Friday Links #17 – Joining the Athenaeum

Since I’m stuck in a holding pattern, waiting on licensors to provide access to two games I’m supposed to be writing strategy guides for, this is a great time to share another round of writing links. Before we get to the links, let me tell you about a new cheaper alternative I found for writers seeking a co-working space. It’s called the Folio Athenaeum and though it functions as a members-only, private library, I find it to be a wonderful place to write on those days when I want to get out of the house, but don’t want the noise, distraction, and at-times unavoidable window glare of a coffee shop.

As well-furnished as my home office is, if you spend as many years working remotely as I have, you learn to appreciate what the ritual of getting dressed, leaving the house, and going someplace else can do for your productivity. These mundane acts signal that it’s time to get down to work, that checking email and social media are unacceptable, and that I need not worry about emptying the dishwasher or going to the grocery store. I don some nicer clothes, turn off my phone, and devote my full attention to a date with the Muse. I may even splash on some cologne if she’s been particularly good to me lately.

These days our dates take place in the West Reading Room at Folio, at a square table beside a frosted window with a plush leather reading chair steps away. The room is silent, if not empty. The only other humans I see are the volunteers shelving new donations and a few other writers working on their own works-in-progress. The taps of fingers on keyboards is the only noise one hears. The fact that it’s a private library (annual membership is roughly the cost of a single month at a co-working space) with few people there at any given time means you can leave your laptop, papers, and research materials as it is should you need to get up for a bathroom, coffee, or phone break. There’s a relatively sound-proof room nearby for making phone calls. Talkers will be hushed.

Membership includes access to weekly events ranging from lectures to round-table civics discussions to chamber music recitals. Folio partners with local book publishers, bookstores, and other intellectually-stimulating organizations to ensure members receive free or discounted admission.

One of the things I enjoy best about Folio is that the books are shelved by topic rather than by the Dewey Decimal System. For example, the history books are grouped by their common theme. World War II books over here, books on the American Revolution over there. One area is devoted to US Presidents. The shelves on Teddy Roosevelt contains not only the massive biographies one would expect, but also books like The River of Doubt and The Big Burn.  One would often find these books shelved under adventure travel and American history or the environment, respectively. By including all types of books linked by a common subject matter, regardless of genre, the library becomes more conducive for browsing. It may be harder to find a specific book without a librarian’s help, but you’re more likely to stumble onto some hidden surprises.

Seattle is far from being the only city with an athenaeum (and Folio is one year old). And as public libraries get ever more digital — and noisy — I suspect athenaeums will grow in popularity. So check to see if your local city has one. A quick glance at this Wikipedia entry shows athenaeums in Philadelphia, Boston, and Melbourne, to name a few. If you’re looking for a quiet place to write, read, and engage in a more intellectually stimulating conversation, an athenaeum may be just what you’re looking for.

Bookish Links

  1. Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year – “If you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.” Makes sense to me. This article by Kim Liao provides an eye-opening alternative view to the inevitable rejection we writers face. Her advice? Embrace it.
  2. A Shameful Moment and What it Taught Me About Competition – Like most things in life, writing success is not a zero-sum game. Every book you sell does not diminish the number of books I might sell. If anything, the opposite occurs as new books hook new readers into a lifelong hobby. Andrea Dunlop shares a story about how she came to realize that we are not in competition.
  3. Writer Dilemma: Private Life vs Public Figures – As expectations of privacy diminish day by day, writers have a choice to make regarding how accessible they wish to be to readers. This article by Jami Gold covers a number of choices writers must make when it comes to interaction with readers.
  4. 22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing – From Nabokov to Vonnegut and King to Chekhov, this article presented as a simple list (no slideshows–yay!), contains 22 bite-size chunks of wisdom from the people who know best.
  5. Amazon Announces Most Well-Read Cities in America – Scoreboard! Amazon compiled their sales data for all books, magazines, and newspapers sold in print and digital formats for cities with more than 500,000 residents and ranked the top 20 on a per-capita basis. The east coast didn’t fare too well. It should be noted that Minneapolis didn’t make the cut due to population, but would surely be in the top five otherwise as it’s always ranked alongside Seattle as one of the most bookish cities.

Virtual Weapons are Turning Teen Gamers into Serious Gamblers  – I’ve been an avid gamer my entire life, I’ve worked in the industry for 16 years now, and yet even I had no idea this was going on.This is a fascinating article about the billions — yes, billions — of dollars being waged in the form of rare weapon “skins” (rare, fancy paint jobs for in-game weaponry) during matches of the game CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive). This article will blow your mind.

Post Image by Angela N., used under Creative Commons.

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