Critical Linking: June 8, 2014

“Books allow us to live vicariously – to feel – to acknowledge emotions that have much scar tissue.” This quote comes from a prisoner expressing gratitude for books received from the Seattle-based program Books to Prison. 12,000 to 18,000 handwritten requests for books are mailed annually from inmates in Washington State and nationally. For prisoners, books are more than entertainment; books provide the tools to help them make sense of their lives and circumstances.

We know in other parts of the world that prisoners can reduce their sentences through reading programs, so it’s not really a surprise to hear how books in America’s prisons can be life-changing for inmates.


Looking for a good summer read? In 1852, the New York Times highlighted the following notable books to get you through the hot months. Due to copyright lapses and fair use laws, all of these are available to read now, so dive in! (SPOILER ALERT: Many of the books are about hating the Pope).

Here’s what critics in 1852 considered your 13 essential summer reads. I wonder how many were great to take with you to the beach.


Some small towns in the rural reaches that lost their former industries have reimagined themselves as “book towns.” By filling empty storefronts with used and antiquarian bookshops, and hosting literary festivals, the goal is to attract new visitors in the form of bibliophiles. 

If you’re looking for a place to plan your next vacation, may I suggest one of these 5 book towns?


Yes, it looks like #bookaday belongs to someone else. Someone who has been using it for years to build “a social event connecting readers who share book recommendations and celebrate reading.” As Donalyn Miller writes, “literacy gurus like Teri Lesesne post book titles under the #bookaday hashtag all year.”

Maybe I’m misreading this on the strength of one report. In any case, the general received wisdom is that hashtags can’t be owned, and anyone can co-opt them. And perhaps Borough Press and/or the BA has already struck a deal with the Nerdy Book Club. Perhaps this promotion is just part of a broader #bookaday push. But all I’ll say is that if so, there’s no mention of it in the original report or in Borough Press’s statements.

Which brings us to the second little problem. Borough Press’s #bookaday campaign – unlike the Nerdy Book Club’s – is absolutely not autonomous or community-generated.

When a publisher uses a hashtag on Twitter that belongs to a community of readers in order to promote their own books…you just have to wonder. Donalyn Miller responds in the comments, too.

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