In a recent Fox News interview, President Donald Trump told anchor Tucker Carlson he's beginning to get the hang of this whole reading thing. The interview hit the internet on the same day Trump's administration released an incomprehensibly nihilistic budget draft that he almost certainly didn't read.
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"Your first doomsday machine is a malevolent, inscrutable wristwatch.”
The Please Don't Tell My Parents series
, by Richard Roberts, is a wonderful young adult series of novels about Penelope Akk and her two friends Claire and Ray. They are normal middle school kids just hoping their superpowers will kick in soon. Read the rest
Ken Norton is a partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures). In the post, he explains how he increased the number of books he read per year from 5 or 6 to 61. One smart thing he did was quickly abandon books that bored him.
I had an almost masochist need to finish any book I started, even if I got bored five pages in, found it repetitive, or decided the author was annoying. That meant a single book could take months to grind through, a page or two at a time. This probably slowed my book reading pace more than anything else. Now if I’m not enjoying a book, I quit and move on to the next one. No big deal. I find that’s another advantage of reading e-books (see below). An abandoned paper book just sits on my nightstand, a sad monument to my failed experiment. When I ditch an e-book, it just scrolls off the list into the void.
He also writes down what he learned from each book:
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Remembering that I’ve read a book isn’t sufficient if I don’t also keep track of what I’ve learned. I use Kindle’s highlights and notes features to mark interesting or representative passages as I go. I don’t tend to write lengthy book reviews, so I’ve started a note file to record three things I learned from each book. Within a few days of finishing a book, I review the Kindle highlights and then take five minutes to record my thoughts (I use the Bear app, but anything will do the trick).
Author Clive Thompson once wrote an essay about the experience of reading War and Peace on his iPhone. On his blog, he writes about how Sarah Boxer read Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, all 1.2-million words.
From Boxer's essay:
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Soon you will see that the smallness of your cellphone (my screen was about two by three inches) and the length of Proust’s sentences are not the shocking mismatch you might think. Your cellphone screen is like a tiny glass-bottomed boat moving slowly over a vast and glowing ocean of words in the night. There is no shore. There is nothing beyond the words in front of you. It’s a voyage for one in the nighttime. Pure romance.
In a curious way, I think reading Proust on your cellphone brings out the fathomless something in the novel that Shattuck calls “the most oceanic—and the least read” of 20th-century classics. It makes you feel like Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo in his submarine, which is just right.
[Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today. Here's an entry I posted in 2006 about an NPR interview with the great children's book author.--Mark]
I'm over a month behind in listening to podcasts, so I just got around to listening to this NPR interview with Beverly Cleary. She just turned 90, and her mental acuity is better than most people half her age.
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Wonderful literary GIFs by Javier Jensen of Santiago, Chile.
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The librarians of Vernon, Illinois want you for their summer reading program, and they're not shy about it! (Thanks, Sharpchair64!)
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So many times I'm reading a Victorian plot that revolves around some gentry fop handing a scullery boy a sum of 100 half-whatevers. And I’m left wondering: is that a staggeringly large amount of money or an insultingly small one?
Historical Currency Conversions is a tool for finding the current value of historical currency. Type in an amount you see in a book and it spits out: “100 guineas in 1850 had the same buying power as 14647.25 current dollars.” Sure there are socioeconomic challenges to comparing 1850 London with current times, but you get in the ballpark enough to move on with your book. Read the rest
What Should I Read Next? suggests books, similar to the algorithm used on sites like Netflix and Amazon based on your use patterns and ratings. Read the rest
Gather Journal, Spring/Summer 2013 issue.
About their wonderful publication launched just about a year ago, Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo say: "We started Gather
because of a shared love of food and cooking, and a desire to create a magazine with staying power on your bookshelf; one that you could return to again and again for inspiration. If we can, with our recipes, words, and images, inspire a great meal and maybe a smile, then we are satisfied."
Janet Leigh's legendary shower scene in "Psycho," inspiration for the pie above.
I'm satisfied. After seeing a mention in the Instagram feed of a favorite LA chef, I picked up the latest issue: a film-inspired “Rough Cut” edition.
