Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The greatest bookworms of them all

According to NOP World (a leading provider of syndicated and custom market research) individuals globally spent (each week) 16.6 hours watching television, 8 hours listening to the radio, 6.5 hours reading and 8.9 hours on computers/the internet (for non-work related reasons). (Source: PRNewswire)

I can hear it already: some of you are saying, "Is that all?", while some are going, "Oh my God."

Interestingly (Anglophiles take note) the US and UK are below average (5.7 and 5.3 hours per week) in reading, but above the average on TV viewing (19 hours per week in the US and 18 in the UK), listening to the radio (10.2 hours per week in the US and 10.5 in the UK), and just slightly below the global average for computer/Internet usage (8.8 hours per week in both the US and UK).

Thailand spend the most time in front of the television at 22.4 hours per week, followed closely by the Philippines at  21.0, Egypt at 20.9 and Turkey at 20.2 hours.  Mexicans watch the least amount of television at 11.6 hours per week, followed by Venezuelans at 11.9 and Swedes at 12.3.

Argentineans love the radio (20.8 hours), followed by Brazilians (17.2 hours) and South Africans (15.0 hours). The Chinese spend the least amount of time on the radio at  (2.1 hours) a week ahead of Koreans and Saudis (3 and 3.9 hours).

When it comes to the internet, the Taiwanese are tops (12.6 hours a week for non-work related purposes), followed by Thais  (11.7 hours) and Spainiards (11.5) hours. Mexicans (6.3 hours), Italians (6.3 hours) and Germans (6.4 hours) are not so hot online.

And most interesting of all to us: who are the greatest bookworms in the world? Indians spend an average of 10.7 hours per week reading, followed by Thais and Chinese (at 9.4 hours and 8 hours).  Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese (at 3.1, 4.1 and 5 hours) scrap the bottom of the barrel. (US and the UK are at 24th and 27th place in the list of 31.) Fortunately, Malaysia was not in the list of countries studied. Another table-propping position would have been too much for our fragile ego to take!

Top 5 reading countries:
1. India              10.7        
2. Thailand          9.4   
3. China               8.0      
4. Philippines       7.6     
5. Egypt               7.5

Bottom 5 reading countries:
27. U.K.                5.3        
28. Brazil              5.2     
29. Taiwan            5.0   
30. Japan               4.1   
31. Korea              3.1

Short-stay scholarships from Mexico

(Received this from the embassy and is reproduced -- almost -- verbatim)

The Embassy of Mexico has the pleasure to announce that the 2014 Special Program of Scholarships for Foreigners is open for applications in the following categories:
•           Visiting professors
•           High level conferences
•           Mexican Studies
•           Artistic Residencies
•           Media Residencies
•           Studies to improve the Quality of Mexican Medium and Higher Education Institutions

Convinced that this Program is a valuable opportunity for strengthening the Cultural, Academic and Intellectual exchange between Mexico and Malaysia, the Embassy of Mexico respectfully recommends this information to be widely disseminated in your institution, or advertised through the channels available to you.

The general terms and conditions are available at the following link, together with the application form:

The scholarships for Artistic Residencies might be particularly interesting for you.

Deadline: The original applications with all the supporting documentation should reach the Embassy of Mexico before 22 August 2014, since they have to be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico before August 29 2014.

Applications will be received at:
Menara Tan & Tan, 22nd Floor
207 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400
Kuala Lumpur, Malasia
For further information please contact Ms Paula Gallegos at: pgallegos@mexico.org.my
Tel: (+60-3) 2164-6362 extension 23
Fax: (+60-3) 2164-0964

We at the Embassy of Mexico, hope that some Malaysian candidates will apply for one of these scholarships.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Volunteers to read to children

I received this Facebook message from Shantini Venugopal just before I sent out the March newsletter:


About: Promoting literacy and creativity among underprivileged children in Malaysia via rotating mini libraries and volunteer reading programmes
Description: The Revolving Library is a social initiative to provide underprivileged children in Malaysia access to a massive collection of children's books.
The project: launched in March 2012, is based on the concept of rotating mini libraries. The idea was inspired by the collaborative consumption movement.

Each new orphanage/shelter/centre on the TRL circuit receives a mini library of about 50 to 100 books. These mini libraries will be moved from one home to another every two to three months, giving the children at each home the opportunity to read a wide selection of titles. Rotating the mini libraries also means that we get maximum mileage from each donated book and there is no need for a huge physical space to house the entire TRL collection.

Phase II - Volunteer Reading Programmes

March 2013 saw the start of the second phase of the TRL project - setting up volunteer teams for each centre on the TRL circuit. These "lit teams" will run reading programmes aimed at raising the literacy level at each home.
If you'd like to donate books, volunteer or find out how else you can contribute, please get in touch with us here or email us at info@therevolvinglibrary.org. We would love to hear from you!

