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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 23, 2015

BRYCE ON BOOKS

– learning to appreciate reading, regardless what form it may take.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A few nights ago, my wife and I were visiting with some friends and somehow we got on the subject of literature, specifically the books we read in High School years ago. We compiled quite a list including: “Across Five Aprils” by Irene Hunt, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Madame Curie” by Eve Curie, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I’m sure I have forgotten others mentioned that evening, but I think you get the idea.

I don’t think we could point at any of these books and say there was a personal favorite among them. As for me, I found Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” particularly interesting and devoured the book hoping to find a happy ending. I didn’t. It was all rather depressing. Even though I understood the book’s message, I stopped reading Steinbeck after that. The point is, like so many High School students, we drudged through the reading and even though we would hit a dud now and then, we were all glad to have read the books. I think this is due in part to our love of literature. When we were kids, we relished visiting the library or have our parents read to us at night. Each year our elementary school would sponsor a book fair and we would gobble up what we could. By the time we entered high school in the late 1960’s, the book bug had already bitten us.

I’ve read a lot of books since then, but I cannot say I am as voracious a reader as my wife or mother who seem to digest books on a weekly basis. I find my time is more limiting so I tend to be more careful what I read. If a book doesn’t grab my attention in the first few pages, forget it; I don’t need another “Grapes of Wrath.” When I was younger, I was more inclined to read novels, my favorite being “Shogun” by James Clavell, but as I became older my interests gravitated towards nonfiction, specifically history and biographies.

Because of my upbringing, I thought it was important to read to my children at night and took them to the library. Although they were good students, I don’t know if they were bitten by the same book bug, and I suspect a lot of people from Generations X/Y/Z followed suit. This puzzles me greatly. I just don’t see the love of reading anymore.

I believe a large part of the problem is the physical format of literature today. Whereas our generation was accustomed to hard bound or soft bound books, youth is more familiar with computer or cell phone screens today. The Internet, e-books and eZines have taken its toll on the printed word which is why paper is no longer king. It also explains why trade journals have disappeared, subscriptions to newspapers and magazines have greatly diminished, and we now see a rise in electronic book readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Do such devices truly encourage leisurely reading as paperbacks did? I doubt it. Nonetheless, it is a fact of life.

Locally, a High School in our area is conducting an experiment for the county school system whereby they are eliminating all text books and replacing them with Amazon Kindles. In theory, it represents a cost effective solution but the real question is their readability. If this experiment results in impairment of student scores and grades, look for it to be dropped like a hot potato. If it’s successful though, I’ll be curious to see how it affects the love of literature by the students. My thinking is they will be more inclined to watch the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” on their iPods as opposed to reading it on their Amazon Kindles.

Originally published: September 28, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS – “The judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

LAST TIME:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF  – and all other Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). How can we show our appreciation?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted in Books, Life, Literature | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

2013 YEAR-END WRAP-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 30, 2013

BRYCE ON 2013

– My most popular columns this year.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As you know, I write on a variety of subjects, such as management, systems, technology, social issues, politics, and observations of our changing world. Sometimes my work is instructional and informative, other times it is controversial or humorous. I certainly hope it isn’t boring. By the number of subscribers I have, their comments, and the hits I have on my web site, I do not believe this is the case.

For my year-end column, I decided to look at my statistics and see which were my most popular articles and speculate on their popularity. Herein, therefore, are my “greatest hits” for 2013.

THE REMINGTON RAND ADDING MACHINE, MODEL 41013-10

This was written in December 2012 as a fun piece describing our ancient adding machine, marveling at its simplicity, and questioning why people tend to discard office equipment as opposed to maintaining it (in our case, for 42 years and still chugging away). I was surprised by the thousands of people who read it. It caused several of my subscribers to reminisce about such equipment. Typical comments included, “Sure wish most items would last nearly as long,” and “Yeah! They sure don’t build things to last any more.”

TEN THINGS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES WELL

Written in June of last year, people from around the world read this article on a daily basis. Overseas, Europeans reference this piece regularly, particularly people in the United Kingdom. In an age where we tend to believe government is incompetent, my article piqued people’s curiosity as to whether government can do anything right. I also received considerable reader feedback on this one, including a woman from West Virginia who wrote, “It has come to the point that I no longer believe a word the government says. I don’t trust the media either.”

