Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Readers & Libraries

Readers and Libraries

Image Courtesy of Holger Dieterich ~

About a year ago, I made this statement:

“The reader is more important than the writer; but, books should never be written just for the reader—authentic writing is a must; yet, without the reader, the writing is unfruitful…”

I saw the following quote from Roberto Bolaño in an article called Good Readers Are Rarer than Good Writers in The Irish Times:

“Reading is more important than writing.”

Here are a few excerpts from that article (written by Martina Evans):

“Before creative-writing classes existed, writers began by being readers. I don’t think things have changed that much.”

“Flaubert remarked, in a letter to the poet Louise Colet, ‘What a scholar one might be if one knew well only some half a dozen books.’”

“…in 2014, I got the opportunity to join the Royal Literary Fund’s Reading Round scheme….to set up reading groups that would teach participants to read like writers, to read deeply, to read the classics.”

“Every week I bring copies of one story and one poem to the group, where it is read aloud and then discussed. Everyone focuses on the texts, and there are no distractions. We don’t judge the texts but learn from them. It’s okay to wonder about the meaning. There is no wrong or right answer. No one considers him- or herself an expert; humility is encouraged.”

The Reading Round sounds like a great library event, I say, as I segue into an article from The New York TimesReinventing the Library, by Alberto Manguel, (sent to me by a friend who’s a librarian) from which I share the following excerpts:

“…as one of history’s most distinguished ghosts, the Library of Alexandria became the archetype of all libraries.”

“Libraries come in countless shapes and sizes. They can be like the Library of Congress or as modest as that of the children’s concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the older girls were in charge of eight volumes that had to be hidden every night so that the Nazi guards wouldn’t confiscate them. They can be built from books found in the garbage, like the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., set up in 1980 by the 24-year-old Aaron Lansky from volumes discarded by the younger generations who no longer spoke the tongue of their elders, or they can be catalogued in the mind of their exiled readers, in the hope of resurrection, like the libraries plundered by the Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories of Palestine.”

“It is in the nature of libraries to adapt to changing circumstances and threats, and all libraries exist in constant danger of being destroyed by war, vermin, fire, water or the idiocies of bureaucracy.”

“But today, the principal danger facing libraries comes not from threats like these but from ill-considered changes that may cause libraries to lose their defining triple role: as preservers of the memory of our society, as providers of the accounts of our experience and the tools to navigate them — and as symbols of our identity.”

Lovers of libraries will take the link and read all that Manguel has to say

Lately, I don’t get out much—doing research for my next book—but, as a child and youth and for a chunk of my young adulthood, I Lived in libraries—and, when I do go out, I carry 300 of my books with me on my Fire HDX Tablet, which is in my backpack that has, among other needful things, four Very Important paper books

So, would you share, in the comments, your thoughts or feelings about Readers being more important than Writers?
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3 responses to “Readers & Libraries

  1. skrizzolo October 27, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I enjoyed your post this morning. The article in The Irish Times–I lived that experience as a teacher of literature for many years. It’s a shame that this model of learning has been undermined by “21st-century education.” The same is true in regard to libraries, which are under siege in schools and elsewhere. Books discarded, budgets shrinking, machines triumphant.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai October 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Yes, skrizzolo, all this is true, for now

    I feel very strongly that the future will see more readers demanding more books—books that challenge and enlighten; and, that our libraries will again be loved and teach those readers to love reading………

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: In Praise of #Libraries | Notes from An Alien

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