A Shortage of Reading Material Is a Thing of the Past

51bukngrbpl-_sy346_ Beyond a doubt, the best thing about being an avid reader of close to seventy years of age is that I never have to worry about finding a book to read anymore.  I  remember how when I was in my twenties and thirties that my greatest reading-fear was waking up one morning and not having a single unread book at hand. Those were the days when buying even a paperback per week hit the budget a good solid lick. A library was usually within reach, but after working a forty-something-hour-week, I was often too tired to make it there. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

Nowadays, like most people my age who have read for their entire lives, I have my own library, one that includes more unread books than I could possibly read in three or four years of dedicated reading. There are numerous anthologies, short story compilations, novels, and Civil War history books awaiting my attention – not to mention the 91 Library of America volumes on the shelves, each of those including numerous novels and short stories. So I’m set for a while even if worse were to come to worst.

51pckawcosl-_sy346_But here’s the real secret: many of my reading friends are roughly the same age as I am, and our wives are constantly at us to clean out some of the books that are stashed all over the house. That means that I seldom visit a reading friend who does not shove three or four “must-read” books at me before I head home. And I’ve learned to return the favor, often carrying a like number of books to their home when visiting so that the exchange comes out relatively even. The good news is that, at least so far, all of our wives see this as a kind of game in which the winning wife is the one whose husband’s book-count drops even for just a week or two. It’s one of those strange win-win things that I hope the ladies never figure out.

51kmu2vjmwl-_sy346_Just this month, for instance, I’ve been given pristine hard copies of four of Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlenour novels (a really good series from Iceland); Conspiracy of One (a detailed study of the Kennedy assassination); Witness (the classic Whittaker Chambers book written during the early days of the Cold War); and One Ranger ( a signed copy of Texas Ranger H. Joaquin Jackson’s 2008 autobiography). Now keeping in mind that this is all part of a game of musical chairs played with books, my wife is happy to tell you that we are winning so far this month because way more books have gone out the door than have come in the door (our wives give us a free pass when it comes to library books, thank goodness).

Now if I could just learn to read faster, life would be just about perfect.

 

Book Collector Murdered in Theft of “Wind in the Willows” First Edition

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Adrian Greenwood

In one of those bizarre twists that deranged criminals throw at the civilized world every so often, one fifty-year-old lowlife in Oxford, England, has just reminded us that collecting rare children’s books can be as dangerous as collecting diamonds.

According to The Independent:

“A man has been accused of stabbing to death an Oxford historian and author over a first edition copy of ‘Wind in the Willows’ worth around £50,000.

Michael Danaher, 50, is appearing at Oxford Crown Court on the charge of murdering Adrian Greenwood in the author’s own home on April 6.

Danaher compiled a “clinical” spreadsheet list containing high-profile targets for theft, robbery and ransom demands, the courtheard.

A buyer and seller of rare and valuable books, Mr Greenwood had more than 200 items for sale at the time of his death, 17 of which were worth more than £2,000.”

As noted in the article, Danaher was working from a list of what he must have considered high-value, low-risk targets – a list that included Adrian Greeenwood’s name.   Sadly, Mr. Greenwood paid the ultimate price for trying to protect his property and himself from the thief.  Danaher has, of course, denied murdering Mr. Greenwood and has offered a plea of self-defense as explanation for the man’s death at his hand.

The Daily Mail has an article on the same crime that makes it sound even more despicable than then the way it is described in The Independent:

“Oxford Crown Court was told today that Mr Greenwood may have been tortured into revealing where the rare book was kept. 

The jury heard that Danaher has admitted killing Mr Greenwood after stabbing him 33 times – with one wound being 10cms deep – but he denies murder on the grounds of self-defence.”

[…]

“Danaher planned to get money by either stealing from or robbing the targets’ homes, or by demanding a ransom by kidnapping them or their family, a jury was told.  The list featured the words ‘daughter’ and ‘sister’ next to some of the names of wealthy relatives he intended to take hostage after knocking them out with a stun gun, prosecutors said.”

The Daily Mail piece is truly chilling in the details it includes about what Danaher was up to and the lengths to which he was willing to go to steal from his victims. It also explains how the killer was identified and arrested.  Take a look because it is easy to see how many people may have suffered the same fate as Mr. Greenwood if this psychopath had not been identified so quickly.

