Friday, October 07, 2011

Reading about the reading life

I am a pretty avid reader, and one of the topics I enjoy reading about is reading. I like reading about books. I enjoy reading about reading habits. I also like reading about what others read around the world. So, I am going to try out using my blog now to jot down some links on items I have found interesting that may not get too much coverage overall.

One of the things that catches my eye in the stories related to reading around the world is that, while over here in the U.S we get (or seem to get) all the drama about how e-books will drive print to extinction, in other parts of the world there is concern over getting any kind of book. You find appeals to get people to read more, to write more, to educate themselves. The whole e-book drama has a strong class undercurrent that I find particularly distasteful: the notion that only certain people, if they can afford it, should be able to read and/or have access to books. Here are a couple of examples:

  •  Via The Vanguard (Nigeria), "Let's educate the nation by writing." This is not just an appeal to make books available. It is an appeal for writers to write. An appeal for publishers to publish the writers' work. For the government to help the publishers. In other words, for a national reading and writing endeavor for a better educated society. Plus, it makes an interesting argument: "It is from thoughts we build nations, the brain exercise in play writing, fiction writing, poetry and story writing can keep thousand of would be criminals out of mischief. . . . " A hat tip to The Literary Saloon.  
  •  Via the Manila Standard Today (Philippines), Jenny Ortuoste writes about the plight of Filipino creative writers in her column "Books now and ever after." Some of what she writes is stuff that any creative writer can relate to such as having to keep a day job because you can't live off your writing. Then there is the issue of literary writing versus other kinds of writing, such as column writing or journalism. She also asks a key question: "Why are local readers not reading —and buying—the works of Filipino writers?" The author then goes on to present some reasons. This is a well-written and organized piece. A hat tip to The Literary Saloon
Another thing that catches my eye is pieces about nostalgia. In a time when everyone rushes to proclaim the death of books, or the death of handwriting, or the death of something else not electronic, there are items that persist.

  • The Farmer's Almanac still survives. You'd think this publication would have gone extinct by now, but it still perseveres much as it was in its early years. In fact, very little has changed. How do they do it? "The secret of the Almanac writers is poise. They know their worth and take a quiet pride in their heritage. They believe in their knowledge and believe in spreading it, just like Robert Thomas." (via National Post). 
  • Michael Dirda on Arthur Conan Doyle and memories of those book clubs many of us had in elementary school. I discovered a few good books via book orders from the book club in elementary school. And Conan Doyle's creation, Sherlock Holmes, is one of my favorite literary characters.  (via The Paris Review).

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