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Friday, December 26, 2008

Minneapolis most literate: Readers of the purple prose?

Minneapolis tops the list of America's most literate cities according to this ranking by Dr. John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University. His study focused on six indicators, including the number of libraries and bookstores. Although rankings like these are not very precise, it seems sensible to read often when residing in regions of the country where for long periods one dare not wander out the house due to extreme cold (Minneapolis) or unrelenting rain (such as Seattle, who tied for first in CSU's study).

I love to read in any season -- snug as a bug in a rug before the fireplace in our family room, or slacking off in the hammock out back on a sunny summer eve. In either place the ambiance is enhanced by our Golden Retriever Penny laying at or under my feet. A guilty pleasure of mine is to stoop occasionally to reading pulp fiction. For example, if the mood for adventure strikes, I may dip into a great collection of classic (an oxymoron?) western escapism by author Zane Grey, which I inherited from my wife's grandfather. It includes "Riders of the Purple Sage" -- his best known novel.

However, the book I'd put head and shoulders (plus a 10-gallon cowboy hat) above the purple prose of Grey is Owen Wister's ground-breaking novel The Virginian available in hypertext from The American Studies Programs at The University of Virginia. I love the title of Chapter 2: "When you call me that, Smile!" To set the mood for reading, here's a photo I took yesterday in the Saguaro National Park outside Tucson, Arizona after flying down yesterday to escape the snow and cold and overdose of Christmas back home in Minnesota.


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