Author Archives: ari

This is what the Apple iPhone X camera means for travel photography

2017-09-15

Many travelers, writers and even professional photographers trust in their smartphone cameras for capturing important images that document their journeys and remarkable moments in life. The Apple iPhone X has so many features for photographers that it allows travelers to reconsider the contents of their photography kits.

Apple iPhone X camera feature: face recognition
The iPhone X comes with three cameras: two at the back and one at the front panel. Here is what the cameras are for:

– Wide-angle camera at the back: ƒ/1.8 six-element lens, optical image stabilization. 12 megapixel image sensor. Allows you to get really close to subjects, or shoot small spaces that don’t fit into the frame of a normal lens. This and the telephoto camera are, however, used in sync by the system.
– Telephoto camera at the back: ƒ/2.4 telephoto lens. Together the two cameras at the back enable optical zoom. Two lenses also create depth to images. The benefit of this optical zoom is, however, minimal compared to camera lenses where the elements have room to move.
– TrueDepth camera at the front: ƒ/2.2 aperture lens. 7 megapixel image sensor. This is used by the Face ID recognition feature, and naturally, for selfies.

Apple iPhone X two cameras at the back: wide-angle and  telephoto
Apple has also developed new software applications that utilize the possibilities of the cameras. Especially, the Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting software allows iPhone X photographers to capture and adjust portrait images into studio-like pictures.

It is obvious that Apple has put a lot of effort for ensuring that selfies taken on the iPhone look fabulous.

The iPhone X cameras are at their best when shooting subjects that are relatively near the lenses. Anyone who has tried to snap a photo of beautiful scenery in the distance on a smartphone knows how disappointing the result can be.

Of course, the iPhone X is an expensive compact camera. The prices start from $999. Nonetheless, you get a smartphone as well, and you may consider leaving lenses or a camera home that you have used for close-up and portrait photos.

Street photography is also a potential field where the iPhone X can shine. Smartphones are less intrusive in street photography. People simply don’t mind that much when someone takes a photo on a smartphone even though they clearly see that they are in the frame. If you take the same photo on an SLR, they do mind.

No matter how good the iPhone X cameras and photography applications are, it is a camera with fixed lenses. It can’t do everything that SLR cameras with removable lenses can do.

Landscapes, city views, architecture, action, sports, sceneries, natural phenomena are the most likely photographs that require other type of camera equipment for the best results.

I have often used smartphone cameras for video recording lately, and generally have been happy with the results. It is primarily for documenting something or capturing a brief moment of city life or anything potentially interesting happening nearby. Video capture is another field where the iPhone X can be an excellent product. It can:

– Capture 4K video up to 60 fps (frames per second).
– Record slow motion video in 1080p HD format up to 240 fps.
– Produce time‑lapse videos.

The video features are remarkable – many SLR cameras can’t do 4K, slow motion or time lapse. Have you ever tried to shoot and produce a time lapse video? If you have, you know how much work and how troublesome it is. If the iPhone X can make time lapse videos easy, it is a big time saver.

In bright sunlight, most displays in SLR cameras become unreadable. The iPhone X display is based on OLED technology which means much brighter, clearer, and higher contrast image than an ordinary LCD display can produce.

The iPhone X camera specifications and features

Apple iPhone X: Portrait Lighting app

Cameras at the back
12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras
Wide-angle lens: ƒ/1.8 aperture
Telephoto lens: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Dual optical image stabilization
Six‑element lens
Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
Panorama (up to 63MP)
Hybrid IR filter
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Body and face detection
Exposure control
Noise reduction
Auto HDR for photos
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Timer mode
Photo geotagging: GPS location marked in photos
Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG

Video Recording
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
Optical image stabilization for video
Optical zoom; 6x digital zoom
Quad-LED True Tone flash
Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
Time‑lapse video with stabilization
Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
Continuous autofocus video
Body and face detection
Noise reduction
8 megapixel still photos while recording 4K video
Playback zoom
Video geotagging
Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264

TrueDepth Camera (at the front)
7 megapixel camera
Portrait mode
Portrait Lighting (beta)
Animoji
1080p HD video recording
Retina Flash
ƒ/2.2 aperture
Auto HDR
Body and face detection
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Exposure control
Timer mode

Tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books

2017-09-01

When a publisher/author states that the most important element of a plan for a nonfiction book is its table of contents, she has my attention. That’s exactly what we have been telling to Klaava.com readers in one of our most popular articles.

man holding old books in his hands
Anyway, Brooke Warner has written an article for Huffington Post where she reminds of the importance of the table of contents, and shares five valuable tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books.

