Pasadena named as the nation’s top book-reading city – Pasadena Star News
Top 10 lists seemed somehow more interesting – deeper and certainly more accurate – before the internet invented listicles.
The media, and perhaps people just scrolling through their Facebook feeds, are faced with more such listings every day. Our newspaper’s inbox (don’t know why she goes there) has a new list of “best cities for…” sent to her every day – “best foodie towns”, “best coffee towns and simply “Best Small Towns” are some of the recent ones. (Do you want to move to the best small town in America? Well, that would be Sammamish, Washington, the Internet says. Be sure to send a postcard when you get there.)
The more there are, the more fake they are. It’s like those lists of the best colleges that multiply rapidly. Running an institute of higher learning is not a matter of strict arithmetic. There’s no way to really compare it to anywhere else, precisely at least. My alma mater was recently named “America’s Best Public College” by something or another, and I was happy to see a story in the alumni magazine that basically called the #1 ranking sweet, but sense.
Still, when you win the coin toss, you say, that’s crazy, but better than #2 or #200, you know what I mean?
So when I received a recent email from another organization proclaiming Pasadena #1 among the best cities for book lovers in 2022, I thought, after thinking “That’s weird,” that … we will take it! I mean, it’s probably really Portland, based on Powell alone, or Cambridge, based on Harvard and MIT, or one of many other bibliophile cities.
But, we do not refuse it. Hey, we have Vroman’s! And, of course, our own often #1-ranked institute of higher learning, Caltech, closed its own brick-and-mortar bookstore years ago — you think those geniuses want to decipher a book instead of a laptop ? But we are a city of readers.
Here’s how the email put it: “To (book) mark National Family Literacy Month, Lawn Love has ranked the best cities for book lovers in 2022. We’ve compared the top 200 cities Americans based on access to public libraries, bookstores, small free libraries, book clubs and events. We also looked for the cities with the most books “in the wild”, random reads picked up by random bookworms who can follow the path of books and chat with other bibliophiles on BookCrossing. … Southern California readers must have voracious (literary) appetites. Pasadena takes the top spot in our overall rankings, thanks to the city’s high scores in books for sale (#2) and book exchanges (#9). With numerous literary events, book lovers in Pasadena can take a break from the city’s many independent and used bookstores and escape to annual events, such as LitFest and the Pasadena Loves YA teen book festival. .
LitFest? You bet. The pride of my life is to be co-founder, with Jervey Tervalon and Jonathan Gold. Coming on the 10th anniversary in May. Y? Some of the most dedicated readers. But: hello, listicle! What about One City, One Story from the Pasadena Library, now 20 years after bringing great authors to town and reading their book in droves? How about the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors, founded in 2009 by Susan Long and Elsie Sadler and still running like gangbusters, selling out every year?
Anyway. Cities also popular: Seattle, Jersey City, Eugene, New York, Portland, Alexandria, Garden Grove, Oakland and Denver.
I know. Garden with trees. They’re apparently crazy about print over there, and one of these days I’m gonna roll off the freeway and get to the bottom of the literary stuff.
When Sidney Poitier recently passed away, one of the films the great actor was well remembered for was ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ in which a black police detective is mistakenly suspected of a local murder while that he was driving through a racist Mississippi town. In the film, the detective comes from Philadelphia. Not in the original John Ball book, he’s not – he’s from Pasadena. Ball followed Pasadena police officer Jim Robenson, later the city’s first African-American chief, to create the character of Virgil Tibbs. I don’t know why the filmmakers changed it to Philly. More sophisticated? Don’t say that to a fanciful, bibliomaniac Pasadenan.
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