British football star and reading advocate Marcus Rashford, who recently partnered with Macmillan Children's Books to launch a book club with schools in disadvantaged areas of the U.K., met with former President Barack Obama in a Zoom conversation organized by Penguin Books, the Bookseller reported. They discussed "the power young people have to make change, the positive impact reading can have and the importance of giving back to your community. They also talked about shared experiences like being raised by single mothers, the moment they discovered a love of reading, and their drive to give something back to the communities they were raised in."
Rashford, whose book You Are a Champion: Be the Best You Can Be (co-authored by Carl Anka) was released in the U.K. last week, observed: "Through books, you can grow yourself in whichever way you want.... Books allowed me to do it my own way.... I mean, it's quite surreal, isn't it? I'm sitting in my kitchen in Manchester, speaking to President Obama. But immediately he made me feel at ease. It wasn't long before I realized just how aligned our experiences as children were in shaping the men you see today--adversity, obstacles and all. I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. When President Obama speaks, all you want to do is listen."
The Guardian noted that Rashford has also used his social media presence to compel the government "to reverse policy on free school meals for the country's most disadvantaged children. He applied himself to campaigning against food poverty with the same discipline he does to football."
When asked if he regards himself as political, Rashford replied: "No, not at all. I'm just a young person who was in a difficult situation and managed to find a way out, and now I'm in a position where I can help others... where I'm actually coming from is the exact place I'm trying to help. Everything I've spoken about is factual--things I've been through or that other people are going through."
Forum Books, Corbridge, posted on Facebook: "We stand with Marcus.... Do you?!"
|Bleak House Books
Hong Kong bookseller Albert Wan, co‑founder and proprietor of Bleak House Books, an English-language bookstore in San Po Kong, wrote what he briefly thought would be his last ''Coming Up for Air'' column for Ming Pao. He texted his editor and said he wanted to stop once his contract ended. By the following day, he had reconsidered and decided to continue.
"But I find myself wondering why I even felt the need to broach the subject of ending this column," Wan noted, citing tired, scared and worried as three possible explanations.
"At the time when my wife and I decided to leave the United States for Hong Kong, we did so because we too had concerns about political dysfunction and violence," he observed. "These days I find myself conducting a balancing test of sorts: which kind of violence is of the less acceptable variety?....
"Perhaps in today's world the ideal home is one that is not free of either form of violence--since no such place like that exists anymore if it ever did--but one with mild versions of each. Which is another way of saying that one should not expect too much from the world and from humanity anymore. A sobering thought, yes, but maybe a liberating one as well."
"We have been amazed at how significant the return to books has been since the lockdown last year," New Zealand bookseller Jemma Morrison, manager of 77-year-old indie McLeods Booksellers in Rotorua, wrote in a column for Stuff NZ. "It's as though people, going at a slower and simpler pace of life, have had time to appreciate the value of books, as well as many hands-on activities. Since the lockdown, our sales have increased steadily and our Christmas last year was our best in recent years.
"As an independent bookshop, we can adapt our buying according to local demand. We now stock a range of quality jigsaw puzzles, fountain pens, interactive journals and books on crafts and practical activities which we noticed an upward trend in last year. This year we are investing in an exciting new website, consistently reminding people that they can shop online from their local bookshop instead of from overseas corporate giants....
"This engagement with the local community is priceless and a unique way that independent businesses can reach out and form an ongoing relationship with locals as well as raising a younger generation of readers." --Robert Gray