Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Study ranks Atlanta fourth most literate city

Stack of fiction and non-fiction hardbacks

Photo by author

I just came across a USA Today story on a study that ranks Atlanta the fourth “most literate” among the country’s 75 largest cities. (The study’s author uses the term “literate” to refer to whether people do read, not just to whether they can read.)

Atlanta placed highest among cities in the Southeast. Raleigh, N.C. was the next-highest ranking Southeastern city at 13th.

2010 was the eighth year for the study, which was conducted by Central Connecticut State University. The city has seen a steady climb through the rankings for the past four years after falling from a tie with Washington, D.C. for third place in 2006 to eighth place in 2007.

The author formulated the results by comparing cities with a population of at least 250,000 based on six criteria:

  • Internet resources to access books and newspapers
  • The number of bookstores per 10,000 residents
  • Education level
  • Library staffing, holdings and rate of utilization relative to the population size
  • Newspaper circulation
  • Magazine and journal circulation numbers relative to the population size

“It’s a surprise to me, ” Chantal, a member of the staff at A Capella Books in Little Five Points, said of the study’s conclusions. Chantal declined to give her last name, but said that she’s lived in Raleigh and that she was surprised that it landed so much lower in the study’s rankings than Atlanta.

“Raleigh seems like a more literate city to me than Atlanta,” she said. Independent bookstores are more plentiful there and “People seem more into literary culture, ” she said.

Edward VanHorn, executive director of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, hesitated to render an opinion on the accuracy of the study results as he wasn’t familiar with the data the author used. SNPA concerns itself more with promoting literacy as it relates to the skill of reading, VanHorn said.

He did say that it was “fascinating” that Atlanta came out so near the top of the list, given that he doesn’t often see people reading books or walking around with a newspaper tucked under one arm.

If you’re interested in the study’s methodology that’s here. Data sources are here.

What do you think? Is Atlanta lower, higher, or just where it should be in the results? Or is this another one for the “grain of salt” file?

David Sedaris @ Cobb Energy Center

The first time I saw David Sedaris do his thing was several years ago at Woodruff.

Scratch that.

The first time I paid attention to the name David Sedaris was when a girlfriend from work insisted I see him with her at Woodruff – I’d heard of him/heard him on NPR – telling me time and again in the days leading up to it what a talented writer he was, how hysterical he was and how much I’d love his snark. It was several years ago, after the dot.com bust but after all my gray hair arrived. 2003?

At the time I think Sedaris was pushing “Me Talk Pretty One Day” which is still my favorite of his works – bypassing Holidays on Ice, SantaLand Diaries (done regularly as a monologue production at Horizon Theaterr in L5P) , When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Barrel Fever and Dress Your Family in Corduroy in Denim by quite a stretch. Maybe it was my fantasies of living in Europe and horrifying people with stories that didn’t translate. Maybe it was the explicit stories about his brothers dogs and their unique bathroom habits. Either way, it’s still my favorite.

Rewinding though – back to 2003 or earlier – I went to the reading skeptical that I could be wow’ed but found myself chuckling. I was amazed by his wit and use of big words to tell funny, self deprecating stories, and enchanted by his tales spun with colors and character and brutal ruthless honesty charms and disarms. I was in love.

If you haven’t read his stuff, enjoy this link a friend left in my comments on facebook today when I twittered about going.

Go ahead. Read it. I’ll wait.

Done then? Did you LOL? For realz? Me too, and I’d read the story before.

Tonight at The Cobb (can I call it that? Makes it sound more fun than it is.) he had me squirming and chuckling and EWWWWWWWWWWWWing again. In fact, I think his goal tonight was to gross people out. I’ll give you a highlight: making butter from breast milk.

He read from his diary, breezed a few not-so-short shorts that aren’t in books (yet) and took a few questions from the audience. The first one he responded to was “why don’t you twitter” and I’m curious to know if that person was planted, and/or if it was someone I know.

All that to say it was good, that coming from me who is biased and really really likes him. Was it $30 good? Yup. Was it nearly $50 good after the pounding in the ass I got from Ticketmaster? Meh. For the experience and opportunity to have him sign a book, youbetcha. For having your seat kicked and being distracted (see also: ADD to begin with) extensively? Tough to say. Am I glad I went? Hells yes.

With regards to The Cobb, I have a few words of advice:
– Go to dinner before at Top Spice by Babies R Us (huge ups to one of my girls for suggesting)
– Walk from there to The Cobb and save yourself $5-10 for parking and the headache of getting out
– Don’t plan to check email, twitter or anything else once you’re in the theater, b/c it’s a dead zone. Especially a PITA if you’re planning to hookup with friends seated elsewhere
– If you’re a tall – or even “normal” sized man – please stay home. While there isn’t a bad seat in the house, there’s also no room for your legs, knees or feet. At one point last night I leaned over to one of the girls I was with and said “I have a Leatherman in my bag. Do you think it would be okay if I spiked his foot to the floor with my pliers? That was the 34th time he’s kicked my seat in 5 minutes.”

On a related note: I can only assume most of the people seated in our row and the rows in front of us grew up in a land without culture or common sense, since the event was only two hours and we had to stand a handful of times to let people in and out of the row. Really? REALLY? You didn’t go BEFORE the show? AYFKM? Then sit in the aisle and live with the repercussions of your inability to plan.

Who exactly would I work with to make it so these people and the people who arrived late are permanently banned from attending shows of any kind in Atlanta? One strike. We could gather their thumbprints or brand them. Whatcha think? Ticketmaster could probably handle that for us, right? I mean, as long as their already sodomizing us with golf clubs and stealin’ our lunch money…?

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