STAND UP FOR MORALITY (PART 1 OF 8)

Beginning last April, I published an eight part series encouraging people to think about and openly discuss morality in our society. This, of course, became my book, “Stand Up for MORALITY!” The comments from my readers were encouraging. The subject became a hot button topic on the Internet and caused me to produce a presentation on the subject.

WHAT IF THE SOUTH HAD WON THE WAR?

I originally wrote this column in December of 2011, but it is still actively read on a daily basis. The article considered what our world might look like today if General Lee had won at Gettysburg and captured Washington, DC. This stirred the imagination of a lot of readers who commented accordingly.

BRYCE’S LAWS – MINI POSTERS

Earlier this year I devised a series of mini-posters based on our popular “Bryce’s Laws” which are axioms on life, both personal and professional. Four posters were made available, including: Life, Management, Information Systems, and Project Management. These small posters can now be found in offices and cubicles around the world.

TODAY’S SLAVE MENTALITY

This was another piece I wrote towards the end of last December. Like the others, it has been frequently read all year. Basically, it is a comparison of today’s welfare state versus the the early American slaves. Although it was considered controversial, I received a lot of positive comments from my readers.

PRINT ON-DEMAND (POD) – VERY COOL

This was a technology related piece I wrote describing an interesting means to publish a book. Although it requires an author to be savvy in desktop publishing, it is a great way to free yourself of the yolk of publishers. Someone at Amazon should be thanking me for writing this.

LIBERAL VS. CONSERVATIVE PERSONALITIES

This has been a favorite subject of mine for quite some time. It examines how people develop their political beliefs, e.g., Why does a person become a Democrat or a Republican? This generated considerable discussion from my readers. Bottom-line, I think I was on to something in terms of people’s personalities ultimately dictating their political preferences.

WHO IS TEACHING MORALITY?

This article described the various factions who are truly teaching moral values in this country, regrettably it is not the parents.

THE DEATH OF PROFESSIONAL COURTESY

This column was touched off by an incident I experienced at a company whereby I observed how people treated others callously. This too resulted in considerable feedback from my readers who experienced similar situations. Regrettably, I am seeing more and more of this in the corporate world.

AMERICAN MORAL DILEMMAS

The article was a precursor to my series on morality. Basically, it contrasted the moral values of capitalism versus socialism.

In terms of my columns, 2013 will probably be best remembered as my “Morality Year,” where I openly questioned the values of our culture, particularly how they are formed and taught. I consider the erosion of our morality in this country a serious problem, something that may very well lead to our demise. Maybe I’m an alarmist, or maybe I am seeing something people are glossing over. I have always believed in the Bryce’s Law, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” Since I started researching this subject, I found morality is something most people take for granted and never discuss. This is why I found it important to bring this to the attention of my readers. I just hope people were listening.

I want to thank all of my readers who commented on my columns this year, both in print and on the radio. Although I may not have time to respond to everyone, rest assured I read all of your comments, both good and bad. Thank you. It’s nice to know people are listening.

Happy New Year.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HI HO, HI HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO – Now is the time for management to stimulate the work force.

LAST TIME:  THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS – It is certainly not about the commercialization of the holiday, or Santa.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life, Literature | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

NEW eBOOK SEEKS TO IMPROVE MORALITY IN AMERICA

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 11, 2013

NEW eBOOK & AUDIO BOOK BY TIM BRYCE

– “Morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss.”

(Click for TIM’S INTERVIEW ON WJTN-AM 1240 WITH JOHN SIGGINS – 20:21 in length)

(Click for TIM’S INTERVIEW ON KIT-AM 1280 WITH LANCE TORMEY & DAVE ETTLE – 9:23 in length)

PALM HARBOR, FL, USA (April 11, 2013) – MBA Press is pleased to announce the publication of a new eBook and Audio/Book from author Tim Bryce entitled, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” (ISBN: 0-9786182-8-9).

Gallup’s annual poll regarding the country’s “Values and Beliefs” paints a dismal picture of the direction of morality with 73% of the respondents believing it is “Getting worse.” Blame can be traced to such things as apathy, greed, a permissive society, parenting, and the entertainment industry. Whatever the cause, people are wondering what can be done about this deteriorating condition. Author Tim Bryce has prepared an analysis of morality in his new eBook, reviews its properties, and makes some recommendations to improve our condition. According to Bryce, “Morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss. Consequently, it is being applied inconsistently across the country. By getting people to openly discuss morality, I am hoping to raise the consciousness of people and apply it on a more uniform basis.”

