Friday, March 11, 2016

Reading about the reading life, March 11, 2016 edition

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).

 There are some new stories and some older stories that were sitting on my feed reader's queue that I finally have the time to share with my readers. Let's get on with it.

  • The Christian Science Monitor has a story suggesting what books to read if you want an Ivy League education. It is pretty much what you expect: read these classics with a few odds and ends. To be honest, from reading the article, these are classics that you might have read in high school or in college (Ivy League or not). I did like this line from the article: "The bottom line: Approximating an Ivy League education may be as easy as checking out the right books at the library." 
  • Publishers Weekly highlights that 2015 was a good year for bookstores.  A cooling in e-book sales and some rising in independent bookstores, in part due to the Borders collapse, seem to be helping.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious reader, and here are his ten rules of reading via BookRiot.
  • Via The Paris Review, a short piece on ladies having to put up with bookstore creeps, especially in the erotica section of said bookstore. All I have to say is the following. Guys: don't be that asshole.
  • Via Inside Higher Ed, some advice for reading for pleasure in graduate school. While I did manage to keep reading for pleasure while I was in graduate school, it was not much. I was very glad I got out of graduate school (my first masters, in English ironically when we think about this topic of reading) so I could go back to reading whatever the hell I wanted in peace. Don't get me wrong, I do not regret the skills I learned as an English major, but I can do without the snooty attitudes about "what's good reading for you."
  • Via Infotecarios, a lament on the forgotten sections of foreign books in Spain's public libraries and bookstores. The article is in Spanish, but allow me to give you the highlights. The author suggests three reasons for this sad state of affairs. One, Spanish upbringing and educational system that did the minimal in terms of teaching foreign languages. Two, the Franco era's requirement to dub into Spanish any and all audiovisual material from abroad. Three, the Spanish timid character (in the sense of feeling self conscious if trying to speak a foreign language they barely get). I will agree with some of it because I can relate to some growing up in Puerto Rico, which by the way was a Spanish colony for four hundred years. For us, English as a foreign language was barely taught in public schools; it was mostly pen, paper, and blackboard, some reading, but no audiovisual listening devices or such. Thus the learning was very theoretical. In my case, I was fortunate my parents put me in an immersive English language school so I got fluent, but I am very aware of my fortune in that regard. 
  • And here is someone working on translating Spanish literary books into English. Via Asymptote, a profile of the publisher of Hispabooks
  • On to a little U.S. government trivia. Via Government Book Talk, here is a listing of the government's best selling books of 2015. These are not exactly riveting pleasure reads, although I will point out that one of the best sellers is a book about the historic fortifications in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Stuff on how to become a U.S. citizen is quite popular too. I am thinking a few libraries may be buying that for patrons seeking to take the citizenship test. Librarians, if you have have purchased such books, feel free to comment and let me know.
  • Ever wonder what it was like to be a bank librarian in the 1920s? Inside Adams highlights a few articles from the 1920s, including a mention of "Miss Margaret Reynolds, a librarian at the First Wisconsin National Bank of Milwaukee, who was quoted in that Bankers Magazine article. . . " .
  • Via the Los Angeles Times, a report that finds, once again, that college students prefer to read their books in print over e-books or online. And yet, administrators keep shoving and forcing them to read texts online be it for convenience (theirs) or cost (this can be relative as it is not just money but time, effort, etc.). The findings in large part from Naomi S. Baron, author of the book Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (link to WorldCat so you can find it in a library near you), which sounds like a book I will be adding to my TBR list.
  • Finally for this week, a good article by Rachel Kramer Bussel in Salon on why used bookstores are not going to kill an author's career. This is worth a read. Personally, I have less respect for writers who whine that holy shit they bought my book used and I do not get a penny of that. Yea, but you saw your penny from the one who bought it new so I could get it used. Author Tiffany Reisz, quoted in the article summarizes this: "Buying a used book is no more piracy than buying a secondhand Christmas sweater at Goodwill. Piracy is more like stealing a new book off a bookstore shelf without paying for it. Every book in a used bookstore has already been bought and the author has received royalties for it." Besides, as Bussel argues, it is the long term game. And yes, I already know how the whole publishing thing works; I am a librarian, so please, if you comment over this, don't bother "trying to educate me." I already know the drill, and I still buy used books just fine. After all, I am on a librarian salary here. So high fallutin' snob authors, get off the high horse already. Odds are good if I find one of your out of print books in the used bookstore, and I like it, I may seek others out, even in a new books store. Oh, and by the way, no libraries will not kill your career either. Bussel does a great job taking down the whiny arguments, calling out privilege where it is found, and overall reassuring us all will be OK. As for me, yea, I buy used books, a lot of them when I can. I also check out a lot of books from my libraries (both my workplace and my local public one). I also buy new books, though not as many. Again, I am on a librarian salary.

No comments: