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Guest Post: There’s Glory For You!

January 30, 2021 in Books, Guest

Here’s a fantastic guest post from Stuart [ | @maxqnz | profile ]

One of the things I most enjoyed about last year’s fiftyfiftyme challenge was the opportunity to choose minors and majors. This year’s reduction in the numbers required gives us grizzled veterans of last year’s campaign the opportunity to reminisce about how much tougher we had it back in the good old days, when a major was a real major of ten, and a minor was a meaningful five, not an easy-peasy three. Clearly fiftyfiftyme, like the English language, is changing for the worse, dumbing down and catering to the lazy, unwashed masses.

That last sentence was total baloney, of course. Fiftyfiftyme is as fun and challenging as ever, and English has not changed for the worse, and is not devolving from a Golden Age of eloquence into a Neanderthal series of grunting text messages and inane tweets. Sadly, many people think otherwise, which is why I enthusiastically seized the chance to write about my books minor for last year’s challenge, in which I elected to read five books about linguistics.

I love languages and linguistics, and have done ever since reading Lord of the Rings for the first time as an impressionable seven-year old. Then, and each of the 18-20 or so other times I read that book, I spent more time devouring the linguistic appendixes than reading the story. Tolkien’s epic gave me the languages bug, and I’ve loved learning about them ever since. Last year’s fiftyfiftyme challenge provided the perfect motivation to indulge my passion by reading more widely on my favourite subject.

Books like Eats, Shoots and Leaves and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style perpetuate the myth that fabricated personal peeves are actually ineradicable elements of English grammar. From rants against split infinitives to attempts to impose the rules of mathematics on language by insisting that “a double negative equals a positive”, through to assertions that non-standard spelling is “a grammatical error” and the promotion of the etymological fallacy by denying the simple reality of polysemy, English has plenty of peeves and peevers. It seems that some people will readily accept that everything in the Universe from galaxies to amoebas evolves, but cannot accept that language does too.


Happily there are many excellent works written by real linguists for the general public that try to address that mind-set, and set out to show that as with everything, the only constant in language is change. No language is without rules, but those rules are not arbitrarily imposed by some peevish academic obsessed with imposing artificial order on the organic chaos of language. The beautiful reality is that language is the ultimate democracy – words mean what the majority of their users decide they mean, and every language user gets to be part of the never-ending process of making up the rules as we go along.

The endless fluidity and change in language should be celebrated, not mourned or railed against, and that’s why I urge anyone looking for a non-fiction minor for this year’s fiftyfiftyme challenge to consider linguistics as a candidate. Here are five of my favourites:

  • The Unfolding of Language
  • The Stories of English
  • Empires of the Word
  • Through The Language Glass
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
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Guest Blog: Five Reasons to Read Great Books

January 23, 2022 in Books, Guest, Movies

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 8.20.14 AM (2)This week we’re honored to be joined by Jennifer Lyn King, founder of Great New Books (, a new site devoted to sharing their bloggers’ reviews - the catch? They only share the reads their reviewers love. During it’s not uncommon to hit a wall and be unsure of what to read next - Great New Books is your solution to that, so bookmark it!  Jennifer and her co-authors at Great New Books have devoted themselves to encouraging others to read. So why do we read? She tells us. - Lilly 

My love for books started years ago under the giant shade tree where I read as a child. A certain magic happened the first time I read a book and could not put it down.

You know the feeling, right? You open a book with the intent of passing a bit of time, maybe in a waiting room, or while riding the subway, but somehow, word by word, you get lost inside a story and you don’t want to climb back out.

Those books are the ones where I’m living in the character’s shoes, living through their journey, learning what it is to struggle through their situations and come out on the other side a different person. They’re the ones in which I’m sad to turn the last page and read The End. They’re the books of the most dangerous kind. They stay with us.

Long after I’ve finished a book I can’t put down, the story and the character’s actions turn over in my mind. The meaning comes to find me, haunts me, and teases me until I can fully understand what the book was about.

A great book and its meaning do not let the reader go. I call those books unputdownable, if that can be a real word. To me, it is the mark of a great book, and of books I love.

A few books I read, or start and don’t finish, don’t have the great book magic. Somehow, they don’t pull me in and draw me into the world of story. You’ve surely read some. Those books are ones I’m not able to connect with, or find the deeper meanings.

The key to reading, and reading many books, is in finding the right book.

Though it takes some work to find a great book (or 50, for the year with FiftyFifty.Me), the results are worth it. Great books change us for the better.

The Top Five Reasons to Read (50) Great Books:
1: To connect with others: When we read a great book, we want to share the experience with others, to pass one on, join a book club, or share it in water cooler conversation.
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

2: To feel more: A great story opens our hearts to new things, and tugs at our minds to new understandings.
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

3: To experience: A great book transports us to places we have never been before.
“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” – William Styron

4: To live more fully: A great book inspires us to be a better version of ourselves.
“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.” –Lisa Cron, Wired for Story

5: To become a better communicator: We more fully understand ourselves and our thoughts.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

The trick to going deeper is in finding great books. At Great New Books, we believe words have the power to change us, and open doors to a better world. We hope you’ll check in with us on Wednesdays as our team of five shares a favorite great book each week.

