I thought authors might be interested in checking out or even joining a reading/reviewing group that I started last month on Facebook. There are currently 14 members of the Verified Purchase Review Group at the moment, and the first month’s reading and reviewing is going very well. There are already 6 reviews completed for July/August: https://www.facebook.com/groups/verifiedreviews/
Here are the rules for authors:
1. At the given time, reduce the price of your book to $0.99 /£0.99 on Amazon UK and US sites for 5 days and post a link to it on the new buying thread on Facebook within a 5-day deadline. You can also advertise it as a reduced-price book as you normally would, so you may even get more sales!
2. Buy the (reduced price) book of the author in the post before yours in the buying thread before the same 5-day deadline is up (so I know when to end the thread) and then the first person will know to review the last book. Reply to the post of the author whose book you have bought with the order number.
3. Read and post your review within a 6-week deadline on your Amazon home site and on Goodreads. Leave a link to your review on that month’s review thread.
When there are enough members then I can separate out the genres, so that everybody gets to read and review a book in their favourite genre. At the moment there is one buying thread on Facebook, but hopefully before long there will be several.
Interested? The next September/October buying thread will be posted at the end of August, where you will be able to add your reduced-price book. Any queries please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
One of our members was as pleased as anything to receive a second review for his book, as the first one was 7 years’ ago!
“There are ways to recover, say tomato seeds, but language is an oral medium . . . it is gone if direct speakers are dead and nothing has been done to document it.” – Keren Rice
In 2013, Raveena Aulakh reported that “half of the world’s 7,000 languages” faced extinction by the end of the 21st century.
Why would this matter? When a language is lost, so is its culture.
In 1980 Aaron Lansky began a life-long quest to save Yiddish books. Only 23 years old when he began his search, he was told there were maybe “70,000” Yiddish books left in the world – they were wrong.
Over the next 25 years Lansky and his friends saved 1.5 million Yiddish books and, in the process, created The National Yiddish Book Center, with a membership of 35,000 people– the largest group dedicated to the preservation of Jewish culture in the United States.
Yiddish means “Jewish,” and has its foundational roots in Hebrew, Aramaic, as well as multiple European languages. For hundreds of years, Jews faced forced relocations across all of Europe. With each new environment, Yiddish accumulated new words, meanings, and pronunciations reflecting the local areas. The marginalization of Jews prohibited them from displaying or documenting a separate Jewish identity but speaking Yiddish linked Jews as a people.
Lansky knew Yiddish was dying as a form of communication, but for him, Yiddish books represented a written history of the Jews as a people and as a literate culture. Despite Hitler’s programmed genocide and push for destruction of Jewish culture, Yiddish language and literature managed to survive even the Holocaust moving with their owners across Europe, into the United States, and other countries.
Newly arriving Jewish immigrants to the United States spoke Yiddish as they arrived from war-torn Europe and they brought their Yiddish books. In fact, Yiddish literature was still published in America up to the 1970s when it began to wane, the Yiddish language and its speakers and readers were disappearing. Lansky was determined to find these remaining lost gems of literature and save them for the future.
Lansky’s quest was not an easy one. But he preserved and in 1980, Lansky quit school, withdrew his savings, and rented a U-Haul setting out to rescue whatever Yiddish books he could find.
Lansky’s persistence paid off when elderly Jews who had heard of Lansky’s search, contacted him. It began with a few, then many, elderly pleading with Lansky to take their Yiddish collections. Elderly Jews agonized that they had no one to care for their books and their children had no interest in Yiddish or reading it.
For many, the books were often times left with Rabbis or thrown out. Lansky was not one to shy away from jumping in dumpsters or traveling distances to save these discarded books regardless of the weather and his lack of resources. Lansky’s search grew and Rabbis were soon transferring stacks of discarded books his way.
Books held by their owners for years were given to Lansky. To these aging Jews, each book was more than just a story, these books were living things and monumental memories. With each donation, the owner gave a part of their heart, their family, and their remembrances to Lansky for safekeeping.
Along with each book, a story was told. The act of both the giving and the story telling were, in Lansky’s terms, a “cultural transmission” but even larger than that, “Book by book, he was placing all his hopes in me” (Lansky).
Lansky returned to graduate school and while finishing up his master’s degree in 1980, along with help from his father, friends, and two of his professors, the foundation for the National Yiddish Book Exchange was conceived and incorporated. (Now changed to National Yiddish Book Center).
Outwitting History is Lansky’s story of his search for a lost language, and what he found along the way represented more than just books. Lansky’s search takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster that travels across people’s lives and time and the books they treasured. It is about a love of language and books and the survival of a people. It is also about a 23 years old’s quest to save a culture and one cannot help but be amazed at his success. What he found was not just books, but a history of a people.
“This book is an adventure story: It tells how a small group of young people saved Yiddish books from extinction. It’s also the story of the Yiddish-speaking immigrants who owned and read those books—how they sat us down at their kitchen tables, plied us with tea and cakes, and handed us their personal libraries, one volume at a time. The encounters were almost always emotional: People cried and poured out their hearts, often with candor that surprised us all.”
A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is an active Animal Advocate and fosters and rescues both dogs and cats from shelters and works with various organizations to find them forever homes.
A while back, I accepted a challenge to write a book review of Nancy Peacock’s memoir A Broom of One’s Owninonly four sentences. Starting well before the due date, I wrote the first sentence of the review over and over, and deleted it over and over. For a while I wrote the same sentence several times in a row. Then I made up a new sentence and wrote it several times in a row. After weeks of torment, I buckled down and produced the following review.
I like Nancy Peacock’s A Broom of One’s Own: Words About Writing, Housecleaning & Life so much that it’s taken me over two months and two missed deadlines to untangle my thoughts and write this four-sentence review, an irony Peacock, author of two critically acclaimed novels, would no doubt address were I in one of her writing classes.
She would probably tell me there is no perfect writing life; that her job as a part-time housecleaner, begun when full-time writing wouldn’t pay the bills, afforded time, solitude, and the “foundation of regular work” she needed; that engaging in physical labor allowed her unconscious mind to “kick into gear,” so she could become not the writer but the “receiver” of her stories.
She’d probably say that writing is hard; that sitting at a desk doesn’t automatically bring brilliance; that writers have to work with what they have; that “if I don’t have the pages I hate I will never have the pages I love”; that there are a million “saner” things to do and a “million good reasons to quit” and that the only good reason to continue is, “This is what I want.”
So, having composed at least two dozen subordinated, coordinated, appositived, participial-phrase-stuffed first sentences and discarded them before completion; having practically memorized the text searching for the perfect quotation to end with; and having once again stayed awake into the night, racing another deadline well past the deadline, I am completing this review–because I value Nancy Peacock’s advice; and because I love A Broom of One’s Own; and because I consider it the equal of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird; and because I want other readers to know about it; and because this is what I want.
This review first appeared on Whiskertips. It was posted here in 2015. I received a copy of the book for review from Story Circle Network. My opinion is my own, and it’s as strong today as it was when I first read the book. I recommend it to anyone who writes or wants to write, and to anyone who likes to read about writers and writing.