Brooke Warner’s tips for better nonfiction writing:

– Use subheadings to break chapters into logical chunks, and to give a reader a break.
– Consider writing yourself into the book as a guide who looks after the reader.
– Insert other elements into the book besides text. Nonfiction books usually benefit from graphs, tables, fact boxes and similar layout elements that capture something essential about the discussed topic.
– Short books are fine. Yes, it perfectly all right to write a book less than 200 pages or 40 000 words.
– Don’t write in dry academic tone, but use your own voice.

A common feature in nonfiction manuscripts is long paragraphs. Time after time, the editor will break long paragraphs into two or more short paragraphs that are easier to read. This is particularly important when reading an ebook on a screen. Subheading, indents and other simple elements help as well.

Color is an important element in nonfiction books as well. Use color in charts, pictures and of course, photographs. If the book is published as a black-and-white print edition, so be it, but the ebook edition benefits greatly from colors.

We have published nonfiction ebooks about 50-100 pages long. When the reader is aware that he or she is buying a concise book focused on a specific theme, that’s a good deal for the customer when the price is right.

How to use a prepaid SIM card for Internet access overseas

2017-08-29

Every freelance writer, digital nomad, or remote worker who is traveling overseas will need Internet access – sooner or later. If you are working and traveling, you will need it the moment you arrive in a new country. No problem, many people think, I’ll use the hotel Wi-Fi, free access at McDonalds, or Wi-Fi hotspot at a nearby café. Sure, if you know what you are doing, because recent news reports showed us that multiple hotel Wi-Fi networks in Europe and Middle East were infiltrated so that hackers could collect guests’ banking and other passwords.

What can a traveler do to have an Internet access overseas that doesn’t cost a fortune and that is reliable and secure? The answer is to purchase a prepaid SIM card with a data plan in each country you visit.

three prepaid sim cards
The objective is to use a prepaid SIM card on a smartphone, or on a 4G router. You can use as much Internet you want without having to worry about paying more than the price of the data package you have paid for. Better yet, you can turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and connect your laptop or tablet to the Internet via your personal hotspot.

In many countries, a prepaid SIM card is easy to get. Find a mobile network operator’s retail shop, a mobile phone store, an electronics store, or in some countries, a kiosk that sells SIM cards. Choose the initial amount of data that you want (often starts from 1GB), and make sure you get the information on how to top up more data (if you need to). In some countries, there are no formalities – you just pay and that’s it. In other countries, you have to show your passport (the salesperson may have to copy it), and fill in a form.

Turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot

creating Wi-Fi hotspot on Android smartphone
Your SIM card is the key to establishing Internet access, but some technical stuff has to be maneuvered before it will work. If you only want Internet access for your smartphone, turn off the phone, remove the current SIM card from your phone, insert the prepaid card, and start the phone.

An advanced solution is to turn your phone into a WiFi access point for your other devices. Here is how to establish your own Wi-Fi hotspot:

1. Insert the prepaid SIM card into your phone, and start the phone.
2. On an Android device, tap Settings -> Mobile hotspot and tethering -> Mobile hotspot.
3. Tap the Mobile Hotspot switch to set it on. If this is the first time you are turning you phone into a Wi-Fi access point, change the hotspot name and password to your liking. This is the Wi-Fi network name your other devices will connect to and the password you have to enter on those other devices. Anyone within the Wi-Fi signal range can detect your hotspot and try to connect to it, so keep that in mind when choosing the password.

establish Wi-Fi access point for mobile devices
Depending on your phone’s Android version, the described process may vary a bit. Once completed, the phone’s Wi-Fi signal is reserved for connections to the hotspot (your phone), and your phone’s mobile network connection (it doesn’t matter if it is 4G or 3G, the only difference is the speed) provides access to the Internet for all devices.

Now, connect your laptop, or other device to the new hotspot you just created by entering the hotspot password you specified.

If you regularly need a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, get a dedicated 4G router

People who travel and work want to ensure they have the tools and connections everywhere they go. Assuming that you already have a SIM card with a data plan that you can use in a country where you have arrived, the best product to have is a Mobile Wi-Fi/4G router. The router connects to a 4G or 3G mobile network for Internet access, and provides Wi-Fi signal for your devices to connect to.

