It may seem like a simple question, and one you likely would feel disposed to answering with a resounding yes, but perhaps the question begs defining and its answer requires a further explanation into your thought process.
I would be inclined to define a literary citizen as one who reads, and further as one who promotes the act of reading. There may not be a clear cut number of books that one must read, but given a choice, I’d suggest that one who reads frequently – at least a book a month, would qualify.
Further, one who patronizes bookstores would be favored over someone who borrows books, since the act of selling books is what keeps publishing alive – though there is nothing wrong with going to the library, acquiring books via friends, or downloading a free book.
Next, buying a paper book supports bookstores and the physical community they create for book-lovers. Though buying e-books is fine, I’d give a higher nod to paper.
So, let’s see, next would be your efforts to encourage the reading of books, in general, to others. You can do this by posting book reviews, buying books as gifts for others, telling friends and families about the books you have read and by quoting books in a conversation, memo, or presentation.
You can donate books to the library or needy. You can volunteer your time to an after-school or literacy program that encourages reading. You can preserve the written word by helping out at a library.
Could you do more? Sure, you can always go beyond these suggestions. You can make your life about books. You can work in the book publishing industry, write books, and invest financially in book-related businesses or stocks. You could lobby Congress to pass legislation that supports free speech, literacy, and the availability of low-cost books.
Notice I never spoke about what type of books you read. You may seem more literary by reading poetry, literary fiction, memoirs of historical figures, and books that probe and analyze the social and psychological boundaries of our existence – but what you read does not define whether or not you are a literary citizen. If you read 50 Shades of Grey, or Shakespeare, or Snooki’s autobiography or Steve Jobs’ memoir, or any other book, it doesn’t matter.
I do think it’s good to diversify one’s book portfolio, to expose yourself to various genres, new ideas, conflicting views, and wild fantasies. Reading can bring so many slices of life to our dinner plate.
Are you a good literary citizen? How would you define who is a literary citizen? Can you do more in 2014 to further a world of literary citizens? May you be one, encourage someone to become one, and further support the literary citizens of our day.
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Here is my 2014 Book Marketing & Publicity Toolkit: Based on 20+ years in publishing --
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013
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