Archive for September, 2014

Lao – The Victim Finds a (Crotchety) Voice

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Guest Author: Colin Cotterill

photo credit to peter janssen - CopyLaos, in both its royalist and communist incarnations, has ever been the victim of bullies. The Thais had their wicked way with her as its empire expanded. The French forced her to wear a corset of a land border that trussed together some thirty non-harmonious ethnic groups then put a ridiculous ‘S’ on the end of her name. Then the Americans wined and dined her generals and bombed the daylights out of her. After being converted to socialism the Vietnamese took her hand and dragged her unprepared into the new millennium. Currently, the Chinese are invading her one hectare of cash crops at a time. Poor Laos has rarely been the minder of her own destiny.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, its fictional national coroner, brought to life in the award winning novels of Colin Cotterill, is slowly making the world aware of the indignities his country has been forced to put up with. Siri, seventy-four, a frustrated member of the communist party and battle hardened surgeon, does not suffer fools lightly. He says exactly what he feels and is constantly stepping on the toes of his employers with his non-regulation leather sandals. He’s ornery, drinks too much rice whisky, and is prone to possession by more ethereal spirits.

So, what kind of woman could love such a man? In Dr. Siri’sbook - Copy ninth adventure, The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die’, we learn of the history of his new wife, Madame Daeng. The ex-freedom fighter and spy for the underground movement had long been carrying a torch for the old man. She’d first met him upon his return from twenty years of education in Paris and fifty odd years on, her patience has paid off. They have become a devoted couple. But with the release of previously classified documents in France, her identity is revealed and there are those who would seek her out for revenge. Only the doctor stands between her and a horrible death. And then there is a village woman who has come back to life after being burned at the pyre. And then there are ghosts and hidden treasure and boat races, and, of course, a lot of drinking.

But, as in each of the previous tales, it is Laos, the country itself that takes the starring role in these stories. It is 1978 and the administration openly admits its incompetence. It is bound in red tape to the point of inertia and rightly paranoid about the intentions of its neighbours. Movement from one village to the next is virtually impossible and the forced introduction of rice cooperatives has rendered the peasants even poorer than they had ever been during the years of fighting.

Modern crime fiction has educated its readers as to the technological shortcuts and communication innovations available to today’s policemen. But imagine an investigation with no crime scene gadgets, no police records, no cooperation. Imagine an elderly couple attempting to evade an assassin and solve an historical mystery. This is the thoroughly annoying but intoxicating world of Dr. Siri Paiboun.

Exclusive Video Book Review: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die by Colin Cotterill

Colin Cotterill talks about The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die

About Author:

Colin Cotterill was born in London in 1952. He worked as a teacher and social worker for most of his life before coming late onto the writing scene in his fifties. Since then he has introduced two series, one set in PDR Laos, the other in Thailand where he lives with his wife and a number of annoying dogs.

Guest Author Peter Worley On His Book, “Once Upon An If”

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Guest Author: Peter Worley

PeterStories are as old – almost – as breath itself.  Teaching too. And the relationship between the two is just as old. But the nature of that relationship has changed with the times. Once Upon an If: The Storythinking Handbook is a book about thinking with stories and has been written to the tune of ‘thinking with stories for oneself’, in other words critically and creatively.

Having found storytelling to be the most effective way to engage difficult-to-engage classes – as well as getting that message across to any teacher struggling to engage a class – I also wanted to write a book that shared the craft of storytelling, particularly as it pertains to teaching good thinking with stories. The section entitled ‘Sheherazad’s Handbook’, after the storytelling character in The Thousand and One Arabian Nights collection, aims to do just that, as I could not find a similar guide when I needed it. Though the book can be used by a teacher who intends to read the stories (in fact, there’s a section on how to read stories well), the ‘handbook’ helps a would-be storytelling teacher to use (among other things) their voice, body, hands, eyes, props, language, classroom space, person perspective, tenses, pause, movement, gestures, structure and even the senses to help engage a class through storytelling – all skills that can be used in other areas of teaching too.

