If you Could Build a Library

A little late today because I decided to sleep last night rather than write a post. And then this afternoon I wanted to talk to the girlfriend instead of write this. Eh.

But I was thinking about where I might build ¬†library if I had the chance to do so. Not a Little Free Library, a free standing private library. What I’ve decided is pretty simple and straightforward. I’d look at the city of Houston and identify as many as 10 areas that lack a library altogether or have one in need of financial support. Then I’d research for a year to determine the specific location. I’d cater the events and inventory to the people in the surrounding community.

The library would have ultra high speed internet and typewriters for use. And the entire staff (as much as possible) would live within five miles of the branch. Why? Because they’d have a vested interest in helping as many people as possible. It wouldn’t just be an “easy” job for them.

Lastly, friends of the library sales wouldn’t be operated the same as other libraries. Paperbacks would be the standard $0.25 each and hardcovers would be $0.50, but only once a customer has already gotten 10 books free of charge. Because if the money is there to finance the day-to-day operations of the library, then there is no reason to charge everyone for books that have been read dozens of times.

I’d also name the library after someone who has a history of promoting literacy and reading. I wouldn’t name it after the city or after myself. The name would be one synonymous with books.

Where would you build your library if you could?

Advertisements

My Year: 2015

I’d initially wanted to write a series of posts this week discussing my favorite things from different categories, but now I’m just going to write one review for everything. Even though I know everyone else already has. But eh. Let’s get started.

Blogging

At the start of 2015 I set some pretty ridiculous goals for the blog that I thought were attainable. They were, but I missed the mark. Here are some side-by-side stats comparing 2014 to 2015.

Posts

282 (2014) – 363 (2015)

Views

30,102 (2014) – 33,469 (2015)

Visitors

12,195 (2014) – 17,097 (2015)

Likes

5,302 (2014) – 8,386 (2015)

Comments

10,159 (2014) – 9,685 (2015)

I’m sure some might look at the numbers and think of how great the year was. It wasn’t. It was okay. About a thousand new followers and it didn’t translate into anything meaningful. No surge in views, comments, or much of anything. But it’s fine. Maybe my content was to blame. I don’t know.

But my original goals for the year were to reach 40,000 site views, to reach 5,000 followers, and to post 25 poems. I didn’t achieve any of those goals. So I won’t set any goals for the blog in 2016. Because it can only be as good as I can make it. And that’s it.

The top three posts published in 2015 were:

Ursula Le Guin is Clueless

Little Free Libraries Have Come Under Fire

On False Claims From Bloggers

Social Media

I’ve all but stopped using other social media. My Facebook app has been deleted but there’s something wrong with my phone and it randomly restarts and re-downloads the app. Not even kidding. I rarely use Twitter. My blog posts go there automatically, but I just don’t tweet hardly at all. I’ve only recently really started using my Instagram account a bit more. But I see people posting multiple terrible photos a day and I’m just baffled. Eh.

Reading

Y’all already know I only read 10 books in 2015. There’s nothing satisfying about that number. I did manage to read some good books, including the best book I’ve ever read. But this has got to stop. From 2010-2012 I read a total of 106 books. Which is nothing compared to some people on WordPress, but at least it’s something. From 2013-2015 I read a total of 32 books. It’s just stupid. What the hell am I even doing? *slaps myself*

BookTube

I know my channel has something like 16 subscribers, but this is probably what I’m most excited about in 2016. Because I’ll be making videos for two different things going on. I’ll still be reading from Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read list, which means videos for each one of those. And I’ll also be making videos for every book I read from my challenge. The first will be coming tomorrow for¬†The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I finished last night. So if you’re still working on your first book of the year and you’re doing my challenge, you’re officially in the rear view mirror! I WILL set a goal for my channel in 2016. 25 videos. Easy enough. I released seven videos on my channel in 2015. My most viewed was my first video, An Intro to Johnny Reads!. It was also my shortest in length. Welp.