Truman Capote’s Ashes Sell to Highest Bidder

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Ashes for Sale

I think I can probably assume that anyone reading a “book blog” has a keen interest in the world of books and publishing.  I know, too, that some of us feel that passion so strongly that we sometimes do some things that appear a bit on the strange side to nonreaders.  But would you spend a whole bunch of money to buy the ashes of your favorite author…or those of some world class author?

That, believe it or not, is what someone has done this week according to The Guardian:

“The ashes of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote have been sold at auction in Los Angeles for $43,750 (£33,800).

Kept in a carved Japanese wooden box, the ashes belonged to the late Joanne Carson, wife of the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. According to vendor Julien’s Auctions, Carson, who died last year, said that owning the ashes “brought her great comfort”. She and Capote were good friends, and the celebrated writer died of liver disease at her mansion in Bel-Air in 1984, at the age of 59.”

[…]

“Along with his ashes, the clothes Capote was wearing at the time of his death were sold for $6,400 and two lots of his prescription pill bottles went for a combined $9,280.”

It is easy to imagine that  Truman Capote would have believed this whole thing to be quite a hoot, but I don’t think I’d personally much enjoy having Truman sit on one of my bookshelves next to my copy of In Cold Blood.  How about you?  If not Truman, is there someone else you would consider if the opportunity arose?

462 Books Read in 2008

As the tenth anniversary of Book Chase grows ever nearer, I find myself browsing through some of the almost three thousand posts that I’ve made here over the years, especially the ones from the early years.  As you might expect, sometimes it’s like reading them for the first time because I can’t remember actually writing them.  Too, I’m finding that for every post I’m pleased with having produced, I find another whose very existence embarrasses me for a variety of reasons.

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Sarah Weinman

Last night I read a post from January 2009 about a woman who read 462 books in 2008.  Does that number astound you as much as it did, and still does, me?  But the really remarkable thing is what Sarah Weinman had to say about how she does it.  This is from the original Los Angeles Times article that caught my eye on January 9, 2009:

I’ve been trying to analyze my reading method to see why I’ve almost always been able to do this (well, I started reading at the age of 2 1/2; I don’t think I was speed-reading back then, but I became aware I could read fast when I burned through eight “Sweet Valley High” books in one evening when I was about 9.)

A lot of it has to do with my music background. I studied voice and piano fairly seriously during my elementary and high school days, and as such, I became very attuned to rhythm and cadence and voice. So what happens when I read is that I can “hear” the narrative and dialogue in my head, but what’s odd is that I’m both aware of the book at, say, an LP rate (33 1/3 revolutions per minute) but in my head it translates to roughly a 78. I’ve tried to slow this down, but realized that my natural reading rhythm is freakishly fast when an author friend asked me to go through the manuscript of her soon-to-be-published book for continuity errors.

I sat in the La-Z-Boy at my parents’ house with a pencil, went through page by page making notes but also enjoying the book, and had the whole task done in about 3-4 hours. This was a 350-page manuscript too, so roughly 80,000 words. Take away the pencil and the editor’s hat and the reading speed would probably be close to 90 minutes. What also seems to happen is that I read a page not necessarily word by word, but by capturing pages in sequence in my head. The words and phrases appear diagonally, like I’m absorbing the text all in one gulp, and then I move on to the next sequence I can absorb by paragraph or page. It’s like I’m reading from a whole-language standpoint instead of phonics — that’s the only way I can figure out how to explain it.

Isn’t that amazing?  Well, I got to wondering what Sarah Weinman might be doing today, and I see that she is a successful editor and writer.  In fact, she is the editor of a Library of America book that I plan to add to my collection soon, one called Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 50s.  But that’s hardly all that Sarah has been up to, as you will see if you take a look at her website.  

What Sarah can do with the written word is a true talent, a talent she was born with that is much like being born a natural musician or singer.  I don’t know if she is still reading almost 500 books a year these days, but she is so, so lucky to be able to be able to use that talent in her chosen profession.  We should all be so lucky.

 

University Librarian Gives His School a Huge Gift

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Robert Morin, UNH Librarian

The University of New Hampshire must be stunned by the size of the behest one of its longtime librarians has just left to the school.  According to this New Hampshire Union Leader article, librarian Robert Morin has given the school a whopping $4 million:

Robert Morin, who died at the age of 77 in March 2015, was a cataloguer at UNH’s Dimond Library for nearly 50 years. His obituary said he was the man who wrote short descriptions of DVDs, entered ISBN numbers of CDs, and cataloged books of sheet music. 