The book contains, in its third section, a collection of stories,once upon an if each one a  new resource, but also an example of a kind of story and a kind of approach for using stories for teaching and thinking. So, it includes examples of:

  • Stories about stories (‘The Matches’ and ‘Once Upon an If’ parts 1 and 2)
  • Dialogue stories (‘The Cat That Barked’)
  • Parables (‘The Patience of Trees’, ‘The Six Wise Men’)
  • 2nd person stories (‘The Magic Crown’, ‘Flat Earth’)
  • Tall Tales/anecdote (‘Il Duomo)
  • Narrative stories (‘The Sinbad Stories’)
  • Stories in Verse (‘The Luckiest Man in The World’)
  • Allegory (‘Water People’)

The ‘Storythinking’ section equips a teacher with many ways to use stories to help classes think better with and about stories. For instance, when is it best to stop a story and hold a discussion? What are the best questions to ask and how should they be asked? How do you approach the ‘moral of the story’? (This is one of the clearest indicators of how the relationship between stories and teaching has changed over the years.) How can role-play help children face, more forcefully, the horns of a dilemma? ‘The Thinking Kit’ section outlines some original techniques for critical thinking in the classroom developing strategies introduced in the earlier books The If Machine and The If Odyssey. Worth mentioning and of particular interest to teachers who struggle to get children to approach and unpack metaphors is a new procedure called ‘The Concept Box’. This is a tried-and-tested method for getting classes to identify for themselves central concepts and themes in a story or poem (or other things metaphor-related) to enable them to engender discussions around stories and poems without the need for the teacher to intervene in exasperation with such exclamations as, ‘But it’s not really about that!’

About Author:

Peter Worley BA MA FRSA is co-founder and CEO of The Philosophy Foundation, President of SOPHIA, and an award-winning author of five books about doing philosophy in schools.

Peter is resident philosopher at 4 state primary schools in Lewisham, visiting philosopher at Wellington College and Eagle House School, and is a Visiting Research Associate at Kings College London’s Philosophy Department. He has delivered training for philosophy departments across the UK, including Edinburgh, Warwick, Oxford Brookes and Birmingham Universities. You can find more about him at

10 Career Options For Book Lovers

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Author: Sherry Helms

sssEvery book lover appreciates the feeling of being surrounded by books all day, and working alongside people who love reading books too! If you are an ardent reader and have always dreamed of working with books, newspapers or magazines, you will be happy to hear that there are a variety of lucrative as well as exciting careers for you. In this post, we present ten fantastic career options for people who really enjoy reading and wish that that could read at work. 

1. Copy Editor and Proofreader

If your eagle eyes can weasel out spelling and grammar mistakes, from typos to punctuation errors, then Copy editing and proofreading could be just the right job for you. You can say copy editor and proofreader as a grammatical gatekeeper, who reads over the content that, called “copy” in industry terms, and correct any mistakes in it. Several book publishing companies hire editors and proofreaders to examine the manuscripts before they are published.

Requirement: Most copy editors and proofreaders have at least a bachelor’s degree, usually, in English or Journalism, however it is a secondary thing. Primary thing needed to become a copy editor and proofreader is a passion for reading, ability to work to a deadline, firm grasp of language and its usage, and a sharp eye for details.

2. Librarian

Library is said to be a book lover’s paradise. So a job as a librarian can be a dream come true for a true book lover and a fan of learning and academia. The work of a librarian is not merely to glance through dusty old stacks to assist readers to get the perfect book –they may also lead community events and activities, keep up-to-date with publishing trends, maintain library catalogs and make them accessible, and also host children’s story times. And in this job, you will be able to get your hands on the forthcoming books.

Requirement: A master’s degree in library science or information studies is required for this job. Moreover, this kind of job would suit someone with superb organizational and communication skills

3. Web Content Writer

Generally those who read more have good writing skills. The job of web content writing is best suitable for them as it is a really flexible career that often provides people a facility to work from home. Since web content writers have to work through computer, therefore it is expected that they must have knowledge of digital content management systems.