Having a dedicated device for Internet access lets you use your smartphone’s phone number for phone calls and messages, and save its battery.

Huawei 4G Wi-Fi router for mobile internet access
The Wi-Fi/4G product category doesn’t have a self explanatory name, but for instance, this Amazon search lists plenty of products. The key things when choosing a product are:

The product is battery powered for mobility.
It is unlocked, and accepts any SIM card you insert into it.
4G is the fastest mobile data connection type at the moment, but as a backup connection, 3G works as well.

I have been using a Huawei 4G mobile router for a couple of years – sometimes continuously for months – without problems in many countries and on many networks.

When you get your router, connect your laptop to it. Login as admin, and change settings if you have to. This is important: save the router’s local IP address and admin password into your password manager, because you will have to access the router admin panel sooner or later. For instance, some networks send text messages to the phone number associated with the SIM card, and the only place where you can read them is the router’s admin panel.

The nice thing with prepaid SIM cards is that they work as a backup connection if your main Internet access point fails, and you can use it when on the road – without having to spend hours looking for a Wi-Fi signal.

Do you have to change your entire life to become a writer?

2017-08-17

Becoming a writer tends to be a gradual process. Usually, it takes time to learn the craft, decide what kind of writing is the most attractive, find a way to publish the works, and see if writing can be the one and only work to make a living. Because it is a gradual process, the method of working, the tools, and the working environment are typically discovered along the way.
Woman leaning on pile of books
An excellent article by Ayodeji Awosika suggests that aspiring writers must give up 7 things in order to become published and successful.

He makes valid points on what it generally requires from an aspiring writer to develop into a published writer. Here are the 7 points Awosika makes.

You have to give up your:
1. Entitlement. Especially, in the beginning, you are not entitled to anything. You have to fight for everything.
2. Romanticism. There are plenty of romantic stories of authors and how they have achieved their success, but they are never the full story.
3. Fear of marketing. No matter which publishing path you choose, you will have to market yourself and your work.
4. Time. Becoming a writer can take years.
5. Need for approval. In the beginning, genuine approval is difficult to get.
6. Laziness. Writing means a lot of work.
7. Excuses. If you want to become a writer, there are no excuses for doing something else.

If I had to list only 3 things that are required to developing into a writer, they would be the following:

Time. You have to allocate plenty of time for writing. It means you must give up something else, like watching television, playing video games, hanging out at cafés, shopping, or anything else that doesn’t add value to writing.
Perseverance. Writing is a long-term decision. Learning the craft, getting a work published, achieving sales never happens overnight. It is really amazing how disciplined most writers are when it comes to their work.
Continuous learning. No one can say that he or she completely masters the craft and business of writing. It is not only the techniques of writing that require continuous learning, but also work methods, processes, marketing, business, and tools.

So, many things in an aspiring writer’s lifestyle should change in order to make room for everything that writing requires.

A fridge library at a tiny village at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains

2017-08-08

I have seen many kinds of street-side libraries where book lovers let passersby and neighbors take a book from the selection. If these readers have books they can donate, they may return a title into the selection. A Bookcrossing box in a city park, a stylish birdhouse filled with books on a wall of an artshop, or a bookshelf at the gate of a fruit farm are a few examples of street-side libraries.

But this one in Luzenac-Pouech, France was quite innovative. The tiny village of Luzenac is located at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. The lush environment indicates it rains pretty regularly in the region. A river flowing five meters from the library was filled with water in the middle of summer.
Luzenac, St Girons, France
If you want to establish an outdoor library in an environment where it rains, cows eat grass next to the books, horses may check out the place from time to time, and fishermen walk up and down the riverside, books have to be protected from water and other risks.
Luzenac, Arege, France, outdoor library
What is better protection for books than an old fridge? Well, old desk is another place to have books, but the desk won’t last long outdoors. This one has metal drawers, but still. I have to visit this library in a year or two to see how it is doing.

Luzenac village seen from PouechLuzenac village as seen from Pouech.

