Category Archives: On Reading

Updating the Definition of a “Book”

Does anyone out there write dictionary definitions for a living?

Given the rapid changes in the publishing industry and the ever-evolving English language, I think it’s time for a couple of updates to the definition of the word book.  First, a few of the current definitions:

  • Cambridge Dictionaries Online – “A set of pages that have been fastened together inside a cover to be read or written in.”
  • Wikipedia – “A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of paper, parchment, or other various material, usually fastened together to hinge at one side.
  • Merriam-Webster – “A set of written sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory.”

Tablets of wood or ivory?  Really?

I wouldn’t pretend to have the credentials to write updated definitions, but as a serious book lover myself I will offer two specific areas for updating:

One: A Book Is Not A Printed Work

A book is a literary work, regardless of the format in which it is consumed.  A book read on a Kindle or listened to on an iPod is every bit as much of a book read from a fine, leather-bound volume.  Likewise, it shouldn’t require qualification as an “E-book” or an “audiobook.”   They’re all books, the quality of which rests solely on the quality of the writing.

A couple of weeks ago I streamed the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Netflix as I exercised on the treadmill.  The movie was still a movie, right?  It wasn’t an S-movie (for streaming) or a T-movie (for treadmill).  It was a movie.

When you listen to Bono sing Sunday Bloody Sunday at a live concert, you’re not listening to a C-song (for concert), are you?

I think you get the idea.

Two: A Book Is A Long-Form Composition

I don’t believe this is new, but I think it’s an important clarification to emphasize in the digital era.  Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a book requires a well thought out thesis that cannot be written or read in short-order.  Books involve big ideas and big plots which take time.

This gets to the heart of why we will always need books.  If you want to process big thoughts, learn big ideas, effect big changes in the world, there’s simply no better place to turn than books.

So does anyone out there disagree?  Please comment below and let us know what you think!

For more reading on the topic:

 
Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

P.S.  Hey book lovers, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog!  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission to fund libraries and other literacy programs in the developing world.

5 Book Lover Role Models On TV

I’ve had this idea for a blog post for quite some time, but frankly it took a while to even find any book-lover role models on TV.  We stopped at five simply because we couldn’t think of any others.  If you think of any more, please send them our way!

So why aren’t there more such characters on TV?  Now that’s a very good question…  Post your thoughts by commenting below.

In No Particular Order…

Brick from The Middle

You’ve got to love Brick from The Middle, especially when contrasted against the sorry lot that is the Heck family.  Poor Brick goes almost completely unnoticed at home, but we’re pretty sure he’ll end up inventing flying cars or cold fusion.  Keep on reading Brick.  We hope you can survive the mediocrity around you!

Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer

In full disclosure let me say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favorite shows of all time.  Need I remind you that TV Guide once referred to Buffy as the “smartest show on television”.  Fans will remember that Giles’ erudition never failed to save the day with last minute demon-killing tips that would, literally, save the world.  Plus he looked really cool in tweed, and he had a hot girlfriend.

Rory from Gilmore Girls

Rory was rarely seen on Gilmore Girls without a book in hand, and her love of reading propelled her from the sleepy confines of Stars Hollow to a lofty career in journalism.  She seems to have started something of a frenzy in the blogosphere, too, with dozens of now-defunct blogs detailing everything she read on the show and more.  There was even something called the Rory Gilmore Book Project online at one point, but alas, it no longer exists.

President Bartlet from West Wing

He wasn’t often shown reading on West Wing – I suppose that wouldn’t make great television – but every episode was laced with literary quotes from President Bartlet, often from the Bible.  Let’s just hope you can’t actually become president, even a TV president, without a lot of reading in your life.

Sawyer from Lost

LOST might have concluded with a lot of questions unanswered, but one thing was perfectly clear: Tough-guy Sawyer loved to read.  Death-dealing smoke monsters and busted reading glasses couldn’t keep him away from his books for long.  And all that reading touched off a lot of on line chatter about book references on the show.  Check out this list of books from LOST, and the LOST Books Challenge.

