Bibelots

a place for the curious

Tag: b is for

Read harder or not at all

two people sit comfortably across from each other between two library shelves full of books

Getting comfy with books

I’m going to try a reading challenge this year. Not to prove how many books I can ram into a year – I’ve never been the type to sit around and boast how big, how far, how many – but to push the boundaries of exactly what I’m comfortable reading. And what I’m not.

It’s too easy to stay in your happy little comfort zone. Sometimes, when life is busy or tough, knowing your comfort zone and residing there is good and, even more, necessary. Sometimes you need to push the reading envelope a little.

This time of year there are plenty of reading challenges around. There’s one from Pop Sugar that’s quite nice, but I balked when I read their challenge of ‘A book with a blue cover’. Don’t judge a book by the proverbial, right?

Goodreads has you covered if you just want the numbers, but I do not. It’s nice though as they let you set your own goal.

I loved the look of the #BustleReads 20 book challenge. But I loved it a little too much. If I’m feeling comfy, it’s hardly a challenge at all. Yes? Yes. Still, I wholeheartedly reserve the right to go back there and plunder it if I get bored with my final challenge choice.

The challenge that I’ve gone with had a few goals that properly made me screw up my nose in discomfort. It’s still got some easy hits for me as well though. 500+ pages? Sure. Done. Horror? Um, how many can I have? Just one? Oh. But there is more challenge than ease, and so the winner is…

My preferred challenge

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

The challenge by Book Riot is a great list (that unfortunately is done as an image. Hello, modern web much?) You can get a text version of the list over at Goodreads.

For my own amusement, I’ve broken it into some useful groups. The point for me is to extend myself. I’m not bothered if I don’t tick all the boxes, but I do want to try and tick all the ones that make me break into a sweat.

Well, it doesn’t say it has to be an adult, right?

  • Read a book out loud to someone else

Uh, really? Do I really have to do that?

  • Read a food memoir
  • Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
    {I’m surprised by how much I don’t want to do this}

Oh, I didn’t realise how infrequently I do this

  • Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
  • Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a play
  • Read the first book in a series by a person of color
  • Read a book that is set in the Middle East

I’ve done this lots before, but I’m due again

  • Read a collection of essays
  • Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
  • Read a middle grade novel
    {for Australians, this is a book aimed at kids aged around 8-12}
  • Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie – debate which is better
  • Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
  • Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia
  • Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
  • Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
  • Read a book under 100 pages

Too easy, I do this all the time

  • Read a horror book
  • Read a nonfiction book about science
  • Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
  • Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
  • Read a book over 500 pages long
    {done, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things}

Is it even possible not to do this?

  • Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel

That’s all from me

It’s time to start reading.

A bucket full of science

photo of a scientific experiment, showing the bubbles forming in a cup of oil and other ingredients

Froody Science

I’ve been to some beautiful and thought-provoking events at the RiAus over the years.

As a volunteer, I also get a little bit of extra behind-the-scenes training. Usually the training is more about the how-to of events or bigger concepts, such as evidence-based medicine.

All very grown-up and helpful. However, last week saw us get our hands dirty. With a bit of bucket science.

Bucket science is slang for scientific experiments you can do in the comfort of your own home. In fact, most of the ingredients for the experiments can be found in the kitchen. I know that you’re ahead of me on this one: it is also known as kitchen science.

I’m guessing that the phrase bucket science is a local one as, while quite a few of us at the training session knew the term, Wikipedia has no article for it. (Yes, budding wikipedians, here is your opportunity to start a new article.)

But were there any actual buckets? Most certainly! And it was full of slime. Of course, this particular cornflour slime was there to show a little chemistry in action, specifically non-Newtonian fluids.

In addition to buckets, there were lava lamps, condiment / Cartesian divers, and secret bells. On the night, the Cartesian diver got the most scientific discussion going and, for me, has sent me off to find out some science history about Cartesian divers.

And, as always, that’s the trick. To get people interested in the world around them, to get them asking questions. They might accidentally learn a thing or two.

Coathangers for ears?

a woman (mostly her hair) bending over, fingers in ears, has two coathangers attached by string to her fingers

Coathanger Girl

So, what was the most fun? That is just too hard to say. The experiment that surprised me the most was without question the Secret bell: coathanger ears.

I won’t try and attempt to explain this for you. The mere act of explaining might ruin the scientific discovery you are about to experience. That’s because – in the true spirit of bucket science – you need to try it for yourself.

You can see me trying it out in the image to the right. As silly as I look… Ah, just go try it out.

If you want to find out the how-to without any spoilers, I would recommend the youtube clip by Science Off Center. Go on. Stop reading. Start doing.

Bibelots in the wild: postcards

This is the first post in an ongoing series on bibelots in the wild.

A quick happy snap of postcards pinned to a menu boardI have a story to tell. It starts here.

Or, perhaps, it starts over there. You know the place. Sure you do. It’s one of your favourite hangouts. They know you by name and know what you like, but they also know you like to surprise them occasionally.

Ringing any bells?

Of course, this place, mine or yours, could be many places. But not any place.  Any place might be a nameless multinational.  No, that’s not this place. This place has quirks.  It has some things not quite right and some things unexpected, but delightful.

This particular place is in a marketplace.  They have a wall covered with bibelots, or curios if you prefer.

They reside, unconsidered, in one corner of the cafe.  They aren’t important and it’s nothing to write home about, but, and here’s the thing, they include things that you can write home on.

A bibelot can be just about anything, but I feel sure that a postcard is almost always, once written, a bibelot for life.

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