What do you think of, what picture comes to mind, when you hear the word “librarian”? A spinster (to use a quaint term, as outmoded as this mental picture), tending dusty books in a musty library? Or perhaps, more specifically, Marian the librarian, of THE MUSIC MAN fame?
We live in the “land of the free,” as our national anthem tells us, and that includes freedom to read whatever we please. While there are still groups that successfully petition to have certain books removed from library shelves or schools, there is no overarching governmental entity decreeing that certain books may not be read at all.
Can books lead to world peace, or simply peace in our country? Can they put an end to school shootings, Pittsburgh-style atrocities, 9/11s, and overseas genocide? Well, they can’t put a total end to war or domestic violence. The world will always have troublemakers, agitators, and those who are, to put it nicely, off balance. But I bet the ordinary individuals who are swayed to follow the agitators could also be swayed in the opposite direction by books. Not just books describing and railing against the atrocities of war or books preaching respect for others—those, too—but also books about people of different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and different religions. I bet the SOB who killed those Jewish people in the Pittsburgh synagogue had never read the Diary of Anne Frank.
I “prescribe” a school reading program in which the students are exposed to age-appropriate books about people from varying backgrounds: people of color, Native Americans, foreigners, rich and poor…all varieties. And students should also be required to read about people of differing religions: Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim at minimum, and maybe Hindu and Buddhist, too. For those students old enough, Anne Frank should definitely be on their reading list.
It’s not that I’m naïve enough to believe that just by requiring diverse reading at a young age we can put a total end to all hostility. But if we can just dial it down by half, or maybe three-quarters, that would be a wonderful start!
Today is Halloween. You know what REALLY scares me? It’s not the ghosties and ghoulies afoot today and tonight, nor the fake cobwebs draped in my chiropractor’s office, nor the spectre of running out of candy early in the evening–actually we don’t get ANY trick-or-treaters in this 55-and-older community. What really scares me is the thought that we are raising another generation of non-readers.
The Millennials are not big readers, and the kids of today seem to be following in their footsteps to a large extent.
Yes, there are exceptions–kids who still haunt (to use a word appropriate to today’s holiday) libraries. And yes, manga is popular with some, and I am not among those who frown on manga because they aren’t “real books.” But how many of today’s kids are putting books on their Christmas wish lists?
And how many young adults are planning to spend their Christmas cash gifts, work bonuses, and other newfound moolah on readables?
It would be a sad thing indeed if people in the main stopped reading–and sad not just for us authors but for society and civilization in general.
I’ll tell you what: We’re on the cusp of November, which for many authors and would-be authors (although I’m not a participant myself) is “NaNoWriMo”—National Novel Writing Month—during which 30 days they are challenged to start and complete writing an entire long book.
Suppose I challenge everyone reading this post to READ (at least) one whole book–and not a comic book or anything super-short–this month, and if they have kids old enough to read and young enough to still live with you, to ensure that these kids also read (at least) one age-appropriate book this month, NOT COUNTING SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS.
Let’s get America reading again!
I’ve written in this space before about the problem of having too many books, when storage becomes an issue, and good ways to find new homes for them.
Today I’ll discuss an idea for a related problem: How to dispose of books you no longer want, not because you have no room for them but simply because they didn’t meet your expectations or because, having read them once, you have no need or desire to read them again.
We just celebrated Banned Books Week last week—if “celebrated” is the appropriate word to use when discussing books that have been removed, or requested to be removed, from libraries, schools, bookstores, and other venues.
Not everyone who writes is an author. You don’t have to be an author, a graduate of journalism school, or have other “authentication” conferred on you to validate your writing…and your “writing” doesn’t necessarily have to be written. Surely you have heard of “the oral tradition”—TELLING stories.
So it looks like I’m starting two new ghostwriting projects. One is pure ghosting. It’s nonfiction, motivational, and I’m to structure the book from notes to be provided to me by the nominal author. The other is more of a co-writing gig, but I’m to be uncredited, so therefore it’s still ghosting. This book is also nonfiction, but this one’s religious in content.
Very few book authors write nothing but books all day every day. Leaving aside the necessity of submissions of unpublished manuscripts, publicizing published books, and all the other requisite miscellany in an author’s professional life, most book authors do other types of writing as well. Continue Reading
As you may already know, the title of this week’s blpgpost, “Noms de Plume,” is the French for “pen names,” not so often used now as the English term, but once very common, as was the practice of using pen names. They are also called “pseudonyms”: false names.
You may wonder, quite understandably, why any author would want to hide her/his light under a bushel—or under a faux byline. Actually there are many reasons, some of them quite good.