What We Are Reading Today: ‘Crossing Thoughts’

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Updated 20 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Crossing Thoughts’

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Author: Sultan Ayaz

“Crossing Thoughts” is a fantasy novel in English by Saudi author Sultan Ayaz, published in 2017.

Ayaz’s novel is about humans defending their homeland against demon oppression. It is about the eternal fight between humanity and demons, and the person who stands between them.

The story begins with Drake, a child who lives a peaceful life with his family in a small town. However, a demonic attack destroys the village, but Drake somehow survives.

Three characters emerge: Aria, Ray and Amber, who study the nature of elements at the Grand College of Elements in the Kingdom of Iora, one of three kingdoms suffering demonic oppression. They learn to employ elemental magic as a weapon against their demonic opponents.

Aria (wind element user), Amber (fire element user) and Ray (thunder element user) end up fighting a sea demon and are discovered by a mysterious man called Soul, who admires their powers and helps them train to become “demon slayers,” to free humans from oppression.

There are many fight scenes in the storyline using magic and elements, and the book is full of drama, plot twists and terror.

What I liked about the narrative is how easy it is to read and follow, and the development of the world building —from the village to the Kingdom of Iora.

The female characters in the novel shine brighter and have distinct styles, making them more intriguing to read about, and each possesses a particular power.   

It might be confusing for some readers that the story begins with Drake’s perspective and then cuts to the story of Aria, Amber and Ray. However, the more you read, the more intriguing the female storylines become.

The book has received four-plus star ratings on the Goodreads website and is simple enough to read in one sitting.  

In 2020, Ayaz became one of the first Saudi novelists to have a fiction work in English published overseas when Olympia Publishers, a British publishing house, purchased the rights to “Crossing Thoughts.”

The novel is also set to be adapted into a Manga comic by Manga Arabia.

 


What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park
Updated 19 June 2024
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What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

It’s hard not to feel anxious about the problem of climate change, especially if we think of it as an impending planetary catastrophe.

In “Slow Burn,” R. Jisung Park encourages us to view climate change through a different lens: one that focuses less on the possibility of mass climate extinction in a theoretical future, and more on the everyday implications of climate change here and now. 

Park shows how climate change headlines often miss some of the most important costs. 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Love in the Time of Self-Publishing’

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Updated 18 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Love in the Time of Self-Publishing’

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Author: CHRISTINE M. LARSON

As writers, musicians, online content creators, and other independent workers fight for better labor terms, romance authors offer a powerful example—and a cautionary tale—about self-organization and mutual aid in the digital economy.

In “Love in the Time of Self-Publishing,” Christine Larson traces the 40-year history of Romancelandia, a sprawling network of romance authors, readers, editors, and others, who formed a unique community based on openness and collective support.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy
Updated 17 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

For decades, African nations have fought for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums. In “Africa’s Struggle for Its Art,” Benedicte Savoy brings to light this largely unknown but deeply important history. One of the world’s foremost experts on restitution and cultural heritage, Savoy investigates extensive, previously unpublished sources to reveal that the roots of the struggle.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Browsings’

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Updated 17 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Browsings’

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Author: Michael Dirda

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Dirda compiled a year’s worth of literary essays in his 2015 book about books, aptly titled, “Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books.”

Written on Fridays between February 2012 and February 2013, the essays started out as 600-word columns in The American Scholar that combined the literary and personal. Soon, Dirda found that the word counts naturally ballooned, sometimes doubling and even tripling due to what he referred to as his “natural garrulousness.”

In the intro, he writes: “These are … very much personal pieces, the meandering reflections of a literary sybarite. The essays themselves vary widely in subject matter, and rarely stick closely to their stated titles.”

A longtime book columnist for The Washington Post, Dirda also writes regularly for many literary sections in publications such as the New York Review of Books. The Washingtonian Magazine once listed him as one of the 25 smartest people in the nation’s capital.

This collection of essays serves as a true celebration of American literature. Dirda explores his serendipitous discoveries and the joy of reading for its own sake. His passion goes beyond bibliophilism; the compilation is his love letter to all the books he has encountered along his journey.

The writer’s quick wit is demonstrated clearly on the page, and he comes across as that bookworm friend who can talk endlessly about books with enough passion to make you fall in love with reading again.

“I hope ‘Browsings’ as a whole will communicate some sense of a year in the life of an especially bookish literary journalist. I also hope that it will encourage readers to seek out some of the many titles I mention or discuss,” Dirda writes.

The books he examines are diverse, and he provides readers with insights that jump off the page. The essays are short enough, but he requests that one read only a few at a time.

“Allow me to make two small recommendations: First, don’t read more than two or three of the pieces at one sitting. Space them out. That way ‘Browsings’ will take longer to get through and you’ll enjoy each essay more. Trust me on this.

“Second, consider reading the columns in the order they appear. Each is meant to stand on its own, but I did aim for a pleasing variety in my choice of topics, as well as a seasonal arc to the series as a whole.”

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Good Vibes, Good Life’

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Updated 16 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Good Vibes, Good Life’

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Author: Vex King

“Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness” by Vex King is a self-help book on cultivating a positive mindset and emotional well-being. The author shares his own personal journey of overcoming adversity and tells how he developed practical strategies to improve his outlook on life.

It has an approachable and conversational tone. King writes in a personable manner, sharing his personal experiences and lessons acquired, making it relatable and relevant for readers.

The book covers a wide range of themes, including how to manage negative thoughts, practice appreciation, set boundaries, and discover your purpose.

King presents a variety of real exercises and tactics that readers may use right away to transform their mentality and improve their mental health.

The chapter on self-love is particularly impactful. King emphasizes the importance of being compassionate and accepting toward oneself, which he argues is the foundation for developing healthy relationships and achieving personal growth.

However, I felt that “Good Vibes, Good Life” sometimes tried to simplify complex emotional and mental health issues. While I appreciate the author’s goal of providing easy-to-understand self-help advice, there were times where the messaging felt too simplistic.

Another thing that gave me pause was that the author often did not use scientific research to support ideas. As someone who likes to see evidence-based information, I would have preferred if the author had included more references to psychological studies and expert opinions to back up his recommendations.

Instead, the book mostly relies on the author’s own personal stories and experiences. While those personal anecdotes can be compelling, I don’t think that automatically makes the strategies universally applicable to everyone.

Finally, I had mixed feelings about the work’s broad scope. On the one hand, I appreciated the wide range of topics covered; but on the other, I felt that certain areas could have benefited from a more in-depth, nuanced exploration, rather than a relatively surface-level treatment.

Overall, “Good Vibes, Good Life” is an uplifting and practical guide that can help readers develop a more positive and fulfilling outlook on life. The author’s personal anecdotes and straightforward advice make it an easy and engaging read.

It is a good option for those seeking to cultivate more joy, peace, and emotional well-being in their life.