The book is universally applicable for businesses, schools, and any other institution, including nonprofits.
Contents include:

What is the state of Morality?
Who has an interest in it?
Why it is necessary to teach it in a uniform manner?
What is it? Definitions.
How does it affect us?
How is Morality taught/learned.
Institutions affecting Morality.
Some basic Moral Rules.
Problems (exercise)
Concluding Observations.
Where do we go from here?

According to Bryce, “This is a difficult subject as people feel uncomfortable with it. They think their morality is fine, but everyone else is wrong. The reality is we all need to re-examine our sense of morality, be it at work, home, the classroom, our neighborhood, or wherever people assemble and try to live/work together. I would add this is not about religion. Religion is your business, not mine. I make comments in the eBook pertaining to organized religion as an institution but my intention is to comment on the need for promoting fundamental morality in our society. By understanding the properties of morality, it will enable us to support and perpetuate it.”

“It is well written and the subject matter is timely and well presented. A subject the public needs to think more about.”
– Bill Petrey – Dayville, Connecticut

“Wow Tim this is truly fantastic. It really is.”
– Carol Van Drie – Lansing, Michigan

“It occurs to me that this should be required for discussion in schools as well as business.”
– Jan Smith – Skidway Lake, Michigan

Mr. Bryce is a writer and management consultant who is located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He has penned hundreds of articles and several books on a variety of subjects including management, politics and our changing world. Among his books is “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD” – a Handbook for Entering the Work Force. His main blog, “The Bryce is Right!”, can be found on the Internet at timbryce.com

Mr. Bryce has also developed a companion seminar of the same name to discuss morality and allow attendees to work through exercises. He is also available as a guest speaker on the subject.
He can be contacted through his web site at: timbryce.com

“Stand Up for MORALITY” is sold as an eBook, in both PDF and Kindle formats, and as an MP3 AudioBook..

The Kindle format is available through Amazon for $9.99 (U.S.) at:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C5TKMXY

The PDF version is available directly from MBA Press for $10.00 (U.S.) at:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba/morality1.htm

It is also available as an AUDIO BOOK (MP3), 47:26 in length, suitable for use on computers and smart phones; $10, see MBA Press.
ISBN: 0-9786182-8-9

Notice distributed by:

MBA PRESS
a division of M&JB Investment Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 675
Palm Harbor, FL 34682-0675
Tel: 727/786-4567
http://www.phmainstreet.com/mba/mbapress.htm

Since 1971: “Software for the finest computer – the Mind”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  STAYING HEALTHY ON THE JOB – The realities of playing sports as we grow older.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News with Dave and Lance” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Literature, Morality | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MY ONE MILLIONTH READER – “Who’da thunk it!”

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 16, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I was recently reviewing the statistics on the various forums where my columns appear and was pleased to discover I have finally passed one million readers. I don’t know who the person was but “Thank You” as well as the rest of you who follow my work in one capacity or another. This certainly didn’t happen overnight. I have been writing for over thirty years now so I’m actually not surprised to have passed the million milestone. Although I primarily write for the American market, my work has appeared all over the world. They particularly seem to love me in Australia, India, the Philippines, and South Africa. Now if I can just get Florida to take notice.

I have written on a wide range of topics. Because of the nature of my consulting practice, I have primarily focused on issues pertaining to management, business, systems, and technology. It has been only in the last seven years where I have addressed such things as politics and the nuances of our ever changing world.

As a writer, you are never sure what article will press your readership’s hot-buttons. What you think will be an excellent article may very well turn out to be a dud, and vice versa. What works in one publishing venue doesn’t necessarily work in another; different forums, different types of audiences. When I publish an article, I do so through many different channels such as blogs, forums, print media, not to mention a bulk e-mail blast (drop me a line if you would like to be added to the list).

When studying the statistics, I was surprised to see what was popular and what wasn’t. The following are my top articles from different categories:

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

“Personality Types” – this article alone has been read by over 60K people which surprised me as it was short and discussed a subject I presumed everyone knew. Evidently I was wrong.

