Posts Tagged: Reading

A Week of Watching People Read in the Subway

Books on the subway are increasingly like birds in the jungle: colorful, hard-to-spot, and of obsessive interest to the lonely and peculiar. Here are one week’s worth of sightings and speculations.

Monday, 5:20PM, Brooklyn-bound C train, 23rd Street:

Facts: Thin man with bushy black beard, in his late twenties or early thirties, wearing a tight shirt buttoned all the way to the throat, purple and yellow striped socks. In his lap are Cloud Atlas and The Stranger, both closed. They remain closed, almost defiantly, for twenty minutes. He’s not even looking at his phone; the empty space in front of his eyes is, apparently, preferable to reading these books.


How Can We Pretend We're Paying Attention Faster?

"[S]kimmers and speed-readers did much worse at answering comprehension questions afterward, especially ones about specifics or technical material," but nobody has anything super-valuable to say anymore anyway so it doesn't really make a difference how much of it you retain; why not get yourself an app that will help you "read" more quickly? The odds are that anything flashing by you on a screen will be for the most part ignored and even more importantly ignorable so whatever helps you breeze through the barrage of verbiage at this point is probably worth it. If you can just [...]


Writers No One Reads

Between 1918 and 1928, Alexander Vasilievich Chayanov (1888-1937) wrote and published (at his own expense) five short Gothic-fantastic tales in separate volumes with print runs of no more than 300 copies, mostly under the whimsical pseudonym “Botanist X.” In his lifetime and until the 1990s, Chayanov was better known as an expert in agricultural economics, particularly peasant labor – and his objections to Stalin’s program of forced collectivization caused his arrest in 1930, exile from Moscow to Kazakhstan, and eventual execution.

Have you read Alexander Chayanov? Me neither! He is among the variety of things you may discover at Writers No One Reads Dot Tumblr Dot Com.


What Youngsters Are You Fabulous Writers Reading?

Yesterday we cornered Brooklyn Book Festival panelists and asked them: who do you like among the younger generation of writers? Some of them had great answers!

Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs

Gosh, the younger generation being under what? [“That’s up to you.”] You know, I’m a big fan of Sheila Heti. Does she count as the younger generation? She’s over thirty, though, she’s 35. [She’ll be 37 on Christmas.] Turn it off a for second, I just have to think! Because I’ve been mostly reading old and dead people, lately, so it takes me a minute to—turn that off! [The recorder is turned off. Then turned back on.] There’s a [...]


Things To Read, 102 Of Them

You know what? I don't want to hear you say "I've got nothing to read" for a solid two weeks at least, okay?


An Incomplete Survey of Newspapers, Magazines, Periodicals, and Books Being Read by Potential Jurors on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, in Baltimore City Circuit Court, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse Jury Duty Waiting Room

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

• Something on a Kindle

The Baltimore Sun (5 instances)


The Books of 2012

The forthcoming big books of 2012 include Katherine Boo, with, at last, that nonfiction book (the blurbs are wild!) and Marilynne Robinson—though with essays, not, of course, a new novel. There are a couple of other solid books on the docket, but honestly? 2012 seems a little light in the publishing loafers, compared to 2011: it looks like a line-up of serious but not particularly exciting 2nd and 4th novels and also lots of posthumous archive-wrangling. The upside of the list from this side of the year: maybe the best books of 2012 will be unexpected, all surprises and weirdo first novels and translations!


Man Vs. Word

In 1969, a psychologist named G. Harry McLaughlin published the results of a number of experiments he’d made on speed readers in the Journal of Reading. His fastest subject was Miss L., "a university graduate with an IQ of 140" who had taken a speed reading course and claimed to have achieved speeds of sixteen thousand words per minute "with complete comprehension." He hooked her up to the electro-oculograph, a device that measures eye movements, and let her rip.

Miss L. read Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust at 10,000 words per minute [...] When she was half way through I asked her for a recall [...] Miss L. recalled [...]


Let's Keep Pretending People Read!

You don't even need to wait for the future, I can tell you right now without any special gadgetry: basically nobody reads anything, the few people who do read things don't read all of it, and the two people who do read all of it are basically the ones tasked with checking for typos, so they are not actually retaining anything anyway. You might as well be lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna for all the actual comprehension and retention going on. But, you know, good luck!


People Still Reading Books: Report

"As of January 2014, some 76% of American adults ages 18 and older said that they read at least one book in the past year. Almost seven in ten adults (69%) read a book in print in the past 12 months, while 28% read an e-book, and 14% listened to an audiobook. Women are more likely than men to have read a book in the previous 12 months, and those with higher levels of income and education are more likely to have done so as well. In addition, blacks are more likely to have read a book than Hispanics. There were no significant differences by age group for rates of [...]


