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March 19, 2008

Comments

Paul Gregg

A "boovie" worth mentioning is HBO's "John Adams". We have watched the first 2 of the series and find it fascinating.

My wife and I could open a small library. We read non-fiction and fiction and I only wish I could read faster and retain better with increased speed!

Karl Leopold Metzenberg

Well-written & heartening midst all the literary & typehead doom-saying. Thanks!

Rev. Kathryn Parrish

Like you I enter a bookstore, excited as I gaze at the thousands of books before me. Some are old friends that I've come to visit. Some will become old friends very shortly. Some I'll have a passing acquaintance with. Others will be read only on the inside jacket. I think of everything books have meant to me over the years, and years that I would not have survived had I not had my old friends to comfort me or renew my meaning to myself and others.

But one other thing comes to mind. All the people who I do not see here. People I work with, go to church with, socialize with. So few I can discuss books with, or if I do, we seem to be on different wave lengths. I see hope and a newness put to the best of the old ways, while they see...well, I am not sure I know. They say so little, react so little. If they have read a book, do they get it, or has our society become one of skimmers. We have adjusted so well to the brevity of text messages, e-mail and the like, that even when we read a book it's broken down into mini-phrases, never quite complete, like a piece of bread with the crust cut off.

I worry what my generation will leave the next. Will we still have readers, or will we all be hearing abridged audio books as we drive to and from work, or as we sit taking our one vacation a year, mentally shut down from everything around us just to be able to concentrate on the instructions of our supervisors. Perhaps even holding a book in front of us, not knowing or caring what it is about because we are not really reading it, just using it to keep others away.

I feel like I am pouring water on your parade, but I can't help worrying. Will we still be reading? Will there be those who continue to write? I would imagine so, for the writing doesn't have to be read to have meaning, but "our" meaning may depend on what we read. How much of the world opens itself to us depends on how much of it we expose ourselves to.

May the gates continue to swing wide for us, that we might know this planet on which we live and know the people in it.

Rev. Kathryn Parrish+

Eddie

We ARE living in a Golden Age. They keep coming out faster than I can buy them, let alone read them. Just the other day, I was doing a survey of my home, trying to come up with spots for more shelf space(I've got over 8800 books and counting)and I did find a bit more space. It really doesn't matter what kind of a book it is, it's always going to generate some kind of an epiphany in someone. As Voltare said, When I have a little money, I buy books, If I have any left over, I buy food and shelter.

The two scariest statements that I keep hearing are:
1. I haven't read a book since high school,
and...
2. This movie was Based on a book???

Virginia Green

I agree, there are far more books out there than I will get around to reading. I'm pleasantly surprised as I find readers. I helped to revive a book club at work a few months ago. This holds me accountable to reading books I might have put off and also allows us to exchange opinions. Not all of my friends are readers, but a large number of them are. We make a point of passing along titles that we enjoyed to each other and my amazon wishlist and library hold list continue to grow.

Steve

I think you are on to something, but I feel that it is more generalized. We are living in an era where the printed word has almost become a commodity. When you say Golden Age of Books, are you also implying that we will look back and long for when it was this good?

E. Melvin

As an English teacher, I see my students try to avoid great writing from the past as well as the present. One of the things I have to do is introduce books in ways that touch them. It keeps me on my toes to find situations to put my students in and ask how they would handle that situation before giving them a taste of what the characters do. I also find that having them get to the part of their brains that can visualize the picture the author creates is a challenge--they are so used to having the picture handed to them. If I can get there, then I have created a reader. It is fun to see the sheepish grins as they run into me in the bookstore or library. Unfortunately, the number is not as large as I would love.

Dee Akhavein

RE: this 'swirl' of information we have at hand...I feel we are like the Chinese? who had gun powder and didn't know the possibilities/applications of this material which has determined history. This avalanche of information is mostly junk or fabrication. Very little of it will advance society or culture. So there really is time to read books that will stretch the intellect and nourish the soul. Also, there is so little scholarship,esp. on college campuses and NONE in government, but occasionally, a thinker emerges and is quickly recognized. So you see, there is time for the good stuff and it's readily available. It's up to us to honor ourselves with only the best.

judith jimenez

i am a bilingual reader, spanish- english and so the amount of books that comes out is overwhelming. Spanish literature is as rich and abundant as english written literature be it fiction, non fiction. Some time I heard " short stories are for begginners, novels for the almost mature reader and essays for the mature reader". And what about rereadings? A lifetime is not enough to read all that is being produced so I have to accept my impotence as a reader. The black side of any person? Not reading

Claire

In spite of technology, nothing will replace the satisfaction of picking up a book, openings its pages, and becoming lost in another world. So yes, in some sense we are in another golden age of books. However we are also in an age of information overload with everyone and anyone jumping on the bandwagon of sensationalism to publish books that will be forgotten and on the bargain table within months, if not weeks, of their release. It is sad to think that the market still supports such publications. It is as if we have forgotten how to think and reason.

