Friday, July 08, 2016

Reading about the reading life: July 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). 

It has been a bit of a while since the last time I did one of these posts. This is a series I enjoy because I can just look at and share things I find interesting without any drama. So, let's have a look at the world of reading and the reading life. As usual, I will present the story and add some commentary as I feel moved.

  • The Indian Express has a story of an old railway station bookstore in Mumbai that is still operating and is still popular with loyal customers. In an age when bookstores seems to be closing often, stories like this warm my heart. 
  • Bangkok turns out has some pretty fascinating indie bookstores. Another place for me to dream about visiting. Story via Today Online
  • And speaking of some bookstores closing, this newspaper reporter wonders what is a town without a bookstore as her local town loses its bookstore. Story via the Stanwood Camano News. This is something I have given a bit of thought in light of the fact that I live in a small town without a substantial bookstore; we have a small local independent, but it is barely a bookstore. This amazes me a bit given the fact Berea is a college town, and it has a pretty cultured population. I guess they buy most of their books online or drive out of town like I do to find books that interest me. Yes, I know, that makes a bit of a vicious cycle. The small store does not have things I want. I have to go get them elsewhere as do others. They do not make sales, so no incentive to get better inventory, on and on. I do feel the town is a bit less without a proper bookstore. In addition, the recent announcement that Hastings filed for bankruptcy (I discussed that story last week) makes me feel even less optimistic. Richmond, KY is basically the "big town next door" to Berea, and Hastings, with its faults, is the only bookstore and media store in the area. If they go, there will be nothing pretty much in terms of bookstore. As I mentioned previously, the lucky ones could drive the Lexington. The rest will do without, especially if they do not shop online. No, I do not make the assumption everyone has internet these days. And the city of Richmond will be a bit less as well if the Hastings closes.
  • The Atlantic has a story asking if reading logs can ruin reading for children. The author seems to be against the logs. Read and decide. This could be interesting to public librarians now that they are running summer reading programs where they often use some form of reading log to motivate reading and provide some incentives, especially for children reading. I think for me as a recreational reader, doing a bit of logging the reading can be fun. My local library provides one for adults too; you simply mark every time you read for 20 minutes, then turn the card in after certain amount of 20-minutes marks. Young kids get a free book when they turn each cards. Adults get a small gift the first card (a water bottle this year), and the subsequent cards go into a drawing for a gift card. I do it more because, hey, I read anyhow, so keeping track does not disrupt my routine. Plus it supports my local public library. How about folks out there? Do you participate in your local public library's summer reading program? If you have kids of school age, do they have reading logs in the school? How do you parents get your kids to read? 
  • The Atlantic also has a nice piece on the art of handwriting, including things about famous letters. I often say that I may be part of the last generation that systematically learned cursive and handwriting. And yes, when we courted, the Better Half and I wrote a few letters back and forth. Such days are long gone it seems. Having said that, some famous people have better handwriting than others. Check the article out, see how many of those famous letters can you read.
  • Yet handwriting, according to experts, is an essential learning and life skill. This piece from The New York Times summarizes some of the research on the issue showing the benefits of good handwriting skills. 
  • In other news, Robin Hood is going gay. Woo hoo! Seriously, according to this story via The Advocate, a new comic is coming out depicting the outlaw of Sherwood Forest as a gay man. Now, my initial reaction was, "oh great, another classic we need to gay up to be cool and hip." But then I gave it some thought. I mean, the story is about Robin Hood and his Merry Men. If that does not spell out fabulous, I am not sure what does. Plus, the porn industry has already done the gay Robin Hood a few times (no, I am not linking for the sake of those who may be sensitive, but use Google if you really must). Besides, Maid Marian was a bit too high maintenance anyhow; he is better off with a nice merry fellow. The comic, Merry Men, is going to be published by Oni Press. I've read and reviewed titles from them, so I am willing to take a chance this will be a good title too. According to the article, "Merry Men might sound at first like a delightfully campy series, but it is quite the opposite. The comic is a grounded, realistic look into a world where Robin Hood, still the familiar rogueish leader living in the woods with his band of outlaws with a good cause, is now also a badass homosexual who rises up in the face of discrimination and oppression." That sounds good enough for me. If I get a copy of it, my readers can count on a review here on this blog. 
  • Meanwhile, all the way in Japan, there is a manga museum working to preserve manga culture, and they are boosting up their collections. If I ever visit Japan, this place is on my list. Story via The Asahi Shimbun.
  • Speaking of library and museum collections, Dan Brown is donating " €300,000, or around $337,500, to a Dutch library with a vast collection of books and other materials about ancient mysticism. . ." Ritman Library in Amsterdam was a big inspiration to him in writing his books. Story via Atlas Obscura
  • In the Chicago Tribune, Michael Robbins pens "In defense of book collecting." I may collect a few books, but once you start having five or six editions of the same book, you may need help. 
  • P.Z. Myers has an interesting post on making a living writing erotica on Kindle. This applies mostly to those self-published authors whose works you find on Amazon, some a bit weirder than others. It can be lucrative, but keep in mind Amazon has a near monopoly and all sorts of rules to make your life as a writer of erotica harder.  It also depends on what erotica niche you might write in, and if you are guy, you may want to consider a female pen name. Myers is commenting on this article out of VICE magazine. On a side note, I was having a small Twitter conversation a few days ago just on the notion of erotica writers, especially the need to have pen names, more so if you are male, because the genre as a whole is not mainstream (i.e. a lot of people are biased or hostile to it, even though tons of people read it, but that is another story). 
  • Here is a story in Spanish language. Infotecarios has a post highlighting bookstagrammers. Those are folks who promote books or share their passion for books via Instagram. I will admit that since I am not big on taking photos, I have not found a reason to get on Instagram. However, I do see some of their stuff when it gets reposted in places like Tumblr or Twitter.
  • Finally for this week, a small remembrance of  writer Arthur Conan Doyle, highlight his later years as a believer in spiritualism. Via The New York Times.

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