Jennifer Lyn King is a writer and author who loves to read and share great books with others. She’s an American expat living in Prague with her husband and three sons, and enjoys photography, oil painting, tennis, and traveling. She is currently at work on a novel set in New Orleans and coastal Italy. Her 5 favorite books are (in no particular order) Jane Eyre, The Language of Flowers, State of Wonder, The Shell Seekers, and The House at Riverton. For more about Jennifer, visit her website and blog at 

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Having Sign Up or Login Issues?

January 18, 2022 in Site

Hi all, sorry but I know some people are experiencing sign up issues. The way the system should work is that you just sign in and fill out a few basic questions — not the whole profile — and then two emails should come. An activation email from a box677.bluehost address that might go to your spam folder (please check there), and one from MailChimp confirming your subscription to the email list.

We’ve had problems with the activation email not arriving, so we’ve gone ahead and streamlined it so you should get NO emails. Once you sign up, you should just be logged in and everything should work great. If you have any problems with signing up or activation, please contact us via email or Twitter @fiftyfiftyme.

Also, we turned off SweetCaptcha because we noted that on some browsers, the drag and drop was not working. So no more captchas and that makes signing up even easier!

Running list of issues seen (please comment below if we’ve missed something):

  • If you are signing up with a space in your user name, it automatically puts a hyphen there for login purposes. Example) “apple jacks” becomes “apple-jacks.” That could be the cause of some log in issues.
  • Activation email didn’t arrive to a Google Apps account
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Welcome to 2013!

January 7, 2022 in Site

fiftyfifty-bandwagonWell here we are again.

Happy New Year, everyone! As other people make resolutions to torment themselves with weight loss, saving money, being kinder to others, and other absurd shenanigans that we can’t fully support, we’re back to offer you the only New Year’s resolution you’ll want to keep!

Some of you can’t even fully read this message because your eyes are still sore from participating last year and going through December panic that put you in finals crunch mode. For new Overachievers (that’s totally what we’re calling ourselves this year), read up on the challenge right here! We’re thrilled all of you will be joining us and we hope you’ll like what you find here.

The new and improved site offers:

  • Create your own profile and then check out the profiles of your fellow Overachievers. Say hello to them, track what they’ve read/watched lately, and generally procrastinate.
  • A community forums area for everyone to interact and cheer each other on. We’re super excited about this part of the new site. Go on, introduce yourself!
  • Our new logo, designed by artist Susie Ghahremani of Check out the sticker you can download and post on your personal site.
  • A downloadable sheet to track your reads/views for 2013. (coming soon)

So here’s how you get started for 2013′s challenge:

  1. Sign up here and make your profile. Make it witty and sparkly just like yourself. (Note: The sign up page is only working on the web right now, not on mobile devices! Sorry.)
  2. TELL YOUR FRIENDS! This year we want to make bigger than ever. Host movie nights, get a book club together, join us for a happy hour (if you’re in San Diego). But definitely tell your friends about your challenge — they’ll support you and possibly even join you! Trust me, it will be a welcome change of pace from the usual Facebook nonsense.
  3. Start reading and watching. While we’ve been busy setting up the new site, we, your humble founders, have failed to do this. Don’t be us.
  4. BONUS: Pick a Major/Minor, fill out the rest of your profile, stay tuned on our site for updates from other people on the Majors/Minors they’ve put together, suggested “playlists” and so on.

Please stay in touch with us on the site and on Twitter. Let us know what you’re starting with and how you plan to stay motivated. We often repost links to people’s reviews, so please share any posts/reviews you’re particularly proud of.

And we’re off!

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How to Add/Edit Your Profile

January 5, 2022 in How To, Site

There’s a lot more you can put on your profile than just the basics. We didn’t want to slow down the sign up process by bogging it down with too many questions, but we did want to give everyone the chance to showcase what they’ve been reading and watching.

It’s a few simple steps to add additional information to your profile, stuff like your social media accounts and even a way to list what you’ve read/watched in 2013 so far!

  1. After logging in, click on your username again.
  2. That’ll bring you to the front of your profile page. Click on the “Profile” tab and then “Edit”
  3. There are three separate profile areas there: User Info, Websites, 2013 Books/Movies. The first section should be all filled out from your sign up, but throw in all the other stuff too. Any time you wanna update, just “edit” again.

profile_show 3

Remember, you can comma separate out on each blank field. The coolest part about having updated profiles is that you can click on the name of a book or movie and then see the profiles of other Overachievers who’ve read/watched the same thing. Neato right?

If you have any suggestions for other profile questions you’d like to add, please give us a shout!

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Join our mailing list!

January 1, 2022 in Site


As we grow, this is probably the best way to stay updated. We won’t use it to spam you or to send you unnecessary emails. Maybe just once or twice a year to keep you updated as to what is doing. Note: If you’ve signed up for, you’ll receive an email automatically inviting you to join the mailing list.

Thanks and good luck reading/watching!