[…]

Morin’s financial adviser, Edward Mullen, said the library worker was able to accumulate so much wealth because he never spent any money. Mullen started working with Morin in the early 1970s, and said by the 2000s he had saved quite a bit of cash in his checking and savings accounts. There was almost $1 million in his retirement account alone.

Mullen said Morin had an older vehicle and, despite being a millionaire, he ate frozen dinners.

“He never went out,” Mullen said.

Please do click on the link to the newspaper article because Mr. Morin was an interesting man and there’s a good bit more detail in the piece.  I particularly love the fact, for instance, that he was working on a project to read every book (with the exception of children’s books and textbooks) published in the United States between 1930 and 1940 – and that he made it up to 1938 (the year that he was born) before he died.

Sounds like my kind of guy.  RIP, Mr. Morin.

 

London’s Books in the Nick Program Is a Winner

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Special Constable Steve Whitmore, Father of Books in the Nick

Here’s another of those stories I like so much about readers and their readiness to share books and their love of reading with others.  This one comes from The Guardian and tells of a London Police project called “Books in the Nick.”  This one is pretty cool…free books for young people in the custody of the London police who asks for one.  It all started this way:

Books in the Nick was dreamed up by Metropolitan police special constable Steve Whitmore, after he arrested an 18-year-old on suspicion of assault and possession of drugs earlier this year. The teenager asked Whitmore if he could borrow a book to read while he was in custody, but the special constable could not find anything that would have been of interest to the young man.

The range and type of books available didn’t appeal to him, so I offered him my own book, The Catcher in the Rye, and told him to keep it,” said Whitmore. “The look on his face was amazing, his attitude and hostility towards me completely changed and it created common ground for us to talk about. He said he’d never been given a book before to own, and that really moved me.”

[…]

The aim of this scheme is to provide easy-to-read books that are familiar, tangible and can be kept,” said Whitmore. “Our core belief is that to pass on a good read is a transaction of worth.

[…]

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, agreed, calling the scheme “a fantastic idea”.

I particularly like that people can take the books away with them,” said Crook. “It underlines the importance of books and perhaps prisons could learn from this scene to make sure that there are books in a cell as soon as someone is received into prison. A handful of books on the first night might just make all the difference to reducing distress.

The scheme focuses  on the teens, and children even younger, who are being detained in any of London’s forty-three “custody suites.”

(Click on the Guardian link for the complete article and on the “Books in the Nick” link to do directly to the Give a Book charity that is supporting the program.)

Chasseurs de Livres (Book Hunters)

14117939_10206656186714877_7733226860950093015_nNow this online search game, I like…a lot.  I’ve not been particularly amused by the spectacle of teens and even adults wandering aimlessly in search of all those Poke-creatures which only exist in the minds of those silly enough to want to capture them.  I, in fact, find these big game hunters irritating when they wander in bunches in public areas disturbing everyone else in the area with their lack of manners.  But it appears that someone in Belgium has come up with a way to make lemonade from that lemon of a game app also known as Pokemon Go.

According to The Times of India, a Belgian primary school headmaster has started a Facebook Group  that already has some 40,000 people there searching for books – books that actually exist in the real world.  Imagine that, Pokemon Go fanatics.

While with Pokemon Go , players use a mobile device’s GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire’s version is played through a Facebook group called “Chasseurs de livres” (“Book hunters”).

Players post pictures and hints about where they have hidden a book and others go to hunt them down. Once someone has finished reading a book, they “release” it back into the wild.”

[…]

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One Successful Book Hunter

The Detournay family from the town of Baudour in southern Belgium said the game was now part of their morning walks. They found one book and left four others for people to find.

 “My daugther said it’s like hunting for easter eggs, only with books,” Jessica Detournay said.”
This is a great idea that teachers and book lovers all over the world should embrace.  I am under no illusion that an app similar to this Belgian Facebook Group would ever rival something as inane as Pokemon Go, but wouldn’t it be great to see people in your town excited about finding free books on its streets?

