It’s time for an update on the ItB New Year’s Reading Challenge. Modeled after Tim Challies’ challenge, the idea is to read a certain number of books over the entire year. We had several options to choose from: The “Normal” Reader, the “Fast” Reader, and the “Insane” Reader. Here’s an update on how the “Fast” tier has been working out: (more…)
More thoughts on Paul Auster, the New York Trilogy, and reading carefully
This Writing Life has been a pretty consistent column for the past several months: my passions are pretty apparent if you’ve read even a few posts. Books must be written with the worldview behind them in view, with intentionality and craft, instead of blatant preachiness. Stories have an incredibly powerful ability to impact their readers, so writers have an opportunity to saturate their books in the truth that they believe, subconsciously introducing their views in the vehicle of a fantastic story. This philosophy puts more emphasis on the story than on being right, dismisses preachiness as ineffective, and longs to portray Christianity and faith as the greatest true story of the world, rather than a two-minute confession in prayer. While all of this is true, today I want to look at the converse of the idea: books must be read with the worldview behind them in view. What does it mean to be a Christian reader of books?
I like to consider myself a writer. On the good days, that means I write, but mostly I fiddle around and tinker. I had hoped that Writing Life would be the silver bullet, all of a sudden I’d understand how to write, and the heavens would be opened and I’d sign six-figure book deals (this didn’t happen). Annie Dillard did a phenomenal job with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and she’s one of my favorite writers, so I figured I could do little better for a book on writing. (more…)
Our interview with Wayne Martindale was packed so full of good things that we didn’t even have time to cover everything we’d talked about. Now, see the rest of the interview: tips for writers! These are gold, folks: (more…)
Well folks, we’ve made the drawing for our giveaway. Read on to learn who the lucky winner is!
Congratulations Faith Blum! We’ve contacted Faith and her prize is already in the mail. Faith won the first two books of Robert Treskillard’s Merlin Spiral series: Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow. Hope you enjoy the books, Faith!
We are so excited to have done this giveaway and are really happy with the turnout. Y’all are great! If you didn’t win, it’s okay: we’re planning on doing many more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned and be ready. Your prize could be just around the corner!
Hi everybody! The ItB book giveaways are back! It’s been a long time since we’ve given a lucky reader a book, and that’s a shame, because everyone loves books and everyone loves a chance to get free stuff. So, without further ado, tt’s time for a book giveaway!
This is more than just a book giveaway, though — it’s a books giveaway, winner-takes-all. We’re giving away two books to one lucky reader: Robert Treskillard’s latest creations, Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow. We’ve reviewed these books previously at Into the Book, and really enjoyed them: here are the links to our reviews:
These are really great books, and the winner will end up with two-thirds of the Spiral series, which will be completed in May with the release of Merlin’s Nightmare.
Start Your Engines!
The giveaway starts today, Monday the 17th, and runs until Monday the 31st at 10:00PM CST. Here’s how to enter to win:
Just leave a comment on this post: Nothing fancy, you don’t have to tell us why you deserve the books or why you’re a wonderful person (though we don’t doubt it!) — this is going to be a random drawing. OR:
Leave a comment on our Facebook page: we’ll have a post up for you to comment on.
Tweet or share the link to this post with your friends: Important: this only counts if you include a link to your tweet or Facebook post when you leave a comment. Sharing the post makes you eligible for an extra entry! This option works in addition to the previous two.
The winner will be contacted as soon as we’ve drawn a random number (really, we’re super excited to draw that number, so we’ll do it fast!). We’ll post the results on the site as well. Also, stay tuned for an exclusive interview with the series author, Robert Treskillard, which will be posted sometime while the contest is running.
A few rules:
You may enter on any of these websites (Into the Book, Facebook, and Twitter) to double or even triple your chances of winning! But please do not comment or enter more than once on a single post. Those who enter more than once on a single website will be disqualified.
We also need you to have an account (Blogger, Facebook, Twitter) in order for your entry to be valid. We need this to be able to contact you and to validate your entry. No anonymous entries will be accepted. In case you win, we need a way to get in touch with you.
Participants must have a valid US postal address (International readers, we feel your pain, we really do, but shipping costs are prohibitive).
Best of success on your chances in the giveaway! ~The ITB Team
“If you are writing without zest, without gusto, you are only half a writer.”
Were I inclined to get a tattoo, I would probably have the above sentence etched into my forehead, that way every glance in the mirror might double as a piquant reminder: don’t forget to love what you do.
For the first thing a writer should be is – excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be picking out peaches or digging ditches; God knows it would be better for his health.
