Kindle Store for Books in Spanish

Finally, Amazon has rescued Spanish-language books from its super-confusing Foreign Books page (you had to leaf through endless Shakespeare works to get to anything actually foreign) and created a Kindle Store for books in Spanish.

When I saw that store, however, I wished it hadn’t been created. The store promotes two authors: Paulo Coelho, whose connection to the Spanish language I still have not been able to discover, and Isabel Allende, a writer who is as lacking in talent as she is rich in followers. Other than that, all that the store seems to promote are translations of very silly bestsellers.

The bestselling Spanish titles section is dominated by books written by somebody called Suzanne Collins. Apparently, this Collins person is the ultimate in Spanish-language writing.

There is also a huge bunch of religious books by English-speaking experts in brainwashing.

If you dig around, you’ll find a lot of books by Vargas Llosa. Unfortunately, they are only sold in English translation.

It is beyond annoying that one can never find a place where books by Spanish-language writers in Spanish appear by themselves, without translations of English-language bestsellers overrunning the place. Even if you go directly to the webpages of Spanish publishing houses, you have to struggle for hours to make your way out of all kinds of garbage by Nicholas Sparks and Co.

This is really annoying, given that authors who write in English are not producing anything that could even begin to compete in quality with literature by today’s writers from Spain. (Feel free to argue with me but I’ll expect a list of titles that were released in Spanish and English in 2011 that you have read.)

And please don’t tell me that these Stockett and Sparks individuals dominate the list of Spanish bestsellers because that’s what people want to read. I’m a specialist in Contemporary Spanish literature and I have to dig around endlessly to find good Spanish novels under the rubble of these Collinses-Schmollinses that websites keep pushing in my face. People read Coelho and Allende because nobody even tells them that these writers are total crap and that real literature exists in the world. Do you know how many times I’ve had to reveal to people that Allende is a crappy author? I always offer a list of good writers people can read instead of this peddler of stupidity, and everybody thanks me for it.

Order As an End in Itself

I just read something really brilliant:

Order, I think, should be an end in itself. Its “goal” should be something wholly abstract and transcendent, like cultivating a “love of God”, if you are inclined towards such things. The orderly lives of monks are not intended to make them more efficient or productive (though they no doubt get their chores done). If they read, write, pray and exercise every day it is because order as such is valuable to them. Their submission to God is simply realized in their submission to the disciplined life of a monastery. It is this order itself that they seek.

I love order, routine, and a fixed schedule. But I find them very difficult to attain.

You Thought Arizona Was Insane?

Then think twice! Virginia is disputing the crown of the most wackadoo state in the nation. Virginia’s governor has signed a law obligating all high school students to take at least one online course in order to be eligible to graduate.

This is simply bizarre, people. Online courses are notoriously worse and less productive than real contact courses (I’m preparing to teach an online course this summer, so I know what I’m talking about.) People take online courses out of necessity, when nothing better is available. Why force anybody to take an online course when there is no pressing necessity to do so?

In order to succeed in an online course, one needs to be a very responsible, organized individual. I can see such courses being successful when taught to adults. But high-school kids? There is no chance whatsoever that every high-school student in the state will have the capacity to succeed in such a course.

I also want to point out that the governor who signed this weird legislation represents the party that claims to be against excessive governmental intrusion into every aspect of people’s lives. Forcing students to take courses of a certain format just because the governor’s left ankle thinks it’s a good idea qualifies for excessive intrusion in my book.