69 Ways to Read 100+ Books a Year

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This is a “golden oldie” from way back on November 15, 2011.  The post started out as “54 Ways to Read 50 Books a Year” and, with some input from a few fellow book bloggers, it grew into “62 Ways to Read More Than 50 Books a Year.”  It was fun for me sit down at the keyboard and just let it rip, but it was even more fun to see the responses I got.

See what you think:

=========================================================================

My friends probably think  I’m weird, that I don’t have a life.  I’m pretty sure they would say that about anyone who averages 125 books read per year, though, so I don’t take it personally.  Consider, too, that 125 books is a relatively low count when compared to the 250, 300, or 1,000 books that are read every year by some people I’ve met on the Internet (I suppose that means some people are just exceptionally weird).  And, honestly, if you push me hard enough, I’ll tell you how weird I think people are who don’t read more than five or six books a year…or (shudder) even none.

Now let me tell you about my other life – the one that happens when I’m not reading – the one that takes up most of my time.  I work slightly more than forty hours per week (no longer true, thankfully) on the job that pays for the books on my shelves.  I am an avid sports fan   who attends professional and amateur sporting events on a regular basis.  I have three very active grandchildren whom I help cart around all over town to their own activities, activities that often have me in the viewing audience: dance classes and recitals, pee wee league football games, little league baseball games, and the like…and I’m still happily married to the woman who loves to help me decide how we are going to spend our spare time.

So how does anyone read a large number of books per year?  Well, it’s pretty easy, actually.  These tips are guaranteed to up your reading count.  Pick the ones you feel comfortable with, and let me know if they work for you or not.  If you want to add to the list, please let me know and I’ll credit you guys with numbers 62 forward.

  1. Read during your lunch hour, something especially easy to do if you eat at your desk each day
  2. Read the first thing every morning – get up 15 minutes early and begin your day by reading a few pages
  3. Turn off the television set – or, better yet, don’t turn it on (See number 4, below)
  4. Use your DVR to record the television you really want to see – quit channel surfing your evenings away
  5. Don’t get lost inside Facebook or Twitter for hours and hours of your precious spare time – it’s easy to catch up when you log back in
  6. Read while brushing your teeth – especially easy if you use an electric toothbrush with a built in timer
  7. Read when stuck in lines at banks, government offices, etc.
  8. Read while stuck behind long lines of traffic at slow stop lights
  9. Listen to recorded books while commuting
  10. Stay excited and informed about new books being published
  11. Browse bookstores and grab whatever catches your eye – first impressions are important
  12. Find two or three authors whose work you love – and read everything they’ve written
  13. Change your reading pattern/rut – alternate fiction with nonfiction, biographies with travel books, etc.
  14. Have reading apps on your smart phone – use them when you are trapped in a boring place all alone
  15. Set reading goals and speak of them publicly
  16. Keep a running list of what you read
  17. Join a book club
  18. Visit your local library regularly, especially the “new books section”
  19. Read the classics from your favorite genre – books by the early masters of scifi, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.
  20. Read from a list of winners and nominees: Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Man Booker
  21. Read translated novels and painlessly learn what makes other cultures tick
  22. Specialize in authors from particular countries or geographical regions
  23. Read local authors
  24. Re-read books that excited you as a young reader
  25. Read the classics – guaranteed to be better than you remember them from high school or college
  26. Find a bookstore specializing in what you enjoy reading most
  27. Find a reading buddy or two whose taste and recommendations you can trust
  28. Be a reading mentor to a child or young adult
  29. Use your credit card points to add to your book budget – the Barnes & Noble credit card is perfect for book lovers
  30. Read lots of book blogs, both individual and corporately sponsored ones
  31. Become aware of your activities that do nothing but pointlessly kill time; pick up a book instead
  32. When watching television alone, read during those endless commercial breaks
  33. Always have more than one book in progress
  34. Always know what your next book is going to be
  35. Trade books with friends and family members
  36. Buy used books to stretch your book budget
  37. Become a book collector specializing in an author, genre, publisher, decade, etc.
  38. Attend book signings at local bookstores
  39. Attend public readings at local colleges and universities
  40. Volunteer to read to struggling readers at local elementary schools
  41. Volunteer to read to the elderly with failing eyesight
  42. Read books about books – about bookstores, collectors, fakers, mysteries, libraries
  43. Attend state book festivals – they draw large numbers of authors to one site
  44. Treasure hunt in used book bookstores
  45. Watch movies made from books and compare the two versions (books always win)
  46. Collect signed books
  47. Read debut novels from fresh voices
  48. Participate in web-based book exchanges
  49. Browse the shelves of friends and relatives; you might learn something new about them and yourself
  50. Shop at Friends of the Library book sales
  51. Always carry a spare book in your car – you never know when you’re going to need it
  52. Keep an e-book reader in your coat pocket
  53. Take advantage of all the free, or very cheap, e-book offers out there
  54. Read on your monitor screen when all else fails
  55. Read while your small children are napping (courtesy of Jeanne)
  56. Read while nursing your baby (courtesy of Jeanne)
  57. Add valuable reading hours to your week by using public transportation for commuting (courtesy of Ted)
  58. Download audio books to your iPod and listen to them while working out or doing chores around the house (courtesy of Sally)
  59. Keep book of favorite quotes found while reading (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  60. Read while fishing (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  61. Read while monitoring kids in bath (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  62. Read books mentioned in other books you are reading (courtesy of Santosh)
  63. Start a book blog (courtesy of guiltless reader)
  64. Start reviewing books on GoodReads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, etc. (courtesy of guiltless reader)
  65. Join reading challenges (courtesy of guiltless reader)
  66. Read while blow-drying your hair (courtesy of Karen Em K)
  67. Read while soaking in the tub (courtesy of Karen Em K)
  68. Start a “Whoops, I forgot my book” bookshelf at work (courtesy of Karen Em K)
  69. Listen to Recorded Books while showering (courtesy of Karen Em K)