Joan

Congratulations to Steve, the English teacher, for working to create readers out of his students. They just don't know what they're missing when they only see the movie without reading the book first! Re book clubs - belonging can help you read books that you never would have chosen. However, I have such a list of books that I chose and want to read that I find it is best to spend my time only on these, even though I miss the discussions with others. It's a hard choice. AND, special thanks to Steve Leveen for "Well Read Life."

Victoria Smith

Thanks for the reminder that there are "too many books, too little time"

I keep trying to catch up but the books that come in outweight the books I really have time to read and I can't stop myself when I see something new I want (need) to read.

The wealth of literature is a blessing.

Virginia

I've been reading your book (Well-Read Life) and also reading your blog here. I haven't yet seen anything close to the "system" I use for acquiring my own Library of Candidates, so I thought I'd share it here.

First, of course, there is my List of Candidates. Some of these come from book articles I've read in places like Christian Science Monitor or even in booklists/reviews linked to my public library's website. I come across possibilities everywhere - like in your book I am reading.

Then, since I am mortal and have a finite amount of money and time for reading, I kind of divide the list up into other categories. If it's something I think I would enjoy reading ONCE, but not necessarily owning, I am most likely to use our library.

Our library's internet site is a treasure-trove of goodies. I can search the libraries catalog online and learn if a book is checked in/checked out, etc. I have gotten so adept at using this as my first approach to locating a new treasure that I have taped my library card number to the bottom of my computer monitor. You need your library card number to put holds, etc. on books. They will call me when my name comes up on the list, if it's something I've asked them to get for me.

Sometimes, I know I DON'T want to read it any time soon - I just don't want to forget about it. In that instance, the library site lets me set up an online personalized list of what I want to read. It also notes whether the book is currently in or out, or at one of the branches. Eventually I either read them, dump them off the list, or acquire them in some other way.

My next level of books are those I think I'll want to buy for myself - - but I don't care if they're new or not - - is EBay. A lot of the time, I really don't care if it's got someone else's name already written in the inside of the book. You can set up an advanced search on EBay for precisely the title or author you're looking for. And you can set it as a permanent search - so you can keep looking effortlessly if the book you want isn't available yet (or if the price isn't quite what you have in mind). Eventually, most of my books have come to me through either EBay or library book sales.

Finally, I generally use Amazon.com and other online sellers for books I think I can't possibly live without - and I want a pristine copy that no one else has handled. This level is for the books that have made a serious impact on my life. (like Tuesday's with Morrie, for example)

I use a combination of EBay and Amazon for purchasing nice copies of those special books that I want to share with my friends - and which I have no intention of parting with. (Gift from the Sea and also Tuesdays with Morrie fall into this category) I squirrel away a nice copy or two when I find one - and then share it with special friends whose lives have somehow not connected with my favorite books.

And of course, there are the audiobooks. I occasionally drive cross-country - sometimes alone. For several weeks or months beforehand, I am trolling the EBay audiobook listings for stories I will rely on to keep me awake and make the miles fly. I don't need new copies for that. For a 3000-mile trip, I generally need at least 6 books on tape. (I've loved the Alexander McCall Smith stories for driving.)

Audiobooks were also a tool I used when my children were teenagers. Two of them had reading disabilities. Reading was so hard for them, and it was painful for me (a lifelong reader) to see that they equated reading with some form of torture. I eventually introduced them both to audiobooks. They were missing out on so many wonderful stories because reading was hard. The audiobooks gave them the enjoyment that many of the rest of us take for granted. I didn't worry about how they weren't "LEARNING" how to become better readers if they listened to the tapes. Sometimes they followed along in a book. Sometimes they just listened for sheer entertainment.

And finally (yes - I'm almost done!!) - someone mentioned as a blog-comment that some people thought of short stories as things young people read (I think that is what was said). I discovered many years ago that sometimes medications you take or disease can hamper any attempt at the concentrating needed to read. At times, novels or full-length books have been beyond what I could handle. Short stories can fill the bill there beautifully. It's about the same for the old Readers Digest Condensed Books: if a full-length book is more than you can tackle, find something shorter. (and, as everyone knows, RD Condensed Books are the nemesis of any book sale because there are so MANY of them, and everyone is trying to unload them. So they are practically free.

I guess I've talked long enough. I just wanted to share some of the paths my own reading has drawn me down. I realize that my methods of adding to my Library of Candidates are definitely low-budget, but I think it's fantastic that books are so easily available for any level of income.

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