Could Vandalizng Books Make You a More Authentic Reader?

Written by Caitlin Smith

Earlier this month, Georgia Grainger, an employee of Dundee, Scotland’s Charleston Library, found herself in the middle of a literary mystery. A patron came to her with an odd question: why did all of the seventh pages in the books she had been checking out have the seven underlined? Turns out the answer is pretty simple: elderly library patrons keep track of the books they’ve read with small markings, so they don’t wind up with the same book a second time.

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The Economics and Humanity of Instagram Poetry

Written by Caitlin Smith

Love her or hate, her, Rupi Kaur’s impact on the poetry world is undeniable. When first starting out, Kaur only posted to her Instagram account, but now has two published books under her belt: Milk and Honey (2015) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017). Her poetry has sparked controversy among literary critics and everyday readers alike. One Buzzfeed article even claimed that her poetry, which aims to shed light upon South Asian issues, feels “disingenuous.” That hasn’t stopped her second book from selling over 600,000 copies, though.

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Print Sales and Indie Bookstore Patronage Are up and That’s Better News Than You Think

Written by Caitlin Smith

According to Publishers Weekly, sales of print books are up 1.9% from 2016 to 2017. On the surface, and, unless you happen to be into economics, that number is just that: a number. I certainly don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the open market, but when you combine this with the fact that indie bookshops have reported similar growth—gains of 2.6% from 2016 to 2017—the story gets more interesting.

Americans are taking a stand against ignorance and corporate greed through books.

Fundamentally, books open you up to points of view and situations that you’re unlikely to encounter in your day-to-day life. We read to explore the unknown. Typically, we learn from that unknown and emerge as better, well-rounded people. Whether you’re reading The Hate U Give, a New York Times best-seller by Angie Thomas, or Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical, the experience broadens your horizons; something will stick with you after the book is closed and returned to the shelf.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne Doesn’t Want You To Be A Perfectionist, But You Probably Are And That’s Okay

Written by Caitlin Smith

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” is an 1843 short story that primarily deals with issues of perfection and self image. With today’s perfection-seeking culture, where we tailor our lives to fit societal expectations on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, this story is especially relevant. It follows Aylmer, a scientist dabbling in alchemy, as he tries to remove a birthmark from his wife’s cheek. He is the only one who sees a flaw in her, and his overzealous attempts at perfecting her lead to her death.

In classroom discussion, I noticed that everyone seemed to be condemning Aylmer with ease, but this passage from the end of the story gave me pause:

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Audible Turns 20!

Written by Caitlin Smith

Audible, everyone’s favorite audiobook service, is celebrating its 20th birthday this month. Beginning their operation in 1997, Audible has grown considerably since the initial launch. According to their Twitter, the very first download they offered in the 90s was the bestselling Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray. Thankfully, the audiobook emporium now boasts upwards of 200,000 selections, so listeners aren’t confined to vaguely misogynistic self-help books—though they do have 35,679 other selections in that same genre, if you’re feeling the need for some self-improvement before the holidays.

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