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Reading in Italy.

14th. Sep, 2012 | 04:00 pm
mood: pensivepensive

I must be a snob, or maybe I will just come across as one. Hearing the mention of some reading habits in Italy prompted me to look for the complete results of a survey made by the national statistics institute in 2010, and the results shocked me. I can't say they REALLY surprised me, but to see such data written and repeated in different forms, all basically saying the same thing, I was bewildered for a couple of days.

Let me share some data with you.
  • 46,8% of the population over 6 years old have read at least one book over the previous 12 months, for reasons other than educational or professional. This shows a rise from 45,1% compared to 2009. (Still, more than half of the population has not read any books at al!!!)
  • In northern and central Italy the percentage of readers (at least 1 book over the past 12 months)  is over 50%, while it's less than 37% in the south.
  • 90,1% of the households claim to own books. 62% have no more than 100, 12,2% have 101-200 books but almost one in 10 does not own a single book.
  • over the age of 55 less than 50% declare they have read at least one book in 12 months.
  • women read more than men, and this gap is widest in the 20-24 age gap. (65% women)
  • the regions where there are the most readers happen to be the 3 regions where there is a recognised ethnic/language minority, namely Valle d'Aosta (French), Trentino Alto Adige (German) and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Slovene and Friulan) (all 3 over 55%)
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia (the region I live in) has the lowest percentage of household that own no books (3%), while Basilicata has the highest (20,5%). My region is also the one where there is the highest percentage of households with over 100 books (38,9%).
The funny thing is, I've own books almost from the day I was born. It used to be THE present I got from my family for every birthday and every Christmas, every year (and also the present I bought for my schoolmates for their birthdays). My family has more than 100 COOKING books alone. In our flat we have very approximately at least 3500 books. Another few hundred (possibly 1000) are packed away in the garage for lack of shelf space. In the flat we have something like 54 metres of book shelves. And on top of this we're all members of a library.

Despite the internet and the access to information about pretty much everything on there, I still buy books, and I would not want to ever part with the ones I have, I have never thrown away a single book in my life. I have picked up books that others threw away. I don't know if this counts as hoarding, but I think there's always something learn from a book, any book. I knew how to write block letters before starting school because I lived surrounded by books, which made me curious. In primary school I loved looking and foreign language books that we have at home, especially those written in other than Latin letters. So before the age of 10 I could read Cyrillic, and had fun reading German in Gothic script. That is when I also learnt how German is pronounced, even though I didn't actually STUDY the language until the age of 28.

If there is a power outage that makes the internet, the TV, the stereo inaccessible, the books will still be there.

I don't believe that reading habits are linked to income. or education. That excuse is too convenient. My grandparents' families on my mother's side were poor, they had primary school education and lived in a small village. But they were literate and they could access a public "reading room" in their village, where they could read newspapers and literature. Almost every village had one, in this area. My maternal grandmother never left the house without at least one booklet in her handbag.

It shocks me to see that there must be people out there who don't own a single book, yet they have smart phones worth several hundred euros. It's pretty obvious that they didn't buy it to have access to e-books, but exclusively as a status symbol.

I think there are few bigger pleasures in life than reading a book so engrossing that you have to keep reading, and you forget about the time that is passing and don't stop until you've come to the end. An they you feel sad because it is over while you wish you could read some more. It's different from a film, because you can make your own film in your head while reading, it gives you the freedom to imagine freely any scene described, while films offer you one version only.

I could go on and on and on about the benefits of book reading, but I'm going to end here because it's almost dinner time and I must go make pizza dough. :)

ETA: I come from a family of teachers. My father is a retired high school teacher, his parents were both teachers. So we have an abnormal amount of books. I still have I think all the textbooks from my school and university years. I understand I am, in this sense, privileged, because I was not in need and could afford to keep them, rather than sell them.

I hope I have not offended anyone. 3500 books is very abnormal. I guess my real shock is about the 'not a single book' part, everything else is fine. But not a single book sounds surreal, or almost like some kind of sadistic punishment...

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9th. May, 2012 | 12:19 pm
mood: blahblah

My f-list needs some pruning. It gets confusing to see so many names and then realise only maybe 20% of those are still active posters. If you notice you got removed, don't take it personally, but it means I have not seen any posts by you for too long.

