Taylor’s Slice of Nice: Sept. 15, 2011

Story by Taylor Kuether


Taylor’s Slice of Nice is a semester-long column that will feature good things happening around the globe and take a look at how we can implement them locally.



What they’re cooking up:


The daily subway commute for Mexico City residents just got a bit more interesting. Excerpts from Franz Kafka’s short story “The Bridge” are posted on billboards in each station along the subway’s yellow line, according to The Daily Good (www.good.is). Librerías Gandhi, one of Mexico’s major booksellers, teamed up with the city’s transportation authority to put up the billboards and promote literacy.


In Mexico, the literacy rate is 93 percent — not the worst, but there’s room for improvement. The U.S. literacy rate is 99 percent, but we could all probably crack open a good book more often than we do.


How it can be homemade:


 Here on our college campus, we are anything but illiterate. Many of us read endless numbers of textbook pages daily for class assignments. We’re inundated with text: constantly-updated Facebook statuses, 140-character tweets, text messages, takeout menus. But what are we really reading? When was the last time you read something that caused you to pause, think and feel inspired?

Putting good literature directly in front of subway riders’ faces, where they might as well read it if they’ve got nothing better to do, is an interesting idea. I love and encourage reading, but even I have to admit that after trudging through the textbook pages required for class and brushing up on news, I’m hardly in the mood or mindset to pick up a book. But I’d like to be reminded that I should, and more importantly, could.

We could promote quality leisure reading here by chalking passages from classic fiction, poetry, and prose on the walkways of campus (they’d be especially appreciated lining the hill). We could also post passages on the inner doors of bathroom stalls (right beneath the “Subleaser Wanted!!!” ad written in pink highlighter). Currently, hidden in a remote alcove outside The Cabin in Davies Center, there is a “Book Nook,” a full-size shelf where users can leave (and take!) unwanted books. But that’s not quite as “in-your-face” as Kafka on a subway

We could start a mini-library, like the one recently put in at Boyd Park in Eau Claire’s East Hill neighborhood. They’ve constructed a small, birdhouse-like box for people to share books called The Little Free Library. Anyone can place books in the box, which has an unlocked, door-like plexiglass cover, and anyone can take them, read them, and return them to the box. Unlike our Book Nook, the library could be placed outdoors in a high-trafficked area
of campus.

I know- we have our own library, and undisputably so (anyone else ever get lost in McIntyre Library? No? Oh, cool, I don’t either). But there’s something about anonymously sharing favorite books with neighbors and strangers alike that can’t be found in our large library. There’s a sense of community to it. Provided students use them with respect, kindness, and good intentions, The Little Free Library is a program that could thrive here on campus, turning us into a tight-knit- as well as highly literate- community of our own.



Taylor Kuether is a junior print journalism major and Editorial Editor at The Spectator.