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Second Sight

From ancient myths to fairy tales to religious prophecies to tales of the occult, literature revels in exploration of psychic powers, also known as the second sight or farsight.

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Buttons

Who, What, When, Wear
The ubiquitous button, that practical and sometimes fancy fastener of clothing, survives largely unchanged from ancient times. As early as 2000 BC, buttons were used as ornaments in the Indus Valley and as seals during the Bronze Age in China and in ancient Rome. Their use as clothing fasteners first appeared in 13th century Germany, slowly replacing laces and ties as fashions for snugly fitting clothing spread. Buttons soon combined utility and ornamentation, a dual purpose that continues to this day.

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The Boss of Me

Myriad periodicals, both printed and digital, offer tips on best management practices to hire, train, and retain good employees. Many of them come in the form of listicles and direct their messages to executive management and supervisory personnel.

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A Kinder, Gentler Diet

The invention of modern refrigeration and food preservation techniques enable many people to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet, regardless of season. This modern development allows for people to forego the slaughter of animals to acquire the necessary protein in their diets.

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Happily Ever After

Long derided as the lowest form of literature, the genre of romance covers a wide spectrum of sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, “chick lit,” and more. What readers, writers, publishers, and reviewers fail to acknowledge is that romance shows up in every fiction genre. The difference is that the romantic relationship serves as the fulcrum for the story within the romance genre: it’s the focus of the story, not an ancillary subplot.

In July 2016, the Association of American Publishers released a report stating that the U.S. publishing industry generated nearly $28 billion in revenue in 2015, representing 2.71 billion units. 

That doesn’t tell the whole story. The Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) presentation published on July 15, 2016, by Author Earnings reports total book sales of 748 million units in 2015. Fiction comprised 88 percent of books sold, with 31 percent of fiction book sales allotted to the romance genre alone. 

We can parse the numbers further. The RWA reports that the romance genre claimed 4.4 percent of Nielsen Bookscan units and 45 percent of Amazon.com paid units--and that sales within the romance genre are underreported. The RWA also asserts that 89 percent of romance book sales are digital, less than 50 percent are self-published books, and 67 percent of all U.S. romance sales are not tracked by any traditional industry metric. The RWA offers informative statistics regarding the genre’s strength.

No matter how you break down the numbers, sales reports by genre show that romance is the largest selling genre in both ink and digital formats. 
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Hidden Identities

Pseudonyms
It was a truism that a respectable woman’s name was published only three times during her life: upon the occasions of her birth, marriage, and death. Especially for the upper classes, seeing one’s name in print meant scandal and the ruin of a good reputation. Coupled with the prevailing attitude of feminine inferiority and institutional discrimination against women, no scientific or academic organization would consider, much less publish, a scholarly treatise authored by a woman.

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Navigating Society

Manners
Love or money may make the world go ’round, but manners grease the gears. Every culture around the globe creates an elaborate system of etiquette that determines an orderly formula of behavior. This knowledge of social interaction inspires confidence and shows at least a basic level of care and respect for others. With his usual pithy wit, Oscar Wilde is credited with saying, “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.” He meant, of course, that a gentleman (or lady) who insulted another person did so with intention.

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Aiming High

Many cities worldwide are renowned for their iconic skyscrapers, once defined as tall, multi-story, commercial buildings built mainly in New York City and Chicago between 1884 and 1939.

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Awaiting Autumn

After a long, steamy summer, many welcome the cool, crisp, refreshing days of autumn. They are eager to swap their casual shorts and tees for cozy sweaters, knit scarves, and chic boots.

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Celebrate the International Day of Peace

Throughout history, alliances among nations have called for peace. For most, that meant conquering other countries and bringing them under a single ruler. Such efforts often testifies less to notions of peace and tolerance and more to the greed, corruption, and megalomania of certain rulers. The great empires of history come to mind, some more tolerant than others and most ruled by a culture or people who deemed themselves superior over those whom they ruled.  

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Comic Innovators

The comic form is both a stepping stone from and towards the cinematic form, the glue between genres, a blending and a reimagining. But the genre term comic is antiquated and, broadly speaking, inaccurate. It implies the comedic, silly, and whimsical. And while there are certainly these types of comic strips around today, one divergent form has evolved into the graphic novel, which in many ways could become the new modern novel.

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How a Man Became a Mountain

Confucius
As the legend goes, the rare qilin visited Confucius' mother Yen Ching-tsai before his birth. The qilin, that sacred chimera and prince of four-footed creatures, which walks on clouds so as to not damage even a single blade of grass, is said to only appear at the birth or death of a great sage or during the reign of a good king. The strange beast brought to Ching-tsai a tablet of jade on which was engraved words to the effect, "The son of the essence of water shall soon succeed to the withering Chou, and be a throneless king."

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Cry of Dolores

Mexican War for Independence
A great flare broke out in New Spain on September 16th, 1810, in a small town called Dolores. What began as covert meetings led by Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and former military leader Ignacio Allende quickly became an open revolt against the Spain's foreign governance.

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Me, Myself, and I

Narcissism, the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes, hails from Greek mythology. The story highlights the young, handsome Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image, which was reflected in a pool of water after he rejected the advances of the nymph Echo. Today, the word narcissism is widely used to describe excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.

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For the Glory of the Write

Miguel de Cervantes
Don't compare yourself to a man like Miguel de Cervantes. He was a unique human of quality, the type that skews the graph of mankind's ability. The type that rarely comes around, born into a time and circumstances perfectly crafted for this singular force to flourish.

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Peace on Earth

Every year (with some exceptions), the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

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Self Improvement

Tuning In
A quick stroll down the aisles of any bookstore will reveal entire sections dedicated to self-help. Defined as “the use of one’s own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others,” the self-help industry rakes in $11 billion per year in America. Beyond being recession-proof, this unregulated industry is also forecast for more growth—5.5% annually, according to marketing expert Brandon Gaille.

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Flytings and the War of Words

Conflict breeds creativity, some say. It is the art of dispute, a sparring of words, a logical brawl. The old practiced medieval bards of the flytings knew this adage well, and tested themselves and others constantly.

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Undercover

History of Undergarments
From panties to bustiers to seductive corsets, flirty lingerie, boxers and briefs, undergarments come in a variety of styles, each embraced by the distinctive persons and personalities who wear them. While some yearn for the comfort of a cozy pair of cotton briefs, the silky touch of satin entices others.

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Top Dogs

Dogs deserve their appellation of “man’s best friend.” Just ask the American Kennel Club.

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