Tag Archives: education

Avid readers’ ways of operating and more

A short collection of items for your perusal and enjoyment:

• How do avid readers find their next book? At So Many Books, Stefanie wrote about an academic study that confirms much of what we readers know about ourselves. Oh, and it says we learn through recreational reading. Yes, we knew that too, didn’t we? 🙂 Post found via Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books.

• Via today’s Shelf Awareness: A book club for adults with intellectual disabilities. Books for Dessert. So cool. It’s expanding, too. Oh, and there’s a similar program started at Ohio State University, Next Chapter Book Club. This makes me happy.

• In Ravenna, Ohio, [NPR, where I found the story, inexplicably got the town and state wrong?] Reed Memorial Library will let you check out a cake pan. They have more than 300 pans in inventory. They found the story (part of a “viral” segment) at Pop Goes the Library. Apparently other libraries do this too, now. I think I might have to add this blog to my feed reader.

• Also on NPR on Saturday morning, was a story about Norman Mailer’s book editor, at least I think so. But I can’t find it, to listen to it (I was just told about it, after the fact.). Can anyone point me in the direction of this archive?

Word: trow

The last few chapters of the book I’m reading now have been laden with a verb I had to look up.

Trow: to believe, think, or suppose.

I guess I don’t feel too bad about not knowing beforehand, since it’s apparently archaic. It fits well in this book, though: It’s set in the Middle Ages. It’s a really good book — I just got into it this weekend really — but I’ll leave that for another time.

I do think that writing a word, and definition, help me remember it.

How to spell or, word pet peeve

This website made me laugh. 🙂

It would seem that someone has such a strong aversion to definitely being misspelled that he or she created an entire, albeit simple, website dedicated to educating people about how definitely should be spelled.

My first thought: Who would spend the money and energy to set up such a site?

Regardless of that, however, some of you may find the site a useful tool when a friend seems to consistently stumble over the word.

Hope it gives you a laugh, too.

Released today: The Translator

From Shelf Awareness:

Book Review: The Translator

The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari (Random House, $23, 9781400067442/1400067448/, March 18, 2008)

Daoud Hari’s wrenching memoir, The Translator, is graceful, honest, spare and restrained, with occasional flashes of helpless rage. The narrator’s irrepressible sense of humor and bottomless compassion make what could have been a gallery of horrors into a vibrant crucible for the human spirit. Hari is the native guide who led Western film crews, including the BBC, into the genocide of Darfur, and he’s such a generous, well-meaning, good-natured guy that you willingly go with him into the heart of darkness. He wins over everyone he meets–well, except for his government torturers.

In the face of the appalling, unspeakable evil sweeping down on his family and his homeland, Hari notices the unexpected flares of goodness and the dignity of people bravely suffering and facing death in a country with no doctors. His compassion extends to the enemy as well, who is often nothing more than scared 14-year-old boys with big guns.

The book certainly contains a few eye-popping horrors, though never unnecessarily, and if the occasional violent image is nightmarish, it’s because Hari is a haunted man simply sharing his ghosts with you. He’s also a delightful narrator, with his love of camels (he thinks they’re beautiful) and his fear of crossing over water.

As far as sheer writing goes, Dr. John and Ali, the two men who accompany Daoud on the final third of the memoir, are as sharply defined as any characters in a good novel, and their battering odyssey together cancelled all my plans, since I was unable to leave my armchair during the final nail-biting 70 pages.

It’s taken me several days to recover from the book. As a writer and as a man, Daoud Hari is my personal hero. No one can tell you what is happening in Darfur better than he can.—Nick DiMartino

Sounds like quite a book. A bit different than the recent memoirs news, eh? Hopefully an effective tool to communicate the true situation in Darfur. Maybe soon leaders will begin taking action.

Edit: The book is available at Amazon, among others.

Nightbird books

A local independent book store is featured extensively in today’s Shelf Awareness.

On March 26, husband-and-wife writing duo Jon and Pamela Voelkel will participate in Nightbird‘s monthly book club for middle grade students. In addition, store owner Lisa Sharp has arranged for them to speak at three local schools. Parents and teachers have been purchasing copies of Middleworld, the first volume of a trilogy, since flyers touting the events were sent out.

