The Biblio Files  

  our bookish life  

The Biblio Files

The Biblio Files
Location
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Birthday
January 01
Bio
We (Steve and Helen) irresponsibly gave up our promising careers in aviation and bookselling over ten years ago. Now books seem to have taken over our lives. We frequent libraries, bookstores, and thrift shops in search of interesting books. We buy/swap/sell, but mainly, we read. We both wear glasses and have been mistaken for librarians.

MY RECENT POSTS

JANUARY 23, 2013 3:51PM

Abridged Too Far (repost)

Rate: 6 Flag

soup

Reader's Digest Condensed Books. You can't give them away. No one will take them. I've seen them in boxes marked FREE outside of thrift shops, the sort of shop where they sell ancient hotel soaps and used wigs and last year's calendars. Even at those shops they know there's a limit and Reader's Digest Condensed Books are it.

 

And yet I have a soft spot for Reader's Digest. When I was about nine, my grandmother gave me a subscription to Reader's Digest Best Loved Books for Young Readers. Each hardbound volume had four or five abbreviated versions of classic books, mostly novels. There was Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Madame Curie, The Jungle Books, The Sea Around Us, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I would read every one of those condensed stories. When I liked a book, such as Jane Eyre, I'd get the unabridged version from the library and read it, too. I don't recall enjoying the unabridged versions any less for already knowing how the books ended.

 

It was like training wheels on the classics.  A gateway drug to the classics. I'd smoke a few doobies, then start shooting up the hard stuff.

classics

We never subscribed to Reader's Digest Magazine when I was growing up, but Steve's family did, and he says the magazine helped him learn to read before he was old enough to go to school. That made me wonder if they would be useful in adult literacy classes, and when I checked online, I found out that Reader's Digest contributes a lot of money to adult literacy programs. No doubt they also contribute a lot of Reader's Digest magazines and books.

rd canadaWhen we took French classes and Spanish classes at night school a few years ago, the French and Spanish versions of Reader's Digest were very helpful in building our vocabulary and confidence. The passages in the textbooks are always a bit phony, but Selection du Digest and Selecciones are real magazines read by real French- and Spanish-speakers. Reading a short Digest article or even a joke in a new language and understanding it feels like more of an accomplishment than completing textbook exercises.

rd spanish


So my inner book snob says good riddance as those boxes of discarded and moldy Reader's Digest magazines and condensed books make their way to be pulped and recycled. But part of me also says "good job, RD."

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Comments

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Reminds me of how I loved the "Great Illustrated Classics" as a kid and, even today, I'll confess to an appreciation for them if faced with a particularly difficult classic in its original vernacular.
You write for your reader. I have appreciated that since the beginning. Helen & Steve. Los Biblios.

I'm remembering your writing about your first Kindle and reflecting on how my wife got an Android tablet this past x-mas, with the operating manual one of the "free" books. That didn't go well. I printed it out in Acrobat 'booklet' format so now she may, Lord willing and the pages don't crash to the floor out of order, multi-task. Hooray!

I may not have the stuff to comment on French romantic comedies, so I won't, but the RD Ivanhoe? Please.

(rated - for what on God's green Earth made you want to dangle your toes in all this, with 20/20 hindsight [my least favorite meme] no less?)
Los Biblios! How wonderful to see a post from you again. And Readers Digest! The things I always read first were the jokes ("Life in these United States") and the biology lessons ("I Am Joe's Brain"). A formidable influence on our young minds, for sure.
@shebasilisk -- I've never read Great Illustrated Classics, but Steve (RetroDaddy) says he read Classic Comics when he was a kid and loved them. I've been thinking of giving them a try for classics I know I will never read, such as Moby Dick.

@Stacey -- Congratulations on your Android - we are on our fourth Kindle now, a Fire HD 8.9. Love it. As for toe dangling, I may address that in a post soon. First I have to catch up on your blog.

@Donna! So not everyone has deserted the sinking ship? I took your advice and read a Maisie Dobbs, very enjoyable. Now I want to catch up on your blog, as well.
Steve and Helen, it's great to see you back...the OS beta group!
We were of the same mind today. I wrote about Reader's Digest books too. Nice job.
By the time the book was condensed, it was only a twig growing in Brooklyn. It's really great to see you again.
Love the memories here with these long lived publications. Thanks for sharing...
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