Tag Archives: reading

How Can Reading Help a New Country?

How can reading help a new nation? Photo courtesy of UNESCO/E.Abramson

A very rare thing will happen today: A new nation will be born as Southern Sudan secedes from war-torn Sudan.  The poverty and living conditions of the region are difficult for those in the developed world to comprehend.  A recent study by the United Nations indicates that South Sudan has the lowest primary school enrollment in the world.  Only 8% of the new nation’s women are literate, and teenage girls are more likely to die giving birth than to finish school.

Unbelievable.

According to the World Education Blog, UNESCO and the UK Department for International Development are targeting education as the keystone to building a new future for South Sudan.  The story indicates that schools and school children were the deliberate target of attacks throughout the war in Sudan; officials hope that a focus on education is the best route to undoing the damage.

I agree.  An educated, reading populace is the best route to building a flourishing, stable state for the long-term.  An informed public, one that reads history and learns from the struggles of its predecessors, is best situated to avoid the pitfalls of new-nation status.

I will leave the particulars of exactly how to build an education system within South Sudan to the development experts.  However, GoneReading is committed to its mission of funding library construction and literacy programs in the developing world.  We’re a start-up organization ourselves, but in the long-run we hope to play a prominent role in the rebuilding of South Sudan.  Non-profits seeking funding for such work should email us at libraryfunding@gonereading.com.

I would like to know your thoughts.  How can reading help a new country?  Join the conversation by commenting below.

Feel free to read more on the situation in South Sudan.

Sincerely,

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!

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!


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

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!

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/
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