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I think that reading widely helps me keep an open mind.  As I am reading, I often start to question the author’s point of view and that is a good thing.  When a book makes me ask questions and go hunting for answers, it is a real plus.  I don’t always like the answers, of course.  I sometimes keep looking for an answer that will please me better, but I try to be aware of that.  I try very hard not to be a stick-in-the-mud as I get older.  I try to understand why people or characters believe or act as they do.

I compare stories to the reality of my own life.  One reason that I get tired of reading stories where the characters are unremittingly ugly is that I don’t believe that is the way of the world in general.  I believe that such characters do sell books.  It is the same thing that we know about newspapers, “If it bleeds, it leads”, and no one wants to read about some everyday kind of life that is boring.

Slice of life stories interest me because they are about people who live in a different place than I do.  A little humor and a lot of human failing can keep me interested with hope that the characters will overcome their troubles and try again.  They help me keep an open mind by learning about different ways to live.  My life and choices are not the only kind.

Wiki says:


Slice of life is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment.

The literary term refers to a storytelling technique that presents a seemingly arbitrary sample of a character's life, which often lacks a coherent plot, conflict, or ending. The story may have little plot progress and little character development, and often has no exposition, conflict, or dénouement, with an open ending.

Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone stories are a wonderful example of slice of life stories and they are often poignant as well as humorous.  They are set in the Midwest so they seem especially real to me.  He has a story about a Homecoming Queen riding in a tank in the parade.  My daughter was the prom queen years ago and had her picture taken with a tank outside the Legion Post where the dance was held.  

Long before there were reality shows my mom said they should just put a camera on us and they would have lots of material for a soap opera.  I had to agree. Just using the phone could be arduous.  Back in those days a phone call (on a rotary phone with other families on the line) was often a big deal and scary.  Who would be calling?  Why?  Real fear at night.  If we needed to use the phone bad, we might send someone up to the neighbors to say, “Please tell Popper to get off the phone so we can use it.”  

Keeping an open mind takes work, I believe.  It is too easy to just read books that I approve of and never crank up the decision making part of my mind.  I used to tell my students many, many years ago that I read a wide variety of things so that I could see what differences of opinion were out there and be informed.  I still think that is vital for a good education and I think my education should continue until I die.

This is one reason I find it fascinating to hear from my readers what they enjoy reading or why they dislike a book that I liked.  It is interesting to know and it enlarges my mind.

I admit that I no longer want to read a book that I hate, but I do want to read about them.

A series of books that I have been reading recently have been a puzzle.  I am not sure if the author is for or against certain environmental things or if he is just trying to get me to think?  He is certainly making me furrow my brow and ask myself if I should re-think some things.  And that is good.  Up to a point.  I am being careful not to be persuaded against other things that I know or have read about, but I am asking questions.

It adds depth to the books to present more than one side of a story.  It takes work for the author to write a story so the propaganda is not too heavy, but so the reader will ask questions.  It is an art.  In Dog On It, Spencer Quinn has one of his main characters, Bernie, talk a lot about the use of water in a community that is taking over the desert.  I think it was well done and it made me think.  

When you read, do you keep one eye on the premise of the story even when the plot sucks you in?  Do you note that the author may have an ax to grind?  Do you ask if he is being fair?  Do you try to decide if the book is balanced?  

Then, you are keeping an open mind.  I believe in that.  It is good for our mental and spiritual health.  Is it too much of a good thing?  Can we be so open-minded that we ignore true things and don’t make decisions?  I don’t want that.  I want to be wise and I want to continue to learn wisdom.  I want to choose what is right after viewing many things and I want to change my mind when it is needed.  I want to grow.  

I am grateful for both fiction and non-fiction authors who provide me with material to do that.

Wiki discusses propaganda:


Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes.

As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political, religious or commercial agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of ideological or commercial warfare.

The wiki list is so long that I recommend going to the site to read the explanations, but I did become concerned that maybe it is tough to overcome propaganda.  Here is the bare bones list without the explanation:
Below are a number of techniques for generating propaganda:

Ad hominem

Ad nauseam

Appeal to authority

Appeal to fear

Appeal to prejudice


Inevitable victory

Join the crowd

Beautiful people

The Lie

Black-and-white fallacy

Classical conditioning

Cognitive dissonance

Common man

Cult of personality

Demonizing the enemy



Door-in-the-face technique


Fear, uncertainty, and doubt


Foot-in-the-door technique

Glittering generalities



Labeling can be thought of as a sub-set of Guilt by association, another logical fallacy.

Latitudes of acceptance

Love bombing

Lying and deception

Managing the news

Milieu control


Obfuscation, intentional vagueness, confusion

Obtain disapproval or Reductio ad Hitlerum

Operant conditioning


Pensée unique

Quotes out of context

Rationalization (making excuses)

Red herring





Straw man


Third party technique

Thought-terminating cliché


Selective truth

Unstated assumption

Virtue words

The list reinforces my desire to read widely.

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! Don't do anything I wouldn't do...
by SensibleShoes

Contemporary Literary Fiction: Breaking trust with the reader
by bookgirl

Am I a Home for Identities?
by Robert Fuller

Robert Fuller says:

Chapter 7 of my novel "The Rowan Tree" has now been posted online:


I can't resist mentioning the interactive again. Much of "The Rowan Tree" is a global road trip, and one of the principal characters - Adam Merle-Blue becomes a sort of Odysseus seeking out the idea of dignity. Readers can add more places to the map, add tags, and make comments about Adam's adventures:


Also, the Goodreads Giveaway for a free paperback copy of "The Rowan Tree" will be running for 10 more days:



NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

I know that the poll should say "All of the Above", but please try to choose one.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


Which propaganda technique do you dislike the most?

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| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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