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today is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare being born

April 23, 2014

This month the theme is #urbanread, and that is an excellent fit for Shakespeare.

Coriolanus had problems in cities.

For King Lear, the urban space was his home

As it was in Much ado about nothing

The sonnets can also be explored in an urban setting

and The merchant of Venice

You can participate in TweetSpeare – matching words on twitter with the word in Shakespeare’s plays, or IAM_Shakespeare which tweets every line in every play by Shakespeare.  The complete works are online.

What is your favourite #urbanread from Shakespeare?


Ellen Forsyth

#GlobalSelfie and #rwpchat

April 22, 2014

NASA is asking people to take a selfie outside on 22 April. They ask that you use the tag #GlobalSelfie and to include your location (city/suburb/town) and then post the image on social media.  There is a lot of information, including a printable sign, on their website.  This sounds a great idea.

How does reading fit in with all of this?  You may, while taking a #GlobalSelfie be able to include what you are reading, watching or playing as part of the photograph.  If so, please include the tag #rwpchat.  If you are in an urban area, or what you are reading is an #urbanread please include that tag too.



Selfie by David

If you have not taken a #selfie before – here are some hints:

  •  The background. Can people tell where you are? Is there a street sign behind you, or can you see your house number? People can find out a lot more about you from your photos than you might think.
  •  If you know a younger person who is taking selfies, you might want to share some of these tips:
  •  Location settings. Geotags don’t just show where the photo was taken, they let people know where you like to hang out, and when you are away from home. Turn them off in the settings on your phone. For more about ‘digital breadcrumbs’ have a look at: and privacy:
  • Check before you post a photo of someone, and especially before you tag them. They might not want everyone to know what they’ve been doing.
  • Be your best selfie. Only post pictures of yourself that you are happy for everyone to see, and don’t post unflattering pictures of other people. They might return the favour!
  • Selfies should be fun. If you are worrying about the number of likes you have, or if people are posting comments that make you feel bad, it might be a good idea to take a time out.


Melanie, Heidi, Rachel and Ellen

Exploring London as an #urbanread character

April 9, 2014
St Paul’s Cathedral from under the Millennium Bridge – by Sue Apple

St Paul’s Cathedral from under the Millennium Bridge – by Sue Apple

London Pride has been handed down to us – Noel Coward

The Shard & the Gerkin, reach for the future with their foundations sunk in the past. The city is layer on layer. London’s Guildhall stands beside London’s Roman amphitheatre.

Famous Landmarks were remade for the millennium. Find out about Norman Foster and the British Museumby Sudjic, Deyan.  Buildings left for dead have been reborn. Read how Bankside Power station became Tate Modern in Power into art by Sabbagh, Karl

A London architect becomes a fictional character. Ernő Goldfinger had his surname taken to become of James Bond’s adversaries the villain Goldfinger in Goldfinger by Ian Fleming  
Architect NicholasHawksmoor’s real life has been an enigma ever since he rebuilt churches after the 1666 fire. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

St Pauls Cathedral survives the wartime blitz protected by the ARP (Air Raid Protection) wardens in The night watch by Sarah Waters

Wharfs that once loaded tea are expensive apartments – Adam Dalglish lives in Queenhithe – the site of a dock named for Matilda, daughter of King Henry I -which he leaves reluctantly to catch killers in Hampstead in The Murder Room by PD James:

Roads have names like Houndsditch for an old ditch where dead dogs were thrown. Lanes & Alleys called Shoe, Fetter and Leather echo their past trades and were once walked by Cromwell inBring up the bodies By Hilary Mantel

London’s rivers are now mainly contained under the city. Get wet in The water room by Christopher Fowler, one of his many Bryant & May peculiar crime thrillers that burrow into London’s history and geography.

These rivers flow into the Thames whose great stink was embanked and flushed down sewers by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in Worms of Euston Square by William Sutton

The tunnels under London used by Bryant & May include the darkest recesses of the 150 year old London Underground as explored in Bryant & May off the rails by Christopher Fowler

London has been an #urbanread for years, Dickens characters fill the streets, Sherlock Holmes returns to 221b Baker Street. And new stories and alternative Londons live on for example in Neverwhere byNeil Gaiman

Sue Apple from @SurreyLibraries

today is International Tabletop Day

April 5, 2014

Today is the day to play a tabletop game and know that people around the world are playing too.