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Herbs and Fontina muffins

12th. Apr, 2012 | 05:12 pm
mood: accomplishedaccomplished
music: sound of the washing machine

The recipe asked for wholewheat flour but I couldn't find any in the local shops (went to 4... as if I was asking for something exotic... ) so I used kamut and corn flour. I added chopped fresh rosemary, sage and parsley, dried oregano and garlic, some cayenne pepper, a handful of pumpkin seeds and grated Fontina cheese.
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Food, glorious food.

2nd. Apr, 2012 | 03:12 pm
mood: fullfull

I really enjoy taking photos of food. This was my lunch: omelette with wild asparagus and provolone cheese. REALLY good.

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Video tutorials pet peeves.

27th. Nov, 2011 | 11:13 am
mood: irritatedirritated

I'm a keen photographer and while in all my life I've only attended one beginner's course, I think I'm pretty good at it. I love learning new stuff so I borrow photography books from the library, buy photography books I can't find at the library, and extensively search for information and tutorials online. One thing that REALLY puts me off is American video tutorials. (Sorry for singling out one nation, either they make 99% of the tutorials out there or I am incapable of finding non-American ones) At first I thought I had found one annoying 'teacher', but the more I watch the more I notice the majority of them are just as annoying as the first one. The language and expressions they use irk me. Everything has to be 'fun', the person shown speaks like a teen even if they're in their 40s and over, the last one I watched, it was about getting rid of reflection in eyeglasses, and this was achievable by just moving the flash at a different angle. The idiot in the video said something like "all you need to do is move the flash, this is, like, CRAZY!". FFS, it's not "crazy". You're explaining something obvious and easy, so it's just that, "easy". It's not crazy. I loathe language like that, and videos like that, they look as if they were made for people with ADHD who absolutely must be doing something crazily fun to be able to focus on the whole lesson (which never lasts ore than 5 minutes anyway), and these same pupils must also have a rather low IQ because the simplest trick must look "crazy" to them. It's like pressing the switch with your finger and seeing the light turn on. "Isn't that CRAZY??" No, it's not, it's just the way electric circuits work, hardly rocket science, especially since it's been around for a century. Perhaps if you had shown someone in 1352, they would think it's crazy, but come on, we live in the world's most scientifically evolved society, I think anyone with an IQ within the normal range won't find something crazy, in fact, they won't bat an eyelid.

I encountered the same annoying language when I looked at some Photoshop tutorials. It was some quite advanced technique, something I'd expect professional photographers to be doing, and the woman describing it kept saying "isn't this FUN??". Well, fun or not, I need action X to do task Y, so fun or not, I need to do it. I mean, what, if it wasn't fun I'd just skip it? It's not effing FUN, it's just useful - which is what it's supposed to be. If you love photography and need to correct something, that action will be useful, but if I am bored one day and don't know what to do to amuse myself, I will not open Photoshop and start fixing every photo on my hard-drive using that action, because, "OMG, it's so FUN!"

Every time I encounter such videos, no matter how useful the actual content is, I can't help noticing the stupid language and groaning. They look like parodies of proper tutorials...

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Melanzane alla parmigiana

11th. Aug, 2011 | 03:25 pm
mood: fullfull

Aubergines 'alla parmigiana'.

The original recipe asks for the aubergine slices to be fried, but I don't have a frying machine for optimal results so I grilled them. Then I made layers of aubergines, tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella, aubergines, tomato sauce and so on and on.

Serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano or Grana cheese on top.

Read more...Collapse )
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St John's bonfire

23rd. Jun, 2011 | 11:22 pm
mood: goodgood

Not only I live in an area where where St John's is celebrated, also the area of the city where I live is called St John's... so every June 23 we get these bonfires.

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Terribly cute postcard I bought in Brussels.

15th. Jun, 2011 | 01:31 pm
mood: happyhappy

I got it from a tiny market in the Brouckere area (if I remember correctly), it's only one of 50 printed copies.
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5th. Jun, 2011 | 11:41 pm
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

The Serbian traditional dance association was asked to perform again today - it was a small tourism fair that organised Wednesday's performance, and it was such a success that they were asked to do it again. So I could finally take some decent photos with my big camera, yaaayyy! I took over 300, about 70 made it through the 'best pics' selection, and here I present a selection of the selection. :-D

photosPHOTOSphotos, an awful lot of photos!Collapse )

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1st. Jun, 2011 | 01:04 pm

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I saw these in the shops here at €75. I saw them online for €65. I got them in Ljubljana yesterday for €58. Take that, dishonest and greedy Italian shops!

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