Saturday, May 30, 2015

Why You Should be Reading Right Now!

Don’t take my word for it but reading is one of the most important activities you can do to improve your health, finances and relationships.

 Research shows us the reading should be an activity you start when you are young. Reading for 20 minutes a day will translate into an increase in vocabulary of over a million words per year. If you read less than 5 minutes a day, 50% of the population will read better than you do. Just saying, you don’t have to take my word for it.

Studies also confirm that reading for pleasure continues to grow your vocabulary as you age. You know, I didn’t say it and you don’t have to take my word for it.

Survey says that reading independently “massively influences every aspect of our thinking.” It leads to growth in vocabulary and mathematics and “corresponds positively with ultimate positive success.” Teens who read engage in “deep intellectual and psychological exploration” in books they choose for themselves. Those are the findings of the experts so you know that you don’t have to take my word for it.

Achieving employment success is important for so many reasons and Oxford University says that reading as a teenager increases the chances of achieving a professional or managerial position by 14% for women and 10% for men. That’s from Oxford University so you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Canada’s National Reading Campaign, a professional reading advocacy group, thinks that Readers Save the World. Based on their research, readers have better health, greater empathy and more resilient mental health. They are a national think-tank devoted to this stuff so you don’t have to take my word for it.

Reading reduces stress 68% more than listening to music, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea, 300% more than running and 600% more than playing videogames. Stress can impact your health and take years off your life, thank goodness you don’t have to take my word for it.

 In a 2008 British study, readers were more likely to own their own home, less likely to divorce, less likely to drink or smoke. Readers were more likely to experience good mental health, use a computer while at work and more likely to vote. I’m a bit worried about the by-election in Mississauga with only 21% voter turnout, I guess they did not take my word for it.

Reading is not only good for you, it helps to support healthy communities in which you live. Readers are 16% more likely to donate goods or money to charitable causes. Volunteers comprise 17% more readers than non-readers. Those who benefit from donations and the work of volunteers can tell you how that impacts their lives, you certainly don’t have to take my word for it.

Societies enjoying a high level of empathy between its members are inherently safer and more enjoyable to live in. Toronto-based researchers have found a strong correlation between reading fiction and understanding those who are different than ourselves increasing our capacity for empathy. I’ve met these researchers and they are pretty smart so I am glad you don’t have to take my word for it.

As readers have lived many lives in the books they have read, they are better able to deal with real humans in their social relationships. Readers are shown to be more understanding of their partners and better able to participate in a romantic relationship. This ain’t just the ramblings of a romance novelist but a University of California study so you don’t have to take my word for it.

I am glad to hear that 82% of Canadians read for pleasure daily. Maybe you aren’t impressed but I consider it job security – you know. . . Before you make assumptions about who you think is spending their time reading, the National Reading Campaign’s research suggests the family income does not determine the amount of reading done in a home. They haven’t taken anyone else’s word for it and neither do you.

 Highest in urban areas, nearly 50% of the Canadian population has visited a library in the past year. Libraries continue to play an essential role in supporting employment, health and social relationships in our communities by offering reading materials to our readers. I only work here, so do you – it would be a conflict of interest if you just took our word for it.

Research suggests that reading is good for you. My mom read my first book within days of my birth, I visited libraries throughout my childhood and I’ve read hundreds of books. You might consider me somewhat successful and you might ask me why I am where I am. I am here because of Peter Rabbit, Jo March, Jane Eyre and Clara Callan. I’m here because I read cereal boxes, newspaper articles, MAD magazine and bus schedules. I’m here because my parents bought me books, took me to the library, helped me in school and let me pursue an education. I’m here because I read all these studies and completed a great presentation for you fine folks. Maybe you don’t believe me but I am just going to say that you can take me at my word!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Maps and Books

There is an interesting trend lately to incorporate information on the settings of books into maps.
The Toronto Public Library has its neighbourhood book lists.  Here, it also lets you go to specific neighbourhoods and see the list for that area. They even offer a process for readers to contact the library to suggest additional titles to add to the map.

Map of Book Lists by Neighbourhood

They also recently launched their Toronto Poetry Map created with the city's 4th poet laureate George Elliott Clarke, They also include a way to suggest other poems to include.

In the UK,  recently created a world-wide book map mashup, featuring titles from all over. Their list is sparse as yet (only 4 titles in Canada, 2 in Australia, and 2 in South America), and not always quite correctly placed geographically, but it is a start and will hopefully grow. Better access to the zoom feature would also be helpful. They do offer a handy "Submit New Book" button.

Brick Books does a worldwide poetry map that includes interesting symbols.

I'm sure there are others out there, and we'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Early Word

Fiction selectors should be quite familiar with Early Word, a blog for everything new from the publishing industry.  Nora Rawlinson is co-founder and editor of the blog and she has extensive experience in selection and editing major journals that aid in selection.  As the information on the website indicates, "EarlyWord is an outgrowth of her belief that the more libraries understand about publishing, the better they can be as selectors and readers advisors."

Early Word is a unique and invaluable resource for those who serve customers in the public library setting.  Rawlinson and her team have their finger on the pulse of all major news outlets and other sources for reading suggestions.  This blog makes it so easy for staff to remain apprised of what your customers are seeing in magazines or on television.  For selectors, this makes the process of determining the next new "hot" book much easier.  

For readers' advisors, this site is a wealth of information on the latest and greatest of fiction and non-fiction.  The blog includes reviews and sources for readers' to review.  The reviews are minimal in length and the site is logically organized to make it easy to locate the books a reader is interested in. Early word is a great place to start to find your next great read!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Smart Bitches. . .

In the quest to lean about all things romance, this blog became quite well known to me over the past few months -

My co-worker first brought it to my attention as we have seen a huge up-tick in the circulation of bodice-rippers in electronic format.  My co-worker is the head of selection and says that if it has a duke or lord in the title, it is going to be big with readers.  These books are far less modest that they were even 5 years ago, combining a historical context with the eroticism of "Fifty Shades of Grey." Erotic romances are also quite popular and sure-fire bets when it comes to circulation.

While popular, these books are eschewed by library journals who favour literary and award-winning works.  Good smut is hard to find!  Enter the writers for this blog, who have actually been slaving away for ten years to bring romance content to those involved in readers' advisory.  Sarah Wendell maintains her position as co-creator and she has authored a few books on the topic.

The blog features reviews and alerts for items which sit clearly in the romance genre.  There are few sites that focus exclusively on this genre and provide information for library staff and readers' advisors.  As a selector, it is a useful tool to identify what may be flying under the radar of the library journals but what readers are clamouring to get their hands on.