Friday, April 08, 2016

Reading About the Reading Life, April 8, 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). 

  •  Read about elementary school propaganda in Mussolini's Italy. An American student at the time, Barbara Donahue, was issued "small soft-covered government-produced student notebooks, decorated with colorful, dramatic illustrations." The notebooks were part of the government's indoctrination into fascist loyalty. We get to see the covers of the notebooks now. Story via Slate
  • Learn more about the grail diary movie prop from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Story via Quo Vadis blog.  I always thought that diary was one of the coolest details in the film, and I wish I could sketch in my journals as neatly as Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. could. 
  • And now let's see some real adventure notebooks. Theodore Roosevelt kept field notebooks of his travels, and you can see some highlights in this Slate article. 
  • We may be able to read documents previously thought to be lost from Herculaneum. "It may require a particle accelerator, X-ray vision, and a highly toxic metal, but researchers believe they could soon be reading from the libraries of Herculaneum, an ancient Roman town destroyed by a volcano to the benefit of archaeology." The toxic metal is lead, which apparently is present in the ink of papers of the time. Story via The Christian Science Monitor.
  • According to the BBC, "almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed." And as in other dick moves, they are replacing the professionals, or trying to, with amateur volunteers.
  • By the way, British school libraries are not faring better, again, according to the BBC. I am sure this stupid remark by one of the local teachers does not help: "One head teacher decided 'all reading can be done on iPads. . . '". I am not sure what planet that teacher resides in, but where I come from, a lot of things are not on iPads, nor digitized.
  • Did you know that westerns author Louis L'Amour was a hobo once? Learn more about that in this article from Signature. And if you are interested in learning more about how to be a hobo and the hobo life, I recently finished reading The Hobo Handbook. Stay tuned for a review of that book on this blog soon.
  • According to EL ESPAÑOL, a recent report from Spain's "Informe General de Instituciones Penitenciarias" (General Report of Penal Institutions. Yes, they have such a thing) highlights reading preferences of inmates in Spanish prisons (article is in Spanish language). The article lists top authors read and top ten most requested books. Sure, there is a little fluff (someone requested Fifty Shades of Gray and some Dan Brown, but we can forgive that), but overall I have to say those prisoners are a seriously well-read group that likely puts American cons to shame.
  • Let's take a Kitty Break with "26 Cats Who Love Books More Than You Do." Via Booklist Reader.
  • Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler's SS, amassed a seriously big library of occult books. He amassed 13,000 or so volumes on the occult, and that stash has recently been found in the Czech Republic. Like other Nazis, he was obsessed with the occult and mysticism, believing that such arts could help prove Aryan superiority. Story via The Daily Mail.
  • The Atlantic asks if the library card is dead. No, it is not, but it has had an interesting history.
  • A big collection of Houdini artifacts and memorabilia is going up for auction. The story includes a link to the auction catalog if you wish to view it all. Via Boing Boing.
  • In Istanbul, an Arabic bookstore offers a small taste of home for Syrian refugees. Story via Associated Press. 
  • Meanwhile, in Panjwai, Afghanistan, a small library strives to survive in an area previously a stronghold of the Taliban. Story via The New York Times.
  • The Guardian offers a nice profile of The Strand Bookstore in New York City, the last of the bookstores from the old "Book Row."
  • Learn about a library where bats protected the books; they do so by eating the bugs that would damage books. Article is in Spanish language, and it comes via Libropatas.
  • Pew Research Center released this week their "Libraries and Learning" survey on Americans and libraries. Worth a look as there is quite a bit on use of libraries and demographics. 
  • And finally, I learn this week that competitive book collecting is actually a thing. And no, this does not refer to libraries and collection development. Story via Smithsonian.

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