Tech Life A world in terms of words

A Pleasant Elsewhere

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is certainly not the first book I read, but when the question of the first book comes up, it’s the first answer because in my fuzzy thirty-something brain, Tales was the first book I was proud of reading.

I picked it out, I lay on the top bunk of the bed, and I read the book for myself. There was no school assignment motivating my endeavor, just the simple joy of enjoying a book I had discovered by myself.

Summers in the Rands house were full of reading. The Mom signed the sister and I up for a reading program at the local library. The game was “Read as much as you possibly can”. 20 books and you got a patch. 100 and there was some type of pizza parlor incentive. At the start of the summer, I’d walk out of the library with my four new books and think 100 books. That’s impossible.

I’d get home, read the four books before lunch, and start to bug the Mom, “Can we go back to the library? When are we going to the library? I need more books.”

“We were just there.”

“Yeah, but I want more to read.”

It’s these intense summer reading periods that I blame for the four unread books sitting on my desk right now. It’s also the reason for the two packed shelves in my closet of to-be-read books, as well as the stack of seven books next to the bed. My belief is: there can never be enough books.

When I have headache, I read and the headache goes away. When I’m pissed at the world, I find a book and a dark cave and chill in a pleasant elsewhere. Forget about the knowledge and ideas passed along via the written word, reading a book brings a calm to my crazy NADD-driven world.

I see the world in terms of words because whenever I have a quiet moment, I fill it with reading.

My Disaster

Roughly a third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives, and while there are piles of research that indicates literacy leads to a better quality of life, I simply want to promote a pleasant elsewhere. Certainly, there are more urgent disasters in progress than literacy, but this is my disaster and you can support it.

I offer the first Rands in Repose t-shirt.

This shirt is available in limited quantities until the end of the year.

The simple, yet elegant logo for the shirt was designed by the terribly talented Kevin Cornell. The shirt itself is a product of the Continental Clothing Company and is constructed of 70% bamboo, which sounds freaky until you put it on. Bamboo has a high quality, unique, silky feeling, but is durable and machine washable.

Both men’s and women’s sizes are available in a complex brown color named “bitter chocolate”.

100% of the proceeds for each shirt goes to First Book, a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

I’d like to thank the folks at for make the process of finding, printing, and selling shirts easy.

I’d also like to thank the folks who take the time to read and comment on my reposing. It’s my honor to play a small part in your pleasant elsewhere.

Happy Holidays.

31 Responses

  1. New books to kids? Why not used books? There are many perfectly good used books…

  2. OMG. Book it! is still around.

  3. Interesting that you went with I’m from Olympia and can attest to its artsy/shirt-printing vibe. Glad to see a piece of home from a familiar blog.

  4. Thanks for choosing a worthy cause (youth literacy) to support. When people ask about the shirt, I’ll have an even better story to tell now.

  5. “Roughly a third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives”

    whoa. holy… whoa. That’s somehow incredibly unsurprisingly and incredibly saddening at the same time. While I’m struggling to find an original source for this, it looks like it’s a stat that’s been around for at least 5-6 years and I had never read that before. Wow. Just. Wow.

  6. Kai Davis 15 years ago


    How much do the shirts shrink?

  7. hmfullen 15 years ago

    This is great. I should get one of these for my friend that’s an elementary school reading teacher…

  8. As always, your blog (and twitter feed) provide the highest informational nutrition of my web diet. Thanks.

  9. Never enough time to read all the books I want to read is my problem ! Can totally identify with the contents of this blog post and kudos and good karma to you for helping out FirstBook, hope you sell a lot of T-shirts

  10. But… is it possible to buy it here in Europe (without paying extra-zillions of $$$ for shipping charges)?

  11. Thanks Rands, Happy Holidays.

    @Giulio Find Rands friends nearby and share the shipping costs.

    Related: Does anybody know of a Buyolympia-like service in Europe?

  12. Re: the NADD Book reading – At night I *have* to read a book that I’ve already read in order to get my brain to calm down enough to sleep. Otherwise I toss all night with my brain trying to keep processing.

  13. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is right up there with Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in my formative repertoire.

    That statistic on high-school graduates and reading staggered me. Even after college my reading dropped way off, and last week it felt so good to just read a frothy piece of British chick lit. A long magazine feature is an investment in itself these days.

  14. With the slight exception of the reading contest you described the summers of my youth as well. My Mom got me hooked on what has turned out to be a lifetime obsession with reading. I too have the not-read, still-reading and want-to-re-read stacks around the house, along with a penchant for ducking into libraries and book shops whenever I travel.

