Culture Shock! Why Doesn´t Anyone Read?

When traveling on long bus trips, or when we have time to kill sitting in the park, we always have a paperback or a Nookbook to pull out.    What we are wondering is, why do we never see any of the locals reading?  Sure, once in a while you catch a student studying for classes, or an old lady reading  a romance novel, but for the most part people just sit and stare into empty space when unoccupied.   Every day we also see street vendors and bus attendants or various other workers with an abudance of downtime, but they are never reading.  You´d bet if I were them I´d read a book a week!  I don´t think it´s a literacy problem, just something that´s embedded in the culture.  The positive opinion on this is that people evidently aren´t in constant need of stimulus (ADHD) like people from Europe, North America, or China are, but there is definetly a HUGE downside!  Not reading seems to indicate a lack of curiosity, as well as decreased learning potential, vocabulary, and general reading skills.  Reading for pleasure would definitely be a hard phenomenon to introduce, but we think it would have great benefits.  Fortunately we have come across many NGOs and charity groups starting libraries and trying to encourage reading.  It´s going to take awhile though.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Seven years after Open Veins of Latin America was published, the author, Eduardo Galeano, added a postword chapter.  In it, he summed up the book, stating “This book was written to have a talk with people.  A non-specialized writer wanted to tell a non-specialized public about certain facts that official history, history as told by conquerors, hides or lies about…Open Veins has its roots in reality but also in other books…which have helped us recognize what we are so as to know what we can be, and see where we come from so as to reckon more clearly where we’re going.  The reality and those books show that underdevelopment in Latin America is a consequence of development elsewhere, that we Latin Americans are poor because the ground we tread is rich, and that places privileged by nature have been cursed by history.”  (Emphasis added by me.)

I can’t sum up the book better than that, of course.  It’s  an unapologetic history of the “pillage of a continent”, from the discovery of the new world by Columbus all the way up to the manipulative IMF banking practices and extensive US interference of the 1970s.  Galeano doesn’t hide his leftist leanings but the book is chock full of example after example that make him impossible to disagree with.  Imperialism, in all the ways it’s manifested itself throughout history, ruined Latin America and its effects will continue to be felt for centuries.

Has anyone else read this?  What do you think of that quote?

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Reading List

I always try to read and research a lot about places before I go there.  I think it’s important to read more than just the travel guides and actually delve into the history and literature of places I’ll be traveling.  It gives me a lot more insight and helps me not feel like an idiot when talking to locals.  Here are the books I’ve already read or plan to read in preparation for this trip:

I read this in the fall and hope to read more of Marquez's books.
This is the book that Hugo Chavez famously gave Obama as a gift. It's supposedly a really critical history of imperialism in Latin America. I can't wait to read it.
Zach is reading this now but I call it next! Maybe I'll make him write a book report on here when he's done.
I found all of these books used on amazon.com for a couple dollars each when I searched "South America"

And of course the two essentials:

This will be our Bible.
I'm trying to do one chapter per week of this book.

 That’s what I’ve got so far!  Please leave any recommendations in the comments!

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