The passion for literature has always been the work of the intelligentsia in Russia.

Born in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 1953, Dina Rubina has been writing stories since childhood. Very early on, she was published and joined the Writers’ Union of the USSR, of which she became the youngest member in its history. Based in Moscow, she collaborates in numerous literary magazines, works as a screenwriter, and has written four notable books.

She left the USSR in 1990 for Israel, where she settled permanently. Her works have been published into 39 languages.

Do you have a picture of the ideal reader? Do you think about it before you write your book or afterward? Could you define it?

Dina Rubina: I have my own ideal reader, and I always have him on hand: it’s my husband, the painter Boris Karafiolov, whose paintings often illustrate my books, to whom I always read excerpts from my new books, to whom I then reread the texts I have rewritten and in whom I have absolute confidence. I meet my real readers when my books come out at public readings or question-and-answer sessions. And I always answer their letters because I love and respect them.

Do you think that the increased access of Russian readers to foreign literature, whether or not it is translated into Russian, is to the detriment of the place occupied by Russian/national literary production?

Dina Rubina: I don’t think so. Someone who is used to reading will not choose according to the author’s language or country of origin. Moreover, there is a “time” for reading Russian books and a “time” for reading bestsellers by foreign writers famous in Russia. The important thing is not to lose that instinct: to look through lines of text with your eyes.

What place do the Russian audio-visual media give to literature in general and literary news in particular?

Dina Rubina: It would be wrong to complain. In my experience, when one of my books is published, I have to study the media’s proposals carefully and dose them wisely. There are many talented literary critics as well as a few radio and television programs that regularly devote time to new publications.

Twenty-eight years after its disappearance, is the Soviet Union an object of fiction?

Dina Rubina: Again, it depends on what you wanted to bring when you were working on your book. Like it or not, a lot of contemporary big novel heroes are characters born in Soviet times. It wasn’t a country that came out of the imagination, but a vast country with tens of millions of people alive and well.

Impossible in these conditions, when one imagines a character and his or her destiny, to be exempt from Soviet kindergartens and Soviet community apartments, Soviet schools, summer camps, prisons, factories… in short, from everything that no longer exists today, but which existed for seventy years.

Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade

Paul Wade spent more than 20 years in American prisons. If he trained hard in sports with body weight “Calisthenics,” it was to survive prison violence. How to train as if your life depended on your actual level of strength, power, and solidity?

When I saw this book in bookstores and read some reviews on the internet, I thought to myself, “Hold another book to practice, one more.”and I didn’t want to buy it, then I flipped through it once in another store and read reviews on the net, then I bought it.

This book of $20 is terrific, more than 300 pages, with many photos, explanations, demonstrations, links and opinions of other sportsmen, frankly a superb document.

Paul Wade spent more than 20 years in American prisons. If he trained, it was to survive prison violence, not to be raped, beaten or killed. You will tell me it is paradoxical, me (for those who know my real profession) talking about a book written by a prisoner. Yes indeed, I believe that we all have the right to redemption, and as Paul Wade says, he is not proud of all these years in prison, nor of these multiple sentences (mainly in the field of drugs), he survived thanks to his sporting courage and his will.

The table of contents is very well elaborated, and nothing is missing, let’s not forget that this book is dedicated to pure bodyweight training or calisthenics.

This book will teach you how to do six “basic” exercises to be superiorly strong and muscular, it will be hard, it will take time, but it will be worth it:

  • One arm pushup
  • Full one-leg squat
  • Full one-arm pull-up
  • Hanging straight leg raise
  • Stand-to-stand bridge
  • One-arm handstand pushup

Explanations and demonstrations accompany each movement. The many photos will allow you to succeed in all these movements.

But beware, these movements will not come overnight. It will take time, days, weeks, months or even years.

What I appreciated in this book is that the training starts from the beginning. For example, to learn the movement of the pump, we will be standing against a wall, so accessible to everyone. Besides, your program is very well defined, day after day and according to your aspirations and time of course.

When I bought this book, I didn’t expect a book of this quality on both aesthetics and content. A big thank you to the author, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their body weight.

What will be the future of traditional libraries in the digital age?

Reading is an exciting activity for some, a professional practice for others, or a necessity. Several writers, theorists, and teachers have pointed out that the media influence the way we read, write and think, even our ability to concentrate.

At the root of the reading crisis would not be digital or television, since this decline in reading would have already begun in the 1980s.

The relationship to the book has changed over time: from intensive reading (specific to the period when the reader had very little access to the books – aloud) to extensive reading (represented by an increasing number of books, individual and silent reading, but a relationship “at a superficial level”, “less intensive”).

Are librairies obsolete?

However, a decline in reading means a decrease in the number of visitors to the places dedicated to it. We need to think more specifically about the library itself and the question of its obsolescence. Indeed, it seems to be increasingly relevant in the era of dematerialization, digital books, online book sales, and in the age of the giant Amazon, to put it briefly.

We can, therefore, consider obsolete the bookstore since it is a place for selling books, where Amazon offers a plethora of products. It can also be viewed as such when establishing a space-time relationship. On the Internet, you are guaranteed to find the book you are looking for, immediately, without having to travel. It says a lot about our current practices, where waiting means wasting time and where everything is only immediate.

What makes the bookstore obsolete is how bookstores have failed to keep up the pace and continue for some to exclude a category of less educated readers who inevitably turn to the online sales system in which they do not feel judged. This old order of reading no longer exists today, and that is what booksellers have not been able to anticipate.

However, the situation is not desperate. The library can avoid obsolescence if booksellers organize themselves differently. Bookstores can pool their skills, for example, by creating networks of booksellers, by recreating a culture of proximity to counter the dispersion of too often anonymous relationships on the web, but also by restoring the notion of advice, by repositioning itself as a guide, by taking initiatives and by positioning itself on the internet.

It, therefore, seems possible to imagine new models.

To conclude, we would like to insist on the fact that the announced decline of the bookshop is to be qualified. It seems obsolete because it lags behind the rapid and massive changes in society in terms of the consumption of cultural goods. Nevertheless, bookstores are not only victims and have a role to play, on the human side, in the niche of advice that Amazon will always miss.

The library is undoubtedly in danger but not outdated. Booksellers have to open up and not get themselves bogged down in an old mode of operation that gives pride of place to a small community of highly experienced readers while neglecting others who refer to the Internet, where they do not feel judged.