Sharing Books with American Troops Overseas

A vintage WWI poster promoting book donations for our soldiers. Photo courtesy of E-Books for Troops.

One of the most common questions I’m asked when talking to book lovers about GoneReading is “How can I donate my books for charity?”  I have a variety of typical responses depending on each person’s situation, but just this week I stumbled across some terrific new options.

With Independence Day upon us here in the United States, these programs seem particularly fitting:  How To Share Books With Our Troops Overseas, courtesy of the folks at GalleyCat, highlights several programs for you to consider.   As you will see, you can help our troops read more by sending your used books, buying new books for yourself through charitable partners, donating your used Kindle, donating cash and more.

So enjoy your Fourth of July weekend, and try to help bring the joy of reading to these dedicated men and women while they serve apart from their families.

Other related stories you might find of interest:

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
 
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Did Shakespeare Smoke Weed? Random News for Book Lovers

I find so many little tidbits of news for book lovers each day that I simply can’t keep them all to myself.  Admittedly, some of these are more important than others, but they each caught my attention for one reason or another.

I hope you enjoy.

  • Did Shakespeare smoke weed?  Fox News reports that scientists in England are hoping to exhume the bard for DNA testing to help answer just that question.  We hope that you need some sort of permit to do such a thing.  Thanks to Mother Jones for bringing it to our attention.
  • To help celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., Barnes & Noble gives us five patriotic book recommendations.
  • Wired gives us 5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet, an account of some kinks in the system with digital eReaders.  This includes the very real difficulty of organizing books acquired from different sources, also chronicled by The Shatzkin Files.  Thanks to Literature Blog for bringing this to our attention.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle gives us 13 Things You Pay For That Your Library Has For Free, a terrific reminder on the importance of our library system.  Thanks to Room To Read for the heads up.
  • Author Ann Patchett opens her own bookstore.  Pretty courageous at a time like this.  We find it interesting that she concurs with the notion that people read more once they buy an eReader.  You can read the story here.  Thanks to A Writer’s Desk for bringing it to our attention.
  • Lastly, and I’m hoping that my wife is paying attention to this one, researchers in the U.K. have proven that people essentially go deaf while reading.  “Inattentional deafness is a common everyday experience” according to the lead researcher.  The story appears in the Daily Mail.  Thanks to Beattie’s Book Blog for bringing it to our attention.
Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO
http://www.gonereading.com/
 
P.S.  If you enjoyed this little collection of news items, 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/

8 Tips to Help You Read More

So many books, and so little time!

Serious book lovers like myself love to fantasize about being able to read more.  Literally every morning of my life I think about just blowing off the whole day and catching up on my reading.  Life in the 21st century, however, doesn’t exactly make this possible.

Some people, though, have figured out how to read a lot.  Check out this story of a full-time banking executive who reads as many as 426 books in a year.  It is possible, even with a full time job, to work more reading into our lives.

With that in mind, we’ve put together these simple tips to help you do just that:

1. Read with a Clear Head:  With so little time in our lives to read, make sure you’re mentally available to read before even starting.  If you’re still winding down from a crazy day at work and can’t concentrate, do something else.

2. Do Your Homework First:  We’ve all started a book only to discover it’s not what we expected.  Instead, make sure you know what you’re committing yourself to before starting.  The Internet is full of online book review sites.

3.  Establish Reading Rituals:  In the story above, Kulley has an established routine that includes reading an hour each morning over breakfast.  Figure out what times work best for you and schedule around them.

4.  Set Daily Reading Goals:  Take note of how many pages you read in a typical day and establish goals for yourself.  You might need one daily goal for workdays, and one for days off, but monitor your goals and stick to them.

5.  Keep Track of What You’ve Read:  Mandy from To Read, Or Not To Read suggests keeping a list of what you have read.  As your list grows it can “fuel your desire to read more.”  Websites such as GoodReads and Shelfari can aid in the process.

6.  Disconnect:  Get away from the phone and electronic devices in your life.  As with #1 above, if you’re not able to concentrate on the reading, you’re better off doing something else.

7.  Use Your Commute:  I can’t say enough about audio books.  Although not technically reading, it’s a terrific way to make use of a mundane commute.  Check out some of the audio book resources at The AudioBooks Blog.

8.  Make Reading A Priority:  If reading more is a priority for you, then you need to, well, make it a priority.  That probably means skipping out on something else.  Take an inventory of how you spend your time and see if reading can be elevated above other priorities.