The Biographies of Thomas Jefferson, International Man of Mystery

Sarah Marshall and Amelia Laing are reading their way through biographies of all the American presidents, in order. This time up, it's Thomas Jefferson. Have you heard of this fellow Thomas Jefferson? He was our third President! From 1801 to 1809! And he was the father of somewhere between five and eleven children!

Amelia: Sarah Marshall left Denver this morning #lifeisterrible. We had a grand old time, though, Sarah and I. We made literally (and I do mean literally) the best bloody mary mix ever (the secret is red hot chili flakes, real grated horseradish, and three times the amount of recommended hot sauce). We were both finishing our respective [...]


11 Great Stories to Save for When the Power Goes Out

Do you live in a home without books or magazines? Or have you burned them all for heat yet? Then great news! It's likely a good chunk of the East Coast may lose power and Internet. So here are some things that you could either PRINT OUT (yes, I am serious) or of course also save to your nice, long-lasting-battery'd digital reading device.

The story of the Occupy Wall Street Archive starts with Jeremy Bold, so we might as well too. When Hollywood decides to cash in and make its OWS movie, central casting could do worse than work off a picture of Bold—he has a dark goatee and black [...]


How Many Booker Prize Nominees Have You Read?

I'm batting a full "zero out of twelve" on the Booker Prize longlist! I'm basically illiterate.


Some New Directions

Lou Reed wore black. He moved slowly and a bit stiffly through the darkness that had descended on the Great Hall, a sheaf of paper in his hand. For the last thirty years he has looked like an ageless lizard but now I felt concern for him at the sight of his stiff gait. He entered the circle of light and put on reading glasses, gold rimmed.

Just a few minutes earlier the audience had been treated to several facts. One of them, shared by the Dean of Cooper Union, was that Abraham Lincoln had spoken in this very hall. I have been to a number of events at the [...]


10 More Truths About Dating a Bookworm

Previously: 10 Truths About Dating a Bookworm; Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With.

1. Without lungs or other respiratory organs, we bookworms breathe through our skin. So we'll never hog the blankets!

2. Our skin exudes a lubricating fluid that makes it easier to move underground, as well as keeping our skin moist. But please, don't try to borrow our lubricating fluid: we need it in order to burrow beneath the earth and your Kiehl's is gonna be better for your T-zone anyways.

3. We bookworms really hate birds. And fishermen.

4. We are simultaneous hermaphrodites—so keep your cisgendered assumptions to [...]


How To Go Ham On Some Reading

"[M]ax-capacity reading is in vogue now."


What's Wrong With Addiction Literature?

Elizabeth Wurtzel is writing a new book. You may have accidentally read some of it already. Her piece published on Thought Catalog earlier this month is an excerpt from it. The book is titled Yes because that is Elizabeth Wurtzel's favorite one-word sentence. She told us so last night, during her reading at "Addiction Literature," hosted by the No. 8 Literary Society at the bar No. 8, which is the descendant of Bungalow 8. The working subtitle of Wurtzel's book is "A History Of Love At First Sight In New York."

The excerpt—as it first appeared on Thought Catalog—is titled "Just That Way." It is about how she has [...]


Michael Crichton's 'Sphere': The Power of Positive Thinking

What a difference 27 years makes, huh? I'm referring to the gap between the 1971 film adaptation of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain and the 1998… whatever that was… of Sphere. I mean, we're mostly going to be talking about Michael Crichton's novels, but to prattle on happily for several paragraphs about Sphere without acknowledging what Barry Levinson did to it would be like not picturing a blue Billy Crudup in your head while re-reading Watchmen. We need to breathe through it, come to acceptance, and move on.

That was a shitty movie. And, to my earlier point about the gap between The Andromeda Strain and Sphere, here is [...]


"TED is no longer a responsible curator of ideas 'worth spreading'"

Today TED is an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering—a place where ideas, regardless of their quality, go to seek celebrity, to live in the form of videos, tweets, and now e-books. In the world of TED—or, to use their argot, in the TED “ecosystem”—books become talks, talks become memes, memes become projects, projects become talks, talks become books—and so it goes ad infinitum in the sizzling Stakhanovite cycle of memetics, until any shade of depth or nuance disappears into the virtual void. Richard Dawkins, the father of memetics, should be very proud. Perhaps he can explain how “ideas worth spreading” become “ideas no footnotes can support.



How To Know Who To Read

"Here is a sad reflection for the ordinary reader, faced as he is with lifetimes upon lifetimes worth of books on entering even a small public library or a reasonably well-stocked bookshop. Since we can’t have very many, we must husband our time and attention carefully. But how to choose? The melancholy may lift a little when we realize that so many wise souls who have come before have been willing to serve as guides."