Tag Archives: Reading

A visit to Stockholm Public Library

Libraries – I like seeing blog posts about libraries and have made a few myself. I enjoyed seeing this one of the Stockholm Public Library and wanted to share it.

The post contains a little more travel info than just the library itself, but it is worth seeing another library I might want to add to my list of places to visit.

Love Travelling

Our final day in Stockholm and just enough time before heading back to the airport to fit in a visit to the Stockholm Public Library in Odenplan. I love visiting libraries wherever I travel and what a delightful one this was. The library, which was designed by Gunnar Asplund and completed in 1928, is one of the city’s most famous buildings with its geometrically designed neo-classical architecture and is listed as being one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Untitled Stockholm Public Library

Stepping through the Egyptian style doorway and climbing the central staircase, we were able to get our first glimpse into the central rotunda of the library. The rotunda is a circular book hall and is an absolutely stunning temple for book lovers like me. It contains a total of 40,000 books on three levels and retains its original mahogany furniture and leather chairs.

Untitled The Rotunda, Stockholm Public LIbrary

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Library of Parliament – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Libraries – I always like visiting unusual libraries. When I saw this post covering the Library of Parliament library in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada I had to share it.

Needless to say, it is now on my list of libraries to visit one day.

The Critiquing Chemist

Over this past weekend Luke and I took a three day weekend up to Ottawa and Montreal. As several of our trips had fallen through recently with wildfires closing Yosemite, canceling our Half Dome hike and a new job changing our American southwest journey I was bursting at the seams to go on a new adventure. Knowing we had a three day weekend, we decided to fit in a trip to the Canadian capital, especially as their Library of Parliament had been on my library bucket list for a quite a while now.  To access the Library of Parliament the public is able to go on free guided tours throughout the Centre Block, where not only will you get to glimpse this remarkable library but also be taken on a tour the center of Canadian government such as the Commons and Senate rooms.  Prior to our trip I’d read that…

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Fifty Word Fantasy: Thief

Reading – I thought that this was a great piece of Flash Fiction. It would be a good start to a fantasy novel.

Aethereal Engineer

She pondered the shimmer guarding the bookshelf, then grabbed a thin folio from it and ran.

The wizard appeared, grand and robed. “No ordinary urchin or thief steals from my library.”

The child trembled anticipating his wrath.

“It takes a wizard’s eyes to see my wards. Let me train yours.”

Copyright © 2018 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

Discover more of my Fifty Word Fantasies.

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University of Michigan Law Library

BooksLibraries – I have posted about libraries I have visited before. I thought that this Blog post by “The Critiquing Chemist” showed off a very interesting building. While it is a specialty library (the law library), it is none the less a beautiful and picturesque structure.

The Critiquing Chemist

The past month has been a whirlwind of exciting life updates as my brother got engaged and I made an exciting career change. Yesterday was actually my first day at my new job working in the laboratories at the State of Michigan! With a few days off last week in between jobs I decided to check a library off my bucket list that is relatively just down the road from where I live.  One of my best friends happened to be in town for the week from Arizona so we coordinated breakfast in Ann Arbor before walking to the Law Library.  I hadn’t expected the absolute nightmare parking would turn out to be but Megan and I eventually both found spots.  Based on glowing recommendations we enjoyed the raisin bread and coffee at Angelo’s, which was well worth the half hour wait in the cold. After stuffing ourselves Megan and…

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Fifty Word Fantasy: Trick and Treat

Reading – A great Flash Fiction for Halloween

Aethereal Engineer

Old Mrs. Emmons accepted the candy gift. “Oh! I always wanted to go trick-or-treating, but my father hated Halloween…”

She ate the caramel, felt dizzy, and then was as young as the little witch handing her a pumpkin bucket and black cat costume.

“Then let’s not waste tonight, Mrs. Emmons!”

Copyright © 2018 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

Discover more of my Fifty Word Fantasies.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Bookstores I’ve Always wanted to Visit

Reading – This is a good list. I like to visit bookstores and libraries when I travel. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to visit three of those listed: the Library of Congress, Shakespeare and Company, and The Strand. They were all impressive.

I would add to that list these as well:

So many locations around the world for book lovers to visit. My list of places I want to visit grows constantly.