Please let us know if you have other suggestions by commenting below!

P.S.  Did you enjoy this 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/

Can Our Libraries Learn From the Developing World?

In Western society we tend to think we’ve got everything figured out, at least in relation to the developing world.  When it comes to funding libraries, that’s not exactly the case.

Eager young readers spend their Saturday in this rural village library in Nepal.

It won’t surprise readers to learn that many public libraries in the United States are fighting to protect their funding.  Book lovers will want to read more about the struggle for funding here.  The article points out that the library system in the U.S. was largely created by Andrew Carnegie through his massive philanthropic investments almost 100 years ago.

Carnegie helped build the library infrastructure, but the on-going operating costs – librarian salaries, new book purchases, utilities, etc. – of these libraries has been funded through tax dollars.  The scarcity of tax dollars now threatens many of those same libraries that Carnegie helped build.

As I learned during my recent trip to India and Nepal, however, there’s a much more sustainable model for library development.  Non-profit READ Global has spent the last 20 years helping to launch dozens of self-sufficient libraries in the poorest regions of the world.  Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

READ makes a significant investment to help launch and build each library.  However, at the same time it also helps the local community launch a grassroots business, with all profits going to fund 100% of each library’s costs moving forward.  Each such enterprise provides jobs and a needed service, creating a new cycle of economic growth in these tiny villages.

My wife Eileen greets the local textile workers in the READ library in Geejgarh, India. Their work funds the local library's operating expenses.

While visiting one such library in the rural hamlet of Geejgarh, India we met the staff of a mini textile factory operated within the local library.  Incredibly, they had just signed a contract with a major retailer to manufacture 50,000 cloth bags.  All profits are used to fund the local library’s operating costs in full, often creating a surplus.

While touring such libraries in rural Nepal we rode over a bridge that was actually funded by the local library association.  Yes, READ has created such an incredible model that their local library associations are now funding major community infrastructure projects.  Amazing.

Perhaps READ’s model, successfully tested for 20+ years in dozens of libraries across three countries, can now migrate to the West.

As you might expect, GoneReading has pledged its financial support to READ.  Click here to learn more about READ, and here to buy GoneReading apparel, gifts and merchandise.

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/

True Blood Books vs. True Blood TV Show: A Bloody Debate

Don't let Eric catch you reading those Charlaine Harris books.

Book lovers aren’t going to like this one…

The new season of True Blood premieres tonight on HBO, and I’ve got to give credit to their marketing folks for stirring up a timely debate amongst fans in the article 10 Reasons Why True Blood is Better Than The Books Its Based On.  The politically-correct sentiment among literary types is that the book is always better than the movie or TV show; and I agree that it usually is.

But perhaps True Blood is that rare exception.  I have it on good authority that this article brings up some good points:  My wife has rabidly absorbed every single Sookie Stackhouse book (plus several others by Charlaine Harris) and never misses True Blood on TV.  She assures me that this is not an empty debate.

A debate, nonetheless, it is.  Share your comments below and let us know what our loyal Gone Reading fans think of the controversy.  It’s OK to pick the TV show; we’ll love you either way.

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/

Must-See Destinations for Readers – The Library of Congress

With this article we begin a new series, GoneReading‘s Must-See Destinations for Readers.  And where else to begin than the “mother ship” as I refer to it, the United States Library of Congress.

I first visited the “LC” last summer shortly after moving to the DC-area.  Although I had been to Washington dozens of times, like many people, the Library simply wasn’t top of mind.  An incredible oversight for this bibliophile.

The architectural wonder of the interior is reason-enough to visit the Library of Congress

So what is the Library of Congress anyway?  According to its website, the Library’s mission is “To support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties… ”    Which explains the tunnel between the U.S. Capital and the Library itself.  The Library was originally formed in 1800 to make sure that Congress had access to the world’s most important written knowledge.  A noble goal in any era; more notably so at a time when libraries barely existed in the U.S.

Over time the Library’s mission expanded to include “(furthering) the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.”  The Library is, above all, a massive collection of information, impressive even in the Internet era.

Why should you visit the Library of Congress?

