Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday tidbits: Surveys, World Book Day

Good ol' Max Magee at the Millions has a bit about American reading habits surveys; a new one from polling firm Harris has found that ninety percent of Americans read at least one book last year, and over a third of those polled read 10 books or more. I'd be tempted to crow triumphantly about these numbers, but at this point it seems every survey on reading habits comes to totally different conclusions, so what do they really mean? As Max asks, "Can anything be made of these surveys other than that they are a little silly?" Still it means the nay-sayers are no more right than anybody else...

(Note to self: beware of developing a catchphrase for those you disagree with. Snarks and nay-sayers may come to have the same knee-jerk resonance as feminazis or the liberal media. As I tend to mistrust anyone who uses the phrase "those people", I may need to acknowledge that there are many of diverse opinions who do not always share my own knee-jerk optimism, and that they can hardly be lumped under one category description. Apologies for my previous use of blanket terms.)

On a totally unrelated note... Toby at Three Lives was the first to introduce me to the concept of Book and Lovers Day, April 23 -- the traditional birthdate of both Cervantes and Shakespeare, and the feast day of St. George, which is celebrated with gifts of books and flowers in Barcelona. Some bookstores (notably Tattered Cover) have embraced this bookish sort-of-holiday with flower giveaways with book purchases, and the date has also been codified as World Book and Copyright Day or just World Book Day.

It took me a minute to make the connection to this event. I found out about it in one of those random emails from an organization you don't know that you usually tend to delete, but something caught my eye. And though it means no sales whatsoever for bookstores, I think I'm in love with this idea, copied verbatim from the email:

WORLD BOOK PARTY, Wednesday, April 23, 5-8 pm, Washington Square Park.

No readings by famous authors. No corporate sponsorship. No mega-stores making a buck. No registration or reservations.

Just one reader giving a favorite book to another reader.

Show up with a book to give to someone. You can coordinate with a friend, and swap books. Or you can bring a book to give someone you don't know.

Please pass this along, and reserve April 23, 2008, 5-8 pm for the World Book Party. At the southwest corner of Washington Square Park (corner of Washington Square South and McDougal Street, one block from West 4th Street subway stop).

Everyone is welcome---and it's free.

For more information, see or email

So, if you're in New York, mark your calendars for a truly Quixotic book experience.

Anyone know of any other plans to celebrate World Book Day?