Happy Tuesday my lovelies, Following my recent dedication to post more often, here is another Tuesday book meme for you all. Top 10 Tuesday a meme created by The Broke & the Bookish, but which is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl featuring a different bookish related theme each week. This week’s theme is Bookstores or libraries I have always wanted to visit! I am so excited about this one because going to a bookstore is probably one of my favourite things to do! I just can’t help but feel at home there and there are so many amazing ones in the world I still haven’t visited (seriously debating planning a trip to visit a bunch of famous bookstores).

*All descriptions are taken from wikipedia

1. The Library of Congress


The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is…

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Singapore, Singapore – Ngee Ann City Mall and the Kinokuniya Bookstore


LocationsBookstores – A couple of weeks ago I walked over to the Ngee Ann City Mall. While I had been there a time or two before, I was going specifically to check out the bookstore I had seen there.


This is a very upscale mall with several well known high-end stores. The S$520 million building that houses the shopping mall also has two 26 story office towers.


The mall hosts 130 different stores and restaurants spread out over several levels.


As I mentioned, the purpose of my visit to the mall was to check out the Kinokuniya bookstore. Officially the address of the bookstore is 391 Orchard Road #04-20/20A/20B/20C/20E/21, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872. The #04-20 in that address indicates that the bookstore is on the fourth floor. In fact, it is immediately adjacent to the Crystal Jade Palace. That is how I noticed the bookstore. We had dinner at the Crystal Jade Palace a few weeks back. It didn’t look all that large from the outside.


The Kinokuniya bookstore in the mall is one of four outlets in Singapore. This is their flagship store and the second-largest bookstore in Southeast Asia. I only realized how large it was once I had gone inside.


I walked around the bookstore for a while and it is the largest bookstore I think I have ever been in.


Certainly, if I find myself searching for a paper book while I am in Singapore, I know where I will be able to find it. I will be going back and spending more time browsing through the shelves.

If you want a book in Singapore, I think that this is the premier place to go.

See my other Food & Location articles


Do You Know the Difference Between a Short Story, a Novelette, a Novella, ​and a Novel?


Reading – As you know if you follow my Blog, I read a lot. Some short stories, a few novellas, but mostly novels. But having said that, what does that really mean? I have had the general notion of what a short story, a novella, and a novel are, but I wondered if there was some sort of official definition.

When I looked at “Word Count” in Wikipedia what I see is this definition:

Classification Word Count
Novel 40000 or more
Novella 17500 – 39999
Novelette 7500 – 17499
Short Story less than 7500

These are actually the classifications used by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for each category of its Nebula award, so not exactly an official definition. Elsewhere I have read that The New Yorker in 2012, defined the novella as being between roughly 20,000 and 40,000 words[1].

Classification Word Count
Novel 55000 – 300000
Novella 30000 – 50000
Short Story 1500 – 30000


I see where Writer’s Digest has these slightly different classifications [1,2]. Then there is also the even smaller classification of Flash Fiction for works from 53 to 1000 words [3, 4]. Others classify a Novella as 20000 to 50000 [4].

Regardless of which classification you choose to follow, these do give general guidelines for the length of various works. So the National Novel Writing Month goal of 50000 words written during the month of November abides by these classifications. Are you going to sign up and try your hand during NANOWRIMO this year?


  1. What Is the Difference Between a Novella and a Short Story?
  2. What Is the Difference Between Novels, Novellas & Short Stories?
  3. Differences Between a Short Story, Novelette, Novella, & a Novel
  4. Short Story, Novella, Novel – what’s the difference?

Interview With Author “David D. Levine”


Interviews – A few weeks ago I read and then wrote a review of the science fiction novel  “Arabella the Traitor of Mars”. Afterward, I was able to contact the author, David D. Levine, and interview him.

= = =

Myself: First, I wanted to thank you, David, for taking the time for this interview. Before we get started, I have to ask about the photo that you provided. You look like you are really enjoying your weightless experience. What was your flight aboard a “vomit comet” like?

Levine: It was amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime out-of-this-world experience. I didn’t have any nausea at all (I might have if the flight had been longer… they don’t fly nearly as long as the astronauts who nicknamed it the “Vomit Comet” did). The most interesting thing I learned was that getting around in zero-G isn’t nearly as easy or straightforward as I thought it would be.