Hometown Teams

What a year for Houston sports. The Rockets had one of the most improbable playoff series wins in history by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the LA Clippers and reaching the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years. The Astros continued their improvement by snagging a playoff spot and having the eventual World Series champions within six outs of elimination. And the Texans just won their third division title in team history. Playoff game this Saturday! Everyone jokes at work that I don’t know anything except sports and books. Not that far from the truth.

Half Price Books

In August I started working at Half Price Books. It”s been great from day one. The people are great to work with and be around (even if they poke fun sometimes) and I’m literally paid to work in a bookstore. Heaven does exist! It’s already been five months and I’m still loving every single day there.

Trip of a Lifetime

My first. I’ve been saving as much of my little bit of money as I can. And I’m rewarding myself by taking the first trip of my life. I’ve been to Disney World. I’ve been to Michigan. But Disney World happened in the 90s and Michigan wasn’t a vacation type trip. But I’ll finally get to experience what it’s like to really travel. And I’ll be able to see the capital city of my country. I think during those four days I’ll be able to learn even more about what it means to be an American. Heck, I might even cry when I see some things. I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how glad I am to have made the decision to go. I’m hoping this becomes my first trip of many trips of a lifetime. Fingers crossed!

Reading Challenge

I said I’m most excited about my BookTube channel, but I’m also very excited about my reading challenge. Mostly because I’ve gotten tons of feedback and support since I first mentioned it a week ago. I have a feeling the post is going to be one of the top two or three posts of THIS year. It’s getting that much traffic. But I’m also excited to see what other people read and say about something I came up with fully on my own. I overhear my co-workers talking about it just about everyday. It’s great because I know others are also talking about it in various places on the Internet.

In a nutshell, I became more and less active on social media. I started working at a bookstore, My loyalty to my hometown teams finally paid off. And I saved up enough money to start my traveling. Sounds like an alright year to me.

Thanks for always coming back, guys. I know I write things you won’t always agree with and I’ll probably push your buttons without even knowing it, but it’s never too serious. And no one is aiming to be disrespectful. This is my little piece of cyberspace, and you’re always welcome.


On this day in 2015 I published Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books”.

JetBlue and Random House Partnering up to Give Away 100k Books

Yep, you read that right. When I first heard the news I thought the two companies were an odd match for something like this. But I soon realized that book programs don’t have to be limited to non-profits or bookstores or libraries. Any company can come up something. And then I also realized that JetBlue has been involved with getting books into the hands of children for years with their Soar With Reading Program.

But this year they’re changing it up a bit. They’re adding a #BookBattle to the mix. The battle is between five cities and the public is asked to vote online to decide which of the five cities should be given 100k books for children in need. I think that’s pretty great. The five cities are New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Houston. I don’t know how long the voting period will be open, but I do know it’s open right now. So if you don’t live in any of the five cities, then the choice you should make when considering which city to vote for is obvious, right? Houston! Duhh. Bring those books here! Please.

You can visit the Soar With Reading website here.

Also, JetBlue installed three book vending machines to dispense free books throughout the city of Washington D.C. this year. How cool are they? Have you heard of this program before?

Buying Books Without Money

Just yesterday multiple commenters said that they’d read or understand why people read in bookstores because not everyone can afford to buy new books. Well today I discovered that there’s actually a way for people to buy books without any money.

1010 Ways to Buy Without Money is a project that started in 2011 in Spain that has now spread to most regions of the world. The basic premise is that stalls at the events will be ‘selling’ books for a variety of prices set by organizers or by the donors of the books. And none of the prices I’ve read about are outrageous or embarrassing.

For example, one might be asked to eat all your food in exchange for a children’s book. Or someone might be asked to leave positive messages inside books. Or to donate your time to a charity. See, the thing is that the system essentially operates on a promise. The buyer can’t do everything right then and there at the stall, but they know the price of the book and are asked to send photos at a later date of them fulfilling their promise. And there are so many different ‘prices’ for books at these events that it makes buying a new book all the more exciting. Organizing a picnic for at least five kids. Taking snacks to work for your colleagues. Putting flowers on your balcony. Spending a day on your own. All of these things have been the price to buy a new book without spending any money at all. And I think everything about this is great.

