The First (and Last) Lines of Iconic Books

The first line of a book is a written invitation addressed to the reader. If the reader likes the invitation, they read on. If they don't like it, they close the book and read something else. Finding the best combination of words for that first line can take a while. Some authors devote months of time to develop the opening line of their book. Stephen King, for example, recently revealed that he has spent months, even years, crafting his opening sentences.

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15 Grammar Rules It's Okay to Break: Infographic

You are probably familiar with the age old saying, "Rules were meant to be broken." And when it comes to grammar and the English language, people have been breaking rules long before Shakespeare wrote his first sonnet.

Part of this is because English has always been such a fluid language. Just flip through an English dictionary and you'll find words from all over the world: rendezvous from France, rickshaw from Japan, and even jazz from West Africa. And if you were to spend some time with a dictionary from a century ago, you'd find many words we use today but with substantially different meanings.

All of this happens because people break the rules. They start using new words, repurpose existing words, or find new shortcuts to say things the way they want. Maybe another word from another language describes something better than the current word for it in English, or maybe the traditional way of saying something is just too clunky or formal for the modern world. Languages change and evolve, and perhaps none more so than English itself.

But there's a danger to breaking the rules too much. Remember: language is about communication, and the tighter your grasp over the language, the more successfully you can communicate. It all comes down to one thing: You have to be aware of the rules before you can break them.

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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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Life Lessons from Twelve Philosophers

Philosophy is the ancient love of wisdom, derived from the Greek word philosophia which means just that. Since the 6th century B.C., profound philosophical thinkers from ancient Greece to present day feminists have laid the foundations for modern thinking. The search for meaning in everyday life has been explored by the likes of Socrates, Descartes, and so many others whose names are easily recognized but whose foundational ideas might be more difficult to grasp.

Happily, the auction site Invaluable has created an easily digestible infographic that summarizes the guiding principles of these great philosophers--from Confucius to Simone de Beauvoir.

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The 10 Essential Elements of a Gothic Novel

In the spirit of Halloween, we highlight the Gothic genre. Gothic literature emerged as one of the most chilling forms of Dark Romanticism in the late 1700s, and has since captivated readers with terrifying, mysterious narratives. Evident in the works of great Gothic writers such as Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, and many more, Gothic stories feature distinctive elements that make the genre so unique.

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Banned Books in the USA - Infographic

September 23rd is the start of Banned Books Week, an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books and highlights persecuted individuals. Last year's top ten banned titles consisted mainly of titles written for children and teens that address sex and gender, and two adult titles read in schools: The Kite Runner and To Kill a Mockingbird.

In honor of Banned Books Week, here's part of an interesting infographic of the top banned books in different genres, the reasons why they've been banned in the past, and interesting facts and stats. You can see the full infographic at Invaluable.

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