Choosing the right ereader device for reading ebooks is also a matter of size

2017-08-06

The most popular ereader, the Amazon Kindle, is available in one size – the screen is six inches, but many other vendors are marketing larger ereaders as well. Is larger better? What are the benefits of an eight-inch, or even a 13-inch ereader?
Kobo ereader: reading on a hammock
Let’s compare three ereaders – Sony DPT-RP1, Kobo Aura One and Kindle Paperwhite – that come with different screen sizes. The size differences between these three ereaders are considerable.

The dimensions of the Kindle Paperwhite are: 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 x 117 x 9.1 mm). It comes with 6-inch display.
The dimensions of the Kobo Aura One are: 195,1 x 138,5 x 6,9 mm. The screen size is 7.8 inches.
The dimensions of the Sony DPT-RP1 are: 8.82″ x 11.9″ x 0.23″ (224 mm x 302.6 mm x 5.9 mm) . Larger than tablets, the screen size is 13 inches.

Somy DPT-RP1 ereader: reading and making notes
So, the first big difference is portability. Are you going to carry the ereader with you? The second difference is the type of ebooks or documents you are going to read on the device. If it is PDF books and PDF documents, or ebooks and magazines with pictures, tables, graphs, the larger the screen is, the better the reading experience will be.

All this and much more is explained and showed in a video by The Ebook Reader. Take a look. Here is the video that shows the 13-inch Sony DPT-RP1, Kobo Aura One and Kindle Paperwhite ereader.

Those ebook lovers who want color displays can get a tablet, but also then, it is a question of size. Personally, I like my 10-inch tablet for ebooks, but most people who read ebooks seem to choose an 8-inch or 7-inch model.

Amazon Kindle ereader fits into a coat pocket

The trends in remote work in 2017

2017-08-04

Most writers are, in practice, remote workers or location independent professionals because many work from home or from a peaceful location somewhere that is not home. Writers may also travel, or even call themselves digital nomads, if they spend some time on the road and stop somewhere to continue a writing project that is being processed at the back of the mind all time, anyhow.

Workfrom is a source of information for finding spaces to work, stay or perhaps getting a job that lets you work remotely. Workfrom conducted a survey with more than 1000 mobile professionals in order to understand what the trends and facts are among remote workers in 2017.

Here are some highlights from the survey:

7 out of 10 respondents said that the tools, such as laptop bags and standing desks are a top priority to ensure productivity in their work. Video conferencing tools such as Skype and WebEx were second, with project management apps like Asana and Trello third.

About half of the remote workers work on their own, without a support of a team. That’s a plenty of freelancers out there.

The majority of respondents (57%) who work on remote teams have colleagues in multiple time zones and countries. Remote employees, entrepreneurs and consultants/contractors were likely to be part of a global team.

Most remote workers indicated that they don’t have to work at an office at all, but 42% are working five or more days per week from their home offices.

Remote workers are interested in traveling. However, most prefer to see the world through coworking or coliving programs like Nomad House, Unsettled or We Roam—a short-term, flexible arrangement where they can meet like-minded professionals. These programs scored higher than volunteer/pro-bono opportunities, overseas retreats, ecotourism, and longer, structured travel cohort programs like Remote Year.

The infographics by Workfrom:

Trends in remote work 2017, infographic by Workfrom.co

Jeff Bezos’ reading list: the books that Amazon employees are expected to read

2017-07-28

Recently, the big news was that Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon online store, had become the richest person in the world. The ranking, however, can quickly change because it largely depends on the stock prices of companies the richest people own, which is why Bill Gates or Warren Buffet can take the number one position any day.

Amazon started its business as an online bookstore. Even now, when the company enters a new market, it often starts business in the country with books.
jeff bezos reading list; 3 book covers
Books, reading, and learning mean a lot to Jeff Bezos who established Amazon 22 year ago. He has led the company from the beginning, and has always been regarded as a visionary. He took over the Washington Post newspaper that was on the brink a year ago. He is investing his personal money in the Washington Post, not Amazon’s corporate assets.

Amazon has invested in the creation of the ebook market probably more than any enterprise. The Kindle ereader, and the worldwide marketplace for ebooks on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and on other country-specific markets have the biggest market share of ebooks. The company is also running many other book-related business programs, such translating titles, print-on-demand, and even its own publishing imprint.

Jeff Bezos is known as an authoritarian leader. He has established rules, processes and methods that are strictly followed. Jeff’s Reading List is a list of 12 books Bezos expects Amazon employees to read. Many are related to business, but there are other themes as well.