“Common Courtesy” – this article has been read over 25K times and compliments the last article.

“Individualism vs. Teamwork” – this was my top article in various management related forums.

“Proactive vs. Reactive Management” – I was surprised to see this article rate so highly, perhaps because it is a subject which hits close to home with a lot of people.

“Craftsmanship: The Meaning of Life” – I was pleased this article rated so highly as I believe it to be an important subject.

OBSERVATIONS ON LIFE

“Pearl Harbor Day” – this piece was widely distributed and printed in several newspapers.

“A Graduation Toast” – this article also enjoyed wide circulation, probably by proud parents who felt the same way as I did.

“Bryce American History Quiz” – this was a fascinating compilation of American trivia pertaining to our government and history. The results were an eye-opener.

“Starting the Day” – this article’s popularity surprised me. I thought it was just a simple piece with a good lesson.

“In Praise of Slim Whitman” – I was particularly surprised by this piece which was posted in many places. I guess I underestimated Slim’s popularity.

POLITICS

“What Ever Happened to Obamacare?” – this became popular simply because people are very sensitive to this issue, particularly as we approach the election in November.

“Progressives: Liberals in Sheep’s Clothing” – this article, of course, set off the Left.

“The Missouri Compromise Parallel” – this was a particular favorite of mine as the similarities between then and now are remarkable.

“Is the Tea Party Losing Momentum?” – this too was widely distributed on the Internet and printed in newspapers.

“Obama’s Track Record – by the numbers” – reaction to this article didn’t surprise me as people are upset by the state of the country.

Most of the feedback I have received by the readers of my work, both pro and con, have been articulate, sincere and thoughtful. However, there is always a nut job ready to argue about something I have written, particularly when it comes to politics or religion. Such people are cowards who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and typically use an anonymous name to mask their identity. Long ago I made it a rule not to engage in debate with such clods. Such debate only gives them undeserved recognition and emboldens their efforts. Frankly, they’re not worth it.

Whether you agree with my point of view or not is immaterial. If I made you stop and think about something you have perhaps overlooked or taken for granted, than I have done my job. I abhor apathy and people who are content to act like sheep.

As to my one millionth reader, I wish to extend a warm and sincere “thank you” for tuning in. Now on to the next million.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Literature, Management, Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

AN 86 YEAR OLD BOOK REVIEW

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 6, 2010

Looking for something to read, I went back into my library and pulled out a copy of “The Autobiography of Mark Twain” which I have had since High School. I’ve always been an admirer of Samuel Clemens’ work, but I have to admit I balked at taking his autobiography seriously years ago. This time though, I was in the proper frame of mind and wanted to know more about the renowned author and humorist, not so much about the facts and history of his life, but more about his perspective of the times. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book was originally published in 1924 (fourteen years after Twain’s death) and basically consists of sketches describing his life spanning the years from 1835 to 1910, which is known as a very rich period of American history. He describes life prior to the Civil War, his involvement during the war, and the expansion west. I found his narratives of life in the Midwest, both as a child and an adult, particularly colorful and interesting. Clemens did a remarkable job describing life as a boy living on a farm. His description of the foods of the period made me hungry and I could vividly visualize the school he attended and life on the farm.

I’m afraid African-Americans will not be too happy with the book as Twain uses the “N” word liberally, but not maliciously. It was just the way people talked back then. There was no ulterior motive for using the word, nor venom in his language, it was simply a snapshot of the times. Nonetheless, African-Americans may call for the book to be banned from schools if they read it.

As a writer, I found his rich vocabulary, sentence structure, and punctuation particularly interesting. It was much different than what I am used to in the 21st century. Unlike today where we typically try to gorge ourselves on a novel as expeditiously as possible, Twain’s style forces the reader to slow down and savor each sentence. You can tell that it was written by a craftsman intimate with the English language.

His humor is also different. Instead of today’s “in your face” approach to comedy, Twain mischievously takes the reader down an unknown path where he inevitably springs a humorous conclusion on you. It is not backslapping funny, just elegant humor very tastefully presented. His anecdotes are always designed to teach a lesson and cause a chuckle in the process.

I wanted to read his autobiography, not so much to learn about his family history, which he volunteered reluctantly, but more to understand his perspective of the times which I found was essentially no different today than 100 years ago.

