Syrian Culture: A Rich, Layered Legacy

The voices and stories of Syrian refugee experiences are not the only thing drowned out by the international news agencies' overwhelming focus on conflict, war, and death tolls. Underneath the tragedy, now literally buried beneath the rubble in many cases, is a cultural legacy that has spanned centuries and empires. The empires that ruled over and influenced Syria from the ancient to the modern period included the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines, with the Ottoman empire ruling from 1516 to 1918. Religious, art, music, and food cultures are the legacy left behind that vary both according to cultural differences and regional differences, as well as a number of UNESCO World Heritage site designations for places of archeological importance across human history such as Damascus, Aleppo, Bostra, Palmyra, Krak des Chevaliers, and Qal'at Salāh al-Din.

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The Link Between Discussion Length and a Happy Book Club

When you hear the term "book club" what image comes to mind? Many readers not in one see them as social groups more interested in gossiping than discussing the book at hand, an impression that is often perpetuated in the media at large.

BookBrowse has been researching readers and book clubs for more than 15 years, so we knew that this perception wasn't accurate, but we didn't have hard numbers to prove the case. So, over the past 18 months we set out to find out exactly what's going on in book clubs, gathering responses from over 5,000 people through two surveys. We've recently published the findings in a report which we've titled "The Inner Lives of Book Clubs" because it's the first report to really get to the heart of the book club experience. And what it shows is that the perception that many have of book clubs is vastly different to reality.

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Six Nonfiction Books to Read With Your Book Club

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but that is not all. It is also, at times, more harrowing, more exhilarating, and more remarkable than fiction too. We've gathered six nonfiction titles that evoke all of those feelings and so many more.

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How to Write a Manifesto

Women & Power by Mary Beard is labeled a manifesto, which comes from the Latin word manifestus, meaning "to manifest, to clearly reveal, or to make real." It is a broad term for a public statement of intent, belief, or a call to action issued by an organization or an individual.

Most nonprofit and political groups have a manifesto of some sort which states their purpose – why they exist and what they hope to accomplish. This allows them to frame the organization's goals succinctly, be able to communicate those aims, and recruit others to the cause. These declarations are also meant to inspire, to share a vision and excite others. For this reason, some corporations are ditching their mission statements – which have a dry static connotation – for the more dynamic manifesto form.

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The Poem That Inspired The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone, takes its title from a line in "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", a poem composed by Robert W. Service, whose work inspires the main character throughout the book.

Robert W. Service Robert W. Service (1874-1958), known as "The Bard of the Yukon," was born in Lancashire, England, the son of a banker and an heiress. He was sent to Kilwinning, Scotland at the age of five to live with his paternal grandfather and three unmarried aunts, who spoiled him shamelessly. He's said to have written his first poem there — an improvised grace — at the age of six, much to the delight and astonishment of his relatives.

God bless the cakes and bless the jam;
Bless the cheese and the cold boiled ham:
Bless the scones Aunt Jeannie makes,
And save us all from bellyaches. Amen.

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Books to Read and Watch With Your Book Club

There's no way around it – winter is dark and cold (so cold this year!) and life can feel circular and repetitive, like you're on a hamster wheel. And we're only halfway through...

But books and movies can come to the rescue! Let us help you jump off the wheel and onto pathways filled with all sorts of landscapes and adventures. The memoir, Boy Erased takes you down a path with Gerrard, a gay boy forced to make a choice between going into conversion therapy or losing his family. Another memoir, Beautiful Boy, allows you to walk in the shoes of another young man, Nic, who spirals into a drug addiction and whose father desperately tries to save him.

If you want to journey into fiction, check out The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which centers on Juliet Ashton who is looking for a subject for her next writing project and finds it! Or you could pick Bel Canto which takes you to a party in an unknown South American country that is crashed by a terrorist group. Or Between Shades of Gray, about fifteen-year-old Lina, a Lithuanian girl who is taken, with her family, by Soviet soldiers to a work camp in Siberia, where she struggles to survive.

Read these stunning stories with your book club and then watch them together too. A sure fire way to beat the winter blues!

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