Posts Tagged: reading habits
Great news for avid readers! It turns out that intense reading is good exercise for your brain. Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones writes about a study by Michigan State University Professor Natalie Phillips, who compares the brain activity of participants alternating between a close read and a casual perusal of a chapter in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park:
Thus, she theorizes, the practice and teaching of close reading “could serve—quite literally—as a kind of cognitive training, teaching us to modulate our concentration and use new brain regions as we move flexibly between modes of focus.”
(n.); the process of forgetting;
“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”
–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”
This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them....more
Danika Ellis, a bookseller who works at a used bookstore, has learned through her work to see books differently—not as objects that belong to her, but objects that she possesses for the moment:
I don’t consider myself the final owner of my books.
Writers sometimes forget the importance of reading. Just about everyone who writes started out as a voracious reader, but working on the craft of writing ends up displacing time previously spent reading. Over at Dead Darlings, Kelly Robertson takes a look at the importance of continuing to read:
It is only by reading a lot can we really interpret what we learned in all of our classes.
More banally we may stand at the luggage collection carousel watching endless bags tumble onto the belt. We hold in our minds a shadowy idea of our own bag. Then suddenly it is there and the effort of “visualizing” ceases. Perhaps we realize that the bag is not quite as we remembered it.
What I’m talking about instead are the ways in which chapters are not merely components of a narrative’s foundational architecture but also part of its aesthetic, i.e., more like those imposing Ionic columns that both hold up the facade and immensely add to the overall quality of the building.
How many times do you need to reread Hamlet? Stephen Marche says he’s reread the play more than a hundred times. And all that reading has not been without effect. Marche says that by rereading Hamlet, its meaning has changed:
The main effect of reading Hamlet a 100 times was, counter-intuitively, that it lost its sense of cliche.
Readers stop reading a book they enjoy when they put it down and forget to come back. Readers finish books they hate when they are assigned it for book clubs or else they want to hate-read and laugh about [it] with their friends .
Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester, derives its name from the fact that about 3 percent of all the books published in the U.S. every year are translations. But the bulk of these are technical writings or reprints of literary classics; only 0.7 percent are first-time translations of fiction and poetry.
Women read books written by women and men read books written by men, reports the Guardian. A study of Goodreads data suggests that people prefer reading books written by those who share their gender. The study also reveals that men and women read roughly the same number of books; however, women read twice as many books published in 2014 as men did....more
At the New York Times Sunday Book Review, humorist and journalist Henry Alford gives advice for borrowing books, giving books as gifts, and commenting on books when you recognize the one the stranger across from you on the train is reading (conclusion: you should probably keep your opinions to yourself)....more
That is not to say that normal books will decline. Of course they won’t. There will always be a place for big, satisfying stories to burrow through. But it seems that the rise of short stories are partly caused by our falling attention spans.
The Pew Research Center recently released a report about younger Americans’s (ages 16-29) attitudes toward libraries. As it turns out, young adults still read books, they still visit libraries—at least as much as older Americans—and many use library services. There are some key differences between younger and older generations when it comes to libraries—younger patrons, for example, are less likely to say a library closure would significantly impact them—but the findings still suggest libraries play important roles in communities....more
Reading is healthy, but not all reading is created equally. Advocates of slow reading suggest that dedicated periods of thirty to forty-five minutes away from other distractions can lower stress and maximize reading benefits. And reading online content just isn’t as beneficial as reading in distraction-free environments:
One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an “F” pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom.
One does not pass from lower to higher. On the contrary one might perfectly well fall from the higher to the lower, or simply read both, as many people eat both good food and junk food, the only problem being that the latter can be addictive; by constantly repeating the same gratifying formula (the litmus test of genre fiction) it stimulates and satisfies a craving for endless sameness, to the point that the reader can well end up spending all the time he has available for reading with exactly the same fare.
The Hawking Index was created by mathematician Jordan Ellenberg to measure how much of a book readers were actually reading, by analyzing Amazon’s “Popular Highlights” feature on Kindle devices.
Over at the Guardian, writer and literary critic Alex Clark and columnist Tom Lamont debate whether it is truly important and necessary to get through a books in its entirety....more
There’s a series of articles published by McSweeney’s that is re-contextualizing the state of the publishing industry. These essays are set out to address the facts which are often obscured by the fraught and perilous language abundant in the publishing industry dialogue, constantly warning us of its impending doom....more