Reading revolution

Reading makes your brain more colorfulSource: Flickr

Want to be healthier and smarter? It’s as simple as picking up a book – and reading it, of course. Sure, some books are more useful as dumb-bells than they are for entertainment. However, searching for the right book will repay the effort – in grey matter. Rather, white matter. That stuff carries information between the regions of grey matter in your brain. Science shows that reading actually increases the white matter in your brain and helps process information better – just like high-speed internet revolutionized culture online, from the video game to the online casino in Canada.  Canada’s award-winning writer Margaret Atwood even said, “Writing is work. It’s also gambling.” So take a gamble on the written word and get your mind into overdrive with a combination of literature and casino culture. Here are four classic books to get you going.

Russian roulette

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian revolutionary who was sent to the Gulag for his beliefs. He was also a gambling addict. The Gambler is a short novel based on his real-life experience. Published in 1867, it still rings completely true today. In the story, young tutor Alexei Ivanovich is too poor to impress Polina, the woman he loves (and the mother of the children he tutors) – so he starts gambling in a bid to become rich. Even though Polina is the mistress of another man, Alexei falls for her tricks and starts playing pranks on people they both know, He gets fired but succeeds in winning a fortune at the roulette tables – only to be seduced by his military officer step-father’s lover Blanche, who spends all his money. But in the end – you’ll have to read the book about a man, who begins gambling to win enough money to become a rich man and therefore win the favor of the woman that he loves.

One-armed bandit

Poker is the pivotal game in The Man with the Golden Arm, a gritty novel of life on the street by Nelson Algren. It was published in 1949 and won a National Book Award in 1950. On Chicago’s West Side, where petty crooks and hustlers rule the streets, Frankie Majcinek, better known as Frankie Machine, is the king of the card dealers. “It’s all in the wrist ‘n I got the touch,” Frankie tells his pal Solly. Unfortunately for Frankie, his “golden arm” starts shaking on account of the morphine he needs to kill the pain of an injury he picked up in the war. The morphine also helps to numb the guilt for putting his wife Sophie in a wheelchair – the unintended consequence of a drunken spree. Frankie wants to escape from his manipulative wife and back-stabbing friends. He dreams of becoming a big-band drummer and finding true romance – but fate has other plans in store for him. 

A cruise ship is a floating casinoSource: Flickr

Casino of the seas

What happens when innocent people get tangled up in risky business is the theme of Tricky Business, a high-octane thriller of crime on the high seas by best-selling author Dave Barry. As tropical storm Hector whips up the waters near Miami Beach, the cruise ship The Extravaganza of the Sea passes the three-mile limit and enters international waters where gambling is legal. The reason the floating casino is going out on this particular stormy night? Because it’s going to meet up with another boat from the Bahamas for a drug deal.  Of course the passengers have no idea – they’re innocents out for a bit of fun. Senior citizens Arnold and Phil have escaped from the Beaux Art senior centre. Wally is a singer in the casino band, Johnny and the Contusions. Fay is a single mother who has to work as a cocktail waitress to pay the bills. When some of the criminals try to pull a double cross, these ordinary people are forced to be heroes just to keep alive.

One weird poker trick

Acclaimed author Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance is about former fire fighter Jim Nashe, who has been travelling around the United States after being abandoned by his wife. He drifts at random, living on a $200,000 inheritance he got from the father, who he never got to know before he died. After a series of chance encounters on the road, he’s about to run out of money when he meets a lowlife character called Jack Pozzi.  This seedy gambler initiates him into a bizarre society called the International Brotherhood of Lost Dogs and then gets him to bankroll a poker game with the last of his money.  Unfortunately the lowlife and the drifter lose to their opponents, two millionaires from Pennsylvania called Flower and Stone. To work off their debt, Nashe and Pozzi have to build a stone wall on Flower and Stone’s estate.

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