Author Brad Stone who wrote the Bezos biography The Everything Store lists those 12 books. The author says the books have shaped Bezos’ leadership style and way of thinking. Here is the Jeff’s Reading List.

– The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: a fictional story about the First World War.
– Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins: advice from business management guru.
– Creation: Life and How to Make It by Steve Grand: building intelligent technology systems.
– Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins: the author of the book has consulted Amazon as well.
– The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen: how new technologies disrupt existing businesses.
– Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton: Walmart founder’s biography.
– Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James Womack and Daniel Jones: lean thinking method.
– Memos from the Chairman by Alan Greenberg: a collection of memos from the Bear Stearns Chairman to the employees. (Bezos worked for an investment bank before starting Amazon.)
– The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.: small groups of engineers can be more effective than large groups.
– The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvements by Eliyahu Goldratt: lessons for manufacturing.
– Data-Driven Marketing: The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know by Mark Jeffery: how to measure everything – has become a must at Amazon.
– The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb: the power of events with massive consequences.

Via CNBC.

Here are the countries where you have plenty of colleagues who also provide professional services online

2017-07-27

If you are a writer or a freelancer providing writing-related services, like translation, editing, or proofreading, and you manage your assignments through online services, you know how global the business is. Many other professionals, such as programmers, graphic designers, and photographers also sell their services on global online freelance platforms. If you have ever wondered where these different types of professionals are located, now there is a map for that.

Vili Lehdonvirta at the Oxford Internet Institute has collected data from various online freelancing services, and put together graphs that show where professionals are participating in remote work processes and projects, and in which countries specific type of work is performed.
Online Labour Index, Oxford University, Vili Lehdonvirta
The statistics, titled Online Labour Index, shows which skills regions and countries are providing to the global market. For instance, the most common type of remote work in the United States is writing and translation. Indian subcontinent is a major supplier of software development and technology skills. Europe is divided in north, south and central regions that provide different types of services.

The largest supplier of online labour is the traditional outsourcing destination India, which is home to 24 percent of all the workers observed. India is followed by Bangladesh (16 %) and United States (12 %).

The software development and technology work category is dominated by workers in the Indian subcontinent, who command a 55 percent market share. The professional services category, which consists of services such as accounting, legal services, and business consulting, is led by professionals based in the UK with a 22 percent market share.
Online Labour Index, Oxford University, Vili Lehdonvirta
The data for the statistics was collected from four large online professional service trading platforms, also known as online freelancing or online outsourcing platforms: Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. They are English-language platforms, meaning that non-English-speaking countries are likely to be underrepresented in the figures. Many freelance service platforms exist in other languages, but English-language platforms are the primary ones in international trade. Internet traffic statistics indicate that the four mentioned sites represent at least 40 percent of the global market for platform-based online work. The figures are likely to give a good indication of the overall market, and particularly which skills regions and countries provide to the global market.

Find out more graphs and data from Vili Lehdonvirta’s article at the Unversity of Oxford web site.

53 nonfiction books about reading, bookstores, libraries, and about other books

2017-07-20

For some readers, books are objects that they care for more than any other products they have used or purchased. Other readers love to collect books and show them on bookshelves at their homes. Then, there are readers who happen to be writers as well, and tend to read in a different way than ordinary book readers.

If you are one of those book lovers who appreciate the published word so much that you are willing to read a book about books, here are some recommendations for you. Bookriot has put together a list of 53 nonfiction books about reading, libraries, bookshops, collecting, and about other books. These books are not about writing, although some of them have been written by famous authors.
Finland's National Library in Helsinki
Here are 53 nonficiton books on books according to Bookriot.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop by Ronald Rice
The Pleasure of Reading: 43 Writers on the Discovery of Reading and the Books that Inspired Them by Antonia Fraser
The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man’s Struggle with the Monthly Tide of the Books He’s Bought and the Books He’s Been Meaning to Read by Nick Hornby
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby
The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe by Ann Morgan
Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Boxall
At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis
Bibliotopia: Or, Mr. Gilbar’s Book of Books & Catch-All of Literary Facts & Curiosities by Steven Gilbar
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
The Book by Julius Friedman
Book Crush: For Kids and Teens – Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Interest by Nancy Pearl
Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl
The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You’ll Never Read by Stuart Kelly
Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books by Tim Parks
The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski
Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry
The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books by Michael Dirda
Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages by Michael Popek
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes
A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel
The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin
My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force
My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud
A Passion for Books: A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books by Harold Rabinowitz
Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet
Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Rego Barry
Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores by Hans Weyandt
A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins
So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch
When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee

If you want to read an ebook that is a collection of stories published in other books, download Traveling in Scandinavia for free.