He made a few comments that particularly caught my attention; the first was the cycle of life, to wit:

“A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities. Those they love are taken from them and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, misery, grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead; pride is dead; vanity is dead; longing for release in their place. It comes at last – and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; will lament them a day and forget them forever. Then another myriad takes their place and copies all they did and goes along the same profitless road and vanishes as they vanished – to make room for another and another and a million other myriads to follow the same arid path through the same desert and accomplish what the first myriad and all the myriads that came after it accomplished – nothing!”

The second observation that caught my attention was his comments regarding success. In the book, he comments on the many bad business deals he had made in his lifetime which cost him dearly. He also missed an opportunity to invest in Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone. However, an acquaintance of Twain’s invested $5,000 in the company and was paid back many times over thereby causing the writer to observe:

“It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.”

Concerning heroes:

“Our heroes are the men who do things which we recognize with regret and sometimes with secret shame that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be someone else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.”

On writing, which I wholeheartedly agree:

“…when the tank runs dry you’ve only to leave it alone and it will fill up again in time, while you are asleep – also while you are at work at other things and are quite unaware that this unconscious and profitable cerebration is going on.”

Samuel Clemens was a past master of the anecdote. His autobiography was assembled more as a collection of such stories as opposed to a flowing history. I appreciated his cogent comments regarding the world of the 1800’s. His ability to paint a picture with words and tell a story was like taking a ride on a time machine. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but I’m not sure today’s younger readers would feel likewise as his stories are less about the complexities of life and more about the simple truths of living it.

The book is still available in print. Look for it on the Internet – see Amazon.

Most book reviews are printed either just prior to publication or shortly thereafter. I apologize for the slight delay.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Books, Literature | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 28, 2010

A few nights ago, my wife and I were visiting with some friends and somehow we got on the subject of literature, specifically the books we read in High School years ago. We compiled quite a list including: “Across Five Aprils” by Irene Hunt, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Madame Curie” by Eve Curie, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I’m sure I have forgotten others mentioned that evening, but I think you get the idea.

I don’t think we could point at any of these books and say there was a personal favorite among them. As for me, I found Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” particularly interesting and devoured the book hoping to find a happy ending. I didn’t. It was all rather depressing. Even though I understood the book’s message, I stopped reading Steinbeck after that. The point is, like so many High School students, we drudged through the reading and even though we would hit a dud now and then, we were all glad to have read the books. I think this is due in part to our love of literature. When we were kids, we relished visiting the library or have our parents read to us at night. Each year our elementary school would sponsor a book fair and we would gobble up what we could. By the time we entered high school in the late 1960’s, the book bug had already bitten us.

I’ve read a lot of books since then, but I cannot say I am as voracious a reader as my wife or mother who seem to digest books on a weekly basis. I find my time is more limiting so I tend to be more careful what I read. If a book doesn’t grab my attention in the first few pages, forget it; I don’t need another “Grapes of Wrath.” When I was younger, I was more inclined to read novels, my favorite being “Shogun” by James Clavell, but as I became older my interests gravitated towards nonfiction, specifically history and biographies.

Because of my upbringing, I thought it was important to read to my children at night and took them to the library. Although they were good students, I don’t know if they were bitten by the same book bug, and I suspect a lot of people from Generations X/Y/Z followed suit. This puzzles me greatly. I just don’t see the love of reading anymore.

I believe a large part of the problem is the physical format of literature today. Whereas our generation was accustomed to hard bound or soft bound books, youth is more familiar with computer or cell phone screens today. The Internet, e-books and eZines have taken its toll on the printed word which is why paper is no longer king. It also explains why trade journals have disappeared, subscriptions to newspapers and magazines have greatly diminished, and we now see a rise in electronic book readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Do such devices truly encourage leisurely reading as paperbacks did? I doubt it. Nonetheless, it is a fact of life.

Locally, a High School in our area is conducting an experiment for the county school system whereby they are eliminating all text books and replacing them with Amazon Kindles. In theory, it represents a cost effective solution but the real question is their readability. If this experiment results in impairment of student scores and grades, look for it to be dropped like a hot potato. If it’s successful though, I’ll be curious to see how it affects the love of literature by the students. My thinking is they will be more inclined to watch the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” on their iPods as opposed to reading it on their Amazon Kindles.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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