Nightbird Books has been open about two years now, and Sharp says she’s planning to continue. The bookstore is part of Book Sense, a sort of family of and “joint marketing campaign” for independent bookstores.

This part sounds exciting:

Later this month, Sharp is launching a discussion group for Fayetteville retailers and others interested in supporting independent businesses. The first selection is Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, and after reading the book the goal is for participants to come up with strategies “that can be implemented in our own community,” Sharp said, “and eventually have it turn into a shop local program.”

She said the store’s bestseller list is highly influenced by its events.

Ooh, Nightbird is also holding a contest this month inspired by Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. “Entrants are creating their own six-word autobiographies, and the winner will receive a $30 Nightbird Books gift card. The contest has landed the book (which Sharp noted is currently backordered) in the No. 2 position in its second week on the list.” Middleworld is No. 1. Not Quite What I Was Planning is also apparently being used in high school classrooms.

I’ve heard about people doing this before now — writing their own six-word autobiographies — but I haven’t tried my hand at it yet. What would yours say?

Quick Reads

Via Shelf Awareness:

Quick Reads, a program designed for adults with literacy problems “is improving reading and boosting self-esteem,” according to the Guardian. Nine out of 10 of the people who have read the compact titles “told researchers their reading has improved and they feel better about themselves.”

A partnership “between publishers, booksellers, the government, and a range of bodies including the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) and the Trades Union Congress,” Quick Reads was launched two years ago. The 10 titles available “include books by bestselling fiction writers Adele Parks, Josephine Cox and Chris Ryan, and autobiographical accounts of winning out against the odds by the rugby player Scott Quinnell, the athlete Colin Jackson, and the master chef Gordon Ramsay.”

The books, generally written in the 20,000-word range, “are supposed to consist largely of one- and two-syllable words, short sentences and brief paragraphs. A new “batch of bite-sized books” will be released on World Book Day this Thursday.

[Editors’ note: sorry for not summing this up more quickly.]

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic idea. It’s great to see people from different parts of the industry working together to improve literacy for adults. I’ve heard that one of the big obstacles of teaching adults to read is that there’s so little available reading material that’s age appropriate and at a approachable reading level. This would certainly seem to fix that problem.

I’m just saddened that this is (apparently) only assisting the UK — I checked the site for store locations as well as plugging titles into Amazon — and the books aren’t available in the United States.

If segments of the industry can come together to help people learn to read, why can’t people come together across an ocean for the same cause?

‘Vendors of words’

I’ve just barely begun Malcolm Muggeridge’s autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time, and I made myself set it down. I needed to write this down before I moved on, since by moving on I would have greatly increased the chance this would never get recorded.

The writing is fabulous. It gives me hope: He was a journalist by training and vocation, but his prose is nevertheless deep.

Although I am a journalist by training and (former) trade, I realized before I finished my bachelor’s that it wasn’t the field for me. Still, having worked in the field, there are a few aspects of journalism that resonate with the core of who I am. Muggeridge states this one better than I ever have:

My years of journalism have, in any case, inculcated in my a strong and, as I consider, on the whole salutory resistance to rereading or reconsidering anything done earlier than yesterday. With a few special exceptions, I have had no wish to renew acquaintance with my past writings, whether published or unpublished. Even when they have been reissued, I have not cared to revise them, or, if the truth be told, read them. That mysterious saying Let the dead bury their dead applies, as far as I am concerned, with particular force to words, which exist like insects in the tropics, buzzing briefly round a hurricane lamp and then piling up in dead heaps on the ground.

I have felt this way about my own writing for as long as I can recall having an opinion on the matter. Certainly I haven’t reached a point in my life when my writings are being reissued, but the idea still holds. I know working journalists who do not act in this way, but I have trouble understanding that course of action.

Note: The title of this post also, as you could probably guess, came from the book. The first sentence of the first chapter begins like this: “We communicators — vendors of words to use St. Augustine’s expression …” Such grand terminology!

A link to the Malcolm Muggeridge Society.

Your vocabulary helps feed the hungry

If you haven’t yet spent a few minutes (or a few hours!) on FreeRice, you’re missing out. This site launched in October, and it’s growing like gangbusters (where did that word come from?). It’s fun, too — test and strengthen your vocabulary while “helping end world hunger.” What could be better?At one point my vocab level reached 46, for what it’s worth.