Book fun

University 2.0: Coursera

CourseraIn the previous post I complained about the excessive number of writing guides and the dilemma of choice – but books are not the only source for learning a craft (because art or not, there is some craft to writing you need to learn to become an artist… or at least, I definitely need to). For example, you can take a creative writing Master’s online for 30k $ – unless you are a student earning close to nothing, so I kept looking for cheaper ways. Besides some nice tutorials and series on YouTube channels like Martha Alderson’s or Writer’s Digest’s, we have now some real university courses for free.

Whoever thought that after over five years of university I would feel like enrolling in more courses? But this time, instead of being given a schedule, I get to choose my courses and whether I want to study Modern American Poetry, Genetics and Evolution, Social Network Analysis – or all three at the same time. I visit the lectures whenever I want to and wherever I want to, as they are online, and interact with other students from all around the world. And these are university courses, all free and optional. And much more fun than the ‘traditional’ ones (this probably has something to do with the being optional).

Of course, I’m talking about Coursera.org, which offers 213 courses at the moment, and which I fell in love with the moment I saw it. For someone so curious as me, wanting to know everything, it sounds a bit like heaven. If you’ve ever surfed Wikipedia just because it was all so interesting, you know what I’m talking about. I can finally take the courses of, say, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University and the University of Michigan, all at the same time. Some introductory ones, of course, when it’s not much related to my own field(s). I so felt for the stick figure when it asked “Can I graduate in the universe and everything?” (or something like that), and now I feel a bit like I could. Well, maybe not graduate, but find out a lot more, in an organized way (not like Wikipedia is not organized… or trustworthy, right?). I’m just keeping my fingers crossed to see some more writing and/or literature related courses coming up. We already have the Modern American Poetry, The Fiction of Relationship, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Writing in the Sciences and English Composition I: Achieving Expertise. Anyone else taking or joining any of these?

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Halloween costumes for bookworms

I’ve found a Writer’s Digest article with ideas for quick and simple literature-related Halloween costumes. It lists quite a few interesting ideas like Don Quixote, Napoleon the Pig, Lady Macbeth, Dorian Gray, as well as a few authors. I found them quite amusing, but not as simple to prepare as implied (fashion a ragtag suit of armor out of old junk you’ve got sitting around? I’m not sure I’ve got that kind of junk sitting around…) or very easy to recognize (think Napoleon the Pig). Also, they are very nice classics, but try and go to a Halloween party, then count the people with recognition on their face greeting you “Ah, Lady Macbeth”. Unless, of course, you are at the Shakespeare Fan Club’s party.

So I thought, why not try and make up some more ideas, maybe ones with some more chance of recognition in today’s world? Feel free to add some ideas – we still have a few hours to create them for tonight. We don’t have to go too far from classics to have a costume with at least a slight chance to be recognized. Consider fairytales. Depending on your looks you may choose something obvious – such as Snow White with your black hair (add some pale makeup and an apple for clarity), Little Red Riding Hood if you’re a girl and little enough (add the red and the riding hood, and optionally a wolf), or the Beauty – or the Beast.

Want something more modern? Take some bestsellers right off the shelf and all you need is something elegant plus a tie and some optional accessories to be Ana or Mr Fifty Shades himself, or grab a bow, do the trademark braided hair (careful not to be missed for Princess Leia there) and be Katniss. Just to be sure, you should also wear some fake flames – not real, if you’re planning to go near alcohol or someone pretending to be Haymitch. As for me, if I weren’t resting after a nasty wisdom tooth surgery, I’d definitely be going for some of my favourite characters or stories such as Lucy Westenra with red hair and dress, death-paleness and lifelike (deathlike?) little vampire bites. Or, if all else fails, you can always zombify yourself. Hope you know what to be now, and let me know if you chose a book character (or author) to dress up as, and how it went!

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