Orr’s Island Librarian Is Old School – So Are Her Patrons

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Orr’s Island Library

Maine’s Orr’s Island library is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the only librarian the little library has had during that period.  That’s nice, you’re probably thinking…but thirty years is not that big a deal, is it?  Well, when you consider that Joanne Rogers was already 76 years old when she took the job, you get the idea.

The 106-year-old librarian is still at it and she doesn’t intend to quit until she can’t do “everything the job entails.”  The Forecaster has the details:

“Rogers records the books that come and go on a small note card that she files in a wooden box on her desk.

Consequently, Rogers’ intimate knowledge of the library and its patrons serves both a social and an operational function. After decades of sitting at the front desk, her mind is not only a Rolodex of her readers’ tastes and preferences – she won’t hesitate to recommend a book at check-out, especially if she thinks a patron won’t like the one they’ve chosen – it is also the library’s central computer.”

[…]

“Before Rogers was librarian, she was a bookseller. She operated Jo’s Books on Bailey Island; the idea originated from a comment that she made to her late husband that he ought to build her a bookstore to contain all her books.

When her predecessor left in 1986, a representative from the library knocked on Rogers’ door one afternoon and asked if she was interested in filling the vacancy. She said yes on the spot.”

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Joanne Rogers, Orr’s Island Librarian

Joanne Rogers is 106 years old…think about that for a moment…and books have been a key component of her life.  We should all be so lucky.

 

Readers Live Longer Than Non-Readers According to New Study

Senior man reading book

Read a book and you will live a longer and happier life

Well, here’s some great news, my fellow readers.  A new study published in Social Science & Medicine has come to the conclusion that readers live an average of two full years longer than those who never crack a book.  Even reading just thirty minutes a day seems to make a difference, in fact, but the more a person reads, the better the news gets.

Please note, too, we are talking about reading books here, not about reading newspapers and magazines because, while the study did find a similar correlation in those who read only periodicals, it was much weaker.

Well, a New York Times blog, has this to say about the study:

The study, in Social Science & Medicine, found that book readers tended to be female, college-educated and in higher income groups. So researchers controlled for those factors as well as age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.

Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.                  

I have known for a long time (from personal experience and observation) that regular reading greatly adds to the quality of life, but as difficult as it is for me to comprehend a life without books,  I recognize the futility of trying to persuade a lifetime nonreader to pick up a book.  That’s about as difficult a task as arguing political or religious issues- neither side is likely to budge and all that happens is that both walk away from the conversation with hurt feelings.

So read more books, guys, and add two years to your life expectancy.

(For more detail, please click on either of the two links highlighted above.)