    Thanks for the story, and for the good deeds with BookIt! I just ordered a shirt.

  15. Danny 15 years ago

    Rands, you are a talented writer. One of the few who have that something that only a few grade A students have, that takes someone above being a good writer, and which maybe you can acquire but god knows how.

    So I have to say your last few posts have been disappointment. Stop wasting your fucking time making T-shirts. Your next post better be good.

  16. A. Peon 15 years ago

    To my knowledge, any fabric you can find labeled as “bamboo” is technically rayon produced from bamboo, just as “modal” is rayon produced from wood fiber (by whichever factory has the trademark on the name ‘modal’). So for use, care, and shrinkage, treat it as such.

    I have a few “bamboo” T’s from a no-name manufacturer and can attest that they’re very comfortable. If you’re a horrible pear-shaped nerd you may want an undershirt to avoid sharing your nipples with the admiring throngs. (I am a horrible pear-shaped nerd.)

  17. Andrew 15 years ago

    This brought back memories of similar reading challenges from my youth. And it also helped ease my guilt about the stacks of half-read and boxes of to-be-read books I have seemed to accumulate. Thank you.

    As for the charity – I’m in for a shirt.

  18. theo geer 15 years ago

    Awesome. Bought the shirt. Love it. Also have to say BuyOlympia is awesome. I purchased the shirt Friday, and received it in the mail Monday.


  19. Taylor 15 years ago

    Ordered on Saturday, arrived today. Awesome design, super comfortable shirt, and all for a great cause.

  20. Are there any plans to offer a similarly styled Polo shirt?

  21. the pessimist 15 years ago

    While I admire the cause, I doubt the effectiveness of giving books to children. If you were born in a ghetto, by now you’d be either shot or in jail, bro, and no amount of books given to you while in a tender age would be likely to change that, I am afraid. ;( You turned out the way you are because your mom taught you to read. And beaten (figuratively) into you the concept that reading is cool. And your entire environment was much more conductive to reading then, say, drug pushing. I am not saying that poor kids are incapable of greatness. But I do believe that their environment makes them much less likely to succeed (and getting presents in the form of stupid stacks of paper instead of toy guns won’t help much, if at all)

  22. Rands: The shirt has a really nice design and nice fabric, and the ordering and shipping experience was very smooth. But the XL I received is a very small XL. It’s smaller than some of my L shirts. I won’t be able to wear it. I’ll give mine to a friend, but you might want to see if you can do something about this, so future purchasers aren’t disappointed.

  23. Liar, liar, pants on fire. There is no way you would read all four books before lunch. Unless, maybe, you were checking out stuff like “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.” Stop exaggerating, and stop trying to jump over that damn telephone wire.

  24. sa vo ev mw 15 years ago


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  25. Doubtful 15 years ago

    You claim to have read four books between coming home from the library, and lunch?

    Four comic books, or four novels? If it’s the latter, I’m sorry but I have to call bullshit. No one reads that fast.

  26. Cynthia McCune 15 years ago

    I totally agree – you can never have too many books. I just wish I had the time to keep up. Thank goodness for summer. (I teach, so I still have summer reading binges.)

    Re: The Pessimist. Not all kids who are given books will read them, of course, but those who do receive entree to new worlds and new possibilities.

  27. doubtful 15 years ago

    Having read a few of your posts now, I’ve got an observation to make..

    If you really had been an avid reader as a child, you wouldn’t make as many grammatical mistakes now, and four books before lunch is still impossible.

    For what it’s worth, I like your writing in general. Just tone down the exaggeration/lying a bit.

  28. I’ve forced myself to stop buying books except for reference use, and the occasional great find at a used book store ($2 for The Soul of a New Machine softcover!). I use libraries for almost everything now. I think it’s a little vain to maintain a largely unread bookshelf.

  29. soittoäänet 15 years ago


  30. Rob Gilliam 15 years ago


    “I think it’s a little vain to maintain a largely unread bookshelf.”

    On the contrary, the point of any library, including a personal one, is as a repository of information and entertainment. Why keep books you’ve already read, and won’t read again?

    I do this myself, admittedly*, but my “unread” shelves are rapidly catching my “read” shelves up.

    * my new wife is going to cull my books for me if I don’t do it myself soon. And I know I should. Why am I keeping “The Silicon Mage” by Barbara Hambly, for example? I’m not planning to read it again myself, and it’s not one I’m keeping so my kids can read it. Not unless they’ve been really naughty.

  31. Very nice shirt. Great cause. Good stuff. I love to read.