Myself: That sounds like quite the experience. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Levine: Like a lot of people, I wrote SF stories when I was a kid, and continued to do so all the way through college. But when I graduated, I got a job as a technical writer and I stopped writing fiction because it was too much like work. I changed jobs in 1997 and by 1998 I was writing fiction again. That’s when I decided to attend Clarion West [A non-profit literary organization based in Seattle, Washington, with a mission to improve speculative fiction by providing high-quality education to writers at the start of their careers], and the rest is history.

Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Levine: I hand-wrote an SF novel in two spiral notebooks in fourth grade. I still have it. It’s not bad, considering.

Myself: That is an impressive start. I doubt that many authors can claim to have attempted writing a novel in grade school. What is your academic and work background?

Levine: I was a theatre geek in high school, and when I went to college I intended to major in technical theatre. But during the summer after my freshman year, I realized that if I kept working in theatre I’d never have another date on Friday or Saturday night, so I changed majors to Architecture. I got my BA in Architecture but then couldn’t find a job in the field, so fell into technical writing because I was interested in computers and have always been able to write easily and well. The money in high tech was good, so I stayed in the field, eventually becoming a software engineer and then a user interface designer. I retired in 2007 and have been writing SF since then (though not full time, and not making a living off it).

Myself: What part of the world do you currently live in?

Levine: Portland, Oregon. I came here for a job right after college, fell in love with it, and have never wanted to live anywhere else since then.

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

Levine: I think that a writer’s hometown can’t help but influence their choice of settings and themes. It’s also true that Portland is a very literary town and I’ve found a lot of writer friends and organizations here, which help to support my life as a writer.

Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Levine: I love to travel, I love live theatre and movies, and my main hobbies are science fiction fandom and gay square dancing (both of which give me plenty of excuses to travel). And, of course, I love to read, though I don’t do nearly as much of it as I used to.

Myself: What else would you like to share about yourself?

Levine: I love cats, but between the amount of time I spend on the road and the fact that I’m allergic, I can’t have one in the house. But I hang out with cats whenever I can.

Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?

Levine: “Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars” by Ellen MacGregor, or possibly “The Runaway Robot” by Lester del Rey. I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was very little.

Myself: Did you read much growing up?

Levine: Tons.

Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory?

Levine: I was a huge fan of the “Matthew Looney” books by Jerome Beatty Jr (illustrated by Gahan Wilson!)

Myself: What have you read recently?

Levine: I’m right now reading “The Fated Sky”, the second Lady Astronaut novel by Mary Robinette Kowal, and I’m loving it.

Myself: I like that image of story ideas. What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Levine: Science fiction, by far. Favorite book, character, author? You say that as if it were possible to pick just one of each. But I do keep coming back to “Use of Weapons” by Iain M. Banks, and its main characters Cheradenine Zakalwe and the drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw.

Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?

Levine: I have a very comfy chair in the living room.

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks?

Levine: I much prefer paper to ebooks. I can’t really say why.

Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?

Levine: I’ve given several copies of “The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin as gifts because it’s brilliant. I also give people my own books. 🙂

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Levine: The feeling that I have something unique to say.

Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Levine: Honestly, I’ve already achieved so much, what with all the publications and the awards and all. Right now my unrealized writing goals include: being writer guest of honor at a science fiction convention, winning a Nebula (the Andre Norton Award is close, but not quite), seeing a stranger reading a book of mine in public, seeing someone do cosplay from one of my works, and having one of my works adapted into a movie or TV show.

Myself: Certainly having won an Andre Norton Award, a Hugo Award and the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest are significant achievements. Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Levine: I’d say Iain M. Banks is my biggest inspiration because he did so much to stretch the form. China Mieville is also someone whose craft I admire. Jay Lake was a big career push and pull — we were a mutual support society and also had a bit of a friendly rivalry. And my instructors at Clarion West — John Crowley, Paul Park, Geoff Ryman, Candas Jane Dorsey, Pat Murphy, David Hartwell, and Carol Emshwiller — deserve special mention.

Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Levine: Every idea carries its own genre, man.