Mazon, Illinois, and It’s Free Library

170px-First_Little_Free_Library_-schoolhouseAccording to the Morris Herald-News two Mazon, Illinois, ladies have taken the “Little Free Library” idea to a new height…literally.  Those of you familiar with the Little Free Library movement know that it involves people placing little shelves filled with donated books on their front or side lawns so that anyone desiring reading material can pick and choose from that day’s selection.   It is hoped that users of the little libraries will deposit a book for each book they remove, keeping the shelves filled with an ever-changing selection from which to choose.

Well, Jan Clavy and Bev Hacker have taken the concept a little further by building a little red shed with enough space to hold several shelves of books and placing it in a part of Mazon that is not serviced by a regular library system.

She  (Clavey) started with a little house she planned to use that she thought would be perfect to store donated books for others to borrow at their own leisure, but the house just didn’t cut it.

So Clavey brainstormed and her husband, Ron Clavey, and her son-in-law, Harold Webster, went to work creating the small shed that would become the library.

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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)

Mazon’ s Little Library is unlocked and open for business from eight a.m. to eight p.m. every day – and with any luck, it will be there for a long time.  It’s another great example of the generosity and camaraderie so common to avid readers, and proves, once again, that “Readers are special people.”

Cleveland Librarian Wants to "Make America Read Again"

As for as I’m concerned, (other than that terrific speech by Rudy Giuliani last night) the best story to come out of Cleveland so far since the Republican National Convention began is this one about a Cleveland librarian who wants to make “America Read Again” and is helping to make that happen by handing out free books outside the convention center.  Bustle has the story and pictures: 

John Harris, a librarian working in Tremont, a neighborhood in Cleveland, came downtown with a crate on the back of his bike filled with books and a very literal reading of the city’s guidelines. “Cleveland said you’re allowed to hand out literature, so why not come down and hand out some books,” Harris tells Bustle.
“It’s not like I’m here in support of anybody, but hey, a little reading can’t hurt anybody,” Harris says, regarding his role as a “book propagator.” And he’s not playing favorites when it comes to who gets the literature. “I’m here to hand out books to the people that are here [at the protests] … I’m here to hand out books to the people that are in support of him over there.”

As I have said many times before (and will likely say many more times), readers are special people, some of the best in the world, and they prove it every day.  Do please read the rest of the story on the Bustle site…link is in red, up above.

Street Books: Providing Books to Those Who Can’t Afford Them

Reading is one of the greatest pleasures of life – and no one should be deprived of the opportunity of reading books and discussing them with their fellow readers – even people living on the streets.

And a mobile library called Street Books is on the streets of Portland, Oregon, to make sure that anyone wanting a book to read has one or two of them whenever they want them.  According to OregonLive (and The Orgonian), the five-year-old organization is doing better this year than ever before:

Each summer for the past five years, the small nonprofit has delivered paperbacks to people living on the streets of Portland. Staffers pedal two custom bicycles around the city to spread books and conversation. 
But now, with the number of homeless people in Portland swelling, and with camps increasingly visible, Street Books is growing. 
This summer, its number of paid librarians has doubled, bringing the total to six. Street Books is covering more ground, too.

[…]

On a recent Thursday, as Street Books’ sixth season of distributing books was beginning, many people were just discovering the mobile library.

Rempe, who’s trained as a community psychologist, offered every passerby outside St. Francis a friendly hello and a question: “Looking for something to read?”

She explained the rules to newcomers: Take a book or two. Keep them as long as you need. Come back to the bicycle and return them when you’re done. And it’s OK if you can’t return a book. There are no fines. 

One of the coolest things about this whole project is that even though the librarians don’t worry about losing books (and make it clear that it’s OK not to return them), most patrons of the little mobile library are determined to return the books so that others can read them, too.  

As Street Books librarian Diana Rempe puts it, “People on the street are complicated, just like the people who live inside.”

Nomad Books: Edmonton’s Bookstore on Two Wheels

I can’t imagine there’s a whole lot of profit in it, but one Edmonton couple has found a cheap way to turn their love of books and people into the city’s only two-wheeled bookstore.  According to CBC News Edmonton, Yvonne and Jared Epp came up with the idea when they returned to the city after a four-year absence:

“I had been collecting and trading books for a while and then had wanted to start selling some of my own, and was thinking about how to do that without too much expense going into it,” Jared said during an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.
“And we thought, ‘Why don’t we just sell books on the trailer and kind of cruise around downtown and sell books that way?’ We thought, ‘Let’s do it, let’s see what happens.'”
Yvonne & Jared Epp

[…]

           They say the project is less about pushing a profit, and more about making personal connections.

