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English Script Request

Complete / 631 Words
by Sieglinde 0:00 - 0:04:27

Track 16 -

For several years now Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire co-founder of facebook, has been making very public and often quite eccentric New Year's resolutions. There was the year he promised to only eat meat that he'd killed himself. And the time he vowed to learn Mandarin Chinese. Then there was the year when he tried to meet a different new person, who wasn't an employee, every single day. And then in 2015 he announced he'd be switching his media diet towards reading more books. He planned to get through one every fortnight. To aid him in this pursuit he set up a page called "A Year of Books" on his own social networking site, where recommendations could be dissected and discussed. Its impact was both dramatic and immediate. With its focus on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies the page soon had half a million followers and was making a huge difference to sales of selected titles. Purchases of "The End of Power" by Venezuelan journalist Moisés Naím rocketed after its was chosen as the first title for consideration - with the book jumping to the top of Amazon's economic chart over night. The degree to which Zuckerburg will continue to influence popular purchases remains to be seen, but the venture is very much in keeping with broader cultural trends. Social media has had a marked influence on reading choices over recent years, with for instance tenth of thousands sharing common enthusiasms on twitter using hashtags like #iamreading or #fridayreads. We are also seeing what UNESCO has dubbed a mobile reading revolution across the developing world, where in the past paper-based products were hard to come by. Now though, according to one recent survey, 62% percent read more as they can freely access books on their phones. This has resulted in initiatives, such as the Africa-wide "Cellphone Book Club", started by a Zimbabwean Librarian. Of course all this online activity is an extension of the face-to-face reading groups which have thrived since the start of the century. If you'd googled the phrase "Book Club" back in 2003 it would have returned around 400.000 hits. Try it today and you are guaranteed more than 30 million. In Britain alone there are now an estimated 40.000 reading groups, with people meeting to discuss their latest literary loves in private homes or cafes, in libraries and in bookstores. This phenomenon has resulted in specialist gatherings, such as a vegan book club and a socialist-feminist group, as well as meetings specifically targeted at lovers of crime novels and even comics. Now, let's say each club has around 10 members, and picks perhaps six books a year, then that sixty books per club and almost two and a half million sales per year, and that's before you've even factor in the power of facebook. Not everyone though, sees this trend in such a positive light.
Here is literary critic Brian Sewer: Let's face it most reading groups are little more than gossiping circles or else simply a literary guise for dating clubs. I know from my own observations that when members do finally get round to discussing books the discourse is generally basic and displays limited insights or intelligence. I also suspect that these groups consume far too much sentimental autobiographical writing. One can only assume it must be easier for the mass audience to digest.
Such opinions, though, seem to have had little impact and certainly haven't halted the spread of communal reading. Indeed one book club favorite "Reading Lolita in Teheran" by Azar Nafisi details the impact that the experience of reading and discussing frequently banned Western books in the Iranian capital in the 1990s had on the lives of eight young women. The appeal it would seem is universal.


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