It is International Tabletop Day and many people around the world  will be playing and talking about games.  I know this happens every day, but it is special to connect the enjoyment of tabletop games in this way. Have a look at their blog for some ideas about what you might want to play.  There are some great games which you could combine as an #urbanread too.

There is an interesting article on some historic board games over at the Library of Congress blog.

April is the time for #urbanread

April 1, 2014
street graffiti - flickr image from ioBeto

street graffiti – flickr image from ioBeto

April is the month for #urbanread – books, films and games set in any environment ranging from a densely populated city, towns (even small towns)  to small villages. They may be set in any time period including the Victorian era or the distant future.  The city itself may become a character, such as in books about urban places.

 Consider reading author Ian Rankin or watch the My Place series by Nadia Wheatley to explore this.  You may like to read urban fantasy, featuring magic and strange creatures,  a great example is American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and make sure you include some Chuck Wendig too, with Dinocalypse now and Blue blazes, not to mention Cassandra Clare.

This is the month to go local. Read something set in your local area-your place, where you recognise the landmarks, cafes, sights, maybe even the vibe of the town re-created in the setting of the books. Plan some urban travels to compliment your #urbanread.  If you want some factual information about your environment, start your research in the local studies section of your local library. Incidentally, this  is also a good place to find something to read by a local author.  You may like to read further afield, for example, about slums, such as described in Slum Dog Millionaire. You  might enjoy reading about  buildings, urban planning or architecture.

Sustainability in our environment is another  hot topic. In both fact and fiction there’s lots to read, watch and learn about. Choose something to read from the selection of Goodreads Sustainability book lists. Watch a movie, anything from Happy Feet or  Wall- E to documentaries such as An inconvenient truth.

What about crime, including true crime?  Crime stories can be set in any environment, usually urban. Read about underworld figures.  Underbelly, Ripper Street, and Sherlock all present great watching for #urbanread.

While street art adorns the urban landscape, graffiti often poses the question – art or vandalism? You decide – try exploring  the issue by reading  some books celebrating the art of graffiti. You may enjoy some Graffiti in fiction.

Street literature is another upcoming genre to try.

Sometimes stories are based on an urban legend – why not scare yourself silly reading horror stories? Read something by these masters of horror – Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Edgar Allan Poe, Graham Masterton, H.P Lovecraft – they will leave you reading with the lights on. Many of these have also inspired film adaptations. Which is spookier, the book or the movie?

While you are reading, playing or watching your #urbanread, you might like to tweet about it using #urbanread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about your #urbanread.  You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #urbanread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

 There will be a twitter discussion on 29 April starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.   9.00pm New Zealand  Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 8.00am GMT, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time.  Note : this is a staggered start to the discussion.

Use the tags #urbanread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of urbanread, so others can join in the conversation too.

#reelread discussion for #rwpchat

March 26, 2014

If you missed the discussion last night, you can catch up with it on Storify [View the story "#reelread discussion for #rwpchat" on Storify].  This discussion included many different sorts of films and reading, sewing, fishing  and much for.  Thank you to everyone who joined the discussion.  Great to see so many people involved.


Tolkien Reading Day

March 25, 2014

Today is Tolkien Reading Day.

March 25 was the day that Sauron was defeated, the One Ring destroyed, and the Gondorian New Year ushered in across Middle-Earth – so it makes the perfect day to celebrate all things Tolkien.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkein (1892 – 1973) is perhaps most famous for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King). Thanks in no small part to the amazing cinematography of Peter Jackson’s recent films. Before the films though Tolkien had established a strong readership and following for the sheer scale and beauty and use of language (much of it elvish) in these four books.

J. R. R. Tolkien also wrote Beowulf: the monsters and the criticsThe Father Christmas Letters; Mr Bliss; Roverandom; Leaf by Niggle; The Adventures of Tom Bombadil; On Fairy Stories; Smith of Wootton Major; Farmer Giles of Ham. Following his death in 1973 his unfinished works also published (much later). They include: The Silmarrillion; Unfinished Tales; The History of Middle-earth; The Children of Hurin; The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun;  and The Fall of Arthur

I am currently rediscovering The Hobbit. What will you be reading to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day?



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