Two new fun and gorgeous books by National Geographic

National Geographic’s Almanac 2019 is a fun, illustrative guide to the natural world and breakthrough sciences and, with 400 pages of stunning, evocative images, celebrates some of the most amazing places, events, and facts about Earth’s history. Opening to a random page you may be surprised with the lifecycle of tardigrades, the logistics of eating insects, or the history of Timbuktu; for someone who enjoys picking up facts about niche subjects, this book satisfies any wandering impulses or curiosities they may have.

The almanac doesn’t go into exhaustive detail about any one topic but covers an incredible range of scientific concepts, processes, and findings. The text is paired with amazing photographs and fun infographics, providing visual learners or less scientifically savvy readers with easy ways of understanding intricate ideas and data. It is effortless and enjoyable to learn from this book, especially since you can thumb through to any page, find an interesting topic or image, and dive right in. Anybody interested in facts and photographs of the natural world and sciences will love this book, simply because it covers a little bit of everything.

A larger coffee table book, Space Atlas, Second Edition: Mapping the Universe and Beyond refines the scope of topics to space and astronomy. Full of charts, maps, and stunning photographs, the Space Atlas is a deeply informative and beautiful book. It is well-bound and lays flat so no small details are lost in the binding, which is important when looking at a two-page spread of a planet or trying to read the names of peaks, valleys, and craters on a moon. Read the rest

To Read Aloud is a portal straight to that Middle Earth where magic happens

The Act of Reading

It's been 10 years since the writing of The Atlantic's now classic essay Is Google Making Us Stupid? in which Nicholas Carr addressed how our reading habits (and our cognition in general) have been collectively affected by the use of the Internet. Carr observed his own scattering of attention, a lessening of concentration for extended periods of time, which overall makes the act of reading more and more fragmented, impoverished and shallow. To quote Carr's eloquent metaphor: “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” And over the past decade, our nearly ubiquitous access to the World Wide Web has made things worse.

The conspicuous consumption of our daily reading is a steady stream of piece meal information coming from a medley of screens: we endlessly scroll through posts, comments and messages, nervously bouncing from site to site, skimming, browsing and searching, jumping from our latest email or text to social media chatter, compulsively trying to satisfy our information craving. Reading is not what it used to be, and that's that.

But reading comes in different shapes and forms, and is not only for absorbing content. Imagine this: take a few minutes to sit down quietly with someone you care about. Choose a piece of writing you like, and share that piece of writing—reading it loud to the other person. You’ll find something uncanny going on.

Human Moments

Reading aloud to another person is indeed a peculiar experience, something we are not used to, or if we are, it's mostly for children. Read the rest