Friday, October 14, 2011

Reading about the reading life, October 14, 2011

Here we go with another post featuring a few things about the reading life I have recently read. I hope my two readers may find one or two interesting as well. This week there are a couple of items on writing and keeping a journal which made me reflect a bit given that I keep a journal myself. I have been blogging less, especially over at the professional blog. This has been in part due to work being very busy, but it is also due because of some self-censoring. Whether to avoid drama, overkill on a topic, some degrees of retribution (librarianship, for all its claims to tolerance, diversity, freedom of thought, so on, can be extremely intolerant of anyone asking questions outside of the establishment), or just because for some topics in my profession, I just could not care less, my professional blogging has slowed down a bit. That's not a bad thing as I am still writing in my journal, in fact, doing so a bit more these days. Anyhow, it is what it is.

Here are the links for this week:
  • Article on an Analog Renaissance as people seek out things like typewriters and book binding tools to make zines. Via New York Magazine.
  • Via the Paris Review, on why we need good bookstores. Then again, a lot of their description just sounds like what a good librarian does. So, do they not have libraries in New York (the place the authors discuss)? Then again, a good independent bookstore with people who clearly love books and know what they are doing is a good thing.  
  • Out of the Deustche Welle, a piece on public bookshelves in Germany. What I found neat and interesting about the piece was the care and dedication the local community to maintain the shelves. The shelves are built of quality materials, and they even get sponsors to pay for them. But one part of the article caught my attention: "'It works here because mainly countries in the northern part of Europe have the tradition of common property,' he [ Michael Aubermann from the Cologne civic association] explained. 'People mostly take care of public goods.'" I hate to say this, but sadly, I am not too sure something like this would work in the U.S. Sure, there are places that put simple paperback trading bins or such, but the level of neatness, care and dedication the German communities display I highly doubt would be seen here. That, and given the lack of a common property attitude (here, we get more of the "I've got mine, Jack"), well, you get the idea. Anyhow, I found the idea very neat. 
  • Via The New York Times, a story about McNally Jackson books in Manhattan, which seems to be making a stand against Amazon and the pestilence of e-books (description from the article).  What I found neat about this story is that it shows how a good independent bookstore can survive. You have a good, eclectic, well curated selection with good service and knowledgeable staff. The owner knows she cannot have everything, so she knows her market and acts accordingly. This store offers a lot that you simply cannot get online. 
  • Also via The New York Times, Ok, this is about the reading and writing life. A writer chooses to burn her diaries.  This caught my eye because I do keep a journal (yes, as in the notebook and pen or pencil device). I have been doing it fairly consistently since I went to do my student teaching back in 1992. I do not keep a diary given that I do not write on a daily basis, but I do write on my journal anywhere from once a week to about once a month depending on how busy life may be. I have told the Better Half that I do want my journals burned in the event of my death. In fact, since I want to be cremated (after they take out whatever useful organs there may be), they can use my journals as kindling. Would I reconsider such a decision? Probably not. For one, I have not written anything extraordinary that anyone would want to preserve, and let's be honest, some things are better left buried. It does bring up a point, which is my online writings. I have not decided if I want to exercise the nuclear option on them in the event of my death, but that is a separate topic for another time. A hat tip to Notebook Stories.
  • On the other hand, this article from The New York Review of Books tells about taking care of your notebooks. The article summarizes reasons people want or do keep journals, some of which are my reasons as well. Also, a good, classic notebook has a few advantages over using some notetaker on your smartphone. From the article, some food for thought, "Just think, if you preserve them, your grandchildren will be able to read your jewels of wisdom fifty years from now, which may prove exceedingly difficult, should you decide to confine them solely to a smart phone you purchased yesterday." I would not classify my scribblings as jewels of wisdom my grandkids (or anyone for that matter) would want to read in the future. Then again, I do get a lot of use out of my journal notebooks. Hopefully, I still have some time to decide permanently to burn them or change my mind. . . maybe. 
  • And if you need some inspiration to get reading, Leo Babauta, of the blog Zen Habits, has a nice manifesto on "How to Read More: A Lover's Guide."  Some excellent tips here. One of my favorites from the list: "Find books about exciting stories, about people who fascinate you, about new worlds that you’d love to visit. Forget the classics, unless they fit this prescription." Exactly. 

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