Wednesday News: The future of online shopping, increasing US literacy, literatures of Africa, and Orwell on empathy and fruit loaf
How the e-retailers keep us spending – With another big US shopping day ahead of us (New Year’s Day), this is an interesting piece on how online retailers have been moving in the direction of globalizing local celebrations, holidays, or traditional spending days (e.g. Black Friday) to capture the global e-commerce market. However, because these retailers are also collecting data on their customers, it may be that eventually spending holidays will be tailored to individual buyers rather than the other way around. An interesting contemplation of the give-and-take relationship between data collection and globalization relative to consumer behavior.
But will data eventually lead to the death of the seasonal sale?
Online retailers collate such a wealth of information about consumer habits and spending patterns that there may well be natural peaks and troughs around which to build incentives, argues Simon Collister, senior lecturer at the London College of Communications.
“Rather than public events leading retailers, they could use their own data to drive spending,” he said. –BBC News
Nonprofit Fights Illiteracy By Getting Books To Kids Who Need Them – An informative and heartening story about the importance of print books to young children’s literacy development, and a non-profit organization — First Book — that works with publishers to acquire books and with parents to encourage reading out loud. First Book has been operating for a little more than 20 years, during which time they have matched students from low income neighborhoods up with more than 100 million books.
And according to Neuman, despite advances in technology, access to print books is still important because reading out loud creates an emotional link between parent and child.
“There’s that immediate connection and that eye-to-eye joint attention,” she says. “The parent is not looking at her cellphone or his cellphone; she is focusing on the child and the book. The second reason is the vocabulary that is contained in those books. Even very rudimentary, you know, beginning books, like board books, have vocabulary that tends to be outside the parent’s normal, day-to-day interaction. So that child is learning words that he or she is likely not to see in any other place.” –NPR
An African Reading List – Book Riot columnist Swapna Krishna set out to expand the diversity of books she read, and thus set about compiling this list of African-authored books. Although there’s some discussion of the proper placement of books between countries, I think these kinds of lists can be valuable in providing an introduction to new authors and national literatures. I don’t know if Book Riot plans on doing this for other geographical locations (y continent, country, or region), but I think it’s a pretty cool idea.
Through extensive Googling and suggestions from fellow Rioters, I’ve compiled the following list. These are fiction books by African authors, sorted by country. Not every African country is represented here, though I did my best. All of these books are available for purchase in the U.S. If an author has written multiple books (such as Achebe or Adichie), I listed just one so you’d have the author’s name. I also did not have any sort of genre/format restriction, so though most of these are adult literary fiction, not all of them are. –Book Riot
George Orwell’s Dessert Recipes – In the spirit of the holiday season, and continuing the theme from yesterday of literary recipes, here’s George Orwell’s transcription of a recipe for fruit loaf. He acquired this recipe when he was staying with the Searles family “to learn empathy by immersing himself in poverty.”
Heaven knows we could all use a little more empathy, if not more fruit loaf. And on that note, Happy New Year!
George Orwell: Diaries (public library) reveals two unexpected culinary treats from the beloved author’s time with the Searles: In the same extensive diary entry from March 5, 1936, which gave us 33-year-old Orwell’s contemplation of gender equality in work and housework, he writes down Mrs. Searle’s fruit loaf recipe to keep himself from losing it, noting parenthetically that it is “very good with butter.” –Brain Pickings
Bookriot has done a few lists about diverse regions/cultures. I can’t link to them all, but I know they have a shorter but similar list for South Asian lit and one for Armenian lit. They also have postings about South Asian YA books and YA set in Africa. You can go to the bookriot website and type in the search engine for any of these. Also, Swapna recently did a fantastic video on the Bookriot youtube channel about South Asian historical fiction. All of the authors recommended were women and the stories were about women. I put 4 out of the 5 titles mentioned on my TBR list because they sounded fascinating. You can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5O1FIvYq2s
I’ve really enjoyed watching Pakistani, Lankan, and Indian movies on flights. Some are really good and a cliched genre film is always enlivened by a different view from a different culture