The only downside I’ve found when reading about these events (that are about to start happening in the coming weeks) is that they haven’t caught on as much in the United States. There are smaller events held, but I’d like to see something in Houston or New York City or LA on a grand scale that is unmatched by any other place in the world. And maybe that will happen at some point, but for now I’ll just stick to reading about these great events from afar.

What do you think? Like the idea of buying books without having to spend any money?

You can visit the initiative’s website here to see more ways people are asked to buy books without money.


 

On this day in 2014 I published The Lack of Diversity in my Reading.

What to do When the Lights go out

I know many people seem to think that it rains a lot where they live, but let me tell every single one of you that you’re probably wrong unless you live in one of a handful of cities. Houston is one of those cities.

It’s rained each of the last ten days (or nine?) and yesterday was the worst storm in at least two years that I can remember. My car was parked in the street and when I went out to move it the water was almost up to my knees. But not quite inside the car yet. Thankfully, it’s brand new with less than 5000 miles on it. Anyway, as a result of the heavy rainfall, which is also expected tonight, the power went out. And stayed out. Which left me with a dead phone and wet clothes with nothing to do.

I should have read by candlelight! But I didn’t. I just sat on the sofa until about 11:00 and then fell asleep earlier than I have in months. No reading. Or anything. I had an alarm to wake up to because I happened to charge my iPod a few days ago for no reason. Go, me.

Anyway, I wish I’d have thought to read a little last night. Just because there was nothing better to do in the darkness. What do you do when the power goes out?

PS: Sorry for the late post! I had no power! But I’ve posted everyday since January 18, I refuse to let the streak end because of a stupid thunderstorm.


On this day in 2014 I published Where the Magic Happens.

 

I Think it’s Time to Revisit the WIP

Do y’all remember that I originally started this blog to document my progress as I wrote my first book? Or that I actually started writing my second shortly after finishing my first? Yeah…about that. You likely also know that I haven’t even glanced at my WIP in many months. But I think it’s time.

I’ve known for several months now that I’d revisit my story at the start of 2015. I don’t have a particular reason for waiting so long, but I had no reason to look back any sooner. See, I’m in no rush. I’m not over here thinking I’m writing the greatest novel that no one will ever know about. I’m just writing along and seeing where it takes me.

Let’s refresh just a bit. My current WIP is my second book around Andrew Banks. Someone who is mildly controversial. (I’m poking fun at some of my reviewers). He’s a Houston area PI and he has this girlfriend who goes by the name of Sydney. Ha. That’s all. But really, I’m something like 30k words in and I stopped just as Andrew goes on a trip out of the city following a lead.

But enough about that, what are you currently working on? Book one? Book two? Book 38?

Do You Have a Favorite Indie Bookstore?

Last year sometime I asked about favorite bookstores. But I was talking more about Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, Books A Million, or whichever major chain you have near you in which you get your books. But now I’m only talking indies.

I have to first be honest, I very rarely shop in my favorite indie bookstore. It’s just too expensive for me. I buy all of my books new, but doing so there would be ridiculous. So there, that’s out of the way.

My favorite is a store called Murder by the Book in Houston. It’s been around since the 80s and they host a couple hundred author events every year, mostly for crime writers. And these events are well attended. I’ve only been to two, but I’ve seen pictures of others in which there were people lined up outside. Besides all the events the store hosts each year, one of my favorite aspects is the feel when you walk in. I mean, the Barnes and Noble a few miles away from me is nice. I just went for the first time in over a year last week. But it still has that store feel. At least for me. Murder by the Book feels more…like your neighbor’s house with a lot of books. I think. It’s hard to describe. And the people are rather nice.

Anyway, that’s all about my favorite indie bookstore. Here are a couple pictures from inside Murder by the Book.

storeentrysite__1_

storecornersite__1_

Tell me about your favorite indie bookstore.