Thursday, April 25, 2013

Most Well Read Cities and Other Stuff

 Well, bibliophiles, it appears that Amazon has a thing for Florida in this year's Well Read City race, because 5 major cities in Florida are represented on their list. Why is beyond me, as when I lived in Florida, it was more of a vacation spot where people didn't spend a lot of time reading, but did spend time drinking, carousing, laying out on the beach and getting into car accidents. There is a reason people call Miami "Gods Waiting Room" (sometimes they call all of Florida that), because there are so many retirees down there just putzing around, waiting to die. They always get in accidents with the kids who fly down for spring break and drive drunk or stoned. Though there were some great bookstores that I frequented when I lived there, "Wilsons Bookworld" among them, I always felt that I was in the minority of people who actually collected books and read a lot for pleasure. I didn't even have a TV set for the first two years that I lived there. Yet where I live now, in Seattle, bookish people abound. Somehow we ended up as 13 on the list, however, which makes me wonder if Amazon cooked the books a bit in their hometown.

Amazon's 'Most Well-Read Cities' in U.S.
For the second straight year, Alexandria, Va. topped Amazon's list of
the "Most Well-Read Cities in America," which is compiled from sales
data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle
format since June 1, 2012, on a per capita basis in cities with more
than 100,000 residents. This year's top 20 are:

1. Alexandria, Va.

11. St. Louis, Mo.

2. Knoxville, Tenn.

12. Salt Lake City, Utah

3. Miami, Fla.

13. Seattle, Wash.

4. Cambridge, Mass.

14. Vancouver, Wash.

5. Orlando, Fla.

15. Gainesville, Fla.

6. Ann Arbor, Mich.

16. Atlanta, Ga.

7. Berkeley, Calif.

17. Dayton, Ohio

8. Cincinnati, Ohio

18. Richmond, Va.

9. Columbia, S.C.

19. Clearwater, Fla.

10. Pittsburgh, Pa.

20. Tallahassee, Fla.
This week we lost a wonderful author, ELK, who wrote "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler" a favorite book of mine when I was 12 years old. Here's a fitting tribute to her genius.

To E.L. Konigsburg

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg, two-time Newbery Medalist--in 1968 for From the
Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and again in 1997 for The
View from Saturday--died on Friday, April 19, at the age of 83.

Is the Metropolitan Museum of Art the place
to which you wanted to run when you were a child?
How well you embodied the yearnings of young Claudia
as she stole away to a place of comfort.
You captured a New York in which children
could walk 40 blocks from the Met
to the main branch of the New York Public Library
in search of answers,
and then to the Donnell--
then devoted to children, and now closed.

How did it feel
to be one of the elite handful
who has won two Newbery Medals,
for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 1968,
and in 1997 for The View from Saturday?
And the only author to win a Newbery Medal and Honor
in the same year--1968 (the Newbery Honor went to
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth)
for your first two novels?

At a luncheon for Silent to the Bone
you spoke of the connection between Branwell's muteness
and "ma," the Japanese term for what we call "negative space."
Ma suggests a simultaneous awareness of form and non-form
resulting in an intensification of vision.
"Negative space" omits the idea of holding both
form and non-form at once.
Even though you are no longer with us,
your words, your awareness, your insights
into human nature remain.
You've made art, language, and life richer.
--Jennifer M. Brown 

Also, though I don't generally read his work, I think that Mr Patterson is spot on with this query...who WILL save our books, a most precious resource?
James Patterson: 'Who Will Save Our Books, Bookstores, Libraries?'
On the back cover of yesterday's New York Times Book Review, author
James Patterson took out a striking full-page ad that reads in part,
"The Federal Government has stepped in to save banks, and the automobile
industry, but where are they on the important subject of books? Or, if
the answer is state and local government, where are they? Is any state
doing anything? Why are there no impassioned editorials in influential
newspapers or magazines? Who will save our books? Our libraries? Our

He also listed 38 titles ranging from All the President's Men and To
Kill a Mockingbird to A Fan's Notes and Maus, saying, "If there are no
bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate,
dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who
will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important
books? What will happen if there are no more books like these?"

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