I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Refined Reader (18) Of Cigars and Books

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

This is an interesting story I happened to come across and I wanted to share it through The Refined Reader.  There is a tradition in Cuba where readers (lectores) read to cigar rollers in the factory to help them pass the time since cigar rolling is monotonous work.  It started in 1865 when journalist and poet, Saturnino Martinez, organized the first reading for a cigar factory in Havana.  The practice became more widespread when cigar factories flourished - in the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Mexico, but it has since dwindled and now Cuba is the only country that employs these readers.

The reader usually starts out by reading a newspaper to the workers and then after a break, will pick up where they left off the day before in a book.  It is because of this tradition that a couple cigar brands were named after books - the brands Montecristos and Romeo y Julieta.  But classics are not the only books read.  Sometimes popular novels, non-fiction and self-help books are read to the workers and sometimes authors will drop by and read their works.  It's really a fantastic system to keep the cigar workers eager to come to work and mentally engaged and connected with their co-workers.  I would think it would be wonderful to be able to talk about these books with their co-workers and it helps to broaden their horizons by learning something new.  And in the past it was a sometimes subversive act since the workers would have taboo political books on independence read to them.

It is conjectured in the articles I read about this that listening to these readers helps turn out a greater quality of cigar.  Which is a very nice thought, but I'm never going to find out.

Do you listen to audiobooks at work (if you are able to)?  Do you think it would help you be more productive?

Sources:
Cigar Aficionado (just disregard the nonsense on the pleasures of smoking)
BBC News
Project MUSE

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14 comments:

  1. This is such an interesting post- I think it's really neat how some of the cigar brands got literary names! If my job didn't involve pretty heavy phone use, I think I'd give audiobooks a try; then I might not be so behind on my Goodreads reading challenge this year, lol.

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  2. I used to listen to the radio at work to make the day go by... it worked ok. If I could work a job where I could listen to an audio book that would be heaven!

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  3. This is a pretty fun fact. I think a lot of jobs and workers would be happier and more productive if they could listen to audiobooks, or even just music while working. I think it is so great that the cigar factory owners allow this!!

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  4. Fascinating! I visited a few cigar factories during trips to Cuba. No one was reading to the workers at the time, most likely because we tourists were poking our noses around.

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  5. I do love that the cigar companies were so taken with those books to have named a cigar after them! Audiobooks are great to catch up on reading - I can listen to them at work, so I can pretty much consume a book all day! :)

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  6. The radio can get so repetitive and too many commercials so I don't like to listen to it. Hopefully one day you'll get the opportunity to listen while at work! Maybe work it in sneakily like with a bluetooth! LOL

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  7. I think so too - and it's really great to learn something new while you're at work - almost any kind of work can get repetitive day to day. More companies should implement this! (along with afternoon siesta LOL)

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  8. Oh that's so cool you were able to visit! I wish you had seen them being read to first hand though! I'm sure the tourists would have enjoyed seeing that.

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  9. Oh my gosh, how cool! I could probably roll cigars all day if someone were reading to me. When I can, I have listened to audiobooks while working, and I know it made me a happier worker. I don't know if it makes me better, though.

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  10. How interesting! I never thought that something like that happened.


    I don't really listen to audiobooks while working, because work (well, technically, school) involves a lot of reading and writing it would mess up my flow. If I'm working on something more mechanical, like copy-pasting data or something, I like listening to music. :D

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  11. LOL, same for me! I wouldn't really mind what I was doing if I could still be occupied with a book! I think it would make me a better worker too though since I won't be grumbling in my head over the work. :)

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  12. It's a great idea! I wish it was implemented more in other factories perhaps. I like to listen to music too - when I need to think more about what I'm doing. Like writing blog posts and things. Things I don't need to think about - like driving, haha - I can listen to a book. But at school I can see you need to focus more!

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  13. Such an interesting tradition!! And while I don't listen to audiobooks at work, I do listen to them while making things like cookies or ice cream at home. Though these days I mostly listen to Welcome to Night Vale ;)

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  14. Oh wow, audiobooks and cookies/ice cream make a great combo! Cause of course you have to eat some while listening! :D I saw your wonderful post on Night Vale and am so glad you are a fan of it! I don't really know many people who love to listen to comedy podcasts.

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