Requirement: To pursue this job, a person needs a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, English or in related fields. This job also requires good writing and grammar skills, the ability to work under pressure and meet strict deadlines.

4. Literature Teacher

Ignite the light in minds and hearts of young generation for reading. Teaching literature is a fantastic job for any book lover, because this will help you to get immersed yourself in books as well as discuss the plot, prose, and character development with students. Literature teachers plan and execute important and engaging lessons to fulfill the syllabus requirements. Also, if you get specialized in a particular genre, it will not only help you to grow your career higher but also help you to publish your own research.

Requirement: College literature teachers basically need master’s degree in English Literature.

5. Book Conservator

It is clear from the name itself that the work of a book conservator is to preserve the classics from being damaged as if they do not keep these books in good conditions, the future generations may never get to see them. So, it makes the work of a book conservator significant as well as accountable. Still not all things are online. There are many people who prefer reading print books rather than eBooks. So it is the work of a book conservator to secure the precious earlier copies of some of the significant works for the future readers.

Requirement: High school degree is the minimum qualification needed for this job. Along with this, love of books and passion to learn something are some of the desirable things looked for in a book conservator.

6. Literary Agent

Book readers can also get a job as a literary Agent. Literary agents are also known as publishing agents who represent author’s works to various publishers and film producers. A literary agent helps the author in the sale and deal negotiation of his work. They make money for their work through the commission they received on book sales they negotiate for their clients.

Requirement: An educational background in journalism, literature, mass communications, business management or similar is required. However, there are no set requirements for becoming a literary agent. Someone who has a wonderful skill to sell books, and who genuinely appreciate authors and their work can be a literary agent.

7. Writer

If you are creative and have a great story telling, writing and grammar skills, you can use these abilities to write your own book. Although it is not easy to find success in this field as the fight is tough yet if successful, with your hard work and discipline, it can be tremendously rewarding. To start your writing career, you can choose any genre from non-fiction and fiction to short stories, from poetry to memoir. There are no shortcuts or sure ways to get published and become an author. If you have a story in your mind to share with the world, write it and once you have your book written, work on finding the right publisher and a literary agent.  

Requirement: The best thing to pursue career in writing field is that you don’t need to be graduate in creative writing, English or literature. Technically, there are no formal requirements to become a writer. Anyone can sit down and write poems, books or screenplays.

8. Publisher

If you love reading books and publications, you will surely like to become a publisher. Publishing is a very safe job that leaves plenty of room for creativity and a publisher can get a decent earning on the sales of books. Some of the responsibilities of a book publisher are to select which book is worth being to be published. Apart from this, finding talents, editing, marketing production, distribution and designing are the other key works of a Publisher

Requirement: A book publisher needs excellent analytical, team working, communication, presentation and problem-solving skills in addition to a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Journalism, Communications, Business Management, or in a related field. Additionally, a book publisher has an ability to balance multiple projects, meet necessary deadlines and a flair for spotting marketable books.

9. Bookshop Owner

One of the great career options for book lovers is to run their own bookstore.  This will not only help them to earn their living but also give them opportunity to being around books every day. A bookstore owners is the sole proprietor of an independent bookshop which shelve new stock, sell books and help customers to buy books, manage day-to- day accounting and personal taxation.

Requirement: A big advantage of being a bookshop owner is that you don’t need to have high qualifications for this. Good analytical as well as general business and management skills, including usual accounting and sales promotion, will be useful to make your business successful. However, a degree in business management or entrepreneurship can help immensely.

10. Book Reviewer

Anyone who loves reading books can opt for book reviewing as a full time or part time career. Many publishers as well as authors are willing to offer you a free copy of their book and then you will get paid for your writing an honest review without giving away too much of the plot. Moreover, don’t pull your punches in order to satisfy the author. A book reviewer can also set up his own book blog or can join any paid review site to make money.

Requirement: Bachelor of Arts in English, Journalism and Mass Communications and focus on the critical reading and writing skills are required in this field. The best way to enter into this profession is to send your reviews to online or printed publications. Several book reviewers are also work on freelance basis for various magazines, newspapers or publishing houses.

Stay Connected