Plus a list of books to get you started

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What does it mean to be well-read? A dictionary always comes in handy for such questions. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, well-read means:

well informed or deeply versed through reading.

In other words, you know stuff because you read stuff.

This article explores why one might want to become well-read and how to go about it. It also includes a starter’s list. Regardless of how much of the advice you take from this article, reading takes you on a journey, one that leads to joy and wisdom. Just start reading!

Why Be Well-Read

Many people who read an article like this may want…

We have a choice

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2020 will probably go down as one of the darkest years on Earth. There have been worse. Two world wars and the Black Death come to mind, but for our contemporary age, 2020 was a year fraught with anxiety, isolation, division, and death.

However, “worst year ever,” is a subjective analysis. For some 2020 was truly their worst yet. For myself, 2016, the year my mother died, may have been the worst.

In the end, all these numbers and years are constructions. It is a bit of arrogance to think that God, nature, or the fates decided that 2020 would…

You can enrich your life without travel, shows, and dinner parties

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It’s 2020, and you’re stuck at home due to a pandemic. You don’t get out much, not like you used to. Theatre is canceled for however long, and you may not be going to restaurants, inviting people over for dinner, visiting museums, or traveling to historic monuments.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to enhance yourself through culture. It’s the 21st century and thanks to technology and the internet, you have access to more culture in your pocket than Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Picasso, or James Joyce did in their lifetimes.

Here are some of the ways that you can…

Never underestimate the effects of a great character

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Whether you are a player or a Dungeon Master, you will need to create characters. Although DMs have to create many characters, in some ways, the player has the more difficult job. DMs can easily rid themselves of unlikeable NPCs by never revisiting them, but a player holds onto their character for at least a few sessions, if not an entire campaign. These characters hold the spotlight.

Many campaigns, even well-thought-out campaigns with engaging and unique encounters, can break down if the players lose interest in their characters. …

Most DMs feel they could improve.

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After even the most successful sessions, DMs will often self-reflect and think to themselves, “I should have described that scene better,” “I should have challenged my players more (or less),” “I feel like I shut down one of my player’s ideas too quickly,” or even “I was letting the player’s break too many rules.”

It’s okay to admit these shortcomings without beating yourself up. You can enjoy the game and still desire to improve. However, some DMs are not sure how to improve and may feel frustrated. They need some guidance.

This article is…

One of Martin Scorsese’s earliest works still stands up today

Still of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Director of Photography: Ken Wakeford. Copyright 1973, Warner Bros.

They like to hang out in a bar in Little Italy where the flood of red light gives us an eerie sense that they spend their leisure time in hell. They seem to have a lot of leisure time. No character appears to have a fulltime job, at least not in the traditional sense. A loan shark, a mafioso debt collector, and a deadbeat all walk into a bar sounds like the beginning of a joke, and sometimes they act like they are stuck in one. These sometimes friends and…

It’s okay to be angry, but also try hope

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The Dilemma

As I write, COVID-19 has caused over 110,000 deaths in the United States and over 400,000 worldwide. Most of those people who have died were old or poor or had medical conditions.

In my county, the number of positive cases has reached an all-time high. The number of new cases each day keeps making records. And yet, many people around here hang out with their friends, go to restaurants, skip the mask, and don’t practice social distancing. They take fewer precautions while the spread gets worse.

I have heard a lot of people say: it’s not as big a deal…

Something extraordinary can happen

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There’s something about birds for Megan and me.

First, her father died and became a hawk. He died when Megan was twelve years old. He loved hawks and always wanted to come back as one. I know this because one time when we were sitting in a field in a wide valley covered in green and flowers, just the two of us, she saw a hawk in the sky and told me that every time she sees a hawk, she imagines it’s her father watching over her. She doesn’t know if it’s true, but it makes for a nice story.

It’s not just political correctness gone wild

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A well-meaning student once came up to me and asked, “Can I write about disabled people?”

I replied, “You mean people with disabilities?”

“That’s what I said. Is it wrong to say ‘disabled people’?”

I knew the student well enough to ask, “Would you want to be called the glasses guy?”

“Uh, no.”

I said, “You’re welcome to write about people with disabilities, as long as you write about the people. I want to know about people — their lives, their experiences, their thoughts and feelings. I particularly want to know about their desires and obstacles. …

It’s not all about the DM

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A lot of information exists about what players ought not to do to derail a game: don’t get into lengthy arguments, don’t hoard the table’s attention, don’t constantly act out against the party, don’t try to “win” D&D, don’t get distracted, and don’t take forever on your turn.

While these guidelines stop a D&D game from breaking down or players from killing each other, they don’t exactly inspire. A player’s contribution to a game is not just a set of manners, but players can also help create an exciting and dynamic game.

Too often, people think the DMs make the…

Christopher Willson

Christopher Willson teaches English and theatre. He writes about the arts and gaming.

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