The Team

The Revolving Library project is run on a voluntary basis by The Revolvers. We are a bunch of book lovers who want to share our passion for reading and books with the children at these homes by providing resources that will help them develop a love for the written word.

Want to be actively involved in the project? Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/therevolvinglibrary

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Frederic Grellier, French translator

It was the Friday afternoon at the Frankfurt Bookfair, the last day of the 'trade' component, when many people have their hair down and feet up, thinking of the flight home. Someone from the Malaysian stand where I chill out when I am winding down (and where I always feel welcomed), approached my table and said, "'Che Raman, ada orang mau jumpa," and ushered in two people, one of whom looked like he was visually impaired. They introduced themselves as Frederic and Christine, and explained that they had been sent over by my friend (and Sri Lankan publisher) Sam Perera whom they had visited earlier. We started talking and soon got carried away with mutual enthusiasm for all things concerning books, reading and publishing, while Christine was patiently indulgent.

Frederic Grellier has been a professional literary translator for twenty years, having rendered into French some fifty crime novels, mainly American and British. I didn't know it when we met at Frankfurt, but I found out later when I watched his video on TedxTalks that he lost his sight very gradually, and also late. (I couldn't help thinking of Borges, whose loss of sight coincided with his appointment as the head of the Argentine National Library!) Frederic was trying to translate his fourth book when he realized that his sight was failing. He says on Ted Talk, "At first, I did not even want to hear about accessible technology. I considered changing careers, but after two years, probably because I had come to terms with losing my sight, I resumed my career as a translator with great happiness."

Certainly, he had some initial difficulty understanding and coming to terms with the technology, and learning to read by hearing rather than sight. He knew Braille but, having learned it late, did not use it professionally. As he likes to say, "I now read with the ears. And, in my opinion, it still is reading: my focus is on style, sentence structure, repetition, fluidity and rhythm."

All this is, of course, strange and fascinating to a sighted reader like me. Well, at least, initially. A computer voice is a computer voice; it would read like a robot, devoid of any sense of rhythm, nuance, emphasis and beauty. But then when you think about it, so is the printed word -- both the traditional book and digital. It is the reader who supplies the rhythm, decides where the stresses are, deciphers the subtle nuances and bathes in the beauty of the prose, which is also the reason why different people have different images in their heads that they can call their own.

"Without the computer revolution, I could not even consider exercising this profession. Only ten years ago, when I wanted audio-books in English -- keeping abreast of literary production is still the least thing for a translator! -- I had to buy used audio-books in the United States, the cost of new ones being prohibitive, and find a good soul who made the trip to impose a suitcase full of tapes, in order to save the cost of shipping. Quite complicated! Today, when an editor tells me he has just published a novelist, I just have to download the audio-book in a few clicks. What progress! And e-books open up new perspectives."

I have been told that when one sense diminishes, others make up for it. Still, it would have been crushing to lose one's sight, and I cannot help but admire Frederic's grit.

He adds, "I do not want either to portray an overly idyllic picture of my situation. In general, I need to spend more hours at my job to get the same result to that of a non visually impaired person, because the ear can never compete with the agility of the eye."

He says he takes more time to read. Well Frederic, it has been years since I stopped speed reading. I read far more slowly now, savouring the words and enjoying the minutiae in the prose. Skimming and scanning is for newspapers and magazines, anyway. And maybe trashy novels.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Children's Book Awards by Scholastic

Scholastic is pleased to announce our sixth annual Scholastic Writers’ Award. This Award is a writing competition for those who love to use words creatively, for those who want to share ideas, and for those who love to tell stories. It provides a unique opportunity for schools to showcase their students’ achievements, encourages youths to write, and gives young writers a chance to realise their talent. (Click image to see full pdf version.)

Students aged 10 to 18 are invited to submit an original short story from the title choices listed in the contest form. This writing competition – previously exclusive only to our Scholastic Book Clubs members – has a growing reputation and strong support among students and teachers who have been involved in past years. For the first time, we are opening the competition to all schools in Malaysia and Singapore.

The 2014 Scholastic Writers’ Award offers an Apple iPad 16GB with Wi-Fi for Grand Prize winners (x2), USD200 for First Runners-up (x2), and USD100 for Second Runners-up (x2).

The schools of the Grand Prize winners will each receive a trophy and 500 books from Scholastic to equip their libraries.

Entry forms can be obtained from Scholastic Book Club January 2014’s Wizard and Ace catalogues, or through our website at www.scholastic.com.my/corporate-responsibility

Entries must be received by Scholastic no later than Wednesday, April 30, 2014 and winners will be announced in October 2014.

Enclosed is the Award poster for full contest details.

For further inquiries, please contact:

Daphne Lee

Yan Liew
Assistant Marketing Manager