Friday, June 27, 2014

Reading about the reading life: June 27, 2014.

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary.As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason). 


  • Let's open this week with some quotes about books and reading. I am sure you can find some inspiration with these "33 Reasons Why You're Addicted to Books."Link from BuzzFeed. The list features that favorite Groucho Marx quote: "I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." It is something  I have been doing more lately, turning off the television in favor of reading a book.
  • Those of who live with books know that they can take up space. Organizing your books is always a bit of a challenge. Via Web Urbanist, here are some creative ideas for organizing your reading spaces. See their list of "Reading Room (Dividers): 13 Creative Bookshelf Designs.
  • This is a bit old by now, but interesting nonetheless if you like book trade trivia. From ABE Books, a list of "the top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in 2013." As in previous years, Madonna's Sex is still number one.  Richard Bachman's Rage is second on the list. Bachman is Stephen King's pseudonym; he allowed the book to go out of print after some school shooting events. Curiously enough, I still have a copy of Rage, which is part of the anthology The Bachman Books, which I own. I have not reread The Bachman Books in a while, which also contain The Running Man, basis for the film, which to me was more memorable than Rage. At any rate, there are a few other interesting titles on the list.
  • Those who know me know that I probably read a bit more nonfiction than fiction. When it comes to literary fiction, for the most part (there are notable exceptions), I could not care less. And if a piece of fiction is one of those that preaches something, I am gone. However, I still manage to read some fiction, and this includes some of the old crime fiction, writers like Hammett, Chandler, and even Spillane. They just have something that modern writers more focused on thrillers, conspiracies, and shady governmental agents just do not have. So, I found this piece on AlterNet interesting. It gives you "5 Reasons People Wanting to Change the World Should Read Crime Fiction." I think the article makes an interesting case, especially about good crime fiction often depicting the plight of the small guy, corruption by the wealthy, and the hero trying to make things right. I think for me those are appeal factors as well.
  • 2014 saw the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. There are many reasons that we do need to never forget the Holocaust. Stephen Marche, writing for Esquire magazine, argues for one way to remember: everyone should read Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Here is one reason, the book "also points out something that we should recognize in the new hate groups rising in Europe, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, and Jobbik in Hungary. It's not just pantomime. They mean what they say. We should take them at their word." I would say it also points out something we need to be recognizing in hate groups that emerge and exist in the United States. I will admit that I have not read the book yet, but it is on my TBR list. 
  • Personally, I am not a big fan of book clubs. Shocker, I know. I just do not like being told what to read and then having to listen to people with various degrees of "informed" or "not so informed" opinion try to tell me why they liked the book. I am too much of a free spirit for that kind of structure, but if it gets people to read, then hey, have at it. Well, apparently, book clubs have gotten serious, and they are also a serious business, one that authors cannot really afford to ignore.  From the article, "What is new, however, is that book clubs’ appetite for reading — and the power of their consumption — is becoming a publishing influencer. Clubs are in fact spawning a business niche that is driving marketing decisions of authors and publishers." Story via The Millions.
  • And finally for this week, a look at politicians' books. It seems these days that any politician wanting to move up, get elected, or stay in office needs to write a book. Calling these books "bestsellers" is being charitable if not outright lying. Politico recently had a piece asking "Why are Politicians' Books So Terrible?" Now, this is a genre I usually do not read, although I have read one or two books in the genre (just enough to maintain some cred on this topic for readers' advisory). From what I have seen, most of the stuff is indeed terrible, and a lot of it deserves to be forgotten pretty much right after it comes out. Why publishers give politician book deals to pen (or most likely hire a ghost writer to do it for them) crappy books that will end up in recycling bins and landfills is beyond me.

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