Reading Around the Globe: Wesley in Belgium
“Our libraries offer a great variety of books in Dutch, but also in other languages like English, French, and German. Usually I’m able to find the books I want, especially in the bigger libraries.”
Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
- What is your name? Wesley
- Blog URL? www.outsidersandmisfits.com
- Twitter handle? @O_and_M_Blog
- Where do you live? Belgium
- Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one! Yes, there is a culture of reading around here, but many young people are reading less and less, as is the case around the world. Nonetheless, there are still many bookshops in Belgium and some very good libraries. I became an avid reader when I started visiting libraries. There was also a television program I used to watch when I was a teen, which discussed books and writers. This also stimulated me to read.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Novels and books about literature, psychology, philosophy, and art. I also enjoy reading short stories and poetry. I read in Dutch and English. My favorite writers are Franz Kafka, Knut Hamsun, Louis Ferdinand Céline, Gerard Reve, John Fante, and Charles Bukowski. I also love the poetry of E. E. Cummings, Robinson Jeffers, and Blaise Cendrars.
- Have you always been a reader? When I was a child I enjoyed reading comic books. When my school introduced me to the local library I started reading more. Around the age of 14, I started reading novels and I became an avid reader.
- Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country! I live in Flanders, which is the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. I read a lot of books written by Belgian and Dutch writers. There have been some great novelists in Belgium and The Netherlands. Some examples are: Gerard Reve, Louis Paul Boon, and Herman Brusselmans. One of the best European poets was a Belgian by the name of Paul van Ostaijen. In Belgium and The Netherlands, the same kind of books are published as in any other country. Belgium also has a long tradition of comic books. ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, for example, were written by Belgian cartoonist Hergé.
- Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want? Yes, there are many libraries here. In fact, I’m currently studying to be a librarian. Our libraries offer a great variety of books in Dutch, but also in other languages like English, French, and German. Usually I’m able to find the books I want, especially in the bigger libraries.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) A lot of bookstores where I live sell English language novels. Books by writers like Ernest Hemingway, Charles Bukowski, and Chuck Palahniuk can be found in English in a lot of bookstores in Belgium.
- Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? No, I do not.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Not really. If I can’t find a certain book, I buy it on the internet. But usually I find what I want in the local bookstore or library.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do?
Publish more poetry and short stories. Also, publish more literary magazines.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Bookstores (also the second-hand ones), libraries, book markets and second-hand markets, and if all else fails: the internet.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? One thing that troubles me, is the fact that small local bookshops, especially second-hand shops, are disappearing. This is, of course, because of the internet. So I would advise people to support their local shops! There is nothing more relaxing than to browse for books in a small bookshop, especially the second-hand ones. It would be a shame if they would all disappear. So, if you can’t find a book anywhere, buy it on the internet. But go have a look in your local bookshops and libraries first! Also, read blogs about literature!
Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country. If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.
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