“That’s kind of our main goal, I mean it would be nice to make money from it, that would be awesome, but we’re prepared not to,” Yvonne said with a laugh. 

“By the time we pay for the insurance and the business license, we have a long way to go before we break even, but it’s worth it.” 

Kind of a cool idea, isn’t it?  And who knows?  Maybe someday the Epps will have a whole fleet of little two-wheeled bookstores roaming the streets of Edmonton that will return a nice little profit to them.  Avid readers tend to be big dreamers, and I wish these guys well in pursuing theirs.

How Tom Rachman "Mourned His Sister Through the Books She Left Behind"

Tom Rachman

A Washington Post article titled “How I Mourned My Sister Through the Books She Left Behind” caught my eye this morning – and it started me on some serious thinking about what we leave behind us upon our deaths.  What physical objects, especially books, will our survivors associate with us for the rest of their own lives…and so on?  

When Tom Rachman’s sister Emily died, he found that her “library remained like a silent repository of her, and I had to dismantle it.”  And that is exactly what he would end up doing by distilling her 800-volume library into the 250 books that he believes meant the most to her during her life.  

I found books on psychology written by our parents. Books she’d started but never finished. Books with sticky notes in them — she was passionate about sticky notes. I discovered packets everywhere, in neon pink, yellow, green. Each time I found a note in a margin, it made me scour the text for why.

[…]

Many of her books I associate with her childhood bedroom in Vancouver, where she read one astonishingly thick book after another, such as the red hardcover of “War and Peace,” which bears our father’s handwriting inside: “To darling Emily, With fondest love on your 12th birthday, from Mum & Dad. x x x x”

There are books I forgot I had given, such as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” in which I (at age 15) printed in pencil: “Dear Emily, happy 18th birthday, I got you this book because it is very funny, and overall ace.” 

Discoveries like these were just the beginning of what Emily’s books reminded Tom of from their shared lives – memories that bound her forever closer to him than would have ever been possible without the presence of the books – and notes – she left behind.

We should all be so lucky as to have a Tom or an Emily in our own lives.  

Perhaps writers are not the only ones who gain a measure of immortality from their books.  Maybe, just maybe, those of us who read them gain the same – if we are very, very lucky people.

(To read the entire  Washington Post article, please click on the red link at the beginning of this post.)

  

You Can Have It All (Rolling in the Deep parody)

This song parody was apparently used to promote the New York State Reading Association conference held in Syracuse in 2012.  Based on a song called “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, this version is called “If You Love to Read” and features real-life English teacher Sarah Ada in place of Adele. 

Everything about this video makes me smile, but I especially love the lyrics and Sarah’s voice.  Readers, “you can have it all if you like to read.”

For comparison purposes (and mainly to illustrate just how clever and well done this video is) I’m including the original Adele video on which it’s based: 


Young Man Uses Library Books to Help His Homeless Friend

I love stories like this one, but it’s been way too long since I’ve been able to find one to talk about here on Book Chase – and I had to go all the way to London’s Daily Mail newspaper to find a story about two Orlando, Florida, readers.

It seems that a young man who befriended the homeless woman he passed everyday on his way to work has found the perfect way to give her some longterm help and inspiration to get herself off the streets for good.  As it turns out the woman could not read, something that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to find a job these days…and without a job…well, you know the rest.

According to the article, Greg Smith borrows a new library book every week to use in the every-Tuesday reading lessons he gives the woman:

So he decided he would help teach her to read.
‘I have been blessed with two amazing parents and a family that has always had resources to provide me with anything I wanted to do,’ he explained.
‘Amy Joe has not. So now not only do Amy Joe and I sit and have lunch, I’m teaching her to read.’
The sales account executive borrows a new library book for his new friend every week and they sit down together, every Tuesday, have lunch and read it together.
‘She lit up! I could see in her face that she felt amazing,’ he told ABC News.
Amy Joe practices reading with the book the rest of the week on her own. 

I’ve said it here many times: Readers are special people.  Through books we learn about ourselves and we learn to empathize with others in a way, and too a depth, that is impossible to reach most any other way.

Thank you, Greg Smith for doing what you do.  Amy Joe, I’m pulling for you and hoping that you will be able to turn your life around soon.  Good luck to both of you…you both deserve it.

