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All Cats Are Gray by Andre Norton
Episode 179th November 2022 • Socratica Reads • Kimberly Hatch Harrison
00:00:00 00:07:07

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Kimberly Hatch Harrison (co-founder of Socratica) created this podcast to share her love of reading, that most accessible of learning tools. Today Kim talks about how the shortest stories can create an indelible impression. And for those short on time, or finding it hard to commit to a long work, this can be a good way to ease into the reading habit. The short story Kim introduces is All Cats Are Gray by Andre Norton, which is available for free on Project Gutenberg as a standalone work. It’s also available in paperback in this volume of collected short stories:  

Tales from High Hallack (volume 1)

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Kim’s book: How to Be a Great Student

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Transcript:

Welcome Everybody! To Socratica Reads. My name is Kimberly Hatch Harrison, and I’m the co-founder of Socratica. We make beautiful videos about math, science, computer programming, as well as the meta-topic - How to be a Great Student. 


One of the most essential tools to being a great student is to develop the habit of reading. You don’t want reading to be some weird exceptional thing you only do when you’re taking a class or because it’s the only option. If reading becomes part of your life, if you do a little every day, you’ll find it easier and easier to slip into a book, or an article, and easier and easier for you to create written material yourself. 


There’s a certain way you compose your thoughts for writing that’s quite distinct from giving a talk, or making a video, and I’ve got to tell you, although I’m in the business of making educational videos, I would never in a million years tell you that videos have replaced books. 


Reading has made a huge difference in my life. I’ve learned SO much from people I never met, and especially people who lived and died long before educational videos were a thing. 


So, having said all that, I do understand that there are a lot of demands on our time. And it’s easy to push off reading, while there’s a constant feed of short video content right there on your phone. But I’m asking you and telling you - don’t give up on reading. Your brain needs it. 


Do you read short stories? If you’re short on time, or finding it hard to commit to a long work, this can be a good way to ease into the reading habit. I’m going to recommend, as always, Ray Bradbury, but I want to make sure you try on all kinds of authors. Here’s another one of my favourites, Andre Norton. One of the things that sets apart Andre Norton for me is - I remember characters and places from Andre Norton stories better than from a lot of other writers. This is an interesting exercise when you read a short story. Ask yourself - what were the essential characteristics that the author got across VERY fast. How is it that some books go on for hundreds of pages, and you don’t take much away from them, but others can accomplish something unforgettable in under 50 pages? 

Today I’m going to share the beginning of Andre Norton’s short story “All Cats Are Gray,” and you’ll see how quickly you’re pulled into this world. Are you ready? Let’s begin.


{Kim reads excerpt}


Even the shortest stories can create an indelible impression.I’ve never forgotten the character of Steena, and I’m glad I get to recreate her in my mind when I read this story. I never got to meet Andre Norton, but I’m glad I get to meet Andre Norton in her stories. I hope you pick up one of her books soon, and get to know this intriguing person. Thanks for listening.

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