runs fast given how it presents readers with riddles, surprises, theories and assumptions along the way concerning who takes the jewel and where the hell it is. Wilkie Collins is indeed a rare Victorian novelist who does what he accomplishes in The Moonstone.
Though the story is all about the missing diamond, you mustn’t guess the plot is simple. In fact, it tells readers more complicated ideas representing Collins’ perspectives. What I once think as mere personal obsession concerning the diamond and history cum superstitions about the precious gem is a first layer on the surface. Because beneath it there lay problems about family conflicts, debts, inheritance issues, stories on estranged people, love and money, reputation, health, drugs and personal disguises. So many themes, right?
And Collins wraps them all so smoothly in the book so you can understand how the book runs so quick to speak them all to readers. I will divide my reviews and opinions and things that bother my mind after reading in several posts. The book is very interesting to be talked about and this is my first post that makes me wonder on how Collins weaves his story.
First and foremost, this is my first experience reading a book from several points of view. I think the story will be from Gabriel Betteredge only as the first person who knows from the start of the pricey gem from Colonel John Herncastle until it eventually be found.

The truth is, Gabriel voices about one third of the overall tale. He tells the readers the past story of the Moonstone until it arrives at the hand of Mr. Franklin Blake, how it goes missing on the night after the 18th birthday of Miss Rachel Verrinder then some attempts to find it by the brilliant Sergeant Cuff.
Just when I think I believe it is Rachel Verrinder is the one who steals it as believed by the Sergeant, the novel completely shatters my opinion. At that time, the novel is only 100 pages long so that means so many things left mysterious as it goes on. This what makes this book starts ‘deceiving’ my mind and triggers my curiosity even more.
As the book enters the one third part, there comes narrative from Miss Clark, one of the relatives of Miss Rachel. Again, Collins deceives me. What I once think Miss Clark as someone so modest, honest and highly spiritual but as her narration moves forward I find myself so irritated by her personality. I will later discuss about her in another post.
Then, another narration comes from Mr. Franklin Blake itself which really shocks me as the reader of the book as much as it rattles the gentleman’s logic. His narrative becomes the most important one throughout the tale as many proofs are eventually revealed to make things even stranger than they already are.
The following of the story are contributed by Ezra Jennings, the assistant of Mr. Candy, a doctor living nearby the residence of the Verrinder family. It is from the assistant that the riddles are slowly answered. From then, one big question on who takes the diamond is discovered. But there remains another big one, who the hell is it now?
To answer this, the narration comes back to Mr. Franklin Blake. Not only the readers will find the whereabouts of the Moonstone but also they will be shocked finding who the real antagonist in the story is.
As all are settled, the narration returns to Gabriel Betteredge who bids farewell to all who enjoy the story. The last part of the book is told by Mr. Murthwaite in a letter to Mr. Bruff, the Verrinder’s family lawyer, as what finally happens with the most-wanted jewel in the masterpiece.
So you can feel how complicated Collins’ way of telling by looking at a number of different people who narrate the story. Different story tellers mean readers are invited to look into their minds and feelings, which, of course, are various. This makes me really admire Collins’ writing technique. It isn’t easy to write from so many angles. His chosen method makes the story even more difficult to lose track of amid reading it.

 

 

 

‘Jane Eyre’ and I; a special literary comeback journey

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I have been immersed myself in reading ‘Jane Eyre’ since last Saturday evening. Oh my.. I have loved it so much. I can’t believe the novel has entertained me, heart and mind, after I watch its movie version then find myself hating it.

It takes me years to have finally given it a try. This is because the film after effect. I dislike it a lot because I despise watching Mia Wasikowska pairing with Micheal Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011). I like Mia but not Micheal so yeah.. Plus, there’s nothing special for me about it. Just an orphan girl surviving as a governess then falling in love with a manly person performed by Micheal.

As flat as this film leaves a mark in my mind I ignore the book each time I go to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta. I mean like, why should I? The novel is considered as world’s greatest literature treasure but its movie version proves there’s nothing fantastic about it so why should I follow people’ choice?

Years before I am deeply into ‘Jane Eyre’, I enjoy reading her sisters’ works; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I love all of their masterpieces. It is not surprising that I am eager to read books by Charlotte Bronte. I firstly want to read her lesser-known books; ‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’ but I turn my eyes on other titles at that time.

Shortly to say, I decide reading ‘Jane Eyre’ mostly because I don’t have many reading choices about Victorian Literature in the bookstore. I am a traditional reader who prefer buying books in stores to ordering them via websites because I look forward shopping books in bookstores! The kind of shopping that makes me feeling so much happy, refreshed and confident.

After a series of wonderful experiences reading books by the Bronte sisters I automatically have ‘Jane Eyre’ on the back of my mind. So you may say I read the novel after not many classic books left in the Kinokuniya bookstore. A kind of forceful reason coupled with nature conspiracy regarding the series of experience reading books by the Bronte sisters but hell yeah!!

Now, I am so happy that I buy ‘Jane Eyre’ that rainy Saturday afternoon. The weather was wet but my heart was so cheerful for the first words stole my heart away, as what Victorian writers always do. My reading relationship with ‘Jane Eyre’ is unique, anyway.. It’s like I meet a special man but do nothing to even admit the crush feeling. Just when my heart is sort of empty I meet this guy again, I try approaching him then voila! We click then enjoy our journey at the moment.

That is all I can write at the moment. I share this because I and ‘Jane Eyre’ has an extraordinary linkage. It’s called “I can’t deny my first literary love for wherever I go I will return to it. Always.”

The picture is taken from here

I wish I don’t know that Hardy is a sad married man

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I have long known some bad rumors regarding Thomas Hardy, one of my most favorite authors. He is said to have neglected his wife, Emma Gifford, as they aren’t blessed with any children. They grow apart, emotionally. Hardy is told to have visited other women, including Florence Dugdale, whom later becomes his wife after Gifford passes away.  Hardy regrets of making his wife unhappy then spends his remaining years living in remorse. This state of emotion is told as one of the factors that shade his second marriage with Gifford.

As much as they are true, I wish I don’t know about that. Now I know but I don’t want to make the fact lessens how much I adore Hardy’s writings. Thankfully, I know about all of this after I read his masterpieces. Fortunately. It is like knowing you were actually in danger after you escape from it.

Because I don’t know how would that be if read the books knowing Hardy is unhappy with his marriage. Probably I would discontinue reading his books.

It is still hard to believe that Hardy is a sad married man. That is probably reflected from his books’ tone, which is gloomy, realistic cum pessimistic. Looking at the ways he portrays his heroines, I disbelieve that he is responsible of making his wife unhappy. In my opinion, Hardy’s women are feminists who have super power. The women in his fictions are stubborn but with intelligence, rare ones when they are created in the 19th or early 20th century.

That is why I hardly digest Hardy’s real romance life is quite saddening. That his marriage doesn’t make him satisfied as well. One can barely tell personal lives, problems don’t influence their writings. But I find it difficult to grasp his unhappy marriage life in his novels have I not known about his real life via Wikipedia.

May be Hardy can skillfully separate between the two (his own life and his artificial worlds in his books). Or probably I just don’t get that enough. I am too absorbed into his words. All I know his stories are all very realistic. That’s why I love him so much.

And sometimes I wish I don’t know about his own doomed marriage. Sometimes all I know is his beautiful words, poetic phrases and such. And now, I try to not remember Hardy’s life each time I enjoy his words. I hope I can do this as long as I can.

The picture is taken from this.