Bookriot collected a list of 47 fiction books about books as well. You may view those recommendations here.

It takes 5 drafts before a writer can tell the manuscript for a book is ready

2017-07-11

Writing a book is hard work that takes time, requires patience, and persistence. The process of writing is individual, and continuously develops as experience and the number of published books grows. For instance, my own process has always been to write multiple drafts, and edit them until the outcome is what I had envisioned.
a writer stares at her computer screen with a pen in hand
That’s why it is so inspiring to find out that author Jeff Goins has identified five stages in the writing process that each represent a draft for a manuscript that is continuously being improved. The number is very close to the number of drafts I tend to write. Another inspiring thing is that Goins is refreshingly brutal when it comes to describing how the process of writing a book really works.

Here is the summary of Goins’ five-draft book writing process.

Draft 1:
Ideas. Often unstructured, and may only make sense to the writer.

Draft 2:
Structure. The manuscript begins to take shape. If it doesn’t, something is terribly wrong.

Draft 3:
The rough draft. At this point, the text is readable and can be edited. The whole work can be reviewed if something is missing.

Draft 4:
Cut. It is time to make it simple and easy to read which means cutting all the excess words and paragraphs.

Draft 5:
Finetune. Final edits, and the last chance to show it to reviewers for improvements.

The good news for writers who have never had the courage to even begin writing a book is that the threshold is actually low. You are not going to write that book at one go, but it is a step-by-step process where you continue improving your text until the whole work becomes a finished manuscript.

The next step after the five stages of drafts is to work with a publisher’s editor who may have ideas how to further improve the manuscript. A good editor knows that he or she is not always right, and that it is a collaborative process to get the book finished. It means respecting the author’s opinion and voice.

If a writer is not working with a publisher, it is beneficial to get a professional editor to review the manuscript before publishing it.

Tour de France in Europe is the world’s biggest cycling race, but which cities are the most bicycle-friendly in the world?

2017-07-01

The Tour de France is regarded as the world’s biggest sports event when measured by the number of spectators who are watching the race live where it happens. Professional road cyclists race for three weeks in July along a route that mostly zigzags in France, but also in neighboring countries. In 2017, the race starts in Germany. Spectators have free access to follow the race at any point of the route. The best spots have thousands of enthusiastic fans cheering the riders, and since the race is 3540 km / 2200 miles long (in 2017), it adds up to millions of spectators.

The Tour de France is more than 100 years old event, but also the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) are traditional three week stage races with long history where the world’s best professional road cyclists compete in teams against one another. Can there be any relation to the popularity of cycling in daily life of ordinary citizens because cycling as a sport is so popular in Europe?
Copenhagen, Denmark: cyclists in front of bicycle rental shop in the city center
Let’s look at a list of the world’s 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in 2017. The ranking has been prepared by the Copenhagenize Design Co. that selected 136 global cities, assessed each one against a set of 14 parameters, and arranged 20 top cities in order. The common denominators that defined the best cities are quite straightforward: cycling is understood as a serious transport method, cities have invested in infrastructure, and they have a desire to make cities better.

Here is the 2017 ranking for the best cities for cyclists as compiled by Wired.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Utrecht, Netherlands
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Strasbourg, France
5. Malmö, Sweden
6. Bordeaux, France
7. Antwerp, Belgium
8. Ljubljana, Slovenia
9. Tokyo, Japan
10. Berlin, Germany
11. Barcelona, Spain
12. Vienna, Austria
13. Paris, France
14. Seville, Spain
15. Munich, Germany
16. Nantes, France
17. Hamburg, Germany
18, Helsinki, Finland
19. Oslo, Norway
20. Montreal, Canada

What do you know, France gets the biggest number of cities into the top 20. Germany, Netherlands, and Spain – all very successful nations in bicycle racing – follow France. Only two cities outside Europe made it to the top 20: Tokyo and Montreal.

If you want to follow Tour de France, the official web site of the race is Le Tour, and here you can see which television channels are broadcasting the race live.

For travel information on France, here is a travel guidebook for download.

Vuelta a Valencia 2017