If you love to read, you owe yourself a trip to the Mother Ship, aka The Library of Congress

  • It’s incredibly beautiful.  I’m not sure there is a building in all of Washington with a more grand, artful, ornate, palace-like  interior.  Bring your camera.
  • The exhibits.  Think of the Library as a museum for bibliophiles and book lovers.  The rotating exhibits are world-class, on par with the best of any major museum.
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Library.  After the original Library of Congress was burned in the War of 1812, Jefferson sold his personal book collection to the United States, forming the nucleus of the new Library.  His vast collection is now set aside for all to see.  If you love perusing bookshelves it simply doesn’t get any better than this.  I literally shivered to see, up close and in person, the actual volumes that Jefferson read.
  • The message it sends to your kids.  The grandeur of the Library, its vastness and beauty, sends a clear message: Reading is important, something to be cherished and valued.  While this message resounds for all, its impact on children is especially indelible.
Not to be forgotten, the Library is a working library available to all “researchers” aged 16 and up.  It does take a little advance planning, including a registration process,in order to access the collections.
And as you might expect, there is a gift shop.  I couldn’t help myself during my first visit.  And although I think the staff was as surprised as anyone, I left the Library with my very own baseball cap from the LC.  I wear it almost every weekend with proud distinction, much to my wife’s chagrin.
For visitor information on the Library of Congress, click here.

Please share your comments below…

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

On Jane Austen: “I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Damn.  That’s fighting words.  It might make you laugh, I suppose, until you realize that this quote is from none other than Mark Twain.  Which might make you laugh even harder.

Fortunately for her, Jane Austen never met Mark Twain

Fortunately for her, Jane Austen never met Mark Twain

Twain himself wasn’t exempt from such mudslinging.  William Faulkner called Twain “A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe.”

Ouch.

Such awesome insults are excerpted from The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults In History by Flavorwire.  It’s amusing, sometimes scary, proof that people weren’t always so nice back in the good-ole-days.

Check out the link for insults on your favorite authors of all time: Walt Whitman, Dante, Keats, Kipling, Faulkner, Hemingway.  No one is immune.  Even Harry Potter’s own J.K. Rowling takes a punch.

Damn is right.  Maybe GoneReading should start selling gift-sets of boxing gloves.

Please share your comments below…

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

7 Online Tools for Readers: The Websites Less-Traveled

If you love to read, you’ve undoubtedly spent much time online in the quest for ways to further enhance this timeless passion we call reading.  Whether it’s searching for a rare printed volume, investigating a hidden metaphor, or putting together your wish-list of books and related merchandise, Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

And so the GoneReading team was unanimous in its decision to start curating a list of amazing online resources for readers.  And while I admit that I’ve spent more than my share of time on Amazon, our goal is to help you find websites and tools that most readers have never heard of, the websites less-traveled, if you will.

We start with the seven listed below, but this is just the beginning.  We need your own recommendations, and those of your reader friends, to make this list truly authentic and useful.  So check out the sites listed below and leave a comment with your own recommendations.  We’ll check them out, and make the best-of-the-best available to all.

The Book Seer provides great suggestions on what to read next.

Book Recommendations

There are a gazillion book recommendation sites and blogs, so many that we’re going to devote an upcoming article to the topic.  But for starters here are two interesting options:

  • Bookseer is an automated search tool that simply asks you what you’ve just finished reading, and immediately spits out a selection of books to consider.  Nice and simple.
  • More unusual is AllReaders, which actually provides book recommendations based on the plot, setting or character of your choosing.  You can select unbelievably detailed scenarios.  Interested in crime thrillers that feature slightly humorous ninjas?  Then this is the site for you.

Book Buying & Swapping

  • If you’re buying books online and want a great site that uses the profits to support libraries and literacy (just like GoneReading) then you can’t do any better then Better World Books.  They’ll even buy your used books and pay for the shipping.  Great company and business model.
  • If you want to compare the price of a book between online sellers then check out AddAll.  For used and out of print books click here.
  • Want to swap books with other readers for free?  Try BookIns.

Audio Books

If you really want more learning and literature in your life but don’t have time to sit down and read, we can’t say enough about audio books.  Turn that long commute into the most enjoyable part of your day by checking out the following:

  • LibriVox offers an incredible selection of free audio books.
  • I’ve become a huge fan of The Great Courses in recent years.  While the courses aren’t exactly cheap, they offer a tremendous range of original material from the best professors in the world.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their courses on topics as disparate as economics and classical mythology.

So that’s the short list.  Please share your comments below…

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