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Levine: I like to say that story ideas are like neutrinos — they come sleeting down from space constantly, and all you have to do is be dense enough to stop one. Seriously, the ideas are the easy part. Just keep your eyes open as you move through the day and you’ll get three or four an hour. It’s actually putting the words in order that’s hard.

Myself: That concept, that “story ideas are like neutrinos — they come sleeting down from space constantly, and all you have to do is be dense enough to stop one” is a perspective that I won’t soon forget. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Levine: I started out as a very strong outliner, but I’m becoming more and more of a seat-of-the-pants writer. Basically, I can go longer and longer stretches between outline points, and can sometimes pants an entire short story now. I think that planners become more like pantsers and pantsers become more like planners as they get more experienced.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

Levine: I like to write in coffee shops because I need to get away from my house with its many distractions. Ideally, I work in the company of other writers, because having them there makes it harder to goof off on Facebook or Twitter.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Levine: I shoot for a two-hour solid writing stint each day. I don’t usually manage it.

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete the first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Levine: Generally I can draft a short story in a week or two. A novel usually takes me two years, but “Arabella the Traitor of Mars” was written in seven months and revised in three weeks because of life circumstances.

Myself: You did set an aggressive schedule for yourself with “Arabella the Traitor of Mars”. How much research do you put into a novel?

Levine: Depends on the novel. The Arabella books required tons of historical research. Hard SF, paradoxically, doesn’t take much because I know a lot about real science and know enough to make up plausible fake science.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Levine: I use Scrivener for novels and Word for short fiction. A good thesaurus — the one built into MacOS is a pretty good one — is also a very important tool for me.

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Levine: The hardest part is making myself sit down and work. The easiest part is coming up with story ideas.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Levine: Read a lot! Write a lot! Get feedback on your writing, and focus on applying what you learn from the feedback thoughtfully to new work rather than iterating over and over on the current story in an attempt to fix all its problems. Hang out with other writers whenever you can, online or in person.

Myself: What novels/works have you published?

Levine: Novels “Arabella of Mars”, “Arabella and the Battle of Venus”, and “Arabella the Traitor of Mars”, and over fifty SF and fantasy stories, some of which are collected in my, um, collection, “Space Magic”. See https://daviddlevine.com/fiction/bibliography/ for a complete bibliography, including links to much free fiction in text and audio form.

Myself: I will have to add some of your short stories to my To Be Read list. What are you currently working on?

Levine: A “space opera caper picture” novel with the working title “Breakout”. It’s a Firefly/Leverage/Expanse mashup with an ensemble cast and it is taking forever to come together.

Myself: What else would you like to share?

Levine: I really love to read my own work and I’m told I do a good job of it. I do voices, I sing and dance, and sometimes I even wear costumes. Please come to my readings if you get a chance! This video [above] is an example of what I can do.

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Levine: I’m on Twitter (@daviddlevine), Facebook (David D. Levine), and Instagram (daviddlevine) and you can probably find me as “daviddlevine” on any new social media platform that comes along. My website is daviddlevine.com and if you go to the lower right corner of that page you can sign up for a newsletter, which I send out extremely occasionally (usually only when I have a new book coming out).

Do You Read Before Bed? That Apparently Reveals a Lot!

Reading – I just read the article “Here’s What Reading Before Bed Says About Your Personality, According To Experts“. According to psychologists and therapists consulted for the article, reading before bed reveals a lot about your personality.

  • this could mean you’re intellectual, analytical, and have positive self-care techniques
  • the most typical personality type that reads before bedtime is an INFJ personality type [per the Myers-Briggs assessment].” “INFJ”. . . stands for “intuitive, feeling, and judging.” Basically . . . INFJs — and people who like to read before going to bed — tend to be more introverted, and therefore more energized by alone time, and they often make decisions in an organized way
  • being a voracious reader, in general, might indicate that you’re an open-minded person . . . As for reading at bedtime, specifically? . . . it indicates a personality that is more conscientious and emotionally stable
  • If you’re drawn to reading a lot of fiction in particular before you go to sleep . . . this could mean you’re looking for a healthy escape from your everyday routine, which can also serve as a great form of self-care

Who knew that choosing to read a little before bed each night said more than you just liked to read. So . . . do you read before bed? How do these evaluations relate to you?