Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Koreans spend more on cigarettes than books

I am an avid reader. As a child, I probably visited the library once a week or more. Here in Korea, I love bus trips and my commute because they give me good reading time (actually, my new MP3 player is cutting into my reading time as I listen to podcasts frequently now. I can read with music in the background but if I download a podcast it is so I can concentrate on listening to it.).

I don't know if reading has enriched my life tangibly - school books were never particularly interesting to me and some of the fantasy and science fiction were 'empty calories', but long waits have never been onerous as long as I have a book handy. Oh, I did fairly well on Arirang's Contenders quiz show (now defunct) so my varied interests in reading material did pay off somewhat (I won around a thousand dollars but probably have bought several thousands worth of books).

Still, to read that a Korean household will spend twice as much on cigarettes as on books is surprising, especially considering how Koreans love education and are so proud of their literacy.

Even more surprising is reading that Americans spend similar amounts on books (with higher book prices). I hope Canadians read more.

On the same day I read about Korean spending and reading habits, I found an article on 'how to nurture your child's love of literature'. The article claims to give ten tips but suffers from one serious stumbling block to reading. The link to the second half of the article is broken.

My little guy is just over six months old now. I have been reading to him for about a year. In the past month he has become interested in books but mostly for their chewing potential. I can't wait until he learn there are actual stories therein that we can share. I don't know if I am a patient man but don't mind reading the same book again and again. I'm looking forward to rereading Dr. Suess and perhaps even borrowing my sister's biography of Driesel (the man behind the nom-de-plume).

A friend was impressed with another friend reading 45 books in a year ('serious' books, not pulp fiction) and posting reviews on his blog. When I find the name of his blog I will post it here. A (serious) book a week is probably too much for me these days. As a New Year's Resolution, I will post at least one book review a month on this blog. I am currently at Minjok Sagwan and they have a good library so I will probably start with 'a Thousand Chestnut Trees' which I saw there yesterday. Oh, I don't know if 'A Thousand Chestnut Trees' is a 'serious' book ( and I will now stop using that term) but it is set in Korea and I think it mentions Yangyang.


Daniel Costello said...

Dear "Kwandong Brian",

Happy New Year Friend.

My reading speeds have increased due to bus commutes as well as a desire to diffuse a concentrated learning experience I had in Australia in 2004. I do not read to be anti-social. I spend more on books than on beer anyway. Prior to this position, for about six months straight I was reading about 700-800 pages a day to keep up with an overload of business courses. I was asked before getting permission to do that, "Are you insane?"

I truly believe that the mind is an engine (now), and once it reaches a certain performance level for the processing of new ideas, it is worth feeding. I am looking for diverse connections hopefully to increase creativity for future employment challenges.

It will be hard to keep going at current rates, as I anticipate in my next position in Singapore I will be taking night classes to complete an employer sponsored training program in either a PGD or MEd one year format while working full-time. This will necessitate, again, focused, precise research, which is not as fun as diffusive reading.

Anyway, enjoy my blog if you find the time between nappies wringing and feeding calls. All the best to you and yours. I have dug into the Diamond text in the chapter on Australia. I was afraid I would not enjoy that book but I think I will after all.

I can recommend a reading list from cross-cultural perspectives, most of these books would be available at

Reading List:
(Inspiration Tag/Reading List)

Cheers, Dan

Daniel Costello said...

Dear Friend:

I was actually forced to reconsider Singapore as their salary option was not competitive.

Now employed as a full-time lecturer in the Department of International Trade and Management at Daejin University.

In any event, it was a close call overall but Singapore did not have the right stuff. I am told Wharton is now in Seoul anyway.

Sincerely, Daniel Costello