The cover photo is a pie recipe tableau inspired by the shower scene in Hitchcock's "Psycho." Read the rest
Learn your letters — from "anthrax" to "zoonoses".
The New York Times Magazine
's 6th Floor Blog interviewed me about the books I'm reading now (including a climate scientist's account of dealing with evidence and uncertainty in the treatment of cancer), the science books I love (where you'll learn why it's impossible to remove the risk from risky technologies), and the books I generally recommend to everybody (try my favorite boozy novel of jazz-age New York). Overall, it's definitely a list I think the Happy Mutants will dig. Read the rest
Avast, mateys! If you’re a literature lover and a seafaring type, you might be surprised to find that you can satisfy both your passions at a public library. With libraries and librarians across the country finding ways to be more embedded in their communities (hello, Radical Reference, Street Books, and Little Free Libraries!), Kitsap Regional Library is taking to the water.
Our county relies on Washington State Ferries for easy access to most of the area’s population centers, especially Seattle. (Yes, you may now be jealous that our daily commute often involves a leisurely sail across Puget Sound.) Because a large number of our residents are gathered on these boats each morning and evening – often passing the time with a good book - we realized this would be the perfect place to build some community around reading. Read the rest
I happened upon this mini-library in my neighborhood and am so impressed with the movement that Little Free Library has started that I am getting one together for our street. The concept is simple: put a charming box full of books in a public place, encourage people to share them and to contribute their own.
From their FAQ:
If this were just about providing free books on a shelf, the whole idea might disappear after a few months. There is something about the Little Library itself that people seem to know carries a lot more meaning. Maybe they know that this isn't just a matter of advertising or distributing products. The unique, personal touch seems to matter, as does the understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books. Leaving notes or bookmarks, having one-of-a-kind artwork on the Library or constantly re-stocking it with different and interesting books can make all the difference.
Little Free Library sells pre-made mini-libraries or will show you how to build your own.
Check out a couple of my favorites from around the country:
Here's a Google Map with many of the libraries on it. Support Little Free Library if you can! Read the rest
When we read something silently we are, essentially, saying it to ourselves in our internal monologue. Psychology researchers at Britain's University of Nottingham wanted to know whether the voice that reads in our heads matches the voice that we read aloud in. In other words, does your internal monologue have an accent?
It's an interesting question. Although you might think it's a given, previous studies have suggested that the voice you speak with and the voice you think with might not be pronouncing words quite the same. This newer study, published in PLOS last fall, found the opposite—that there is at least some level of match between audible and silent pronunciation.
What I really like, though, is how they constructed the study. After all, you can't just ask people how they pronounce words in their heads. Like the question of whether you say "soda" or "pop" or "coke", once you start thinking about it hard enough to answer, you suddenly lose all ability to know what you do when you aren't paying attention. (Note: That soda/pop thing hasn't actually been scientifically demonstrated. It's just a bit of personal anecdata that I thought was relevant here.) In order to get around that problem, the Nottingham researchers had subjects read limericks while carefully monitoring their eye movements. The subjects were chosen based on their accents—one group pronounced their "a" sounds so that "path" would rhyme with "Kath". To the other group, that rhyme wouldn't rhyme at all. Instead, for them, "path" rhymed with "Garth". Read the rest
Folks from the American Library Association are launching a member interest group called Library Boing Boing, and we're delighted to give our blessing. From Jenny Levine's announcement, at the ALA's Marginalia site:
On the one hand, Library Boing Boing is a collaboration between ALA and the fabulously amazing Boing Boing folks to highlight all of the great new things libraries are doing. The most visible result will be regular posts about those great new things on the Boing Boing site itself.
On the other hand, Library Boing Boing: The Group has its own goals to help happy mutants in local communities connect with their happy mutant librarians to do good, work together on our shared interests, and make the world more better.
Once they're up and running, we'll be publishing regular updates on the group's activities and plans, as well as any events and programs that you can attend or support. For ALA members. the first step would be to sign the ALA member petition to formally establish the Library Boing Boing Member Interest Group; everyone else, watch this space.
ALA Happy Mutants rejoice – Library Boing Boing is coming! [ALA Marginalia] Read the rest