  


A Good Book Makes Even a Freezing Hospital Room Bearable

I have been practically living in a chair inside an uncomfortably cold hospital room for the past four days.  It all started Wednesday morning when I got a phone call at the barber shop telling me that my father was on his way to the emergency room because he had had another of his fainting episodes – this one, luckily, while seated in a church pew.  So now he’s been poked and prodded so much that it’s almost certain he’s had every kind of general diagnostic test available to modern medicine.

At the advice of a cardiologist, we made the decision together that he have a pacemaker placed in his chest to regulate his heartbeat in hope that his fainting problem would be solved.  That was done yesterday afternoon.  And this morning, we found out that there is a problem with one of the pacemaker leads going to his heart, so the entire procedure will have to be repeated Monday morning.  Throw in the long night we had trying to control dad’s confusion and hallucinating caused by the sleep medication given to him last night, and it’s been a bit of a struggle  – during which I have slept something like five hours in the last forty-eight.  (So please don’t deduct any points for grammar and spelling this time around.) I’m going to get some sleep tonight before heading back to the hospital early in the morning to relieve my son-in-law who has graciously volunteered to take a shift in my place.

I know you are wondering why am I writing all this here on a book blog.  One simple reason: if I had not had four or five books in that freezing room to keep me company for the last few days, I would have probably lost my mind.  The books allowed me to forget where I was – and why I was there- for at least a few minutes at a time.  Tired and sleepy as I’ve been, they kept me awake, they entertained me, and they reminded me of why I am such a reading advocate.  I cannot imagine a life without books and reading, and I am ever thankful to the small town librarian who encouraged me to keep reading, and who trusted me with books that were probably way over my head when I first read them.  Thankfully, she took a chance on me even though she was breaking library policy that way.  That woman (who seemed ancient to me at the time but was probably only about 70) opened up the world to me in just the right way and at just the right time in my life.  And it stuck.

I will never forget what she did.

Librarians, your enthusiasm is contagious, and if you treat young readers with respect, you just might permanently change a few lives for the good.  You may never even know that it happened, but if you are lucky, it will.  

Thanks, too, to the following authors for these books (the books I’m living with this week):

Matt Gallagher – Youngblood (a war novel with a mystery embedded in it that is set in Iraq)

Ruth Rendell – Dark Corners (her very last psychological crime novel, one that I suspect would have been a “Barbara Vine” novel if she had not recently died)

Gerald Seymour – Vagabond (new thriller set in Norther Ireland; a what if the Troubles start-up again novel)

Skip Hollandsworth – The Midnight Assassin (true crime book about an 1885 serial killer who terrorized Austin, Texas)

Andrea Valdez – How to Be a Texan (a how-to manual that reminds me just how fantastic a place Texas still is)

So it’s back at it tomorrow…hoping to post again soon.


Born to Read Program Means New Babies Leave Hospital with a Library Card

What a great idea!  Every baby born in St. Louis County is going to leave the hospital with a brand new library card of their own.  It’s all part of the St. Louis County Library’s “Born to Read” program.  

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, each baby goes home with a little gift bag that contains, a book, a toy, and their new library card:

The child will also be invited to celebrate his or her first birthday at the library and receive another free book. 

[…]


There is no doubt that children should be read to from an early age. And even before kids are able to read by themselves, they should have chunky books to play with and to help them learn to look at pictures and turn pages.

The Born to Read program began last year with support from the St. Louis County Library Foundation. More than 15,000 families are expected to receive a bag from the program this year.

 

The purpose of the program is, of course,  to get parents to read to their children as often, and as soon, as possible, in the process exposing the kids to language, story-telling, and the whole wide world of books and learning.  As library director Kristen Sorth says, “Studies show that when children start behind, they stay behind.”  Kids, on the other hand, who grow up around books (theirs and those of their peers and parents) are more likely to become readers at an early age – and to do well in school.  

Congratulations to the St. Louis County Library system for making the effort to get kids there off to a good start.  

1938 Warner Brothers Cartoon Based on Book Titles

This classic old Warner Brothers cartoon from 1938 cleverly uses book titles as the origin of a bunch of songs and visual gags that go on for almost eight minutes.  I can’t imagine today’s children being much intrigued by something like this…but maybe (I hope) I’m underestimating today’s kids and their awareness of classic book titles.