And there, in one paragraph, is The Reason Why you should read this book, Zen in the Art of Writing. It is a collection of eleven superlative essays, written by a writer who revels in his craft. Bradbury. Ray Bradbury. He of mechanical hounds and dark carnivals and wine made from dandelions. When I say he revels in what he does, you’d better believe it. Just picture, if you will, a man who throws himself into writing like a child into a freshly-raked pile of leaves. That’s Bradbury.
From “Drunk, and In Charge of a Bicycle”:
… you look around at a community of notions held by other writers, other intellectuals, and they make you blush with guilt. Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.
But, you see, my stories have led me through my life. They shout, I follow. They run up and bite me on the leg – I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go, and runs off.
That is the kind of life I’ve had. Drunk, and in charge of a bicycle, as an Irish police report once put it. Drunk with life, that is, and not knowing where off to next. But you’re on your way before dawn. And the trip? Exactly one half terror, exactly one half exhilaration.
From “The Secret Mind”:
Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.
From “Zen in the Art of Writing”:
The artist learns what to leave out.
His greatest art will often be what he does not say, what he leaves out, his ability to state simply with clear emotion, the way he wants to go.
The artist must work so hard, so long, that a brain develops and lives, all of itself, in his fingers.
Writing is hard, yes. Mr. Bradbury would be the first to tell you so. But it need not be – indeed, should not be – a bland or joyless exercise. It should not merely be a matter of dropping in one word after the other without screwing up the grammar. If that’s how it feels, it’s time to step back and take a look at what you’re missing.
Stoop down. Look low. See that? Buried beneath the pyramid of elements and style, beneath the smelly carcass of “writer’s block” and the panicky butterflies that circle it – beneath all of that you may find the body of a child. Set him loose. He knows where the leaf pile is.
I may as well begin by admitting that I am a rank amateur in all things Anglo-Saxon. The most dilettante of dilettante dilettantes. My favorite Anglo-Saxon word is probably merscmealuwe. Which means marshmallow. Which ought to tell you something about how many Anglo-Saxon words I know.
Having said that, I Love – yes, capital ‘L’ intended – the story of Beowulf. Read it for the first time when I was twelve. Haven’t stopped reading it since. It is the Ultimate Epic, and I began to Love it even more when I discovered Seamus Heaney’s translation. I’ve read that one four or five times now (and counting).
Yet lo and behold, my appreciation for this Saga of Sagas has been deepened further. I owe this deepening to Pastor Douglas Wilson, and to the very, very dear soul who sent me a copy of Beowulf: A New Verse Rendering.
In a Grendel-sized nutshell? This thing is amazing.
And I’m not just saying that because of the preposterously cool cover art.
You’ll notice it is called a “rendering” rather than a translation. Wilson explains why in the Introduction:
While I am limited in Old English, I do okay in New English, and know my way around, both with the regular stuff and in the reading and writing of poetry. So what I did was this. I took about five different translations of Beowulf, including my two favorites (Heaney and Chickering), got the sense of lines x, y, and/or z from them, and then cast that general sense into my own modern form of an Anglo-Saxon-style alliterative poetry. Then I did the same thing over again, and went on and on until I was done. Since I was making free to add words for the sake of the alliteration, and because I sometimes supplied my own imagery, the result is a loose paraphrase of the sense of the original and not a knock-off of any of the translations I used. At the same time, the poem can generally be followed “line by line,” give or take a couple of lines, and I am not saying I never looked at the original. What with one thing and another, this version of the poem has three more lines than respectable editions do. I don’t know. It was dark. They were big. Just think of it as more Beowulf than you would get with those other editions. But the sense of the original is there.
It seemed pretty clear to me that Wilson had more fun with this than is, strictly-speaking, legal. I believe I had the same amount in reading it. It’s stylish, it’s elegant, it’s clear, it’s bursting with cinematic moxie, and I enjoyed the heck out of every line. So much so, in fact, that at the conclusion of the story I had to be confined to a chair with zip ties until the irrepressible urge to slay something – or at least rip its arm off – had subsided.
Yes. I have my moments.
Included at the back of the book are two essays, one on Beowulf as “the unChrist” and another on the poem’s chiastic structure. The former was of particular interest to me. Wilson makes a brilliant case for seeing the poetry of Beowulf, not only as an artistic triumph, but also “as an evangelistic and apologetic tour de force.” Muchly good stuff.
So. It is with great delight that I see two versions of Beowulf – Heaney and Wilson – living side by side on my shelf. It’s like having a really awesome best friend, and then learning that he has a really awesome twin brother, and now they’re both chillin’ in your living room having a bloody good time with the pie and the Guinness and the dart board. Or something like that.