Honorable mention: Captain Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek fame, and Lisa from The Simpsons.  Many thanks to our Facebook Fans for their contributions to this article.

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

P.S.  Please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission to build libraries in the developing world!

Reader Survey: When Do You Bail On A Bad Book?

Book lovers appear to have a wide range of opinions on the subject of bad books, and whether or not we should finish reading them once started.  Personally, I’ve always been of the I-will-forge-ahead-no-matter-what mindset, which can be really painful because I tend to read long books.  Many disagree with this approach.

Because everyone seems to disagree, the minds at GoneReading decided to conduct a poll to see if we can get this thing settled once and for all.  Please take a moment to respond to our poll, share your comments below, and forward along to your reading friends!

For more online discussion on the topic check-out these sites:

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little post and want to see the final survey results, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!


Reading Is Evolving – And That’s A Good Thing

"The Evolution of Reading" merchandise now available for purchase at GoneReading.com. All profits benefit literacy.

The publishing world is in an upheaval, Borders has filed for Chapter 11, and libraries are struggling to maintain their funding.  All true, but none of these facts are evidence that reading itself is on the decline.

It’s evolving, for sure.  But I hear a lot of false speculation that reading as an activity is doomed to plummet along with sales of the printed book.

To the contrary, here is my three-step argument that reading will thrive in the years to come:

  1. eReader ownership is growing at a meteoric rate, with 12% of adults claiming to own such a device, double that of just six months ago.  This trend is not going to stop anytime soon.
  2. eBook sales are skyrocketing, with Amazon now reporting that eBook sales actually outpace that of printed books.  Again, it’s hard to see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
  3. People read more once they convert to an eReader, as shown by two independent studies in this article, as well in this release by researcher Harris Interactive.

If these three statements are true, and it’s hard to find arguments against any one of them, it seems blindingly clear that reading has a solid future.  Publishers, printers, bookstores and libraries all have their challenges ahead of them.

But reading itself stands to prosper.

More Reading Is Always Better

We have a saying at GoneReading that more reading is always better, regardless of the content or format.  And the fact is that eReaders will play a dramatic role in increasing readership in every corner of the world.

The positive implications for the developing world are unprecedented.  Just as cell phone technology has leapfrogged landlines in the developing world, eReaders can leapfrog the printed book with stunning results.  Non-profits such as WorldReader are adapting and testing eReader technology to bring the magic of reading to places where the printed book has yet to arrive.

Lastly, there’s also a strong case to be made that eReaders are better for the environment than the printed book.

My Conclusion

No one loves the printed book more than myself; I’m fortunate enough to own hundreds of them, and I have yet to buy an eReader.

But our sentiments can’t stop technologies from evolving and improving.  Despite the pain these changes effect in the short run – and they are heart wrenching changes for many people in the industries mentioned above – the evolution of reading is good for the world.

Feel free to prove me right or wrong by commenting below!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little article, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/

Maybe I’m Not So Crazy. Maybe.

A while back I bought a new book and started to read it, only to soon realize that I had already read it several years prior.  “That’s probably not good” I thought to myself.  But now I know I’m not alone.

Ever forget about a book you've already read? You're not alone.

As highlighted by A Writer’s Desk, biblio-amnesia seems to be making the rounds.  Although I’m pretty sure that the term has yet to be reviewed in the medical journals, I can assure you that biblio-amnesia is real and here to stay.

Of course this renders a broader question: If we can forget so much about our reading, is it worth reading at all?  If you love to read like me, then you know the answer is yes.  But providing specifics is a lot more difficult.

For me, the shear enjoyment of it is more than enough reason to read.  But the real reasons go much further than that.  Reading plays a dramatic role in improving your cognitive processes, for example.

If the topic interests you, I suggest, no irony intended, that you read a book: Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf.  Subtitled The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, it gets to the core of how the reading brain works and how it directly impacts our lives.  You’ll be glad to know that even pleasure reading can dramatically improve your cognitive ability.  Bring on the summer reading trash.

Thanks to my friend Susannah, a loyal GoneReading fan, for the book recommendation!

Please share your comments below…

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
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