Skim reading is making poorer readers of us all

Wednesday, 23 April, 2014

You’re probably skim reading these very words as your eyes quickly scan through what’s on offer here today. That’s ok, I don’t mind, that why’s I try to be as succinct as possible. Besides, I’m just happy you’re here in the first place.

Online content and information has made skim-readers out of us all, but here’s the problem, we’re taking this ability to seek out key words and essential tidbits of data, and applying it to reading situations where we need to actually read, as in absorb, each and every word, to the point we’re no longer taking in as much as we used to:

Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia. “I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” said Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and the author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.”

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Spoilers for just about every book ever published

Friday, 11 April, 2014

Tired of people offering up unwelcome spoilers for films and TV shows? If said persons are book readers there may be a way to get a little of your own back though, by way of this reasonably extensive list of book spoilers.

Published on 1 April I know, but I believe the… summaries are accurate. For the most part anyway.

Via Hynophant.

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Scanning the pages of a book… not the best way to read at all

Monday, 10 March, 2014

Scanning the pages of book, left to right, up to down, is not the most efficient way to read it seems. Time is wasted as our eyes have to keep changing direction to take in what is written on the page.

A better idea, that would also allow us to read a lot faster, would be for each word of a book to display in the same, fixed, spot. That way the words would do the moving rather than our eyes. It’d kind of be like watching the carriages of a train pass along a rail track if you’re standing perfectly still.

The basis of Spritz concept is that much of the time spend reading is “wasted” on moving your eyes from side to side, from one word to the next. By flashing the words quickly, one after the other, all in the same place, eye movement is reduced almost to zero. All that’s left is the time you take to process the word before the next one appears.

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For book readers, a bucket list with one hundred titles

Friday, 21 February, 2014

If you like books and bucket lists, then this list of one hundred books to read in a lifetime, put together by Amazon, is for you.

I’m hoping that having seen the film adaptation of some of the books that feature here counts…

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And now some reading suggestions from Marilyn Monroe

Thursday, 21 March, 2013

I never really pictured someone as busy as Marilyn Monroe having a great deal of spare time, but if this list of the books she either read, and/or owned, is anything to go by, then she was quite the bookworm.

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A guide to reading novels written in the nineteenth century

Tuesday, 21 August, 2012

What you need to remember is that many books written prior to the digital age were not merely page-turners, they were also experiences:

Bring both your head and your heart: these are books that want you thinking and feeling. While you’re at it, stock up on tissues. You may, like Oscar Wilde, consider yourself too sophisticated to cry at the sentimental bits, but you never know. It might be the tenderness of Silas Marner that gets you, or maybe silly Dora in David Copperfield will surprise you into sniffles – or maybe your downfall will be Mr Harding and his old friend the Bishop in Barchester Towers. If you think you’re immune, start with A Christmas Carol: Dickens has a name for people like you.

I dare say many books written today are the same, but how many people are still reading them?

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How to steal a few pages of the book you’re reading while walking

Monday, 18 June, 2012

I once managed to conceal a page-turner I was reading at work among the piles of paper on my desk and would skim read half a page at a time as I otherwise tried to look productive. While I wouldn’t recommend anyone follow my example, at least there was no risk of colliding with someone, or something, if I’d tried reading while walking.

If you must read though while on foot, en route to somewhere, it’s Lev Grossman’s advice on the matter that you should be taking:

My first move is to clamp the book under one arm, inside-out, at my current page, like a running-back with a football, so I can whip it out at a moment’s notice. Then I pick my spots. Short bursts is the approach. You look for a stretch of open sidewalk, maybe a half a block, you hastily memorize the major obstacles, and then you glance down at the book. You’re speed-reading here – you don’t so much run your eye over the page as grab the next few sentences all at once. Then the book goes back under the arm. You look up again and digest the words as you walk. You check your location and bearing, like a submarine, and you prepare to dive again. Strangers look at you a bit funny, but come on – they’re strangers. Not like the characters you’re reading about. Sure, they may be fictional, but they’re not strangers. They matter.

Don’t go trying this with the likes of Twitter and text messaging though…

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Thanks to the internet you can be online and also reading books

Thursday, 12 April, 2012

Sad to say but I haven’t sat down to read a book in years… I’d probably have to give up sleeping or watching movies to do that … neither of which are likely to happen any time soon, all things remaining equal that is.

Otherwise US data that suggests book reading is at its highest in some sixty years may point to a positive trend. While a whole bunch of caveats apply here, it could be that, for all the time we spend on it, the internet has not deterred people from reading books.

Yet if we’re online all the time, thanks to social media and networks, but also managing to do more reading, then what’s giving? Are we watching less TV? Or seeing fewer movies? Or going without sleep?

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The pen is mightier than the pixel… at least on paper it is

Thursday, 26 January, 2012

Paper books win out when compared with ebooks, argues Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

I am not against ebooks – I believe that their mass use is not only inevitable but will change the ways that we think and learn. I am, however, deeply concerned about ebooks when compared to paper as a technology. Make no mistake, paper is a technology just as much as an LCD screen is, and as a technology it has several important advantages over e-readers that I am loathe to see disappear.

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The longest reads are sometimes the best reads

Tuesday, 27 December, 2011

Some not-so-light holiday reading… collector of “new and classic non-fiction articles … that are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser” Longform, have compiled their list of the top longer articles from the last year.

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